By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022”
December 5, 2022 in Saga, Japan at Karatsu Athletic Stadium
Streamed live on New Japan World
NJPW is running both World Tag League and Super Junior Tag League tournaments simultaneously over 17 shows across a 24-day span. This is a round-robin format, so each team has nine matches, with the tournament winners earning a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom. Each win is worth two points. This is overall show 12 of 17 in the tournament. At the end of this event, each team will have completed seven tournament matches.
Just a reminder that Chase Owens has left Japan for a death in the family back in the United States, so he and Bad Luck Fale have forfeited their final five matches to finish at 2-7 (four points). This is a large gym and it appears packed with perhaps 1,000 spectators. Japanese-only commentary again.
1. Bad Luck Fale defeated Oskar Leube at 4:01. Fale has the weight advantage, but it appears the Young Lion has an inch or two in height on Fale. Oskar couldn’t move Fale with a shoulder tackle. Fale worked him over in a corner. Fale nailed the Grenade/pop-up heartpunch for the pin.
2. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Sanada and Naito (10 points) defeated Tomoaki Honma and Ryohei Oiwa at 9:13. Sanada and Naito pick up points here from the Bullet Club forfeit. Honma shoved Oiwa toward the corner before the bell, which is a strange development. Oiwa hit a nice overhead suplex on Sanada. Honma missed a Kokeshi falling headbutt. Sanada tied Honma in the Paradise Lock and kicked him in the butt.
Sanada did his spot where he collapsed but kicked Honma in the groin on the way to the mat. However, Honma’s head landed on Sanada’s groin for some sophomoric humor. Oiwa hit a nice gutwrench suplex on Naito for a nearfall. Naito hit a Spinebuster, and these two traded some really good offense. Naito put Oiwa in a Boston Crab, sat down for pressure, and Oiwa tapped out. Oiwa again shows he can have really good exchanges with the top tier of the NJPW roster.
3. El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Douki defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Master Wato, and Kosei Fujita at 7:47. Taguchi and Kanemaru started, but soon, all six brawled in the ring. Bad comedy with the heels ramming Fujita into Taguchi’s butt. The heels began working over Taguchi. Taguchi hit a mid-ring buttbump on Kanemaru at 3:30 and he tagged in Wato. Wato hit a springboard forearm shot on his nemesis Desperado, then a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee.
Desperado hit a high back suplex, and they were both down. Fujita made the hot tag at 5:30 and he hit a dropkick on Douki, then a belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall. Douki fired back with a hard clothesline for a nearfall, then he applied the “Douki chokey” modified triangle choke, and Fujita submitted. Wato and Desperado continued to jaw at each other after the match.
4. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Shingo Takagi, Titan, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated “Bullet Club” Taiji Ishimori, Gedo, Ace Austin, and Chris Bey at 8:46. Ace and Bushi started. Titan entered and hit a springboard dropkick on Bey, and this is fast-paced early on. The heels began working over Titan. Titan hit a missile dropkick on Ace at 5:00, and he made the hot tag to Hiromu. Takahashi hit a huracanrana on Ishimori.
Shingo entered and he beat up Gedo. The BC took turns hitting Shingo in a corner. Shingo fired back with a double clothesline on Ace and Bey. Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber decapitating clothesline on Gedo for the pin. Solid match.
5. Gabriel Kidd and Alex Coughlin (2) defeated “The House of Torture” EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi (2) in a tournament match at 11:15. As hard as the recent Young Lion grads are working, it is disappointing they haven’t picked up a win. Dick Togo was sent to the back before the bell. EVIL and Coughlin brawled early. Kidd hit a senton on Yujiro for a nearfall. EVIL and Coughlin traded hard chops at 3:00. The HoT worked over Coughlin. Coughlin nailed a Boss Man slam at 5:30 and tagged in Kidd.
Kidd hit a dropkick on EVIL, then a T-Bone suplex. The ref got bumped at 8:30, and Togo and Sho immediately walked down the ramp. However, EVIL and Yujiro told their partners they didn’t need any help! They hit low blow uppercuts on the kids. Togo and Sho hopped in the ring and laughed at the crowd for thinking they were going to do the right thing. All four stomped the kids. Yujiro hit a Pimp Juice jumping DDT for a nearfall on Coughin at 10:30 and the crowd popped for the kickout. Coughlin nailed his fallaway slam with a bridge to pin Yujiro! Yay, the kids win a match!
6. “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher (w/Gideon Grey) (12) defeated “United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare (6) in a tournament match at 13:34. These two teams are aligned within the UE, but it didn’t stop them from brawling, as Davis and O-Khan charged each other at the bell and traded forearm shots. Henare hit a second-rope spin kick on Fletcher for a nearfall at 3:00. Davis hit a double clothesline.
Davis put Henare on his shoulders and hit a modified Angle Slam at 5:00. Fletcher hit his assisted stunner for a nearfall. They set up for Corealis/spinning slam, but O-Khan made the save. All four were brawling. O-Khan entered at 6:30 and hit his Mongolian Chops on Fletcher, then a snap suplex for a nearfall. O-Khan hit the Sheepkiller, but Davis made the save. Henare hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a believable nearfall.
Everyone began hitting kicks and shoulder tackles, and suddenly everyone was down at 11:00. They got up and traded blows. O-Khan hit a tombstone piledriver for a nearfall. AO hit simultaneous modified Styles Clashes for a nearfall. AO then hit the Corealis spinning slam to pin Henare. That was really really good. At 3-4, O-Khan and Henare are eliminated.
7. Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi (8) defeated Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer (6) in a tournament match at 13:28. Both teams are 3-3 so a loss will eliminate them. Archer and Suzuki attacked before the bell and they brawled in and out of the ring. Archer hit a running back elbow on Goto and made the one-foot cover at 5:00. Suzuki applied a cross-armbreaker, but Goto reached the ropes. Yoshi-Hoshi entered and hit a flipping neckbreaker on Archer, then a shotgun dropkick.
Archer hit a second-rope crossbody block on both opponents at 8:00. Suzuki and Goto traded forearm shots, and Minoru finally dropped Goto with a sick blow. Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi set up for Shoto, but Archer made the save. Suzuki applied a sleeper on Goto, and they fell to the mat. Minoru set up for the Gotch-style piledriver, but Goto powered out. Yoshi-Hoshi and Goto hit Shoto/team slam on Suzuki to score the pin. That was really entertaining, too.
8. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano (8) defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls (10) in a tournament match at 12:26. Tanahashi and Haste started, with Nicholls and Yano entering at 2:00, and TMDK began working over Yano, hitting a team neckbreaker for a nearfall. Hiroshi entered and hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip at 7:00, then a second-rope summersault senton for a nearfall on Nicholls. Haste hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall on Yano, then a dropkick on Hiroshi.
Nicholls entered and hit a DDT on Hiroshi at 10:00, and they traded forearm shots. Nicholls hit a spinebuster for a nearfall. Hiroshi hit a swinging neckbreaker. Yano hit a low blow uppercut on both opponents. Hiroshi then hit the High Fly Flow frogsplash to pin Nichols. OK match, but actually my least favorite of the four tournament matches here. I fully presumed Tanahashi and Yano were winning here, largely to allow other teams to pass TMDK in the final two tournament matches.
Final Thoughts: That AO-UE match was really good and best of the night. I am so used to the chicanery, with one team ordering their teammates to lay down for the pin. Instead, these guys wisely just kept going and going, and didn’t build toward a ‘hot tag moment. If you didn’t know they were teammates going in, you wouldn’t have known watching the match, until the post-match hugs.
I really liked Goto/Yoshi-Hoshi’s match, too, as I really wasn’t sure which team was going to fall to 3-4 and be eliminated. And it was great to see Kidd and Coughlin get a much-deserved win.
The tournament takes a day off before returning on Wednesday with the Super Juniors in action.