12/7 NJPW “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022” results: Vetter’s review of Chris Bey and Ace Austin vs. El Lindaman and Alex Zayne, Tiger Mask and Robbie Eagles vs. Titan and Bushi, Douki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Dick Togo and Sho, Clark Connors and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Lio Rush and Yoh, Kushida and Kevin Knight vs. TJP and Francesco Akira

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022”
December 7, 2022 in Nagasaki, Japan at Sasebo City General Ground Gymnasium
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 #13 of 17 in the tournament. At the end of this event, each team will have completed eight tournament matches.

The quick summary as we head into the show is we have a top tier of five teams, with the other five being a clearly lower tier. (The lower tier combined have scored just two wins against the top tier.) So, two of those top five will advance to the finals. I have said all along I don’t expect it to be TJP and Francesco Akira, because why would the tag champions win the tournament that determines the number one contender?

This is a large double gym — you can see the basketball hoops in the background. All seating is on the floor. While attendance is perhaps 600 to 800, all on the floor, it is packed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is considered a sellout. We have Japanese commentary.

1. Oskar Leube and Kosei Fujita defeated Ryohei Oiwa and Yuto Nakashima at 7:13. Fairly basic, and fairly bland, Young Lions match. Fujita applied the Boston Crab and Oiwa tapped out.

2. Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki, and El Desperado defeated Taiji Ishimori, Bad Luck Fale, and Gedo at 8:57. Suzuki and Archer are now 3-4 and on a three-match losing streak, which is highly disappointing. Rivals Ishimori and Desperado traded some good mid-match offense. In a funny spot, Gedo tagged in, but when Archer tagged in, Gedo turned and ran to his corner to tag to Fale. Fale and Archer traded good big-man blows and brawled to the floor. It allowed Suzuki to hit the Gotch-style Piledriver on Gedo for the pin. This was entertaining.

3. Sanada, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Tomoaki Honma, Master Wato, Toru Yano, and Hiroshi Tanahashi at 7:12. Good action with everyone tagging in and out quickly, so they got a lot in a short match. Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber clothesline on Honma for the pin.

4. “United Empire” Francesco Akira and TJP (w/Gideon Grey) (12) defeated Kushida and Kevin Knight (2) in a tournament match at 13:29. I really didn’t expect Kushida and Knight to be 1-6 at this point. Knight and TJP started, and TJP snapped Kevin’s left arm. Kushida and Knight began working over Akira’s left arm. The UE began working over Knight. Knight hit his picture-perfect dropkick at 7:00 and made the hot tag. Kushida entered and hit a series of kicks and was fired up. He applied a cross-armbreaker on Akira, who scrambled to reach the ropes.

Knight hit his jump-up Frankensteiner in the corner. TJP hit a double bulldog at 10:30. Akira hit a German Suplex on Kushida, and suddenly, everyone was down. Knight hit another dropkick to TJP’s jaw. TJP responded with a tornado DDT for a nearfall. TJP nailed the Mamba Splash frogsplash, but Kushida made the save. UE hit their team X-Factor Faceplant on Kushida and rolled him to the floor. They then nailed their running front-and-back kicks to Knight for the pin. This was a really good match. By moving to 6-2, UE likely eliminated a team or two today.

5. Yoh and Lio Rush (12) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Clark Connors (6) in a tournament match at 11:29. Taguchi and Connors continued their ritual of pre-match beers, and shared with their babyface opponents. Lio and Connors started with fast-paced mat reversals. Taguchi entered and hit his buttbumps on each opponent, and the usual bad comedy of Taguchi’s butt-related offense. Yoh slammed Lio onto Connors at 4:00, and they worked over Connors as Taguchi was literally tied up on the bottom rope in a Paradise Lock. Lio hit a back suplex. Connors nailed a Pounce on Lio that sent Rush flying into Yoh! Taguchi made the hot tag at 6:30 and he hit more flying buttbumps.

Lio hopped in the ring and offered Taguchi a beer, and the action momentarily stopped. However, Lio channeled his inner Steve Austin and hit a stunner, with Taguchi spewing beer everywhere. Connors nailed a spear on Lio that cut him in half. Taguchi pulled down his green pants to reveal his red underwear and hit a buttbump on Lio for a nearfall, but Yoh made the save. Taguchi applied an anklelock on Yoh, who scrambled to a corner and picked up a can of beer. In more silliness, Yoh dumped it down Taguchi’s throat to break the hold. Yoh and Rush hit their modified Big Rig move to pin Taguchi. More silliness than I prefer, but the right team won. Yoh and Rush also move to 6-2 to keep pace with the champs.

6. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Douki (6) defeated “House of Torture” Sho and Dick Togo (2) in a tournament match at 12:15. A heel-heel match and admittedly my least two favorite teams of the tournament. Togo and Kanemaru started. Sho and Douki brawled onto a stage, far from ringside. In the ring, the HoT worked over Douki. Kanemaru made the hot tag at 6:30 and hit a basement dropkick on Sho’s left knee, and he immediately applied a Figure Four.

Douki hit a top-rope crossbody block on Togo, then a springboard-back-elbow and a doublestomp for a nearfall. Togo applied a Crippler Crossface on Douki, who teased tapping out. Douki was able to escape and apply the Douki Chokey triangle choke. The ref got pulled to the floor before Togo could tap out. Everyone started cheating with the ref down, choking each other with weapons and hitting low blows, and suddenly everyone was down at 11:00, in a fairly funny sequence.

The ref recovered and got back in the ring and looked confused at where al the weapons suddenly came from. Douki hit a thrust strike to Togo’s throat, and he again applied the Douki Chokey, and this time Togo submitted. Considering I was dreading this match, they made it fairly entertaining.

7. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Bushi and Titan (12) defeated Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask (4) in a tournament match at 11:10. Titan and Eagles started with some fast reversals. Bushi entered and hit a standing neckbreaker on Tiger Mask at 2:30, then he started to untie TM’s mask. LIJ began working over Tiger Mask. Eagles hit a huracanrana. Tiger Mask hit a top-rope crossbody block, then a backbreaker over his knee on Bushi at 6:00 for a nearfall.

Eagles hit a mid-ring Sliced Bread, and Tiger Mask immediately hit a Tiger Driver powerbomb for a nearfall. Titan made the hot tag and hit a springboard missile dropkick on Tiger Mask. Eagles applied his Noble-style Trailer Hitch leglock. Tiger Mask hit a  top-rope butterfly suplex on Titan at 9:30, and he tied up Titan on the mat, but Bushi made the save. Bushi nailed a dive to the floor on Eagles. Titan hit a Sabin-style Cradle Shock on Tiger Mask for a believable nearfall.

Titan awkwardly slipped on the top rope as he went for his double-stomp finisher, so he tried again, hitting a springboard missile dropkick to pin Tiger Mask. Just like the Kushida/Knight match, this was really entertaining even though the winner was never in doubt. LIJ also moves to 6-2, as it looks like we’re having a wild final day of tournament action on Saturday to determine who is heading to the finals next Wednesday.

8. Alex Zayne and El Lindaman (12) defeated “Bullet Club” Ace Austin and Chris Bey (12) in a tournament match at 18:36. Yes, if Zayne and Lindaman win here, we’ll have a five-way tie of teams at 6-2. Zayne and Bey started with some basic standing switches. Lindaman entered and hit a DDT on Ace at 2:30. The BC began working over Lindaman, and this was fairly basic early on and it feels like they are going long. Ace hit a gut-wrench suplex at 5:30, then a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall. BC hit their team legdrop and standing moonsault combo for a nearfall.

Bey hit the Three Amigos rolling suplexes at 9:30, but he missed a top-rope moonsault. Zayne finally made the hot tag and he traded blows with Ace. He hit a double hurancanrana on both BC members, then his summersault kick to the back of their heads. Zayne went for an anklelock, but Bey helped yank Ace out of the ring. Lindaman immediately hit a flip dive to the floor on both Bey and Ace at 12:00. Bey hit a flip dive through the ropes on Zayne. Ace then nailed his Fosbury Flop to the floor on Zayne.

In the ring, Zayne hit a German Suplex, dropping Bey onto Ace. Bey hit a top-rope doublestomp on Zayne’s chest as Alex was tied in the ropes at 14:30. They did a tower spot out of the corner, with Lindaman on top and crashing hard to the mat, and everyone was down. Zayne and Ace traded hard forearm shots, and Ace hit The Fold out of nowhere for a believable nearfall, but Lindaman made the save at 18:00. Lindaman hit a German Suplex, with Zayne getting a jacknife cover to pin Ace. That was really good, and it creates the five-way tie at 6-2 heading into Saturday.

Final Thoughts: This has been an incredible tournament. I truly presumed entering we’d have nearly everyone at 5-4 and a handful at 6-3. Instead, the top five quickly emerged and have made this a thrilling tie going into Saturday’s round-robin finale. Presumably two, and only two, will finish at 7-2 to head to the finals on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The main event gets best match, with UE’s win second-best and LIJ’s win getting third place.

I never see this happen in New Japan, but when it is always one person eating the losses for his team — Knight has been pinned each match — wouldn’t it be great to see frustration boil over, and Kushida beat the heck out of him after their final match?

After an off-day on Thursday, the World Tag League returns Friday, with the round-robin finals Saturday and Sunday, heading into the finals on Wednesday.

SPECIAL EPISODE

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