By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League 2023”
December 2, 2023 in Osaka, Japan at Edion Arena Osaka
Streamed live on New Japan World
World Tag League is a 16-show tournament spread over just 21 days, featuring 16 tag teams. They are split into two blocks of eight teams. It is a round-robin tournament, so each team will have seven matches. The top TWO teams from each Block will make the playoffs, as the Block A winner will face the Block B runner-up, while the Block B winner will face the Block A runner-up. The finals will be Dec. 10. This is night 10 with the B Block back in action. At the conclusion of this show, all teams in this Block will have completed five of their seven round-robin matches.
This is a large room with all seating on the floor. Attendance is 800-1,000. We have Japanese-only commentary until the finals next weekend.
1. “Chaos” Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano defeated Yuto Nakashima and Oskar Leube at 7:03. The Young Lions attacked to start the match and they dropped Ishii with a double shoulder tackle. Ishii backed Yuto into a corner and hit some chops. Oskar hit a vertical suplex on Ishii. Ishii hit a back suplex on Yuto for a nearfall at 5:00. Ishii hit a German Suplex for a believable nearfall, then a sliding clothesline to pin Yuto. Solid opener.
2. Boltin Oleg and “Gates of Agony” Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona defeated “United Empire” Great-O-Khan, Henare, and Callum Newman at 9:21. Liona and Henare stood across from each other and made savage facial expressions. Oleg and O-Khan opened with standing reversals. Oleg showed his strength by flipping O-Khan back and forth in his arms before hitting a gutwrench slam. Henare entered and hit a senton. O-Khan hit his Mongolian Chops on Kaun. Kaun hit a dropkick at 6:00, and he traded forearm strikes with Henare. Newman tagged in and hit a dorpkick in the corner on Kaun. Henare and Liona were about to fight but they got separated; I guess that has to wait until Sunday. LIona entered and dropped Newman with a shoulder tackle at 8:00. GoA hit their team slam to pin Newman.
3. “House of Torture” Sho and Yoshinobu Kanemaru and EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi (w/Dick Togo) defeated “Bullet Club” Alex Coughlin and Gabe Kidd and Gedo and Taiji Ishimori at 7:32. These factions have always been loosely aligned, so they all made the ‘too sweet’ hand gestures but then they attacked each other. Ishimori hit a handspring-back-spin kick on Kanemaru. The BC worked over Kanemaru in their corner. The bell rang, but it was one of the HoT who rang it, so the match continued. The HoT got Gedo alone in the ring at 4:30 and put their boots to him. EVIL hit a low blow on Kidd. Coughlin hit a Black Hole Slam on EVIL at 6:30. In a funny spot, Sho went to get his wrench, but Gedo had stolen it. However, Sho got it back, hit Gedo in the head with it, and scored the cheap pin.
4. Master Wato, Ren Narita, and Shota Umino defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Kosei Fujita, Mickey Nicholls, and Shane Haste at 9:33. Haste and Umino opened. Wato entered but Nicholls beat him up on the floor and tossed him back in for Haste to work over. Ren entered and hit a double clothesline at 4:30, then a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall. He tied Nicholls in a Cobra Twist, then a release German Suplex on Nicholls at 6:00. Ncholls hit a double clothesline on Shota and Ren, and they were all down. Kosei made the hot tag and he dropkicked Shota, then a springboard dropkick. Kosei hit a German Suplex with a bridge on Shota for a nearfall. Ren hit a Northern Lights Suplex. Shota fired back with a half-nelson suplex on Kosei, then a Hidden Blade forearm strike to the back of Fujita’s head for the pin. Really good action.
5. “Guerrillas of Destiny” Hikuleo and and El Phantasmo (6) defeated “Bullet Club Rogue Army” Bad Luck Fale and Jack Bonza (2) in a B Block tournament match at 11:03. Bonza and ELP opened, with Phantasmo immediately tying him up on the mat. Hikuleo and Fale entered at 3:00; Hikuleo offered a handshake but it was rejected, and they traded forearm strikes. Bonza twisted Hikuleo’s left leg and they kept him grounded. ELP finally made the hot tag and battled Bonza at 7:00. Bonza hit a discus clothesline for a nearfall, then a German Suplex.
Fale hit a massive Stinger Splash on Hikuleo, and Bonza hit a second-rope elbowdrop for a nearfall, but ELP made the save at 9:30. Hikuleo hit a double clothesline, and he hit a bodyslam on Fale that popped the crowd. ELP hit a superkick on Bonza, and he dove to the floor on Fale. That allowed Hikuleo to chokeslam Bonza. ELP hit a springboard frogsplash on Bonza, and Hikuleo immediately made the cover for the pin. At 3-2, the GoD remain in the playoff picture, while the BCRA are officially eliminated at 1-4.
6. “Just 5 Guys” Yuya Uemura and Taichi (8) defeated Soberano Jr. and Atlantis Jr. (5) in a B Block tournament match at 15:12. Soberano is in blue-and-white tonight and he opened with Yuya and they traded good mat wrestling and had a standoff at 2:30. Taichi and Atlantis entered, with Taichi immediately hitting some hard chops. Atlantis still has his shoulder taped. Atlantis hit a huracanrana and a top-rope crossbody block. Yuya entered and he targeted Atlantis Jr.’s damaged left arm. Taichi hit a stiff kick to the spine at 6:30. Soberano tagged and hit a top-rope crossbody block on Taichi. He hit an axe kick on Yuya, and a powerslam on Taichi, then a Lionsault for a nearfall at 8:30.
Taichi fired back with a clothesline and they were both down. Yuya got in, cut off Soberano from tagging out, and he hit some chops. Soberano hit a dropkick, and he tagged in Atlantis Jr. at 11:30. Atlantis Jr. hit a powerslam on Yuya for a nearfall. He hit a modified Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall, but Taichi made the save. Atlantis hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee on Taichi. Soberano Jr. hit a Fosbury Flop on Taichi at 14:00. Atlantis Jr. hit a frogsplash on Yuya for a believable nearfall. Yuya got a crucifix rollup out of nowhere to pin Atlantis. A really good back-and-forth match.
7. Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki (2) defeated “Monster Sauce” Lance Archer and Alex Zayne (8) in a B Block tournament match at 10:23. I’m on upset alert here, as Minoru and Yuji have to sneak out a win somewhere, right? Former teammates Suzuki and Archer glared at each other before the bell, with Minoru hitting the first forearm. Archer hit one back with neither man dropping to the mat. Yuji and Zayne entered at 1:30, and Alex hit a corkscrew senton. Archer bodyslammed teammate Zayne onto Yuji. Suzuki and Archer got back in and traded more forearm strikes at 4:30. Suzuki hit a Helluva Kick. Archer set up for Blackout, but Suzuki escaped. They traded more forearm strikes, and these went on and on and on!
Zayne and Nagata made hot tags at 7:30, with Nagata hitting some roundhouse kicks. He placed Alex’s feet on the top rope and hit a swinging neckbreaker, then he tied Zayne in a Crossface on the mat, but Lance made the save. Zayne flipped teammate Lance onto Yuji; Archer slammed Zayne onto Yuji for a nearfall at 9:30. Nagata hit a back suplex to pin Zayne, as Monster Sauce is no longer undefeated.
8. “Bishamon” Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi (5) defeated Yota Tsuji and Zandokan Jr. (4) in a B Block tournament match at 14:06. Tag champions Bishamon were in 6th place out of the 8 teams entering the day, so I gotta believe they win here to stay somewhat in the playoff picture. Yoshi-Hashi and Tsuji opened. They went to the floor, where Y-H was whipped into a guardrail. Zandokan went into the crowd and got a hard plastic chair and slammed it on Goto. They rolled Goto into the ring and worked Goto over. Yoshi-Hashi got in at 5:30 and hit his Headhunter flipping neckbreaker on Yota, then a standing neckbreaker for a nearfall.
Zandokan entered and hit some hard chops on Goto, then a Lionsault for a nearfall at 8:30. Goto fired back with a neckbreaker over his knee ad they were both down. Goto hit a back suplex. Yoshi-Hashi made the hot tag at 10:30. Zandokan hit a dive through the ropes, and Tsuji dove off the top turnbuckle to the floor. In the ring, Tsuji missed a frogsplash. Goto hit a team bulldog on Zandokan. They hit the Shoto team slam on Zandokan, with Yoshi-Hashi making the cover. A very good match. Yoshi-Hashi spoke on the mic afterward.
Final Thoughts: Just 5 Guys vs. Soberano/Atlantis earns best match, with the main event a close second. This Bishamon match was a fun, fast-paced 14-minute affair, and far more entertaining than the lethargic slow-paced 30-minute draw against the luchadors three days earlier. With the win, Bishamon remains somewhat in contention for a playoff spot, but they’ll definitely need to win their final two to qualify for the playoffs.
The Monster Sauce loss was entirely expected; they needed to lose to close the gap with the teams chasing them, and there was no was Suzuki and Nagata were going winless. So, Monster Sauce is now in a tie with Uemura and Taichi at 4-1. The A Block is back in action Sunday as the tournament is quickly heading toward the finish.