By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League 2023”
December 4, 2023 in Kochi, Japan at Kochi Prefectural Gymnasium
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 12 with the B Block back in action. At the conclusion of this show, all teams will have completed six of their seven round-robin matches.
This is a small arena, but almost everyone is seated on the floor and just a handful of people in the lower deck. Attendance again is in the 1,000 range, but this is the first show recently where a lot of empty seats are visible. We again have Japanese-only commentary.
1. “House of Torture” Sho and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Bushi and Shingo Takagi at 8:05. The HoT attacked at the bell, and they brawled to ringside. In the ring, Kanemaru hit a DDT on Bushi for a nearfall at 2:00. Shingo tagged in and hit some clotheslines. Sho hit a clothesline on Shingo at 5:30. Shingo hit a Death Valley Driver on Kanemaru but clutched at his knee. Bushi made the hot tag and hit a missile dropkick, then a dive through the ropes onto Kanemaru. In the ring, Bushi hit a Lungblower. Kanemaru hit a low blow with the ref out of position, rolled up Bushi, and got the pin out of nowhere.
2. Boltin Oleg and “Gates of Agony” Toa Liona and Bishop Kaun defeated Ryohei Oiwa, Kaito Kiyomiya, and Oskar Leube at 6:20. The Young Lions opened and traded chops. Oskar hit a bodyslam. Oiwa entered and hit a dropkick on Oleg for a nearfall at 1:00. The GoA pulled Oiwa to the floor and whipped him into the guardrail. In the ring, Oleg hit a gutwrench suplex on Oiwa. Oiwa hit a suplex on Kaun at 4:00. Kaito made the hot tag and brawled with Kaun, hitting a dropkick. Oskar hit a Mafia Kick on Oleg. Liona hit a shoulder tackle that sent Leube flying at 6:00. The GoA hit their team slam to pin Leube. Good action.
3. “United Empire” Callum Newman, Great-O-Khan, and Henare defeated Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano at 6:27. Yano and O-Khan opened, and O-Khan hit his Mongolian Chops. Ishii made the hot tag at 2:30 and he dropped Henare with a shoulder tackle. Henare hit a springboard spin kick on Ishii. Newman hit a plancha to the floor on Yano at 4:30. Honma traded punches with Henare and O-Khan in the ring. Honma hit a Kokeshi falling headbutt on Henare. They got up and traded punches, and Honma hit a headbutt. Henare hit a spinning back fist and was fired up. Henare applied a full nelson, and Honma submitted.
4. “House of Torture” EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo defeated Shota Umino, Ren Narita, and Ryusuke Taguchi at 9:41. Ren and Togo opened. Ren and Umino hit sentons for a nearfall on Togo at 2:00. They all started brawling on the floor. In the ring, the HoT worked over Shota. Taguchi entered at 6:00 and hit his buttbumps on all the heels. Togo hit his knife-edge chop to the groin of an upside-down Taguchi, and of course Taguchi does have a hilarious expression while selling this blow. Taguchi used a wire to hit a low blow on Yujiro. EVIL tied Taguchi in a Sharpshooter, and Taguchi IMMEDIATELY tapped out; it was comical how quickly he pounded the mat.
5. “Bullet Club” Gabe Kidd and Alex Coughlin and Taiji Ishimori defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls and Kosei Fujita at 8:33. Nicholls and Coughlin opened. Fujita entered and traded forearm strikes with Alex, but Coughlin hit a standing powerbomb. Kidd beat up Nicholls on the floor and whipped him over a guardrail and into the front row. The BC worked over Fujita in their corner. Kosei finally hit a springboard dropkick on Ishimori at 6:30. Ishimori applied the BoneLock/modified STF but Haste and Nicholls made the save. Ishimori hit a shoulder breaker over his knee at 8:00. Ishimori again applied the BoneLock, and Fujita tapped out.
6. “Bullet Club Rogue Army” Jack Bonza and Bad Luck Fale (4) defeated “Just 5 Guys” Taichi and Yuya Uemura (8) in a B Block tournament match at 11:07. Uemura and Bonza opened, and Yuya hit some deep armdrags. Fale stood on Uemura’s back. Bonza then stood on Yuya’s back, but of course, that’s not quite as devastating. Yuya hit a dropkick on Bonza at 4:00. Taichi entered and hit a Helluva Kick on Bonza. Bonza hit a sideslam and tagged in Fale at 6:30. Fale applied a belly-to-belly bearhug but Taichi eventually broke free and hit a buzzsaw kick to the head.
Uemura entered and hit a series of dropkicks at 8:00. He hit a top-rope crossbody block on Fale. Fale set up for The Grenade, but Yuya blocked it. Fale hit a Stinger Splash. Taichi hit an enzuigiri on Fale. Yuya immediately applied a cross-armbreaker on Fale, but Fale eventually reached the ropes at 10:00. Fale hit an elbow drop on Yuya for a believable nearfall. Bonza hit a piledriver move on Taichi, but Taichi rolled to the floor to avoid being pinned. Fale nailed a Razor’s Edge overhead powerbomb to pin Uemura. The loss keeps J5G from clinching a playoff spot today.
7. “Guerrillas of Destiny” Hikuleo and El Phantasmo (w/Jado) (8) defeated Soberano Jr. and Atlantis Jr. (5) in a B Block tournament match at 16:11. The luchadors are wearing their black gear today. ELP and Soberano Jr. opened with friendly standing switches. Soberano Jr. hit a huracanrana but ELP landed on his feet. Soberano Jr. hit an enzuigiri for a nearfall at 3:30. Atlantis hit a dropkick on Hikuleo’s knee and began working it over. The luchadors kept Hikuleo grounded and in their corner. Hikuleo finally hit a double clothesline at 8:00 but he clutched at a sore knee. ELP made the hot tag and he cleared the ring. Phantasmo hit a Lionsault, then a plancha to the floor.
ELP set up for CR2/modified Styles Clash but Atlantis Jr. blocked it. They did a tower spot out of the corner, with ELP crashing hard to the mat at 12:30. Hikuleo powerbombed Soberano Jr. onto Atantis Jr.! Atlantis hit a superkick, then a powerslam on Phantasmo. ELP fired back with a Frankensteiner. Soberano Jr. hit a top-rope Spanish Fly on ELP for a nearfall at 14:00. Hikuleo hit a double noggin knocker. Hikuleo hit a Mafia Kick. Soberano Jr. hit an enzuigiri and a superkick on Hikuleo. ELP hit a dive to the floor, while Hikuleo hit a chokeslam on Soberano Jr. ELP immediately hit a springboard frogsplash to pin Soberano Jr. A very good match, and the NJ Strong tag champs remain in the hunt for a playoff spot, while the luchadors are eliminated.
8. “Bishamon” Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi (7) defeated Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki (2) in a B Block tournament match at 11:44. Suzuki and Yoshi-Hashi opened and they traded forearm strikes. Goto entered but Suzuki targeted Goto’s taped upper back and neck, and they brawled to the floor. Yuji entered and he also focused on Goto’s sore neck, and he hit some Yes Kicks to the chest. Yoshi-Hashi made the hot tag at 6:30 and he backed Nagata into a corner and hit a series of forearms. Yuji placed Y-H’s feet on the top rope and hit a twisting neckbreaker. Goto hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Yuji at 9:30. They set up for Shot, but Minoru made the save. Yuji hit an Exploder Suplex on Goto for a nearfall. Goto rolled up Yuji for the pin. Okay match, and with a bit of luck, the IWGP Tag Champs could vault into a playoff spot on the final day.
* Tetsuya Naito joined the Japanese commentary team. Shingo Takagi was already seated there. We haven’t seen Naito much at all in the past month or so, so this feels like a big deal.
9. Yota Tsuji and Zandokan Jr. (6) defeated “Monster Sauce” Lance Archer and Alex Zayne (8) in a B Block tournament match at 13:14. Zayne and Zandokan Jr. opened, and Alex hit a corkscrew senton and twisted his hair. Yota pulled Archer to the floor and whipped him into the guardrail at 2:30. Tsuji and Zandokan Jr. began working over Alex in their corner. Archer entered at 7:00 and hit some running back elbows. Zayne flipped Archer into the corner onto Tsuji. Zandokan Jr. chopped Lance, who no-sold it and he fired back with harder chops. Lance hip-tossed Yota onto Zandokan Jr., and Zayne hit a dropkick into a corner. Archer slammed teammate Alex onto Tsuji for a nearfall at 9:00.
Zayne hit his jump-into-a-Frankensteiner. Archer hit a Black Hole Slam on Zandokan Jr. and he was fired up. LIJ hit a team suplex, and everyone was down at 11:00. Zandokan Jr. hit a Lionsault on Zayne for a nearfall. Yota speared Zayne for the pin! Monster Sauce has suddenly lost two straight and it’s created a three-way tie for first. Tsuji spoke on the mic to close out the show.
Final Thoughts: A solid show, but no standout matches either. Again, the front-runners both lost to create a tie for first, as Monster Sauce, Guerillas of Destiny and Just 5 Guys are all 4-2 (8 points) while Bishamon is right behind at 3-2-1 (7 points). So, as usual, it will come down to the final day of B Block.
After four straight days of shows, the tournament has an off-day on Tuesday. The A Block has three teams vying for two spots on Wednesday, and two of these four B Block teams will qualify for the playoffs on Thursday.