Tonight’s show took place on December 7, 2014 from the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Aichi. This show is the finals of the 2014 World Tag League.
First match is an eight man tag match where Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe and La Sombra take on Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Yoshi-Hashi and Tomohiro Ishii. New Japan has a very basic formula when it comes to tag team matches- they’ll put rivals on opposite teams, they’ll wrestle each other a for a while, somewhere in here there’s a barricade spot, then eventually they pin the weak link on the team who has no real feud with anyone while his partners are all held back, which in this case is Yoshi-Hashi. In fact, in most years it’s been Yoshi-Hashi. Not that they’re bad, but they are very formulaic and don’t stray all that much. This was a fine bout that pushed programs for WrestleKingdom 9 and it did it’s job well in that regard.
Hirooki Goto is interviewed. He remembers 2014 as a year of tag matches for himself. He and Shibata worked out their relationship after the Seibu Dome G1 finals, and the Tag League was their first time teaming together on a constant basis. About their opponents, they knew how good they were since they faced them before.
Then the Tag League finals aired, with Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows (who are also the champions) faced Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata. This turned into a pretty good match; the crowd was red hot for this toward the end. The start wasn’t nearly as interesting but they worked it into a pretty good match. Maybe a shade below normal New Japan main events but I’d have this around the ***½ star range. Goto and Shibata, since they never seem to be in the real main event scene, could be the ace of this division if New Japan ever really gets behind having a heavyweight tag team scene.
The problem is they haven’t, and don’t seem to be based on the booking of the division this year, which we’ll see in later episodes on AXS TV. They win the match with a PK to Anderson, a shotgun kick that sends Gallows to the outside then Goto pins Anderson with the shouten kai.
Gallows said they didn’t need to win the Tag League again. They (their opponents) want to fire shots, we’ll fire back harder. Anderson says the Tag League means nothing because they have the belts, then challenged them to a match at the Tokyo Dome with the titles on the line. I cleaned up their language here as it was rather salty. I didn’t think you can say those words on cable TV, but I guess AXS is one of those premium channels.
Shibata says in a post match interview in the ring that he wants a belt, since he’s never felt he’s achieved anything here in particular. Goto said the time is right, and the next target is those belts. In another post match interview backstage, the two talk about knowing each other in high school. Goto says it's nice to have a partner next to him that he could rely on.
In his reflective interview, Goto mentions that match gave them confidence and was happy to accomplish something that night. He thinks that’s the moment their tag team became one. He thought Shibata was happy to win the match, but they are both hungry for more titles. he mentions the Goto Revolution, there are no stages, just about results. When he turns everything around, that is when it will be over.
This was a good show for what it was. The Tag League doesn’t mean a whole lot in the long run as it’s usually teams you see maybe once a year, plus Tencozy and the Bullet Club, and the match quality is nowhere near the same as the G1. Goto and Shibata made sense to win here since it seemed like they were being groomed as the next great tag team to hit New Japan, but as we’ll see later in the year, that wasn’t the case. Big next five weeks on AXS as the entire WrestleKingdom 9 card will be shown, with next week focusing on junior heavyweights as reDragon, Forever Hooligans, Young Bucks and Time Splitters square off over the junior tag titles and Kenny Omega battles Ryusuke Taguchi for the junior title.