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NJPW World Tag League: Tournament up for grabs with one week left


By Ethan Renner

With one week to go, the 2017 World Tag League remains up for grabs.

SANADA & EVIL stand alone atop Block A, while Best Friends and Guerrillas of Destiny share Block B's lead, setting the stage for the tournament's final week of events.

While the booking of the tournament seemed designed to have a dominant team emerge from Block B, while Block A would be more competitive, the results from the last three nights have further upended that line of thinking.

After a strong second week, the match quality was middling at best over the last several nights, with the competitors likely both feeling the effects of a grueling schedule, as well as saving their A game for the tournament's final bouts.

Night 11 results --

Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (A Block)

They brawled outside at the outset, and Tenzan and Kojima briefly got the upper hand, before being overtaken.

The Bullet Club worked over Kojima, who eventually made a hot tag to Tenzan. The heels regained the advantage and Kojima was nailed with the Pimp Juice DDT for the victory.

SANADA & EVIL defeated Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (A Block)

SANADA offered Nagata a handshake, but he refused. Nakanishi tagged in and did some powerhouse stuff while Nagata and EVIL brawled outside. SANADA got the upper hand for several minutes, then Nakanishi made a hot tag to Nagata.

Nagata scored a near fall on EVIL, and got the best of a striking battle with SANADA. It broke down, and while SANADA took the referee, EVIL came in and nailed Nakanishi with a chair, allowing SANADA to score the pin.

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka defeated Death Juice (Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan) (A Block)

Stop me if you've heard this before: Suzuki and Iizuka jumped Death Juice during the introductions as they brawled. While Suzuki and Robinson worked outside, Iizuka got the business from Callihan. Suzuki grabbed Robinson in an armbar from the outside, and they brawled all over the building. Iizuka and Suzuki used chairs while El Desperado took the ref.

Back inside, Iizuka worked over Callihan, who made the tag to Robinson. The place was really into Robinson's comeback, but Iizuka cut him off with bites to the foot and an inverted atomic drop. Desperado took the ref, and Iizuka used his iron fist on Robinson, with Suzuki nailing him with the Gotch piledriver to pick up the pinfall. Suzuki and Iizuka continued to beat up Death Juice with chairs after the match.

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (A Block)

Goto and Fale kicked things off with some shoulder blocks and power stuff. They brawled to the outside, with the Bullet Club gaining the advantage.

Back inside, Owens and Goto worked, and Owens scored a good near fall. YOSHI-HASHI interfered as the illegal man. He and Goto double-teamed Owens, eventually nailing him with the GTR for the victory.

Night 12 results --

Best Friends (Beretta & Chuck Taylor) defeated David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (B Block)

Finlay and Taylor both landed planchas early on. Best Friends double-teamed Finlay, and repeatedly knocked Kitamura off the apron to maintain their advantage. Kitamura finally got the tag and ran wild on Beretta with forearms and shoulder blocks, then fell victim to Best Friends and their teamwork.

Taylor missed a moonsault on Kitamura, but it never really appeared as though he and Finlay might score their first win of the tournament. Best Friends nailed Kitamura with Strong Zero for the victory.

Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb defeated Togi Makabe & Henare (B Block)

Henare and Elgin started off, and did some basic power stuff. Henare showed good fire. Cobb tagged in and threw Henare all over the place, and he tagged Elgin in for their suplex exchange spot.

Makabe tagged in and worked with Cobb, but it was quickly back to Henare and Elgin exchanging strikes. Henare got a near fall, but the crowd didn't buy it. While Cobb took Makabe outside, Elgin hit a lariat and a sit-out powerbomb for the win.

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) defeated Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) (B Block)

The Guerillas double-teamed Smith at the outset, but Archer and Smith quickly regained the early advantage. Archer worked over Tonga's left arm before he was able to tag in Loa. Loa ate a boot, but he took Archer down with a flying headscissors. Smith tagged in and the Squad remained in control.

Loa made the tag to Tonga, who ran wild with a headscissors of his own and hit a Stinger Splash. A good closing sequence saw Tonga survive a powerbomb attempt with Loa's help. Archer nailed Loa with a lariat, but Tonga turned a chokeslam attempt from Archer into a Gun Stun. While Archer and Loa rolled outside, Tonga hit Smith with a Gun Stun for the win.

This started slow, but it picked up at the end.

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano defeated War Machine (Ray Rowe & Hanson) (B Block)

Hanson and Yano did some comedy early. Hanson trapped Yano in the ropes, then hit him with his beard. Business picked up as Ishii and Rowe tagged in, while Yano and Hanson brawled outside. Ishii undid the turnbuckle pad and rammed Rowe into the exposed buckle.

Rowe recovered and whipped Yano into the buckle. He made the tag to Hanson, who ran wild with a series of clotheslines in opposite corners on Yano and Ishii. Rowe and Ishii worked together, exchanging strikes before Ishii landed a suplex. They continued to pound on each other, exchanging headbutts, forearms and lariats, before Ishii scored a near fall.

Yano tagged in and whipped Rowe into the exposed buckle, but Hanson made the save. Hanson did a suicide dive to Ishii, while Rowe scored a near fall on Yano. While Ishii took the ref, Yano hit low blows on Hanson and Rowe, and rolled up Rowe for the surprise victory.

Night 13 results --

This show took place in Kochi on Sunday and was recently uploaded to NJPW World. Here are quick results from the two tournament matches:

Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens defeated Death Juice (Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan) (A Block)

Owens defeated Sami Callihan by pinfall with a schoolboy.

SANADA & EVIL defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (A Block)

SANADA pinned Tenzan after a Magic Killer to give Los Ingobernables de Japon the lead in the A Block.

Standings after night 13 --

A Block

  • SANADA & EVIL -- 8
  • Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka -- 6
  • Death Juice (Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan) -- 6
  • Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens -- 6
  • Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi -- 6
  • Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI -- 6
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima -- 4
  • Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata – 2

B Block

  • Best Friends (Beretta & Chuck Taylor) -- 8
  • Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) -- 8
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano -- 6
  • Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) -- 6
  • War Machine (Ray Rowe & Hanson) -- 6
  • Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb -- 6
  • David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura -- 0
  • Togi Makabe & Henare -- 0