The World Tag League is an annual tag team tournament held by New Japan Pro Wrestling. It consists of two parts. First is a round robin tournament with two blocks of seven teams. Each team will wrestle every other team in their block and get 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. At the end of the round robin phase, the teams with the most points (one team from each block) will face each other to determine the winner of the tournament. The winners will then become the number 1 contenders for the IWGP Tag Team Championship (assuming the current champs, Gallows and Anderson, don’t win).
It looks like the entire tournament will be aired on New Japan’s streaming service so I thought this was as good a time as any to jump on board. I’ll be following the tournament and commenting on the shows with results and thoughts. The shows will consist of multiple matches, not all of which will be tournament related, but I’ll be commenting on the shows as a whole and labeling the tournament matches appropriately. Here are the results of the first night of the tournament!
NJPW World Tag League 2015 – Korakuen Hall
November 21, 2015
published on New Japan World
Sho Tanaka & Yohei Monatsu vs David Finlay & Mascara Dorada (CMLL World Welterweight Champ)
This was a pretty quick match, but a really good opener. Dorada has some pretty flashy moves and everyone seemed to work well together.
Dorada pins Monatsu with a Dorada Screwdriver (sitout scoop slam driver)
Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels vs Juice Robinson & Tiger Mask (IV) (NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champ)
Kaz and Daniels pretty much dominated this match, especially on Tiger Mask. Robinson got some offense but it wasn’t enough. Kaz and Daniels pulled out most of the dirty tag team wrestling tricks to win this one, but they kind of just outclassed Robinson and outfought Tiger Mask on this night.
Daniels pins Robinson after Celebrity Rehab (release belly-to-back suplex into a double knee facebreaker)
Gedo & Michael Bennett & Matt Taven (ROH Tag Champs) w/ Maria Kanellis vs Captain New Japan & Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA
This match was okay. It was practically a comedy match in the beginning. Cap is goofy, and Taguchi’s offense consisted entirely of attacks using his butt or hips. Once KUSHIDA got in it got more serious and was pretty good. Maria played a big part in the match having two notable distractions, the second leading directly to the finish when Cap stared at her and took entirely too long in an awkward segment where he fumbled with taking his belt off.
Bennett pins Captain New Japan after a spike piledriver
Cody Hall & Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale & AJ Styles vs Jay White & Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
This one started as a free-for-all with all ten men fighting in and out of the ring before the bell. They eventually take their corners. Most of the guys had segments in the ring before the match started to break down again. Everyone got their shots in, but Jay White ended up in the ring with Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi. White took a spear from Tonga and Takahashi’s finisher to lose the match or his team. Overall it was a fun match with lots going on.
Yujiro Takahashi pins Jay White after a Miami Shine (modified death valley bomb)
World Tag League 2015 Match (Block A)
Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano vs Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
Good match. Sakuraba seemed to have Honma’s number in this one. They started the match and Sakuraba caught him in multiple submission holds. Honma in general didn’t seem to ever get a solid hold on the match. Yano and Makabe were more evenly matched, but Makabe wasn’t in the match as much as Honma, so that kind of led to their downfall.
Honma tried a couple of headbutts at towards the end, both against Yano and both of them missed. The first was from the top and Honma hit the mat, the second Honma was running and ended up hitting his partner Makabe. Maybe he’ll have better luck as the tournament continues.
Toru Yano pins Tomoaki Honma with a schoolboy rollup
World Tag League 2015 Match (Block B)
EVIL & Tetsuya Naito w/ Bushi vs Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson (IWGP Tag Champs)
This was one of the more violent matches. Naito took forever to take of his ring entrance gear, and he and EVIL used the distraction to attack Gallows and Anderson before the bell. The bell rings and all four men brawl all over Korakuen Hall for the first part of the match. Anderson nearly powerbombs Naito on the walkway between sections of the crowd, but Naito gets out of it. Anderson settles for throwing him out of one of the exits from the Hall.
Evil was able to handle himself pretty well against Gallows and Anderson, which is good because Naito took his sweet time to get back to the ring, taking a seat in the crowd for a breather at one point. He seemed to be in a daze the whole time, but maybe that’s his character. When they all get back to the ring the match is pretty good. Anderson and Gallows tend to overpower the other team, but both are fairly evenly matched.
At the end of the match, EVIL distracts the ref and Bushi, a masked wrestler and new member of Naito’s heel faction Los Ingobernables, spits mist in Gallows’ eyes allowing Naito to hit his finisher for the win over the tag champs. Good match.
Tetsuya Naito pins Doc Gallows after a Destino (standing shiranui)
World Tag League 2015 Match (Block B)
Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER Openweight Champ) & Shinsuke Nakamura (IWGP Intercontinental Champ)
Great Match! Lots of very powerful moves and strikes from Goto and Ishii, and lots of good agile wrestling from Shibata and Nakamura. Shibata seemed to be the star of this match. He was very impressive, surviving multiple hard strikes and powerful moves.
There were a number of near falls that could have ended the match well. One in particular was a huge powerbomb from Goto to Shibata that I honestly thought was the finish.
The crowd (and I) got increasingly more excited as this match went along. They built up to the finish very, very well.
Katsuyori Shibata pins Tomoshiro Ishii after an Ushigoroshi (fireman’s carry neckbreaker) from Goto and a running kick
World Tag League 2015 Match (Block A)
Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada (IWGP Heavyweight Champ)
Another great match with a great buildup to the end! A lot of the early part of the match dealt with Tanahashi wanting to get his hands on Okada, but towards the end of the match Elgin took the spotlight. He was very, very impressive. He was almost exclusively paired up against YOSHI-HASHI, but he fought of both of his opponents at times.
Some highlights were definitely Elgin’s feats of strength. Two of the most memorable were a combination Samoan drop and fallaway slam on both YOSHI-HASHI and Okada, and when he performed a sitout front suplex from the second rope after pulling YOSHI-HASHI in from the apron. He also performed a stalling suplex early in the match where he was kicked in the stomach three times but managed to not let go. Very impressive.
That’s not to say the other guys weren’t good too. YOSHI-HASHI spent a lot of time in the ring and was very good. He ended up alone with Elgin at the end and took a turnbuckle powerbomb followed immediately by a sitout powerbomb.
Elgin pins YOSHI-HASHI with a sitout powerbomb
This was a very entertaining show. The last two matches were both really, really good. I think I like the Shibata & Goto vs Ishii & Nakamura match a little more than the main event, but both were great. I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament!
This show is available for free (even to non-subcribers) on the New Japan World streaming network.
Tournament Standings After Night One
|Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin||1-0-0||2|
|Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano||1-0-0||2|
|Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata||0-0-0||0|
|Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian||0-0-0||0|
|Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga||0-0-0||0|
|Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI||0-1-0||0|
|Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma||0-1-0||0|
|Evil & Tetsuya Naito||1-0-0||2|
|Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata||1-0-0||2|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima||0-0-0||0|
|Matt Taven & Michael Bennett||0-0-0||0|
|AJ Styles & Yujiro Takahashi||0-0-0||0|
|Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson||0-1-0||0|
|Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii||0-1-0||0|