The 2017 World Tag League Finals are here! Los Ingobernables de Japon clash with Bullet Club in order to see who is the top tag team to face off against Suzuki-Gun at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Cody, Marty Scurll and Kushida all make their returns on this final night of the tour.
Tenzan, Kojima, Nagata, Nakanishi & Liger def. Makabe, Finlay, Kawato, Henare & Kitamura @ 6:57
The legends did their thing and the young lions took the abuse. Kojima turned Kawato inside out with a lariat to win the match. Not much here, just giving the fans something familiar with the legends.
Hanson, Rowe, Elgin & Cobb def. Yujiro, Page, Owens & Leo @ 8:28
God, it’s so awkward watching Michael Elgin now. I hope that after this tour he doesn’t come back. Jeff Cobb had a great showcase here and hopefully that means they have plans for him next year. Page is another guy who has continued to show potential and with the rumors that War Machine are on their way to New York I’d think both Cobb and Page would be nice regular additions to the roster. War Machine hit Leo Tonga with Fallout to pick up the win. This match was awkward because of Elgin but Cobb, Page and War Machine were a lot of fun.
Bad Luck Fale def. Bushi @ 3:56
An extremely rare heavyweight versus junior singles match. Fale has been feuding with LIJ members all year. He beat Naito in the G1 Climax, tore Hiromu’s cat Daryl and now he’s picking on Bushi. He toyed with Bushi, pulling his shoulders off the mat for him and taking offense, Bushi decided to spray Fale with mist, give him a low blow and deliver MX. Bushi was disqualified but his point was made. We’ll see where they’re going with this as we head towards Wrestle Kingdom.
Best Friends def. Death Juice @ 11:56
Two of the hardest working teams of the tournament facing off on the final day of the tour. The work was solid and the crowd rewarded them with some strong reactions despite both Chucky T and Callihan being pretty much unknown by the majority of those in attendance. Both Callihan and Chucky would be welcome additions, like Cobb, to the NJPW roster. Although if I’m honest, they probably aren’t needed. They were nice in this tournament but I’ll be interested in seeing if they impressed enough to secure more tours next year. Best Friends won with Strong Zero onto Callihan.
Goto, Ishii, Yano & Yoshi-Hashi def. Suzuki, Archer, Smith Jr. & Desperado @ 11:54
Another win for Goto over Suzuki-Gun on this tour. He’s been out to avenge his loss to Suzuki for the NEVER Openweight Championship from earlier this year. Many aren’t excited for the rematch they will have at Wrestle Kingdom 12 but the match makes sense for Goto’s character. He’s always out to avenge and prove himself. Suzuki wouldn’t entertain the idea of giving Goto another match but when Goto put his hair on the line the match was made. This tag match was fine, we all knew where it was leading and your enjoyment depends on your stance of another Suzuki versus Goto match.
Cody & Scurll def. Ibushi & Kushida @ 12:22
The ‘kiss the ring’ stuff from Cody has to stop. It’s cringe worthy in the worst possible way. The character work by both Scurll and Cody doesn’t work for me. When they want to turn it up and deliver good in ring work they can but most the time they make me want to crawl out of my skin. Bullet Club gets the win after Scurll throws powder into Kushida’s eyes and rolls him up. I understand we need heels in wrestling. To me Suzuki-Gun works because they’re not trying to be cool. Bullet Club (Omega, Cody, Bucks & Scurll for the most part) try to be cool and that’s the problem. The Japanese based Bullet Club wrestlers are much more tolerable. In any case, this match wasn’t anything special but Kushida and Ibushi are always nice to watch.
Omega & Young Bucks def. Romero & Roppongi 3K @ 11:11
Making his return felt, Omega finishes Romero with the One-Winged Angel. Post-match Chris Jericho makes an appearance on the screen and when the lights return Jericho is in the ring. He attacks Omega from behind with the US title, busting him wide open. English commentator, Don Callis, comes to Omega’s aid but is hit by Jericho with the Code Breaker. We leave the scene with Jericho covered in Omega’s blood spatter. The crowd will Omega back to his feet with the signature Terminator clap. A very good scene to help add even more interest in this feud.
Naito & Hiromu def. Okada & Ospreay @ 14:22
Once again this pairing provides a great match that’s well worth the time to watch. Anytime these four enter the ring together you will not be disappointed. Ospreay took a Destino from Naito and Hiromu immediately followed up with a Time Bomb. You could argue these four are the absolute best wrestlers in their respective weight division across the entire world. Post-match Naito looked to taunt Okada to the crowd. He asked who they want to be champion. This sign of disrespect upset Okada. He charged back into the ring and applied his new submission, the Cobra Clutch, onto both Naito and Hiromu.
World Tag League Finals
Evil & Sanada def. Guerrillas of Destiny @ 21:57
They went a long time. There were ref bumps, run-ins, mist, tables, creative spots and a lukewarm response overall. Overbooked is a good word for this match. Too much was done that it overwhelmed and confused everyone. G.O.D. have always had an uphill battle with the New Japan audience. They like Tama but Tanga seems to be weighing him down. Evil and Sanada were the right call if they want people to care about the tag team division. They called out K.E.S. post-match and the two teams have a stare off before heading to the back. Hard work in this match but too much done and it fell relatively flat. Unfortunate but not necessarily a surprise considering G.O.D.’s past.
A decent but overall underwhelming show from New Japan. Two more Wrestle Kingdom matches are made. Hirooki Goto will put his hair on the line against Minoru Suzuki’s NEVER Openweight Championship and Evil & Sanada will challenge Killer Elite Squad for the IWGP Tag Team Championships. Also Chris Jericho makes an appearance in ring to attack Omega, adding blood into their feud. And lastly, Okada’s new submission continues to wreak havoc onto Naito.
Naito & Hiromu vs Okada & Ospreay (plus post-match)
Omega & Young Bucks vs Romero & Roppongi 3K (plus post-match)
So that concludes the 2017 World Tag League. 19 shows, over 100 tournament matches. The one tournament match that stands above all the rest is Evil & Sanada vs Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi in the A block finals. They received the most crowd reaction and was genuinely a surprise win. Tag tournaments aren’t for everyone but that match is definitely worth the time.