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NJPW ‘World Tag League 2017 Night 1’ 11.18.17 Results & Review

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Tonight, New Japan Pro-Wrestling kicked off their World Tag League. Like the G1 Climax, this is a multi-week tournament where the winners receive a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom. There is a collection of both established tag teams as well as thrown together teams all with the hope of challenging for the IWGP Tag Team Championships.

Kawato & Umino def. Yagi & Narita @ 5:32
Coming of the Lion’s Gate show the young lions weren’t afforded the time to showcase their potential as they were a couple of nights previous. Instead, they each got a dropkick variation as their sole highspot. Solid match but nothing special. Kawato connected with the Roundhouse Kick on Yagi for the victory. He connected much better than the previous night.

G.O.D. @ Leo Tonga def. War Machine & Oka @ 8:37
War Machine are possibly the hardest working wrestlers on the New Japan roster. No matter what you know they will get the crowd into their match. Oka took a vertical suplex piledriver from Tanga Loa, scoring the win for Bullet Club. Not much to this but really hard work from everyone not named Tama Tonga.

Ishii, Yano, Beretta & Chucky T def. Elgin, Cobb, Finlay & Kitamura @ 10:34
The debuts of both Chucky T and Jeff Cobb were the focus of this match. Cobb got over very easily, showing off his suplex variations and received warm approval from Korakuen. Chucky T, not so much. He’ll have his work cut out for him getting over with the New Japan audience. Chucky gave the Awful Waffle to Kitamura, scoring the win on his debut, but this was the Jeff Cobb show and he should flourish on this tour.

Tenzan, Kojima, Nagata & Nakanishi def. Fale, Yujiro, Page & Owens @ 9:56
By having Nakanishi and Fale be the meat and potatoes of the match, this took a while to get going. Halfway through, once it picked up, this was fun. Page and Nakanishi both had strong highspots and Kojima finished off Owens with a lariat. The first portion was extremely dull but turned around and redeemed itself the moment Nakanishi dumped Yujiro, Page and Owens to the outside.

Tanahashi, Makabe & Henare def. Archer, Smith Jr. & Desperado @ 9:14
Forced to the sidelines due to injury, this was Henare’s return to the New Japan ring for the first time since March. K.E.S. put his strength to the test early on, keeping him grounded for the most part. I’m excited to see how he performs on this tour and am very happy to see him back. He’s still in the young lion trunks so maybe graduation is yet to have been achieved. The match was fine. K.E.S. did their damnedest to bully everyone around but it was Desperado suffering the loss when he was hit with the High Fly Flow by Tanahashi.

Naito, Hiromu & Bushi def. Okada, Ospreay & Gedo @ 10:44
When receiving little tastes of what’s to come January 4th in the main event at Wrestle Kingdom 12, how can one not get excited? Okada and Naito continue giving a preview of what to expect just under two months away. Ospreay also stood out in only ways that he makes possible. Gedo took the MX from Bushi to end the match. Post-match Naito looked to cut a WK12 promo on Okada but got the microphone torn from his grip. Hiromu and Naito have been teasing each other as of late like a little brother, big brother dynamic and tonight it led to Naito throwing Hiromu’s jacket into the crowd. Very silly but endearing antics between the two.

World Tag League A Block Match
Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi def. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka @ 13:12

Iizuka is someone who generally receives the boots from western fans and that’s understandable. His gimmick is over the top goofy and wrestles very little. That said, he has his place and in these types of matches can be pretty entertaining. The match focus revolved around Suzuki and Goto, both of whom knocked each other around a fair amount. Yoshi came to save Goto from submitting and Goto dropped Suzuki with a GTR and score the first victory of the tournament. Lots of brawling and overall shenanigans from Suzuki-Gun but still managed to be fun. Goto and Yoshi come out the gate looking like a serious threat to win the block.

World Tag League A Block Match
Death Juice (Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan) def. Evil & Sanada @ 19:29

The third debut tonight was The Callihan Death Machine, Sami Callihan. Very cool that New Japan allowed these four the position to main event the show and they took the ball and ran. Callihan received love from the fans early with his hard work and intensity. Korakuen will always be big supporters of Juice, they were the first crowd to take a liking to him back in his young lion days. All four worked extremely hard and delivered by far the match of the night. Evil and Callihan’s chemistry was so hot that it has me hoping for a singles match between the two down the road. Cannot stress enough how far and beyond they went to give a great match that’s must-see. Post-match Juice cuts a promo explaining how he’s come up short a lot this year but he will be leaving with the Tag League trophies. He also noted that Callihan needs to cut it out with the kissing and I agree. What a weirdo. In any case, match of the night, go out of your way.

Recommended Matches
Death Juice vs Evil & Sanada

Tomorrow’s Tag League Matches
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
G.O.D. vs Best Friends

Robert McCauley is an NJPW enthusiast who has seen every show live since Jan. 4, 2015

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