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NJPW ‘World Tag League 2018’ (12.9.18) Preview & Predictions

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This is the final night of the 2018 World Tag League but there’s much than that more at stake. Will Ospreay is making his return from injury and he’s facing Taichi in a match that will determine the next challenger for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Speaking of which, that same title is also being defended as Kota Ibushi challenges the champion, Hirooki Goto. The show also sees the return of The Elite, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, BUSHI, Roppongi 3K, Taguchi, Kanemaru & Desperado. The main event between Guerrillas of Destiny and EVIL and SANADA will decide the winners of the World Tag League 2018.

English commentary featuring Kevin Kelly and Excalibur will be made available and the show will receive the full camera treatment. This is the last major show before Wrestle Kingdom, let’s get started!

Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs Togi Makabe, Toa Henare, Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida
It may have not always been pretty but I got a kick out of Nakanishi and Tenzan throughout the tour. These guys are nearing their fifties and yet they are still doing big boy dives off the top. Nothing but respect for those two men. Umino had a very strong tournament despite his winless record. He was fired up every night and left nothing on the table. I’m really excited to see what comes of him in the future. Henare took centerstage for his team and haf some gutsy performances near the end that showed a glimmer of hope. Bread Club is back and his smile is infectious. Old man Kojima is such a treat. Third Generation will win but the fture seems bright with Umino.
Prediction: Third Generation

Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & Killer Elite Squad vs Jeff Cobb, Michael Elgin & Best Friends
The crowd reaction to Iizuka locking in that Sleeper at Korakuen was the highlight of the tournament. He’s mostly used as an annoying filler piece for Suzuki-Gun but it was electric in that moment. K.E.S. find themselves without a Wrestle Kingdom match which comes as a bit of a surprise. It would seem the NEVER 6-Man gauntlet is in their future. Cobb and Elgin had another solid tournament. It’s still awkward watching them and knowing their personal history but they’re fun guys to watch muscle everyone around. There’s something fishy going on in the Best Friends universe. Maybe we get more clues tonight with another freak out by Chuckie T.
Prediction: Suzuki-Gun

Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado vs Tomohiro Ishii, YOH & SHO
The juniors make their return! The cat was out of the bag before the tour that Ishii and Sabre would be having a singles program Wrestle Kingdom and that was highlighted when Sabre got a win via referee stoppage on the second night of the tournament. Sabre was one of the clear highlights of the tournament. He’s so much different than any other heavyweight in the division.
Prediction: Suzuki-Gun

Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
More returns! Nice to see you, Chase Owens, but this isn’t the best time to come back. Naito has voiced his frustration with being held to a minimum these last two tours. He’s almost become a special attraction as of late. I think LIJ will come out firing on all cylinders and leave Bullet Club in the dust. Shingo mixing it up with Page would be a treat.
Prediction: LIJ

Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Taiji Ishimori vs Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & KUSHIDA
SNAKE! Toru Yano teams up with Okada for the first time on the tour. I’m not saying he’s the snake but Rocky Romero and Gedo are inexplicably off the show after being staples of these tags throughout the tour. Whatever happen it’s not good for Chaos. Bullet Club have gone undefeated over teams featuring Okada every night. Okada has gone 0-7 in these matches. I’m not sure if something big is going to happen but it doesn’t look good for Okada.
Prediction: Bullet Club

Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks & Marty Scurll vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, FinJuice & Ryusuke Taguchi
The Elite are back but more importantly, coach Taguchi! Jokes aside, this should be fun. The energy will be extremely high and no motion will be wasted. FinJuice showed throughout the tour that they’re on their way up in the tag division. They’ll be a fun team to monitor and seeing them square off with the Bucks will be fun. The major focus though will be the interactions between Omega and Tanahashi. A lot has been made of the build for their upcoming match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. It’s been mostly words and no action. We’ll get a taste of the action here and it should be a good time.
Prediction: The Elite

#1 Contendership for the NEVER Openweight Championship
Will Ospreay vs Taichi

This match was originally scheduled to take place at Power Struggle for the NEVER Openweight Championship. An injury to Ospreay put a hold on that and Taichi ended up having to defend against Hirooki Goto. Taichi lost that match and instead of receiving an automatic rematch, he must face the returning Ospreay for that opportunity. These two had a singles match this summer at Strong Style Evolved UK where Taichi used all the tricks in the books on Ospreay. King of Pro-Wrestling saw Ospreay pin Taichi but that was in a tag. This will be Ospreay’s biggest test of his NJPW career. Taichi matches work their best when you care about his opponent and I see a lot of interest in this case. Because of Taichi’s recent surge, I can see the match going either way. I’m hopeful for Ospreay but I will not be surprised if Taichi goes into Wrestle Kingdom challenging for the title.
Prediction: Will Ospreay

NEVER Openweight Championship
Hirooki Goto (c) vs Kota Ibushi

Goto’s reigns as champion have largely been a disappointment. Some of the year’s oddest title matches have come by the hands of Goto. Whether it be against EVIL, Cobb or Taichi, the decisions surrounding Goto’s reign have been baffling. While they’re understandable on paper, they’ve been awkward in execution and right now he’s only holding the title because of the Ospreay injury. It’s entirely possible that we’re getting Goto/Taichi III at Wrestle Kingdom but I’m hopeful that the injury to Ospreay is the only reason we’re in this situation. I think most people are excited about the possibility of Ibushi and Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom. That would certainly be the ideal pairing.
Prediction: Kota Ibushi

World Tag League Finals
EVIL & SANADA vs Guerrillas of Destiny

A rematch of last year’s finals which saw EVIL and SANADA victorious and lead them to a Wrestle Kingdom match where they then won the IWGP Tag Team Championship. This time around, there’s nothing to lose for G.O.D. They’re the reigning champions so either way they have a spot at Wrestle Kingdom. They’d be able to name their challengers if they were to win but a loss by EVIL and SANADA would push them out of Wrestle Kingdom and that can’t happen. They’re both two of the brightest stars so there’s no way they don’t have a title match on January 4th.
Prediction: EVIL & SANADA

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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