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NJPW ‘World Tag League 2018’ Team Breakdowns

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The 2018 World Tag League is set to take place across seventeen shows, beginning on November 17th and ending December 9th. For the first time since 2007, the tournament will be held in a single block format. Each of the fourteen teams will have to wrestle each other and whoever ends up with the most points (win=2, draw=1, loss=0) will meet in the finals to determine the winner. Along with a pair of trophies, the winners also receive a shot for the IWGP Tag Team Championships at Wrestle Kingdom 13. Let’s take a look at the teams.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
– 11th appearance as a team (1999-2001; 2008, 2012-present)
– 2001 & 2008 Winners
The most decorated tag team in IWGP Tag Team Championship history are making their eleventh appearance in the World Tag League. The two had a lengthy break during the time Kojima was signed with AJPW but the two have been a fixture of the tournament since 2012. They haven’t had the best luck in recent years, and it’s been over a decade since they last won, but they did manage to become IWGP Tag Team Champions in 2017, proving there’s something left in the tank.

Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
– 9th appearance as a team (1998-1999; 2001, 2003, 2007, 2014-2015; 2017-present)
Despite participating in twenty of these tournaments, Nakanishi has yet to come out with the win. He is a three time holder of the IWGP Tag Team Championship, one of those reigns being alongside Nagata, who himself is a two time winner of this tournament. Their lone reign as champions came back in 2006 and lasted nearly a year before they were beat by Tenzan and Kojima.

Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer
– 5th appearance as a team (2012-2014; 2017-present)
Before being exiled to NOAH, Smith and Archer were a dominated force in the tag division. Every year they managed to sit on top of the block and either lost in the finals or were eliminated via tie breaker. As champions, they went right back to the top upon their return last year, but again fell victim to the tiebreakers.

EVIL & SANADA
– 3rd appearance as a team (2016-present)
– 2017 winners
Last year’s winners took full advantage of the tournament to earn themselves a title shot and followed up with a win at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom. They’re the only team in this year’s lineup to have won the tournament in this decade so they should be considered heavy favorites.

Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (IWGP Tag Team Champions)
– 3rd appearance as a team (2016-present)
Although four time IWGP Tag Team Champions, Tama and Tanga have yet to win the World Tag League. They reached the finals in both years they’ve competed in and this will be the second time they enter the tournament as the champions.

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
– 3rd appearance as a team (2006; 2017-present)
Former champions make their third appearance this year. A one time team in 2006 came back together in 2017, won the titles and are now looking for another opportunity at the gold.

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
– 3rd appearance as a team (2014, 2017-present)
While there is a gap between those dates, don’t be fooled. During Suzuki-Gun’s banishment to NOAH, these two continued to team, marking this as their fifth straight year working together. They’ve never had much success and with their combined age topping 100, the clock is ticking.

Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi
– 3rd appearance as a team (2016-present)
This being their third appearance in as many years somewhat gives Page and Yujiro the feeling of a tag team fixture. Both years they were moderately successful but given Page’s recent tweets, this may be their last chance before he moves on.

Beretta & Chuckie T.
– 2nd appearance as a team (2017-present)
A staple of the US independents for half a decade now, Best Friends were a surprise entrant in last year’s tournament. Since then, both have been heavily featured and now look to take over the reigns as Chaos’ top heavyweight tag team.

Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
– 2nd appearance as a team (2017-present)
These two were another surprise team last year and are now looking for another opportunity. Cobb has only been featured on one tour and two U.S. shows since last year’s tournament. Elgin wasn’t on any of the U.S. shows and has been off the last two tours. Their tag league tour last year was really awkward outside the ring and it wound up bleeding into their matches. Really unfortunate they couldn’t find different partners.

Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
– 2nd appearance as a team (2017-present)
When Tomoaki Honma went down with a severe neck injury during the spring of last year, Makabe was left without a partner. The two had been back-to-back winners the previous two tournaments but with Honma battling a new challenge, Makabe had one of his own. He was left scrambling for a new partner and in came the former young lion, Henare. Makabe didn’t have the same success with Henare, only managing a single win. Honma has returned but isn’t quite right so Makabe will tough it out with the ever-improving Henare.

Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
– 1st appearance as a team
While no one knows the full truth, Sabre has publicly stated he never wants to wrestle Taichi. Many were expecting Sabre to team with Suzuki but that would’ve forced an encounter between Sabre and Taichi. Both guys have had career highlights as singles wrestlers this year but now will be forced to see how well they can work together.

Juice Robinson & David Finlay
– 1st appearance as a team
Two young lion graduates from the same class come together for a first time appearance in World Tag League. This is Juice’s third appearance and Finlay’s second but their first as a team. They’ll look to leave an impression on all of the veterans that they shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
– 1st appearance as a team
Two current young lions coming together for the first time. These two have been at each other’s throats since the summer but will have to put their animosity aside in order to work together. They’ll look to prove themselves as the best of the current crop of young lions.

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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