NJPW World Tag League Day 1, Korakuen Hall, November 18:
Teruaki Kanemitsu defeated Hiram Kawato
This was a particularly good showing from Kanemitsu, who has improved a lot. He hit very hard and looks a lot more polished than Kawato. Kawato is the younger of the two and looked good in his own right. Kanemitsu synched in a deep camel clutch and got the win with the young lion favourite, the Boston Crab.
Billy Gunn, Yoshitatsu, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA defeated David Finlay, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Jushin Thunder Liger
Out of all the things I didn’t expect to happen in 2016, Billy Gunn debuting in NJPW as part of the Hunter Club was right at the top of the list. He even had it written on his trunks! There wasn’t much to this match, it was pretty basic stuff. Tatsu looked awful when he was in the ring with Makabe. It was a complete mess. Gunn came in off a hot tag, tore through Finlay with some clotheslines and beat him with the Fame Asser and that was that. After the match Gunn & Makabe had to be pulled apart.
SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI defeated Tiger Mask IV, Yuji Nagata & Katsuyori Shibata
This was a pretty good match. Early on SANADA hurt his knee doing his double leap frog. The distraction allowed LIJ to take over control of the match. SANADA sat out the rest of the match before he was tagged in for the finish. EVIL worked really well with both Shibata and Nagata. Lots of good strong style action between those three. The finish saw SANADA hit the TKO on Tiger before finishing him with Skull End. The upcoming Tag League match between Shibata/Nagata and EVIL/SANADA should be excellent.
YOSHI-YOSHI, Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Chase Owens, BONE SOLDIER, Bad Luck Fale & Kenny Omega
This was a very entertaining eight man tag. Early on we seen Ishii suplex Fale, which got a huge pop. That’s always a great spot. SOLDIER was all over the place as usual. Owens and Omega looked very good as a team ahead of their Tag League run. Okada & Omega had a great series of reversals ending with an Okada dropkick. The last minute was chaotic and when the smoked cleared we had YOSHI pin Owens after he hit Karma.
Raymond Rowe & Hanson defeated Henare & Manabu Nakanishi
What an incredible debut this was for War Machine. They are going to get over in the same way that Michael Elgin did. They looked like beasts here. They destroyed Henare right from the bell, gorilla pressing him to the floor at one stage. At one point Rowe picked up both Henare & Nakanishi. Nakanishi mounted a brief comeback and he was able to hit some double team with Henare. The finish saw War Machine hit Decapitation, but it was broken up. They then finished Henare with Fallout. War Machine couldn’t have had a better debut.
Leland Race & Brian Breaker defeated Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page
This was average at best and not a very impressive debut for Race & Breaker. They’re not bad, but are completely out of their depth in NJPW. The crowd had no idea who they are, even the hardest of hardcore wrestling fans haven’t heard of these guys. NJPW have always had a thing for second generation stars, so the only reason they were here was because of Race’s father Harley. Hopefully by the end of the tour they’ll have turned a few heads. Breaker is a really big guy, but was clumsy at times. Race is a solid technical wrestler, but he showed his inexperience at times. Debuting against Yujiro is a tough break too, so that did them no favours. The finish saw Race hit an assisted Asai DDT to pin Yujiro and earn two points in the tournament.
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga
This was a really fiery tag match. GOD are really starting to click in NJPW and TenKoji are so over with the crowd, so it made for a great atmosphere. Loa looked good again. GOD put together some great tag combinations and got some good near falls out of it. Kojima was full of energy here. He finished off Loa with a lariat. This was the first meeting between these teams and a big win for Tenzan & Kojima over the current IWGP Tag champions.
Tetsuya Naito & Rush defeated Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Naito’s mystery partner was revealed to be Rush, a member of Los Ingobernables in CMLL. Rush has appeared in NJPW several times before, so the crowd were no stranger to him. This was an excellent main event. Robinson put in a huge performance here. He stepped up and showed he was as good as the guys he was in the ring with. Rush is a great heel and someone that has been on WWE’s radar over the past twelve months. There were some great false finishes and near falls near the end of this. Robinson had some great exchanges with Naito. He survived the Koji Clutch when Tanahashi made the save. Tanahashi was taken out with a double underhook Piledriver from Rush, which allowed Naito to finish Robinson with Destino. This was great!
There isn’t much on this show that you will remember two weeks from now, but it was a very easy watch. The main event is definitely worth your time.