World Tag League Final, December 10th:
David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV
This was a good opener. Finlay was positioned as the underdog as he was worked over by the veterans. Taguchi made the hot tag. Tiger took out Taguchi with a Tiger Driver leaving Liger & Finlay as the legal men. Finlay was able to catch Liger with a surprise roll up and score a major win. After the match all three other guys raised the hand of Finlay. NJPW have done an excellent job of slowly graduating Finlay from young lion.
Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale defeated Henare & Manabu Nakanishi
Nakanishi & Henare have had a great father/son bond going on throughout the Tag League. Henare has certainly started to gain confidence in the ring. This was a basic match. Henare got to kick out of a Fishermans Buster, but he was pinned after a DDT.
Billy Gunn & Yoshitatsu defeated BONE SOLDIER & Chase Owens
Billy Gunn has surprised people and worked extremely hard on this tour. This wasn’t much of a match, but there were some good exchanges between Gunn & Owens. The Dinis saw Gunn pin SOLDIER after a Fameasser. Gunn was definitely a fun addition to the Tag League.
Raymond Rowe & Hanson defeated Brian Breaker & Leland Race
This was an outstanding performance from War Machine. They looked like beasts here with one big move after another. Breaker looked okay at times, but Race was out of his depth. He isn’t ready for this spot yet. Hanson hit a crazy dive off the top to the floor and then finished Race after Fallout. If War Machine aren’t regulars after this I’ll be amazed.
EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI defeated Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
This was a very fun match. There was lots of good, fast paced, hard hitting action. Kojima looked great here, while Nagata & EVIL showed good chemistry. The finish came when EVIL pinned Kojima after he ate a face full of mist and an STO. This could be leading to LIJ challenging Kojima, Ricochet & Finlay for the NEVER Six Man titles at Wrestle Kingdom.
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Katsuyori Shibata & Juice Robinson
The story here was Goto vs Shibata. These two have incredible history together, both as opponents and as a team. They locked up here and it was a friendly exchange. Robinson took the heat for his team went back and forth with YOSHI until Shibata & Goto were turned loose on each other and went to war. They went at it, full steam ahead. Shibata went for a PK, but YOSHI cut him off with a lariat. This led to Goto hitting the Ushigoroshi and GTR on Shibata and pinning the NEVER champion. So it looks like we’re getting Shibata vs Goto at Wrestle Kingdom for the NEVER title. They’ve met before at WK and it has always been a war.
Rush & Tetsuya Naito defeated KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was a really good tag match. Naito & Tanahashi had a hell of a fiery forearm exchange ahead of their meeting for the IC title at Wrestle Kingdom. KUSHIDA looked excellent. He hit a big dive out of the ring and looked very good against Rush. Rush can be awkward in the ring at times and tends to be overrated. Hiromu Takahashi hit the ring, and after a ref distraction, he dropped KUSHIDA. This allowed Rush to hit a double underhook Piledriver and pin KUSHIDA. After the match Naito handed Hiromu a Los Ingobernables de Japan hat and he accepted it. So, the former Kamaitachi is now a member of LIJ. He’s a perfect fit for the group.
Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Hangman Page & Kenny Omega
This was great. Some of the stuff here between Omega & Okada was mesmerising. Their meeting at Wrestle Kingdom is going to be one for the ages. Page stepped up big time here and proved that he can hang with three of the best in New Japan. This was a breakout performance for him. He looked like he broke Ishii’s neck when he dropped him on the apron with a neckbreaker. The finish saw Okada pin Page after a Rainmaker. After the bell Omega caught Okada with the One Winged Angel as he was celebrating, then did the same to Gedo. This was a great angle to build towards their WK main event.
World Tag League Final
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma defeated Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga
This was an absolutely incredible main event and by far the best match The Guerrillas of Destiny have ever had in NJPW. This tournament has seen them breakout in a big way. This match saw a classic Honma performance, the sort of thing we really haven’t seen from him properly for the most of the year. He was taken out early and laid out on the ramp. Makabe was worked over for a time. Then Honma was worked over for a long time until Makabe came in and started swinging hands. We saw one of the scariest bumps of the year when Honma was powerbombed off the apron through a table by Loa while Tonga caught him with a neckbreaker. The coolest spot of the match came when Tonga intercepted a King Kong Knee Ðrop with a Gun Stun. GOD worked like a fluid unit and hit several double team moves, including a Magic Killer, all of which got big near falls. The gritty Honma scrapped and clawed his way back into the match to save Makabe. They hit a Doomsday Kokeshi on Loa. Honma hit a Kokeshi on Tonga on the apron. Honma then hit a diving Kokeshi on Loa, followed by a King Kong Knee Drop from Makabe to score the win.
This saw Honma & Makabe win the World Tag League for the second year in a row and secure a title match with GOD at Wrestle Kingdom. No one saw this coming, as many expected Goto & Ishii to take the tournament. This is a must-see main event. The Tag League is one of the more uninteresting tournaments of the year, but don’t skip this show. It is available now at NJPWWorld.com.