Article: A Tale of Two Tag Leagues

POST Wrestling's WH Park previews and compares New Japan's World Tag League with All Japan's Real Tag League tournaments with matches he recommends from both.

A Tale of Two Tag Leagues

By: WH Park

It’s November and autumn leads into winter and for wrestling fans, it means that they are going to get a plethora of tag team wrestling provided by New Japan Pro Wrestling via it’s World Tag League and All Japan Pro Wrestling with it’s Real World Tag League.

Time is a valuable commodity to wrestling fans I thought I’d preview both leagues and compare shows that are going on within the same week and highlight some of the more intriguing matches.

Let’s look at the line up of teams first.

NJPW

There will be 14 teams in one block and the tour will run 17 shows from November 17 to December 9.

  • Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
    These two team quite a lot on most tours and Makabe is seen as a mentor to Henare. I can only assume that Honma not getting the spot as Makabe’s partner is equally about his own health and wanting to push Henare going into 2019. They should produce some very fun matches on this tour.
  • TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima)
    One of the most popular tag teams in New Japan history and an act that always pops a crowd. Tenzan has been working on a messed-up ankle for a couple of years now and the wear and tear on his body have affected his ability to have a good match in a negative way. Kojima is still capable of having good matches and should look good if/when he gets the hot tag in matches. Overall I don’t expect much from this team in terms of the standings and in match quality.
  • Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
    They still work here?All kidding aside it’s nice to see Nagata being used for a change. Nakanishi has enough of a unique charisma to almost make up for his near immobility in the ring. Not really looking forward to most of their matches with the exception of them facing Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino, speaking of whom…
  • Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida
    Umino is the young lion New Japan has the most confidence in among a crop of super promising rookies. Yoshida is an import from TAKA Michinoku’s Kaientai Dojo and is likely going to be signing a New Japan contract in early 2019. Recently positioned as rivals they will be teaming here and taking on many of their senpais to prove themselves to the company and to the fans. This is the team I’m most excited to see during this tour as they bring a fire and freshness to the entire tag division.
  • Juice Robinson & David Finlay.
    Two legit friends that team regularly on nearly all the tours. Juice needs to get regain footing in the company since his ill-thought-out loss of the U.S. Title to Cody Rhodes at Fighting Spirit Unleashed. Finlay is the most underrated and under-utilized person on the New Japan roster. These two have amazing chemistry with each other and are always showing off excellent double-team maneuvers when they work together. Along with the previously discussed Young Lion team, this is the duo I think will provide some of the best matches in the tournament.
  • Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
    A return for this particular pairing which made their debut in last year’s tournament. Reports of them not getting along outside of the ring will probably not play a factor inside of it. Elgin has been missing from Japan recently because he’s been working and doing well for himself in Mexico. It will be interesting to see what he brings back from that experience. Cobb has been on fire recently with winning PWG’s BOLA and World title this year. He’s also the current ROH World TV Champion and is having very good outings in that promotion. Two of the best big men in wrestling today. I think they have an excellent shot at getting into the finals.
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
    Long-time Chaos teammates who are paired together quite a lot. They have an interesting chemistry usually but I can’t help feel this a downgrade for Ishii who should be teaming with someone like Goto or Will Ospreay (those two had an amazing match against The Golden Lovers in Osaka back in September). They should have fun matches, but I don’t see any banging performances from Ishii this tour.
  • Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T)
    A tag team that works ROH on a regular basis they made their debut as a team in last year’s tag league. They had a nice mini-feud with Killer Elite Squad during the Destruction tour which saw both teams trading wins. Keep an eye on these two as they are likely to produce some good matches with the other teams and possibly go to the finals
  • Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi
    Bullet Club or Elite? Regardless of the unit name, Page has been having a very good year in New Japan and in ROH. He reportedly did not sign a new contract with ROH so his status there and in New Japan is in question. Yujiro is just there to fill out cards so don’t expect much from them. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the win and who eats a pin in their matches
  • Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
    The current IWGP Tag Team Champions. They’ve been on a tear recently and have been having excellent outings in their matches with various opponents. A perfect example of the whole being greater than the parts. The team to beat in this tournament as any wins over them will hopefully get you a title shot should they retain past Wrestle Kingdom.
  • Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
    Ugh, the worst team in the league and that’s saying something. Suzuki has been, slowly but surely, turning me off with his rule-breaking and brawling. Him teaming with the completely garbage Iizuka makes their matches an easy washroom break or fast forward for me.
  • Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.)
    Former multiple time IWGP tag champions. They’ve not been seen much recently and I can’t really envision them doing much in this tournament. Archer has thankfully lost the spitting on the audience gimmick but he does himself no favors when visibly being petulant about it on TV. DBS Jr. has been looking good in MLW and I feel a move forward from Archer as a singles wrestler or teaming more with his cousin, Teddy Hart would be a better career move for him. I’d be surprised if they rank in the top 5 teams at the end of the tour.
  • Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
    Ummmm…. what?I don’t understand why you break up the RevPro British tag champs of Suzuki and ZSJ and put them in with inferior partners. ZSJ has a nice effect on Suzuki that sees the veteran stick to his wrestling game more when teaming with Zack. Hopefully, ZSJ has a similar effect on the Karate Goth Theater Dork. Don’t expect much from this team as it’s just been announced that Zack will face Ishii in a singles match at WK for the RevPro British Heavyweight Title.
  • SANADA & EVIL
    Members of Los Ingobernables de Japon and last years winners of the tournament. They subsequently went on to win the tag titles and have some excellent matches with GoD and The Young Bucks. I can’t see them NOT going to the finals and in fact, these two are my favorites to win the whole thing again.

 

AJPW

There will be 11 teams in one block and the tour will run 19 shows from November 13 to December 11

  • Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto
    The legend of All Japan teaming with the Strong division ace of Big Japan provides a lot of star power to the tournament. There is a high potential for some big hoss battles as well as seeing them beat the tar out of the other teams.
  • Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu
    Former AJPW World tag team champions. Yoshitatsu has been doing very well for himself since coming to All Japan a couple of years ago and a large factor in that has been his alliance with Miyahara and Nextream. Miyahara recently won the Triple Crown back from Zeus so don’t expect to be seeing him eat that many pins if any.
  • Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi
    The other members of Nextream and current All-Asia Tag Team Champions. They are two of the brighter prospects of All Japan’s roster and are having a very good reign as All-Asia champs. Look for them to go very far in the league as well as set-up future challengers for their titles.
  • Get Wild (Takao Omori & Manabu Soya)
    Soya, currently one of the top stars of Wrestle-1, reforms his very popular and successful tag team with Omori. They have excellent chemistry with each other and are former World Tag champions. They should have some fun matches.
  • Violent Giants (Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa)
    Current World Tag Team champions and one of the best and most hard-hitting tag teams working anywhere in the world. Would be odds-on favorites to win the whole thing except that Ishikawa has been working with an injured shoulder. We’ll see how much he’s recovered and how much of the load Suwama will have to carry in their matches.
  • The End (Odinson & Parrow)
    A team I’m not familiar with at all. They are making their debut in Japan in this tournament. Odinson & Parrow made a name for themselves working in EVOLVE and in FIP in Florida. Parrow has also been featured on MLW’s Fusion show as a member of The Stud Stable. This is an excellent chance to show puro fans and the entire wrestling community what they are capable of. We’ll see how they do and if they’re brought back for future tours.
  • TAJIRI & Gianni Valletta
    TAJIRI is the current Gaora TV champion. He usually phones it in so I don’t expect much from him.  Valletta is a wrestler from Malta who works the undercard doing a very poor Bruiser Brody ripoff. He’s also not very good. I don’t want to see any of their matches, even with teams I’m really high on.
  • Joe Doering & Dylan James
    James recently turned on Jake Lee and his Sweeper faction to form this big, bruising tag team with Doering. James has shown some promise since jumping from Zero-ONE and pairing him up with Doering is a great idea. They aesthetically match really well and James will learn a lot from the veteran Doering who is one of the best wrestlers on the roster.
  • Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai
    The main members of Sweeper. Jake is arguably the top project for All Japan going into the future. He is a former teammate of Kento Miyahara and is now positioned as his rival. Sai is a journeyman wrestler from Z-1 who’s made All Japan his main base of operations with varying degrees of success. They have a similar strike-based offense and should have some good matches with all of the other teams.
  • The Big Guns (Zeus & The Bodyguard)
    Multiple time World Tag Team Champions and one of the favorites going into this. Zeus is coming off a loss of the Triple Crown to Miyahara and is looking to regain some footing in All Japan as a result. Bodyguard is the current All-Asia singles champion. Zeus has been on fire this year as a single and his team with Bodyguard is sure to produce some entertaining matches.
  • KAI & Kengo Mashimo
    KAI is another freelancer who works a lot of dates in All Japan and Mashimo is a member of the Kaientai Dojo promotion who’s been working steadily in All Japan as of late. Both are pushed very strongly in the company despite their freelance status and I can see them not only having great matches but going into the finals.

Most of the World Tag League shows will be tournament matches with a few undercard matches here and there. New Japan’s website says that most “key matches” will be shown on New Japan World. What a constitutes a “key match” besides being a tournament match is something I’m not sure about. Besides the Korakuen Hall and the Osaka and Kobe shows, I don’t think we’re going to be getting full multi-cam broadcasts of these cards.

On the undercard, there are several Suzuki-gun vs. Suzuki-gun multi-man tags to promote ZSJ, Minoru Suzuki and KES competing against each other.

However, the most anticipated series of non-tournament matches throughout most of the tour will see Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, KUSHIDA and Rocky Romero taking on Jay White and various iterations of The Bullet Club. Don’t be surprised if New Japan has near sell-outs for this tour because of this match.

From what I could gather about All Japan’s broadcast schedule, they will be showing a mix of undercard matches along with league ones on their AJPW.tv streaming service. Some of the shows, like the Korakuen Hall one, will be live and some of them will be VOD.

Here are the League matches from both promotions that I think you should keep an eye on:

NOVEMBER 13, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Real World Tag League: Zeus & The Bodyguard vs. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya
Real World Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Kengo Mashimo & KAI
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu

NOVEMBER 17, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Hotel Emisia Sapporo
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Fujisawa City Chichibunomiya Memorial Gymnasium
World Tag League 2018: Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare

NOVEMBER 18, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Hotel Emisia Sapporo
Real World Tag League: Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Tokyo Korakuen Hall
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. SANADA & “King of Darkness” EVIL

NOVEMBER 20, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Sendai PIT
Real World Tag League: Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai
Real World Tag League: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs. KAI & Kengo Mashimo
Real World Tag League: Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu vs. Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Takaoka Techno Dome
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.

NOVEMBER 21, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Sendai PIT
Real World Tag League: Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs. Kengo Mashimo & KAI
Real World Tag League: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs. Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto
Real World Tag League: Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Shibata City Bunka Center
World Tag League 2018: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Beretta & Chuckie T

NOVEMBER 23, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Shin-Kiba 1st RING
Real World Tag League: Kengo Mashimo & KAI vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Culttz Kawasaki
World Tag League 2018: Beretta & Chuckie T vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay

NOVEMBER 24, 2018

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Kuki Mainichikogyo Arena (Kuki City Gymnasium)

Nothing.

NOVEMBER 25, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Yokohama City Hiranuma Memorial Gymnasium
Real World Tag League: Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai
Real World Tag League: Kengo Mashimo & KAI vs. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium (Dolphins Arena)
World Tag League 2018: Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Togi Makabe & Toa Henare vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
World Tag League 2018: Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Beretta & Chuckie T
World Tag League 2018: “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi

NOVEMBER 26, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Niigata City Industrial Promotion Center
Real World Tag League: Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi
Real World Tag League: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Komatsu Suehiro Gymnasium (Yoshitsune Arena)
World Tag League 2018: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb

NOVEMBER 27, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Shirakawa City General Gymnasium
Real World Tag League: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai

NOVEMBER 28, 2018

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Mito Citizen Gymnasium
World Tag League 2018: “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.

NOVEMBER 29, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Nagoya International Conference Hall
Real World Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Tokyo Korakuen Hall
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Togi Makabe & Toa Henare vs. Beretta & Chuckie T
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi
World Tag League 2018: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
World Tag League 2018: “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano

NOVEMBER 30, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Kakogawa City Gymnasium (Sub Arena)
Real World Tag League: Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi vs. Zeus & The Bodyguard
Real World Tag League: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Tokyo Korakuen Hall
World Tag League 2018: Togi Makabe & Toa Henare vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
World Tag League 2018: Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
World Tag League 2018: “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa

DECEMBER 1, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Shunan Nanyo Fureai Center
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Zeus & The Bodyguard

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Hakata Star Lane
Real World Tag League: Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu
Real World Tag League: Zeus & The Bodyguard vs. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai

DECEMBER 2, 2018

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Osaka Edion Hall #2 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium #2)
World Tag League 2018: Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Ayato Yoshida  & Shota Umino
World Tag League 2018: Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Beretta & Chuckie T
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Kochi Prefectural Gymnasium
World Tag League 2018: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
World Tag League 2018: Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
World Tag League 2018: “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA vs. Beretta & Chuckie T

DECEMBER 4, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Oro City Hall
Real World Tag League: Kengo Mashimo & KAI vs. Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”
Kobe Sambo Hall
World Tag League 2018: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa
World Tag League 2018: Beretta & Chuckie T vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
World Tag League 2018: “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay

DECEMBER 5, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Hiroshima Marina Hop
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya
Real World Tag League: Zeus & The Bodyguard vs. Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto

DECEMBER 6, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Osaka Azalea Taisho
Real World Tag League: Zeus & The Bodyguard vs. Kengo Mashimo & KAI
Real World Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Yamagata Big Wing
World Tag League 2018: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
World Tag League 2018: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Beretta & Chuckie T

DECEMBER 7, 2018

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Akita Nice Arena (Yuri Honjo Arena)
World Tag League 2018: Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shot Umino
World Tag League 2018: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi
World Tag League 2018: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
World Tag League 2018: Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA

DECEMBER 8, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Osaka Edion Hall #2
Real World Tag League: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto
Real World Tag League: Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu vs. Zeus & The Bodyguard

DECEMBER 9, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”, 09.12.2018

Kyoto KBS Hall
Real World Tag League: Zeus & The Bodyguard vs. Joe Doering & Dylan James

NJPW “WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Iwate Industrial Bunka Center Apio
World Tag League 2018 Final:
TBD

DECEMBER 11, 2018

AJPW “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018”

Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Real World Tag League: Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai vs. Kengo Mashimo & KAI
Real World Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya
Real World Tag League: Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Joe Doering & Dylan James
Real World Tag League 2018 Final: TBD

Both tournaments have some intriguing matches to offer.

I tend to prefer how All Japan books their tag division and their tag championships a bit more than how New Japan does it. I’m also worried that New Japan, because of the way they booked the finals of their Super Jr. Tag league, that they might do something similar with the heavyweight league and have a multi-team finals leading into a multi-team tag title match at Wrestle Kingdom. New Japan is set on trying to cram as much of their talent onto their biggest show and 3 and 4-way matches tend to be their go-to method.

All Japan doesn’t have those considerations so I’m confident I’m going to get a single team vs. team match in the finals that will lead to a title match at the next big show.

About WH Park 8 Articles
WH has been a wrestling fan for most of his life starting with the WWF and expanding to WCW, ECW and ROH. He discovered Japanese wrestling around 1997 and hasn't looked back since. He also loves comics, Star Wars, films and music with equal passion. He resided in Japan for nearly 10 years and is now back in Toronto, Canada.