A Bullet Point Guide to NJPW’s World Tag League 2018

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The last tournament of the calendar year in New Japan is here, and Wrestle Kingdom is not too far away. World Tag League will involve fourteen pairings battling each other for points in a round-robin style tournament for tag team supremacy, and an almost guaranteed match inside the Tokyo Dome. Here is everything you need to know about World Tag League 2018 in bullet point form.

CLICK HERE FOR MY GUIDE THROUGH THE HISTORY OF NJPW

 

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Why You Should Watch These Shows

  • This will be New Japan’s last tournament of the year, and the final tour before Wrestle Kingdom.
  • Minoru Suzuki will at one point have a match against two young lions, so you may witness an actual massacre.
  • There’s potential for some good matches taking place during World Tag League based on the talent involved (as you will see below), and chances for some very good comedy moments, thanks to Yano, Trent and Chuckie T.
  • Everything Best Friends do.
  • Zack Sabre Jr. has new people to call a dickhead.
  • Jeff Cobb suplexing grown men like they’re children.
  • In my opinion, when it comes to in-ring action, no promotion in the world can rival New Japan Pro Wrestling right now.
  • NJPW has some of the best wrestlers in the world signed to its roster, and with fewer restrictions and more time for matches and builds than WWE, the quality of their matches is the best in the world. If you love professional wrestling, you owe it to yourself to at least attempt to watch this promotion once or twice.

 

 

Teams

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EVIL and SANADA – Los Ingobernables de Japon

The victors of last year’s World Tag League are back. With all three other active members of LIJ having already secured a championship match at Wrestle Kingdom, EVIL and SANADA will be even more driven to bring these trophies back once more, and join their stablemates in a quest for gold inside the Tokyo Dome.

 

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Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) – Bullet Club

Given that they currently hold the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships, G.O.D have the most to lose by far in World Tag League. Any loss throughout this term will pretty much guarantee the victorious team a future shot at their championship. Given how dominant Tanga Loa was in tag team competition throughout the G1 Climax tournament this summer, and that they are coming off a recent victory over former champions, The Young Bucks, G.O.D are thriving on momentum going into WTL.

Expect some interesting clashes with CHAOS members, a heated brawl with The Elite’s representatives, and a focused assault on their biggest competition, LIJ.

 

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Best Friends (Chuckie T and Beretta) – CHAOS

If you don’t like Best Friends, it’s extremely difficult for me to like you.

Chuckie T and Beretta have charmed fans around the world with their goofy antics, hilarious Twitter presence, and platonic displays of affection, yet let us not forget that these are two genuinely great wrestlers. We’ve already seen Beretta achieve success in the junior tag division, and we also got to see how good of a heavyweight wrestler he is in his brilliant clash with Kenny Omega at Power Struggle 2017, now hopefully with his bestie by his side, Big Greg can emulate the triumph of Roppongi Vice, with plenty of hugs and hand-holding along the way.

 

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Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) – Suzuki-Gun

K.E.S have been rather absent throughout 2018 in New Japan. During the Destruction tour in September, K.E.S resurfaced for the first time in six months, yet they were not the same Suzuki-Gun members that we were all familiar with. With their new look and a new attitude, it’ll be interesting to see the different, much more serious Killer Elite Squad compete in front of audiences not soaked in water throughout World Tag League.

 

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Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka – Suzuki-Gun

Minoru Suzuki is one of the most dangerous men in wrestling. Given that his protege and tag team partner in RevPro, Zack Sabre Jr., already has secured a title match at Wrestle Kingdom, it’s probably a good thing that they’re not teaming together for World Tag League, otherwise Zack would be pulling double duty on January 4th due to the dominating chemistry between these two Suzuki-Gun members.

Instead, Suzuki has recruited Takashi Iizuka, an uncontrollable beast that’s as unpredictable as he is vicious. Given how erratic and undependable Iizuka can be, I wouldn’t be surprised if he cost his faction’s leader this entire tournament.

CLICK HERE TO READ MY TRIBUTE TO MINORU SUZUKI

 

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Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi – The Elite

In their first outing officially as The Elite in New Japan, Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi will be looking to prove how cohesive and successful this newly formed offspring of Bullet Club can be. As disappointing as it is that Chase Owens wasn’t selected to partner with Hangman following on from their entertaining run as the Good Ol’ Virginia Boys during the G1, it’ll still be great to watch Page continue to flourish and impress in NJPW.

 

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FinJuice (David Finlay and Juice Robinson) – Taguchi Japan

FinJuice have been teaming together since their days as young lions, with little success so far. Coming off a disappointing run as IWGP US Champion, Juice will be looking to make an impression in this tag league, which will hopefully lead to gold once more.

 

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Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano – CHAOS

The combination of a half man, half dog built like a fridge on legs made of stone, and one of the most charmingly silly men to ever live is a bit of a strange one, yet for some reason, it works. Don’t expect these two to make it to the finals, given that Ishii already has a match set for the Tokyo Dome, yet you can expect plenty of wonderful silliness courtesy of Yano, and many, many stiff strikes thanks to Ishii.

 

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Michael Elgin and Jeff Cobb

So, despite all of the controversy surrounding this pairing during last year’s World Tag League, New Japan have insisted on once again teaming these two in this year’s tournament, much to the confusion and annoyance of many fans. Cobb and Elgin fit the classic, proven formula of teaming two huge, powerful guys together, which has always been popular in Japan, hence why they’re being put together once more.

As unpopular as this team may be, I have no doubt they will remain professional throughout the entire World Tag League, and of course, it will be fantastic to see Jeff Cobb absolutely killing it in an NJPW ring once again.

 

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Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi – Suzuki-Gun

Although they belong to the same faction, ZSJ and Taichi may just be the strangest pairing in this year’s tournament. One is a submission master, a technical wizard, a windy man, and the other is a fake singer heat magnet. Don’t expect these two to go too far considering that Zack has already bagged himself a match at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, it’s more likely that the end of WTL will see ZSJ lock Taichi in an Octopus Stretch and call him a lip-syncing dickhead.

 

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Ayato Yoshida and Shota Umino

New Japan’s young lions have been putting on a stream of great matches recently, particularly during the Power Struggle tour, full of fire and fighting spirit. Now, do not expect one single victory from Yoshida and Umino during their sixteen tournament matches, but you will be pleasantly surprised by their performance throughout the league despite their limited offence. That is if they can survive their encounter with Minoru Suzuki on night ten. You can’t finish the tournament when you’ve been murdered.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE YOUNG LIONS

 

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Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi

Two legends with little to no chance of winning it all, yet just wanting to prove they can still go and still put on a great fight.

 

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TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima)

And speaking of legends, the six-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions are reuniting for this year’s tag league. Do these two former World Champions have what it takes to land another major tag team accomplishment? Hopefully Kojima will fuel up enough on bread to carb his way to victory.

 

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Togi Makabe and Toa Henare

Surprisingly Makabe will not be teaming with his long-time partner, Honma, during the WTL, and instead is opting to take the recently graduated young lion, Toa Henare, under his wing. Unlikely contenders to win it all, yet you will see plenty of fire from Henare in every match as he teams with arguably the most well-known active wrestler in all of Japan.

 

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World Tag League Schedule

Live events are in red, black text means the matches will be uploaded later as VOD. VOD content is typically added within 24 hours of the event (Junior Tag League matches only will be uploaded, not full shows)

Please note: Live shows will have English commentary unless stated otherwise, but VOD matches are unlikely to have any commentary at all

 

Nov 17th 1:30am (PST) 4:30am (EST) 9:30am (UK) 

Nov 18th 1:30am (PST) 4:30am (EST) 9:30am (UK) 

Nov 20th VOD ONLY

Nov 21st VOD ONLY

Nov 23rd VOD ONLY

Nov 24th VOD ONLY

Nov 25th 0:00am (PST) 3:00am (EST) 8:00am (UK) JAPANESE COMMENTARY ONLY

Nov 26th VOD ONLY

Nov 28th VOD ONLY

Nov 29th 1:30am (PST) 4:30am (EST) 9:30am (UK) JAPANESE COMMENTARY ONLY

Nov 30th 1:30am (PST) 4:30am (EST) 9:30am (UK) JAPANESE COMMENTARY ONLY

Dec 2nd 11:00pm (Dec 1st) (PST) 2:00am (EST) 7:00am (UK) JAPANESE COMMENTARY ONLY

Dec 3rd VOD ONLY

Dec 4th VOD ONLY

Dec 6th 1:30am (PST) 4:30am (EST) 9:30am (UK)

Dec 7th 2:00am (PST) 5:00am (EST) 10:00am (UK)

Dec 9th 10pm (Dec 8th) (PST) 1:00am (EST) 6:00am (UK) WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018 FINAL

 

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Interesting Matches with Dates

Nov 18th –

  • Suzuki and Iizuka vs. K.E.S
  • Ishii and Yano vs. ZSJ and Taichi
  • Cobb and Elgin vs. LIJ

Nov 20th – Suzuki and Iizuka vs. Ishii and Yano

Nov 21st – ZSJ and Taichi vs. Best Friends

Nov 25th – 

  • TenCozy vs. Cobb and Elgin
  • LIJ vs. ZSJ and Taichi

Nov 26th – Suzuki and Iizuka vs. Best Friends

Nov 29th – 

  • G.O.D vs. The Elite
  • Suzuki and Iizuka vs. ZSJ and Taichi
  • Ishii and Yano vs. LIJ

Nov 30th –

  • Cobb and Elgin vs. Ishii and Yano
  • LIJ vs. G.O.D

Dec 3rd – 

  • Suzuki and Iizuka vs. Young Lions
  • ZSJ and Taichi vs. Elgin and Cobb
  • LIJ vs. Best Friends

Dec 4th

  • Suzuki and Iizuka vs. Cobb and Elgin
  • Yano and Ishii vs. Best Friends

Dec 6th

  • Suzuki and Iizuka vs. LIJ
  • G.O.D vs. Best Friends

 

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How to Watch

  • The only way to watch all of these shows is through the company’s streaming service – NJPW World. – CLICK HERE FOR MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD
  • NJPW World can be accessed through an official app on Amazon Fire Sticks, as well as through njpwworld.com on PS4 and Xbox One browsers, laptops, phones and tablets with Chromecast support.
  • Do not use the iOS/Android app. Just use your browser if watching on your phone or tablet.
  • Not only does it work out at slightly cheaper than WWE Network every month, it offers regular live shows, as well as access to previous events from decades past, matches from select indie promotions such as Ring of Honor and RevPro, the full ALL IN show, and exclusive documentaries that follow the lives of both their Japanese and English speaking roster members.
  • Please note that there is no free trial period available, so you will need to purchase the service in order to watch.
  • Regardless of when you sign up, the billing date for NJPW World is the first day of every month for every user (so you could be charged 2 days in a row if you signed up on the last day of a month) – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON SIGNING UP, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE.
  • Once you cancel your subscription, you immediately cannot use your account, even if you have weeks left until your next billing date – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON CANCELLING, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE END OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE.
  • Live shows are available to watch in full usually within thirty minutes after they’ve been broadcast.

LEARN ABOUT SOME OF THE NEW CONTENT COMING TO NJPW WORLD BY READING/LISTENING TO MY INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN KELLY

 

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  • IF YOU HAVE AXS TV ­- The channel will be showing a selection of matches from the tournament and Power Struggle in the coming weeks following the events, so if you’re unsure of whether you want to subscribe or not, watching on AXS TV first could be a good way of testing the waters first.
  • Personally I’d recommend watching on NJPW World in order to enjoy the excitement of the full show without having to wait or watching edited versions of matches (editing is bound to happen with longer matches).
  • Also, the NJPW World English commentary team is almost universally considered to be superior to AXS TV’s, and will provide new fans with far more information to explain wrestler and story line backgrounds, so it could be a far better way to introduce yourself to the product.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SCHEDULE FOR UPCOMING NJPW SHOWS

 

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How to Avoid Streaming Issues

  • Although not many users experience these anymore, NJPW World has been known in the past for having some streaming issues
  • Streaming issues are very uncommon these days
  • BEST WAY TO AVOID ISSUES: NJPW World has two different servers for streaming – one for Fire TV and browsers, and one for mobile and tablet devices. The Fire TV and browser stream is the one that’s known to experience issues, so if you are having troubles, I would recommend switching to watching on a mobile or tablet device

LEARN MORE WITH MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD

 

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What if I want to Sample Some NJPW Matches First for Free?

  • Check out New Japan’s English language YouTube channel. They regularly upload past matches featuring full English commentary, including world title matches. They upload a new free match every Monday that has some sort of connection to an upcoming show.
  • Also, they upload press conferences, interviews, promos and sometimes documentaries with English subtitles.
  • If you have AXS TV, you can watch their New Japan highlight show every Friday night, however the shows aren’t covered until several weeks after they’ve aired live.

 

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Where Do I Go From After Power Struggle?

  • We are on the road to Wrestle Kingdom, so you will want to stick around.
  • If you haven’t already, catch up on the fantastic G1 Climax tournament, the best matches of which you can find here.
  • The winner of the World Tag League (unless it is the reigning champs) will face the champions at Wrestle Kingdom.
  • On December 14th and 15th, there will be two Road To Tokyo Dome shows, which will feature tag team matches to hype up all of the Wrestle Kingdom bouts.
  • Wrestle Kingdom is on January 4th, which is absolutely cannot miss. From there, New Year Dash takes place the following night, which will shake things up and set up major rivalries for the coming months.

 

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Recommended Matches with Links and English Commentary

 

TOP 10 WRESTLING TROPHIES

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Follow me on Twitter – @HairyWrestling

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