Sun. May 26th, 2024

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Super Jr. Tag League 2023”
October 28, 2023 in Fukushima, Japan at Tsurugajo Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World

We have quickly reached the mid-point of this two-week, round-robin tournament. This is a very small arena; the floor is filled and there are just a handful of fans seated in risers. Keep in mind, NJPW has an event in Las Vegas, so a lot of top stars aren’t here for the undercard matches. We have Japanese-only commentary today.

The quick recap is there are 10 teams, so each squad has nine matches. The top two finishers will meet again on Nov. 4 to crown the tournament winners. Tag champions “Bullet Club War Dogs” Drilla Moloney and Clark Connors are in a four-way tie for first place at 3-1. Presumably, the BCWD will NOT win the tournament, as the tournament winner is slated to get a title shot against them. At 0-4, “Just 5 Guys” Taka Michinoku and Douki are essentially eliminated.

1. Tomoaki Honma and Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Togi Makabe defeated Boltin Oleg and Yuto Nakashima and Oskar Leube at 7:45. The three current Young Lions unite! Man, in three years, the outcome of this match would definitely be different. Tenzan and Oleg opened. Leube (I always describe him as a thinner, lanky Gunther) worked over Togi. Yuto made the hot tag at 5:00. Oleg hit a double shoulder tackle (again, I compare his body to Lars Sullivan; he’s massive.) The veterans hit a triple clothesline on Yuto, who was standing in the middle of the ring, for a nearfall. Honma applied a Boston Crab, and Yuto tapped out. I just can’t get into these matches where the Young Lions are battling these slow, aging veterans; I really don’t see how it helps them.

2. Ren Narita and Shota Umino defeated “United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Callum Newman at 9:43. Newman and Narita opened, and Ren immediately tied him up on the mat. I noted this in my review from Thursday’s show, but it feels like we’re seeing a preview of a feud that will play out over the next decade between these youngsters. Ren hit a Dragon Suplex at 2:30 and he applied a crossarm breaker. Great-O-Khan entered at 4:30 and he hit his Mongolian Chops on Ren. Shota made the hot tag and hit a basement dropkick on Callum, then a fisherman’s suplex on O-Khan for a nearfall.

Shota set up for the Death Rider double-arm DDT, but O-Khan blocked it and he hit a back suplex on Umino. Newman got some rollups on Umino. Shota fired back with a Claudio-style pop-up European Uppercut, then an Ospreay-style Hidden Blade forearm strike to the back of the head for the pin. I really like how Shota is pushing this feud with Ospreay in his absence. This was worlds better than the opening match.

3. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano and Yoshi-Hashi defeated “House of Torture” EVIL and Dick Togo and Yujiro Takahashi at 9:04. We still haven’t seen Goto since he got injured weeks ago; I think Yoshi-Hashi is carrying both tag team title belts. The heels attacked at the bell. EVIL backed Y-H into the corner and hit some chops. Togo whipped Ishii into rows of empty chairs at ringside; no guardrail in front of these fans! The HoT continued to take turns working over Yoshi-Hashi in the ring. Ishii entered at 5:00 and hit some shoulder tackles. Yujiro hit a fisherman’s brainbuster on Ishii and stomped on him. Yano entered, but Togo hit a knife-edge chop to Toru’s groin at 8:00, and he choked Yano with his metal wire. Yano hit low blows on all three HoT, then he rolled up Togo for the win. This did nothing for me, either.

4. “Catch 2/2” TJP and Franceso Akira (6) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and The DKC (4) in a tournament match at 12:34. Akira and DKC opened, and Akira hit a dropkick. DKC hit a senton on TJP for a nearfall at 3:30. DKC and Taguchi hit a series of knife-edge chops on TJP’s chest but it looks like comedy antics. TJP hit a tornado DDT on DKC at 7:00. Akira got the hot tag and hit an enzuigiri, then a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall. TJP hit a Thesz Press on Taguchi, and he tied him in an Octopus, but Taguchi escaped and applied an anklelock at 9:30.

TJP applied his own anklelock but DKC made the save. Taguchi hit a buttbump on Akira, then a springboard flying buttbump on TJP at 11:00. TJP and DKC hit front-and-back buttbumps on TJP for a nearfall but Akira made the save. C22 hit their team X-Factor faceplant. Akira hit a doublestomp on DKC’s chest, then they nailed their front-and-back kneestrikes, with Akira scoring the pin on DKC. That picked up nicely. Catch 2/2 remain in the hunt at 3-2 (6 points).

5. “Just 5 Guys” Douki and Taka Michinoku (2) defeated Yoh and Musashi (4) in a tournament match at 11:14. Yoh and Douki opened. Taka tied up Musashi on the mat. Yoh tagged back in at 5:00 and hit a flying forearm, then a plancha to the floor on Taka. In the ring, Yoh hit his Vader Bomb-style elbowdrop on Taka, then a Dragonscrew Legwhip. Taka nailed a Mafia Kick on Musashi and he made the hot tag to Douki at 7:00. Douki hit a flying headscissors takedown on Musashi, then a Widow’s Peak-style neckbreaker. Nice. Musashi avoided the Daybreak slingshot DDT. Douki applied the Douki Chokey triangle choke (Lio Rush once tapped out to this!) but Musashi reached the ropes at 9:00.

Yoh and Musashi hit stereo superkicks on Douki. Musashi hit a frogsplash for a nearfall, but Taka made the save. Musashi hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall. Douki hit a hard clothesline. Taka nailed a Michinoku Driver on Yoh! Douki nailed the Daybreak on Musashi for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it! Taka hit a superkick as Douki nailed a Dragon Suplex on Musashi for the pin! That was really good down the stretch, and nice to see J5G get a win. In my pre-tournament review, I had Yoh and Musashi in the second-tier with a likely 5-4 finish, and this loss really hurts their chances of winning the tournament.

6. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Robbie Eagles and Kosei Fujita (4) defeated “House of Torture” Sho and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6) in a tournament match at 11:31. The HoT attacked at the bell, and Kanemaru battled Fujita early on. They all brawled to the floor and into the crowd. Back in the ring, the HoT kept working over Kosei in their corner. Kanemaru tied him in a Boston Crab, but Fujita reached the ropes at 5:00. Eagles finally entered and hit a leg lariat and some Yes Kicks to Sho’s chest. Eagles hit a springboard dropkick onto Sho’s left knee. Sho kicked Eagles into the ref, and the ref was down. Eagles blocked a low blow attempt at 9:00 and he hit a series of kicks.

Eagles tied Sho in the Ron Miller Special leglock and Sho tapped out but we had no ref. EVIL, Yujiro and Togo ran in from the back and stomped on TMDK. Togo hit his knife-edge chop to Eagles’ groin. Fujita hit a dropkick on EVIL and Yujiro; Kosei did a dive to the floor that he barely cleared the ring and crashed his whole weight onto the floor, coming up short and not hitting EVIL and Yujiro. He’s young and hopped up but that had to have hurt. Kanemaru accidentally sprayed alcohol in Sho’s eyes! Eagles immediately rolled up Sho for the pin!

7. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Titan and Bushi (4) defeated Kushida and Kevin Knight (6) in a tournament match at 10:42. I noted this Thursday, but Kushida and Knight have already topped last year’s win total, as they were just 2-7 in 2022. Knight and Titan opened with some fast lucha reversals. Knight hit a backbreaker over his knee. LIJ began working over Kushida’s left arm. Knight bodyslammed Titan onto Bushi, then he nailed his leaping press onto both at 5:30. Knight hit a swinging powerbomb on Titan for a nearfall. LIJ draped Knight over the top rope and they both hit missile dropkicks on him, coming from opposite corners, at 7:30.

Knight nailed a double Pele Kick. Kushida hit a basement dropkick on Bushi. Knight nailed his jump-up Frankensteiner on Titan at 9:30. Kushida kicked at Bushi’s left elbow, but he couldn’t get the Hoverboard Lock in place. Bushi hit a Lungblower on Kushida. Titan dove through the ropes and barreled onto Knight. Titan then nailed his springboard doublestomp onto Kushida’s back for the pin. Good match, and LIJ NEEDED that win to stay afloat.

8. El Desperado and Master Wato (8) defeated “Bullet Club War Dogs” Drilla Moloney and Clark Connors (6) in a tournament match at 17:51. I am really enjoying the story of Desperado reluctantly teaming with Wato; once again, Wato is wearing a T-shirt with their faces on it, and he has one for Desperado, who is refusing to wear it. Wato and Moloney opened. I’ll reiterate what Chris Charlton has said a few times, that Drilla has cut weight so he is the biggest man in the tournament as he must be right at 220 pounds. They all brawled on the floor. Wato paired off with Connors.

In the ring, Connors nailed a Pounce on Wato at 2:30, and the BCWD worked Wato over. Wato hit some roundhouse kicks to Drilla’s chest. Desperado got the hot tag at 6:00 and he speared Connors, then he hit a back suplex for a nearfall. Connors hit his own spear on Desperado, and he ripped at Desperado’s mask. Moloney hit an enzuigiri on Wato. BCWD hit their front-and-back spears on Wato for a nearfall at 9:30, but Desperado made the save. Moloney hit a doublestomp on Wato’s chest for a nearfall. Desperado and Connors traded mid-ring forearm strikes. Desperado nailed a spinebuster and a brainbuster for a nearfall at 12:30. Connors nailed his powerslam for a nearfall.

Desperado tied Connors in the Stretch Muffler, twisting Clark’s leg behind Desperado’s neck. Drilla got chairs and threw them in the ring, as the ref was bumped. Connors completely ripped Desperado’s mask open! Desperado’s head was placed on an open chair, and Connors hit that chair with another chair, for a nearfall at 16:30. The ref was bumped again. Drilla and Clark got their title belts, but Wato hit a springboard missile dropkick on them before they could hit Desperado. Wato hit a flip dive to the floor on Drilla. In the ring, Desperado set up for Angel’s Wings but Connors blocked it. Seconds later, Desperado nailed the Angel’s Wings onto the title belt for the pin on Connors. That was really good.

* In a fun spot, Wato handed the T-shirt to Desperado, who put it on top of his head to hide his identity. (He did not put his head through the shirt.) Desperado spoke on the mic, directing his comments to the BCWD. The heels listened then walked away. Desperado then talked to Wato, and he offered a handshake! Wato cautiously accepted it. The crowd (and me!) loved this. However, Desperado stumbled and staggered to the back solo, leaving Wato in the ring to speak some more to the crowd.

Final Thoughts: One heckuva main event. I am loving Desperado and Wato working together; on Thursday I compared it to the Rock N Sock Connection, with Wato serving as Mick Foley, eager to make this team work, with Desperado is The Rock, indifferent to his teammate. I’ll go with LIJ’s tag match for second, with Douki/Taka finally getting a win for third place. The tournament has an off-day on Sunday and returns on Monday.

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The post NJPW “Super Jr. Tag League 2023” results (10/28): Vetter’s review of Master Wato and El Desperado vs. Drilla Moloney and Clark Connors, Kevin Knight and Kushida vs. Titan and Bushi – Pro Wrestling Dot Net appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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