New Japan Pro Wrestling has only two tours left before Wrestle Kingdom 13, and the company just released the schedule for the one that will tell us who will compete in the heavyweight tag team championship match at the Tokyo Dome: World Tag League. Like most other NJPW tournaments, World Tag League is round robin-style, and a win earns wrestlers 2 points, a draw 1, and a loss 0. The teams with the most points will face off in the final for a shot at the tag team champions (currently the Guerrillas of Destiny.) World Tag League will have all fourteen teams in one block this year (like Super Junior Tag League, though that only included eight teams), so any team could potentially earn a championship opportunity by defeating the G.o.D.
Here’s a full list of the competing teams:
- Evil and Sanada
- Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith, Jr.)
- The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa)
- The Best Friends (Beretta and Chuckie T)
- Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano
- TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima)
- Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi
- Ayato Yoshida and Shota Umino
- Juice Robinson and David Finlay
- Michael Elgin and Jeff Cobb
- Togi Makabe and Toa Henare
- Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi
- Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka
- Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi
These are mostly teams you would expect, with a few exceptions. Cobb and Elgin are tagging together again despite some drama surrounding the team last year. Makabe and Henare teamed up last year due to Honma’s injury, but even though promos led me, at least, to expect GBH in the tournament, those two are teaming up again. Honma is on the tour, but teaming with Ren Narita in non-league matches. It’ll be interesting to see how the actual tournament-competing team of Young Lion rivals Umino and Yoshida fare.
Suzuki and Sabre are currently the RPW Undisputed British Tag Team Champions, but apparently aren’t interested in earning more gold as a duo. (I’m guessing the real-life reason for this is that least one of these guys will have a singles match at Wrestle Kingdom, so NJPW split them up rather than have a pretty dominant tag team lose a lot.) And the Young Bucks also won’t be in the tournament, raising the question of what role the Wrestle Kingdom championship match regulars will play on this year’s show.
The full World Tag League shows from November 17, 18, 25, 29, and 30, and December 2, 6, and 7, plus the final on the 9th, will air live on New Japan World. Tournament matches on non-televised shows will be added to the site later, like with Best of the Super Juniors and Super Junior Tag League this year.
Here are some of the notable non-league matches on the televised shows:
- 11/17 – There’s an all-Suzukigun six-man tag of El Desperado, Iizuka, and Suzuki vs. Kanemaru, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Lance Archer.
- 11/18 – We first see Ibushi on this tour as a multi-man tag partner for his Elite stablemates.
- 11/18 – Goto plays the same role for Chaos, and him and Ibushi, the guy he challenged to wrestle him for the NEVER Openweight Championship, face off in a multi-man tag.
- 11/29 – This is the first show on the tour (and since Okada was a Young Lion!) in which OKADA AND TANAHASHI WILL TAG TOGETHER in a six-man tag team match of Tanahashi, Okada, and Kushida against Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, and Taiji Ishimori. Even though Okada said they definitely would not tag together!
- 12/2, 12/6, and 12/7 – More Chaos plus the Ace against the BC OGs, with Rocky Romero and Gedo added to the teams from the 29th.
The November 29 show will also see the Bullet Club OGs and the Elite face off again in the form of Page and the Tokyo Pimp vs. G.o.D., and Suzuki and Iizuka vs. ZSJ and Taichi, so hopefully we’ll see father and son try to out-submission master each other.
What team is your pick to win the league this year? Who do you think will earn title shots? Do you think the Ace and the Rainmaker can coexist? Let us know in the comments.