Full standings and key matches going into the last week of the league.
It’s been a busy week of matches in the World Tag League. Let’s take a look at the standings as we get on the all important final stretch toward Hiroshima on December 8.
FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) Rank: =1 Record: 7-1 (14pts)
Happy beers have been consistently on the menu for FinJuice through week two of the tournament. Staying strong against tough competition, the duo logged more points and protected their one loss record, plus have the benefit of starting the final third of the league fresh, taking November 28 off and joining the field for the second night of a Korakuen double header against Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens.
Key week 3 match: December 8 vs EVIL & SANADA
The way FinJuice and EVIL & SANADA are shaping up, it could be that their last match of the World Tag League is the last match of the World Tag League, and it could well be for all the marbles in Hiroshima. Will FinJuice still be in control of their own destiny by that point, and if so, could they overcome the back to back league winners?
Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI Rank: =1 Record: 7-1 (14pts)
Strong performances have continued to come for Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI through week two. Their momentum has been impressive to oinlookers, if not to Ishii himself, who has repeatedly berated the supposed lack of effort on his opponents’ part. Could overconfidence be an issue? If not, and they can keep their momentum going into the critical final stretch, it seems a good bet that they’ll still be in the conversation come December 8 in Hiroshima.
Key week 3 match: November 29 vs EVIL & SANADA
Back to back league winners EVIL and SANADA found themselves with matches in hand in the early going, and in week three will be more active and eager to overtake Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI. For all the teams in this year’s league, the LIJ pair is the team to beat, and it will be a crucial match for Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI lest the conversation turn to tie breakers at league’s end.
EVIL & SANADA Rank: =1 Record: 7-1 (14pts)
Unstoppable. That was the consensus around EVIL and SANADA as they steamrolled competition through their first six league matches. It seemed as if these two men could be unbeaten, and were mere days away from their third straight World Tag League victory. Then Colt Cabana and Toru Yano struck. A Superman Pin caught SANADA, and instantly catapulted Cabana and Yano into very serious contention, while giving the back to back league winners a chink in the armour many more teams will be looking to exploit.
Key week 3 match: December 5 vs GBH
Two back to back prior World Tag League champions meet one another on December 5 as EVIL and SANADA meet GBH. Can the current trophy holders prove to the old guard that they are truly the next evolution of the tag team game?
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) Rank: 4 Record 6-2 (12pts)
Only one loss in week two saw GoD rise to 12 points, but their loss was a sore one indeed, to league leaders and consistent WTL rivals EVIL and SANADA. This will likely mean the guerrillas’ fate is not entirely in their hands when we reach the final stretch of the league; the key for the BULLET CLUB’s franchise tandem is in increasing their chances and limiting future contenders. A new move in Tanga Loa’s arsenal, a crossface inherited from Jado and dubbed Operation Jado Killer (OJK) should achieve just that.
Key week 3 match: November 29 vs Great Bash Heel
This rematch from a wild 2016 WTL final should see a firey brawl, one which the veteran GBH combination will look to use to prove their efficacy against the tag champions. the Guerrillas of Destiny will need to prove that their destiny is to remain IWGP Tag team Champions for a long time to come.
Toru Yano & Colt Cabana Rank: =5 Record: 6-3 (12pts)
Cabana and Yano have continued to look strong in week two of the World Tag League. Despite some communicative bumps on the road they’ve become firm friends that respect one another’s wrestling skill, if not their culinary efforts. That wrestling skill saw them defeat IWGP Tag Team Champions GoD in week one, and then WTL back to back winners EVIL & SANADA in week two. Only two wins behind the pace, Caba and Yano are very serious contenders in week 3.
Key week 3 match: December 6 vs Dangerous Tekkers
In Cabana and Zack Sabre Junior, two technical masters will be looking to tie one another in knots. In Taichi and Yano, two of the game’s dirtiest players will be looking to outdo one another. At a critical point in the league, this should be a fascinating matchup.
Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer Rank: =5 Record: 6-3 (12pts)
After a middling early record, Suzuki and Archer decided that rather than gun for points, the important thing about the World Tag League are the people they hurt along the way. Since then, their aggression has seen them to strong wins and a 6-3 record. Now just a couple of wins behind the top flight, they are very much in the mix going into the final stretch.
Key week 3 match: December 5 vs FinJuice
This might be the World Tag League, but Lance Archer’s status as a singles champion is perhaps of utmost importance to the Murder Hawk Monster. Both Juice Robinson and David Finlay are keenly aware that they’ve lost IWGP US Heavyweight Championship matches to Archer in October and November, and want to turn their records around before the year is out.
Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls Rank: =7 Record: 5-5 (10pts)
After a middling start to their campaign, the Gachimuchi Express of Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls stayed consistent in week two, growing to 10 points on five wins and five losses. Can they continue to a strong finish, and establish themselves as full time tag team contenders?
Key week 3 match: December 2 vs Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens
Nicholls has issues with Fale and Chase that are still bubbling from back in the spring. Here, a chance for Nicholls to bring the fight to BULLET CLUB again, and in Fale, a huge challenge for Cobb to try and instigate a Suplex Party.
Shingo Takagi & Terrible Rank: =7 Record 5-5 (10pts)
A slow start to their World Tag League campaign turned to a surge in momentum for Takagi and Terrible that while not enough to put them at arm’s reach of the league leaders, has at least given them a solid 10 points from ten matches. Their five losses makes a league victory seem unlikely at this point, but don’t count out the ‘Doble Rampage’ just yet.
Key week 3 match: December 5 vs GoD
Even if an eventual World Tag League win is out of reach, if Shingo and Terrible can get a victory over the current IWGP Tag Team Champions, it should open big doors for the team going into the new year.
KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi Rank: 9 Record: 4-4 (8pts)
By his own admission, KENTA’s head is not in the game when it comes to World Tag League. Hirooki Goto occupies much more of the NEVER Openweight Champion’s headspace. Can he and Yujiro pull together stronger form in the closing stretch of the league? Or will KENTA be more content to snipe at Goto backstage, online and after his matches? That might be the difference between their current even form and a winning one.
Key week 3 match: December 1 vs Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
KENTA’s dispute through the autumn with ‘TOMO’ and ‘ugly’ YOSHI-HASHI will resurface on the first as he and Yujiro collide with one of the keague’s top ranked teams. Expect to see a more mentally engaged KENTA as he seeks to further humiliate his former NEVER challengers while sending a message to the man who could be his next contender in Goto.
TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) Rank: 10 Record: 4-6 (8pts)
TenCozy maintained a middling record through the start of week two, reaching the halfway point in the campaign at an even 4-4 before November 27 and 28 saw a loss to Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI and then KENTA and Yujiro.
4-6 is tough to come back from. With the top flight in the league seemingly untouchable, they have long odds when it comes to being in contention on the final night, but TenCozy will nonetheless look to give every last match their all.
Key week 3 match: December 3 vs Guerrillas of Destiny
GoD have become the modern franchise team of the IWGP Tag Team Championships, racking up five reigns; a resume that’s only one behind TenCozy themselves. On December 3, the veteran third generation pairing will be looking to prove that they can still be in competition, and maybe even extend their championship record.
Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Junior & Taichi) Rank: =11 Record: 3-5 (6pts)
After early events of the World Tag League saw a strong statement win over FinJuice, hopes were high for Dangerous Tekkers, but the results haven’t followed. With considerably more losses than wins, the trophies and the chance at tag gold that comes with them seem out of reach for the Suzuki-Gun duo. Yet as both men try and carve their own narratives heading into the Tokyo Dome January 4 and 5, everybody else on the fixture table has to be concerned about just what ZSJ and Taichi have up their sleeves.
Key week 3 match: December 3 vs Nagata & Nakanishi
Neither ZSJ nor Taichi have much respect for the old traditions of NJPW’s past. Both men represent a system that Taichi has raged against for years, while Sabre has commented several times that ‘strong style is dead’. As the league nears its conclusion, this clash in philosophies will become a physical one to watch.
Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale Rank: =11 Record: 3-5 (6pts)
The wins weren’t forthcoming for Owens and Fale through week two in the league. Whether this is due to conspiracies against them, or their own conspiring not being up to snuff is a matter of some question. The fact remains that at this point, Fale and Owens likely can’t win the World Tag League, but could be spoilers to other players near the league’s end.
Key week 2 match: November 29 vs FinJuice
After already losing out to both the other BULLET CLUB teams in the league, it would behoove Fale and Owens to be team players for their whole faction in the final stretch. A big opportunity for them, then is November 29, where the two could play ultimate spoiler and forcibly remove FinJuice from the top of the league table, providing an opportunity for Guerrillas of Destiny underneath.
GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) Rank: 13 Record: 3-7 (6pts)
Great Bash Heel had a difficult week two in the league, their hopes of trophy contention likely dashed after only picking up 6 points after their second five matches. That said, strong performances have belied middling results, and GBH will look to end strong and violently.
Key week 3 match: December 6 vs Shingo Takagi and Terrible
Makabe and Honma represent the hard hitting competition that Shingo Takagi loves to fight, and GBH should be a perfect match for the ‘Doble Rampage’ as the WTL nears a climax.
HenarACE (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare) Rank: =14 Record: 2-7 (4pts)
It’s safe to assume that Tanahashi and Henare are frustrated with their performance through week two of the World Tag League. Unable to build on their two week one victories, HenarACE lingered at four points all the way through November 28 and Korakuen Hall saw Henare suffer another crushing pinfall loss after coming so close to overcoming Shingo Takagi.
Key week 3 match: December 8 vs Goto & Fredericks
HenarACE’s campaign ends with a clash with another team of mentor and student in Goto and Fredericks. This could be a key battleground for Henare to get a much needed win on his own terms, and show that he is a clear step above Young Lion competition, albeit a Young Lion Cup winner in Fredericks.
Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks Rank: =14 Record: 2-6 (4pts)
Fredericks and Goto have had a disappointing second week in the World Tag League, unable to improve their score. Part of their irritation comes from KENTA, who has been brawling with Goto after matches, and delivering incessant verbal and social media barbs throughout the tour.
Key week 3 match: December 5 vs Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Goto will cast CHAOS alleagiances aside on December 5 when he and Fredericks face top contenders Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI. That’s never a problem for Goto, with G1 wars against Ishii a practically annual occurrence. How will that battle play out in a tag team environment?
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi Rank: 16 Record: 1-9 (2pts)
Nagata and Nakanishi did not have a strong second week of their World Tag League campaign. They didn’t record a single win this week, and will not come close to the conversation in Hiroshima on December 8. Theirs is a never say die spirit however, and the third generation veterans will be fighting to the bitter end in week three.
Key week 3 match: December 6 vs GoD
Even if Nagata and Nakanishi end their World Tag League campaigns at the bottom of the table, that fighting spirit of their will ensure they’ll bring the fight to anyone, tag team champions on December 6 included.