Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2017 World Tag League Preview

Well...This is certainly underwhelming. Usually there's some fun to be had out of the World Tag League, but this year the rosters seem really barren. Naito is vacationing in Mexico, Kenny is off in the Eliteverse, and I can only assume that Okada and Tanahashi are going into two of Lord Frieza's Medical Machines for the next month. So what we're left with is a handful of established tag teams, odd faction amalgamations, and a few last minute cobbled together teams that fill out a weak Tag Tournament. But, there's still some joy that can be found in all this. What's good, what's bad, and what'll work? That's what we're here for.

A Block

Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens (Bullet Club)

Landon: I love Chase Owens and he deserves to do better than he will.

Justin: This here is the Bullet Club C-Team.  They won't be winning the tournament.

EVIL and SANADA (Los Ingobernables de Japon)

Landon: I think that EVIL and SANADA are going all the way. They're at least sweeping this block. They have nothing better going for the next few months, so they could drop the 6-Man belts (sorry BUSHI) and be a proper native top heavyweight tag team.

Justin: Evil and Sanada have to be one of the two or three favorites to win the whole thing.  They aren't involved in a feud right now and they need something good to do for the Dome.  A tag title match would do nicely.

Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi (Bullet Club)

Justin: And this is the Bullet Club D-Team.  Next?

Landon: You know at least they were a tag team before literally these announcements. I know they won't go far, but Yujiro and Hangman have both stepped up their efforts in their respective home companies. Maybe they'll show promise here.

Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi (CHAOS)

Landon: Saw this one coming. Definitely a downgrade from the great team of Ishii and Goto, unfortunately. Goto has this great ability, though, to change his style based on who he's tagging with. With YOSHI, I expect him to be faster and more focused on quick strikes and throws, as opposed to his fighting spirit oriented Ishii partnering.

Justin: I'm pissed that Goto and Ishii haven't teamed up for one of these tournaments.  My ideal Dome tag title match right now would be Goto and Ishii vs. Evil and Sanada.  But we won't be seeing that, sadly.  Anyway, Goto is probably facing Suzuki for the NEVER belt in January, so this team will do well but won't make the finals.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima

Landon: There's really nothing to say about New Japan's greatest tag team in history. They're here, they might do okay, but they won't win.

Justin: The ol' stalwarts are back.  TenCozy will have a solid showing and may even give Evil and Sanada a run for their money, but will ultimately come up short.

Juice Robinson and Sami Callihan

Landon: This should have been Finlay and Juice, but we work with what we got. Not really excited for these two, but we'll see how they do.

Justin: This pairing is intriguing and should make for some good matchups.  Not sure if Sami is here to stay or just visiting.  But this team should be one of the A Block frontrunners.

Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata

Landon: Better together here than with Shibata and Henare last year.

Justin: Their role here is that of a less successful TenCozy.

Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka (Suzuki-Gun)


Justin: Suzuki's obviously defending the NEVER belt on January 4th, so SG won't get far in this tournament.

B Block

Trent Baretta and Chuck Taylor (CHAOS???)

Landon: I'm anxious. Because Trent is just getting off the ground as a singles star, and The Best Fiends could end up being CHAOS' Heavyweight tag team. But that depends on which partner he gets here. He could get Chuck Taylor; awesome wrestler and storyteller and they could be an awesome tag team here. Or he could get Chuckie T, who might rely on PWG comedy spots and phone it in. I really hope it's the former, but know we might see the latter.

Justin: Baretta is already proving himself a worthy heavyweight and we should see some good work from this team.  B Block is way more crowded than A Block though, so I don't see them as point leaders.

Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer (Suzuki-Gun)

Landon: My favorite tag team of all time this month, KES has the belts after an injury hiccup at the beginning of the year. Davey boy Smith Jr., the greatest dressing man in our time, and Lance are great as the two giant heels, like how War Machine is great as the giant babyfaces. I hope they can sweep through War Machine and the Guerillas

Justin: The tag champs will obviously have a very strong run.  Maybe even into the finals.  I kinda doubt they'll have both sets of tag champs win their respective tourneys though.

David Finlay and Katsuya Kitamura

Landon: I...I don't know. Kitamura is obviously having a rocket strapped on him based on his potential and age (the man is older than Okada). I guess the idea is that Finlay sells and Katsuya kills everyone. Do they win? At all? I don't know.

Justin: These guys will be the scrappy young team that puts up a helluva fight but loses a lot.

Hanson and Raymond Rowe

Justin: Another heavy favorite, the former tag champs could win the block and face LIJ in the finals.  I wouldn't complain.

Henare and Togi Makabe

Landon: I'm so pumped for Henare being alive. I'm excited he's with Makabe, and I'm happy he's in this Tag League. Makabe is low key one of my favorite wrestlers in New Japan (and he might be at the Dome against Suzuki, if my prediction is right) so this tag team is the one I'm most interested in for this Block...well, second most interested.

Justin: The teacher/student combo should have a respectable showing but I don't expect them to be in the front of the pack.

Jeff Cobb and Michael Elgin

Landon: This is going to be fun. I'm giddy waiting to watch Elgin and Cobb just throw motherfuckers around. That's all I want out of them, just tossing people forever. They should be Kitamura's mentors eventually during his excursion, learn him how to be strongman.

Justin: Big Mike and his partner, on loan from LU, could be spoilers in this block.  Elgin seems to be getting a bit lost in the shuffle.  I hope they have something good for him at WK12.  Maybe a match against Ishii, which could be set up here.

Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa (Bullet Club)

Landon: Haku's sons continue to get better for me, and this'll be another set of good matchups for them to look good in.

Justin: The third favorites to win the block, GoD has become a pretty reliable duo.  I'm hoping they don't make the finals though - time for something fresher in the tag division.

Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano (CHAOS)

Landon: I don't really like this pairing, at all honestly. Ishii deserves better, and Yano should never be near any trophy or title ever. Also, Ishii should be in the Intercontinental Title match at the Dome, not Jay White. There, I said it.

Justin: This odd couple had a brief title run last year but I don't see them repeating that.  Ishii really needs an Intercontinental Title run at some point - he's way too good to not be a priority.

A Block Finalists

Landon: EVIL and SANADA, all the way. I don't think there's any other team from the block I would want to advance. If they could sweep the entire thing, that'd be lovely.

Justin: Evil and Sanada are the only choice to win this block.  Nothing else makes sense.

B Block Finalists

Landon: I think KES comes out again as the block leaders, continuing a tradion of the Tag Champs showing strong throughout the month. That, or War Machine gets their win back from them in the process of making it to the finals.

Justin: I'll go with War Machine.

Final Outcome

Landon: New Japan has a serious Heavyweight tag problem. The last 8 months have been a revolving door of gaijin champions, the same three team playing keep away with the titles. Tencozy held them for a month, and before them Ishii and Yano. But neither team was particularly impressive or seems to be thought of as a long term prospect for the belts. Elevating EVIL and SANADA here could mean a lot for the titles. If a native team can win the league, and then the titles at the Dome, it could set more native challengers in motion down the road.

Justin: NJPW's one real weakness is their heavyweight tag division.  It's been this way for years - they'll have one dominant team and a monthly set of challengers often jammed together because they aren't doing anything important that week.  Much like WWE's tag division from 2002-2009.  I hope many of the teams in this tourney stick together for a while so we might actually get multiple tag division feuds going at the same time.  The belts would mean so much more.  To that end, let's give Evil and Sanada a long-term tag run and make them the centerpiece of the division.  As long as Naito's around neither of them is a serious IWGP Title contender anyway.  Let these guys conquer the tag ranks and become what Anderson & Gallows were.

That about wraps it up - hope everyone enjoys the World Tag League!  Don't forget to join us on Facebook by clicking HERE.

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