New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) began its annual World Tag League (WTL) tournament on November 16th. This entry looks at four teams from the group of sixteen who look to win the biggest round robin heavyweight tag team tournament in wrestling. All pictures are property of NJPW.
FinJuice is off to a quick World Tag League start with two impressive victories to start tournament action. David Finlay is returning to action after missing the large part of the year due to a shoulder injury he suffered in February. Finlay unsuccessfully challenged Lance Archer for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship during the first New Japan Pro Wrestling of America event on November 9th, unveiling a new fighting spirit in the ring.
Juice Robinson’s 2019 has been full of intrigue after several physical matches against Jon Moxley and having three successful defenses of the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship during a 152-day reign. With their hot start, they look to be favorites to capture the World Tag League trophies.
Hirooki Goto grew to respect Young Lion Karl Fredericks after spending time at NJPW’s LA Dojo early in the year while preparing for the G1 tournament. To the surprise of many, the team picked up a victory on November 17th over the Bullet Club team of NEVER Openweight Champion KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi, with Goto getting the fall over the champion.
While Fredericks won this years’ Young Lions Cup, they aren’t expected to finish in the top half of World Tag League standings. However, their 1-1 start means they could surprise several teams throughout the tournament.
In September, Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi made an unsuccessful v6 challenge to G.O.D’s IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. However, they used that experience to help springboard them to a 2-0 World Tag League start.
Ishii has gained a cult following due to his relentless determination and unyielding spirit, while Yoshi-Hashi garners respect for his willingness to always get back up after getting knocked down. While they are a dark horse team in the field, their hot start could help them make a push for the World Tag League trophies.
Colt Cabana and Toru Yano first captured the imagination of NJPW fans when they teamed together during the February ROH/NJPW Honor Rising Tour and later in March when Cabana defeated Yano in the second round of the New Japan Cup.
Thus far, they have compiled a 1-1 record in World Tag League after an upset victory over the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny (G.O.D.) on November 17th.
Their unique chemistry may help surprise several other teams throughout the tournament.