New Japan Pro Wrestling as announced the lineups for the 2023 edition of its annual “WORLD TAG LEAGUE” tournament. This year it will feature 16 teams across two blocks with some regulars and some surprising curve balls added to the mix. This means it will be the first time since 2017, that the tournament will have two blocks.
The top two placing teams from each block A and B will be advancing to the semi-finals on December 8 at Kirishima City Makizono Arena in Kagoshima. The winners of the final match on December 10 at Grand Messe Kumamoto in Kumamoto will receive the right to challenge for the IWGP Tag Team Championship at “WRESTLE KINGDOM 18 in Tokyo Dome” on January 4, 2024. Below you you can find the full lineups of teams and their respective blocks.
- Shota Umino & Ren Narita (debut entry)
- Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (CHAOS) 4th entry, 1st in three years
- Great-O-Khan & HENARE (United Empire) 3rd entry, 3rd consecutive
- Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls (TMDK) 2nd entry, 2nd consecutive
- Alex Coughlin & Gabe Kidd (BULLET CLUB War Dogs) 2nd entry, 2nd consecutive
- EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (HOUSE OF TORTURE) 4th entry, 4th consecutive
- Kaito Kiyomiya (NOAH) & Ryohei Oiwa (debut entry)
- Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona (Gates of Agony – ROH/AEW) (debut entry)
- YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (Bishamon & CHAOS)- IWGP Tag Team Champions, 2021, 2022 WTL winners. 5th entry, 4th consecutive
- Hikuleo & El Phantasmo (G.o.D) – STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champions, (debut entry)
- Yuji Nagata & Minoru Suzuki (debut entry)
- Taichi & Yuya Uemura (Just 5 Guys) (debut entry)
- Yota Tsuji & Z (debut entry)
- Soberano Jr. & Atlantis Jr. (CMLL) (debut entry)
- Lance Archer (AEW) & Alex Zayne (Monstersauce) debut entry
- Bad Luck Fale & Jack Bonza (BULLET CLUB Rogue Army)
This years eidition of the World Tag League seems to have a lot of varierty. While all teams look strong, lets look at some teams you may want to keep a special eye on.
First lets look at the A Block. The team of Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano should be a fun watch, its not only been a little while since we have seen this team but also as previous IWGP Tag Team champions they are always though to beat with the tricks of Yano and the never die attitude of Ishii they are sure to have some good matches too look forward too. Also in the A Block, Kaito Kiyomiya (NOAH) & Ryohei Oiwa. The Pro Wrestling NOAH star returns to the NJPW ring after a mix bag of a G1. What did come out to that run was his new found partnership with NJPW Young Lion Ryohei Oiwa who has been on excusrion to NOAH. While Oiwa is not yet done on his excursion, He will return home teaming with Kiyomiya in this years WTL. The recently failed in a title challange for NOAH’s GHC Tag Team championship but, the fact that this recently started team already climbed their way up to face the champions shows the potential they have.
Next the team up of 2 of the 3 new generation muskateers of Shota Umino & Ren Narita seems to be an exciting one. The 2 stars have made great strides as singles star and while on opposing sides of a best of 7 6 man tag series, they found more respect from another and while maybe not always seeing eye to eye or likeing each other, the come to realise they can still work togther and we will see this in the upcoming WTL. The last team I am going to metion are the team sent by AEW/ROH and they are Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona known as the Gates of Agony. They are a solid team looking to make a splash and are two thrid’s of the ROH Six Man Tag Champions along side Brian Cage. The combine athletisisim with power and brutality it should be intresting to see how they fair.
Moving on the to B Block, This block has 2 tag team champions in it, the IWGP Tag Team champions of Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI who as reining tag champs and defeding WTL winners are looking to go back to back and will be though to beat. The other team after recently picking up their first 2 title defences are the STRONG Openweight Tag Cahmpions of Hikuleo and EL Phantasmo. Both are athletic but this is the prefect combination of size and power of Hikuleo and Speed and finess and ELP. They will be looking to win the whole thing and have a shot at becoming double champions.
Next anoother suprising team to feature this year are the team of 2 luchadors form CMLL Soberano Jr & Atlantis Jr. While they may not be the biggest in terms of size, they know each other very well having teamed and battles each other a lot. They will try to use their unique Lucha Libre offence to the test against the other teams but dont be fooled as both stars are well traveled and have picked up a lot of tricks and techniques from around the world. Last and peharps the most shocking for long time or hardcore NJPW fans or Japanese wrestling fans as a whole is the pairing of Yuji Nagata & Minoru Suzuki as they have been fighting each other from even before NJPW all they way till this day. Like metiones that Umino and Narita where on opposite ends of the best of 7, 6 man tag series, Nagata and Suzuki where on opposite ends in the same series. After fighting form decades they seemeds to come to an understanding and while perhaps not best firends they want to combine both of their versions of strong style to create to ultimate version, as well as showing the youngsters how it is done.
NJPW’s “WORLD TAG LEAGUE” 2023 will get underway on November 20 and 21