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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Astorga

NJPW 2019 World Tag League Teams Lineups, Set For Huge Three Week Campaign

16 teams to compete in one block league from November 16 to December 8.

The full lineup has been revealed for this year’s World Tag League, and it’s an absolutely stacked affair! This year, 16 teams will take part in the single block league over a three week period. Teams earn two points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss as they head toward the final night on December 8, where the top points scorers will leave with the World Tag League trophy and, traditionally, a chance at the IWGP tag Team Championships at Wrestle Kingdom 14.

With Wrestle Kingdom taking place over two nights this year, the potential exists for more entrants to be active in the 2019 field. After yesterday’s announcement of the Double Gold Dash of dual championship matches involving Tetsuya Naito, Jay White, Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi, those four wrestlers will not be entered into the field of 32 competitors.

Your teams for the tournament are:

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare (New WTL combination)

Hiroshi Tanahashi enters his first World Tag League since his 2016 combination with Juice Robinson, teaming with Toa Henare, who enters his fourth consecutive league. For Henare, this league could be a big breakthrough after formative years with Manabu Nakanishi and Togi Makabe in the past. Tanahashi meanwhile is already set for a major singles match to start 2020 with Chris Jericho on January 5, and could start his year in spectacular form with a chance at tag glory at the end of 2019.

Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) (5th entry, first in three years. 2015, 2016 World Tag League winners, 2x IWGP Tag Team Champions)

After an absence from the 2017 and 2018 leagues as Tomoaki Honma fought back to form from neck injury, Great Bash Heel are finally back in the World Tag League. This formidable tandem have were part of the WTL from 2013 to 2016, and were the first to win the league back to back in 2015 and 2016. Their wild style and effective combinations will be tough to beat.

Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (8th entry, 8th consecutive. 2001, 2008 G1 Tag League winners, 6xIWGP Tag Team Champions)

The six time former IWGP Tag Team Champions may be veterans of the third generation, but are still capable of fighting with the heart and strength of those decades their seniors. Kojima and Tenzan have been a part of every single World Tag League since its modern inception in 2012, and will be looking to recapture their glories in the former G1 Tag League by winning their first WTL in 2019.

Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (5th entry, 3rd consecutive. 1x IWGP Tag Team Champions)

Also representing the third generation, Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata team together for the third year straight. While they have teamed with different partners over the years, Nagata and Nakanishi have been linked together for the best part of three decades, and that shows in their chemistry when teaming together. Former IWGP Tag Team Champions they held the titles for almost a year straight spanning 1999 and 2000 in an impressive run.

FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) (2nd entry, 2nd consecutive)

David Finlay and Juice Robinson are back teaming together after a shoulder injury to Finlay separated the two for the larger part of 2019. The FinJuice combination was an effective one last year, racking up 16 points to tie for fifth in the league, and the two found themselves competing for the ROH Tag Team Championships at Honor Rising back in February. Before they could finish off the Briscoes to seize gold however, Finlay suffered his injury, resulting in defeat. Finlay and Robinson look to pick up where they left off in WTL 2019.

Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks (New WTL combination)

Hirooki Goto takes Young Lion Cup winner Karl Fredericks under his wing for this new WTL combination. It was back in June that Goto headed to the LA Dojo to reconnect with Katsuyori Shibata and rebuild himself from scratch. Goto gave the Dojo as a whole, including its prospects a lot of credit when it came to giving him the impetus he needed to stay fiercely competitive through the ensuing G1 Climax. Now, with Fredericks’ strong resume to date, these two should be just as competitive in the World Tag League.

Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (New WTL combination)

Although Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI haven’t been part of a World Tag League to date, they are familiar partners, most recently teaming up in September, where they took on the Guerrillas of Destiny at Destruction in Beppu. The CHAOS duo fell short that night, thanks in large part to the outside interference of KENTA; they’ll look for revenge on KENTA and GoD throughout the WTL tour.

Toru Yano & Colt Cabana (New WTL combination)

This might be a team to look out for when it comes to sheer entertainment through the World Tag League. Brought together by a cult classic match during the New Japan Cup, and solidifying their relationship during the Honor Rumble at G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden, Yano and Cabana are of like mind, and like capacity for cunning. the more skeptical may set these two as underdogs, but with Yano a former IWGP Tag Team Champion, and Cabana one of the smartest veteran minds in the game, this is a hard team to ignore.

Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls (New WTL combination)

This is a fresh team, but one to keep an eye out for during the league. Cobb’s athleticism and power is, perhaps, unmatched. Nicholls meanwhile could be in his element in a long form tag team tournament after debuting in the New Japan Cup this year and forming a brief partnership with Juice Robinson.

EVIL & SANADA (4th entry, 4th consecutive. 2017, 2018 WTL winners. 2x IWGP Tag Team Champions)

The run-away favourites in this year’s World Tag League, EVIL & SANADA are the only team to pull off the ‘back-to-back-to-back-to-back’ of WTL; the past two years they have not only won the league, but went on to win the IWGP Tag Team Championships in the Tokyo Dome to boot. Both have had strongly competitive years as singles wrestlers in 2019, but when winter comes, you can never deny Cold Skull and the King of Darkness.

Shingo Takagi & Terrible (New WTL combination)

After Terrible teamed effectively with LIJ through Fantasticamania earlier this year, CMLL’s fearsome rudo is now paired with Shingo Takagi for World Tag League. It should be a devastating combination of strength and speed from both men.

Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer (New WTL combination, 2011 G1 Tag League winners)

Long part of Suzuki-Gun, this is Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer’s first time in a World Tag league, but they were teaming together in its precursor, the G1 Tag League, in 2011. There they defeated Karl Anderson and Giant Bernard to win the league. A formidable combination then? With both men’s predilection for violence, and expertise in inflicting pain, it’s safe to say as much.

Zack Sabre Junior & Taichi (2nd entry, 2nd consecutive)

ZSJ and Taichi might have different approaches to getting things done in the ring, but that’s perhaps why they proved so effective in last year’s WTL, scoring an impressive 16 points to tie for fifth place. Now in their second tournament, they’ll be looking to make a run for the top spot, with Taichi eager to erase the memories of losing his bout against Tetsuya Naito at Power Struggle, and ZSJ looking to add to his gold collection and the British Heavyweight Championship.

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (4th entry, 4th consecutive, 5x, current IWGP Tag Team Champions)

Arguably the franchise team of NJPW, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa have dominated the scene in 2019. Starting their fifth reign with the tag belts in February, GoD became double IWGP and ROH tag champions at Madison Square Garden, just one highlight of the most dominant of GoD’s five reigns to date. One prize that has eluded Tonga and Loa though is the World Tag League. They have made the finals every year since their WTL debuts; can they be the top scorers in 2019?

KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi (New WTL combination)

Comprised of current and former NEVER Openweight Champions, KENTA and Takahashi make for an imposing team indeed, and one that is sure to make a mark on their debut WTL, through fair means or foul. A former IWGP Junior and Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, Yujiro understands tag team wrestling, as does KENTA. The two together may be hard to beat.

Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (second entry, first in two years)

Fale and Chase Owens reform their 2017 World Tag League team to round out the field. These aren’t also-rans however. Forming an effective combination through undercard matches (and tournament ones too, where Owens provided ‘moral support’ to Fale) during the G1, Owens and Fale have stormed Area 51 and will now attempt to storm the WTL.


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