With King of Pro Wrestling officially in the books of New Japan Pro Wrestling, it’s now once again time for NJPW’s Junior Tag Team Tournament. The Super Junior Tag League, which features eight Tag Teams of the juniors division to determine the very best of that division. In recent memory, this tournament became a round-robin tournament like many of New Japan’s tournaments over the years.
The major goal of the tournament is to become the number one contenders for IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 14. If the tag team champions win this tournament, they get to challenge whoever they want to defend against at Wrestle Kingdom. Let’s take a look into the Super Junior Tag League competitors.
Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
Roppongi 3K is one of the veterans of this tournament, winning the tournament last year. They defeated El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Shingo Takagi & BUSHI. In terms of importance, this tag team is always a major part of the very end of the tournament. Always close to where the IWGP Junior Tag Champions are. One of the major points for this tag team, however, is the fact they’ve already challenged for the other gold (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships). It’s known that they have ambitions in the heavyweight division, but they would love to gain this trophy for another year. They have won both the 2017 and 2018 tournaments. It could end up happening three years running on their road to becoming four-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo)
At King of Pro Wrestling, El Phantasmo had an unsuccessful attempt at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, losing to Will Ospreay. With the unsuccessful singles matches, the tag team career of Taiji Ishimori and ELP have been one of the top teams in New Japan since July. At Kizuna Road, they defeated Roppongi 3K for the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships and have held them since.
At Destruction, this tag team defeated The Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles) to retain the titles. Now, the champions want to win this tournament and declare their legacy to hold a trophy that determines the best tag team of the juniors division. There are a lot of people who think either Bullet Club or the Birds of Prey could be finalists of the tournament.
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
In 2017 and 2018, one of the most dominant tag teams of the junior division was that of El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. It was different in 2019 as El Desperado was injured the Best of The Super Juniors tournament. Desperado was out for five months, before his return in the opening match at King of Pro Wrestling. Now the former IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions make their official return to the tournament scene. Will the third time be the charm for the team that has ended up in the finals for the last two years? Will this lead to a new path for Desperado if they again fail to win the tournament? Kanemaru, on the other hand, has not been doing much for Suzuki-gun as of late, having a very unsuccessful Best of Super Juniors run. You could safely say that this team has a lot to prove.
Birds of Prey/CHAOS (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles)
One of the bigger moments of this year was the eventual turn of former Bullet Club member, Robbie Eagles. Turning against El Phantasmo during their Australian tour, he joined CHAOS to form The Birds of Prey alongside IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay. After having an unsuccessful title shot against ELP and Taiji Ishimori, Ospreay defeated El Phantasmo. Will Ospreay has been on a tour of proving others wrong, participating in every tournament NJPW has held over the past year.
As Ospreay goes into the Super Junior Tag League with his friend/rival Eagles, this team has a lot of potential to go very far in this tournament. Having the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion on their side, alongside a mainstay of CHAOS and with CHAOS’ reputation to win everything in sight, you could say that this tag team could be one of the finalists of the tournament.
Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero
In terms of the experience, both of these guys could be in that top spot. Rocky Romero is a former eight-time IWGP Junior Tag Team Champion with guys like Trent Berreta, Davey Richards and Alex Koslov. Ryusuke Taguchi has also had his fair share of tag team partners like current WWE stars Finn Balor (FKA Prince Devitt) and Ricochet. The combined 14 championship reigns is also impressive with the fact that these two have slowed down in their careers. Romero is usually the manager of Roppongi 3K and Taguchi being the undisputed leader of the Taguchi-Japan faction.
CHAOS and Taguchi Japan made a peace deal in the Best of Super Juniors tournament and it continues in the Super Junior Tag League. This team brings things to new heights and could potentially win the tournament for both of New Japan’s superhero factions with the most experience out of every tag team of this tournament. They could be one of the major stories of this upcoming tournament with possibly the upset of the tournament, with both men having beat El Phantasmo in the Best of the Super Juniors.
Volador Jr. & Titan
In these tournaments that New Japan are world-renowned for, NJPW often go to one of their partners, CMLL (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre), for competitors. This year’s tag team is Volador Jr., who lost his mask a few years ago and is one of the top stars of the company; and Titan, who has won multiple tournaments in CMLL Titan was also part of the Fantasticamania tour and the Best of the Super Juniors.
While this is the first time this tag team has appeared in NJPW, the in-ring action for this team will make any of their matches must-see because of how talented both of them are. While these two haven’t had successful tours in New Japan’s tournaments, maybe the combined experience of these two could make this team tournament a major part in Mexico, possibly becoming the first Mexican team to win the Super Junior Tag League.
Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemara
Tiger Mask (IV) is one of the veterans of New Japan, having over 16 years of experience on New Japan’s roster. He is teaming with one of the young lions, Yuya Uemura for the tournament. Due to Uemura’s status of young lion, this alongside of the next tag team in this list have very little potential to win the tournament. With Tiger Mask’s experience in the singles area of NJPW, combined with Yuya’s experience as a young lion, this tag team could have some major upsets in the tournament, even towards the very end of Tiger Mask’s career, which has been defined as of recently with humiliation from Yoshinobu Kanemaru trying to unmask Tiger Mask IV every time that he could . You could see the potential revenge from Tiger Mask in their tag bout against Desperado & Kanemaru. Even if they don’t have much potential to win the tournament, no doubt revenge would be bittersweet to the long-lasting story of Kanemaru & Tiger Mask.
TJP & Clark Connors
TJP left WWE at the very beginning of the year and has been part of many other promotions such as IMPACT Wrestling and has taken part in NJPW’s American tours. One of the more not well-known facts about TJP is that he was part of the young lion system in the early 2000s and trained under Antonio Inoki.
In the Super Junior Tag League, he teams with a very promising young lion named Clark Conners. Conners is one of the major prospects of Los Angles NJPW Dojo. As mentioned previously, the possibilities of this team winning the tournament are very minimal due to having a young lion on their side. This is also TJP’s first New Japan tour since 2011, so you could say that this is homecoming party for one of the original LA young lions.
This tour should definitely be filled with some amazing action that New Japan is known for, feature tag teams with tons of experience, with some returns to the company and unique tag teams such as Rocky Romero and Ryusuke Taguchi. The Super Junior Tag League goes from October 16th to November 3rd, with the shows that are LIVE and Video On Demand are linked here.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Make sure to watch The Super Jr Tag Tournament on NJPW WORLD.