Preview: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament

When New Japan Pro Wrestling came back from break, it started its major return with the New Japan Cup. This New Japan Cup featured heavyweights, Young Lions, and even a few junior heavyweights. One of those juniors in the tournament was IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion YOH, who teamed with SHO in Roppongi 3K. In the first round of the New Japan Cup, BUSHI defeated YOH in a major upset. It was revealed later in the month that YOH received an injury. With YOH currently being out for over multiple months due to this knee injury, SHO relinquished the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. On the same day, it was decided that new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions will be determined during the New Japan Road Tour in a mini round-robin tournament. Let’s get into the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament preview.

Tournament Bracket

The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Rules

  • The matches are round-robin; every tag team will face against each other on the 5th, 6th, and 9th, with the finale being on the 11th of September.
  • If a team loses in the tournament, they gain zero points.
  • In the event of a draw, the teams will gain one point each.
  • If a team wins the match, they gain two points.
  • The teams most points face each other in the finals on September 11th.

The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Participants

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament

Gedo and Taiji Ishimori

Gedo has been recently seen in NJPW as the punching bag of Kazuchika Okada. The same, however, couldn’t be said for Taiji Ishimori. At Summer Struggle, Ishimori would become the brand new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, defeating Hiromu Takahashi in a brutal 13-minute affair. Gedo and Jado were a defining team of junior division in the late 2000s. Ishimori held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles with El Phantasmo earlier this year. Gedo has showcased a bit of a weak spot. However, this team carries the high of Ishimori and the possibility of Bullet Club causing some sort of interference. All matches also feature the top junior talent of the division, so it could be said if someone pins Ishimori, they might get a title shot in the coming future.

Gedo/Ishimori’s Opponent Dates

  • Gedo/Ishimori vs. BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi on September 5th
  • Gedo/Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado on September 6th
  • Gedo/Ishimori vs. Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi on September 9th

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament

Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi

For the past few months, Master Wato has been teaming with Taguchi Japan. Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi have experience together, albeit in trios action. Taguchi has held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship before. It seems like this unit would define the underdog team of the tournament. Both men are coming into this tournament under losses, with Wato losing to Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Taguchi losing in the trios tournament action, while also being the punching bag for Suzuki-gun. While not being the favorites of the tournament, Wato and Taguchi would be a breath of fresh air if they win the tournament. With this being Master Wato’s first tournament as well, it could be a special time for this tag team.

Master/Taguchi’s Opponent Dates

  • Master/Taguchi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado on September 5th
  • Master/Taguchi vs. Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI on September 6th
  • Master/Taguchi vs. Gedo and Taiji Ishimori on September 9th

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament

El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Out of every tag team in this tournament, the ones with the most experience are El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. This is a team that’s been around in NJPW since the return of Suzuki-gun at the beginning of 2016. El Desperado and Kanemaru have been in many IWGP Junior Tag Team Title matches. These include a series with Roppongi 3K and Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI. Out of the many tag teams that are coming into this tournament with highs, this team is mixed. While Desperado failed to gain the NEVER Openweight Championship at Sengoku Lord, Kanemaru secured a victory over Wato. Suzuki-Gun has been in the mood of winning titles. Could this be the next step to Suzuki-Gun to have two more?

Desperado/Kanemaru’s Opponent Dates

  • Desperado/Kanemaru vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and El Desperado on September 5th
  • Desperado/Kanemaru vs. Gedo & Taiji Ishimori on September 6th
  • Desperado/Kanemaru vs. Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI on September 9th

Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI

The team of Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi hasn’t been seen in NJPW since the beginning of 2018. Before becoming one of the top junior heavyweights of the scene, Takahashi used to tag with BUSHI. After months of frustration and even losing in tag title matches, Takahashi broke away from BUSHI to pursue singles junior heavyweight ambitions. He would do that by defeating Will Ospreay to become the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion at Dominion. Even when Takahashi returned from injury, the team with BUSHI didn’t resurface until this tournament. They are perhaps the clear favorite behind Suzuki-Gun to win this tournament and become brand new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Takahashi getting his hands on Ishimori in the first match of the tournament will be major. However, the “Time Bomb” must focus on the goal at hand, not get distracted over his vengeance. Meanwhile, BUSHI wants to represent the juniors of LIJ, wanting to reclaim a title he used to hold with Shingo Takagi.

Hiromu/Bushi’s Opponent Dates

  • Hiromu/Bushi vs. Gedo & Taiji Ishimori on September 5th
  • Hiromu/Bushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato on 6th
  • Hiromu/Bushi vs. El Desperado and Bushi on September 9th

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Synopsis 

While these shows are known for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament, there will be more to keep an eye on. With multiple events being this close to the G1 Climax, I’d expect some announcements for the singles tournament in question. We may learn the participants, blocks, and even matches. Also, on the September 11th show, we have a NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship match. This should be a very intriguing tour with some great junior heavyweight tag action.

Stay tuned to 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 New Japan Pro Wrestling on NJPW WORLD. Looking to talk wrestling, pro football, or any number of sports? Head on over to the LWOS Boards to engage in conversation with fellow fans!


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