Here we are, finalizing these tournament previews ! This time, let’s move to All Japan Pro Wrestling, and their Real World Tag League !
Who will succeed to Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa ?
Lasting from November 18th to December 7th, this year’s RWTL sees its field shrinking a little bit as well, with a total of 8 teams taking part in the tournament. A good chunk of these teams making their debut, too ! Just like previous editions, the tournament is held under a single block, with the first two teams meeting in the finals once all the block matches are set and done.
With that said, let’s take a look at all the teams involved !
- Violent Giants (Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa), 4th entry, 2017 & 2019 winners, World Tag Team Champions
Starting off strong with the current World Tag Team champions and defending League winners. The champs are the obvious favourites to their own succession, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see them reach their third finals in four participations. However, can they do it ? Or will the Giants’ reign of dominance reach its end rather sooner than later ?
Key match-ups : Enfants Terribles, JIN, Kento & Yuma, TAJIRI & Tanaka.
- Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi, 2nd entry
Moving on to a team I first didn’t expect to see given what happened earlier this year. However, it seems Miyahara, who is now leading his own groupe, and Ayoagi, who is standing on his own, are on the same page again. Coming short of reaching the finals last year, can the former NEXTREAM duo make it this far this time around ?
Key match-ups : Violent Giants, JIN, Enfants Terribles, Purple Haze.
- JIN (Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto), 1st entry
Speaking of reaching the finals, here is last year’s finalist Jake Lee teaming with Junior Heavyweight champion Koji Iwamoto. The former All-Asia Tag Team champions lowkey could offer JIN their second RWTL finals appearance in a row, due to their experience together. Can Iwamoto be « enough of a replacement » for the still injured Naoya Nomura ?
Key match-ups : Kento & Yuma, Enfants Terribles, TAJIRI & Tanaka, Violent Giants.
- Purple Haze (Zeus & Shigehiro Irie), 1st entry
Moving on to the team made of one half of the current All-Asia tag champs, and last year’s BJW’s Saikyou Tag League winner, being one as part of Purple Haze. Zeus and Irie being two very experienced tag wrestlers, there is little doubt they are a team as dangerous as they are powerful.
This Tag League is their first together however, will a lack of team chemistry cause them to fall short ?
Key match-ups : Violent Giants, Enfants Terribles, Sekimoto & Kobayashi, TAJIRI & Tanaka.
- Yoshitatsu & Ryoji Sai, 1st entry
Next up is the one team which I think has the least chance of accomplishing anything in this tournament. You tend to have one spoiler of some sorts in tournaments like these, therefore I’d tend to look at this team of Tatsu and Sai as « the potential spoiler team », with the only purpose of causing a bit of trouble for « the top teams » in the tournament.
Key match-ups : JIN, Purple Haze, TAJIRI & Tanaka, Kento & Yuma.
- TAJIRI & Masato Tanaka, 1st entry
Let’s now look at the team which will remind a lot of wrestling fans of the letters E, C and W. The veteran pairing of Tanaka and TAJIRI may very well end up causing a lot of issues through the tournament. Not only is TAJIRI far from scared to use mist and other tricks, but Tanaka has been having a really great 2020, which he likely looks to make even greater.
Key match-ups : Violent Giants, JIN, Purple Haze, Kento & Yuma.
- Enfants Terribles (Shotaro Ashino & Kuma Arashi), 1st entry
The second to last team we are looking at are the last team to challenge for the World Tag Team titles : Ashino & Arashi of Enfants Terribles. After a very difficult Champion Carnival and a failed tag titles challenge, what is next for the cool kids in town ? Who knows, but don’t be shocked if this team, which remain very strong, makes a deep run in the tournament.
Key match-ups : Violent Giants, JIN, Kento & Yuma, Purple Haze.
- Daisuke Sekimoto & Abdullah Kobayashi, 1st entry
Lastly, here we are with team BJW, reprensented by Daisuke Sekimoto and Abdullah Kobayashi ! The two Big Japan veterans won’t be a team to underestimate, however it also is difficult to see them make a run putting them in finals contention. Yet, grabbing a few wins in this tournament is far from their reach, so everyone should be worried about the Muscle Monster and the Bloody Machine.
Key match-ups : Violent Giants, Purple Haze, TAJIRI & Tanaka, Enfants Terribles.
Val’s finals prediction : Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi vs Enfants Terribles
The first thing to discuss here are dynamics and why both the teams I picked would make it to the finals.
First with Enfants Terribles, Ashino & Arashi have been the latest victims to the Violent Giants, trying to grab the World Tag Team titles, but like so many others before them, ultimately failing. That doesn’t mean the faction shouldn’t look strong past this defeat. The recruiting of Hokuto Omori has helped in that sense, as well as Koji Doi’s recent All Japan arrival, however the group still needs to be putting up results. Even more so after a rather disappointing performance from the same two guys teaming up in Real World Tag League. Therefore, giving them a strong run leading to a finals appearance makes some sense.
Now moving on to Kento & Yuma, now that they reunited for this tournament, they obviously have a big goal in mind, in that case winning the whole thing this time. Kento Miyahara has been running after Suwama and Ishikawa pretty much all year, facing them twice with two different partners (Yoshitatsu and Jiro Kuroshio), failing to capture the titles both times. Therefore, the story of their run is : Can Kento get a third chance at the Giants, earning it the hard way alongside his friend turned hostile, who now is friendly again ? And could another big tag team loss break the trust the former NEXTREAM members have for each other ?
A new team needs to rise and show the ability to take the tag team gold from the two Giants, but keep it. That team may very well be Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi.