Breaking Down & Predicting The Super Junior Tag Team League
After a quiet period for New Japan Pro Wrestling, they are back with the Super Junior Tag League. We have eight teams and they are all looking to get a tournament win, which could get them an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship title shot at Wrestle Kingdom 14. With Wrestle Kingdom on the horizon, all the teams are going to be doing what they can to get included on one of the biggest shows of the year. But who do I think will be the team getting the title shot? Well let’s jump right in and find out.
8) Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
This is a huge opportunity for Yuya Uemura, getting to team up with a legend like Tiger Mask. Uemura was the second for Hiroshi Tanahashi during the G1 Climax and now he is going to learn so much from Tiger Mask during this tournament. This is one of two teams that have young lions on them, so why is this the team at the bottom of the ranking? Well part of it is because of their performances in singles tournaments this year. Uemura only mustered two points in the Young Lions Cup, and Tiger Mask only got four points in the Best of the Super Juniors. Tiger Mask is also in the latter stages of his career, and as this iteration of the character, the fourth overall, is nearing the end of his career, Uemura is beginning his own career. New Japan could be using this paring to see if Uemura is the one that should be the next person to take the moniker of Tiger Mask.
7) TJP & Clark Conners
This is a really nice pairing for this tournament. New Japan must’ve seen something in TJP during the Super J Cup for him to get a spot in this tournament. TJP actually beat Clark Conners in the first round of the Super J Cup, and this is a big chance for Conners, as he is the other Young Lion in this tournament, and I’ve already said that I’m a fan of Conners. I think that this tournament will be a fantastic opportunity for Conners to learn from a lot from the 19 year veteran in TJP. I’m also curious if with his appearance in two New Japan tournaments this year means that they are considering to have TJP in next years Best of the Super Juniors. While I have low expectations for this tournament for this team, I’m very excited for their futures in New Japan.
6) Titan & Volador Jr
While Titan was in this year’s Best of the Super Juniors, Volador hasn’t been in a New Japan tournament since last years Super Junior Tag League. Volador has become a mainstay for the annual New Japan/CMLL Fantastica Maina tour in January. Both guys are very talented, but can’t seem to get the break when it comes to New Japan matches. They have never been to the finals of any tournaments that they have been in, but this could be a team that can be a surprise in this tournament. Volador and Titan should use this tournament to develop a mean streak, which is something that Titan really lacked this year in the Best of the Super Juniors. If they come out with that mean streak, this could be a team to watch out for in the tournament.
5) Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero
These two working together is something that a lot of people kind of saw coming since the Best of the Super Juniors. Ryusuke Taguchi is in the middle of a return to form year as he finished second in his Best of the Super Juniors block and he has been one third of the NEVER Openweight Six Man Champions since the end of January. Rocky Romero had a great return to action, as he competed in his first Best of the Super Juniors, and had a fantastic main event against El Phantasmo on night nine of the tournament. These two also competed in the Super J Cup, but both failed to reach the finals. This team is hard to figure out, as there is no stable affiliation between the two. There is also Romero’s team, Roppongi 3K in this tournament that they will have to worry about. If these two come together as a full time team, it will be a scary one for the ranks of the Junior Heavyweights. Taguchi and Romero combined are three time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champions and 14 time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Taguchi and Romero have a huge experience edge on the rest of the field. If you want a team than can make a push to the finals that's in the bottom half of these rankings, then look right at Taguchi and Romero.
4) Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles
These two flying around a ring is something fun to watch. They were also hard to rank, seeing as they are a new team and Will Ospreay is the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. They have beaten the current Junior Tag Team Champions as well, so they have that edge when they face them in this tournament. The one that can benefit the most from a good performance in this Robbie Eagles. Right now, Eagles place in New Japan and CHAOS for that matter is really unclear. He is someone that is super talented, but with all the talent already in the company and the stable, it is really unclear right now. If Eagles perfomrs really well, then his spot could become more clear. While I don’t expect Birds of Prey (yes, that is their name) to win the tournament, I expect a good showing and for them to be in contention to win the block on the final day of the tournament.
3) El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori
They are the current champions, and if youve read any of my Breaking Down and Predicting articles, I never pick the champs to win a tournament. Don’t get me wrong, Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo are a great team, but it just doesn’t seem likely that they will win the tournament. They have had two very different years before coming together as a team. Ishimori won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Kushida at Wrestle Kingdom, but lost it at the Madison Square Garden show to Dragon Lee. Phantasmo came into New Japan with a fantastic performance in the Best of the Super Juniors befor teaming up with Ishimori and winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. They haven’t done much as champs yet, but this is the down period of the year for New Japan. I expect them to have a long reign as champions. They have done so well as a team and I expect them to have a great tournament run.
2) Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desparado
It is so nice to see El Desperado back after the dislocated jaw he suffered just before the Best of the Super Juniors. Him and Yoshinobu Kanemaru are former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions for over 300 days, and are going to be a threat to retake the championships. Kanemaru has found success in every promotion that he has been in, and Despy is someone that has the potential to become a star in the singles division. They are some of the best heels in the Junior division, but they are also so smooth in the ring. I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that they will be Tag Team Champions sooner rather than later. It was very tempting to put them as the favorites, as they were the finalis last year, but one team edges them out at the favorites.
1) Roppongi 3K
They have won the past two Super Junior Tag League, and I think that they’re going to do it for a third year in a row. Sho and Yoh are the aces of the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team division. Both of them are capable of being stars of the singles division, but until then it’s Roppongi 3K’s division and all the other teams are just living in it. I have been a fan of theirs since I first saw them against the Young Bucks at Wrestle Kingdom 12, and I’ve been a fan of theirs ever since. It’s hard to even expand on why they are the favorites, they are just the best junior heavyweight tag team in the world, and when the field was revealed, there was an immediate favorite here in Roppongi 3K. At the end of the tournament, I expect Sho and Yoh to be the ones standing tall as the winners.