NJPW World Tag League 2023 Finals report (12/10) – Lansdell’s results & analysis of WTL 2023 Finals

By Chris Lansdell, PWTorch contributor


DECEMBER 10, 2023

Announcers: Walker Stewart and Chris Charlton

We’ve made it to the finals, with a long undercard of multi-man tag matches. Praise be, we actually have English commentary! I will be giving brief notes on the undercard, saving the details for the big main event. 


Nozaki and Asosan are from Kyushu Pro Wrestling. Nozaki looks like Otis and Ishii had a baby, and is a judo expert. Asosan is the largest active volcano in Japan. That tells me everything I need to know about Kysuhu Pro. The match was billed as a Frontier Zone match, basically the Japanese equivalent of the Forbidden Door. 

In one of the most impressive things I have seen a Young Lion do, Oleg picked up Nozaki (who looks to be about 300 pounds) in a gutwrench and just pivoted him from side to side before muscling him over for a suplex. 

Despite his partner being pounced into oblivion by Nozaki, Taguchi was able to pick up the win with a quick roll-up on Asosan. 

WINNERS: Taguchi & Oleg via pinfall in 6:00. (**)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: Fun little opener, I liked what I saw of Nozaki for sure. Oleg is looking very ready for an excursion. It’s worth giving this match a look for the novelty alone.)

(2) TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste & Kosei Fujita) vs. ATLANTIS JR. & SOBERANO JR. & MASTER WATO

From Ichiban Meat Boy to Ichiban Sweet Boy for our second match. TMDK and Team CMLL did not face off in the round robin, and that lack of familiarity really showed in the first few minutes of this match. 

One bright spot in this match was the performance of Kosei Fujita, who has clearly been spending some time learning from his stablemates. He hit a gorgeous deadlift German with a bridge at one point that would not have been out of place from someone like Ospreay.

Wato would pick up the win with his own high-angle German on Fujita.

WINNERS: Atlantis Jr. & Soberano Jr. & Master Wato via pinfall in 9:00. (**1/2)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: It was a little clunky to start, but once Wato got in the ring the familiarity was clear and the pace picked up. I am enjoying the progress of Fujita as he takes an unconventional Young Lion path.)

(3) MONSTERSAUCE (Alex Zayne & Lance Archer) & MINORU SUZUKI & YUJI NAGATA vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & Jack Bonza & Alex Coughlin & Gabe Kidd)

War Dogs were the only A block representatives in this one, but I didn’t expect the same sort of issues that we saw with flow and familiarity. Monstersauce came to the ring with a person in a kaiju costume, because of course they did. 

After Suzuki hit the piledriver, Archer and Zaynbe hit the Blackout Senton combo for the win.

WINNERS: Monstersauce & Nagata & Suzuki via pinfall in 9:00. (**)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: This was your typical chaotic brawl with everyone getting some shine. Nothing stood out, especially if you watched the round robin matches and saw what these teams were doing. Nothing offensive, but basically just there.)

(4) CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) & Yuto Nakashima & Oskar Leube) vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Great-O-Khan & Henare & Jeff Cobb & Callum Newman)

Aside from getting to see Henare and Ishii try to pulverize each other again, this match offered the exciting prospect of Jeff Cobb getting to show his comedic side. We did in fact see a fun interaction with O-Khan doing his “sit on your head in the corner” spot on Yano, and the rest of United Empire attacking Yano’s rear end. 

Both Young Lions got a chance to show out here, and they took that chance. Still a fair bit to learn, but the New Japan system really does give new talents the basics they need to shine. Naturally one of them, Leube to be specific, ended up taking the fall.

WINNERS: United Empire via pinfall in 7:00. (**1/4)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: Again it was fine. We did get some Yano-style comedy and there was some intense physicality in and out of the ring between Henare and Ishii, but otherwise unremarkable.)

  • Post match, Henare and Ishii kept fighting. Cobb tried to play peacemaker but ended up joining the beatdown. Possibly setting up a six-man challenge?


Narita was nowhere to be seen as House of Torture made their entrance. Sho got on the mic and said that Narita has an announcement, being that his opponents were too weak and too sloppy for him to wrestle. Furthermore he refused to wrestle in front of these geeks in Kumamoto. Dick Togo would take his place.

I love that we are being made to wait for Umino to be able to get his hands on Narita in the ring. It’s great old-school storytelling that we don’t see enough these days. Naturally Narita would come out and attack Umino from behind after a couple of minutes, choking him out and kicking him over the barricade. The referee then restarted the match with Narita now in it? 

It wouldn’t matter, as Togo choked out Tiger Mask with the garotte and Narita hit the X-Factor for Sho to cover and get the win. That was unnecessarily complicated. I guess it gives Narita a second tag team win over Umino, though.

WINNERS: Narita & Sho via pinfall in (officially) 1:00. (*1/2)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: I’m bumping this up because it told a good story for later, but it was not a good match. It was barely a match at all. When Umino and Narita finally do face off, presumably Jan. 4 at WrestleKingdom, it’s going to be a doozy.)

(6) KAITO KIYOMIYA & RYOHEI OIWA & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. HOUSE OF TORTURE (Evil & Yujiro Takahashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Kiyomiya & Oiwa picked up the win when they faced House of Torture in the round robin, despite the best efforts of all of House of Torture. Although we would not see quite the same level of shenanigans here, there was enough interference to make the match a lot worse. 

To be fair, I did chuckle when Togo went to the second rope for the handstand groin shot, but used the Kokeshi headbutt instead of his usual chop. Further distractions and interference allowed Kanemaru to spit whisky in the face of Honma, who then ate Everything is Evil for the loss.

WINNERS: House of Torture via pinfall in 11:00. (*1/2)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: It was exactly what you would expect, a way for House of Torture to get some heat back with their normal antics. )

  • Post match, Sho and Narita came out to continue the beatdown on Oiwa and Kiyomiya. Shota Umino came charging out to even the numbers a bit, and got a few good shots in on Narita before the latter could flee. 


Everything I said about this trip not being worth it for Gates of Agony is now moot. Any time you can get in the ring with two of the best of all time is a privilege, and they did it TWICE. More to the point, they picked up a victory over them in the first match. 

For the most part, Gates of Agony held their own and did not look out of their depth. There was one very scary spot where Liona tried to flapjack or perhaps Samoan drop Okada and almost dropped him on his neck. I think Okada was able to tuck his shoulder in time to prevent serious injury, but that could have been VERY nasty. 

After a very close call with the Fall from Heaven on Okada, normal service would be resumed. Okada hit a very stiff Rainmaker on Liona to pick up the win.

WINNERS: Tanahashi & Okada via pinfall in 12:00. (***)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: A big honour for Gates of Agony here, and they held up their end of the bargain. Well, aside from almost incapacitating the biggest name in New Japan. This one is worth watching to see how well GoA held up against the two legends. I hope they continue this trajectory when they come back to the US.)

(8) JUST FIVE GUYS (Sanada & Taichi & Yuya Uemura & Douki & Taka Michinoku) vs LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi & Bushi & Yota Tsuji) & ZANDOKAN JR.

Aside from the WrestleKingdom storyline of Sanada and Naito here, we have the continued weirdness with Zandokan, Tsuji and Naito AND the bussing rivalry between Uemura and Tsuji. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Naito and Sanada started the match. It wouldn’t last as we cycled through the various rival pairings before things degenerated somewhat. The two would brawl together on the outside before both tagging in late in the match. Sanada got a surprising amount of fan support given how bland his title run has been.

Needless to say, the result did not feature Naito pinning Sanada or vice versa. Bushi would hit MX on Taka for the win following a lot of chaos (not the faction) and Zandokan hitting a tiger bomb. 

WINNERS: Los Ingobernables de Japón via pinfall in 16:00. (**1/2)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: Unlike Umino and Narita, we have seen Sanada and Naito wrestle together frequently…though not as opponents. Preventing them from touching before WrestleKingdom would be less effective, and I think that’s why they aren’t taking that approach. This was decent, nothing special but I did not expect that. It’s to whet the appetite, not give us the full meal just yet.)

  • Post match, LIJ invited Zandokan Jr. to do the salute. So does this mean he’s part of the faction now? Not the outcome I expected, but sure why not?

(9) BISHAMON (Hirooki Goto & Yoahi-Hashi) vs. GUERILLAS OF DESTINY (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo) – WTL 2023 Finals

Chris Charlton mentioned this is the first time that the finals of World Tag League have been champion vs. champion. I would also point out that no team has won three World Tag Leagues, let alone three straight. The reigning champions have also never won the World Tag League. Bishamon had the chance to do all those things here.

After some early exchanges between Phantasmo and Yoshi-Hashi, Phantasmo hit a textbook dropkick which led to Goto tagging in. Goto would fare better, causing Hikuleo to tag in and take the upper hand. GoD took turns hitting corner splashes on Goto, before Hikuleo hit a side slam and Phantasmo came off the middle rope with a Bret Hart elbow for a two count. 

At the five minute mark, Phantasmo dropped a knee for another two count. He lit up Goto with a pair of chops and tagged in Hikuleo. The big man shrugged off some shots from Goto and dropped him with a DDT for another two. 

A back elbow and a big jumping elbow drop from Hikuleo scored another near fall. Phantasmo tagged in but soon ran into a lariat from Goto, allowing the tag to Yoshi-Hashi. A series of chops and strikes from Yoshi-Hashi to Phantasmo was followed by Goto hip-tossing his own partner onto Phantasmo. Hikuleo tried to intervene and was suplexed onto Phantasmo for his troubles. Goto and Yoshi-Hashi then hit their tandem high-speed clubbing forearm spot to fire up the crowd.

Yoshi-Hashi continued to try to cave in Phantasmo’s chest with some very loud chops. At the ten-minute call Goto tagged in and went to work with stomps and a back elbow for a two count. Yoshi-Hashi tagged back in but Phantasmo was able to block an Irish whip, throw Goto outside, and hit a flying headscissors to Yoshi-Hashi. Got would come back in though to prevent the tag.

Goto tagged back in and they went for a tandem back suplex. Phantasmo escaped out the back and lunged for a tag but was cut off by Goto. Phantasmo connected with an enzguigiri on Goto, kicked Yoshi-Hashi into Goto, and finally made the tag.

Hikuelo came in with shoulder tackles for everyone. He tried to chokeslam both members of Bishamon but had to settle for clotheslining them both instead. Goto and Yoshi-Hashi went to the floor where they were soon met with a moonsaulting El Phantasmo. It was a thing of beauty.

Phatnasmo went looking for plunder under the ring. He pulled out a chair, but Hikuleo stopped him. He tried a second chair, and again Hikuleo said no. Then Hikuleo pulled out a table, and everyone was happy. Well, Red Shoes and Bishamon likely weren’t.

At the fifteen-minute mark, Hikuleo put Yoshi-Hashi on the table as Phantasmo went up top. Goto intercepted him and prevented the dive, allowing Yoshi-Hashi to recover and shove Hikuleo into the barricade.

Back inside, Goto continued the assault on Hikuleo. He tried a suplex but it was blocked twice. Hikuleo tried his own, Goto escaped out the back and tried to knock the big man down with a series of tackles. He was not successful. They hit a series of simultaneous clotheslines, leading to both men being down.

Hikuleo made the tag, as did Goto. Phantasmo and Yoshi-Hashi looked completely gassed, staggering towards each other and exchanging forearms with much less vim and vigor than earlier in the match. Yoshi-Hashi would eventually win the exchange, but that victory would be short-lived. A series of counters and escapes led to Phantasmo connecting with a tope suicida to the outside.

Back in the ring, Phantasmo hit a slingshot senton into an Asai moonsault for a near fall. He picked up Yoshi-Hashi in an inverted fireman’s carry and called Hikuleo in for the boot into the Unidentified Flying Opponent spinning neckbreaker drop. Goto broke it up but got hit with Yoshi-Hashi’s boots as Phantasmo spun around to face Goto. Phantasmo followed up by dropping Yoshi-Hashi onto Goto.

After the twenty-minute call GoD tried the boot/UFO combo again, this time connecting for a very near fall. Phantasmo connected with Sudden Death, and Hikuleo hit the Godsend while Phantasmo went over the top to the floor with a slingshot. He was slow to come back to the apron and get in position for the Super Thunderkiss ‘86, which allowed Yoshi-Hashi to get his knees up.

Goto held on to Hikuleo while Yoshi-Hashi covered Phantasmo for a near fall. Hikuleo clubbed Goto down and caught sight of the table on the floor. He had the bright idea to powerbomb Goto out of the ring on to the table, but fortunately Goto escaped. 

Goto tried to fight back but a single right hand from Hikuleo into a Gun Stun by Phantasko ended that idea. Jado called for the Super Powerbomb, and they connected on Yoshi-Hashi! 1…2…Goto broke it up! Hikuleo tossed Goto to the floor and looked frustrated. Phantasmo rolled Yoshi-Hashi to the middle of the ring and covered him again for a two-count. 

Phantasmo went to the top for a Thunderkiss ‘86, but his body would not let him. Hikuleo said he would do it…and he actually climbed the ropes and tried, bless his heart. He missed. Yoshi-Hashi crawled over to make the tag as we went passed the twenty-five minute call. 

Goto hit a spinning heel kick and a Saito suplex on Phantasmo for two. An ushigoroshi connected, then Goto locked in an innovative submission, a modified armbar/hammerlock combo. Phantasmo would make it to the ropes to break the hold.

Phantasmo tried to fire back with some shots but there was no power behind them. Goto decked him with a single shot. Yoshi-Hashi came in and they nailed the Violent Flash. Yoshi-Hashi called for Shoto but Hikuleo broke it up.

Bishamon hit a tandem neckbreaker over the knee on Hikuleo, then the blockbuster Russian leg sweep combo on Phantasmo for a very close fall. They went for another Shoto, Phantasmo was able to kick it off, but the third attempt connected. 1…2…no! Hikuleo came out of nowhere to break the cover! I loved that, both teams have had a finisher interrupted at the last second now. 

We heard the thirty minute announcement, making this the longest match in World Tag League history. I would not have predicted that at the start of the tournament. I didn’t, in fact. Hikuleo tried the double chokeslam, but Bishamon escaped and clotheslined him over the top to the floor. Phantasmo was the next target, and Bishamon very slowly whipped him to the corner. A running clothesline and running chop in the corner was about to lead to a tandem move, but Hikuleo grabbed Goto by the throat and attempted to chokeslam him off the top and through the table on the outside. 

Goto fought free and the two exchanged shots on the apron. Hikuleo tried a powerbomb but Yoshi-Hashi broke that up. He snapped Hikuleo’s neck on the top rope, then hit a Codebreaker on the apron. Oh my word, Shoto from the apron to the floor on Hikuleo! The back of Hikuleo’s head caught the edge of the table. Japanese tables are basically cardboard so it’s less scary than it would be in the US, but I hope he’s OK.

Back in the ring, Phantasmo was barely conscious as Bishamon stalked him. The 35-minute call rang out as Phantasmo lunged with desperation at both his opponents. He found some energy from somewhere and was getting ahead when his body just gave out. Goto picked him up for the ushigoroshi, Yoshi-Hashi hit the superkick…and Phantasmo fought free of the Shoto AGAIN! 

Phantasmo flipped over the back of Goto, locked him up for a GTR of his own, then used the back of Yoshi-Hashi to perform a one-man Shoto on Goto! Sudden Death to Yoshi-Hashi! He covered Goto! 1…2…2.99! Phantasmo got a second (or more like fifth) wind, and nailed his own ushigoroshi! Goto kicked out at one! Sudden Death by Phantasmo! CR2 connected! 1…2…NO! 

Phantasmo’s sudden burst of energy faded, and both men were down and sucking wind hard. Hikuleo was nowhere to be seen. Jado fired up his charge, and Phantasmo tuned up the band for Sudden Death. Yoshi-Hashi out of nowhere with his own superkick! Violent Flash into the GTR by Goto! 1…2…another dramatic near finish!

Yoshi-Hashi elevated Phantasmo, and Goto came off the top with a flying bulldog. 1…2…wow. Phantasmo just rolled his shoulder up in the slowest possible way to avoid defeat at the forty-minute mark. Yoshi-Hashi locked in a full nelson, Goto grabbed Phantasmo’s legs, and they hit a powerbomb drop from that position. 1…2…3!


WINNERS: Bishamon via pinfall at 40:35 (****1/2)

(Lansdell’s Analysis: What an incredible match. I never in my life expected to see Hikuleo in a four-star match, but this was close to a full boat for me. Phantasmo is an absolute stud and I hope he is in line for a major push from this. Bishamon were far from passengers in this match, playing off each their opponents in different ways and making a masterpiece.

I loved the stories here. GoD were all set to win, and they deviated from their normal approach with Hikuleo going to the top rope. It cost them. Phantasmo refusing to die, both teams with last-ditch rescues, the phenomenal selling of the fatigue by all four men, the table spot…just incredible.)

  • Post match, all four men shook hands. Goto took the mic and said that they are now tied at one win apiece, and they need to fight again. He challenged GoD for WrestleKingdom, title vs. title. 
  • Yoshi-Hashi said he had another team in mind, but after this match he agreed that GoD was the correct choice. 


Overall thoughts: This was always going to be a one-match show, but what a one match. Bishamon made history in three different ways with their win, and made themselves into one of the best teams to ever do it in the process.

Given the potential options for Bishamon at WrestleKingdom, picking GoD has to go down as a disappointment. We could have had Aussie Open, FTR, even TMDK. As good as this match was, I cannot see how they could possibly top it on Jan. 4.

You can contact me at lansdellicious@gmail.com or on Twitter @lansdellicious . Join us tomorrow as Sean Radican covers the final. Thanks for joining us!

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