The first time Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa teamed together in a New Japan ring, they won the IWGP Tag Team Championships. Almost 5 years later, they are the record breaking seven time tag champs. In an industry where full-fledged tag teams are often few and far between, Guerrillas of Destiny have built a legacy as the tag team in NJPW.
The brothers were uprooted from Japan due to the pandemic for nine long months in 2020, their IWGP Tag Team Championship thrones taken by pretenders to the crown, new teams taking advantage of their absence. It elevated the entire tag team division, and when GoD made their inevitable return, it only helped reaffirm their place as the most dominant tag team in New Japan history.
“The pandemic put us on the back burner and let the other teams really work out how to wrestle as tag teams, and it let Dangerous Tekkers become a really good team together. So now, there’s no excuse when we come back and face them. They’ll be at their best and that’s what I want”Tama Tonga
The tag division bloomed unlike anything we have seen in recent years. The freshness of FinJuice, Golden☆Ace, and Dangerous Tekkers provided an onslaught of much needed new matches to what was a tired division. We had grown accustomed to G.o.D. being the summit, the pandemic putting them out of the picture for nine months provided them a freshness they didn’t previously have the luxury of experiencing. It gave time for the division to grow without them, to establish authentic and new tag champions, without the danger of the Guerrillas taking back what is always theirs. Given their prevalence, they easily fit back in when they returned, and what a momentous return it was.
In ring, the brothers are arguably at the top of their game right now. Missing months of action during the pandemic has reinvigorated them, an extra flair and bang to everything they do. Tama Tonga’s slick, smooth speed marries up perfectly with Tanga Loa’s macho muscle. For every RKO out of nowhere that makes people lose their minds, there’s an equally impressive Gun Stun being fired by Tama Tonga. Their arsenal runs deep: the Magic Killer and Super Powerbomb as a team, Tama’s Gun Stun and Tanga’s Ape Shit, the explosive and versatile ability to believably win a match a variety of ways. Tama even tapped out Tanahashi using a Sharp Shooter (in less than 4 minutes by the way!).
The only mystery is seemingly why Tanga Loa is intent on hiding his chiselled body, much to the chagrin of El Phantasmo, who, when on commentary, was constantly clamouring for Tanga to remove his shirt.
The new focus the pair have shown since their return has pushed them from greatness into immortality. Despite their best efforts, there had been two glaring omissions to their legacy, but no longer is that a concern: GoD won World Tag League for the first time in their careers, and went on to finally win at Wrestle Kingdom inside the Tokyo Dome. Facts don’t lie, GoD deserve their crowns.
The fervour the pair have for tag team wrestling is what every wrestling company in the world needs. Without the likes of GoD championing tag team wrestling, it makes it increasingly difficult to care as a fan. The commitment they have to exclusively being a tag team is remarkable, and that commitment has paid dividends.
In the five years since joining NJPW, Tanga Loa has only had three singles matches. Having competed in the G1 Climax in previous years, when it came time for the 2019 edition, Tama Tonga demanded to be left out of the tournament. His focus is as a tag team wrestler, why bother torturing himself in the gruelling singles tournament? Since that request, Tama has wrestled only fives times in singles matches, four of those on Strong, a direct result of the pandemic. If you want to see either of them wrestle, you’ll be seeing them wrestle together, and we’re all better for it.
For Guerrillas, World Tag League is their G1 Climax. The annual tournament necessitates teams to be created that do not exist, a mash-up of singles wrestlers masquerading as a tag team for a month. Even the reduced 10 team brackets of 2020 had a few questionable teams (EVIL and Yujiro?!). You can be sure that Guerrillas will make an example out of the temporary, imposter tag teams (Yes, you, Tanahashi and Henare). The stability G.o.D. offers the tag team division is irreplaceable. They guarantee legitimate tag team wrestling, they are contenders to win every match they compete in, and that’s something that World Tag League cannot thrive without.
Not every match needs to be a five star classic, and in a company where the heavyweight champion claims to be God, Guerrillas make an impact in their own distinct way. Their matches with Dangerous Tekkers were fantastic in ring, but driven by the story, each of their three recent matches being markedly different from the last. The World Tag League meeting was wild, lawless mayhem, the (then) champions Dangerous Tekkers forced to prove themselves against the franchise Guerrillas. They pulled out all the stops inside the Tokyo Dome, and the New Beginning match was powered by the stolen Iron Fingers: having stolen Taichi’s Iron Fingers, Tama Tonga teased Taichi like an action-film villain, manically laughing as he constantly misled Taichi into thinking he had recovered the Fingers, only to find himself holding a loaf of bread or a toy chicken instead.
It’s there that another slice of GoD’s power is displayed – Tama Tonga’s ability to always be relevant. All it takes is one audacious backstage comment or tweet, and Tama is the talk of the wrestling community. In the modern day, wrestlers in the ring can be polar opposites of who they are outside the ring, but that picture is indistinguishably blurred by Tama. Does he actually have beef with the ex-Bullet Club members currently waving the flag in USA, or is he doing what he does best and “working” us fans? It’s impossible to know. Tama Tonga in the ring is the same as outside the ring, is the same as on Twitter or when calling people out on his podcast. Nobody is safe from Tama’s verbal violence, and he doesn’t miss his shots.
Back-to-back victories over Dangerous Tekkers cemented GoD’s return to form as the champions, a further defence against YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto affirmed their solidarity, and with no other proven tag teams on the roster, it seems as though Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa could be holding onto the titles for a healthy reign. One more defence of the titles and they’ll equal the record for most combined defenses. GoD are through becoming record breakers, now they’ll be record makers. It will be a long time before we see anybody come remotely close to the legacy G.o.D have built, and are still building.
We are living in the GoD renaissance, and there ain’t nobody realer than Guerrilla.