Hi! The Characters of NJPW is back for your reading pleasure. Before the proper article starts, though, here’s a reminder about our main objective:
This series will try to give newcomers to New Japan, as well as people curious towards its product, a feel as for how each of their wrestlers operate, what their motivations are, how their story drives them to be who they are, and how their actions inside and outside of the squared circle further their personas. Although this will contain historical data and a brief description of each wrestler’s past, its main goal is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to a performer’s history and achievements. Rather, we intend focus on two main topics: Character and in-ring work, to see how each wrestler on NJPW sets themselves apart from the rest of the roster, and what makes them truly unique and worth investing. If you want to check all the previous parts (the Part thing is getting ridiculous, I know, but now I’m committed), here’s a list with all the articles done up until now, each readable by clicking on the wrestler’s name. Now, let’s get this fucking thing going.
The endlessly amusing dance of life is one that can take us in different paths, only to intersect them later, and it then makes sense like it was planned all along. The connection gets deeper, the stories more interesting, and a relationship may even amplify. Today, we talk about two Tongan boys, who grew under royalty, and went into different paths to their dreams, only to find themselves together later, realizing potential as, of all things, some mean rebel soldiers. This is the story of Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, the brother combo now known as the Guerrillas of Destiny.
G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
ages 35 and 34
183 cm and 188 cm
95 kg and 100 kg
Introduction: Two brothers with the same desire. Two wildly different sets of learning circumstances. One team, forged from familial bonds, kept together by similar mind sets and powered by different tool kits. The stories of Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa can’t be told without mentioning their ways into pro wrestling. Both are sons of the legendary Haku, and share a rich heritage in the professional wrestling industry. But while Loa kickstarted his career in WWE, Tonga had to take his talents to NJPW. Thus, each learned how the ropes in drastically different ways. WWE’s American style, known by it’s traditional strictness, is a contrast to NJPW’s fundamental expressionism.
That they meshed so well upon reuniting, eight years after their debuts in the business, is no small wonder. But fortunately, these two bad boys were as in-sync as ever, after Tonga personally recruited his brother to the Bullet Club, one of New Japan’s dominant stables. Under that banner, the Guerrillas of Destiny was formed, enjoying quick success. They are now 3-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. The thing is, though, they are both still evolving as a duo. One has to wonder where exactly can they take their talents to, and if they can go past some weaknesses to extract the best possible outcomes. Can they realize their destinies? Let’s check it out.
Characters: So, when you are born into a family with a famous parent and choose to enter his or her field, what do you do? Most opt to try as hard as they can to stand out. This is what Tama Tonga did. After a brief career in the Air Force, he entered wrestling school with his bro. Soon, while the younger Loa found his way into the WWE and their developmental systems, FCW and NXT, Tonga had to go to the then much more complicated path of going to Japan, and joining the New Japan Dojo. There, he learned the basics, as well as got through a rigorous regimen based on doing your duties. But when it was time to figure out his approach to wrestling, he would have to gather his influences, in Japan and later in excursion to Mexico, while Loa had the opportunity at WWE to feed off of a specific advice and development.
They became different. Tonga came back to Japan, a changed man, more in tune with his savage side, an instinctual competitor ready to strike at any moment. He made an impact as a young wrestler with serious upside, especially upon entering the first iteration of the Bullet Club, alongside his cousing Bad Luck Fale, and their leader Prince Devitt. Tonga became a Bullet Club loyalist, a protector of the turf with a rough attitude and wild streak. Loa, meanwhile, learned a more a more regular style, based around sticking to what he did well, which involved quite a bit of brawling and power moves. There is very little flash in his game. He is a hardnosed, but confident performer, combining some natural toughness with a more old school way of wrestling.
When Loa finally made his way into Japan, their combination was outstanding because, above all, they think alike. And that means, in it’s core, one thing: they have a general distaste for people that aren’t down to do what really matters. Tonga and Loa like to get their hands dirty. Hell, Tama Tonga even said it himself in a G1 Climax press conference: he doesn’t give a shit about winning. Rather, it’s the thrill of competition, of the struggle, that makes him give his all. These two thrive when the fight is tough, when they can get nasty, shout and curse their lungs out like the two mean warriors they are. The differences and brotherhood are what makes them stand out, but not what keeps them together. At the end, what matters is that these two soldiers are together because of destiny, yes, but also because when the going gets rough, that’s when these boys smile the most.
In-ring work: Every time the Guerrillas of Destiny step into the ring, their opponents know what to expect: hard nosed, anything goes, warfare-style tandem wrestling. It is a battle to them every time, and they use every tool at their disposal to get the result. They get the results by coming at you in every single way they can, and in this respect, their differences provide a very useful blueprint: Tonga, the more agile of the two, is used to jump opponents in unexpected ways, while Loa uses his power and stiff striking to give the team more of a dominant feel. As a result, they are usually prepared to take the fight wherever it ends up going.
Their main objective is usually to goad the opponent into their style of brawling, only to strike repeatedly with numerical advantage. One example of how well they move together is Guerrilla Warfare, an assisted double-arm DDT, impactful and with a sudden set-up to take quick advantage of the double team opportunity. They also have many moves that use Loa’s power and Tonga’s sudden explosiveness, like the powerbomb assisted into either a neckbreaker or reverse DDT, and the Nightfall belly-to-back suplex and neckbreaker combination. Tonga’s unusual movement serves the purpose of making his opponent drop guard enough so he can strike with quick maneuvers like the Gun Stun jumping cutter, the Dream Catcher twister submission, and the Veleno jumping underhook DDT. Loa would rather get into positions where he can use his strength, in moves like the Apeshit over the shoulder reverse piledriver, as well as Samoan Drops, powerslams and suplex variations.
While they do usually enjoy a synchrony advantaged over opponents, their contrasting styles still aren’t exactly fine-tuned, as Loa adapts to NJPW’s rhythm and Tonga struggles with consistency. As such, they can get caught off-guard on occasion. The possibility of them improving on those ends is a question mark, but the results tell the tale for themselves: even if they don’t, these guerrillas are still a force in the division, and if they ever do, then watch out. These two may rule and dominate for a long time, longing for the toughest fights of their lives, every time they face another team. Keep your eyes on the bad guys.
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