Having done such a wonderful job with my TJPW review (by which I mean no-one has actively shouted at me, although someone did very kindly point me in the direction of a beginner’s guide to the company), I’m back with my first DDT review. Well, that’s not strictly true, I reviewed their show in America. It’s my first of a Japanese DDT show, and not one of you gives a shit about this, so let’s get on with it.
Antonio Honda, Cody Hall and Yasu Urano defeated Yukio Sakaguchi, Yukio Naya and Mizuki Watase
Cody Hall is a strange one, isn’t he? He gets booked by good promotions, but never does anything significant for them. It’s almost like they get excited by his last name before realising he’s not any good. Poor guy got his Daddy’s size, but not his charisma or ability.
He nearly fucked up this match for his team too, tagging Honda so hard he destroyed his hand which was doubly worse because he’d already shattered his knee earlier in the day at the Tokyo Joshi show. It also made telling the Gon the Fox story very hard as his poor, wrecked hand could barely maintain the pose. To add insult to injury, Gon’s attack wasn’t much use as Honda ended up poking himself in the eye and nipple.
Outside of Honda’s silliness, it was Sakaguchi who impressed me in this one. That guy can throw a nasty fucking kick, and I love it. He carries himself like a legit fighter, and when combined with the burly Naya, their team was a lot of fun. Sadly, they’d both end up being taken out by Hall before he pinned Watase with a Facebuster variant. Still, Hall wasn’t that involved in the match, so it was a strong opener.
Verdict: Three Stars
ASUKA won the DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Title Osaka Octopus Cup Gauntlet Battle Royal
ASUKA is insanely good. She opened things up flying around the ring with Puma King (after he’d finished being a very silly kitty) before moving onto trading boots to the face with Saki Akai. Throw in the fact that she’s only twenty and you’ve got to think she has the potential to be an all-time great.
As the entrants built up, we got Kazuki Hirata dancing his way to the ring only for that to annoy everyone enough that they teamed up on him and Yuni, who is eleven and four foot tall, pinning Puma King (with a bit of an assist from half the other competitors) to win the Iron Man Title.
Poor Yuni also kept ending up facing off with Mad Paulie who is not eleven or four foot and is probably close in weight to a small car. Amazingly, she survived that with help from Hirata, but it was to be a short-lived alliance as he happily slammed Yuni to the mat to take his title away. Not that he’d keep it much longer as ASUKA won a match which started well, had a few fun moments and then petered out at the end.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Kazuki Hirata defeated ASUKA to win the DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Title before Puma King defeated Kazuki Hirata to win the DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Title
Two quick title changes putting us back to where we were at the start.
MAO and HARASHIMA defeated Jun Masaoka and Kohei Kinoshita
Masaoka and Kinoshita don’t have Cagematch profiles, so they’re either rookies, local guys who DDT have brought in specifically for this show or a combination of the two. Although, if they are rookies, they are very smooth, so fair play to them.
Despite that, this was just a match. It was the kind of wrestling that happens in front of you, never coming close to being bad, but not drifting towards great either. There were some good looking moves, and I left thinking all four guys are talented, but I didn’t care about what they were doing. It just happened.
Towards the end things did pick up a bit, the unknowns getting a good run of offence before HARASHIMA kicked one of their heads off and hit a Running Knee for the three. That left us with something that was perfectly enjoyable, but is unlikely to live long in anyone’s memory.
Verdict: Three Stars
ALL OUT (Akito and Shunma Katsumata) vs Danshoku Dino and Maku Donaruta ended in a no-contest
Maku Donaruto is a cheap and terrifying version of Ronald McDonald who, among other things, rubbed his crotch suggestively towards his opponents before biting Katsumata in the dick and, for lack of a better term, bumming Akito. Yup, we’re in full-blown DDT-land people. Although, the arrival of Dino probably made that clear.
This was ridiculous and included more men thrusting themselves at other men’s bottoms than I have ever seen in a wrestling match. At one point Dino took a fan’s camera and made sure they went home with some POV shots. The presence of cheap Ronald just added to the surrealness that quite frankly didn’t need added to. I mean, it ended when the ref called for a bell because one wrestler was kissing him while another had a Crab/possible sexual assault locked on an opponent. Imagine trying to explain that to someone who didn’t like wrestling? Imagine explaining it to some people who do!
There was some sloppiness, mainly from Donaruto who was presumably 95% sweat wrestling in that costume (which might explain why the finish saw him return to the ring in a thong), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun. It was funny, so while it could have probably been trimmed down – a few of the jokes got repeated one too many times – it entertained me.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Sanshiro Takagi defeated Ken Ohka in a Recycle Weapon Rumble to retain the O-40 Title
As far as I can tell, a Recycle Weapon Rumble match is a Weapon Rumble with shit from around the DDT office/dojo. That included weapons that had been used in previous matches, a vacuum cleaner and a neon T that was supposedly handmade for some of DDT’s first shows. That got a nice reaction, and after the match, Takagi promised to hang it (and presumably the two Ds) above the entrance for their huge show at Saitama Super Arena next year.
I suspect this was a match for the hardcore as the bulk of it seemed to be relying on references to previous events. Things like the bear traps were over with the fans in attendance, so I’m not knocking it, but it all went a bit over my head, and when taken away, it was a very lightweight piece of action. Still, DDT got to clear a lot of crap out of the office and apparently sold some of the better weapons at the merch table, so you’ve got to give them credit for that. There are worse ways to clean-up.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
DAMNATION (Shuji Ishikawa and Tetsuya Endo) defeated Nautilus (Yuki Ueno and Naomi Yoshimura)
Yoshimura and Ishikawa are big boys, and if you know anything about my wrestling taste, you’ll know I love two big boys hitting each other. Every time those two got in the ring together, this match took off, grabbing my attention and forcing me to watch.
That’s not to say Endo and Ueno were bad. They had some nice moments, particularly when working together, which allowed them to pick up the pace and pull off some flashy shit. However, there was also a feeling that you were waiting for the big boys to get their go, and that took away from their interactions. Although, there is always some joy to be found in watching a small boy trying to take down a big boy, so let’s give them that.
The final stretch was the real killer, though, as Ishikawa and Yoshimura turned off all filters and just went to war. It was shuddering strike after shuddering strike, two mammoths beating on each other with the underdog Yoshimura giving as good as he got. There ain’t nothing fancy about it, but it worked right up until the moment Ishikawa dropped Yoshimura on his head for the three.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki and Soma Takao) defeated Jiro Kuroshio and Kazusada Higuchi to retain the KO-D Tag Team Titles
Jiro and his ridiculous extended entrance are incredibly over. Long after most people would have stopped paying attention, the fans were still oohing and aahing along with him. Also, DAMNATION have some fantastic themes, big props to them.
Sasaki spent part of this match going around shoving batteries in people’s mouths which I don’t think you’re supposed to do. There was also apparently some bickering about who had the best hair which, disappointingly, did not lead to a Hiroshi Tanahashi run-in. Outside of all that, the early action revolved around DAMNATION attacking Higuchi’s knee while Jiro made a lot of noise at ringside. That eventually built to a Jiro hot tag where he flew around the ring doing cool shit for a bit.
The problem was that for all the cool bits in this match, there was also a lot of stuff. By which I mean periods where stuff was definitely happening, but it wasn’t particularly exciting. It’s always a bad sign when you find yourself reaching for your phone to read bad takes on Twitter rather than paying attention. I think it was summed up when Jiro and Higuchi were hitting double team moves on Sasaki. All the moves looked great, but after each one they’d stop for a chat, taking their time before the next. Things like that took the flow out of the match, and left me with itchy fingers and tempting distractions.
Still, when it was good, and when people were on the same page, this was an enjoyable slice of action which ended when Jiro missed a Moonsault and tapped out to a Sasaki Crossface. It’s not anything you’ll remember long-term, but while it’s on, you should have a good time.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Sasaki was delightfully grumpy in his post-match promo before Akito came down to make a challenge and reveal his parter would be TV star Yuki Iino. Iino appears to be a wrestler, so I don’t know where the TV star thing comes from, but Sasaki thought killing him would secure his spot at the Rugby World Cup. That didn’t help my understanding at all, but oh well, sounds fun!
Konosuke Takeshita defeated Shinya Aoki to retain the KO-D Openweight Title
Takeshita and Aoki came into this promising to have a shitty match by which (I believe) they meant something that the DDT audience would not expect. The first sign of it was that Takeshita wrestled without boots and they spent the early portions focusing on grappling. That style is hit and miss for me, but I thought they did a great job keeping it interesting. It felt like they were fighting between holds rather that dancing, and they incorporated the ropes and the ability to go in and out of the ring nicely.
The key to a great grappling match is when you up the pace, though, and in that sense, this succeeded. Takashita tried to take flight, leaping to the floor with a Plancha only to be plucked out of the air into an Armbar by Aoki. From there, he was a man possessed, viciously going after the champion’s arm in an attempt to get the win. Takashita, meanwhile, was forced to battle from underneath, surviving as Aoki tried to tap him out.
Takashita’s plan to do so ended up involving suplexes and the Walls of Takashita which bears more resemblance to Liontamer Jericho than it does the WWE move. Aoki escaped the first attempt, but as he hung limpit like off the champ, Takashita picked him up and slammed him back to the mat, locking it in again for the submission.
I thought that was terrific. As they made clear, it was not wrestled in a DDT-style, but they managed to keep the grappling interesting and had a natural progression as eventually Takashita just proved to be too much for Aoki. All things said, it was a really good main event that gets the thumbs up from me.
Verdict: Four Stars
Takashita said that he’d now like to decide who is really at the top of DDT and proposed a double championship match for Ultimate Party. That set him up to face the winner of Ikemen vs Endo vs HARASHIMA as DDT look likely to pip New Japan to crowning a double champ. It also means the Ultimate Party card (which already features Omega) is set to be stacked.
As I said in my TJPW review yesterday, it is hard coming into a new promotion and writing about it, even if I am slightly more familiar with DDT’s roster. However, I still enjoyed this show. It felt a bit long (something I think I’m going to have to get used to with this company) and some of the matches dragged at points, but I laughed and witnessed some good wrestling, so I’ve no real complaints.
Watch DDT: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe