Strap yourself in folks, because with approximately fourteen million matches on this card and a billion wrestlers, DDT’s trip to Ryogoku is going to be a long one. However, I have every faith it’s going to be a very good one, so don’t let that put you off.
Under Match: Daichi Kazato, Masato Kamino and Shuhei Washida defeated Mizuki Watase, Tomomitsu Matsunaga and Keigo Nakamura
Nakamura is young in his career while I’d be lying if I claimed to know much about the non-DDT team who generally wrestle for a mix of BASARA and Ganbare. Throw in that most of the fans weren’t in the building yet, and I wasn’t expecting much.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to get a fun little match. Nakamura got plenty of time in the ring and moved around well. He needs to do something with his look, though. I’m generally not bothered about that shit, but he is about as intimidating as a light breeze, and when he pulled down the straps on his singlet to fire up, I laughed.
Still, it was solid opener with a tremendous hot tag from Watase as the highlight.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Under Match: Hikari Noa, YUMI, Mahiro Kiryu and Suzume defeated Pom Harajuku, Haruna Neko, Mirai Maiumi and Raku
Despite there being eight wrestlers in the ring, and not that many minutes in which to shine, I think this match did an impressive job of giving everyone a chance to do their thing. It didn’t matter if it was Miari hitting a murderous Lariat in the corner or Hikari Noa turning the direction of the action with a flurry of Dropkicks, they were all given their seconds.
And it led to an enjoyable contest. Most of these wrestlers are inexperienced, so they were never going to put on a masterclass of technical work, but they strung together a solid match in which nothing went wrong. Noa was the standout for me, although I can’t imagine watching Pom and not having a lovely time, and I think everyone could head to the back pleased with what they did.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Under Match: Kazuki Hirata won a Delayed Entry Battle Royale to win the Ironman Heavyweight Title
Before the match, we saw Shota being chased through the backstage by everyone else. He managed to escape them, but did fall foul to a chair which pinned him. Unfortunately for that chair, it was then pinned by another chair which earned itself the right to enter the Delayed Entry Battle Royale as champion. Start as you mean to go on.
And it was most definitely how we intended to go on. Hirata kicked things off by wrestling said chair, Yoshihiko and Pokotan and, let it be said, did not have it all his way. The chair, in particular, gave him a tough time.
Honestly, trying to cover everything that happened would be impossible. Kamiyu won the belt, seemingly by accident, while posing on the chair, Sagat engaged in behaviour more befitting of a sex pest, and Gorgeous Matsuno fought everyone off/won the title while singing. It was a shitload of fun from start to finish.
Hirata eventually ran the gauntlet, pinning Matsuno to leave as champ. He’d then almost be rolled up by a sponsor, Mir Nakano, only to escape and give him a kicking. That was used to set-up a match between Nakano and Assistant Producer Imaybayashi at Korakuen. Yup that all happened.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Isami Kodaka defeated Sanshiro Takagi in a 100 Plastic Cases Match
It’s the Battle of the Presidents as Kodaka holds that role in BASARA. There was one fatal flaw in that plan, though. They’d packed the ring with so many plastic cases, that getting near enough to do battle was almost impossible. They ended up having to stomp through them to lock-up which created a similar effect to a match which has seen substantial light tube use, as every bump was into plastic cases or the shards of them. It looked fucking sore.
When they finally did come face to face, it was everything it needed to be; short and violent. Both men took a shitload of horrendously painful looking bumps before Kodaka got the win. You’d struggle to call it a great match, but it was a spectacle, and considering Kodaka was in the main event of the BJW show, in a deathmatch, the next night, you can’t fault their effort.
To celebrate his victory, Kodaka lept off the top room into more plastic cases before he and Takagi walked to the back together. What better way to cement a friendship than through agony?
Verdict: Three Stars
Yuki Ino, ASUKA, Mizuki, Danshoku Dino and Trans Am Hiroshi defeated Hiroshi Yamato, Jiro Kuroshio, Makoto Oishi, Super Sasandango Machine and Yuna Manase to win the Ko-D Ten Man Tag Titles
Before we got started, Super Super Sasandango Machine presented a PowerPoint presentation explaining why this wasn’t a filler match as he gave all their reasons for wanting to win. As usual, you can find translations on DDT English Update, but my highlight was Dino wanting to take Oishi’s unborn son as his stepson. The whole thing ended with Sasandango referencing Drew Gulak’s PowerPoints and getting ahead of the WWE invasion of Japan by issuing a challenge.
As we moved from the PowerPoints to Jiro making his ridiculously long entrance, it became apparent why this show was going to go for roughly 48 hours. Thankfully, when the match finally got started (and Dino went for a wander too, so it took a while), we got a genuinely fantastic sequence from ASUKA and Jiro. I say it in basically every review, but she is a brilliant wrestler and is going to be a fucking star.
From there, this match delivered a riotously good time. We got meditating, Mizuki doing the least intimidating Haka of all time, a trip into the space-time continuum in which we learnt Yuki Iino’s Dad (who never wanted him to become a wrestler) named him Yuki for ‘YOU KILL HIM’, and Sasandango being Speared so hard, in slow motion, that his mask came off. What match can have all of that, and not be awesome?
If you’re a DDT fan, I can’t imagine a world in which you don’t love this.
Verdict: Four Stars
Nautilus (Naomi Yoshimura and Yuki Ueno) defeated Cody Hall and Yukio Naya, NEO Itoh Respect Army (Maki Itoh and Chris Brookes), BAKURETSU Sisters (Nodoka Tenma and Yuki Aino), Ryota Nakatsu and Yukio Sakaguchi and Kouki Iwasaki and Shuichiro Katsumura in a Gauntlet Tag Match
As with most Japanese elimination matches, you could be dumped out by going over the top rope. It’s also fair to say that a lot was going on, so I’ll be cherry-picking the highlights.
The first highlight was everyone kicking the shit out of each other. After the lunacy of the previous match, Nakatsu, Sakaguchi, Iwasaki and Katsumura came out and worked a hard-hitting back and forth, returning us to the realm of serious wrestling. I feel comfortable declaring that all of the people involved are hard as fuck.
It was quite something to go from that to Itoh riding on Chris Brookes’ shoulders to the ring, but they pulled it off, as did Chris as he fulfilled his promise to do the dance to ‘Setsunairo’. The visual of Brookes facing off with Nodoka Tenma was quite something and would lead to her sister clambering onto her shoulders to even the playing field. Although, it later turned out that she didn’t need the help as she managed to hit Brookes (who at a conservative estimate is five times her height) with a Fallaway Slam. There can’t be many people who have clicked in a company as naturally as Chris Brookes in DDT, can there? They were made for each other.
You could probably say the same for him and Itoh, who are a near-perfect team. Sadly, they’d fall at the penultimate hurdle, but they were the stars of the show even as Nautilus went on to get the victory. While it wasn’t as fun as the previous match, it still provided more than enough to keep me entertained.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Keisuke Ishii defeated Fuminori Abe to retain the Independent World Junior Heavyweight Title
If I’ve seen either of these men wrestle before it’s been in multi-men matches that I can’t remember. However, I shall be making a conscious effort to seek them out in the future because this was fucking awesome.
On an absolutely packed show, Abe and Ishii did the smart thing and worked a frantic sprint, going at it from the bell and not stopping till the finish. Every move was delivered with a snap as the whole thing was a joy to watch. Moments like Abe reversing an Ishii Standing Moonsault into an Ankle Lock came off perfectly, as these two clicked in every way.
The finish was exquisite too, Abe firing up from a series of moves only to walk straight into a Spinning Heel Kick and the three. If you’re cherry-picking what to watch on this show, make sure this is one of the things you check out.
Verdict: Four Stars
Takumi Tsukamoto, Yasu Urano and Takato Nakano defeated DAMNATION (Tetsuya Endo, Mad Paulie and Nobuhiro Shimatani) and Ken Ohka, Yumehito Imanari and Ms Mongol in a Three-Way Match for the UWA World 6-Man Tag Titles
I appreciate that with a card this packed DDT couldn’t feature all of their stars in prominent spots, but Endo was wasted in this match. It came to life whenever he was in the ring, whether that was pulling off double-team moves with Shimatani or springboarding to the outside with an insane twisty thing (that’s the technical term), he was the best thing about it.
And that’s not intended as an insult to everyone else. It was a solid performance where they kept the pace up as people rolled continuously in and out to set-up the next spot. I struggled to get emotionally involved in it, perhaps because I wasn’t aware of quite a few of the wrestlers, but on the flip side, I was never bored. It did what it had to do.
Verdict: Three Stars
Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe defeated NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama and Misao) to win the Princess Tag Titles
Early on, the difference between these teams was Sakisama’s lethal array of kicks. It didn’t matter if she was in the ring or standing on the apron, those long legs kept reaching out and turning the match in her favour. If Miu and Rika were going to win, they had to take her out.
And, luckily, that led to one of my favourite things, hoss Watanabe. I love Miu Watanabe and the way she tosses people around the ring. At one point, she lifted Misao and Sakisama at the same time, slamming them down as if she was six foot three rather than five. It was that power which eventually took Sakisama out of the equation, dropping her on her face to do so.
That left Rika and Misao to settle their differences in the ring (Misao turned on Rika to join Biishiki-gun), as they started by slapping the shit out of each other, and ended with Tatsumi leaping off the top rope to connect with a Hip Attack for the three. It was a perfect end to a great match, and as Miu burst into tears of joy while hugging her new belt, how could you be anything excepted delighted?
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki and Soma Takao) defeated ALLOUT (Akito and Shunma Katsumata), FUMA and Yusuke Kubo and Minoru Fujita and Daiki Shimomura in a Four-Way Hardcore Match for the KO-D Tag Titles
Katsumata came out dressed like The Joker while wielding a particularly lethal-looking bat. Well, how lethal you think it is will depend on your opinion of LEGO, but I certainly thought it was.
Whether it was because of the outfit or not, Katsumata would have a rough afternoon. He was elevated over the top rope to come crashing down on a ladder before later having chairs launched at him while he stood atop a couple of tables which themselves were on top of a couple of ladders. There was only one way he was going from up there, and it was downwards, onto some more steel chairs.
On the whole, this was a fun match that never felt essential. They had a solid blend of comedy and the kind of antics I’ve mentioned above, but never graduated from a bunch of people doing stupid shit (that’s not necessarily a criticism, people doing stupid shit is a lot of fun). The finish also included one of the softest Pedigrees I’ve ever seen, but as they were on top of the aforementioned table/ladder invention, I think we’ll let them off.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Dango was back, accompanied by Takagi, for our second PowerPoint presentation of the evening. It was an amusing way to get a plug for DDT’s 2020 event at Saitama Super Arena onto the show, but rather than writing it all out, I’ll point you again in the direction of DDT English, who I’d just be copying and pasting from anyway.
Masahiro Takanashi defeated Ryuichi Sekine to win the UnionMAX Championship
We’re into the home stretch now (which is longer than most home stretches) as the UnionMAX title is the top belt in BASARA. That added some extra spice to the occasion, as BASARA is set to leave the DDT Group at the end of the year, so if they lost their belt to DDT’s Takanashi, well, that wouldn’t be good, would it? Oh dear.
Sekino went down fighting, though, as this was a classic styles clash. Takanashi was the technical pain in the arse, continually going for flash pins or hanging off Sekino’s arm. In turn, the BASARA champ was all power and heart, throwing himself off the apron with a Somersault Senton or booting his way through Takanahshi’s chest.
In the end, it would be mid-flash pin exchange that the match flipped, Takanashi slipping into a Yoshi Tonic and sneaking away with the win. It was a bit sudden, but I’m cool with that, as it played to Takanashi’s game plan and we’re into the fourth hour of the show. Anyway, I can’t comment on what this means for BASARA (presumably some of their lot will try and take it back before the end of the year), but it was a strong match.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Yuka Sakasaki defeated Shoka Nakajima to win the Princess Princess Title
Even as someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, the promo video was brilliant. It detailed Shoko and Yuka’s history both with TJPW and each other, setting this up as a colossal encounter both for them and the company. I can’t imagine watching it and not being hyped as hell for what was to come.
And damn, they lived up to that hype. Right from the start, this had a big match feel, as Nakajima and Sakasaki felt each other out in the opening minutes, exchanging respectful holds. It was when Yuka took flight, diving to the outside, that things took off, and all signs of friendship were put behind them.
From there, this was just two brilliant wrestlers giving everything their best shot. Every move looked painful as they repeatedly dropped each other on their heads while the respectful nature of the submissions was gone as they poked and prodded, stretching each other as far as they could. It was fast-paced, hard-hitting and even the exhausted crowd in the building picked up by the homestretch, caught up in the magic of the moment. Fantastic match.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
Kenny Omega and Riho defeated Antonio Honda and Miyu Yamashita
People give Kenny a lot of shit (some of it deserved some of it not), but you can’t deny his love for DDT. He looked more pumped to be coming out to ‘Dr Wily’ to piss about with Antonio Honda than I’ve seen him look for anything in a long time. That’s the same Honda that came out wearing a Holmes and Watson t-shirt, by the way.
It’s also fair to say that Kenny is still over with those DDT fans. He and Riho got the superstar treatment and looked it with their AAA and AEW belts (unsurprisingly, Riho’s High Speed Title was left at home).
That wasn’t surprising, but what did surprise me was how brilliant Honda was. I know everyone else in this match is an exceptional talent, but Honda is the funny guy, and I’d have praised his comic timing over his wrestling ability. However, he nailed both here (Gon’s appearance was masterful), and when he pulled down his straps for a dramatic final flurry of punches, he had everyone on their feet. It turns out he’s more than a punchline.
Throw in some brilliant interactions between Yamashita and Omega, Riho being her usual exceptional self and a crowd that was lapping it up, and there’s not much to complain about. As someone who hasn’t been particularly enamoured with what Kenny’s done in AEW so far, I can’t help thinking that I’d be delighted to see him return to DDT to do this stuff for the foreseeable future.
Verdict: Four Stars
HARASHIMA defeated Konosuke Takeshita to win the KO-D Openweight Title and retain the DDT Extreme Title
HARASHIMA came into this match with a bad back, and Takeshita punished him for it. For long periods, this was domination, with the champion ripping apart The Ace’s back and locking on the Walls of Takeshita repeatedly. At one point, he tangled HARASHIMA up in the ropes before bending him backwards, using the full five-count to do the damage.
In response, HARASHIMA was forced to grab his moments. A wild kick on the apron let him hit a Running Knee or a brief second opened up to let him fire off a strike. He was wrestling from behind the whole match, but he was also refusing to die. Time after time, he’d make the crawl to the ropes or desperately kick out, agony etched across his face, but his desperation to win the belts keeping him alive.
In the end, he shot big, an Avalanche Poison Rana (which looked awesome) proving the turning point. A Standing Somato followed by one off the top and that final defiant flurry proved enough, he’d bested Takeshita, and the old Ace was taking home both belts.
That was fantastic, a match that felt like a huge deal and built perfectly throughout. I don’t think many people were expecting HARASHIMA to get the win, but with the fans in that building 100% in his corner, it felt like the right call in the moment. Brilliant stuff.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Post-match, HARASHIMA called everyone down to celebrate, which was a shitload of people, and close out the show. There was a wee hint at the potential for him vs Kenny in there, and Omega was ominously stood behind him before they shook hands. I think a lot of people have assumed that Kenny appearing here was being done to set-up him challenging the champ, so I would not be surprised if that were the case.
What a show! Six hours of wrestling madness that should have been exhausting but, for the most part, flew by. DDT’s ability to bounce from comedy to serious wrestling to people beating each other with LEGO makes these mammoth shows a lot easier to watch than most, and that was a clear show of the year contender.
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