With Ultimate Party delivering a potential show of the year, it was back to the much more modest surroundings of Shin-Kiba for DDT’s follow-up. However, with a title match and a gauntlet to determine the next challenger for HARASHIMA, this wasn’t a show to be sniffed at, and fun was sure to be had.
Kazuki Hirata, Danshoku Dino and Hiroshi Yamato defeated Akito, Yukio Naya and Keigo Nakamura
Before the match, we headed backstage and learnt that Nakamura was scared of Dino. Akito tried to calm him down and gave him a wee bit of advice, pointing out that Hirata always demands to be tagged in just as it looks like his team is going to win, and that it was the perfect time to strike. (As usual, get your translations from DDT English on Twitter.)
Of course, that did happen, but Nakamura perhaps took the wrong lesson from him. For, just as Naya looked likely to put Hirata away, he demanded that he be allowed to tag in, promising that he had this. He didn’t have it.
That was a fun opener with a nice blend of action and comedy while Nakamura continues to put on good performances. His look is atrocious, but it might end up working for him in the long run, as it is hard not to get behind the child who has wandered into the ring with a load of grown men.
Verdict: Three Stars
In the aftermath, both Dino and Yamato made plays for the Ironman Title, with Dino proving successful in his and becoming the 1436th champion.
Konosuke Takeshita defeated Fuminori Abe and Antonio Honda in a Three Way Battle
Fuminori Abe is in danger of becoming one of my favourite wrestlers. Not only did he have an awesome sprint at Ultimate Party, but he followed it up with one of the funniest matches of the year.
Summing up the nonsense that occurred in this match would be impossible, but it was plentiful, and I laughed the whole way through. Whether it was the three of them awkwardly dancing around each other, the inevitable appearance of Gon the Fox or Abe kissing Takeshita’s pec, I was giggling away.
Takeshita eventually bounced back from his title defeat by locking in a double Walls of Takeshita for the submission, and I loved this. If you can appreciate comedy in your wrestling (and if you can’t, why are you reading a DDT review?), then you need to give this your time.
Verdict: Four Stars
Before Takeshita could head to the back, Jiro’s Dad (who appears to call himself God) popped up on the screen. He asked if Takeshita would be willing to team with his son at Korakuen as well as mentioning that he and Naito’s Dad were going to Takeshita’s Dad’s restaurant soon. That makes me hopeful that there is a club of pro-wrestling dads that all hang out together.
Anyway, Takeshita accepted, challenging Honda to be their opponent. After some back and forth, Honda agreed and announced Miyu would be his partner. I’m glad that team is continuing.
DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki, Tetsuya Endo, Soma Takao and Mad Paulie) defeated Nobuhiro Shimatani
Shimatani is going freelance, so this was his farewell match from DDT as he faced off against the rest of DAMNATION. It’s safe to say it didn’t go well for him as he lost in 23 seconds to Sasaki’s Cross Facelock.
Nobu didn’t want things to end that way, though. He grabbed the mic and convinced them to return to the ring, enticing Paulie to his team by offering him all the ramen toppings he wanted. He’d then slowly turn the rest of DAMNATION to his side, leaving Sasaki on his own.
Sadly, his newly formed kingdom crumbled around him when he accidentally bonked them all on the head with the DAMNATION sign and ended up back by himself. From there, Nobu fought defiantly, but Sasaki eventually removed his head with a beautiful Dropkick before the entirety of DAMNATION came together to see him off. To give him his credit, though, he fought valiantly before tapping to the Cross Facelock for the second time.
That was a fun farewell that would probably mean more to people who have been watching DDT for longer than I have. I enjoyed it, but the lack of an emotional connection took something away.
Verdict: Three Stars
Post-match, Sasaki grabbed the mic and slagged Nobu off for a bit, which I imagine is as close as he gets to saying good luck. Nobu then got to say goodbye, adding that he would like to show everyone what he has in a DDT ring again in the future, but that he will be continuing as the manager of DAMNATION. They then all left together, presumably on good terms.
DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA and Toru Owashi) defeated Masahiro Takanashi and Ken Ohka
These four continued the theme of the night by having a really fun match. It fell nicely into that category of something that didn’t quite do enough to blow my mind but was easy to watch and more than kept me engaged. Takeshita and HARASHIMA, in particular, had some crisp exchanges, and they blended a slice of comedy in there too. It was just a pleasure to watch.
Then, as they all brawled on the outside, DJ Nira turned up and ensured they all got counted out, putting an end to an enjoyable, if slightly inconsequential, match.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Unsurprisingly, DJ Nira wasn’t there for the fun of it. He has an upcoming Extreme Title match with HARASHIMA and was setting that up. It would eventually be declared a Ten on One Captain’s Match, with the caveat being that Nira didn’t say who was going to be in the ten, so there is a chance it will be HARASHIMA and nine others against Nira. One thinks he might regret that.
The talking wasn’t over as Ohka cut an (incredibly) emotional promo putting over HARASHIMA’s victory over Takeshita. He then spoke about how he’s been energised and wishes to make Ganbare the biggest company it can be all while Takahashi looked very confused and messed around with an umbrella.
Keisuke Ishii defeated Makoto Oishi to retain the Independent Junior Heavyweight Title
After a show that had been heavy on the comedy, Oishi and Ishii turned up and made it clear we were moving into serious wrestling mode. These two worked with an intensity that hadn’t been present so far, pushing each other hard.
And it led to a brilliant match. This was everything I like about wrestling as Ishii and Oishi combined great suplexes, sharp kicks and tight submission holds to get across the idea that they were in a fight. Everything they did looked as crisp as a cold winter’s day, and it built as they went on, leading to a fucking awesome conclusion.
That conclusion was built around Ishii’s Butterfly Lock, as he tried to wear Oishi down with it and used it to transition into a variety of cool moves. Oishi fought valiantly, surviving a DDT and a prolonged time in the submission but when Ishii brought him up top and took him down with a suplex, well, he was done.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
Yuki Ino won a Number One Contendership Gauntlet for the KO-D Openweight Title
Gauntlets are fucking hard to review without splitting them up into a series of small matches, which I can’t be arsed to do, so prepare yourself for the potted highlights.
ASUKA and Watase had an incredibly physical start. Watase driving ASUKA face-first into a chair with a Bulldog looked brutal and the Dropkick he followed up with was picture perfect. ASUKA wasn’t much lighter, murdering him with a German as she set-up her victory.
From there, the action settled into a comfortable rhythm as we got a series of well-worked sprints. They all seemed to follow the example set by that opening segment with Ueno and Katsumata seeming particularly intent on kicking each other in the head. Not that I have any complaints about that.
It eventually came down to the two big men as Ino and Yoshimura faced off, and that was only going one way. Not that Ino got there easily. Yoshimura was in a clobbering mood and we got two bulls running into each other as hard as they could until one could run no more, and that was a load of fun.
That’s a description that works for this whole match. I wouldn’t normally advocate a gauntlet, as they are a tricky thing to get right, but DDT nailed this. The pacing was great, and each segment worked as part of the broader narrative with the damage people took previously paying off later on. It was a damn good main event and set up a natural first challenger for HARASHIMA in Ino.
Verdict: Four Stars
That show was a god damn pleasure to watch. Ironically, coming out of Ultimate Party, there was a party-feel to proceedings, as everyone seemed to be having a lovely time in the undercard before the two final matches brought us some stiff and well-worked wrestling. I often skip DDT’s smaller effort, but I am very glad I took the time to watch this one.
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