DDT keeps putting things on the undercard that tempt me into watching the matches. First, it was Brookes winning bags of rice. Now it’s Brookes teaming with a child. If you’ve seen his antics in Gatoh Move, you’ll know that’s worth a watch.
B Block: Bull James (2-2) defeated Yuka Sakaguchi (1-4)
I know Sakaguchi isn’t a pushed commodity, but having him lose to Bull James stings. A couple of stiff strike exchanges aside, this was as plodding and mediocre as you’d expect. If James was destroying people it would at least be something, but he continues to be a big bag of nothingness.
Verdict: Two Stars
A Block: Konsuke Ishii (2-1) defeated Yuki Iino (2-2)
Iino may have lost this match, and it wasn’t his best performance, but it was an example of him wrestling like the powerhouse he is. He spent the early portion of the action tossing Ishii around the ring while lighting up his chest with blows. The smaller man looked like he was at the bottom of a mountain, and it was going to be one hell of a climb.
Except, Ishii refused to die. Twice he popped up as Iino set-up for his Haka Elbow, defiantly battling on, and even when the third one hit it still didn’t dampen his spirit. He looked battered, but he was determined to chop down the beast and a final flurry (which featured Iino kicking out at one just before the finish) saw him hit a perfect Spinning Heel Kick for the three.
Iino and Ishii had a short, enjoyable spirit that didn’t have enough to it to be more than that, but had enough to continue to convince me that Iino is putting his shit together. He isn’t quite there yet, but it’s coming.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
A Block: Tetsuya Endo (1-2-1) defeated Chihiro Hashimoto (2-1)
I love the way Endo’s matches have been structured in the D-Oh so far. In this one, he attempted to take the steam out of Hashimoto’s power game, chipping away at her leg and grinding her into the ground. It didn’t always make for the most exciting wrestling, but it told a great story, as he cut her down to the point where he was able to go on the offensive.
And Hashimoto was fantastic too. She’s been playing the powerhouse badass, and that was still on display, but with a twist. Now, there was a dodgy leg to work around, and she was grasping at opportunities. Even when she was able to murder Endo by catching him out of a Handspring Back Elbow into a vicious German, it took her a second or two too long to follow-up.
Even with that injury, Endo was forced to steal away the victory, back flipping out of a German before tying Hashimoto up in a flash pin. Still, these two came together to craft something brilliant, making sure that the slower early portions were quickly forgotten.
Verdict: Four Stars
B Block: HARASHIMA (2-1) defeated Naomi Yoshimura (0-3)
It could be put down to arrogance or inexperience, but Yoshimura failed to take advantage of his opportunities in this match. There were periods where he was dominating HARASHIMA, throwing him around the ring and looking the best I’ve seen him. He had an awesome counter to the Somato, dropping back and letting HARASHIMA crash into the turnbuckle before pulling him up into position for a Buckle Bomb. Just going from your back to a Powerbomb position was impressive enough, but to do it that flawlessly made it all the cooler.
The problem was that he failed to get the job done. Every time it looked like he could, he’d do a weak pin or take a bit too long to follow-up. It’s those little touches that all pointed to the twenty-four-year-old just not quite having it in him to put HARASHIMA away, no matter how much he dominated. Then, when the tide turned, and HARA hit that Somato, you better believe he didn’t hesitate. He put the rookie down with ease.
Despite that, this was the first time I’ve seen something in Yoshimura. For a big man, he’s not that big, as he’s about the same height as HARASHIMA. However, he wrestled like one, and that’s 99% of the battle.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
B Block: Daisuke Sasaki (3-1) defeated Soma Takao (1-2)
The DAMNATION men kicked off by playing Janken to decide who would lie down for the other. Sasaki lost, but unsurprisingly decided he didn’t like that plan and tried to turn it into a flash pin. A bit of trickery that Takao wasn’t too happy with.
Sadly, the match that followed was a bit dull. They were trying to play it as two tag team partners beating the shit out of each other, but it was nowhere near aggressive enough. It was all summed up by Takao launching a chair at Sasaki to knock him off the top rope, a move that was presumably meant to hit him in the head but ended up connecting with his leg. While I’m sure it hurt, it didn’t have the same visual flair.
There were moments when it flared up, a flash pin sequence towards the end was particularly well done, but ultimately it fell flat. I’m 90% certain these two could do better, fingers crossed we see it someday.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
A Block: Konosuke Takeshita (2-1) defeated Yuki Ueno (2-2)
Ueno came flying out the blocks, putting a beat down on Takeshita. It felt like a young wrestler trying to prove themselves by going straight after the big dog, not happy to just get the win, but wanting to prove he was better.
It was a set-up that gave Ueno a real chance to shine. He looked brilliant out there, ducking Takeshita’s wild blows as he sought to dismantle the former champ. That pushed Takeshita to get aggressive in return, hoisting him up for a huge Backdrop and driving his elbows into Ueno’s back.
Sadly for Ueno, that vicious edge combined with a smidge more intelligence was enough to turn the tide. He did everything right, but in the key moments, Takeshita had his number. Whether it was a vicious Backbreaker (where he seemed to throw Ueno ten feet in the air) or a perfect Last Ride, he was always a step ahead.
And while I enjoyed that story, the whole thing was a bit dull. I wanted just a bit more snap to proceedings, but whenever it felt like they were speeding up, they’d slow it right back down. While that might have worked for the story that Ueno was telling, as he pushed the veteran to his limits in an epic, it didn’t click with me. I was left respecting it rather than loving it.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
That was a fascinating show. I’m not sure I could sit here and tell you I thought the wrestling was incredible, but the storytelling felt like it was spot on. Like some recent TJPW shows, I feel like the star ratings I’ve shoved at the end of each review damages it rather than aiding it. Hm, this is something for me ponder. Anyway, if I was you, I’d watch this, but if you’re just after work rate, it’s probably not essential.
Watch DDT: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe