DDT undercards are the best. While I’m still not going to review it, this one featured the D-Oh trophy winning the Ironman belt, Cherry taking on Gorgeous Matsuno and a match with Chris Brookes and Antonio Honda on separate sides. If any of that sounds fun to you, give it a watch. Outside of that, the B Block was coming to a close with Tanaka, HARASHIMA and Sasaki still in contention.
B Block: Yukio Sakaguchi (2-4 defeated Soma Takao (2-4)
A frantic opening few seconds in which both men went for the win had me excited for a match that looked set to be a crazy sprint. Sadly, they slowed things down almost instantly, teasing the countout. Rather than something unhinged and pacey, we got slow and deliberate, full of stiff strikes and tight submissions.
And don’t me wrong, I like those things, but if they’d shaved two or three of the eight minutes away and let loose, it would have been all the better for it. While it was still an enjoyable watch, there was nothing about it that you’ll remember outside of the first thirty seconds.
Verdict: Three Stars
B Block: Naomi Yoshimura (1-5) defeated Daisuke Sasaki (4-2)
Despite having three years of experience, Yoshimura has had a classic breakout rookie’s tournament. Fuck all wins, but plenty of standout performances. Or at least he did have fuck all wins, right up until DDT rewarded him by letting him play spoiler to Sasaki.
Daisuke didn’t hand that victory over, though. Before Yoshimura got it, his leg was put through the grinder, as Sasaki tried to rip it out from under him. More interesting than that attack, was how Naomi sold it, doing a decent job of fighting back from underneath, as they timed his hope spots well and his selling was solid. We also saw him get to eat a lot of offence, surviving at least a couple of Crossfaces before kicking out of a Pedigree at one and a second at two.
My big complaint was that his victory was made to feel like a bit of a fluke, tying Sasaki’s legs up and trapping him in a flash pin. I’d generally have no issue with that, and would perhaps argue it was the perfect way for the less experienced wrestlers to win, but Yoshimura is built like a monster. If you want to make it a shock, why not have him hit a massive power move out of nowhere, getting the win before Sasaki is recovered.
Still, this was a solid little match that continues Yoshimura’s build. Sasaki has not had the best tournament, but he went out of his way to give Naomi a lot, so he deserved credit for that even as his hopes of victory died.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
B Block: HARASHIMA (4-1-1) and Masato Tanaka (5-0-1) fought to a draw
Draws are hard. They’re even harder when the viewer (in this example, moi) knows it is going to a draw beforehand. That’s not on the backs of the wrestlers, they can’t be held responsible for me taking a while to watch the show and being spoiled by Twitter, but it still affected the way I watched this match.
Despite that, HARASHIMA and Takeda did a great job of keeping me engaged. I’d be lying if I said I had my eyes glued to the screen for the slow first ten-fifteen minutes, but they didn’t wander much. Both these men brought an intensity to proceedings that hooked me. The perfect example being HARASHIMA lashing out with a series of kicks to Tanaka’s leg, brutally weakening the limb.
But even HARASHIMA ain’t getting everything his way while fighting Masato Tanaka. Far from it, in fact. When it comes to intensity, that man is the master, and when he dived off the top to drive HARA through a table, he was handily proving it. He then used the broken chunks of that table to attack his arm, evening up the limb work and giving himself a target to work around.
It all built to a thrilling closing stretch that included one of the deadliest Brainbusters I’ve ever seen from Tanaka. Seriously, he fucking spiked him. Even knowing the result, I was shocked when HARA kicked out of that. From there, it broke down into a series of stiff blows, both men throwing everything into them before they started wildly trading big moves, kick-outs and failures to follow up galore. In the end, the only thing that could separate the two of them was the time running out.
That was a classy as fuck pro-wrestling match from two masters of the craft. Yes, it started slow, but by the end, they had me, and by the sounds of things, everyone in attendance too.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
An alright show capped off by an awesome main event. I said it would be hard for them to live up to A Block’s performance, and I was right, but Tanaka and HARASHIMA at least meant they had a dog in the fight. It also means that we’ve got Tanaka vs Endo in the final, which promises to be a cracker.
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