My biggest worry about making this Japan trip solo was how I was going to spend my Hogmanay. The idea of being on the other side of the world, all on my lonesome and sat in some random bar while the bells rang felt, well, a bit depressing. Thankfully, Big Japan and DDT came to the rescue, with their Tag Team Shuffle tournament, a show that went through midnight and gave me an excuse to see in the New Year in Korakuen Hall. Like yesterday, this won’t be a traditional review, but instead a ramble about the experience.
And what an experience it was! This whole show was a delight from start to finish. Whether it was Okabayashi in a Honda-style singlet or getting my first kiss of the year from Dino, there was moment piled on top of moment.
It also had an absolute shit tonne of matches, so many that less than twelve hours later I reckon I’d struggle to remember half the card. One that will stick with me, though, was my first live deathmatch, which coincidentally was also Shunma Katsumata’s first too. I’m not sure whether it will be his last, but if he does choose to go down that route, he might have a future there. He was brilliant, embracing the concept like he’s been doing it all his life and earning the respect of the crazy bastards around him. The moment where he grabbed a bunch of light tubes and slammed them over his head was quite something while I can’t quite describe what it’s like being in the second row as those things explode, showering the crowd with glass. It’s somewhere between terrifying and incredible.
What really made the show special was the atmosphere. I raved about Korakuen yesterday, but it was perhaps even better last night. There was an overwhelming feeling of joy about the place, as everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives. The wrestlers were clearly cutting loose, enjoying being crammed into random tag teams and the chance that gave them to experiment. We got Yoshimura embracing his inner-Brahman brother, Yuka Miyamoto becoming more DAMNATION-like as the night went on and Daisuke Sekimoto mimicking Chris Brookes’ entrance. Everyone seemed to be having the best time, and it was hard not to get caught up in that. Then again, why wouldn’t you want to be caught up in it? It was awesome!
In the end, Takuya Nomura and Tetsuya Endo won the tournament, beating Brookes and Sekimoto in the final in a big moment for the young wrestler. On the whole, though, this was just a shitload of fun. The show went four and a half hours and could have been twice as long. It turned out my worries of seeing in the New Year alone were wasted effort because this will go down as one of the best ways I’ve spent the end of the year.