On the 3rd of January 2020, I equalled the number of wrestling shows that I went to in 2019. That’s primarily because I was saving money to come here, but still, it’s a step up. It was my third trip to Korakuen since I’d arrived in Japan that smashed in the equaliser and it was to see DDT all on their lonesome without the help of those scary boys in Big Japan. I was looking for laughs and good wrestling, did they deliver? Let’s find out.
Saki Akai won a DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Title Delayed Entry Battle Royal
Before the match started, we saw Owashi lose his title to Omochi (literally a mochi) backstage. How did that happen? No idea, one second he was staring at it intently, next it was pinning him. It did mean that, once again, Hirata started the match off against a non-human. Even more importantly, he also failed to defeat it before the next entrant came out.
While this was a strong card on paper, this was the match I was looking forward to the most beforehand. As you’d expect, it was enjoyable nonsense from start to finish as we got everything from Gorgeous Matsuno to Keigo Nakamura shooting his shot with Saki. That would ultimately set-up the finish as his attempt to get a smooch led to him being kicked in the head.
These Battle Royals are a shitload of fun when watched over the internet, and might have even been more enjoyable live. The crop of wrestlers they’ve got doing them at the moment are just good at this stuff, and it was ten or so minutes of DDT silliness that I was always going to enjoy.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Kazusada Higuchi and Yukio Sakaguchi defeated Hiroshi Yamato and Mad Paulie
The two hard bastards went over before forming a new unit, with Saki Akai, in their post-match promo. That’s an interesting combination of people, but it could work.
The actual match was fairly standard while having the occasional moment. Higuchi and Sakaguchi wrestle a style that I enjoy, and amusingly we got to see what Mad Paulie would be like if he went down the grappling route. It was all enjoyable enough, without being anything I’ll ever go back to.
Verdict: Three Stars
Super Sasandango Machine defeated Danshoku Dieno and Sanshiro Takagi in a No Passcode Scramble Bunkhouse Take Account Over Deathmatch
What the hell is a No Passcode Scramble Bunkhouse Take Account Over Deathmatch I hear you shout. Well, let me tell you.
Before they got going, all three men put their phones on a chair in the ring. That allowed whoever was in control of the match to go onto the other wrestlers’ Twitters and Tweet whatever they wanted. Hilarity ensued.
Or, at least, kind of. This match failed to connect with me, not because of anything the wrestlers did or because the Tweets weren’t hilarious, but because I don’t speak Japanese. So I was looking at a screen that could have literally said anything. Although I should probably point out that the Japanese fans around me certainly seemed to enjoy it. Still, unless you speak the language, you can probably just read the translations on DDT English Updates and skip the actual action because there wasn’t much in the way of great wrestling.
HARASHIMA and Shinya Aoki defeated Makoto Oishi and Masahiro Takanashi
This is where not taking notes is a problem because I can remember little to nothing about this match. What I do recall is the general contentment of being in a room watching people like HARASHIMA wrestle, so I had a lovely time, but there can’t have been much to the action. On the other hand, I don’t think it was bad. I have a brief memory of enjoying the final sequence, so it must have been alright. Fuck it, let’s go for three stars. I’m in a good mood.
Verdict: Three Stars
MAO defeated Shunma Katsumata
This match I do remember as MAO got a really fun victory on his return from the UK. You know, despite him having just toured around my home country (although I don’t think he made it north to Scotland, I doubt he knows Scotland is a thing), this was my first time seeing him live. It was probably cheaper to fly to Tokyo than it would be to get a train to England (that’s definitely not true, but British trains are ridiculous).
Anyway, this was a nice showcase for him on his return as he beat deathmatch legend Katsumata. MAO showed off some fancy British skills that he’d picked up (possibly not British, but they looked like they could work on World of Sport) and eventually got the win by using Shunma’s own LEGO against him. Bumping on LEGO is insane, by the way. Who the fuck wants to do that? Sadly, I was bursting for a piss while this match was happening, so I probably would have enjoyed it even more with an empty bladder, but it still gets the thumbs up from me.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Coming out of the break we got a surprise Marufuji, as he turned up to announce he’s joining Disaster Box. On a more practical level, it means he’ll be appearing in DDT for at least the start of the year, which is very exciting. It was also cool to see him, even if he didn’t wrestle as you don’t often get to be ten feet from Marufuji. It was certainly the first time it had happened in my life.
Masato Tanaka defeated Chris Brookes
Brookes announced at the end of this show that he would be moving to Japan for a whole year. I’d congratulate him, but all I feel is intense jealousy. Anyway, he celebrated that move by being beaten up my Tanaka, which is the best way to celebrate any major life achievement.
Seriously, how hard is that motherfucker? Brookes tried to get the sneak attack on him, hitting a Springboard Dropkick while streamers rained around the D-Oh winner. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work. In a short, intense sprint Tanaka rallied and eventually put the poor bugger away with a Sliding D. From a fan point of view, it was the kind of match where you spend a lot of time wincing as a wrestler you like gets hit a lot. Those strikes sound even worse when you’re in the building, by the way.
Brookes was given some consolation as Tanaka called him back into the ring afterwards to bestow his approval. That’s not a bad badge to wear although I’m not sure if it saves you from any future beatings. Maybe it’s like the Blue Peter Badge and gives you a discount to major attractions.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Tetsuya Endo and T-Hawk defeated ALL OUT (Konosuke Takeshita and Akito)
Endo has been attempting to recruit a new sign bearer but has been struggling because of the low wages on offer. Or at least he was. It turns out he didn’t just get someone to carry his sign, but a whole faction to team up with as DAMNATION and Strong Hearts have joined forces. That’s a mighty brew.
And they were given a statement victory to kick things off, putting away Akito and the former champ. Hawk was given plenty of chances to impress too, showing off those vicious chops. It was worth sitting at ringside just to watch DAMNATION react with excitement every time their new friend’s hand came crashing into one of their opponent’s chests. They appear to be pleased with their choice.
This did have elements of an angle more than a match, as it was set-up to establish that new pairing, but the action we got was good. Endo is a joy to watch live, pulling shit off that doesn’t make sense without the benefit of being able to rewind it. It’s a line I use a lot, but with that much talent in the ring, it was never going to suck.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Nautilus (Naomi Yoshimura and Yuki Ueno) defeated DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki and Soma Takao) to win the KO-D Tag Team Titles
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Just minutes after they gained some Strong Hearts, DAMNATION had to say goodbye to their tag titles as Sasaki and Takao fell on their tenth defence. Where they fell away, though, Nautilus’s slow build climaxed with a huge victory for the still young team.
It was a build that was mirrored in this match. The first ten minutes or so (not an official time, I wasn’t keeping track) were a bit slow, as I was worried these teams were struggling to click. There just wasn’t that much to it, and with the minutes ticking by it felt like this show was going to stumble out the door with a whimper.
And then, they clicked. The second half of this were awesome as they ramped all the way through the gears and threw everything at each other. Numerous near falls had me convinced it was over, and as someone who had just assumed DAMNATION were winning, the finish was not only a big moment for Nautilus, but a huge surprise. It was all the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs of that ponderous opening, and a brilliant end to DDT’s first show of the year.
Verdict: Four Stars
DDT kicked-off the year with an incredibly enjoyable show. We got big moments as new factions were formed, Marufuji turned up, and alliances were created. Then, on top of that, we got all the giggles and a fantastic main event. As an English speaker, DDT live can a bit daunting as you worry you’re going to miss out on some of the jokes, but I can thoroughly recommend it all the same. There was only one match on this show where that was a problem, and that was a very particular stipulation. If you’ve got a chance to see them, take it.
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