With coronavirus hitting Japan, DDT were forced decided to cancel a bunch of their shows. However, being the lovely folks they are, they still wanted to give the fans something to enjoy, so have put together a series of closed door events at the DDT Dojo. It would have been easy for them to pack these with filler matches, but they’ve actually put together some cool little cards which combined with the unique atmosphere was enough to draw me in.
Danshoku Dieno and Yukio Naya defeated Yuki Iino and Keigo Nakamura
Keigo had a plan! He declared his intent to take the Anytime Anywhere Gauntlet off Dieno and become the youngest ever champion. It was an ambitious aim, but our poor innocent child would, well, end up losing that innocence. DDT used the lack of fans to their advantage, having Dieno strip him of his singlet in the camera’s blind spot. All we could hear was poor Kiego’s screams.
By the end of the match, both Nakamura and Iino were wrestling in their underwear, arses on display. For some reason, they decided that made it the perfect time to debut ‘The Centaur’ (ddtpro_eng on Twitter for all your translations) a move that involved Nakamura putting his head between Iino’s legs while they charged into people. I’m, em, not entirely sure what that achieved that Iino running into people by himself wouldn’t have, but it did make me laugh, particularly when they chose to clamber onto the apron as one being.
Dieno’s comedy can be hit or miss, but this whole match was a big hit for me. Iino and Keigo took to their roles brilliantly, and everyone used the unique setting to their advantage. I don’t think another wrestling company could have put this together, and that’s what makes DDT special.
Verdict: Brilliant Nonsense
Calamari Drunk Kings (Chris Brookes and Masahiro Takanashi) defeated Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi and Saki Akai)
Brookes has got used to bullying joshi and cockily raised his hand, expecting Saki to be the latest to be frustrated by his ridiculous height. Unfortunately for him, Akai was able to simply reach up and grab it before punishing his arrogance with a boot to the face.
Still, that cockiness set-up CDK as the pest heels in this match, pulling Saki’s hair and combining to take Higuchi out of the action. Both teams looked great, but you could tell that Brookes and Takanashi had more matches under their belt, as they always seemed to be exactly where their partner needed them. It was simple storytelling, but that’s the kind that tends to work.
That also meant Eruption didn’t lose anything in defeat as they looked good even while taking the fall. Higuchi and Akai is probably not a team I’d have put together in my head, but their differences are what makes them click, and they’ve already developed strong chemistry. I’d happily watch a hundred matches where Saki takes a beating to set-up Higuchi barrelling into the ring off a hot tag because both people excel in those roles. Lovely stuff all-around.
Verdict: More Of That, Please
Nautilus (Yuki Ueno and Naomi Yoshimura) defeated ALL OUT (Konosuke Takeshita and Shunma Katsumata)
I’m always going to have a soft spot for Shunma Katsumata after being there live for his first deathmatch, but even putting that to one side he was a lot of fun here. Having kicked things off by messing around, fanning people down with a towel (apparently he loves saunas), he ended up being chopped to shit by the tag champs.
It was the set-up for what became a pretty great match. The champs are settling into their role nicely, growing as a team with each encounter, and the story here was that their superior teamwork got the victory. Both sides pulled out some flashy combo moves, but on a couple of critical occasions, Shunma and Takeshita misfired, hitting each other and allowing Nautilus to take the win.
There is not a huge amount more to say, it was good wrestling, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Verdict: Good, Solid Wrestling
Dieno and Imabayashi took some time out to sell the fans at home merch and announce the other cards for this mini-run of Dojo shows. Amazingly, they’re giving us NEO Itoh Respect Army vs Honda and Miyu, so that’s my match of the year decided.
Tetsuya Endo defeated Akito
Akito has a bit of a crush on Endo (can’t blame him) which brought an air of sexual tension to proceedings. Endo even attempted to poke Akito with his sword.
Once the poking was over, this became a very technical affair, the two men battling on the floor as Akito went after the leg and Endo the neck. There was some lovely grappling in there as they managed to both have a flow to their movement, twisting between moves, while never losing that sense of struggle.
In the end, Endo managed to lock on a Modified Modified Yurikamome (no, not a type, he added a cravate) for the submission victory. That was not the match I was expecting those two to have, but I enjoyed it all the same. They seemed to take the unique environment as an opportunity to try something out, and I reckon they pulled it off.
Post-match Endo tapped Akito on the back of the neck with his sword. Thankfully, he did it softly, but he is competing with Sasaki for lunatic with a sword status. He also complained that Akito voicing his love for him was preventing him getting women, which strikes me as unlikely.
Hiroshi Yamato and Daisuke Sasaki defeated HARASHIMA and Makoto Oishi
Right from the start of this match, it was clear that there was something off with HARASHIMA. He was craving fan attention, but there was no-one there to give it, and while Oishi and a helpful Yoshimura tried to help him, they didn’t quite have the thrill of the live crowd.
That wasn’t a problem for the unusual team of Daisuke and Yamato. In fact, Yamato proved to be quite the cheerleader, cheering on his partner with a radish dance. Nope, I don’t have a clue either, but it was hilarious, and Sasaki seemed to be quite the fan.
Towards the end, HARASHIMA found a solution to his woes, being handed a BlueTooth headset (by what I think was Yoshimura in an Owashi mask? I really don’t know), that was presumably playing crowd noise. Unfortunately, it fired him up a bit too much, and he ended up taking out Oishi, setting him up to be trapped in the Crossface while HARASHIMA was bundled out of the ring.
That was the kind of main-event that you could only get in DDT. They went out and delivered a match which was part strong wrestling, part nonsense and part radish dance. You just don’t get that anywhere else.
Verdict: Radish Dance!
I wasn’t sure how this show would feel as fans are such an essential part of the wrestling experience. However, DDT pulled it off. To be honest, if I had to pick a company to put on a show in an empty dojo, it would be DDT, so it shouldn’t be a surprise, but it was a pleasant one all the same.
Watch DDT: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe