DDT Universe has rebranded! With the addition of NOAH, not to mention the numerous other companies available on it, they’ve become Wrestle Universe. A name that’s perhaps not their most inventive moment, but it gets to the point. Honestly, it’s probably the best value streaming service out there, so if you’re not signed up to it, get on that.
Kazusada Higuchi defeated Keigo Nakamura
Big Keigo is here! And he’s going to get his hands on that sword.
Alright, so that’s not quite what happened. He tried, teeing off with a succession of Dropkicks, but it was rather like watching a fly bash against a window. You can appreciate the effort, but it ain’t breaking through. When Higuchi turned it on, this was only going one way, but Keigo’s moment will come! If he hits the gym and bulks up a bit, I have no doubt that he’ll return and get his revenge.
This was Higuchi battering Keigo, so of course it was great. Nakamura’s unrelenting optimism is one of my favourite things and Higuchi is the perfect person to smash it out of him.
Verdict: Fun Squash
Antonio Honda and Danshoku Dieno fought to a no-contest I guess? What that means for the Iron Man Title I don’t know.
Dieno has returned to the DDT Dojo, so before the bell even rang I’d have put good money on this getting weird.
It did, as according to ddtpro_eng (get him on Twitter for all your English translations) it was a homage to a thirty-year-old Japanese TV show. There was a laugh-track, backing music and more all providing window dressing to a fairly standard Dieno match. Honda makes the dick-based formula funnier than most and his Atomic Drop sells were art (and suggests he follows that Rick Rude Twitter account), but it did fall a bit flat for me.
Perhaps if you’re Japanese and understood what this was referencing it would be better, but it was all a bit meh. It certainly won’t go down as one of the DDT comedy matches that I’ll look back on with great fondness.
Disaster Box (HARASHIMA and Naomi Yoshimura) defeated DAMNATION (Soma Takao and Mad Paulie)
Now and then HARASHIMA reminds me how fantastic he is. There was a moment in this match where he hit a cool Springboard Dropkick thing to set-up his hot tag to Yoshimura, and it just looked awesome. It wasn’t anything that you’d brand as spectacular, but the way HARA does it is better than the way that nearly anyone else would because he is the man.
The second half of the match was built around Paulie and Yoshimura being big and running into each other which was fine by me. They’re great in that role, hitting hard enough to keep the hoss lovers happy, but never dropping down to a pace that sends us to sleep.
In the end, Yoshimura came out on top in that battle, hitting a Piledriver and leaving with Paulie’s face paint on his thigh. Is there any world in which having another man’s face paint on your thigh wouldn’t be a sexual thing? If there is, I’m struggling to think of it.
Verdict: Big Man Fight
Yoshihiko defeated Shunma Katsumata
Backstage Shunma was haunted by ALLOUT ALL DEAD signs before coming to the ring dressed like Jared Leto in that fucking awful Joker film (that’s my hot take of the day). And much like that film, this was hard to watch. Yoshihiko took some horrendous bumps, even having his entire body stuffed into a bin. That guy is clearly doing his DDP Yoga.
It wasn’t a one-sided fight, though. Shunma took a hell of a beating too, getting thrown off the stage and being hit with a Super Frankensteiner onto two chairs on the floor. Both these men were willing to hurt for their craft, and there were moments, like Shunma repeatedly slamming Yoshihiko’s head into the ring post, that might have taken years off their careers.
They went to war, and I had a lot more fun with it than I did Shunma’s last hardcore outing. We can also safely say that the fight isn’t over, Takeshita unsuccessfully getting involved at the end before Yoshihiko got the win with a Destroyer and a Rinne Tensho into Shunma’s own Lego. ALLOUT might be in trouble.
Yoshihiko and Takeshita faced off after the match, the tension palpable as it was announced they’d finally get in the ring together next week.
Jun Akiyama and Keisuke Ishii defeated Mizuki Watase and Hideki Okatani
Confession time, my Jun Akiyama knowledge is severely lacking. It’s something I have plans to fix pretty soon, but in the here and now I know very little about a man many consider a legend. I doubt a random DDT mid-card tag is where most people would recommend you start, but fuck it.
As intros go, it was pretty standard. Akiyama played the badass veteran, out there dishing out lessons. He wasn’t required to go too hard, but he did ramp it up when he and Watase faced off, setting them up for a match on next week’s show.
Outside of that, Okatani continues to look like a decent prospect while I’m a big fan of Ishii. He’s apparently a massive All Japan fan, so teaming with Akiyama must have meant a lot to him, pushing him on that bit harder than he might have gone otherwise.
Afterwards, Watase tried to keep the fight going with Jun, watering the already planted seeds for the aforementioned match. That will probably be a better chance to see Akiyama in action, but this was a good introduction.
Verdict: Hey Jun (Sorry)
Saki Akai defeated Saori Anou
Akai’s trial series is built around her determination to get tougher. She’s aligned herself with two of the hardest fuckers in DDT, setting herself the challenge of matching them, and judging by this match, she might pull it off.
For Anou gave Saki a bit of a beating, responding to her taking control in the early going by pulling out a chair and going to work. She was pushing Akai, bringing the fight and seeing if she was tough enough to take it. On this day, she was.
It was summed up by a moment towards the end where Anou threw Saki over with a German. Instead of staying down, Akai fired up, pulling herself to her feet only for Saori to drop her right back down with a Bridging German. I was sure it was the finish, but no, Saki kicked out, powering through something that once upon a time would have put her down.
All of which served as further proof that this trial series is huge for both Saki the character and the real person. She is proving herself against some brilliant talents and delivering consistently great matches while DDT has set her up with three wins and three defeats. Afterwards, Imabayashi promised that her final opponent would be someone big at Saitama Super Arena (whenever that might be). I can’t wait.
DAMNATION (Tetsuya Endo and Daisuke Sasaki) defeated ALLOUT (Konosuke Takeshita and Akito) and Endo won Akito’s Anytime Anywhere Gauntlet
When you put these four men in the ring, you’re almost guaranteed to get something great. They know what they’re doing and are a joy to watch.
Talking of joys, Akito has to be in the often discussed most underrated wrestler conversation, right? He’d end up being bundled up in an Endo pin, but the guy is ridiculously good while the interactions that led to that pin were smooth as silk. More love for Akito please.
Honestly, it’s one of those matches where I don’t actually have much to say. It was some damn fine pro-wrestling, and if you’re in the mood for some damn fine pro-wrestling, you are going to have a good time.
Verdict: Would It Be Lazy To Say Damn Fine Pro-Wrestling?
Tetsuya Endo cashed in his Anytime Anywhere Gauntlet and defeated Kazusada Higuchi for the Sword
Endo was in no mood to wait around and called out Higuchi straight away because he wanted his sword back. Now, you could point out that as the Gauntlet gets you a title shot anytime, anywhere, cashing it in for the sword is a bit silly. However, is the Gauntlet a sword? No, so I believe Endo is justified.
Higuchi sold the surprise nature of the cash-in by coming out in street clothes without his boots or knee pads. Thankfully, he had his trunks on underneath them, so he didn’t have to wrestle in his pants, but he was still woefully unprepared, and Endo attacked him as he entered the ring to add to that feeling.
Considering both these men had already wrestled matches, this was a fucking fight. They brawled around the arena, Endo leaping off a stage before returning to the ring for a grunty, hard-hitting contest. I was expecting it to be a quick affair, but they went over ten minutes which felt like going above and beyond the call of duty.
It basically added up to a slightly condensed version of their last match, and as that match was awesome, this one was too. On that day, Higuchi’s strength won out, but this time around it was Endo’s brilliance that got the win, as he caught Higuchi charging in with a Spanish Fly to set-up a finishing sequence that ended with the Shooting Star Press. The boy has got his sword back, and while I’m sad to see Higuchi lose it, at least it’s returning to capable hands.
Verdict: Impressive Stuff
Endo wanted to cash-in on Tanaka straight away, but he wasn’t there, which he was immediately thankful for.
The DDT TV Show continues to be a blast and is setting itself up nicely to continue in that vein. It would be nice to maybe have a bit of Tokyo Joshi involvement, but that’s a minor quibble and they have announced a PPV. DDT is good at this shit, and at this point, that should be no surprise.
Watch DDT: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe