Not that long ago, the idea of Saki Akai headlining a DDT show, even one with limited attendance, would have felt pretty far-fetched. Early in her career, I remember someone describing her as wrestling like Bambi on ice, as while there was potential there, she didn’t quite seem in control of her limbs. However, times have changed, and now every time Saki steps into a ring, she seems to improve. Suddenly, the idea of having her main eventing isn’t ridiculous at all, and when you put Meiko Satomura across from her, it’s downright tasty.
For in Satomura you have the ultimate gatekeeper. The second that music hits it’s hard to stop a wave of emotion rushing over you. There are joshi just as legendary as her still working, Aja Kong for one, but few are doing it at the level she is. In many ways, Meiko has become the face of modern women’s wrestling in Japan, and that made her the perfect person to bring Saki’s seven-match trial series to an end.
And there were so many moments in this designed to show Saki’s growth. Right from the start, she lashed out with a leg kick to Meiko fucking Satomura, daring to play that game with her. Then, not long in she slipped away from the cartwheel into a knee drop before dragging Meiko to the floor and booting her in the chest. Akai never looked frightened of the legend, this match not feeling like a rookie coming up against a master, but rather like two equals butting heads.
There was even a moment where I thought she might win. A slap, a boot to the head and the Saki Cutter slamming Meiko’s shoulders to the floor. Sadly, the ground she crashed into was right next to the ropes, those years of experience telling Satomura that all she had to do was reach out and grab it, keeping the fight alive.
Of course, Saki did lose. In the end, Satomura was too good. Saki Akai has got better, but Meiko Satomura is one of those wrestlers who rises to any occasion and to beat her you have to be incredible. However, losing to Meiko in the main event is no stain on your career. The very fact you are in the main event with her suggests you’re doing alright.
Satomura appeared to agree, taking the mic afterwards and praising Akai, calling her amazing and talking about getting stronger herself (a comment which amusingly shocked Saki into asking whether such a thing was possible). She then handed the mic over, telling Akai that she’d earned the responsibility of main eventing and with it the chance to close the show.
When this trial series was announced, it seemed like a fun, if rather random, idea. Then, when Akai was added to Eruption, it became clear that DDT had a plan for her, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. It turns out to have been a bit of a master-stroke, though. In the last few months, she’s skyrocketed, improving with every performance and stepping into the role of a star. Meiko asked to fight her again one day, and judging by what we’ve seen recently, there is every chance that could be even better than this one.
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