While their wee sister has had the Princess Cup shuffled around because of COVID, DDT was lucky enough to avoid that fate. They were able to come to Korakuen and see the King of DDT home, giving us a hint of what to expect at Ultimate Party at the same time.
Under Match: Kazuki Hirata defeated Yukio Naya, Antonio Honda, Toru Owashi and Tomomitsu Matsunaga in a five-way
Unsurprisingly, a match with these five participants was heavy on the nonsense. It started before Owashi had even made his entrance, leading to him awkwardly poking his head around the curtain, realising what had happened and angrily coming down to the ring to beat on Hirata (who he, naturally, blamed).
It also ended in a lot of dancing as Naya refused to put on Hirata’s glasses, but did bring out a pair of glow sticks and get into some wotagei (got to thank ddtpro_eng for explaining that one, get him on Twitter for translations). He was incredibly committed to the bit, determination spread across his face and continuing well after the match had ended. I was saying I wanted to see him show some personality, so I guess I can’t complain.
Anyway, they gave you exactly what you’d expect this combination of wrestlers to give you. If you didn’t like this kind of silliness, you probably wouldn’t be watching DDT.
Verdict: Chuckles To Start
Before the show started proper, Shunma got a chance to say a few words about his upcoming match against Mecha Pandita, a panda robot that Onita found while on a business trip to a coffee farm in Laos. Yes, you read that correctly. Did you know that I have a Masters in Journalism? I don’t think this is what my lecturers had in mind (I am definitely not a journalist).
Anyway, Mecha Pandita turned up and seemed impervious to Shunma’s strikes because, well, it’s a robot panda. It got the better of Shunma, shoved some coffee beans in his mouth and fled, in a rather comical manner, to the back. I can only repeat what I said above, if you don’t like this, you probably shouldn’t be bothering with DDT.
Tetsuya Endo defeated Kazusada Higuchi in the King of DDT semi-final
Higuchi is a monster. Big, strong and fast, he’s been barrelling his way through this tournament, putting the company’s two biggest stars to the sword as he did so. By the luck of the draw, though, he was presented with star number three in the semi.
Not that it seemed to bother him. Early on, this was the Higuchi show as he looked to smash through the champ. Endo is great, smooth as silk and a beautiful pro-wrestler, but when beauty meets a brick wall, it tends to be smushed. Higuchi looked like a man making a statement.
Unfortunately, Higuchi’s story this year is one of coming close, but not quite crossing the finish line. He made one mistake, letting Endo back to his feet after a Chokeslam, and was made to pay. When he came charging in, Endo slipped out of the way, twisting around him to lock-on another modified version of the Yurikamom, leaving Higuchi with nowhere to go.
I’ve been weirdly down on Endo’s recent matches (it’s weird because I generally consider him one of the best), but this was much more like it. He made Higuchi look like a killer before punishing him at the last moment. The big man doesn’t lose much by falling at this hurdle (he got his wins over Takeshita and HARASHIMA), but it’s Endo who is off to the final.
Verdict: That’s The Endo I Love
T-Hawk defeated Akito in the King of DDT semi-final
There were some similarities between this and the opener. Akito isn’t a monster like Higuchi, but he provided a very specific threat, namely his relentless attack of T-Hawk’s leg. At every chance he got, Akito went to that well, twisting into submissions or slamming it into the mat. He had T-Hawk on the ropes, hopping away as the match was controlled via his aching limb.
However, like Endo, T-Hawk needed just one opening to flip this on its head. A charging Akito came running in and, almost in desperation, T-Hawk hoisted him up, managing to hold him in place and bring him crashing down with Night Ride, saving the match with one move.
I didn’t like this as much as the opener, but it was still an enjoyable contest. Both had clear stories and set the winners up as being beaten down before the final. The difference was that the finish to this one felt a bit sudden, Akito still feeling like he’d have something to give. However, it did set Night Ride up as something of a killer move, so that’s probably not a bad thing.
We nipped backstage where Dieno noticed Seigo’s haircut (a callback to a previous joke) before revealing that he had a plan to deal with Sakaguchi…
Danshoku Dieno and Segio Tachibana defeated Eruption (Yukio Sakaguchi and Saki Akai)
Dieno’s plan didn’t take long to be revealed as he and Seigo made their entrance wearing tights on their head. Poor Sakaguchi stepped through the curtain and was instantly corpsing, even pushing the camera away in an attempt to hide his giggling.
I’m a huge fan of Sakaguchi being completely incapable of dealing with goofballs. He presents himself as such a fucking badass and looks ridiculously cool, yet the sight of two grown men with tights on their heads rendered him incapable of not bursting into fits of giggles. It meant poor Saki had to wrestle a fair bit of this match solo, as he was laughing so hard he couldn’t bring himself to stay in the ring.
It was all done to set-up Dieno and Seigo’s tactics as being a potential weakness for Eruption ahead of their trios title shot. In that sense, it worked, as Referee Matsui ended up with the tights on his head, making Yukio laugh so hard that he broke a pin and gave Dieno a chance to bundle him up for the upset. Combine that with them getting Yoshiko on-board, and these goofs might have a chance.
Verdict: Sakaguchi’s Corpsing
Disaster Box (HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura and Yuki Ueno), Chris Brookes and Minoru Tanaka defeated DAMNHEARTS (Daisuke Sasaki, Soma Takao, Nobuhiro Shimatani, El Lindaman and Mad Paulie)
With ten people involved, there was a lot happening in this one. We got Nobu and Linda shenanigans, Naomi and Paulie beefing it out and a return to the Brookes vs Charisma feud. That was just the start too as it’s one of those matches that is unreviewable because rather than a coherent narrative, there was a load of little ones smushed together.
It was a lot of fun, though. The kind of match that you can sit back and enjoy, appreciating the chaos as it happens. There were a lot of wrestlers involved who I find entertaining, so it was quite easy to let them do what they do.
In the end, Disaster Box and friends managed to leave HARA alone with Nobu for long enough for a Somato to come crashing home. If you’re in a hurry, this is probably one you can skip, but you won’t regret giving it your time.
Verdict: Good Fun
Afterwards, Imabayashi announced that HARASHIMAFUJI (why aren’t they HARAFUJI?) vs CIMASOMA will be happening at Ultimate Party. It was supposed to happen at Saitama, so I’m glad we’ll still get to see it.
ALL OUT (Konosuke Takeshita and Shunma Katsumata), Shinya Aoki and Keigo Nakamura defeated Junretsu (Jun Akiyama, Makoto Oishi, MIzuki Watase and Hideki Okatani)
I’ve struggled to get emotionally involved in Akiyama vs Takeshita. It’s a pairing that looks great in theory while I’ve no doubt that the now booked singles match (they set it up for Ultimate Party in the aftermath of Take’s victory) will be good. However, the build to it has left me incredibly cold.
This match was no different as it felt like it was very much just there. My main issue is that the faction warfare element of it has failed to move me. It feels like it’s been tacked on, used as an excuse to hold off on putting Akiyama and Takeshita together one on one until the big show. Everything revolves around those two, so I don’t care about the rest of them (even if I am a fan of at least a few of the wrestlers involved).
To dish out some credit, Keigo and Okatani had a fiery interaction, working hard to impress. It’s also true that Akiyama and Takeshita had some alright moments, even if they were limited. Honestly, I can’t call it a bad match; it just didn’t work for me. If you have been enjoying this feud, I’d recommend giving it a watch.
Verdict: It Ain’t Clicked
Tetsuya Endo defeated T-Hawk to win the King of DDT
The opening moments of this match were defined by a rare moment of sportsmanship from Endo. He initially looked to go straight after T-Hawk’s leg, but when he was fought off, he put his hands up and backed away, leaving it be. When, shortly after, T-Hawk hit a dive and followed up with a Suplex on the floor, he might have regretted that decision.
Ultimately, though, this became a battle between two incredibly gifted athletes. T-Hawk and Endo found themselves matching up with at every turn, Hawk firing off with those chops (which considering Endo had already wrestled Higuchi seemed almost unfair) and Endo showing those flashes of magical genius that he excels at.
And there was a moment where it looked like it was going T-Hawk’s way. The move to put over Night Ride strong earlier in the night paying off as he hit it only for Endo to kick out at two. It was his last gasp as, once again, Endo would prove he only needed one opportunity, leaping back with a Pele Kick to turn the match on its head and romp home.
That was an excellent match. They had a slight tumble towards the end, Tetsuya losing his balance on the top rope, but it did nothing to hurt my enjoyment of the action. Not only are these two annoyingly good looking, but they are brilliant wrestlers too. It all seems a bit unfair.
Verdict: There Has Got To Be Something Wrong With Them
In the aftermath, Endo and Hawk proved there was no bad blood before Endo received his big old novelty cheque for a million yen. It was then his right, as champion, to name his next challenger. Initially, he went for Tomomi Morisaki, a very pretty lady that DAMNATION met on TheNIGHT recently. With her proving an unacceptable choice, he instead repeated his demand to face Kenny Omega. Imabayashi was willing to accept that one, but did warn that it might not be possible.
I’m surprised DDT are continuing to push towards Endo vs Kenny at Ultimate Party as it seems incredibly unlikely that he’ll be able to get into the country (unless they know something we all don’t). They have suggested they have a back-up plan, so I wouldn’t get too excited about Omega vs Endo happening any time soon.
A good DDT showing that now and then slipped over to great. Endo picking up the win as champion was a surprise to me purely because I assumed this Omega match wouldn’t be possible, but I’m intrigued as to what DDT have planned. Fingers crossed it’s something good.
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