A slightly strange Korakuen for DDT, as while their monthly trip to that famous old venue is always going to be a big deal, they are building to a bigger one. That means the two main events come from the same feud, the tag titles and the trio belts on the line as Nautilus and Eruption face-off. Two batches of Eruption? Yes, please.
Under Match: Hiroshi Yamato defeated Hideki Okatani
Eyeliner Yamato is now the superior Yamato, and that’s not up for debate.
Anyway, this was pretty standard. Okatani got a wee bit of offence but never looked in danger of winning. The rookie has had an interesting first few months in how uninteresting they’ve been. The in-ring work is decent, but I’m not sure being teamed up with Junretsu has done him any favours, as he’s become a bit of a face in a crowd. Beyond being a solid worker (which DDT have plenty of), what is Okatani offering?
Anyway, he’s still young in his career, so he has time to figure that shit out. Not everyone can have Keigo’s instant charm.
The pre-show announcements included Suzume hyping Wrestle Princess (she seemed a bit nervous while trying to remember the various matches, but did well) which the full card has now been announced for. It has the potential to be a show of the year and will have Mei Suruga making her TJPW debut.
Danshoku Dieno defeated Keigo Nakamura
Dieno was still in the ring with Muscle Sakai promoting the next Hiragana Muscle show when Keigo popped up on the screen and, for reasons only known to him, announced he was going to sneak attack his opponent. Of course, Dieno saw that message, so stepped out of the way and dropped Nakamura with a Piledriver before the show had officially started.
He was still out cold in the ring when the intro package finished, but they were nice and played his music for him anyway, while Dieno had nipped backstage so he could make his entrance properly. Is there a way we can get Keigo and Yuuki Mashiro in the same ring? I feel like that would create some good energy.
It did turn out that he was playing possum, so we got a Nakamura flurry after the bell until he was caught out the air with a kiss. From there, serious Dieno suddenly turned up as he murdered the youngster with a Brainbuster, followed up with an armlock and then, following another kiss, hit a Gotch Style Danshoku Driver. It seems someone’s getting in the mood for Ultimate Party.
Keigo’s pre-match antics were the highlight of this, but I enjoyed the glimpse of big match Dieno too.
Verdict: Oh, Keigo
DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA & Toru Owashi) and Yukio Naya defeated Chris Brookes, Shunma Katsumata and Antonio Honda
With Ueno somewhat busy, Brookes was left to face-off with a couple of his stable mates. Although, as he ended up in a very loving embrace and slow dance with HARASHIMA, they perhaps didn’t deliver the message Ueno would have been hoping for. Honestly, I’m not even going to try to explain the circumstances that led to that. It will shock no-one to learn that Honda and Owashi were involved.
The rest of the match was as enjoyable as you’d imagine a fun six-man between this lot to be. They kept the sanctity of the second match strong, delivering that blend of silliness and action that DDT does better than most. There’s not too much to say about it, but I have no complaints either.
Afterwards, Imabayashi awarded Owashi’s victory with a shot at Gorgeous Matsuno’s Over 40 title. The big man tried to refuse but was duped into it, much to his own disgust.
Verdict: BROOKES + HARASHIMA 4EVA
Shinya Aoki defeated Mad Paulie
The sight of Mad Paulie, a massive alien in face paint that was introduced as Daisuke’s pet, grappling with the rather legit Shinya Aoki is quite something. I know Mad Paulie has not always been mad or, indeed, Paulie, but it’s still a bit of a culture clash. While there wasn’t much to the match outside of that, if you can’t appreciate that weirdness, you’re probably watching the wrong company.
After the match, Aoki decided to relinquish his Extreme Title, presumably because he’s decided he doesn’t want to wrestle Takagi at Ultimate Party. He walked out while Takagi screamed at him from the Korakuen balcony, making it very clear he had no choice in the matter.
Verdict: Grapple Paulie
ALL OUT (Konosuke Takeshita and Akito) defeated Junretsu (Jun Akiyama and Makoto Oishi)
I feel like I’ve been watching these same few people go back and forth in this feud for years now. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been doing it they’re still failing to get a reaction out of me.
And, at this point, I have to say it’s a Stuart problem rather than an actual issue. The wrestling here seemed to be pretty great, Takeshita and Akiyama are a good fit and Take fucking murdered Oishi for the finish, but it got nothing out of me. It just happened.
On the upside, it has left me somewhat intrigued as to how the actual match is going to go down. Will my coldness towards this pairing continue into the one on one? Or will it finally click? Who knows and, let’s be honest, I doubt many people care.
Up next was Endo and Sasaki’s contract singing and Daisuke in eyeliner and a suit is quite the look. He and Endo were all dressed up and looked like two very different uncles at a wedding, both cool, but I know which one I’d be drinking with. Anyway, if you want the translation then check out ddtpro_eng on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, it ended in a brawl, Endo ripping away at Daisuke’s suit only to end up being punched in the balls, whacked with a chair and put in a Crossface. Daisuke’s won that round!
CIMA defeated Soma Takao
CIMA and Takao are teaming at Ultimate Party but wanted to have a match beforehand so they could get to know each other. On top of that, CIMA was one of Soma’s heroes growing up, making this a lovely moment for the man who dubbed himself BIMA during his amateur wrestling days.
What we got was a 2020 CIMA match. That’s no slight on him. The man has been doing this shit for a long time, has spent most of his career wrestling a high impact style and was recently in a bike accident. He’s still great, but he’s not able to go at the speed he once was. Now he picks his moments, bursts of pace to spice things up rather than constant intensity.
Which still makes for a pretty great wrestling match, one which you can almost relax into, knowing you’re in safe hands. The legend picked up the win too, going all out at the end and putting Soma down for three. Afterwards, he was nice enough to pay tribute to his future partner, declaring he’d soon be able to call himself CIMA too and then go onto become DIMA. How lovely.
Verdict: Safe In The Hands Of The Master
Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi, Saki Akai and Yukio Sakaguchi) defeated DISASTER BOX (Yuki Ueno, Naomi Yoshimura and Kazuki Hirata) to retain the KO-D Six Man Titles
Eruption are so cool that it physically hurts. Seriously, that shit shouldn’t be allowed.
There was a structural intrigue to this one, as we already knew two-thirds of those involved were going to have to wrestle the main event. That meant they could plant seeds to be developed later, but also that going all out would be dangerous.
Therefore, it was no surprise to see Saki and Hirata carry a lot of the action. They both looked great too, Hirata going into big match mode and putting his fear of Sakaguchi aside. It was Akai who really shone though, a face-off with Yoshimura playing to all her strengths. For every one blow of his, she had to deliver five, but she kept pulling herself up, bringing the fight to him again and again.
In the end, though, they made the interesting choice of having Sakaguchi choke out Ueno rather than having Akai or Hirata involved in the finish. It was a definitive finish to a good match and put us in an interesting spot coming into round two.
Verdict: Stage One, Thumbs Up!
Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi and Yukio Sakaguchi) defeated Nautilus (Naomi Yoshimura and Yuki Ueno) to win the KO-D Tag Team Titles
The finish to the first match instantly played into the second, Nautilus attempting to get the jump on Eruption. However, it took just one head kick from Sakaguchi for Ueno to hit the floor, proving that while he’d got up for the start of round two, he wasn’t in the best of shape.
That left Yoshimura on his lonesome, and for a big guy, he excels at being worked over. He sells well, and the sight of someone like Higuchi chopping him down is hella impressive. It made Eruption look even more badass while his solo defiance kept him going even as the odds stacked up against him.
He would be outdone on that count, though, as Ueno’s desperate attempts to survive became key to this match’s third act. The poor bugger was dead, but he was the only who didn’t know and like an old Looney Tunes cartoon that somehow kept him going. Higuchi and Sakaguchi were taking it in turns teeing off on him, yet he refused to stay down, the fight in him proving bigger than his common sense.
Unfortunately, not all foolish acts of bravery are awarded as such. Nautilus fought hard, longer than they should have been able to, but in the end, they couldn’t pull it off. The title reign that I watched come to life live in January ended with Higuchi delivering a sickening headbutt before following up with the Goten for the win. They worked that to perfection.
A decent Korakuen that was capped off with a fantastic main event. They took the two-match structure and crafted something great around it, making two acts that I imagine would work in isolation, but were even better as a pairing. Plus, Eruption are now holding all sorts of lovely belts, and that is always going to be a good thing.
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