2020’s Ultimate Party might be a bit smaller than 2019’s, COVID meaning that it’s solely DDT turning up to play, but that doesn’t make it any less of a big deal. While their pals may not have been able to make it, DDT are still more than capable of putting together a good shindig.
Under Match: Hideki Okatani defeated Keigo Nakamura
We opened up with the DDT rookies, two people who feel like they are destined to walk very different paths. They’re both solid wrestlers, but Keigo got the personality and Okatani was given to Akiyama.
This match was a matter of pride for Nakamura, as Hideki came into DDT and almost instantly beat him despite being his junior. The scrappy wee weirdo started fast, showing off some of his impressive high-flying as he tried to put the upstart back in his box. For all that he’s a bizarre wee fucker, Keigo is rather exciting when he gets going.
Unfortunately, he also loses… a lot. When Okatani took control, he kept it, as he proved his previous victory was no fluke. It confirms what I said above, Keigo is the kind of wrestler DDT will always value, but it appears to be Okatani they see going onto bigger things.
Verdict: Strong Rookie Battle
Under Match: Hiroshi Yamato and Hoshitango defeated Yukio Naya and Mizuki Watase
I can confirm, with roughly 99% accuracy, that our second under match existed. Eyeliner Yamato is hot, and the home stretch between him and Watase was alright, but there was nothing to sink your teeth into. It was four random wrestlers (where did they dig Hoshitango up from?) having an okay match. Unless you’re a super-fan of one of them, you can probably give it a skip.
Verdict: It Happened
Iino helped kicked off the main show, stating that he was doing his rehab and is scheduled to be back in February. He then did the Haka before we went into an opening video which was sound tracked, rather surprisingly, by Oasis (I’m sure DDT paid the royalties on that one).
MAO defeated Shunma Katsumata
Shunma had brought MAO a box of bricks that are legally not LEGO to celebrate his return to the ring. It wasn’t his fault that they ended up getting spilt everywhere when a misfiring MAO dropkicked the box out Ref Kiso’s hands. As for the definitely not LEGO baseball bat, well, to be honest, he probably just wanted to hit MAO with it.
These two are a wonderful combination of weird and stupid, which made for a pretty perfect opening match. Just the way MAO moves around the ring is unique, every step looking like a performance, while Shunma’s willingness to hurt himself is becoming legendary. It meant they were able to concoct a match stuffed with cool little moments, from the definitely not LEGO spots, to Shunma Superkicking MAO out of the air on a Moonsault.
In the end, MAO celebrated his return with a Springboard Phoenix Splash which, well, even a grumpy prick like me has to be impressed by. It’s good to have him back and this was a load of fun.
Verdict: Enjoyable Start
Akito defeated Danshoku Dieno
We nipped backstage to see that Akito hadn’t slept well, so had been tanning energy drinks. Imabayashi, meanwhile, had decided the best way to prevent Dieno breaking social distancing was to muzzle him. Honestly, that’s probably a good business decision.
With his muzzle in place, we got a taste of serious Dieno, as he repeatedly avoided his usual spots to keep things clean. It was a situation that was frustrating the hell out of Akito, who came into this wanting the real Dieno and continually attempted to draw him out. He was forced to strip down to his thong trunks and grab the mic, demanding the Dieno that does meaningless dumb shit.
I won’t ruin the final jokes, but needless to say, it involved an adult diaper and someone nearly submitting from the smell, so it was about what you’d expect. What I will say, is that Akito demanding this Dieno was key to me enjoying this. It transformed his shtick from being gay panic into being, well, gay, which is a big improvement. I’m generally hit and miss on Dieno, but this was better than I expected it to be.
Verdict: As Dieno Goes, It Wasn’t Bad
Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi, Yukio Sakaguchi and Saki Akai) defeated Disaster Box (Toru Owashi, Naomi Yoshimura and Kazuki Hirata), DAMNATION (El Lindaman, Nobuhiro Shimatani and Mad Paulie) and Super Sasadango Machine, Antonio Honda and Makoto Oishi in a Survival Four-Way Trios Match
Linda’s picked himself up a couple of titles, while Eruption looked fucking incredible coming out draped in theirs. Have I ever mentioned how cool they are? They’re really fucking cool.
In most companies, you come into a match like this hoping, that while it will inevitably be a mess, it will at least be an enjoyable one. In DDT, the fun is almost guaranteed. These nonsense heavy affairs are their speciality, and from Dango infiltrating DAMNATION because of the Paulie make-up he had on under his mask to Sakaguchi and Honda having a Gon-off, it was a blast. If you’re interested in Ultimate Party, you’re presumably a DDT fan, in which case this will tick all the right boxes.
The right team won too, Eruption continuing their recent success when Sakaguchi used Hirata’s Miracle Small Package against him. It left Hirata infuriated, but before he got himself in trouble, Shota intervened, making a challenge on behalf of the Wakate Tsushin Generation, Akito, Hirata and himself. It was a challenge Eruption were more than happy to accept.
Verdict: A Blast
Sanshiro Takagi defeated Shinya Aoki in a Weapons Rumble
There were worries about whether this match would even happen as Aoki hadn’t signed the contract coming in. He claims he’s developed a fear of putting pen to paper after a wedding that went wrong and a divorce that went even worse. It meant that before they could begin, they had to sit down and do the signing, which ended about as well as all contract signings do.
Like most Weapons Rumbles, you’re going to watch this with ddtpro_eng’s translations on the screen. Aoki having Keigo Nakamura as his first weapon is pretty self-explanatory, but the various secrets revealed about both men would have been somewhat confusing without his generous helping hand.
It also makes it a weird match to review. I suspect that for those who speak better Japanese than me, it was a hell of a lot of fun. However, reading the jokes on Twitter rather than appreciating them on the screen somewhat alters the experience. I always admire how far they go with these, as Takagi find ways to keep them fresh, but that doesn’t always equate to enjoyment as it’s happening.
What will be enjoyable is Takagi’s title reign, as after his victory he announced he’ll only be defending the title in Rojo Matches on DDT’s YouTube. He promised to let anyone challenge, whether they were a wrestler or not. We’ll have to wait a bit to discover what that means, as Shunma attacked him while he celebrated, presumably setting up challenger number one.
Verdict: I Don’t Feel I Can Criticise The Japanese Wrestling Company For My Japanese Not Being Great
We got the D-Oh blocks before intermission, and they were disappointingly bland. There was no-one from outside the company, which is probably COVID related, but Saki Akai was missing as DDT stuck to a pretty standard group. I’m sure there will be some strong matches, but that’s removed some of the lustre from that tournament.
CIMASOMA (CIMA and Soma Takao) defeated HARASHIMARFUJI (HARASHIMA and Naomichi Marafuji)
CIMASOMA have got themselves matching gear, so you know they were taking this shit seriously.
The match itself was a near-perfect use of the legends. 90% of the appeal here is the mere act of seeing CIMA and Marafuji in the same ring, running through sequences together. Throw HARASHIMA in there too, and you’ve got an occasion that fans will remember, even if they aren’t the wrestlers they once weren’t.
Which isn’t to say they’re bad, they’re not. However, expecting men in their 40s who have had long careers where they beat themselves up to roll back the years is expecting a lot. Someone like Marafuji just can’t do that any more. It was a professional performance, the occasional burst of pace, but ultimately a playing of the greatest hits.
Even more importantly, it gave Soma a boost. He’s faded into the background a lot recently, but in a stacked affair he was the one handed the three, pinning HARASHIMA. That’s a lovely wee bump for someone who feels like they could step-up if given the right opportunity. Fingers crossed that’s what this turns out to be.
Verdict: Nailed It
Yuki Ueno defeated Chris Brookes to win the Universal Title
With his shoulder strapped up before he’d even stepped into the ring, Ueno had a rough start to his afternoon. Brookes not only got a cheap shot in after throwing the belt at him but reversed a plancha into a neckbreaker on the floor and quickly got to work removing said strapping.
What followed was a professional match, which sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise. However, these two had a simple story that they told well. Brookes was the prick, working over the shoulder of defiant babyface Ueno. With both having proven to be adept at playing those roles, it was no surprise that it worked well.
Sadly, it never quite heated up enough to reach the next level. I spent the match sitting back, appreciating what they were doing, but never found myself getting wrapped up in the moment, pulled to the edge of my seat as I wondered who was going to win. In fact, the finish caught me off-guard, as it felt a bit too flat for it all to be over. Still, it was good, just not great, and after an impressive year, it was cool to see Ueno get his moment.
Verdict: Appreciated It, But Never Loved It
Afterwards, Ueno invited all of Disaster Box into the ring and announced that he’s leaving them, which is a bit like taking your other half out for dinner and then dumping them. It seemed to be an amicable split, everyone posing together afterwards as wee Ueno leaps out of the nest to see if he can fly. His first solo challenge will be MAO, who was nice enough to let them all have a moment before coming out to stake his claim with a fittingly bizarre challenge.
As a quick aside, Yoshimura has announced he’ll be out for a while as he gets surgery for a spine injury, so best of luck to the big man! Come back soon.
Jun Akiyama defeated Konosuke Takeshita
On paper, Akiyama vs Takeshita sounds perfect. However, this feud has done nothing for me. It’s felt long and drawn out, the numerous encounters between Junretsu and ALLOUT never once flaring into life. But it’s Akiyama and Takeshita, right? When it came to their showdown, that had to change, didn’t it?
Well, let’s be generous and say it was a mixed bag. Long parts of it were fucking slow. I praised DDT earlier in the show for using CIMA and Marafuji well, but I can’t help feeling Akiyama would have been better in a tag too. A lot of this was Akiyama hitting a move and Takeshita selling while he stared down at him, presumably catching his breath. I can’t blame the guy, he’s 51 and has been beaten up by some of the best, but it wasn’t the most thrilling watching.
On the flipside, these two are also really good, and that class did shine through. Takeshita sold his arse off for the legend, making every blow look lethal. There were also moments like him hitting a suplex only for his damaged leg to give out on him, preventing the switch in momentum, which were just damn good wrestling. Then, when they did slam on the accelerator, both throwing suplexes and bone-breaking blows, you got a hint of what this match might have been like had they come face to face when Akiyama was in his prime. There was a brutal, short battle hidden away inside this drawn-out affair.
Except, seeing as Akiyama won, perhaps this is his prime? One can only hope that means their feud isn’t over, as bringing in an ageing legend and having him beat the Ace feels like dishing out a bit too much respect. We know Akiyama is hanging around for a while, so perhaps it will all play out for the best, but I can’t pretend it did a lot to sell me on a pairing that has still failed to light my fire.
Verdict: It Had Its Moments
Tetsuya Endo defeated Daisuke Sasaki to retain the KO-D Openweight Title
Endo and Daisuke’s stories are so intertwined that they’re impossible to unpick. It was Sasaki who brought Endo into Damnation and Endo who kicked Sasaki out. Despite that, the champ still holds Daisuke up as the yardstick he has to pass, and while the title was on the line here, both men made it clear it was as much about each other as it was the gold.
They’re also very different people, something that shone through as they went to war. Daisuke is chaos. Someone who seems to work on instinct and has never met a shortcut he doesn’t like. Endo, meanwhile, is always in control, three steps ahead of those around him. Where Endo flies through the air beautifully, Daisuke launches himself without a second thought, crashing and burning as he crosses his fingers and hopes he hits something.
It made for enthralling viewing, part display of wrestling excellence, part pub brawl. You also had the intrigue of DAMNATION and Yamato at ringside, all of them getting involved at some point and Paulie returning to Daisuke’s team mid-match, stopping Endo from using a chair before laying him out. There were two men in the ring, but this had become something of a family drama, the people around them unable to prevent themselves being dragged in.
When push came to shove, it came down to the two old friends and control beat chaos. Daisuke made him fight for it, giving him a beating and even kicking out of ACNH. That was a last gasp of defiance rather than a comeback, though, Endo pulling him up, wrapping him in a hug and putting him away, clambering over the bar he’d set himself and proving he was worthy of that title. Fuck, I liked that.
Verdict: I’m Still Rooting For Chaos
A lot happened afterwards and I won’t bother sitting and typing it all out, but you can, of course, get the full translation from ddtpro_eng who I already linked to above. The long and short of it was that while Daisuke teased living up to his promise to retire, Endo called him back, and like all good families, they proved that a falling out doesn’t have to mean the end. It was funny and emotional and had Shuji Ishikawa turn up to serenade everyone. Thank fuck for DAMNATION!
I might not have loved everything on this show, but it still gets the two thumbs up from me. DDT doing DDT stuff is one of my favourite things and to end a blood feud between former friends with them making up before Shuji Ishikawa sings them a song is perfect. I hope they never change.
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