You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for DDT, as having to follow that Tokyo Joshi show into Korakuen was a hell of an ask. I know they’re all on the same side, but they were going to have to go all out not to be blown away by their sister promotion.
Kikutaro defeated Danshoku Dieno and Antonio Honda in a three-way
By order of Imabayashi, Honda and Dieno were to cheer up Kikutaro after the recent shit show he had dealing with US immigration where he ended up locked in a Hawaiian jail. As you can imagine, they treated said assignment with the gravity and respect it deserved, making sure not to do anything that might bring back bad memories…
To be fair to Honda and Dieno, they were trying. You can’t blame them for a simple submission hold reminding Kikutaro of being put in handcuffs. Unfortunately, the malaise was too deep to break. Kikutaro wandered out to the ring without music and spent most of his time standing in the corner, his head on the ropes. Imabayashi even tried, doing his not at all famous ‘impressions of historical characters that no one has ever seen in action’. If you’re interested in which characters they were, ddtpro_eng has got you covered (plus all the usual translations), but sadly they did nothing for Kikutaro.
This was the kind of Dieno match I like, as it focused more on him being a well-meaning idiot than a sexual predator, which is a major improvement. As I always say, you’ll have known whether it was for you or not the second you saw the names on the card, but this was strong nonsense, and as long as you’ve got ddtpro_eng’s translations open in front of you, it should be a good time.
Verdict: Decent Nonsense
Akito defeated Mad Paulie
Paulie doesn’t get enough credit for being a really solid big man. The whole giant alien baby thing is slightly distracting but put him in a match like this, and he very rarely lets you down. I was extra impressed with how he sold his leg, which Akito attacked from the start, never getting daft with it, but more subtly shifting his weight to show the damage.
Funnily enough, Akito is another criminally underlooked wrestler. He put together a clinic on how to take a big man apart, never once diverging from his plan. Every attack focused was on his target as he cut Paulie down to size. It was wrestling 101, but it was wrestling 101 done really well, and that’s a satisfying thing to watch.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Team Thoroughbred (Sanshiro Takagi, Yukio Naya, Chikara & Yakan Nabe) defeated Team Rookie (Keigo Nakamura, Toi Kojima, Hideki Okatani & Yuya Koroku)
Yukio Naya seems to have dropped a tonne of weight, and his gear is hanging off him loosely. I hope he uses it as an excuse to get new stuff because that flame covered singlet he wears at the moment looks like the default option for a create-a-wrestler.
We have to talk about Takagi, who, perhaps inspired by being in the ring with four of his rookies, put in a shift. Said rookies gave him a bit of a beating, both dropkicking him off the Dramatic Dream Mobile and running him over with it. That wasn’t all, though. He was bumping around for them, really working his arse off. The final stretch with Keigo even saw him pulling out a bloody Yuzopon Kick as it was an impressive performance from the boss man, who at his age tends to only give those out when they matter.
Outside of that, this felt like the rookies’ match. They were never going to win, but they worked well together, swarming Team Fail Son and trying to use their speed to get an advantage. A match like this will always struggle to hook you, as the results never in doubt, but I still enjoyed it a lot, which speaks well of its quality.
As Takagi headed to the back, KENOH rolled into the ring for a chat. Rather than parroting their conversation back to you, I’ll throw the link to the ddtpro_eng translation here. In short, though, they were setting up an inter-promotional tag match between Kongo and DDT as Sakaguchi came out when KENOH dared to suggest no one posed a challenge to him (that was a pretty badass moment). I’m not au fait enough with NOAH to know if that will be good or not, but Sakaguchi vs NOAH guys certainly sounds awesome.
THE 37KAMIINA (Konosuke Takeshita, MAO & Shunma Katsumata) defeated DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki, Tetsuya Endo & Yuji Hino) and Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi & Yukio Sakaguchi) & Yuki Iino in a three-way six-person tag
I know I’ve used every recent DDT review to rave about Yuji Hino, but can I rave about Yuji Hino a bit more? That man is the best kind of tank, dripping with attitude and a willingness to fuck people up. I want to watch him murder motherfuckers all day, every day, and putting him in with powerhouses like Higuchi and weirdos like MAO? Chef’s kiss.
With so many moving parts, this tag occasionally felt a bit overly put together. However, not that long in, I realised that I didn’t actually care. You had nine men to organise, so there were always going to be moments that felt choreographed, but it never stopped me from having a lovely time. There was too much going on, with interesting pairing followed interesting pairing. It was the critical part of my brain that picked on the problem, not the part that was having fun.
It also featured a quite frankly murderous finish as Takeshita and Shunma hit a Spike Brainbuster on Iino. Quite frankly, Iino has enough bulk coming down that I’m not sure Takeshita needed the helping hand, but I guess you’ve got to make sure you get the job done.
Verdict: Good Fun
Chris Brookes defeated Saki Akai to retain the Extreme Title and win the Iron Man Heavyweight Title
Make no mistake about it, while Saki Akai lost this match, it was all about her. On what was only her second time challenging for a DDT singles title (if we ignore the Iron Man belt) and the first since 2016, she went out and stole this away from Chris Brookes, showing once again that she could be at the very top of this company.
What made this performance so great was the fire that we saw from Akai. She’s been a great wrestler for a while now, but Brookes drew an edge out of her, one that came out in the little moments. I loved the way she booted him in the back of the head while holding him in a submission, doing everything she could to get that little bit of an advantgage. Akai plays the underdog babyface to perfection, aided by being a company where most people are stronger than her, but here she combined that with a touch more aggression, really bringing the fight to Chris.
And to give Brookes his credit, he put in a performance that allowed her to do that. Despite all the respect he showed in the build-up, he quickly settled into being a pencil-hating bastard when the bell went. He excels at being a bawbag which helped to heap the sympathy on Saki and bring out the edge she needed.
Now, we can only hope that DDT follows this up by giving Akai more chances. If she’s not in the D-Oh this year, I will be throwing a very localised one-man riot (I’ll probably tip over a chair in my flat or something) because there is no reason she shouldn’t be. Saki is good enough to do it all, so it’s time to let her.
Verdict: Saki Rules
Junretsu (Jun Akiyama & Makoto Oishi) & Yusuke Okada defeated DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA, Toru Owashi & Kazuki Hirata)
Our semi-main was essentially a blend of Hirata based comedy and build to HARASHIMA vs Akiyama. Hirata seemed to feel he was out of place in this match, and as he kept tapping out to every submission he was put in (Owashi was doing a fantastic job of distracting Ref Kiso), he may have been right. He even tried appealing to Akiyama’s honour, essentially asking if he could take pride in beating up a useless man (I am paraphrasing). Old Jun responded by giving him a kicking.
The other half of the match saw Akiyama and HARASHIMA prove equal foes. Those two have a combined age of 98, and sure, they’re not about to spend thirty minutes wrestling at top speed, but they are still in incredible shape. HARA got the slight edge here, a Somato ending their interaction, but as he couldn’t follow up with a pin, it’s safe to say he didn’t come out fully victorious.
Hirata and Oishi would see us out, Hirata having claimed Oishi was the one man he had a chance of beating. He was wrong, as even with Owashi and HARASHIMA’s help, he would fall victim to a Crucifix Bomb from the future dad of two (congrats to him and Ohata). It was a fitting end to a decent wee match that probably shouldn’t have been higher up the card than Saki vs Brookes.
Verdict: Fun, But Why Was It The Semi-Main?
Yuki Ueno defeated Soma Takao to retain the Universal Title
I think I’m going to need to accept that I’ll never get Soma Takao. Going into this match, I so desperately wanted to like it. Takao has never clicked with me, but in there with someone as talented as Ueno, I hoped that he’d give me the kind of performance I’ve always wanted from him. Unfortunately, it never came.
And honestly, I’m not entirely sure I can tell you why I don’t like him. Soma has got everything going for him, from his look to his athleticism, and it’s not like I can sit and pinpoint something he does bad. For whatever reason, I just look at him, and my brain turns off, as he’s missing whatever the spark is that makes me care. It would be incredibly harsh to claim he was going through the motions because I don’t think he was, but my brain felt like that was the case.
I appreciate this is not much use as a review if you came here to try and figure out whether you should watch this match or not. Perhaps I should try and be objective about the whole thing (lol) and figure it out that way, but I’ve never done that before, so I don’t really feel the need to start now. I can say that this was not a shitshow as no one fucked up or made any horrendous mistakes. It just didn’t work for me. You can’t love it all, and I guess I’m destined never to enjoy Takao. I hope some of you can find whatever it is I’m missing.
Verdict: Something Isn’t Working For Me
Despite my weird feelings towards the main event, that was a very enjoyable show. The undercard was a nice mix of comedy and action, while Brookes vs Akai is up as one of my favourite DDT matches of the year so far. If you’re going to watch one thing, make it that, but it will all reward your time even if it didn’t quite match up to TJPW.
Watch DDT: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe