DDT D-King Grand Prix in Shin-Kiba
January 14 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring. It’s a small intimate venue that holds fewer than 400 fans. This is the final night of the D-Ou Grand Prix. I’m a little sad I’ve not had the chance to watch it all and I might yet do some ‘bonus’ reviews of the best matches from earlier in the tournament.
New Wrestling Aidoru (Makoto Oishi, Shunma Katsumata & MAO) vs. Kouki Iwasaki, Mizuki Watase & Rekka
This is allegedly a “dark match”, which shows DDT has little idea what that is. The sheer number of ‘dark matches’ that keep making tape is astonishing to me. Everyone in this is decent but relatively inexperienced. MAO is the stand out. Every time I see him recently that’s been the case. His timing is better, his speed is terrific. The match does suffer from being a ‘go out there and wrestle for 6 minutes’ vibe. It’s fast paced but the back and forth nature make it relatively pointless. It’s a healthy reminder that I dig MAO and Watase has a decent showing too. MAO gets the pin so we can move on to the actual show. Post match MAO announces NWA’s last match as a group will be January 28. I’m not sure how to feel about that. They’re a fun unit but are they holding MAO back?
Final Rating: **
Video Control takes us to the announcers as they run down the card but Danshoku Dino is other plans. He announces a P-King Grand Prix, featuring three matches taking place at the same time with him as the referee and they’re 2 count pins.
Visit https://dramaticddt.wordpress.com/ for translations and information about DDT. It’s invaluable when they’re doing these bizarre rules in matches.
Kazuki Hirata vs. Mad Paulie
Antonio Honda vs. Akito
KUDO vs. Toru Owashi
These matches are all taking place at the same time. Dino’s referee shirt is of Mick Foley levels of badly made. It looks like he made it in five minutes using a sharpie. Oh shit, they got the rights to “Tokyo Go!” I love that track.
Everyone tries to cheat when Dino isn’t looking, and sometimes when he is. Dino manages to low blow everyone. Three miscues lead to three roll ups and Paulie, Akito and KUDO all win.
Final Rating: Er…
Mad Paulie vs. Akito vs. KUDO
This is now a three-way final with one count pin to win. KUDO trips Paulie onto Akito for the pin. Leaving him vs. Paulie for the prestigious P-King title. KUDO gets a flip pin on Paulie to win it. This was barely two minutes long.
Final Rating: NR
Post Match: KUDO, struggling for breath after his five minute work out, wants a title shot at the Extreme title, currently held by Yuko Miyamoto. Dino grants his request.
Yukio Sakaguchi vs. Soma Takao
This is a Block B match in the D-King Grand Prix. Neither guy can make the final so this is just to make up the numbers. They are both on four points so it’s a battle for table placement, I guess. The match has a simple structure with Sakaguchi looking for submissions and Takao trying to quicken the pace a little. Yukio’s kicks are a major highlight. You can tell the match isn’t important, for anyone concerned and we crawl along at a snail’s pace for a paltry seven minutes, fifty six seconds. The last couple of minutes show slightly more determination on the guys parts to try and win. There are a lot of cheeky roll ups and Soma gets the pin with the last of these. This needed more Sakaguchi violence.
Final Rating: **1/4
Masahiro Takanashi vs. Joey Ryan
Again neither guy is capable of winning their Block so this is a battle of the also-rans. Joey brings his usual level of sleaze, which seems to be appreciated in Tokyo but it’s hard to tell. The psychology of the match is that Joey Ryan wants Takanashi to touch his dick. Takanashi doesn’t want to touch Joey’s dick.
Joey tries to explain that three consecutive near falls equates to a six-count and therefore means he won. Twice. You’d think Joey would be familiar with the rules of professional wrestling by now. They do five minutes of nonsense and dick flips. It’s kinda weird how I like Joey Ryan in certain environments (Bar Wrestling for example), but find him so detestable in Japan. We learn here that Takanashi has a strong nose, his equivalent of Joey’s dick. The poor referee gets the lollipop and drops dead.
Joey builds an elaborate scheme where he dick flips an unconscious referee into giving Takanashi his own finish. That’s certainly something. Superkick finishes.
Final Rating: **1/2
Mike Bailey vs. Daisuke Sasaki
Sasaki is the first guy who has any shot at winning a Block to be on this show. Bailey doesn’t but he’s had a good showing in the tournament.
Sasaki is apparently terrified of handshakes. The match takes a while to get going because of Sasaki’s insistence at shenanigans on the floor. It does nothing for me until Bailey mounts some offence. When it does get going the back and forth action is decent. Sasaki is especially good at avoiding Mike’s flips.
Lads, I love a crazy outta control tope so much.
— Arn~! (@ArnoldFurious) January 16, 2018
Sasaki increases the energy levels in the building with this FUCKING RIDICULOUS tope. The head to head contact is absolutely sickening. Congratulations on your general insanity. Sasaki brings the cheating after that, punting Mike in the balls and intentionally bumping the ref.
Mike lifts the Martin Kirby Special, put chair over your own head, pretend to have been hit. Sasaki’s reaction is extraordinary. It’s beautifully done. The ref doesn’t fall for it though and play must continue. The closing moments are excellent with both guys creating legitimate opportunities to finish the match. Sasaki gets smart to Speedball’s super flippy knees, which gives him more openings. I’m still reeling from the back to back of that tope and that chair spot. Bailey ends up kicking Sasaki in the head for the pin. This was quite the contest after a stuttering start.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Kazusada Higuchi vs. Shuji Ishikawa
This is the final match in Block B and seeing as Shuji has 8 points he’s sitting pretty. Because Sasaki lost only Higuchi can prevent Shuji reaching the final. Winner takes it all, basically. These are two big lads. Shuji at his career peak, Higuchi just starting to make an impact. The result here is two big boys bashing each other in the face. The pacing isn’t quite there. They start off far too slowly, although the intention is to build and they do that successfully. Higuchi’s chops are seriously explosive. He’s combining speed with brutality and power and it’s terrifying. A glimpse of the future of pro wrestling. Due to the size of the wrestlers, the impact on everything feels more intense than usual. A simple clothesline in the corner from Ishikawa is that much more devastating. When they barrel into each other at pace it’s tremendous. When they’re slapping each other…my word. I love Higuchi kicking out of the Fire Thunder Driver, even if it seems incredulous given the impact. Shuji wins anyway and this was Big Lads Wrestling defined. Shuji Ishikawa’s win confirms he’s in the final of the D-King tournament.
Final Rating: ****
Keisuke Ishii vs. Konosuke Takeshita
If Ishii wins here he has a shot at topping the Block and facing Shuji Ishikawa. It’s not worth it, mate. Just take the loss. Takeshita, as current KO-D Champion, has not had the best of tournaments. Another draw with Endo being particularly costly. The match is yet another to start slowly, in a string of them. This one is a particularly bad offender. They do an ok job of establishing Takeshita as the dominant force in the match, which should give Ishii the opportunity to work underdog babyface but he’s not great in the role. Instead he has to rely on a Big Spot to get back into the match; a neckbreaker on the Hardest Part of the Ring. The crowd are notably detached from the action too so it’s not just me. It’s very quiet in Shin-Kiba. I’ve been worried for a while that Ishii just doesn’t connect with me and that feeling is in evidence here a whole hell of a lot. Ishii tries a range of things to get Takeshita to give up but with the final out of his grasp, Takeshita wants to go out on a high. There are some very solid sequences with Ishii coming close to getting the fall but he gets trapped in the Butterfly Lock and Takeshita walks out the winner.
Final Rating: ***1/4
HARASHIMA vs. Tetsuya Endo
It now comes down to HARA vs. Endo. Winner meets Shuji Ishikawa in the final.
Endo has one point more than HARASHIMA coming into this match so he heads out into the stands and tries to get them both counted out. So HARA has to fight his way out of a submission hold in the bleachers and scurry back into the ring in four seconds. Good job it’s a small building. The match follows the plot of the previous contests by starting slowly and building. I kinda wish they’d not done so many of these in a row. The match doesn’t really pick up until they start punching each other in the abs. I’m certain Endo isn’t badly hurt as he has Abs of Steel. The pacing definitely improves after that, although they also bring a degree of unwelcome fatigue selling. Endo fucks up a backflip knees into the corner, which is not good. Virtually no contact on HARASHIMA. HARA feels he has to make amends by hitting a reverse super rana immediately afterwards. This is how the match goes. Relatively normal stuff, mistake, big spotz. HARA’s timing is much better on clonking Endo with Somato after a graceful as fuck SSP has missed. Another Somato finishes and HARASHIMA will be facing Shuji Ishikawa in the final. This was a touch disappointing because when it was firing on all cylinders, like at the finish, it was tremendous but most of the time it wasn’t.
Final Rating: ***1/4
The second half of this show was very strong. Even when the last matches underwhelmed somewhat there was still quality there. Obviously the stand-out match is Shuji vs. Higuchi. They had a KO-D title match that was even better. I expect Higuchi to improve again this year and heaven knows where they’ll go next time.