March 20 2017
We’re in Saitama, Japan. DDT is having a big year and they drew 10,000+ fans for this show. In order to justify themselves it’s a really, really long show. How long? Six and a half hours, baby. Strap yourselves in to DDT’s streaming gimmick and get a face full of this action.
Dai Suzuki, Nobuhiro Shimatani & Naomi Yoshimura vs. Yuki Ueno, Daiki Shimomura & Rekka
Rekka is easily the most experienced man in this match, with four years as a pro under his belt. Dai Suzuki is a product of the DNA system and is next on the pecking order. Everyone else is a rookie, as DDT’s conveyer belt of trainees continue to produce talent. Rekka is the most confident of those involved. Others show moments of promise. DDT clearly think Yoshimura is going to be a big star and he’s built like a tank. Shimatani reminds me of a cocky Tamura. He’s so tiny. The main take home from this match is that DDT are continuing to produce a tonne of talent and it shows no sign of drying up. They do eight minutes here, in front of about quarter of the crowd, which is still filing in. Yoshimura murders his way to the winning pinfall. His lariat and powerbomb are both looking very strong.
Final Rating: **3/4
Itoh Maki, Mil Clown & Yuu vs. Azusa Takigawa, Reika Saiki & Rita Tatsumi
This is the kind of match that would be easier to follow before Cagematch got rid of their profile pictures. I haven’t seen any of these women wrestle before so I’m completely in the dark. The only one who’s immediately recognisable is the masked “Mil Clown”, on account of the clown mask. They all represent Tokyo Joshi Pro. The promotion has only been around for a year so there’s not a high level of experience. Itoh Maki is the most adorable of the women, wearing what appears to be an extravagant cheerleader’s uniform. Her team mate Yuu is the promotion’s champion. The one thing I gain from this match is that Tokyo Joshi Pro is a promotion with bags of potential and this kind of collaboration, with DDT, could help them become genuinely good wrestlers. An awful delayed back bump from Takigawa aside the work is decent. I’m particularly fond of Reika Saiki, who tries to wrestle like a shootfighter, utilising many of the same moves as Yukio Sakaguchi. Takagawa’s bride gimmick is cute but she’s the worst wrestler of the six and that repeatedly becomes an issue. An accidentally unmasked Mil Clown gets the roll up on the dreadful Takigawa for the pin.
Final Rating: **1/4
DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship
DDT King of Dark Championship
The last time DDT did one of these it was fucking hilarious and I gave it ****. Thankfully nobody batted an eyelid. There are a lot of people involved. This one has a slight wrinkle, in that the King of Dark title is on the line as well as the Heavy Metal strap. The early going is short on laughs, unless you include the music, which kicks in and is rapidly cut out by the boys in the truck. You can almost hear them yell “oh shit” every time as he misses the cue. How can you miss the cue every time lads? They also miss the first elimination, poor Rion Mizuki and his swank white coat getting pinned during Bambi’s entrance. Poison Sawada Julie clears the ring out, with crazy mind-control snake magic powers. After that nonsense we can get into the actual match with the likes of Matsunaga, Gorgeous Matsuno and Trans-Am Hiroshi entering. As per usual with these things the arrival of YOSHIHIKO shakes things up. They do the same spinning eliminations spot that cracked me up so much when they did it to Kenzo Suzuki. Hoshitango is the biggest victim this time around. King of Dark champ Gota Ihashi and Daisuke Sasaki flunkie Mad Paulie are among the bigger names involved. The other champion is Kotatsu, a table.
Ihashi gets pinned to retain his title* and Guanchulo falls on Kotatsu to win the Iron Man Heavy Metal title. Ken Ohka is the biggest star in the entire battle royal but when he stops on the ropes to dance Guanchulo throws him out and is confirmed as the Heavy Metal champ.
Final Rating: **1/2
*The King of Dark can only lose the title by beating someone. Until Gota beats someone he’s stuck on the dark matches. Although DDT don’t seem to realise that airing dark matches makes them not dark. Maybe they just don’t care. After all they just ran a battle royal involving a table and a blow-up doll.
Post Match: Guanchulo is on his way out, celebrating, when YOSHIHIKO dives onto him from the balcony to win the belt. It’s a death defying stunt, although aided by YOSHIHIKO being an inanimate object. It’s YOSHIHIKO’s ninth title win, according to Wikipedia (not even Cagematch track this titles history).
The way I was laughing at this at 1am was disgusting pic.twitter.com/yqR1n2tNF6
— 💀 (@_BeckyBalboa) March 24, 2017
One hour in and that’s the end of the pre-show. DDT is running shows of WrestleMania length, for shits and giggles. There’s a fantastic vide package detailing the 20 years of DDT before we get underway and it’s actually quite beautiful. It shows how important DDT has been over the past twenty years and how it’s changed the wrestling landscape in Japan. DDT has proven it’s possible to do things differently and draw big audiences. Long may their success continue!
KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship
Kazusada Higuchi, Kouki Iwasaki & Mizuki Watase (c) vs. New Wrestling Aidoru (Makoto Oishi, MAO & Shunma Katsumata) vs. Smile Squash (Akito, Soma Takao & Yasu Urano)
Higuchi is wasted in trios but he does steal the spotlight in this one. It’s not tough as the others go through the motions of being in an opening sprint. This is especially true in the dives spot where everyone else goes flying and Higuchi just catches Oishi, gets on the apron and then throws him back into the ring. He’s operating on a different level. Apart from Higuchi it’s just guys running through flipz for eight minutes until the pop singin’ NWA boys get the win. It didn’t seem to build to that though. It was just a bunch of high spots and a team won. Back in the olden days, ECW or WCW in particular, this would have brought the house down. It’s testament to how much wrestling has improved that it felt like a nothing match. Admittedly a nothing match with a bunch of sweet flipz but nothing nonetheless.
Final Rating: ***
Antonio Honda, Toru Owashi, Kazuki Hirata & Ladybeard vs. Masahiro Takanashi, Keisuke Ishii, Jaguar Yokota & Yuni
Yuni, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is a child.
Honda thinks he can take on Jaguar, before discovering he can’t and then he wussies out of fighting Yuni too so he can tell the story of Gon the Little Fox. Only Honda could eye poke everyone in the match, including a child, and get cheered for it. Meanwhile Hirata gets mad heat for punching Yuni in the head. I’m fairly certain that’s child abuse mate. Hirata has also taken to the kind of laugh that’s normally reserved for a cartoon villain. There’s something about Hirata that’s lost on DDT Universe and that would be Tokyo Go, his theme music. When he’s dancing and hitting spots to that music he’s one of the most entertaining men in DDT. Take the music away and he’s not. Yuni gets the win with a pop up rana on Hirata after his dancing rampage. This would probably get a higher rating if they’d played the actual music.
Final Rating: **
Video Control takes us backstage where YOSHIHIKO falls over and Kotatsu is on top for the pin. The table wins again! Joey Ryan turns up; “you are a great Iron Man champion!” They shake hands and Joey dick flips Kotatsu to get the pin for his 25th Iron Man title.
Mike Bailey vs. Shigehiro Irie
Speedball looks at home in DDT and with his lack of American work he needed a Japanese hook up. I’m pleased it’s DDT, although with his skill set he could have dropped into half a dozen promotions. Big Shigs is a lovely lad.
I’ve heard people disparage Bailey’s kick combos. Look at how hard they are to do though! The idea behind them is that whoever takes the kicks finds is hard to block until he switches gears and kicks the head. The effort involved is incredible. Bailey’s kicks in this match are excellent. They genuinely look like they’re connecting. Irie is no slouch with the strikes either and they have an eight minute scrap loaded with stiffness. Although they don’t have a lot of time they still manage to sneak in Bailey hitting a fucking flip dive off the stage. Irie seems to have modified his arsenal since his last trip to the States and his finish here is a sleeper suplex into a choke hold. It’s like he’s seen WALTER wrestle and figured that would be a good way to dismantle foreigners. I have no complaints.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Video Control takes us to the parking lot where DDT have gained two new tour buses. Sanshiro Takagi marks out.
Aja Kong, Cherry & Miyu Yamashita vs. Meiko Satomura, Saki Akai & Shoko Nakajima
This is an interesting combination of talent. Each team has a legend (Kong, Satomura), a DDT regular (Saki, Cherry) and a Tokyo Joshi Pro starlet (Yamashita, Nakajima). All of them wrestle for DDT semi-regularly but Saki and Cherry tend to be involved in actual storylines. Shoko is a pocket rocket, standing under five feet tall. Her first order of business is to go after Aja, which perhaps isn’t the brightest of ideas. Kong kills her, and Akai for good measure. Saki Akai still looks weird when she’s working. She’s too lanky to be a wrestler and her bumps look strange. Satomura remains the stand-out, leaning into Yamashita’s kicks to make them look harsher, and generally bossing the match. Whenever she’s in there the competence level rises exponentially. The match would benefit from jettisoning Cherry and the dreadful Akai, trimming the fat so to speak, and leaving it as a straight up tag. The core of the match is Yamashita eventually pissing Satomura off enough for Meiko to hit the Death Valley Bomb on her for the pin. Lots of ropey wrestling here, but highlighted by Meiko and Yamashita did some good stuff. I’d love to see a singles match.
Final Rating: *3/4
Yoshihiro Takayama & Dick Togo vs. KUDO & Shungo Oyama
Oyama is an MMA fighter, who once got his arm broken by one of the Gracie’s after refusing to submit. He’s pretty badass although his record is a distinctly middling 14-19. He has faced a lot of tough opponents and probably fought when his better days were behind him, losing six of his last seven fights. His attempted transition into pro-wrestling comes very late in his career, as he’s nearly 43 years old. He’s still significantly younger than both his opponents here. Oyama looks good from the start, although it helps that he rolls around the mat with Togo. His judo background allows some tidy throws on Tak. The wrestling environment is sold as being more dangerous than MMA, which is pretty cool. Stuff like the brainbuster and Doomsday Device are specifically sold more than strikes. I also like that Oyama and Tak try to recreate Tak’s famous face-punching duel with Don Frye. Eventually Takayama triumphs because this is his environment and Oyama is new to it. Oyama looked good, especially on the mat, and I appreciate him taking the loss.
Final Rating: ***
Video Control takes us to the arrival of Donald Trump, it’s Super Sasadango Machine with Trump makeup on. It seems Donald has purchased DDT but he’s upset because Yukinori Matsui is the “cheef judge of DDT” and therefore he’s the source of power in DDT.
Some of the potential stipulations for Dino-Ryan include “Gay Tag Royal Rumble”, “Swap Parents Death Match” and “30 Years Iron Man Match”. Good lord. Apparently anal is an acronym for All Nations Anal Love so an Anal Explosion Death Match is perfectly acceptable. The crowd promptly chant “U-S-A” to complete the surrealism.
Anal Explosion Death Match
Danshoku Dino vs. Joey Ryan
You are reading that title correctly. Dino is bringing his weird sexual kinks into Saitama and he doesn’t care who he has to molest to get the job done. I’m pretty sure his entrance, where he kisses children on the lips, is illegal. Joey puts his Iron Man title on the line before we get underway but Dino has something on the line too. A twenty minute timer that triggers an explosion in the asshole of Ryota Yamazato, Dino’s friend and former Iron Man champion (who isn’t at this point?) As the timer ticks down they have to play the national anthems. I’ve not heard this many people sniggering at the US anthem for some considerable time.
The rules to this are somewhat complex as Matsui has to check every sexy hold to ensure it’s not too sexy. He’s pictured backstage in front of a monitor watching the, uh, ‘action’. The sight of Dino feverously pulling his underwear up while Matsui leans in closer is both disturbing and hilarious. They have Joey do the Penis Suplex through a table on Dino and it’s manned by Hoshitango. It’s the Spanish Announce Table! My God. They’re nailing the memes.
Dino almost gets in trouble for exposing Hoshitango’s ass but Matsui finds it funny so we’re ok. With Dino and Joey tried in a liplock Donald Trump runs backstage to confront Matsui. They punch each other for a bit and then make out, because this match is going to some strange new places. Joey pulls out a lollipop but it somehow ends up in Hoshitango’s ass, then Joey’s mouth and the Danshoku Driver finishes.
Final Rating: FUN
Post Match: With the timer counting down Dino doesn’t seem that bothered about his friend’s bottom. Yamazato gets his ass blown up. There can be no peace on Earth without pro-wrestling.
KO-D Tag Team Championship
Masakatsu Funaki & Yukio Sakaguchi (c) vs. DAMNATION (Shuji Ishikawa & Tetsuya Endo)
The tag belts have been bouncing around for a while now. They haven’t really meant anything since Takeshita & Endo held them, representing the new generation. Despite the talent involved being really solid I find my mind drifting due to the sheer length of the show to this point (as it starts we’re heading toward hour four). The action is perfectly fine but the fatigue is very real. Shuji is what drags me back in. He’s in that WALTER position for DDT. The big man who can get something worthwhile out of everybody. He’s got good talent to worth with here too, with Sakaguchi being a real star, Endo being an up and comer with tremendous aerial skill and Funaki the sneaky veteran. There is no real weak link. Some of Endo’s technical wrestling leaves a lot to be desired but he compensates with big flips. Here they put Sakaguchi over huge, having him beat Shuji clean in the middle of the ring. It’s a nice tip of the hat to a guy who lives and breathes DDT. The match was solid throughout. I’m surprised DAMNATION didn’t win but it all depends on what the plan is for them going forward. Maybe Funaki and Sakaguchi can re-establish these belts.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Daisuke Sekimoto, Jun Akiyama & Kota Ibushi vs. Keiji Muto, Sanshiro Takagi & Isami Kodaka
Look at that first team! Holy shit. This is the match based loosely on Dynasty Warriors so everyone is wearing traditional Japanese fighting garb. This is the point at which it becomes apparent that Isami Kodaka was born in the wrong era. The dude looks like a ronin. Then there’s Kota Ibushi. Do you want to go to WWE Kota mate? Nah, having too much fun.
There’s something very surreal about watching these guys wrestle in this gear. Especially as they seem completely unaffected by it. Muto looks better than usual! Akiyama makes for a surly samurai, perhaps irritated at the entire thing. Kota, as expected, has a whale of a time. The armour doesn’t slow him down at all and he nails a bunch of flips regardless. Sekimoto looks like he brought his own gear. Do you think he goes LARPing when he’s not wrestling? No, I think he probably just lifts heavy things and eats protein.
Akiyama full on attempts to murder Muto with a sword and wouldn’t you know it, he gets out and hits the Shining Wizard. Wrestling! Kota ends up isolating Takagi and pinning him after the Phoenix Splash. Everyone took it easy here but it was a lot of fun.
Final Rating: ***
Post Match: Everyone shakes hands, even though some people attempted murder during the match. Sanshiro Takagi is left alone in the ring to comment on the twenty years he’s enjoyed promoting DDT for. He promptly announces his shock retirement. It’s a genuinely emotional moment. He comments on having one regret: not managing to run Budokan Hall for the 15th Anniversary Show five years ago. He’s in the process of taking a ten bell salute from a tearful timekeeper when his phone rings. Apparently he’s got a new goal that’ll keep him active in wrestling; DDT is doing Street Wrestling inside the Tokyo Dome!
DDT Extreme Championship
Jun Kasai (c) vs. Daisuke Sasaki
It’s pretty awesome that DDT have this huge show and instead of littering the top end with imported talent they’ve let their normal guys have those spots. It reminds me of what Progress did with Brixton and what WWE do never. The Extreme title’s stipulations change. This one is a straight up hardcore match and they cycle through weapons like two dudes playing a wrestling video game. It looks like a hardware store provided props for this because they have three rakes. Kasai, lunatic that he is, risks his career by taking a slam on them. Kasai is legitimately one of wrestling nuttiest nutters. His scar-riddled body is evidence of this but he’s not letting up either. At one point he hits a diving headbutt onto a ladder and naturally busts his own nose open in the process.
The match occasionally suffers from the setting up of high spots. If you’ve seen a TLC match you know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of the spots are needlessly dangerous too. You’d get the same pop without dumping someone on the edge of a ladder and breaking their spine forever. There are parts of the match that look like an actual car crash. Metal rent asunder by broken bodies. Sasaki ends up taking the belt with an elbow drop off a ladder through a table. Jun Kasai looks dead, after taking several unpleasant looking spots beforehand. This was all about the carnage and although it was flawed you can’t fault the lads for putting their bodies on the line here. Sasaki is trying to be the Naito of DDT and in many ways he’s succeeding. He’s certainly had his best twelve months in the business and looks like a genuine star for the promotion.
Final Rating: ***3/4
KO-D Openweight Championship
HARASHIMA (c) vs. Konosuke Takeshita
Here’s the main event; HARASHIMA is DDT’s ace. He’s their best wrestler and the guy who keeps ending up with the title because no one else can step up and be consistently better than him. I’d personally rather Shuji Ishikawa had held the title into this show but it makes sense for it to be HARASHIMA. Takeshita has held the title once already and is clearly placed as “the future” of DDT. This match has an uphill struggle from the opening bell, as the main event of ‘Mania did last year. It has to construct a long match at the end of a long day and not lose the crowd. To begin with it, it’s a failure, but then the crowd is burned out. Running a show that lasts over five hours is just asking for trouble when you get to the business end. HARASHIMA is usually quite good at telling sensible stories over an epic match and his intent here is to do a leg match with Takeshita. I dread leg matches in the modern era, because no one can effectively sell during them. Even when they’re good, they’re often a drag.
HARASHIMA must be aware the match is crawling along and steps his game up slightly. Pacing is tough in a long match and this is going thirty minutes. I’m a big HARASHIMA fan but every now and again his matches fall flat. This is unfortunately one of those. As the veteran it’s his fault if the main event doesn’t work and as soon as that realisation kicks in he certainly tries to alter the pace of the match, which involves him dropping Takeshita on his head. As soon as HARA hits the first Somato, we’re into the fiery comeback part of the match. It makes Takeshita look great because he’s able to force the match into a better place. In particular throwing out the Kroyt’s Wrath after blocking the Poison Rana. I appreciate that they continue to tell a story into the bigger spots, with Takeshita having neck trouble thanks to so many head drops. Takeshita’s comebacks are littered with spots paying tribute to his mentors in DDT. This includes taking Honda’s elbow combos. He ends up winning the belt with the German Suplex. This was a little underwhelming for me. I’d heard it was great and it’s really not. The second half is a fiery little self contained match but the opening fifteen minutes is a drag, frankly. Despite my criticisms here Takeshita is a wonderful talent who’s developing to be close to the level of Miyahara and Nakajima. He needs to think bigger than DDT if he’s to be their true ace going forward.
Final Rating: ***1/2
On paper this show isn’t going to look that great but it was a fun combination of different matches and styles. I will double down on the sentiment that the show is way too long at six hours. You can’t put on six hour shows and hope to retain the crowd throughout. All you end up doing is diluting your bigger match reactions due to the crowd getting tired. Hell, Jim Smallman acknowledges fatigue when Progress run an eight match card! I definitely think promotions could learn from the model of promotions that run tight 3-3.5 hour shows, even when they’re running bigger venues. Honestly you should be able to get your mega-shows out in four hours, tops. DDT crammed a lot of entertainment into these six hours but I think the show would have benefitted from a shorter run time. However the emotion of the wrestlers is hard to deny. They clearly love DDT and want to see it succeed. So do I. I’d still heartily recommend checking them out because there is no promotion like it. Also hit up https://dramaticddt.wordpress.com/ to fully understand some of their more complex angles and concepts.