DDT Goes Hollywood
March 30, 2023
We’re in LA, California at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. DDT have brought over a bunch of wrestlers. Their shows are a routine laugh. Hosts are Dave Prazak and Veda Scott.
37KAMINA (MAO & Shunma Katsumata) vs. Chris Brookes & YOSHIHIKO
It’s been so long since I heard “Human Fly”.
YOSHIHIKO, a literal doll, is the Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion. It’s a belt that is constantly on the line. Former champions include a ladder, a chair, a photo, a dog, the DDT YouTube channel subscribers, a stuffed animal, several books, a can of beer and the belt itself. I know some people hate the YOSHIHIKO business but not only is an excellent way to demonstrate how stupid pro wrestling is but also a way for wrestlers to show how much they can influence a weak opponent. MAO is wrestling himself and it’s not that easy.
Shunma volleying YOSHIHIKO out of the air is brilliant. The kick landing right in the head. It’s all patently ridiculous but when the crowd buys into it, there’s nothing better than just fucking around. When you’re fucking around to silence, then it’s an issue. Credit to Veda Scott for calling it straight, which is exactly what you should do. If one match is fake, it’s all fake. If wrestling is art this is somewhere between absurdism and slapstick. Whatever it is, I have a broad smile across my face for the entire match. MAO and Shunma double team YOSHIHIKO and MAO gets the pin to win the title. ***½
POST MATCH: Brookes downs MAO with the Praying Mantis Bomb to win the belt.
YOSHIHIKO hits Brookes with Rolling Destroyers to win the belt back. That makes 17 title runs for YOSHIHIKO so far.
Pheromones (Danshoku Dino & Yuki Ino) vs. Takagi Army (Michael Nakazawa & Sanshiro Takagi)
Pheromones is Dino’s latest weird thing. He’s out here in a dressing gown and has turned Ino into some sort of sex pot.
Meanwhile, Nakazawa seems to be on an AEW conference call.
There is an uncomfortable amount of ass on show in this one. Literal ass. Wrestling can be anything and I’m amazed Dino has been able to milk his ass-based offence for as long as he has. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. This is a match where Sanshiro Takagi, the companies owner, shoves his fingers up Ino’s butt and then sticks them up Dino’s nose. I can see how this would be off-putting to newcomers.
The referee has seen enough and calls this a DQ, or something. Pretty sure Michael Nakazawa just got a close up look at Yuki Ino’s balls.
Andrew Everett & Nick Wayne vs. Kazusada Higuchi & Takeshi Masada
Masada is new on me. As is Nick Wayne, who’s a literal child and wasn’t out of middle school the last time I watched wrestling regularly. I’ve always loved Higuchi. His line up this weekend is a bit disappointing. He finds himself waiting for Everett a few times during this, which is unfortunate. Higuchi is used to working quick DDT wrestlers. After two comedy matches, and this the third tag match in a row, the card positioning hasn’t helped this match. I don’t really get Everett’s “Giant” gimmick. He counts lights here, eating Higuchi’s Claw Slam. This was fine. Higuchi is a big talent and I’m not sure why they left him in this midcard nothing tag.
Vert Vixen vs. Saki Akai
Vixen wasn’t a thing 3 years ago. She’s from Austin, Texas and has worked for AEW. Akai has a big experience advantage, having wrestled for around a decade. Vixen is impressive. Good look, decent movement around the ring and looks confident. The most obvious flaw is in a legsweep where she doesn’t do enough to convince me it would have worked. A couple of moves are like that. She seems a little nervous when the ropes are involved. Ideally she needs to train going through the ropes as quickly as possible to get used to the mechanics of it.
I really like this referee. She does some nice background reactions to moves. Saki picks up the win here but Vert Vixen looked solid and has a big future. She’s going to Japan soon and will no doubt come on in leaps and bounds.
Joey Janela vs. Tetsuya Endo
Joey has the Bam Bam Bigelow shirt on. New Jersey represent. They try for an early chop duel and Endo just can’t seem to land a good one. They have another issue with a dive that Janela breaks up. It doesn’t look right. Janela gets by on personality and past exploits. I’m not convinced he’s a good opponent to showcase Endo’s abilities. Some of Janela’s bumping is strong but his storytelling seems limited here to pulling faces. Endo gets his shit in; Sasuke Special, Spanish Fly etc. Janela hits an Avalanche Brainbuster, which should do it but he’s so….so….slow getting across for the pin. It’s to make the kickout realistic but it’s not like he was fatigue selling before or afterwards. Inconsistency in selling is why you should either go all in or don’t at all. After this they go through a spell of no-selling from German suplexes. The match is tonally all over the place. And of course they do a Destroyer on the apron. A few high spots later and an SSP finishes for Endo. Crowd seemed to like this but it was very much “GO OUT THERE AND GET YO SHIT IN BOYSSSS” kind of match.
Eddie Kingston & Jun Akiyama vs. DAMNATION T.A (Daisuke Sasaki & KANON)
Kingston & Akiyama is a hell of a tag team. I’ve never seen KANON. He only debuted in 2019.
Kingston is living the dream here. Tagging with one of AJPW’s all-time greats. It must be weird for him to have Akiyama standing there, checking out his form and going “oooh” on Eddie’s chops. Sasaki decides to wrestle a match with lots of shortcuts in it. Sasaki is a frustrating guy to watch because he can wrestle well and just chooses not to. There’s a lot of bullshit in the match. What it does is to strengthen Kingston’s comebacks as he fights with the true spirit of King’s Road. It’s funny watching the gaijin defend Japanese wrestling against two Japanese doing gaijin nonsense. KANON does well in this match. He doesn’t look out of his depth and is convincing going up against Akiyama. That is until Akiyama knees him in the face and finishes with the Exploder.
The crowd chant for Akiyama after we’re done and so they should. I could have lived without DAMNATION TA’s general nonsense but when the match existed as dick heels vs big man babyfaces it worked. ***
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Yuki Ueno
Takeshita signing for AEW is something I missed. I have been so out of the loop. He was an outstanding wrestler 3 years ago. I can only assume he’s gotten better. Ueno is the guy I always think of as being Ibushiesque. Similar look and style to a younger Kota Ibushi. The pace of this thing is so much above the rest of the show it’s somewhat jarring to begin with. They do a Blue Thunder that Ueno counters out of on the way down. That’s the level of slickness we’re dealing with. Instead of hitting dumb high spots, they counter the dumb ones and then when the guy is down….then comes the big dive. It’s a well constructed match. They quickly establish Takeshita as the bigger, more powerful, more important wrestler. Then spend the match watching Ueno battle from underneath. Constantly have him take huge risks for big rewards. As the match progresses he steadily gets Takeshita’s number. Slides out of the big spots. Cuts Takeshita off. He always seems to be one step ahead. Takeshita had gotten too comfortable on top and that leaves a glimmer of hope. I also like that Takeshita can take back over, almost at will, when his complacency has been exploited for a few minutes. It’s Ueno’s heart and athleticism against Takeshita’s power and dominant striking. It’s almost perfectly shown in Ueno firing up and then running straight into a high knee. Ueno tries for the BME but gets caught in mid air and murdered. Another knee strike finishes for Takeshita. Match of the weekend so far. ****¼.
A middling show with a couple of decent matches but bookended by the two kinds of wrestling; the ridiculous and the sublime. A brilliant opening match that showcased how silly wrestling can be and ended by a match that showed what wrestling can be when it’s good.