DDT New Year Special
January 3, 2020
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. They did great business here with 1750 in attendance on the eve of Wrestle Kingdom. They do normally have good houses in Tokyo but it’s nice to see international fans getting into the product. DDT can sometimes be a little impenetrable so the resource you need is dramaticDDT.wordpress.com, which is what I’ve been using for years to guide me through some of the trickier stipulations.
It’s been a while since I saw DDT and I’m thrilled to discover they now have the rights to Tokyo Go, thus making Kazuki Hirata into a fucking superstar again.
Meanwhile backstage Toru Owashi has been pinned by cake. A kagami mochi to precise, which is a traditional layered new year cake.
DDT Ironman Heavy Metal Championship
Hirata and the cake start, obviously. Hirata finds it hard to get a hold on a cake as it doesn’t have any limbs. Perhaps a pin would have been more straightforward? Mizuki Watase just leans on it and wins the title. Hirata then finds it easier to pin Watase and wins the title that way. There are nine wrestlers in this…if you include the incumbent champion at the start, who is a cake. Honda steals the show as per usual, tripping on his entrance to the ring and badly injuring himself and we’re soon balls deep in the story of Gon the little fox while everyone else lies in a headscissors. Rookie Keigo Nakamura, who’s a weird looking guy, spends a good chunk of his involvement trying to get a kiss off Saki Akai.
His blind devotion gets him an accidental, and surprisingly passionate, kiss from Hirata and Saki rolls them both up to win the title. A mat wrestling classic from wrestling’s best division.
Final Rating: ***
Hiroshi Yamato & Mad Paulie vs. Kazusada Higuchi & Yukio Sakaguchi
Higuchi and Sakaguchi, the “Guchi Brothers”, would make for a killer touring tag team. Two big hitters who couldn’t be more different in their approaches. Sakaguchi is all kicks and whatnot. Higuchi the former sumo preferring a smashmouth approach. Yamato is a little sneaky here, going after Higuchi’s big tree trunk leg to slow him down. Yamato should get paid extra for all the lumps that get kicked out of him in this. Meanwhile Paulie is the ‘hot tag’ who runs through Sakaguchi but then gets roughed up by Higuchi. It’s a match with tidy structure and good effort. Big Guchi overcomes Mad Paulie for the win. Very solid. Higuchi is one of those guys that should be a bigger star than he is.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: The Guchis announce their third man for trios action and it’s Saki Akai! Another outstanding striker. Good choice.
No Passcode Scramble Bunkhouse Take Account Over Death Match
Danshoku Dino vs. Sanshiro Takagi vs. Super Sasadango Machine
So this weird stipulation is that all the guys have had their phones taken off them and are in the ring unlocked. The wrestlers start in the corners of the building and have to run to the ring and then can tweet what they like when they get there. While also trying to win a wrestling match.
Poor Takagi is the main victim of the phone hacking. Dino posts something off his account about promising 100,000 yen to his followers. Takagi is all “I don’t have 100,000 yen to spare, you motherfuckers”. His revenge is getting Dino to retweet Riki Choshu a lot. Takagi suffers again when Dino gets him to advertise his status as a sugar daddy. I’m pretty sure Takagi demands a DQ for that. Sasadango’s most creative tweet is asking The Rock if he’d like to wrestle at the Saitama Super Arena. If he fucking shows up for that I will lose my shit. Dino gets his LINE account link posted and falls to Lehman Shock moments later, in literal shock at having his LINE account shared publicly. They make friends after the match, proving that social media, while occasionally harmful, shouldn’t cause friends to fall out.
Final Rating: ** (unless The Rock wrestles for DDT as a result of this contest then ****1/2)
Makoto Oishi & Masahiro Takanashi vs. HARASHIMA & Shinya Aoki
I actually missed a lot of DDT last year so I missed HARASHIMA winning his tenth KO-D Openweight belt. Aoki is a legendary shooter and it’s weird seeing him wrestle. I used to watch him for IGF. Remember IGF? What a wacky fucking promotion that was. Half shoot fights, half worked shoots. The wrestlers slipped between the two on the run sheets. Pure Inokism. He’s actually wrestled quite a lot in DDT, winning their Extreme title and appearing in the D-Ou Grand Prix in 2018. This is a very silly match with referee based antics. It’s hard to tell with DDT but they may be mocking WWE matches, or even New Japan matches. They do the kind of daft spots you see in big time matches but do them deliberately badly. Somato puts Oishi away. This was odd. I think the joke may have missed me.
Final Rating: **
Shunma Katsumata vs. MAO
This is MAO’s first match back after a European excursion. He had a lovely time. I got to have a chat with him after a Fight Club show. MAO looks in terrific condition and has clearly had a mental boost from working overseas. The match is a sprint in the best traditions of the sprint. They do a little establishing work to show that Shunma is outmatched and then play off that, usually quickly and smoothly, for the rest of the contest. They also work in a ref bump and Legos.
This is MAO’s “why Legos, you fucking arsehole” face. Shunma gets killed with a Michinoku driver off the top onto Legos for having the indecency to introduce Legos into the match.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: MAO apollogises for Mike Bailey not being here and he’s had some visa issues. The guy has the worst luck. First USA, now Japan. Hopefully he’ll be able to get that sorted.
Post Intermission: HARASHIMA announces he has a new member for Disaster Box and it’s only Naomichi fucking Marufuji. Haha! What the fuck?
I now want Marufuji to do the Hirata dance and I hope for a tag team with Toru Owashi.
Chris Brookes vs. Masato Tanaka
This is a match that’s happening! Brookes looks thrilled with how he’s developed in DDT and getting to wrestle guys like Tanaka must be a dream come true. They put together an interesting match, based around brawling and Brookes trying to get one step ahead of someone he considers a superior. Brookes is definitely over but he’s not quite got the crowd to yell “Shoop” on the Cutter yet. Give it time. Brookes unloads his entire repertoire here only for Tanaka to pop up and completely no sell a superplex. It’s a story where Tanaka’s experience and resilience are just too much for Brookes, a relative rookie in Japan.
The crowd are very supportive of Brookes and it’s a sign of how successful this tour has been for him. Sliding D finishes after a hot stretch with some swish counters. Great little match.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Post Match: HARASHIMA comes out here but MAO attacks him dressed as Pokotan.
“I will challenge for the KO-D Openweight championship. Just bring it, bitches”. MAO appealing to the international audience by speaking the English.
T-Hawk & Tetsuya Endo vs. Konosuke Takeshita & Akito
T-Hawk hanging out with those DAMNATION bastards. It feels like the set up for a T-Hawk vs. Takeshita singles match. Which would make more sense if Takeshita was the incumbent champion. Maybe a top contender’s match? These are four sensational wrestlers but there’s not a lot to get into here. Just tidy sequences. Akito has his serious pants on for this match and wrestles more aggressively than anyone else. As if he feels like he needs to work hard to not be overshadowed. The match livens up as it progresses with T-Hawk turning up in a big way. Night Rider gives him the big win and I’m excited to see T-Hawk vs. Takeshita being a feud. I may even watch DDT more regularly in 2020 after missing so much of it over the past two years.
Final Rating: ***1/2
KO-D Tag Team Championship
Daisuke Sasaki & Soma Takao (c) vs. Nautilus (Yuki Ueno & Naomi Yoshimura)
Nautilus started calling themselves that in November but have been a tag team for three years. They’re a part of HARASHIMA’s Disaster Box stable. Ueno is a typical modern body build wrestler with rippling abs and consistently good muscle structure. Modern wrestling seems to have a proliferation of that body shape. Yoshimura is a big strong boy with bright orange hair. Both of them are country hicks, well from Osaka but same energy, against Big City Bastards. Due to KO-D tag belts changing hands all the fucking time the current champions are the longest reigning ever at 288 days. The backbone of the match is that Nautilus are better than DAMNATION if the odds are even and there’s no cheating. Mainly because Yoshimura does big boy chops and everyone is scared of him. He fucks up Takao’s chest.
This is, by far, the longest and most serious match on the show. It serves as a statement of how DDT is going to change in 2020 with new talent coming through. The inevitable cheating occurs with Ueno having a visual pin on Sasaki and Soma pulls the ref out, that son of a bitch. Low blows and chair shots follow and it feels like we’re going down the path of an inevitable heel defence. The plucky resilience of the babyface challengers is what keeps the crowd invested. Especially Ueno, who nurses a bad leg through most of the match, and is the victim of the most shenanigans. Yoshimura subdues Takao and Ueno, for once given a clean shot, hits the BME for the win and the belts. This was a great plucky faces vs. bastard heels match up. Yoshimura feels like a star in the making. His little interjections into this match worked superbly well.
Final Rating: ****