DDT Sweet Dreams
January 26, 2020
2020 is a year I want to keep up to speed on DDT. I know I say this about many promotions every year but DDT is genuinely fun and I miss it when I’m not up to date. We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall for Sweet Dreams. HARASHIMA’s first title defence of the year against veteran Masato Tanaka. Also Nautilus defend their tag titles for the second time and Naomichi Marufuji wrestles his first match as part of HARASHIMA’s Disaster Box stable. His first match in DDT since February last year.
Masahiro Takanashi, Mizuki Watase & Keigo Nakamura vs. DAMNATION (Mad Paulie, Soma Takao & Nobuhiro Shimatani)
Where can I get one of those DAMNATION “fuck you” t-shirts? Nakamura looks like a born comedy wrestler. His look is so weird and then instead of comedy, with his hugely expressive face, he’s doing springboards and shit. I have no doubt DDT will dig out that comedy depths in his soul. Takao plants him with a running elbow smash for the pin. This was fine.
Final Rating: **1/2
MAO & Hiroshi Yamato vs. Super Sasadango Machine & Toru Owashi
Everyone in this match is taking excellent care of their hair.
The stylist at ringside is from Gold Shibuya hair salon. I can’t look away from Owashi. His hair normally looks like a drowned dog. The hair spray seems to be effecting Owashi’s brain as he’s completely out of position for one sequence, possibly on purpose. SSM, in a statement on modern society, spends the match on his phone and still wrestles perfectly while doing so.
MAO pulls SSM’s mask off on a snapmare so he has to bail to get his hair properly styled underneath. The poor stylist ends up in the match while Owashi takes over doing SSM’s hair. The faces beat MAO up and the stylist gets to do the People’s Elbow. This is joyous but daft as hell. MAO recovers from this to hit a 450 on SSM for the win. The stylist checking his hair was in perfect shape before he took off. This was tremendous. DDT keep thinking outside the box.
Final Rating: ***
Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi, Yukio Sakaguchi & Saki Akai) vs. ALL OUT (Konosuke Takeshita, Akito & Shunma Katsumata)
Eruption get this music vide where they’re walking around Tokyo looking badass in white.
Having them debut here against Takeshita & Co is a statement of intent. I like the idea of Eruption. Saki is clearly the weak link but the other two are her mates and want her to succeed so they’ve come up with wacky double teams and are super protective. Big Higuchi gets the pin here and it was a brisk eight minutes that teased some exciting times ahead for Eruption. I love the concept and two of the three wrestlers are absolutely gold.
Final Rating: ***
Right to Challenge Anytime, Anywhere Mini Rumble
Eight guys involved here. There are three prizes dangling over the ring. DDT combining the ladder match and the battle royal is something fairly outside the box of standard wrestling thinking. The first time I saw one of these I was confused, let me tell you. This is relatively straightforward compared to the first one I saw. There are three envelopes and they’re all “Money in the Bank” style title shots. Once you’ve got one of these you lose it if you’re pinned or submitted in matches. I’ve seen them defended in battle royals before so the landscape cane become quite fluid.
Antonio Honda falls and injures himself and it’s Gon, the Little Fox time. I’m thrilled he manages to break the referee in the process. Yasu Urano pulls down one of the envelopes in the middle of the match with half the guys still not out here. The highlights here include Gon assaulting Shinya Aoki’s nipples and Dino humping the noted shootfighter. 6’ 7” Yukio Naya attempting to ‘help’ Oishi get one of the contracts by chokeslamming him doesn’t work out so well for them. Daisuke Sasaki pulls down the second contract while Endo is being bummed by Dino. Dino has a crazy match. Doing all his usual antics but also piledriving someone off a ladder, onto a ladder. Shinya Aoki, with his bare ass out, pulls down the final envelope.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: Everyone opens their envelopes and Urano has a special prize; a right to challenge at Saitama Super Arena and he gets a sword! Sasaki suddenly isn’t happy with his lame plastic ‘right to challenge’ and uses it to challenge Urano for his special ‘right to challenge’.
Daisuke Sasaski vs. Yasu Urano
They go right into the near falls and have a belting two minute match. Sasaki gets the pin and wins the sword and the right to challenge at Saitama Super Arena!
Final Rating: **1/2
Kazuki Hirata vs. Naomichi Marufuji
This is a nice easy start to Marufuji’s DDT run. Hirata tried to jump him backstage but got his ass kicked and has to be carried to the ring. Hirata gets streamers even though he’s unconscious. Hirata apologises for his actions but immediately goes after a chair. The ‘sit down’/superkick spot is fantastic. Marufuji spends the match beating up Hirata while the crowd laugh. Hirata’s comeback is the mythical death strike and dancing until Marufuji chops him in the back and snaps the goggles. An actual Ko-Oh to the goggles. Holy shit. Hirata stops the match so he can read out a letter he wrote to Marufuji detailing his respect for the veteran, how watching him wrestle had given Hirata purpose when he had nothing and his desire to do the Tokyo Go dance with him.
Hirata attempts to sneak pin Marufuji again and gets a near fall but promptly gets dropped with Ko-Oh.
Well, that’s match of the year sewn up.
Final Rating: I love this promotion, so much.
KO-D Tag Team Championship
Nautilus (c) vs. Yuki Ino & Chihiro Hashimoto
Ueno & Yoshimura won the belts a few weeks ago. This is actually their second defence after besting Hirata & Keisuke Ishii.
The challengers are jacked and so is Yoshimura so there’s a lot of hench in this. Ueno is the only guy that’s not jacked and he looks like a young Kota Ibushi so he’s in decent shape. His work with C-Hash is legitimately great. The more IG Hashimoto does the better she’ll get in the ring and she’s already a tremendous pro wrestler. Ino and Yoshimura batter each other in the other pairing and this is a great little semi-main. Nautilus are quickly becoming one of my favourite tag teams anywhere in the business. Shouten Kai finishes for Yoshimura and it’s Ino who takes the pin. This was a fantastic sprint-style semi-main. Lots of high paced, high octane action and I had a lovely time.
Final Rating: ****
KO-D Openweight Championship
HARASHIMA (c) vs. Masato Tanaka
Tanaka has been starting to show signs of aging over the past year or so. Time finally catching up with a man who taking unprotected chair shots and ridiculous high spots for laughs over 20 years ago. I don’t know what this motherfucker is drinking but I’ll have a double. He’s 46 years old but looks fresh as a daisy here. I was worried he was on his way out but if anything he looks better than usual in this match. He’s fast and everything lands. If he really is a vampire, I have theories, then he must have fed right before this.
Tanaka spends most of this match trying to rip HARASHIMA’s leg off. Which is a sound strategy against someone who uses his knees a lot. An immobile HARASHIMA finds himself getting battered from all angles by a fired-up Tanaka. He’s so energized here. I like how HARASHIMA works around the leg problem. Using the ropes for support or, at one point, diving off the ropes by basically falling and letting gravity do the work rather than launching. He’s not consistent on the selling but it’s 2020, that happens all the fucking time.
Once I’ve gotten past that bit of psychology I can get fully into how great Tanaka is. Going toe to toe with HARASHIMA throughout the match. Able to keep up with the sequences and the crazy looking bumps. I’m used to seeing Tanaka work in Zero1 where all that’s required is strike duels and it’s still good wrestling but it’s uncomplicated and he can do it with his eyes shut. This is complex work. From the ropes to the mat and everything in between. They do some great work with near falls here and also with near misses before Sliding D puts HARASHIMA away and Tanaka wins the title! This could have been pushing MOTYC territory if they’d laid off the lengthy leg match aspect.
While talking about Tanaka’s age I’d be remiss to dismiss HARASHIMA who’s also into his mid 40s. His baby face makes it hard to guess the age but honestly, I thought he was still in his mid 30s. Great effort from two guys with a combined age of 91.
Final Rating: ****1/2