April 1, 2023

GCW vs. DDT (3.31.23) review

GCW vs. DDT  


March 31, 2023 


We’re in LA at the Ukranian Cultural Center. I have officially lost count of how many shows I’ve already seen in this building. Commentary comes from Dave Prazak, Nick Knowledge and Veda Scott. The obvious gimmick of this show is GCW’s roster competing against the visiting DDT roster.  


Eight Man Tag Team Match 

Gringo Loco, Jack Cartwheel & Wasted Youth (Dyln McKay & Marcus Mathers) vs. DAMNATION T.A (Daisuke Sasaki & KANON), Sanshiro Takagi & Takeshi Masada 

In lieu of a scramble, we have this, which is basically a scramble. Quite a lot of it is horrible. Bad organisation and stuff that just doesn’t work. Cartwheel looks like a good fit. He’s worked for GLEAT so he’s got that experience. KANON can’t get on the same page as anyone. For a messy match, with lots of moving parts, it runs way too long. Wait, this is only 10 minutes? Cartwheel hits a twisting splash for the pin. 1-0 GCW. This wasn’t good. 


Saki Akai vs. Dark Sheik  

Dark Sheik has abandoned her Raven look that she used on the Circle 6 show. Haven’t watched any Circle 6 this weekend? Oh mate, you’ve missed out. Sheik works abnormally soft. Sheik does do some interesting athletic stretches and her ring gear looks based on Captain Marvel today. I can’t argue with it. Saki is like a mirror of this. She has long legs and uses them effectively but all her spots look soft. Dark Sheik catches Saki with an inside cradle 2-0 GCW.  


East West Express vs. Moonlight Express 

Bailey & MAO reunite. They’re against Jordan Oliver and Nick Wayne, who have a title shot later. Bailey has already wrestled Tanahashi, Ibushi and Irie this weekend. He’s leaning heavily into his Japanese links. Bailey vs. Wayne is tasty. That’s a singles match in the making for next year’s Mania weekend. MAO backrolls into an abdominal stretch here and that’s needless but also cool. The continuity of the Moonlight Express makes me sad they don’t get to work together more often.  


The match frequently has moments where one guy isn’t quite on the ball. It’s normally either Oliver or Wayne. They’re waiting for something to connect instead of closing the space. I can understand this happening in a match that this busy. There’s so much to remember. I’ve never liked Oliver but at least he’s finally showing some signs of maturity. Some of his bumps are a mess and he still whiffs on strikes by a distance at times but it’s not as glaringly obvious as it used to be.  

Nick Wayne gets busted open on the double moonsault spot. Apparently he caught a stray elbow. The blood is an issue for Wayne, because the match is all pre-planned so they can’t switch it around to suit his blood. Unlike later, against Machine Guns, where they could work the cut. Bailey gets picked off with the double Oscutter. 3-0 GCW. This was good, although a little untidy around the edges. Good effort from all and Moonlight Express are a great team. ***¼.  


Kazusaka Higuchi vs. Starboy Charlie 

I feel bad for Higuchi. He’s an outstanding wrestler but he’s not been booked in anything useful this weekend. Starboy Charlie decides to go toe to toe and Higuchi is forced to murder him. I blame Charlie for this. Look at Higuchi, look at yourself. Get a plan B, brother.  

Higuchi decides to remove Starboy Charlie’s head, so he has a memento of his nice trip to California. “Is this your carry on luggage sir?” Charlie’s decapitated head with an American Airlines sticker on his cheek. Higuchi encourages Charlie to have a pop at him. This is a good lesson in pro wrestling for the young lad. Where Higuchi truly terrifies me is not his chops or his power moves but when he runs the ropes he’s a fucking stallion. Watch his movement around the ring and compare it to other big men. It’s so purposeful, deliberate and consistent. Running around the wrestling ring is surprisingly hard to get right. He’s perfect at it. In toying with Charlie, he does allow Starboy to comes back at him with flips and moxy. I think it goes too long. Higuchi never really shows frustration, and you feel he could just end it whenever he wanted. Claw Slam finishes. 3-1 GCW. *** 


Joey Janela vs. Yuki Ueno 

Janela has an ideal warm up for Ibushi here against a guy that’s basically a baby Ibushi. What he doesn’t seem to have accounted for is that, in overlooking Ueno, he’s pissed him off as much as Ibushi has pissed Janela off with his “who this?” Twitter comments. Janela does a good job of working the body part, Ueno’s arm/shoulder. Again, this is with Ibushi and his shoulder injury in mind. Not that he really worked the shoulder against Ibushi, presumably from lack of focus and being overwhelmed (storyline) or actual shoulder issues (IRL). In overlooking Ueno, Joey ends up getting caught cold and Ueno wins this. It was interesting to see Joey Janela’s strategy that he intended to take into the Ibushi match and also that he quite happily took the job here. 3-2 GCW. *** 


Jun Akiyama & Tetsuya Endo vs. Tony Deppen & Homicide 

There’s some real talent here. Endo vs. Deppen is especially slick. Obviously, Akiyama and Homicide are past their prime and can’t do the same things the other two can do. The two veterans make a point of going easy on each other. The strikes are very tame. It feels like the kind of match you might see on the undercard of All Japan’s Champion Carnival. Akiyama hits a few Exploders and Endo finishes with an SSP on Deppen. That ties it up at 3-3 on the night. It was not an interesting match. If either Akiyama or Homicide had gotten pissed off and started some shit, we might have gotten something more substantial.  


The Second Gear Crew (1 Called Manders, Mance Warner & Matthew Justice) vs. Chris Brookes, Mizuki Watase & Shunma Katsumata 

Watase wasn’t even on the DDT show.  

Holy shit, Rob Van Dam! Goddamn it lads, don’t use one of the most famous entrance musics on the Indies. Nobody comes out here to Enter Sandman do they? The match is plunder heavy. While lego doesn’t do much for me, because you can’t really see the impact of it, the Terry Funk ladder spots are cool. I also like Chris Brookes smashing the plastic box over Justice’s head.  

With those legos everywhere, you can’t even kneel in the ring, let alone bump, without getting hurt. This is the kind of match where I don’t care if they use a door because they’re brought lego and boxes and all this other shit with them. Who cares if they chuck a door in there too? However, Manders managing to put both his tag team partners through a door? That’s dumb. Watase is out here no selling chair shots, like prime Masato Tanaka. Unlike prime Masato Tanaka he attempts a rolling elbow into a door. Tanaka would have put his elbow clean through that son of a bitch. The Second Gear Crew isolate Shunma and he gets triple teamed for the pin. There was some crazy shit going on here. Some of it was too messy for a recommendation but also, Chris Brookes smashed a plastic box over someone’s head. So, ***¼. DDT are losing now, 4-3 down.  


BUSSY vs. Pheromones 

There are 40 minutes left on the show. Uh oh. Oh wait, there’s another match after this. I had a moment of WTF there. The Pheromones shtick is over.  

Effy is having a very nice time.  

Allie? I’m not sure? Especially not after the three-man Merry Go Round. Everyone ends up in thongs. Everyone ends up with their face in someone else’s ass. In what I can only describe as a Human Centipede.  

This is definitely a disqualification. The score, for those keeping count, is still 4-3.  


DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship 

YOSHIHIKO (c) vs. Cole Radrick  

Cole manages to have a full blown argument with YOSHIHIKO during the opening handshake.  

It gets a little out of hand from there. Radrick is the first person I’ve ever seen put YOSHIHIKO in a rest hold. I think that speaks volumes about him as a worker. He does come up with some ridiculous spots though. Anyone who agrees to do one of these matches is creative enough to put a match together with nothing but their own imagination. It’s a lot harder to do singles matches involving YOSHIHIKO. At one point Cole throws himself off the top rope through a door. Cole gets the win here, over a plucky YOSHIHIKO, who kicks out of a few spots through doors.  


POST MATCH: YOSHIHIKO punts Cole in the groin and rolls him up to regain the strap.  


The 411: 

The show ended strong on the comedy. What I love about DDT is that they usually have awesome comedy matches but then finish the show strong with a genuinely good match. They almost hid the wrestlers away in the lower card here. There’s a run of matches (MLX tag, Higuchi, Ueno, Burning) that are all very solid, but nothing really stands out as a recommendation. That said, it works very well as a palate cleansing variety show with lots of different styles and match types. Comedy, hardcore, tags, women’s, extended squash. I would say it was well booked, and balanced, without really creating too many talking points. It’s not the kind of show that’ll make the round up podcasts next week. Whereas DDT’s solo show had a cracking main event.  

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