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Found 19 results

  1. Masada comes into this match having begun his pro wrestling training three months ago. HARASHIMA seamlessly led Masada through the opening mat work portion. Masada busted out an arm-wringer, which had a nice snap to it. HARASHIMA went to work on the back, bringing his trademark brand of meanness to the match. The second half was designed to allow Masada to shine, and shine he did. Masada hit a gorgeous dropkick to kick off his comeback, later matching HARASHIMA strike-for-strike. Masada even busted out HARASHIMA's signature Falcon Arrow, but it was only enough for two. Takeshi's already decent at garnering sympathy from the crowd, with them erupting in chants of "Masada"! HARASHIMA burst out of the corner with a running Somato and put Masada away for the three count. As far as debuts go, it doesn't get much better than this unless you're a prodigy like Jun Akiyama. Another selfless performance from one of the all-time greats and a decent match to boot. While it's too soon to tell how much Masada's capable of DDT may have another prospect on its hands. **1/2
  2. One of the biggest stories in DDT recently has been the elevation of Naomi Yoshimura and his new tag team partner in Harimao, Kazusada Higuchi. Yoshimura has started to put it together after last year's King of DDT run, where I was slightly underwhelmed by his singles efforts. Here he is taking on the perennial ace of DDT as well as his former DISASTER BOX teammate, HARASHIMA. HARASHIMA tried to ground Yoshimura early on, but Naomi's superior strength meant he couldn't string together much offense. HARASHIMA is one of the pettiest psycopaths I've ever seen in wrestling, smirking as he stomps on and dissects Yoshimura's ribs. His offense was mean and laser-focused. To offset that, Yoshimura targeted the back with body slams and suplexes. Yoshimura countered a springboard attempt from HARASHIMA and sent him flying into the guardrails. Yoshimura took control with a stalling superplex. Yoshimura matched HARASHIMA's meanness, stomping on his back and delivering crunchy forearms when a hockey fight broke out. One thing I love about HARASHIMA is his selling. He fundamentally understands when to show pain and executes those moments expertly. The match gradually built to bigger and bigger bombs being thrown, with HARASHIMA busting out a running Somato and Yoshimura nailing him with a lariat. HARASHIMA's kicks reverberated throughout Korakuen Hall, but Yoshimura absorbed them and delivered thunderous chops. Matches can live or die by wrestlers fighting through the pain, but HARASHIMA and Yoshimura made it believable by not lingering on those sequences for too long. HARASHIMA went for a springboard, but Yoshimura caught him with a Harai Goshi in mid-air that looked awesome. Yoshimura landed the Osaka Pride shortly thereafter to pick up the win. A very good, slow-building match that displayed the growth of Yoshimura.
  3. Pretty standard DDT workrate tag. These kinds of matches typically have a high floor, but where they lose me is when the tags don't matter. It's not even that it comes down to referee's discretion. Rather, the illegal men in the match would frequently be allowed to make pin attempts after a flurry of offense where everyone entered the ring. Without rules in place, the match is functionally no different than a scramble. Personally, I find it much more impressive when wrestlers can work within the confines of limitations instead of cramming everything they can into 14 minutes. Anyway, this was fine. **3/4
  4. There’s a certain broad appeal to this match that I think just about anyone can enjoy. Everyone lays in their offense and brings a controlled energy to the bout. Sato takes a shellacking from the most proficient striker in the match, Sakaguchi. Sato and Sakaguchi trades kicks, but Sakaguchi always gets the better of his adversary. It builds to a crescendo where HARASHIMA and Higuchi come in, and when they do, boy does the pace ever pick up. Both competitors batter each other, going back-and-forth with chops and kicks. Higuchi’s selling as the unwavering yet beatable giant is phenomenal. He registers the damage of the strikes but stays one step ahead of HARASHIMA. There was one counter where HARASHIMA went for a Somato, and Higuchi chucked him into the mat that nearly had me jumping out of my seat. Higuchi eventually clamped on the Brain Claw and kept HARASHIMA down for three as he frantically struggled to escape. I love that even the finish played into Higuchi outsmarting HARASHIMA at every turn. I loved all of this, really.
  5. DDT does these big, all-star tags better than pretty much anyone. Our, ahem, HERO! goes for a handshake at the beginning, but gets blown off. Takeshita and Sakaguchi begin in a battle of power vs. technique. That's not a match we've seen much of, to my knowledge, so it's nice to get a glimpse of it here, however brief it may be. HARASHIMA & Akiyama continue where they left off at CyberFight Festival, having a gripping mat exchange. Every time HARASHIMA goes for a tag, Honda hops off the apron until Antonio's former Happy Motel stablemate, Endo, comes in. They trade punches, and Honda collapses in one fell swoop, but he baits Endo in for a strike. Endo kicks out his leg of Honda, causing the enemy team to mock him as he tries to enter the ring. This section is so joyous that even the usually straight-laced Sakaguchi can't help but crack up on the apron. Honda is oddly endearing as the face in peril, constantly hurting his bad wheel in increasingly hilarious ways, including one where he goes for a dropdown and gets tripped by Endo. Wholesale tags to HARASHIMA and Akiyama follow. HARASHIMA gets the better of an exchange, and we go into a showdown between one of the most reliable pairings in DDT, HARASHIMA, and Sakaguchi. The two batter each other with kicks, each glancing blow having more impact than the last. Things eventually boil down to Endo & another of his former Happy Motel teammates and storied rivals, Takeshita. Despite being the least interesting section of the match, having neither the charm of Honda's isolation nor the intensity that HARASHIMA, Sakaguchi, and Akiyama bring to the table, it's still more explosive than Takeshita and Endo's recent singles efforts. Honda comes in swinging, jumping over Endo to try and knock Sakaguchi and Akiyama off the apron, but Endo trips him up. Honda then grabs the microphone and does his usual comedy routine. The Burning and Sakaguchi trio's energy is infectious, as they can't stop laughing at Honda's antics. Except for Akiyama, who takes an errant swing at Honda. Honda goes for a dive off the top rope, but Endo gets his feet up, only for Honda to reverse his pinfall attempt in a great nearfall. Takeshita and Sakaguchi wipe each other out with dueling Jumping Knees, and once again, it comes down to Honda and Endo. Endo fells his old mentor with a Torture Rack Bomb and a Burning Star Press for the win. A fitting celebration of DDT's 25th anniversary, displaying its past in Happy Motel and its present in Burning. While it's unlikely to be remembered as one of the best matches of the year, it's perhaps one of the most enjoyable.
  6. Another neat HARASHIMA title match. I really like the way he uses matwork to establish the pace of his matches and the matwork itself is always interesting, I can't really think of a proper comparison for it. He demolishes Higuchi's leg here, kicking away at it and twisting it in all sorts of ways. Higuchi looked good as well, he did a solid job of selling the damage and had some great power spots which was enough for HARASHIMA to get them to a very strong match. HARASHIMA is probably the best ace in Japan right now. ***1/2
  7. Hard Hit is such an odd and fascinating company. It puts on unique shows that aren't necessarily for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoy them as they do a great job of putting on shoot style matches between pro-wrestling and MMA fighters who mostly fought in Pancrase. Tsuchihashi is the difference maker here though as he's mostly spent most of his combat sports career fighting for Akira Maeda in The Outsider (an MMA promotion Maeda founded to put on MMA fights featuring guys with no combat sports training who are mostly gang members) which is why he is all tattooed up. The match isn't your traditional pro-wrestling match and is more so 4 guys rolling on the ground countering each others submission holds without a single strike thrown. There is plenty of great looking spots though, including HARASHIMA countering Imanari rolls into scorpion death locks, HARASHIMA tugging on Matsumoto's gi pants and pulling him into a German suplex, Sakaguchi trying to jump into Tsuchihashi's guard with a cartwheel and of course the beautiful helicopter armbar finish. Again, this isn't traditional straight up pro-wrestling or shoot style per se, but it does have elements of pro-wrestling and shoot style.
  8. Hardcore Tag Team Match: Ryuji Ito & Shuji Ishikawa vs. HARASHIMA & Togi Makabe Holy shit. HARASHIMA blonde. I don’t like it. He looks like a scummy dude from Freedoms. I guess that makes sense in the match though. The match is a pretty action packed brawl. They waste no time using the chairs and assorted weapons around the ring. HARASHIMA gets bloody fast and the deathmatch duo takes advantage - I know I said I don’t like the hair but a bloody face plus the hair is always a great look. Ito smashing a chair into the forehead was a total dick move, and he doesn’t redeem himself with those chair shots to the back either. Makabe puts in a shift as well. He is known for not always being up to his best but he knows he is in Budokan and he wrestles like it. He lays in the forearms when against Ishikawa, who replies with headbutts. HARASHIMA was a superb underdog, taking the brunt of the offence then working for the comeback. His selling of the weapon shots was great. He levels Ito and Ishikawa with weapon shots of his own. His offence was full of aggression and poise. Damn, he was good in this match. This was such a good match. ***3/4
  9. Kings Road/WWE main event parody match better than a lot of serious attempts at such things. Neat opening exchange, and you realize these guys are good at filling time and getting their match over, Dino actually is better at things like working a sleeper hold or emoting during a strike exchange than most wrestlers, even aside from all the effective butt comedy. HARASHIMA really laces him up with kicks in a way not many comedy workers would be content taking them, and there is really amusing "distraction" spot that works better than most outside distraction spots because it's self aware. Funny to think that this main event drew more people to Korakuen Hall than NOAH does these days and was probably better than any NOAH main event in like half a dozen years too.
  10. HARASHIMA defends the KO-D Openweight Title Another MOTYC from DDT Sweet Dreams 2014. This is just slightly lesser than their Peter Pan match because the match has a more forgettable start but I think the finishing stretch is in some ways superior. HARASHIMA being busted open by an Irie headbutt then Irie pounding the daylights out of HARASHIMA before HARASHIMA found an escape by kicking Irie in the face was a great end to the match. The first few minutes are unmemorable but the rest of the match is more than adequate. ****1/4
  11. KO-D Openweight Title Match: Shigehiro Irie (c) vs. HARASHIMA - DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2013 18/08/2013 I can’t help but love Irie’s entrance. Him crying just at the moment makes you automatically on his side. He was fantastic during the match as well as was HARASHIMA. I loved how everything built throughout with there being tons of great escalation in offence both guys. Really loved the early sections of the match. HARASHIMA trying to beatdown Irie with his strikes only for Irie to lay into him with a lariat or squish with his body by sitting down on HARASHIMA’s chest. There was a great sense of struggle in the match where momentum constantly shifted back and forth. Irie adopted some tremendous counter wrestling to match HARASHIMA’s direct assaults. Irie hit a sick powerbomb off the top rope followed by an over the shoulder driver. His elbows looked raw as hell, too. HARASHIMA was out right ruthless in the final stretch, hitting strike after strike before hitting a springboard elbow/type finish for the win. A great climax to a great match. ****1/2
  12. Neat match that was really made by the surprisingly good selling. Irie has some good power spots, and him punching through HARASHIMA's guard and annihilating him with THE POUNCE sounds great in a vacuum but the way HARASHIMA just throws himself with crazy bumps really adds to them. They do some crowd brawling early on but they throw good strikes and it is more them slamming each other into the barricade and the apron then one wrestler "dragging" the other halfway across the arena to get him back into the ring which looks more like they're holding hands than actual dragging. HARASHIMA responds to Irie's power offence wih vicious knee strikes and stomps. Finishing stretch is a little too nearfall heavy but it was very exciting and fun. HARASHIMA slipping through Irie's attempted Fire Thunder Driver was an amazing spot and they executed "will he or will he not fall down" selling about as good as they could've.
  13. Interesting story behind this match. As of a few hours before, this was supposed to be Sakaguchi vs Kota Ibushi for the KO-D Openweight Title but Ibushi was out with High Fever so HARASHIMA took his place instead due to his high ranking in the DDT Election that year (3rd place). Yukio Sakaguchi, who is the son of former NJPW President Seiji Sakaguchi, is the defending champion of the KO-D Openweight Title and has already beaten KUDO (Peter Pan) and Daisuke Sasaki (DDT Who’s Gonna Top). Sakaguchi was rather new to wrestling at the time, well compared to HARASHIMA anyway, with him being three years into his career in wrestling and was 42 years old at the time so there was a lot against him but he took to wrestling like a glove and was on a high and he wasn’t ready to let that slip. This was an excellent match considering they weren’t opponents only a few hours before. A match built around grappling and stiff striking which meant Sakaguchi’s MMA career came into play here. Sakaguchi controlled the majority of the match but HARASHIMA put up a fight hitting some nasty kicks. One thing HARASHIMA brought into play here was his excellent facial expressions. They were on point and add a tone to the match. A highly unique match, especially in DDT and a great one at that. ****1/2
  14. Never been a big KUDO fan. He doesn’t have the charisma of HARASHIMA but I do think that he is still a good wrestler because of his intensity and good offence, and he very much delivered here. Some of his comebacks were extremely well timed and thus allowed all the babyface heat he gained in the match to shine through most effectively. The fire he showed in his offence was so awesome. HARASHIMA was fantastic in this. And whilst KUDO did great fighting from beneath, HARASHIMA stood out with his outstanding heel work. Closed fists for some of the strike exchanges, smiling in such a dickish manner whilst brutalising KUDO’s ribs, being an absolute bully. The peaked at the absolute right time with no over dramatic near falls, keeping it to a minimum. There was tons of struggle in the match, allowing the tension of a switches of momentum to happen. The crowd bought into what the story was telling. Great match held up by two fantastic performances. ****1/2
  15. More of an angle than a match, Sasaki cashes in DDT's version of the MITB contract. The two minutes are pretty much just finisher attempts, and the highlight of it is HARASHIMA's selling of passing out at the end. Exciting for what it was.
  16. Very good match that would've been great if Kodaka wasn't such a clown. His ringpost figure 4 botch was embarrassing and any time he was going after HARASHIMA's leg he had no idea what kid of hold he wanted to use, to the point HARASHIMA had to cover for him and counter it because it was so bad. Still HARASHIMA is a total badass, he rocks Isami with deadly kicks, knees, double stomps etc. and is the only ace in contemporary puro that knows to properly carry himself as such. I love his Suimengiri and he always does a great job of organically teasing, building to and using his bigger moves without making the set up obvious. It can be quite hard to nail the selling required here when you have the guy use the moves that include attacking with his injured limb but HARASHIMA is a capable wrestler and made it work. ***1/2
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