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Dramatic Dream Team (And Friends)


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If you look in the match database section, you'll see that a lot of DDT matches are reviewed by myself (and some others) so I thought I'd just make a thread in the Microscope section to put them all together. :)

Dramatic Dream Team (DDT for short) has a long history considering their relatively short lifespan (23 years is nothing compared to fellow wrestling promotions in Japan such as NJPW and AJPW. Sanshiro Takagi, with the help of fellow independent wrestler Shoichi Ichimiya, began DDT in 1997 with the goal to be unique and bizarre. What is their identity? What does DDT stand for? Well, that’s hard to really explain considering how much variety the promotion offers in their shows. DDT is perhaps most famous for the Campsite matches and street shows that see New Japan star, Kota Ibushi, shooting fireworks and doing backflips off parked cars. But I don't think that defines them. There are plenty of serious matches that are worth watching. Everyone knows Dick Togo vs Antonio Honda from 2011. But there is so much more.  

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DDT Universal Title Match: Yuki Ueno (c) vs. Akito - DDT Audience Tour 2021 In Fukuoka (Evening Show) - 29/05/2021
DDT Universal Champion Yuki Ueno takes on the VP of CyberFight (the company that owns DDT and NOAH) Akito. Akito is someone who is a very good technical wrestler but isn't particularly charismatic enough to be a star or big enough, although that's not really a problem in DDT, but on these smaller house shows in front of 215 people in Fukuoka, he is in a perfect setting to really shine. Ueno has had a couple of strong months as a wrestler. He was mainly a tag team wrestler but due to his partner, Naomi Yoshimura, getting injuries, he got more chances as a singles wrestler and impressed enough to gain the newly created Universal Title against Chris Brookes. It's a secondary title mainly but it's main eventing here. The match worked how Akito likes it. It had a somewhat slow, but not slugging pace, with Akito choosing to pick Ueno’s knee apart. Akito had a cool knack of laying traps for his opponents. For example, he waits in the corner, baiting Ueno to come running in and then attacks the knee when Ueno misses with the dropkick. Just little things like that are something that Akito excels in. Ueno isn't a submission specialist so he's always on the back foot, trying to move the match into a quicker pace which is more his strengths but the knee doesn't allow him to do that effectively, which leads to Akito catching him again and again with submissions, at point, turning a body slam attempt into an ankle lock. Ueno catches him out a few times down, turning a Dragon Screw attempt into jumping knees to the stomach and then planting Akito on his neck with a Michinoku Driver. Most of Ueno’s offence involves mobility but his selling is solid. At times he's really good but like a ton of Junior Heavyweight wrestling, Ueno is prone to do a wicked dive here and there. He hit a beautiful springboard moonsault but landed hard on the knees which he sold with groans of pain. So it was the best of both worlds. The finish of the match was a bit sudden but it was a good ending nonetheless. Ueno blasts Akito in the head with two knees without padding, a pitch perfect dropkick and then a WR (A double Underhook Ranhei) to get the three count. 

Really cool match. Not quite as long winded as you probably might expect from a 28 minute match. Akito has a lot of simple holds and uses them to work Ueno’s leg really well. Ueno is solid from working from beneath and came out looking great. ***1/2

DDT Extreme Title 60 Minute Iron Man Match: Akito (c) vs. Daisuke Sasaki - DDT Saitama Slam! Vol. 1 - 19/04/2015
Daisuke Sasaki had a great strategy going into the match by going for the knee joint of Akito. Sasaki isn’t known for being a technical guy but he is Dick Togo protege so he has it in his locker and he really steps up his work while picking a limb apart in this match. His submissions look tight and he is focused on it for the first quarter of the match. And I liked him trying to get a quick count out victory from it. Akito retaliates with leg work of his own and totally out-does Sasaki at it, which is great storytelling given Akito is an actual technical wrestler unlike Sasaki. Everything from that point on was Sasaki on the defence. It reminded me a bit like the way Bockwinkel vs Martel was worked with Bockwinkle, the heel, was selling and trying to fight from beneath the entire match. It’s not a type of match you see much nowadays but Sasaki’s selling and begging off skills made it work. Sasaki took some really brutal bumps on the turnbuckles more than once in this match. I really liked every fall in the match, whether it was Sasaki’s Hurricanrana, Akito catching Sasaki doing an elbow drop and locking on the Scorpion Armlock or the double count -- everything seemed to flow naturally together within the match. The urgency shown by both guys in the last ten minutes to get something from the match by both guys desperately scrambling for submissions was good. Akito was trying to pull out any creative submission move he could think of, Sasaki trying to defend against that while attempting tons of roll ups. It was a great book end for the match. And we got a little added bonus over time which was also great.

This was an excellent, gruelling 60 minute match with excellent selling and mat work by both men. The pacing was superb, allowing the match to be great for all 60 minutes, as well as the extra 6 for sudden death. Given the setting was basically a house show, it could’ve easily not worked for VOD watchers but it did. ****1/2

KO-D Openweight Title Match: Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Kenny Omega - DDT Nippon Budokan Peter Pan 2012 ~ DDT 15th Anniversary - 18/08/2012
Golden Lovers Explode!!! The history behind this clearly reaches a lot of fans' hearts. Kenny Omega originally came in for a tour, and had a well received match with Ibushi. Then they began team together and the rest is history. Funnily enough, most of their run in DDT is seemingly spent apart from each other but there is always something special when they do team together. But now, they are against each other once again. In Budokan Hall, for the KO-D Openweight Title. 

I was wondering if the match would hold up or not. Considering both wrestlers have peaked a little higher than this in recent years. However I think it’s improved upon rewatching it because Ibushi’s performance stood out so much more than it did last time. I think Kenny was really good in the match. He took a hell of a lot of bumps - scary ones. And he had some cool sequences as well. But I think the initial work on the arm was kind of standard-ish. It’s mostly thrown away in the long term but it doesn’t really look good in the moment either. Except for a few flat kicks to the shoulder that looked like they hurt. When Ibushi starts getting in more offence and the match begins to escalate and escalate into an all out bomb fest, then the match starts hitting all the greatness that the match is praised for. Kota Ibushi was a god in the match, like I’ve already said. Ibushi carries most of the great moments of the match with beautifully executed aerial moves that have a great blend of grace and recklessness whenever he leaves his feet. His standing corkscrew lands hard on with all the pressure on Omega’s whip. His kicks are the same as well. He kicked Omega in the throat more than once, which was such a dick move. Ibushi goes even wilder when they head further in the crowd and hits a moonsault off the stands - something that got him banned from Budokan for years. From that point forward, the match turned into less of the Kota Ibushi show and more even with Omega hitting more death defying offence as well. His electric chair into a german off the top rope was outright insane. Ibushi powers through however and one ups him with an amazing springboard hurricanrana off the top rope to the outside floor. My favourite moment of the match was Ibushi nailing Omega with punches during a strike exchange, and then no-selling an Omega snap suplex, smiling at him and kicking him in the face. I can imagine the no selling will annoy some, and I don’t blame them, but Ibushi makes it work with his heart and insane drive. And to cap off all the incredible risk taking bumps this match has, Ibushi throws Omega with reckless abandonment, spiking him with a Phoenix-Plex on the top rope and then hitting a Phoenix splash to finally get the three.  It’s a wild match. A total spectacle with one outstanding effort from Ibushi. ****1/2 

Kota Umeda Seven Match Trial Series Match #4: Dick Togo vs. Kota Umeda - DDT Live! Maji Manji #11 - 10/07/2018
Dick Togo! This is a Trial Series match for Kota Umeda, who was previously considered one of DDT's top prospects before he stopped wrestling after taking over his family’s business (and good luck to him). He was one of the few wrestlers in DDT that is totally no nonsense. So Togo is a really good wrestler for him to test himself against. Uemda tries to throw his weight around, kicking Togo really hard in the chest but Togo knocks him back with a punch to the jaw. Then proceeds to slam Umeda on the exposed floor on the outside. Togo is a true ring general in this - using the ring itself to his advantage and going about with all the confidence in the world. Umeda shows some sign of life with a few kicks to the head and back. Umeda is even able to hold off tapping to the Crossface at certain points, which puts Umeda over strongly. The match soon reverted back to the kick/punch exchange - that had some great selling - before doing a few quick reversals against each other before Togo got a firm grip on the Crossface to win the match. 

As far as trial matches go, this was really good. Togo fed Umeda enough to allow Umeda to shine while still keeping the match basic . If you like Dick Togo, this is a cool match to watch to see how he fares with a rough, but promising young wrestler. ***
 

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DDT 20th Anniversary Special Single Match That Producer Danshoku Wants To Show Everyone Match: HARASHIMA vs. KUDO - DDT Who's Gonna Top? DDT Dramatic General Election 2017 ~ Last Request Special! - 24/09/2017
This match was made as this is a special show for DDT usually (looking at the previous shows there is always a big match or two) and with these two being long-time DDT mainstays, it makes sense to put these two against each other once more. This pairing is almost always magic, and it continues to deliver on that here. It's not as good as the 2015 DDT Audience as it's lacking the compelling story of HARASHIMA bullying KUDO and they opt for a more standard style of match with loads of striking and basically their greatest hits but it's a really good version of that. The match starts off on the mat initially, but soon the first strike is thrown and it goes from there. One thing that I liked about the match was how the strike exchanges changed as the match progressed. At first, it was your typical no-sell kind but once the pace got more urgent, there was more heart and strategy applied to them. KUDO hit HARASHIMA with a wicked slap to the jaw, then ducked the returned strikes and hit spinning heel kick. The match had plenty of terrific reversal sequences as well which added a lot of drama as the match was coming to a close. Like KUDO using his own double knees to counter HARASHIMA’s Somato attempt. The final part of the match was just awesome too. HARASHIMA looked to end with a top rope move but KUDO cut him off and chopped and kicked HARASHIMA until he was dangling off the corner post and then hit a double knee drop on the apron. Then once they got back in the ring, HARASHIMA desperately tried to keep KUDO away by sweeping the leg after KUDO tried to hit a spin kick but KUDO was too much for him. And KUDO finally got the win with the knee drop. Terrific ending. ****


KO-D Openweight Title Match: KUDO (c) vs. Yukio Sakaguchi - DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2015 ~From DDT With Love~ 23/08/2015
This is a very much a simple match filed with mat work and hard strikes. Sakaguchi does tons of good stuff on the mat. While he had KUDO in a crossface, he’d twist the head to the side, adding a little more torque. Sakaguchi had some great body shots as well. When KUDO locked in a figure four, he’d throw a palm strike to try and ease the grip. There was some great synergy between the two, so everything came off slick as hell. KUDO hit a flurry of strikes to the chest before Sakauchi turned it into an armbreaker in a smooth motion. KUDO had some brutal strikes that gave a thudding sound. Some of his strikes were cringe-inducing. They had a great strike exchange as well. Every strike felt like a big blow, and they sold the anguish drive to continue really well with their body language and facial expressions. The final stretch was pretty standard tbh but it was a good finish to the match. A real hard fought match. ****

And yes, Yukio Sakaguchi is releted to Seiji Sakaguchi. He's his son. 


Tag Team Gauntlet Match: Poison Sawada JULIE & Rion Mizuki vs. Soma Takao & Yukio Sakaguchi vs. Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie vs. Hikaru Sato & Michael Nakazawa vs. Hiroo Tsumaki & Isami Kodaka - DDT Nippon Budokan Peter Pan 2012 ~ DDT 15th Anniversary - 18/08/2012
One thing DDT loves is their gauntlet matches. Falls & submissions eliminate the team, then outcomes the next team. Last team left wins. Simple rules for an unsimple promotion. The opening match between Ishii/Irie & Kodaka/Tsumaki was cool. Tsumaki had some neat kicks while Ishii and Irie focused on suplexes. Rion Mizuki and Poison Sawda JULIE (former KO-D Champion) looked funky in their Power Ranger outfits. They don’t last long but Mizuki doing a power punch popped me. And of course, Sato and Nakazawa upstage them with their attires. A nurse's uniform for Nakazawa and a ladies swimming costume for Sato. There is some decent comedy mixed in with the wrestling. Sato keeps it serious generally but he shares baby oil with Nakazawa and then spits it in Ishii’s face. The finishing combo with Sato’s ankle lock and a mandible claw with a pair of undies is exactly what I needed from this pairing. Things get serious when Sakaguchi, along with the original “All Red Everything” Soma Takao, show up. Sakaguchi and Sato have some awesome exchanges on the mat. Sato traps Sakaguchi in a Guillotine which Sakaguchi escapes and then attempts a wild downward stomp. The match takes a downpoint when Takao and Nakazawa come in but then we get more Sakaguchi and Sato nailing each other with some great, stiff strikes, although there is an awkward irish whip into an armbar transition in there. Takao does a funny Boma-Ye impression and hits a neat leg drop to end the match and win. The match was a fun opening bout. Some neat match-ups with nothing dwelling too long. Everyone got some spots in and that was that. ***1/4

 

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DDT DDT New Year! 2010 - 03/01/2010
In Tokyo, Japan (Korakuen Hall) - Drew 1, 266 Fans

13 Man New Year Kakushigei Battle Royal: Kikutaro vs. Munenori Sawa vs. Kazuhiko Ogasawara vs. Tanomusaku Toba vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga vs. Yukihiro Abe vs. Poison Sawada JULIE vs. Rion Mizuki vs. Tomokazu Taniguchi vs. Soma Takao vs. Keisuke Ishii vs. Gota Ihashi vs. Hiroki
A fun battle royal to start the new decade for DDT. As most Battle Royals in DDT are, this is more like a Royal Rumble with entrances after a time period. There is one twist though, as there usually is in DDT, each wrestler heads to the stage set up and performs a talent before heading to the ring. Young wrestlers Keisuke Ishii, a favourite of mine, and Tomomitsu Matsunaga perform a comedy segment as the first two wrestlers in the ring. I don't speak Japanese but I didn't need to in order to laugh as their outfits are ridiculous. Plus the commentary team struggles to stifle laughter was amusing. Laughter is infectious after all. Tanomusku Toba performs on a trumpet poorly and Kazuhiko Ogasawara, of Zero-1 fame, failed to break a bat in half on first attempt. All while Michael Nakazawa stood behind them, still as a statue, caked in mud that would be used in a street performance. I can talk about the skits all day. I loved them all. Battle Royals are something that DDT excels at. Any major show that has them benefits unlike most promotions. The match is irrelevant honestly. The camera is hardly on the ring for 24 minutes this match went on for. And when the action finally gets caught on camera, in almost parody-like fashion, the eliminations come lightning quick while everyone kneels down to watch two wrestlers face each other. Eventually Poison Sawada JULIE wins after the other wrestlers pin each other while tangled together. Surreal finish. I had a blast watching it. The match was secondary. ***

Baba (Hikaru Sato), Cinderella (Danshoku Dino) & King Pokoda (Masa Takanashi) vs. Duke Togo (Francesco Togo), Momotaro (Sasaki and Gabbana) & Supervisor (Antonio Honda)
Keeping with the light theme of the show, we have the big names such as Danshoku Dino, Antonio Honda, Dick Togo (who is under the Francesco name currently as he's a member of the Italian Four Horseman) and Hikaru Sato all under gag names. Some references I get such as Dino being Cinderella because he's a huge kisser and Duke Togo as a play on Dick Togo. Sasaki and Gabbana is more commonly known as Daisuke Sasaki, so I'll just call him that. There was a little play before the match officially began. Antonio Honda would explain what was happening while the wrestlers in the ring would act out what Honda was describing silently. Either it was fight scenes or, um, sexual jokes. Yeah. This match is not work friendly. The match is slightly more serious. There was some crowd brawling and strike exchanges between Sato and Honda but it still has a few gag jokes such as Togo breaking up a pin attempt with a Gun, Mafia style and Dino coming back out wearing a cinderella dress. Dino is the deciding factor in his team winning after a kiss and a Danshoku Driver on Sasaki for the three count. Soon Tokyo Gurentai come out and challenge the UWA World Trio champions (Dino, Sato and Takanashi) to a title match which will be set for the 24th Shin-Kiba event. Let's move on. 

Hoshitango vs. Ken Ohka
Ken Ohka is more known for his loveable loser gimmick as well as running Ganbare Pro - a DDT subsidiary. But here he has blonde hair and it seemed to be the focus of a documentary. Ohka meets fans, goes to a strip club with Yasu Urano and pays for extra. All while a farting noise is recurring throughout the video. Not the most clever of humor, I must admit. Somehow this leads to a 2 minute match with Hoshitango. And it's bizarre. Hoshitango hits a neat shoulder block and a corner splash but Ohka gains the advantage with a kick to the back of the head and hits an elbow drop off the top rope while the lights dim into darkness. Ohka presumably wins. 

Elimination Eight Man Tag Team Match: Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, KUDO & Yasu Urano vs. Futoshi Miwa, MIKAMI, Mitsuya Nagai & Sanshiro Takagi
Okay, how the fuck do I explain this? I can't really. They are all dressed up like stereotypes of the nuclear family. Futoshi Miwa is the family cat, Sanshiro Takagi is dressed as the Mum, Mitsuya Nagai is dressed like an old man. The rest are children. It's quite bizarre. The match isn't really a match. Like most things tonight, it's a skit involving wrestling. Eventually the last two men are Omega and Takagi with Omega beating Takagi. 

30 Man Tag Team Match: Antonio Honda, Chon Shiryu, Francesco Togo, Futoshi Miwa, Gota Ihashi, Hoshitango, MIKAMI, Mitsuya Nagai, Poison Sawada JULIE, Rion Mizuki, Sanshiro Takagi, Sasaki and Gabbana, Soma Takao, Tanomusaku Toba & Tomokazu Taniguchi vs. Danshoku Dino, Hikaru Sato, Keisuke Ishii, Kenny Omega, Ken Ohka, Kikutaro, Kota Ibushi, KUDO, Masa Takanashi, Michael Nakazawa, Munenori Sawa, Tomomitsu Matsunaga, Touru Owashi, Yasu Urano & Yukihiro Abe
The culmination of all the gimmicks tonight. Everyone is involved, even Nakazawa who has been still as a statue all show. It's hard to really describe something like this. So much is happening all over Korakuen Hall. Sawa and Owashi are teaming together to take on Futoshi Miwa. There is a headscisssors spot involving everyone in the stairs (no joke). The funny thing about that spot was when Kikutaro turned Sasaki around for the Boston Crab, causing everyone else to turn to their stomachs as well. Eventually a win was made among the chaos with Nakazawa scoring the roll up win on someone who I don't recognise. Wild match. 

Happy New Years, I guess. 
 

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The King of DDT Tournament is a 16 man single Elimination tournament that takes place once a year. Unlike most promotions, this is the more important tournament in the DDT Callender than the D-Ou which is a Round Robin tournament. When it gets down to the final two, there is a random draw to determine the Semi Final matches. 


King Of DDT 2021 – 1st Round - 10/06/2021

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1A Match: HARASHIMA Vs Makoto Oishi
Makoto Oishi looks like one of your average d-list Indie Junior Heavyweights but he's sneakily good in these smaller settings. He showed that here as well. There was one point in the match where he grapevine HARASHIMA’s leg while he was stuck in the Scorpion Hold position and made it extremely difficult for HARASHIMA to lock on the hold. Oishi is also pretty much the modern day Finlay as well. Before anyone gets excited, I mean his contributions to making Tokyo Joshi Pro’s idol wrestlers, who could barely run the ropes at the start into competent wrestlers with a loyal fanbase. The match continued to be worked around the leg, with both HARASHIMA and Oishi finding different ways to roll into submission holds and other pinning predicaments. HARASHIMA won out in the end but it was a solid showcase for Oishi’s strengths above just giving HARASHIMA a small win into the second round. ***

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1B Match: Yuji Hino Vs Yukio Sakaguchi
I've found Yuji Hino’s run in DDT to be quite boring. Hino is a pudgy man with a big powerbomb and in a promotion with loads of Juniors, it makes sense that he plays the immovable big man but it's played out in a one note way as Hino’s charisma is totally downplayed in that role. But this is different as Sakaguchi is a bit more powerful than, let's say, Yuki Ueno, and has legit fighting skills that can cause Hino trouble, so Hino reverted back to his usual work. Hino messes with Sakaguchi, mocking his fighting stance and slapping the side of his leg but Sakaguchi wasn't having that and decided that choking and kneeing Hino in the face was the way to go. Sakaguchi has the Double Wrist Lock on several times but Hino shrugs him off with ease, showing his strength. We get a strike exchange, this time it being: Kicks vs Chops. And it's alright. Both sell each strike appropriately and they move on to the closing where they go back and forth before Hino wins with the Fucking Bomb. Solid match. ***

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1C Match: MAO Vs Soma Takao
MAO comes out wearing a Duck Ring around his waist, like you'd wear in a Swimming Pool. Ha. MAO has an interesting history. Apparently he was scouted by the company founder, Sanshiro Takagi, on a video of him doing wrestling moves on his trampoline. We have a backyarder in DDT and he's wild. Raw, but a lot of fun to watch. . Soma Takao is a little more boring in his past though. Soma is an odd wrestler himself though. Awesome entrance song, occasionally has a great performance but 8/10 times he's the most average wrestler. Perfectly mechanical. And the match doesn't fit into the minority. MAO teases hitting an Asai Moonsault before realising that he's in Shinjuku Face and there is no room. The action is quick and smooth but nothing special until Mao hits the crazy brainbuster off the top rope. **1/4

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1D Match: Akito Vs Konosuke Takeshita
The VP vs The Company Ace! This is the most exciting match in the first round as it's two of the better wrestlers in the promotion but it's also stablemate against stablemate. The match was super good. It allowed Takeshita to show his grappling skill opposed to sticking with the bomb fest formula. Akito had some neat WOS-esc counters out of the wheelbarrow position and some, plus Akito had some neat small details in his submission work, like digging his elbow and fists into the spine of Takeshita while Akito had him locked in a front head-scissors. Takeshita adapted fairly well to the tricky style of Akito, using his strength to deadlift Akito off his pressure points. The finish was sudden with Takeshita quickly finding a weakness of Akito’s (his arm) and began wrenching on it until he won the match. Great finish. ***1/4

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1E Match: Yuki Ueno Vs Daisuke Sasaki
Coming off Yuki Uneo pinning NOAH’s former GHC Heavyweight Champion, Kaito Kiyomiya, I'm certain that Ueno losing was not the correct choice. Even if Daisuke Sasaki cheated to win. Head scratching booking choice. The match was short with the tide turning constantly. Each move looked like it could get the win for either guy which I suppose is a good thing but the result throws me off. And I say that as a Daisuke Sasaki fan. **

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1F Match: Shunma Katsumata Vs Jun Akiyama
If you want to see Jun Akiyama beating some deathmatch wannabe punk while wearing his pink beanie, this is for you. Shunma pinballs himself about for Akiyama, while adopting a never stop moving approach in the brief spells he gets on offence. Soon the legos come out but Akiyama is able to move when Shunma attempts a flying splash and rolls him up. Fun match. ***

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1G Match: Kazusada Higuchi Vs Naomi Yoshimura
This is a bit of a waste of Higuchi. A large part of the match was mostly just chop exchanges. And while they chop hard, any time they actually wrestled, the match was exceptionally better. Higuchi had a great claw hold that looked painful, which is rare and that led to Yoshimura attempting to lift him up in order to hit an exploder only to be forced back down. And that led into a chokeslam (but not a choke as Higuchi is holding the face) for the win. That was the first great finish and only a small hint of what they could do against each other. The tag matches between Eruption and Yoshimura/Ueno are other examples of that as well. **

King Of DDT 2021 – Round 1H Match: Tetsuya Endo Vs Chris Brookes
This was an interesting match. It was mostly built around the Octopus Hold and both attempted to get the wins. Brookes can be inconsistent but he does have moments of quality, like adapting the hold to wrap Endo’s arm in a hammer lock position around the ropes. These two really put in a ton of effort with it being a main event and it resulted in an exciting competitive match with some cool moments, such as the aforementioned Octopus Hold battle and Endo bringing out an updated version of a Canadian Destroyer. Everything's better when you hook the arms. And that led to the Shooting Star Press finish to end the night out strong. ***1/2

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Hoshitango, Tomomitsu Matsunaga and Michael Nakazawa as the Nuru Nuru Brothers and Gorgeous Matsuno were the gimmicks I simply couldn't get when I was following DDT some 15 or so years ago. Muscle Sakai was a comedy wrestler but he at least was funny.

There's some quality stuff from back then you should check out and review if you haven't. Shuji Ishikawa's KO-D title run as Koo, a Hawaiian Kane ripoff in the hWo which was a Hawaiian NWO ripoff, Dick Togo's KO-D title run as the leader of Metal Vampire, HARASHIMA's first title run after his run as HERO!, etc. I'm actually thinking of rewatching some of these are those KO-D title main event matches at Korakuen Hall always delivered.

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I've watched very little of pre-2009 DDT. But I have see the Aloha World Order. Antonio Honda was doing a Ricky Steamboat impression which was hilarious. I will check out what you mentioned. Some are on their service, some isn't so I'll have to rely on my skills at finding matches and links. 

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  • 2 months later...

CyberFight Festival 2021 -  06/06/2021
Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura vs. The 37KAMIINA (Konosuke Takeshita & Yuki Ueno)
It was great seeing Kiyomiya against wrestlers that he can consider his equals and peers. No offence to Go Shiozaki, Takashi Sugiura and Marufuji, but they aren't his peers, but rather his seniors which makes him feel lesser to them in a promotion like NOAH. Here, he feels like what he is presented as. He's a NOAH representative and a star. That makes a world of difference. The match itself was excellent. It was exactly what you want from a dream interpromotional match, at this level anyway. It’s not Shinya Hashimoto/Yuji Nagata v Jun Akiyama/Mitsuharu Misawa. Everyone went full pelt, trying to shine above each other and score the victory for their respective promotions. No one was the clear weak link. It was a series of bombs and bombs with the occasional cohesive tag team wrestling in between. Takeshita and Kiyomiya had some banging exchanges where they'd throw each other on their necks and keep on ticking out of pride. Ueno and Inamura had their spotlight as well. It was very hard to ignore Ueno hitting amazing dropkicks at a drop of a dime and even scoring the pin fall victory over Kiyomiya, which was a big shock to everyone including myself. Great interpromotional bout. ***3/4

 

DDT Who's Gonna Top 2021 - 26/09/2021
KO-D Openweight Title Match: Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs. Chris Brookes
What a strong ace performance this was by Takeshita. Chris Brookes is a tricky opponent that has beaten Takeshita before but he isn't necessarily a credible threat to the title so Takeshita had to step up in his own way to have a strong offensive performance in his first title defence of the reign while making Brookes come off a bit viable challenger, and I thought he did that. His selling was truly excellent just before the final stretch. Brookes hit two neck crunching moves which Takeshita sold like death, just barely being able to escape being pinned. Takeshita sold in a way that made him come off as vulnerable and in danger of losing . Takeshita was able to make a hard hitting comeback with Brookes breaking his nose just before the finish off a lariat, which was a brutal way to break it, ending with a Plus Ultra. ***3/4
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

TJPW Wrestle Princess 2 - 09/10/2021

Haruna Neko, Kaya Toribami & Mahiro Kiryu vs. Pom Harajuku, Raku & Ram Kaicho
This was a fun way to kick off the show. All six are solid wrestlers with their own little quirks and gimmicks that can be presented in short bursts. **

Hyper Misao vs. Rika Tatsumi vs. Nodoka Tenma
I think this spot is far too low for someone like Rika Tatsumi who spent half of the year as PoP champion, regardless of on-going storylines which I admittedly haven't been following. From what I can find, this was the only spot available as Tatsumi was ill, or something, for most of the build. Nodoka Tenma and Hyper Misao are fun acts to work with, however, so this was an enjoyable experience. Tatsumi and Misao played off their history together, linking it in with some comedy spots. Tatsumi hit Misao after Nodoka moved from an attempted double team move on purpose after initially stopping herself, similar to one of Florida Express’  signature gags, and then later she turned on Misao again, hitting a hip attack after posing together. Nodoka took the brunt of most of the offence but she was the eventual winner of the match which stunned me a little. **1/2

VENYU (ASUKA & Yuki Kamifuku) vs. Marika Kobashi & Nao Kakuta
Audio aside, I kinda loved the entrance of Kamiyu and ASUKA. I love how their gimmicks are about how comfortable they are flaunting their sexuality. The match didn't amount to much except for establishing VENYU as a dominant duo. The match was booked accordingly, like Kobashi and Kakuta were inferior with the two constantly being on the back foot against the aggressive style of ASUKA and Kamiyu. Nao Kakuta got some shine in the match when paired against Kamiyu and ASUKA stood out a lot with her character work and charisma. This was a solid match that got what it needed to get across. **3/4

Riho & Shoko Nakajima vs. Arisu Endo & Suzume
Riho is back in TJPW. It’s been awhile since Riho has done anything notable, in fact. Not since May when she wrestled for the NWA World Women's Title against Serena Deeb. Similar to the match prior, this was two wrestlers higher on the totem pole against two lesser wrestlers, only Endo and Suzume seem to be proper prospects with the idea behind the match being Riho wanting to see how much they've improved since she was a mainstay in the promotion. There was a lot of poise in Endo and Suzume’s offence, and while they didn't look like they were going to win, they looked competent enough with Riho and Shoko leading the way. **1/4

Aja Kong & Moka Miyamoto vs. Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai
In 2021, there is only so much mileage you can get out of Aja Kong but this does a splendid job of milking what they could, getting the most out of her star power while using it for the benefit of Arai and Miu. I don't think I'll be able to get the visual of Yuki Arai locking up with Aja Kong out of my mind nor Miu trying to hit a giant swing on Kong. That was the peak of the match for me. The struggle and selling of the moment was huge and felt significant. Miu even getting Kong slightly off the mat showed a lot. Miyamoto was the least important of the match but she had her spots against Arai, who she defeated earlier in the year. The closing stretch was shockingly good. There was genuine drama in the near falls  a lot of the time. Most of which had Arai kick surviving Kong’s signature offence or Miu stopping the count. It was an effective way to end the match before the inevitable moment. ***1/4

International Princess Title Match: Hikari Noa (c) vs. Yuki Aino
The definition of solid. Both wrestlers have their own set of skills and combine them together to make a compelling, but not great match. It's a match of flash vs basics with not much fluff in between. *** 

Princess Tag Team Title Match: Magical Sugar Rabbits (Mizuki & Yuka Sakazaki) vs. NEO Biishiki-gun (Mei Saint-Michel & Sakisama) (c)
This is one of those matches that improved as it went along. There was some classic NBG comedy that was both awkward and sloppily done. It hardly felt out of place but it was poorly executed. The match took its time to regain its footing and kick on but it did thanks to the great skill of all involved. The tag team wrestling was excellent. The match had plenty of great double team sequences, from both Biishiki Gun and MSR, with contrasting character works. Mei was a little shit the whole match, using her smaller size to cause trouble for Yuka and Mizuki. The dynamics of her and Sakisama were excellently on display and it allowed for a compelling match on top of the action itself. Miracle Sugar Rabbits were great in their own right with their tremendous chemistry as a team while using their individual talents to enhance the match in the vital moments. Some of their spots were creative like the broom spot, giving Mei her due receipts, and the double cross bodys to both the inside and outside of the ring. The finish with Mizuki picking up the win was a little sudden but with an action packed match, maybe a more intense closing stretch would've been a bit much. All in all, I really enjoyed the match despite its rough start. The performances were distinctive and compelling. Mei Sint-Michel as a gimmick is right up my alley. It makes perfect use of Mei's creativity and ability to think of cool moves and ideas. ***3/4 

Princess Of Princess Title Match: Miyu Yamashita (c) vs. Maki Itoh
Oh my! What a magnificent ending this match had. Sometimes describing something in wrestling as “emotional” can be a little tacky but this was all visceral in how much emotion it projected. Once Miyu hit Itoh with the spinning heel kick, Itoh started yelling in anguish while on the ground and Miyu, almost, started to cry, feeling the moment and feeling that victory was close. The whole match was a great piece of work.  Miyu was phenomenal in holding this match together with Maki Itoh, who I generally don’t care for, holding her weight. She leveled up to the occasion - her biggest match to date and one of the few chances she’ll get to shed the loser tag she has - adding some good babyface fire to the match. Although I hated the moment in the match where Itoh caught Miyu in a single-leg crab only to let it go instantly to do a top rope move. That's just poor wrestling. Most of the match was driven around Miyu’s striking combos and Itoh's counters which led to smooth and crisp sequences with not much down time. From bell-to-bell, they worked towards getting the win. Then it ended in the appropriate manner with Miyu, who’s been the company’s ace since the start, ending the night giving the speech holding the title. ****

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DDT Get Alive 2021 - 12/10/2021

KO-D Tag Team Title Match: The 37KAMIINA (Konosuke Takeshita & Shunma Katsumata) (c) vs. DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA & Naomi Yoshimura)

The strength of this match was the great teamwork of Takeshita and Shunma Katsumata. They were a well oiled unit, not only making constant saves whenever one was on the backfoot, but linking up together offensively, too, pulling out terrific double team moves and sequences. Including an avalanche rolling senton ala The Quebecers. Together, they were able to control most of the match, isolating Yoshimura from HARASHIMA and almost winning out in the end. Yoshimura had a strong performance though, taking both 2 on 1 when it mattered, allowing his team to make a great comeback. The closing stretch was excellent. Logical nearfalls with the finisher teases. Yoshimura got the win for his team as well to win the KO-D Tag Team Titles with the Powerbomb. ****

 

DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 In Ota-ku - 03/11/2021

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: HARASHIMA vs. Kazusada Higuchi

This was a strong opening bout. HARASHIMA looked keen to start quickly and began to isolate Higuchi’s leg with kicks and submissions very quickly. Higuchi had to use his array of power strikes and headbutts to escape HARASHIMA’s strategy. Higuchi's selling is really good and he usually never lets me down in that regard, despite his size and style. He always maintains that vulnerability despite being the big guy out of the core DDT wrestlers. Higuchi getting the win was cool. Hope it’s the start of a good tournament for him. ***1/2

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block A Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Yuki Ueno

Akiyama falls to a flash pin. Where have we heard that before? A good solid underdog performance by Ueno though. He sells well and tweaks his offence to serve his opponent greatly. Akiyama is as surly as ever and works stiff but reckless, leading to the upset. ***

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: Yuji Okabayashi vs. Konosuke Takeshita

These two went 30 minutes and broke the ring. Classic heavyweight wrestling bout. Admittedly a lot of this was standard ground setting with a lot more emphasis on grappling to set up the bigger bomb spot down the stretch. Some of it was good like the greco-roman knuckle lock - who doesn’t like a good knuckle lock? - some came off a bit generic but the match’s bread and butter was the bomb-fest section of the match. Bone crunching bumps, hard hitting strikes, all the good sequences you’d imagine from these two until the bell rang at the 30 minute mark. ***1/2

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DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 In Yokohama - 06/11/2021
D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block A Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Yuji Hino
Impressive main event performance by Hino. He is much more vulnerable and interesting against Akiyama, where he’s the smaller guy than against the Junior Heavyweights of the roster. He couldn’t slap his way through it as Akiyama can give as good as he gets alongside the technical skill that comes with it. Akiyama attacked the arm of Hino, forcing Hino into new ideas. Hino’s selling was really good; better than I would’ve thought. He was very sympathetic and it made me want him to win. Akiyama put him over like a champ as well. Akiyama tends to lose in upset ways - in 3-5 minutes - that don’t actually put the person over *as a star* but this was a better example of that. ***3/4

 

DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 In Shinjuku - 10/11/2021
D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: Konosuke Takeshita vs. MAO
MAO isn’t the cleanest wrestler in DDT, being a former backyard wrestler, with it being a part of his charm but this is one of his more smoother displays in terms of striking, aerial moves and linking it all together. MAO rocked Takeshita’s jaw with punches throughout the match and bested him in a lot of exchanges. Takeshita took MAO lightly and almost lost the match because of it. Takeshita was a solid base for MAO’s aerial moves, coming up with sick counters which, in turn, made for some exciting near falls like the nearfall on the suplex. ***3/4

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: Yuji Okabayashi vs. Chris Brookes
This was another quality match involving Chris Brookes, wrestling’s most improved wrestler of 2021. His smaller frame really made himself a good opponent for Okabayashi to work off. He could climb around Okabayashi like Masahiro Takanashi would try, attempting any submissions that would open up. Okabayashi powered through it with brute force though. Brookes, to his credit, took the chopping and corner splashes like a champ, and kept on going despite the difference in hitting power. ***1/4

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block A Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Tetsuya Endo
I hate it. Even some of the greatest wrestlers of all time have the worst ideas and do the most terrible finishes. And this had a finish that’s done way more often than it should at this level. Tetsuya Endo hits a sweet Tetsuya In The Sky (Shooting Star Press), lands as clean as he usually does, and Akiyama rolls him up for an inside cradle. No. As you can tell, I hate this finish but the rest of the match lived up to what I expected. Endo worked from beneath against Akiyama, working the mat surprisingly well and being able to keep on top of the veteran with his dives but Akiyama’s style is a true and tested formula in DDT (And wrestling) and he gets success  with it again. ***1/2

 

DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 In Osaka - 14/11/2021
D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: Chris Brookes vs. MAO
This was very experimental and idealistic, playing on the ideas of wrestling and how it could be done. In true DDT fashion. The count out teases were purposely long and played up to 10, a big wheel was used as a weapon, with a football goal in the background, they went outside of the building to have a short comedy skit. This was funny with a finish that fit it all. Brookes trapped MAO in a block of bins (?) while upside down to prevent MAO getting back in the ring for the count out. Even in this style of match, the match had a story. It was a little long though. And some of the early traditional wrestling offence didn’t look good, whatsoever. The charm was the comedy. ***1/2

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: HARASHIMA vs. Konosuke Takeshita
HARASHIMA loses another match in the D-Ou GP. This time, to the ace of the promotion who convincingly is the better of the two judging from the performances. HARASHIMA edged Takeshita out with his grappling, because of the attack on the arm but Takeshita controlled and bested him in most other ways. Takeshita was able to successfully avoid HARASHIMA’s biggest hits, using the momentum of the missed Somato to hit the rolling German Suplex. The lack of a big match setting aside, this was a main event level match (that wasn’t the main event). ***3/4

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: Yuji Okabayashi vs. Kazusada Higuchi
There are quite few visuals in wrestling that I enjoy more than sweat bouncing off someone's chest after a hard chop;. That’s when you know that so much energy and power was thrown beyond the strikes. Higuchi more than showed his worth, taking the chops and lariats, and everything else that Okabayashi threw at him and gave it back, along with a Claw which had way more drama behind it than a clawhold should have in the year 2021. That was down to the incredible selling from both sides to make it a credible finish, alongside everything else they did in the amazing closing stretch. This was somewhat of a clash of two giants that were slugging it away, fighting and struggling in a highly competitive match. ****1/4

 

DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 In Korakuen Hall - 21/11/2021
D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: HARASHIMA vs. Yuji Okabayashi
As Okabyashi hoisted HARASHIMA onto his shoulders, desperate wrenching down on the torture rack manoeuvre, HARASHIMA hangs on until the bell rings, signianlling the 30 minute time limit, sending Okabayashi one step out of the tournament, redeeming himself after losing every match. It reads like a movie synopsis. It truly does. And on top of a great narrative that it told, it gave us the best of both wrestlers. We get a classic Okabayashi strike exchange with HARASHIMA offering his violent kicks to match Okabyashi’s chops but we get some of the excellent grappling early in the match from HARASHIMA. This was a great, great match for a ton of reasons. ****

D-Ou Grand Prix 2021 2 Block B Match: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Kazusada Higuchi
I didn’t expect Takeshita to definitively put away Higuchi to advance to the finals. It was a fun sprint, allowing for Takeshita to come off super strong which a lot of companies tend not to do with their top babyfaces, opting for the underdog approach (which Takeshita never really suited being) but Higuchi could’ve, should’ve got more shine and kept the same idea. Especially coming off that amazing match against Okabayashi on the prior show. ***

Edited by Makai Club #1
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DDT Judgement 2022 ~ 25th Anniversary - 20/03/2022  
KO-D 10-Man Tag Team Title Match: Toru Owashi, Antonio Honda, Kazuki Hirata & Yoshihiko (c) vs Poison Sawada JULIE, Takashi Sasaki, GENTARO, MIKAMI & Tanomusaku Toba (w/ Naomi Susan)
It's hard to say this is the generational match with veterans such as Honda and Owashi in one of the teams but it's sort of the first wave of DDT wrestlers against the next wave. Team D²T is an appropriate name to call back to that history. And this was the first great start to the show. They packed some of the bigger gimmicks in DDT in this match such as Hirata, Yoshihiko, Honda, etc and they did well to include their spots among the, tad more, serious Legends side. Although it was just as hilarious seeing GENTARO react to Yoshihiko than anything else. I'm not really into Poison Sawada as a gimmick but he's not a detraction whatsoever. All in all, this was a fun opener. ***

Special Single Match: Saki Akai vs Maya Yukihi
These two had no chemistry in the build-up to this but they were somewhat handicapped by being forced into doing teaser spots which, unless you're Genichiro Tenryu and Riki Choshu, aren't always great to watch. But they put in a great effort when allowed to have sustained momentum and actually work each other. Akai got a good win, throwing some good kicks and holding her own through Yukihi's submission sequences. The transition from the Octopus Hold to the Quetzalcoat was sweet as hell. The best moments of the match came from Yukihi though, who does have something to prove after leaving the comfort zone of Ice Ribbon. She had some great head kicks that would rock anyone and her Swanton bomb looked terrific. ***1/4

DDT 25th Anniversary Special Single Match No DQ “I’m Sorry” Match: Sanshiro Takagi vs Michael Nakazawa
Despite being 52 years old, Takagi still does what he does best, and that is fuse the Attitude Era brawl, plunder and all, and the DDT gag style together to make a compelling match. It didn't reach the heights of MAO vs Takagi but it had its memorable moments, such as Takagi hitting a piledriver on Nakazawa over a toilet and Takagi crashing the DDT Mobile in the pyramid of chairs as Hyper Misao did at Grand Princess the night prior. This was worked in a similar way to an I Quit match so thee rest of the match was the two doing things to each other until Takagi threatened to power bomb Nakazawa through stacked boxes and Nakazawa quit. And then Takagi put him through it anyway, because he's the president and what is anyone going to do about it. Nakazawa humbled himself and offered a present in the form of Christopher Daniels announcing that DDT wrestlers will go to the United States. Big news indeed. ***

Special Tag Match: Isami Kodaka & Yukio Sakaguchi vs 37 KAMIINA (Yuki Ueno & Shunma Katsumata) 
This opened up with Sakaguchi going on his back and challenging Ueno to pass his guard which Ueno was able to do after some persistence before Sakaguchi changed position and regained control. Which was a call back to last years' singles match. Shunma and Kodaka paired off naturally with Kodaka consistently beating Shunma, despite his best efforts. Kodaka didn't hold back in nailing Shunma with kicks either. The better parts of the match happened when Ueno and Sakaguchi were in the ring. But this had some solid tag team wrestling to offer with Kodaka and Sakaguchi throwing double kick combos out there. Ueno got the win over Sakaguchi in an emphatic way, after hitting three of his biggest moves. ***1/2

LiLiCo Retirement Match: LiLiCo, Ryohei Odai & Akito (w/ Junretsu) vs Pheromones (Danshoku “Dandy” Dino, Yuki “Sexy” Iino & Yumehito “Fantastic” Imanari)
Easily the most gimmicked and outrageous match of the nights. Pheromones played all the hits, no matter how perverse it was. But it was rather amusing and entertaining. LiLiCo got a good send off, with most of the match revolving around her and Odai, her husband. All good fun, albeit far too long. Plenty of things happened in the match but they aren't best described in words. It's all visual. The best part of the match was Junrestu serenading LiLiCo after the match. 

Jun Akiyama 30th Anniversary Match: Burning Wild (Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori) vs Eruption (Kazusada Higuchi & Hideki Okatani) 
Burning Wild returns for the 30th Anniversary! But this is also a massive test for Okatani to face these two at a stage like Ryogoku. One of the main story threads was Okatani trying to prove himself against his old mentor, Akiyama. He's still in the development stages but he was very good in the underdog who never backs down role. It didn't quite mirror Akiyama v Kawada but it didn't need to either. Okatani came out looking good, even if Akiyama is above him by a wide margin. The other story was Higuchi showing his strength against people who are the same size as him. Higuchi was certainly able to beat Omori towards the end, as he should've but I can't say that I didn't find those exchanges a bit disappointing. There is more to heavyweight wrestling than chops and lariats. ***1/2

DDT Universal Title Hardcore 3 Way Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs Jun Kasai vs MAO
I knew that this would be a great match. These are three of the craziest wrestlers in Japanese wrestling today and when you put them together, that chaos was only going to grow. The weapons being used were very on brand - MAO brought in a steel beam and Kasai brought in skewers (that went right into everyone's skulls) and used a broken piece of word to stick into Sasaki's forehead. Naturally everyone was bloody and battered. Sasaki, in particular, got cut open badly. He had half of his face painted white but once the blood started to pour, the white turned into dark red. The finish was nuts as well. MAO hit an emerald flying flowsion of the beam, that was then placed between two ladders, on Sasaki through a table to win the Universal Title. MAO was the third wheel in the Sasaki and Kasai feud and he seemed determined to be considered as a threat and came out the victor. ***3/4

KO-D Tag Team Title Match: DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA & Naomi Yoshimura) (c) vs CDK (Chris Brookes & Masahiro Takanashi) 
Like the other tag team matches of the night, this was pure quality without ever turning into anything special. HARASHIMA is clearly taking a step back to allow Yoshimura to be the star of the time, but without that extra spark, they never get past that ceiling. Yoshimura is steadily improving as the workhorse of the team, however. He came off looking strong, forcing CDK to have to double team him consistently to get anything on him. Brookes winning by practically ripping Yoshimura apart in a manner classic British wrestlers would be proud of made for a great finish. ***1/2

KO-D Openweight Title Match: Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs Tetsuya Endo
It's appropriate that this was the main event for such a landmark show. Long time rivals going against each other one more time. Endo has never beaten Takeshita for the KO-D Openweight Title before and this seemed to be his time. The storytelling in the match with Endo changing his approach, adopting a more technical and methodical approach to the match, to good success. Takeshita, in turn, went to the sky more than he has done in a while. This slowly built up until the 25 minute mark where the high impact signature moves came out. Takeshita hit some nasty brain busters and hit all his signature moves but Endo couldn't be denied. For a 46 minute match, this was paced well. If anything the match felt too long at the end rather than the start feeling stretched out. But this was a quality main event. ****1/4

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DDT King Of DDT 2022 Final Round - 03/07/2022
King Of DDT 2022 Semi Final Match: Naomi Yoshimura vs. Yuki Ueno
Good semi finals. A tad better than their D-Ou GP match but the pacing was stronger and the stakes are more urgent, also reflected well in their performances. Ueno nailed some good dropkicks and Yoshimura showcased his biggest moves for the finals. ***1/4

King Of DDT 2022 Semi Final Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Kazusada Higuchi
Unlike the prior semi final match where the momentum was even, Higuchi had to dig deep to beat Akiyama who looked to be in firm control for a large points in the match. Akiyama blasted Higuchi with his knee strikes and constantly looked a threat with the guillotine choke. Higuchi sold the beat down really well, garnering much needed sympathy against Akiyama which will serve him going into the Finals which is now for the Vacant KO-D Openweight Title. ***1/2

KO-D Openweight Title King Of DDT 2022 Final Match (vacant): Kazusada Higuchi vs. Naomi Yoshimura
Admittedly, I knew the result of the match as I didn’t watch it live. I do, however, raise my hands in victory upon hearing the news. Why? I don’t know. I’m a big dork, I guess. So the appeal of the match wasn;t who was going to win but how Higuchi would do it. Higuchi came into the match worse for wear with Akiyama aggravating a neck injury which gave Yoshimura licence to attack early on. Mostly the match seemed to be inevitably Higuchi’s with all his signature moves being the focus point that the match is built around. Yoshimura had his moments like that tremendous feat of strength of the superplex and him blocking the Claw Hold on its first attempt was a terrific spot too. They had a cool chop exchange that had a great sense of tension behind each strike, and the way they elevated it to lariat strikes and then Higuchi blocking the Judo Throw was some amazing pieces of wrestling. The crowd broke the rules to gasp for it because it was executed so well. And the closing stretch was nothing short of a hoot. Yoshimura was able to survive on Claw Hold Chokeslam, which is a big way to put him over in defeat and Higuchi had to block another Judo Throw attempt - a last gasp effort to win by Yoshimura - before executing one more to win the title belt. And Sakaugchi and the rest of Eruption storming the ring was a tremendous touch. It felt genuine and heartfelt. I've been watching DDT for several years now and outside of HARASHIMA, Higuchi was the first guy I really connected to and wanted to see acheive and seeing him win the title is just that. That's what wrestling is all about. ****1/4

TJPW Summer Sun Princess '22 - 07/07/2022
International Princess Title Match: Maki Itoh (c) vs. Alex Windsor
Clearly, Windsor had impressed someone when she faced the TJPW women during their mini tours to Europe earlier in the year, because she not only got a spot on the show but won a title against Maki Itoh. She was decent in the match but not extraordinary. Not that Itoh was either. Windsor’s character work could do with some fine tuning as she’s a little too preoccupied by projecting it than being a real person. The work was fine. This was a Maki Itoh match so it was heavy with Itoh-chan spots Windsor fed her well though and did enough to pick up the convincing win. *** 

Miyu Yamashita vs. Thunder Rosa
This was somewhat disappointing. Perhaps it was me not liking that Yamashita came off as the lesser of the two, no I’m not talking about the roll-up finish, but throughout the match, it didn’t seem like Miyu was in her home promotion but the fans got behind her nonetheless. Miyu didn’t exactly gel with Thunder Rosa perfectly either. There were some sloppy moments, but not too many, and the match didn’t flow like Miyu matches do even against the low midcarders. It was enjoyable but that's about as far as I’m willing to praise it. Perhaps the rematch will actually deliver but given how AEW treats outsiders that aren’t making them money or staying there for periods of time, I don’t expect much. ***

Princess Tag Team Title Match: Magical Sugar Rabbits (Mizuki & Yuka Sakazaki) (c) vs. Saki Akai & Yuki Arai
Arai and Yuka work the mat to start, ending in a stalemate, before tagging in their respective partners. Mizuki put her hand up, Saki Akai did as well but seeing the height different, Mizuki stomped her feet which was a cool character moment for Mizuki who is the more blander of her team. The match quickly gets into the comfort zone of MSR working over Yuki Arai, then Saki Akai. Yuki Arai was the main focus of the match with being the main FIP, thus working most of the key spots. Mizuki and Arai worked well together as much as Arai and Yuka did, I thought. Yuka worked aggressively, forcing Arai into a defensive position whereas Mizuki and Arai flowed more with their even footed story. The highlight of the match was MSR showing off their team work which was impressive and creative as it always is. But the challengers had their moments too. Like Yuki Arai slamming  Mizuki down and Saki Akai suplexes Yuka, who was on the ropes, onto her. And some of the most compelling aspects of the match was MSR’s attempts to thwart Saki Akai’s Quetzalcoatl, which eventually came followed by a double kick to get the three count, crowning new champions. It was a really good match. I suppose the result shouldn’t have come to a surprise considering it’s Yuka Arai but it was a good effort. Obviously Mizuki and Yuka carried the nuts and bolts of everything but Saki Akai and Yuki Arai held up their worth. And it was obviously an emotional moment for them, especially Arai, who cried.  ***1/2

Princess Of Princess Title Match: Shoko Nakajima (c) vs. Rika Tatsumi
I see Shoko as the ultimate player who has the key to winning each time. I love that she has a finishing combo that seemingly works every time, because for what she lacks of true, engrossing energy, like Rika Tatsumi displayed in the match, she has in strong booking that consistently reinforces the notion that she is a force. And champions really need that one key thing and she has it. That’s a rare trait to have. Now Tatstmi was amazing in the match. While it’s unfortunate that she did the Goto under the waterfall gimmick and lost just the same, she came out like a star in defeat. She picked Shoko apart, using the dragon suplex, then hip attacks (some from the top rope to the outside of all things) before transitioning to the dragon sleeper which may have been the best use of a submission in the closing stretch of the entire year. The crowd and I were hooked into thinking that was the moment but that killer combo of the DDT & top rope senton was inevitable. ****

DDT Ganbare Pro Wrestle Sekigahara 2022 - 10/07/2022
Isami Kodaka & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie
Stacked opening bout with three former KO-D Openweight Champions. Ishii is no slouch either, being a tremendous wrestler when on form. A true wrestler’s wrestler. Ishii and Irie are a super fun tag team. One of the most underrated of the 2010s era of tag teams for me. They aren’t DoiYoshi or YAMADoi or even the Young Bucks but they were a very good team. Ishii and Ishikawa have this awesome little exchange where Ishii is blasting Ishikawa with kicks and Ishikawa is staggering but staying on his feet like a wounded giant, which just eggs Ishii to do more. Irie and Ishikawa do more of the Big Japan strong division style which I’m less fond of but it’s decent enough. There is a cool bit where they are exchanging headbutts but Irie is winning and hits several more than necessary while Ishikawa was on his knees. The wounded giant story comes into play later when Irie and Ishii are working together to knock him out of the ring. Kodaka takes a smaller role within the match because, as stated on the english commentary, he is working a BASARA show later in the night, also explaining why this is the opener. But he doesn’t shy away from taking some of the bigger bumps of the match like when Ishii dropped him on his head. Plus his closing stretch with Ishii is splendid. ***1/2

Minoru Suzuki vs. Shuichiro Katsumura
I can imagine Suzuki thinking about how nice this match-up is as Katsumura loves to work that submission heavy style and Suzuki being a student of Fujiwara, it’s an interesting match. And they do exactly as expected. Katsumura is on the skinny side but he’s really crafty and suprirses Suzuki with his armbars. Suzuki then attacks the leg underhandedly, first using the ropes and then gets a chair involved. The match does fall into the trap of Suzuki-isms with the elbow strikes though. And there are some dreadful elbows mixed in with some decent ones. The only bright sparks of that portion of the match were the crowd rallying behind Katsumura who was falling behind and Katsumura countering a corner one with a cross armbreaker. The match gives Katsumura a decent amount of false finishes like the Gogoplata submission but Suzuki was able to put him away eventually with a Gotch Piledriver. That concluded what was a good match. It was a little different from the usual Suzuki match but that dreaded spot reared its ugly forehead. ***1/2

Calamari Drunken Kings (Chris Brookes & Masahiro Takanashi) vs. Romance Dawn (Shota & Soma Takao)
While this was on the long side of things, I thought this was a super piece of work. CDK was doing some solid work this year, sneakily ranking up there as one of the best tag teams of 2022. They work together very well to work over Shota with double team spots to isolate Shota and add tension to the match. Brookes was excellent in the match with his technical work which is normally Takanashi’s strong point. He also did some great heel spots, such as attacking HARUKAZE, who was accompanying Romance Dawn to ringside, ripping at her mask and then later launching her to the outside onto the other accompanying GanPro wrestlers. But the MVP of the match was Shota, who was sublime as the selling babyface. And he had to be as Shota did pretty much nothing all match. He went missing so Shota took on all of the responsibility, working for sympathy as well as working for the upset win over the KO-D Tag Team Champions. And the Gannosuke Clutch finish was magnificent. I’ll never get tired of seeing it used. ***3/4

Spirit Of Ganbare World Openweight Title Match: Yumehito Imanari (c) vs. Ken Ohka
Worthy main event. In the classic Ganbare spirit, this was all heart when it mattered. Ohka did what's right and put over the hardest working man in the DDT Universe, Imanari. The commentary reinforces the point that this is two friends putting it all on the line and they deliver on that. The match doesn’t go crazy trying to top Okada vs Omega. It’s done simply and builds to a satisfying finish. ***

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DDT Into The Fight 2005 - 30/01/2005
KO-D Openweight Title Match: MIKAMI (c) vs. Dick Togo

The DDT Dramatic Fantasia version joins in progress (5-6 minutes approx). Togo is beating on MIKAMI with punches but first misses with a baseball slide into the post and then he gets launched into the ring post on the apron and then once more which causes Dick Togo to start bleeding. MIKAMI hits a magnificent moonsault to the floor in the follow up. The match goes back into the ring where MIKAMI hits a punch to the head and throws Togo into a ladder, MIKAMI’s favourite weapon. MIKAMI puts extra emphasis on his punches, making sure that they target the wound of Togo. MIKAMI even throws a downward elbow that thankfully missed for Togo’s sake. Togo cuts off MIKAMI with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but MIKAMI, quick as a cat, rolls Togo up and locks in the figure four leg lock. Togo reverses the hold and then hits a dropkick to MIKAMI’s injured ribs, turning the tide. I didn’t love how little MIKAMI kicking out of the Pedigree from the top rope meant. It was more of a lead-in to Togo attempting it off a ladder, which is nuts. MIKAMI backdrops him and hits a dive off the ladder. Togo shrugs it off though as they trade more roll ups. MIKAMI then sets up a Swanton Bomb off the ladder, and it looks absoltuely gorgous when he hits it, but he doesn’t go for the pin, instead hitting a 450! Togo kicks out of it and is staggering but he hits a last gasp powerbomb for a nearfall. Togo hits mean lariats, then pedigree and finally the senton to win his first KO-D Openweight title. Cue Cypress Hill. The match is really good offensively but the selling isn’t all that good. Super moves were brushed aside too easily for the next sequence but the sequences were usually cool enough to keep the match on track. Dick Togo is met with challengers, including Sanshiro Takagi. MIKAMI is out until May, most likely due to injury as well. ***1/2

DDT Don't Try This At Home 2005 - 25/02/2005 
KO-D Openweight Title Match: Dick Togo (c) vs. Sanshiro Takagi
Sanshiro Takagi had beaten KUDO in a mini tournament to get this title match. I like the older version of Takagi. The funny president who does Weapons Rumbles. But this version of Sanshiro Takagi is an absolute baller. He is a total Austin fanboy and it shows but the imitation is a good one. He opens the match with some awesome punches and this awesome energy that sucked you right in. The match spills into the crowd where Takagi hits a running lariat, causing himself to almost fall down the chairs. The match comes back to the ring where Togo puts Takagi through a table and busts him open. Togo goes to work on the cut with nasty elbows and stomps. Togo goes for a springboard dropkick but he slipped on the ropes and sold his leg (like a pro). I could tell it was a botch because after Takagi attacked the leg, Togo cut him off and resumed control. The blood begins to pour a bit more when Takagi fires up. Takagi hits an awesome lariat and does a few other things like a back diving elbow to Togo. The referee takes a bump after Togo pushes Takagi into her and Togo’s goons, some dude who looks like George Banks from Mary Poppins, Nobutaka Moribe and Tomohiko Hashimoto (who are the KO-D Tag Team Champions), attempt to interfere. Takagi thankfully gets rid of them quickly as they head into the closing stretch. Takagi escapes the Pedigree but gets caught in the Crossface. Takagi gets a few nearfalls on Togo,, including a DDT off the top rope. Dick Togo hits the pedigree but Takagi no-sells it. Awful. Dick Togo has his hands on knuckle dusters and uses it to block a powerbomb. The usual combo of the pedigree and senton follow and Dick Togo retains. I do realise that Takagi is likely parodying the fighting spirit spot but it still annoyed me and came across as gratiotius. It marred what was a really good showing from him. Togo kicks ass in this cheating heel role and he lives to fight another day. ***1/2

DDT Judgement 9 8th Anniversary Show - 27/03/2005
KO-D Openweight Title Match: Dick Togo (c) vs. Yusuke Inokuma
Yusuke Inokuma comes out dressed as a transformer type character. Lol. Togo wasted no time in going after Inokuma, easily bestig Inokuma on the mat, then dictating the pace with an armbar and a headlock. Togo and Inokuma exchange punches and there is a bit where Togo sells his hand, leaving him vulnerable for a school boy. Inokuma looks so minor league (it is DDT tbf) but he puts some solid offence together while he could before Togo regained control of the match. Togo antagonises Inokuma’s seconds, which include Muscle Sakai, Danshoku Dino and Yoshihiko. They want to call to throw in the towel but Inokuma stops them. Suddenly the Rocky music plays, which is hilarious, and Inokuma’s hope spot begins. Togo cuts it off but Inokuma kicks out of the pedigree, giving him a minor chance. Soon Yoshihiko interferes in aid of Inokuma but accidently hits a dragon rana instead. Dick Togo gets rid of the rookie and wins with the Pedigree. This was nothing like the matches against MIKAMI and Sanshiro Takagi which were bloody brawls. This was a light match that had some comedy in it. It’s probably worth skipping if you want the former and dislike the comedy aspect of DDT. I happen to enjoy those parts of the promotion so I liked it. Dick Togo and Mr George Banks’ look-alike are bragging after the match when Takagi comes down to the ring and seemingly wants another title match. 

DDT Max Bump 2005 - 04/04/2005
KO-D Openweight Title No Rules Match: Dick Togo (c) vs. Sanshiro Takagi
Dick Togo apparently now has my favourite wrestling referee of all time, Yukinori Matsui, in his pocket,  putting another obstacle in the way of Sanashiro Takagi. Takagi is such a wannabe Stone Cold and it’s actually the best thing ever. 

Matsui immediately shows his colours, distracting Takagi before he and Togo can lock up and Togo naturally takes advantage. Matsui’s smug look is gold! He slow-counts Takagi on the pinning attempt, letting everyone know that Takagi is in for a tough time. They establish Takagi as the stronger and better of the two early as Takagi gets the better of him of a few occasions and Togo needs the help of Matsui to best him, such as ignoring an obvious low blow and even taking Takagi’s had off the rope, which should’ve caused a break in the arm hold Togo had on. More interference comes into play as a table is set up and Togo has help planting Takagi through it. The match skipped ahead a bit to Takagi smacking Togo with a broken piece of wood before he launched Togo into the sea of chairs in the crowd. Takagi looks good, despite everything else in the match, as he pretty much kicks Togo’s ass. The distractions are constant though and Togo is crafty enough to make use of them. Matsui’s slow counts benefit later in the match when Takagi hits a powerbomb and Togo is given time to kick out. Soon Matusi even goes as far as to use a steel chair on Takagi but Cherry is having none of it. This prevents Matsui from counting the pin after Togo hits the pedigree. Matsui drags Cherry in the ring and Dick Togo goes to hit a running lariat but hits Matsui instead. Awesome spot. An announcement is made that Cherry is now the referee. Dick Togo attempts to use a chain but Takagi grabs it and gets rid of it, which the crowd cheers. Hashimoto and Moribe interfere once more. Moribe grabs the chair but hits Togo when Takagi ducks! In comes the new KO-D Tag Team champions, Seiya Morohashi and Tanomusaku Toba to even the odds. Takagi and Togo hit the closing stretch. Takagi hits a load of Stunners which Togo kicks out of but Takagi levels Togo with a running lariat to win the KO-Openweight title for the fourth time. While that was an entertaining spectacle. DDT’s version of Stone Cold vs Dude Love, with the referee having a major role to play in the match, so to speak, this wasn’t exactly a match for Dick Togo fans as Takagi basically ate him up and the booking relegated him to a minor role. Sanshiro Takagi came out looking like a star though which was the ultimate goal. ***1/2
 

As far as the matches go, I liked this run a lot. Dick Togo with a stable behind him as a heel champion just works as a premise. The title win and the first match against MIKAMI and Sanshiro Takagi were awesome. They both contained blood and had Dick Togo's finger prints all over them. The last two, however, didn't. One was a title defence in a nightclub against a comedy wrestler, which I enjoyed, but it didn't really suit Dick Togo's strengths and the change to Takagi was more about Takagi and Yukinori Matsui than Dick Togo. Nevertheless, this run had a good set of matches that add to Dick Togo's resume in a positive manner. 

 

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