Dramatic Dream Team
Judgement ~ DDT 19th Anniversary Show
March 21, 2016
Ryogoku Kokugikan
Tokyo, Japan

Attendance Note: DDT drew 6,938 fans for this show, so 268 fans more than they drew for their Sumo Hall show in August.

Guanchulo, Mao Inoue & Shunma Katsumata def. Kouki Iwasaki, Nobuhiro Shimatani & Rainbow Kawamura

There were four quick dark DDT offshoot offer matches on the show simply to give the fans that were already in the building something to look at while the rest of the crowd filed in. This was the DNA offer match and was one of the two they showed in full. This was also Mao Inoue’s return match as he’s been out since November due to injury. These guys worked a fun, fast paced seven minute match and got out, which is exactly what needed to be done. ***

FUMA, SAGAT & Yusuke Kubo def. Daichi Kazato, Ryu Gouma & Takumi Tsukamoto

Another short, fast paced match for the live crowd, this time between six Pro Wrestling BASARA guys. **

KO-D Openweight Championship Anytime, Anywhere Challenge Rights Battle Royal
Cherry vs. Gorgeous Matsuno vs. Kazusada Higuchi vs.  Kazuki Hirada vs. Ken Ohka vs. Masa Takanashi vs. Ryota Nakatsu vs. Ryuichi Sekine vs. Soma Takao vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga vs. Toru Owashi vs. Yoshihiko

In case you’ve never seen one of these clusterfucks, allow me to explain how they work: Basically, there are four cards hanging above the ring, the objective of the match is to grab one of them. Two wrestlers start the match and are joined by another every few seconds. One is eliminated from the match when pinned or thrown over the top rope. Three of the wrestlers who grab a card receive the rights to challenge for the KO-D Openweight Championship whenever they wish to, while one of them receives something else, which, in this case, were the rights to date Aja Kong. The last person standing in the ring at the end of the match is the actual winner and gets the next shot at the gold. Simple enough? Ken Ohka, Matsunaga and Toru Owashi all received the rights to challenge while Harada was the lucky winner of Aja Kong. Higuchi pinned Nakatsu to receive the very next shot, he challenges the KO-D Champion on April 24th in Korakuen. ***

Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie def. Akito & Yasu Urano vs. Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae

Irie had the chance to headline this show and challenge Isami Kodaka for the KO-D strap, but unfortunately, as he always does, he lost to HARASHIMA in Korakuen a few weeks earlier. Candice and Joey made their debut as a tag team on January 3 and have gotten over pretty well as a comedy act in DDT, though this was only their second match. There’s not much to talk about here but the match was fun, especially when Irie and Candice were in the ring together. Irie and Ishii won, but Candice and Joey were announced as the next challengers for the tag belts. Why? No idea. They get their shot on March 26. ***

Kota Umeda, LiLiCo & Mizuki Watase def. Ladybeard, Makoto Oishi & Saki Akai

Kota Umeda had a great showing in Pro Wrestling NOAH’s junior tag league back in September and has had some impressive showings on DDT’s rookie promotion, DNA. He’s only 20 years old and there’s no denying that he’s on the path to stardom. Ladybeard is big in Japanese pop culture as an Australian crossdresser. It’s obviously a super tongue-in-cheek, sleazy gimmick, one I’m not big on but DDT fans seem to enjoy. The match was a joke, they got in there for nine minutes, sleazed things up and got out.

LEONA & Tatsumi Fujinami def. Antonio Honda & Hiroshi Fukuda

I’ve never seen the appeal in Honda. He has good matches ever now and again, but he’s really JUST a guy. Fukuda is a comedy character, LEONA is a bad wrestler, and Fujinami is an old man who can hold his own for a few minutes, he’s no worse than Manabu Nakanishi, just about 20 years older. That’s the match in a nutshell. LEONA did his thing for a few minutes and nearly put me to sleep, Fujinami came in towards the end, threw a few dragon screws and got the win all in the span of 12 minutes, which was way too long. Easily the worst match on the show, save yourself the time and skip right ahead.

DDT Extreme Championship Ultimate Royal Barbed Wire PowerPoint No Power Blast PWF Rules Match
Super Sasadango Machine def. Kendo Kashin (c)

Another comedy match. Kendo Kashin is absolutely atrocious and always has been, and Super Sasadango Machine is simply a comedy act. I found the spot at the end where Sasadango gave the ref his mask and had him screw Kashin funny, but that’s all there was to this. Kashin losing hopefully means that he’ll disappear and crawl back to IGF where I’ll never have to see him again.

Full Use From East to West Over the Entire Hall ~ Anywhere Fall Weapon Treasure Hunt 3-Way Tag Match
Gota Ihashi & Kota Ibushi def. Michael Nakazawa & KENSO vs. Jun Kasai & Sanshiro Takagi

Kota Ibushi has been out since early November recovering from a neck injury. This was not only his return, but was also what seems to be his last match in DDT, at least for a while. He announced in February that he was going freelance so that he would be able to compete all over the world in various places, though one of his main goals was to start his own project, which he’s calling the Ibushi Puroresu Kenkyujo (translates to “Ibushi Pro Wrestling Research”). He says that he’s looking to innovate a new style, or at least try a new one. He left New Japan and as of right now, I’m not sure we’ll see him back any time soon. If he’s leaving DDT, there’s no way he takes a New Japan booking.

All three teams came to the ring and immediately left to meet up outside of the building, where they would start the actual match. They fought around the building for a few minutes before heading back inside where Ibushi would piledrive Nakazawa in a toilet, do moonsaults off balconies and compete in a shoot boxing match. It was an absolute clusterfuck and arguably the most enjoyable thing on the show, one of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen in pro wrestling in a very long time. These types of matches are what put DDT on the map for western fans. The camping ground matches, the theme park matches, etc. It’s one of those matches that no one can really explain, where the best one can do is tell you to watch. Ibushi landed a Phoenix Splash (RIP Hayabusa) on Nakazawa and got the win. He said farewell and thank you to his fans and to DDT, and that he will indeed be back one day. For now, catch him in America wrestling men dressed as potatoes and french toast. ****

Minoru Suzuki def. Yukio Sakaguchi

This was a letdown if I’ve ever seen one. They shot on each other for 16 minutes and got out. Some of the sequences were cool but by and large this was not all that great, certainly could have been a lot better. They never really got the ball rolling and were just out there having a match. Sakaguchi has been on the down low in DDT since losing to Isami Kodaka in November and I’m not sure where this loss puts him. He seems to be in a weird spot. Suzuki choked him out, the two hugged and walked to the back. Real unmemorable stuff, not even the third best match on the show, not even as good as the previous one. Ah well, not every dream match can deliver, now can they? ***

Akebono def. Danshoku Dino

DDT puts together some of the best video packages in the world. The video packages are some of the best things on their shows, sometimes even better than the matches they precede, as was the case here. They wrestled for maybe two minutes in total, Akebono sat in the middle of the ring most of the match and watched as Dino did his thing. Akebono used Dino’s finisher on him and got the win. DUD

KO-D Tag Team Championship
Daisuke Sasaki & Shuji Ishikawa def. Konosuke Takeshita & Tetsuya Endo (c)

The story of Daisuke Sasaki and Shuji Ishikawa is a weird one. Sasaki and Ibushi were forced to vacate these belts back in November because of Ibushi’s injury. From there, Sasaki and Ishikawa formed a tag team and pursued the tag belts that Sasaki never lost. The only catch there is that Ishikawa plays a submissive character to Sasaki. I’m not sure I totally get why they have him in that role, but they have good chemistry as a tag team and Ishikawa always looks good in his matches, so who cares, really.

This was easily the second best match on the show. Everything they did clicked, the crowd was hot, all four looked strong and not one wrestler was better than the other. They kept things at a good pace throughout and the 17 minutes flew right by. I feel like Takeshita has regressed a lot this past year and isn’t the worker many thought he was at one point, but he did very well here, so I do expect good things from him moving forward. Sasaki and Ishikawa won, thus became new tag team champions. They defend against Candice LeRae and Joey Ryan on March 26, for whatever reason. Do go out of your way to watch this. ****¼

KO-D Openweight Championship
HARASHIMA def. Isami Kodaka (c)

Since losing the KO-D Openweight Championship to KUDO back in May, HARASHIMA has been fighting to get back on top in DDT. He took on then ace of New Japan Hiroshi Tanahashi in Sumo Hall in August and lost. He challenged then champion Yukio Sakaguchi in October and lost. While he was doing that, we saw the rise of Isami Kodaka in DDT. We saw HIM defeat Yukio Sakaguchi in November, become the new champ, and then go on to defeat a good part of the DDT roster.

February 28, HARASHIMA defeats Shigehiro Irie to set up this here match between him and Kodaka, who’s had one of the best years of any wrestler in Japan this year, having great matches everywhere he’s worked. It’s gotten to where he’s just unable to have a bad match, and this was just another great one under his belt. Like the previous match, the pacing in this was smart and worked very well for what they were going for. Kodaka worked over the leg throughout the match, HARASHIMA would try and fight him off but Kodaka was just too smart and aggressive. The closing sequence where HARASHIMA made the rapid comeback and got the win came across well as the crowd was all over both guys but were real hot for HARASHIMA’s win. The quick comeback and win doesn’t always work as sometimes the crowd won’t pick up on what’s going on and the finish feels flat, but that wasn’t the case here, thankfully. It felt like a big deal and worked out well. Maybe not as good as the Kodaka/Masa Takanashi match from January and the Irie/HARASHIMA match from February, but this was the best match on the show and one that you should totally check out. ****¼

Now, I totally expected HARASHIMA to win here, I knew he’d win as soon as the HARASHIMA/Irie match was announced in February, because my theory is that HARASHIMA now holds the belt until the August Sumo Hall show and loses to Irie in the main event. The two have had seven matches over the past four years and HARASHIMA has won every single one of them, though Irie tends to come close. Irie needs his win over HARASHIMA, and what better place than in Sumo Hall? A lot can happen between now and then; KUDO may be back, plans may change, who knows. I just think the writing’s on the wall and that’s the route that they’re going to take, and the route that they SHOULD take.

Final Thoughts:

This show was a total mixed bag, and that’s exactly what DDT is and what DDT has always been. It was good, but I’m not big on the comedy aspects of DDT which clouds some of my judgement. If you have tastes similar to mine: watch Ibushi’s return, the first two matches and the last two matches, the rest is skippable.