Round one of DDT’s King of DDT tournament concluded in Saitama, leaving the sixteen original competitors in the tournament cut down to eight. This Osaka show looks to halve that number yet again and send a quartet of DDT’s finest wrestlers on to the semi-finals as they continue to fight for the spot of King of DDT and the right to challenge current champion Konosuke Takeshita for his place as KO-D Champion.
Outside of the tournament is an AJPW-sanctioned match between All Asia Tag Team Champions Yankee Two Kenju and DDT wrestlers Danshoku Dino and Makoto Oishi. Kodaka and Miyamoto have been able to defend their championships successfully thus far leading up to this match-up.
Sanshiro Takagi & Toru Owashi vs. Daisuke Sasaki & Mad Paulie vs. Keisuke Ishii & Kouki Iwasaki vs. Yasu Urano & Shunma Katsumata
This is just a weird mash-up of teams save for Sasaki and Mad Paulie (or Polly? I’ve seen both spellings used frequently at this point) who are more or less stablemates as Paulie is Sasaki’s newest pet. The actual chemistry of the teams will be interesting to see as these aren’t guys who would normally team up with each other, and it’s kind of hard to pinpoint who would benefit the most from this victory as I’m not entirely sure what a victory for any team would lead to. Let’s just go with a guess, and maybe Sasaki takes the pinfall to set up for a tag title challenge later on down the line. Prediction: Keisuke Ishii & Kouki Iwasaki
Konosuke Takeshita, Antonio Honda & Hiroshi Fukuda vs. Yukio Sakaguchi, Masa Takanashi & Kota Umeda
So Happy Motel versus Shuten-doji. It’s interesting to note that Sakaguchi failed in his title shot against Sasaki while Takeshita succeeded, so there might be some animosity between the two of them due to that. Takanashi failed on his title shot with Isami Kodaka. Both of them could be looking to gain a victory and use it as leverage to earn a shot at Takeshita’s title. Even Umeda could be heading in that direction because, though he is young, Team DNA’s victory in their KO-D Six-Man title match has perhaps altered the playing field on who has a shot at titles and who doesn’t. Or Takeshita pins one of the three of them and looks stronger as a champion as his potential challengers edge in a little closer around him. That seems more likely at this point. Prediction: Happy Motel
King of DDT Second Round: Tetsuya Endo vs. Kazuki Hirata
To be honest, I don’t think Hirata was supposed to make it this far in the tournament. He defeated Shunma Katsumata to make it this far but Katsumata was a replacement for an injured Akito, someone considered much higher on the card than Hirata and Katsumata are. Nevertheless, he’s a talented wrestler who makes the fans happy and should be able to deliver in this match. Endo, meanwhile, is a top prospect for taking over the Kota Ibushi role in the promotion of someone who is able and willing to flip off of anything with an incredible high-flying offense that sets him apart from the rest of DDT. He won his first tournament match but has otherwise struggled to break through like Takeshita recently has. That being said, expect him to win this match and move on to the semi-finals as DDT will no doubt tease a confrontation between him and Takeshita later down the road. Prediction: Tetsuya Endo
King of DDT Second Round
Soma Takao vs. Shuji Ishikawa
Takao won his first tournament match in what was likely an emotional encounter between him and former tag team partner Keisuke Ishii. He’s been somewhat more of a stand-out, or at least his booking would suggest this, so this isn’t wholly surprising even if both he and Ishii are incredible wrestlers. Ishikawa, meanwhile, has always been an incredible worker and is having one of the best years in Japan, currently boasting two tag team titles. He has a championship match at the DDT show in July but for now, he looks to put Takao down and move on to the semi-finals. This is the match whose result I am the most torn over. If Takao wins, he could go on to face his other former tag partner in Shigehiro Irie. If Ishikawa wins, he could go on to face Endo to continue that storyline. This result is more up in the air, but to be safe… Prediction: Soma Takao
King of DDT Second Round
KENSO vs. HARASHIMA
Kenso has been laboring to prove that he belongs in DDT and a strong showing against the promotion’s ace will certainly look to move him closer to being a full-time, signed roster member. He’s struggled to make it a point to Takagi that he belongs here and had to earn his place in the tournament by hook and by crook. Harashima, meanwhile, had finally reclaimed his place at the top of DDT before being knocked down yet again by a savvy Daisuke Sasaki. Harashima no doubt wants to win this tournament more than almost anyone else and will be bringing his best as a result. Usually the experienced veteran in all of his matches, Harashima actually debuted after Kenso did. Kenso did secure the victory in his first round match but Harashima has never gone down easy and will present a unique challenge in Kenso’s toughest opponent thus far. Prediction: HARASHIMA
King of DDT Second Round
Kazusada Higuchi vs. Shigehiro Irie
These two met up not long ago in a KO-D Six-Man Championship match where the now-defunct Team Dream Futures were able to defeat Team DNA. Higuchi has admitted to being frustrated in the past with losing to Team Dream Futures, so a victory here over Irie would finally soothe that frustration in him. However, Irie has made it to the top of DDT before and looks to do that again as a singles competitor. A win here would push him through to the semi-finals and one step closer to facing Harashima, something he always fights to do because he’s been desperate to prove he can overcome the promotion’s ace. Higuchi has a world of hype behind him but Irie’s huge singles push is finally in place after the end of his team with Takao and Ishii. Either way, the match should be incredible as Higuchi is the right size to give Irie a real challenge, something smaller competitors have a harder time doing. Prediction: Shigehiro Irie
AJPW Sanctioned All Asia Tag Team Championship Match
Yankee Two Kenju (Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto) vs. Danshoku Dino and Makoto Oishi
Together as a team, Oishi and Dino are known for their comedy act and their shenanigans that usually involve exposure and nudity. They aren’t someone I would consider a real threat to Kodaka and Miyamoto, but there have been times in the past where well-placed shenanigans enabled one or both of them to achieve a seemingly impossible victory. Kodaka and Miyamoto are not men to mess with, however, and they have successfully defended these titles against incredible wrestlers like the legendary Great Kojika and Daisuke Sekimoto of BJW. Shenanigans aside, this match seems more like a breath of fresh air for the fans to break up the serious nature of the tournament matches and Yankee Two Kenju will likely claim another victory to add to their title reign. Prediction: Yankee Two Kenju
And a special note to end on: Dick Togo, who has recently announced his return to professional wrestling after everyone believed he was retired, will be stopping by this show to make a special appearance! This is particularly good news because his last professional wrestling match (besides that SPW match that most people don’t seem to know about) was in DDT, so to return to DDT first is a nice touch.
Round two of the King of DDT tournament should be an interesting one and once the playing field has been levelled again, it should be easier to figure out who heads to the finals and who wins (though my money is still and always has been on Harashima). The tag title match may not be as serious as the matches in the title’s history have been but it should be a fun way to break up the tournament matches and give Kodaka and Miyamoto a pair of easier opponents to work against. Here’s to hoping DDT can continue to live up to their recent hype with these tournament matches and prove just how good they can be.