We have made it to the semi-final rounds of the King of DDT tournament, which will give us two wrestlers to go head-to-head to determine who gets the title match against young champion Konosuke Takeshita at DDT’s Peter Pan show in Ryogoku (providing he escapes his match with challenger Yuko Miyamoto in early July unscathed). The card is stacked with some unusual and excited pairings and the semi-final rounds promise to be some of the best matches of the year provided everyone brings their best to the DDT ring, and they always do.
Guanchulo vs. Rekka
I am gutted this is a dark match and not on the card itself because these two are fantastic friends who keep up hilarious banter on Twitter. Their match in DNA was also fun to watch as the two already clearly have chemistry with each other. Dark match or not, this is worth talking about as Rekka continues to establish himself to the DDT crowd and Guanchulo is always beloved by them, so this is a perfect match to get the show started. And it’s always interesting to see who wins because it shows you who’s moving up in the DNA pecking order and who might be more likely to get shots at titles in the future. Prediction: Rekka
Sanshiro Takagi, Toru Owashi & Kazuki Hirata vs. Makoto Oishi, Shunma Katsumata & Mao Inoue
Mao is a DNA boy recently returned from injury who found himself entering into the idol group NωA (pronounced like NWA) with Oishi and Katsumata. Makes perfect sense, as a large percentage of the DDT fanbase are into this kind of gimmick and the three of them actually make a really great group together, so it’s very exciting to see them make their debut here! Takagi and Owashi are veterans who always know how to make the younger men look good and Kazuki Hirata might be one of the best performers in DDT if not in wrestling in general with his fun gimmick. Should be a match full of a lot of laughs and a lot of great action because Katsumata and Inoue are hugely talented wrestlers. Prediction: NωA
Daisuke Sasaki & Mad Paulie vs. Keisuke Ishii & Kouki Iwasaki vs. KENSO & Gota Ihashi vs. Soma Takao & Mizuki Watase
The only two men among these four teams that usually tag together are Sasaki and Paulie as Paulie is, of course, one of Sasaki’s two pets. They’ve been tagging more recently as Sasaki’s other pet, Shuji Ishikawa, is a participant in the King of DDT tournament and is in the semi-finals, so working two matches on the card isn’t going to fly. It’s fantastic to see them working more together as Paulie is on a lower tier than tag champions Ishikawa and Sasaki. Ishii and Takao are former teammates teaming with DNA boys who will clash here and it will be interesting to see how they handle facing each other. Kenso is a perfect fit for DDT (whose female fanbase absolutely LOVES him from the chants he gets) and Gota is a fun comedy wrestler. This should be another fun little tag match and I imagine it’ll further establish Sasaki’s dominance in the tag division and allow him to look strong while his regular partner is busy. Prediction: Sasaki & Paulie
Yukio Sakaguchi, Masa Takanashi & Kota Umeda vs. Danshoku Dino, Kazusada Higuchi & Tomomitsu Matsunaga
Umeda works very well in Shuten-doji and is back to performing in DDT as he was helping relatives in Kumamato after the earthquake. He, Takanashi, and Sakaguchi are an excellent team and he’s come to mesh incredibly well with their style of offense. And the other team is… Well. Higuchi is possibly one of the brightest stars of DNA, and his sumo poses combined with his power-based style make him an incredible sight to watch and give him a very unique feel. Matsunaga is a veteran wrestler who bounces around pretty much wherever he’s needed but he’s always a great watch. And we all know Dino is very much about kissing his opponents and as much nudity as humanly possible (see: his Judgement Day bout against Akebono which included a dozen men exposing their butts and posing on the turnbuckles for him). So the match will be fun, and it’ll be great to watch the Higuchi/Sakaguchi interactions especially. Prediction: Shuten-doji
Konosuke Takeshita & Antonio Honda vs. Yuko Miyamoto & Yasu Urano
Here, the story gets interesting. Young champion Takeshita teams with Happy Motel teammate Honda to take on his challenger, Miyamoto, and Urano. Though Miyamoto and Urano seem like an odd combination for a team, Miyamoto tags frequently with Smile Squash leader Harashima in a team they’ve named Yankee Smile, so it makes a fair amount of sense that Urano teams with Miyamoto here as he’s also a member of Smile Squash. It’s another tag clash before their championship match next month and Takeshita is no doubt looking for a victory considering he and regular partner Endo lost to Yankee Smile on the 19th. It’s going to be a fantastic match, as Takeshita is starting to really come into his own, Miyamoto has always been one of the best wrestlers in Japan, and Honda and Urano are both solid wrestlers who are amazing in tag matches. Prediction: Miyamoto & Urano
King of DDT Semifinal Round
Shigehiro Irie vs. Shuji Ishikawa
Ishikawa has continued to have one of the best years in wrestling bar none. He’s been amazing in the ring and he’s a double champion as he holds a tag title for DDT and a tag title for BJW. And though many expressed doubt in his role as a submissive character to Sasaki, it’s worked for him and he’s owned it. He’s been made to look like a destructive force in DDT and he’s felled numerous opponents thus far. On the other end, Irie is looking for redemption. If he wins this semi-final round, he has a chance of facing Harashima in the finals and he wants that badly. He’s lost to him seven times in the past and has failed to be beat him once, so beating him and becoming the King of DDT, as well as earning the title shot, would complete the story he and Harashima have told together. No matter who wins, though, this match is going to be off the charts. These are two huge dudes who aren’t afraid to throw their strength around and they’re going to clash until everyone watching winces. Prediction: Irie
King of DDT Semifinal Round
HARASHIMA vs. Tetsuya Endo
We have another interesting story to tell here as Endo is the regular tag partner of Takeshita. They held the tag titles together until Sasaki and Ishikawa defeated them. To see Endo rise so rapidly during this tournament has been a breath of fresh air as he’s an incredible high flier with undeniable skill and talent, and seeing him work more singles matches has proven that he’s more than able to stand on his own two feet without Takeshita at his side. If he wins this match, he goes on to the finals and just might end up facing his own partner at Ryogoku. And then there is Harashima. What can even be said for the ace of DDT? He’s one of the best wrestlers in the world who brings his all to his matches and makes everyone look like a million bucks as a result. He had finally managed to get back to the top of DDT by defeating Kodaka only to have Sasaki take advantage of him after a grueling match with young challenger Higuchi. He wants that title back, and this is his way to get it. Prediction: Harashima
King of DDT Final Round: ???
The final round of the tournament takes place on this same day and of course there’s no way to write a prediction for it because the final round has yet to be decided! However, I can assure you that if Ishikawa wins his round, then Endo will win his to serve as a cap to the feud between Sasaki and his boys and Happy Motel. If Irie wins his round, then Harashima will win his to cap off their long-standing feud. So, just to be on the safe side, here’s a preview for both of those.
Shuji Ishikawa vs. Tetsuya Endo
For anyone who likes a blending of power-based wrestling and high-flying in their singles bouts, this is exactly that at its heart. Endo takes to the air as naturally as a bird and Ishikawa can throw men his size around as if they weigh nothing. The history between these two goes back to when Sasaki introduced Ishikawa to the DDT fans as his new pet “Adrian” after attacking Happy Motel. As a tag champion, Sasaki was forced to vacate the titles due to Kota Ibushi’s injury, and as a result, he found the biggest, meanest partner he could to get his titles back. Since then, Sasaki and Ishikawa have tangled with Takeshita and Endo on many occasions. Endo no doubt wants revenge on Ishikawa for ending his reign as a tag champion and for mauling his partner on so many occasions, and in winning, Endo would go on to face Takeshita at Ryogoku. Prediction: Endo
Shigehiro Irie vs. Harashima
These two have clashed seven times in the past, and seven times Harashima has come out victorious. The ace is hard to put down and Irie knows this better than anyone as he’s been pushed to the very limit every single time he and Harashima face each other. He hasn’t been able to overcome him yet. But here, the setting is perfect. Harashima still looks fierce, as he’s plowed through the tournament opponents he’s had and he doesn’t look bad having lost to Sasaki after a hard match. And Irie, colorful Disney prince that he is, is finally on his own. Team Dream Futures is no more and Irie has no one to lean on but himself, so he’ll have to dig to the very core of his being in this encounter with Harashima. If he wins, he can finally move on from the man he has never been able to beat and get the chance at winning the KO-D title. He would benefit so much from the victory here as it’s a big deal to win the tournament and then he’d get to continue on as a singles star with Harashima firmly in his rearview mirror. Prediction: Irie
There are technically two other options for the final but I doubt we’re going to get Ishikawa vs. Harashima or Irie vs. Endo so don’t worry about those.
This card promises to be an excellent one and the end of the King of DDT Tournament is going to feature an amazing final no matter what it is. The tag matches should be a fun time for everyone and the tournament matches are going to be absolutely phenomenal as these are some of the best men wrestling in DDT and they’ve looked good against each other so many times before that they’re going to look great against each other again. Here’s to Irie hopefully taking this thing home and going to Ryogoku so he can finally get his happy ending.