Since the last DNA review I did, Konosuke Takeshita has become champion of DDT. It’s been an interesting ride with him as champion and as I study this card, I realize most of these young men are older than him. The majority of them are only two years behind him in terms of in-ring experience. It’s an eye-opening moment to have because while Takeshita isn’t perfect, he has tremendous wrestling talent and he’s only been wrestling for three years. Some of these men in DNA have been able to build convincing and fun in-ring characters in their one year of experience, and some of them are already great wrestlers. DDT turns talent out quickly, and a year from now, or maybe two years from now, any of them could be holding the belt Takeshita is now.

With that thought in mind, let’s get to this review.

Yasu Urano def. Nobuhiro Shimatani

Shimantani is twenty years old. He’s not been wrestling for very long, and he’s small even by the usual standard as most of the wrestlers in DDT would be considered junior heavyweights. Last time I watched him wrestle, I was astounded at his selling ability and how he pulls off the in-ring story of a nervous young wrestler who still fights his way through a match. He’s also very sparkly, as the lights pick up the glitter on his bright red ring gear very well. In contrast, Yasu Urano is forty years old, has been wrestling for fifteen years, and wrestles routinely in one of DDT’s most beloved stables, Smile Squash, which also features promotional ace HARASHIMA. I love everything about this man expect his Gedo-esque headband that covers like half of his face. But he has butterflies on his shorts, and they’re nice, so I guess it balances out.

There was no part of this match where Urano was not in complete control of what was going on. Even the few hope spots Shimatani got near the end were clearly not going to lead him to a victory. The way this match was built, it became all about punishment. Urano was not going to give Shimatani so much as an inch inside of the ring. He led him into traps, offering his leg and arm for Shimatani to work only to use that to reel him in close enough to apply leg locks and arm locks of his own. He slapped the mat close to Shimatani’s face while Shimatani recovered from a nasty neck lock in order to startle him. Shimatani hit a dropkick on him, so Urano hit a basement dropkick on him later in the match. Shimatani spent minutes struggling to scoop Urano up for a slam only to have himself picked up and slammed down three times in rapid succession. Shimatani tried to climb the turnbuckle, so Urano punched him in the gut and threw him off onto the mat like he weighed nothing. Urano bullied him with his size and experience, and it was interesting to watch. What was most notable about this match was the mat wrestling and chain wrestling the two of them exchanged. Shimatani is small, so most people would assume he’s going to make the top of the turnbuckles his closest companions in the ring, but he looked good on the mat, so who knows? Urano picked up the win with a tombstone piledriver.

Heddi French def. Rekka

Cagematch says Heddi French, DDT says Eddie French because I guess they didn’t read the back of his trunks. Who really knows at this point? He’s from— shocker, I know— France and was trained by Inoki and Billy Robinson, has a background in martial arts, and is known for his submission holds, notably a cross armbreaker and a kimura. That’s already interesting enough, so I hope he lives up to the intrigue this background creates for him and doesn’t burn me like some of the new gaijin imports in other promotions have (looking at you, Andy Dalton). Rekka is, of course, DDT’s import from Taiwan and has been absolutely delightful to watch. He’s charismatic and excellent at wrestling and seems to be doing his best to make good on Takagi’s words of becoming a big star for when DDT visits Taiwan again. He’s also dyed his hair to match his ring gear and it looks fantastic. This should, by all rights, be a good match, but we’ll have to see, because some things that look great on paper just aren’t as good. In-ring chemistry is important, folks.

This was a comedy match the likes of which DDT does very well. French and Rekka agree to be friends before the match to the excitement of the fans and have fun back-and-forths as a result. There’s some interesting mat wrestling here, as well, and some submission work on French’s part that I figured would come into play given his background. The two of them also do some fun arm drags after confirming with the crowd that they’d like to see some lucha. French gets to show off his skill with various submissions and Rekka gets to show off his striking ability with a vicious knee to French’s face and hard clotheslines in the corner. It’s not something you’d expect out of him given his cheerful demeanor but somehow it fits his character that much more perfectly. A fun spot sees French roll Rekka around the ring only for Rekka to get dizzy and see multiples of him, causing him to stumble toward them and miss the real French the entire time. It works, because it’s DDT and being able to make the crowd laugh and having great character work is just as important as being able to dazzle them with wrestling moves. In the end, French gets the tap-out with a modified STF and raises Rekka’s hand after the match. Good to know that some friendships, though impromptu, can survive the test of time in a wrestling ring.

Kenso def. Rainbow Kawamura

This match was set up on the last DNA show as Kenso belittled the talent in DNA and Rainbow came out to challenge him to a match. This is a perfect match for Rainbow. He thrives in matches with wrestlers who are just as much character as they are wrestler, which is why the Oishi match was such a perfect match for him as well. Rainbow is dramatic and theatrical and fun, and he meshes well with other wrestlers who are as well. Kenso fits the bill. He’s everyone’s dorky dad who thinks he’s a badass rockstar even though he never really left his garage band, and he’s just experienced enough to give the younger wrestlers a real challenge to overcome. He’s also good at playing a heel, and he’s funny when he wants to be, so yet again, this is a match that looks really good on paper and should suit both performers very well.

Rainbow has a new hot pink bob wig as opposed to his former aqua blue waves so this match is well on its way to winning me over before the bell even rings. Also, the female fans are making it very known they’re happy to see Kenso by calling out his name, which is cute, because while a lot of people aren’t happy to see Kenso in DDT, their core fanbase are really enjoying him and that’s what matters the most. He’s also getting a kick out of Rainbow’s gimmick right from the start because he’s laughing and smiling when Rainbow demands he wash his hands before they share a pre-match handshake. It’s fantastic. This match was unbelievably fun. Kenso might be outside talent working in DDT and DNA right now but he fits in perfectly, converses with the crowd like it’s nothing. He and Rainbow have fun back-and-forths just with their banter, and his ability to make his strikes echo so loudly even in such a small venue makes them sound absolutely brutal. It helps that Rainbow is great at selling so even slaps to the face look like death. Until in Urano vs. Shimatani, Rainbow does get a believable control segment of the match, knocking Kenso off of his feet with brutal elbows in the corner before hitting him with multiple face washes. At one point in the match, Kenso even dons Rainbow’s bright pink wig before locking in a submission. In the end, Kenso is able to pick up the win after a series of brainbusters. Incredibly fun match and even more proof that Kenso belongs right where he is in DDT.

Guanchulo def. Kouki Iwasaki

Guanchulo is an interesting situation in DNA right now. He’s twenty-eight years old and has been wrestling for ten years but still spends a good amount of his time wrestling in DNA and on opening matches on the bigger DDT shows. It’s not to say that he doesn’t work well there, because he does. He’s a great character and he works best in matches where he gets to be his fun and wacky self, making his matches involving Shunma Katsumata and Rekka all the more special because the three of them are fun and dorky friends. But he’s not done much in the way of impactful things in DDT, so that’ll be interesting to keep an eye on as he’s already very experienced. In contrast, Kouki Iwasaki has about a year of experience under his belt but he already looks incredible in the ring. His strikes are out of this world and he knows how to tell an excellent story in the ring like last week during his match with Kenso. This should be a fun match, all things considered.

Iwasaki stayed on top of most of this match, dominating with his brutal kicks. He’s still learning but his kicks are solid and beautiful and every single one he delivered during this match looked excellent, so he’s learning incredibly well. His best kicks are his chest kicks because it never fails to sound like he’s trying to cave his opponent’s chest in to the best of his ability. He’s also bigger and stronger than the smaller, lighter Guanchulo so he was able to slam him and suplex him with relative ease. In contrast, Guanchulo relied on speed and a few submissions here and there, at one point hooking his fingers inside of Iwasaki’s cheek and stretching the skin for extra punishment. Their sequences were worked quickly and crisply, as the two have wrestled each other many times in the past and have each other well-scouted enough to be able to pull off flawless counters and transitions. And while Iwasaki had a lot going for him, what he lacked in speed caught up with him as Guanchulo was able to catch him in the Yeyos Clutch for the victory.

Shunma Katsumata def. Daiki Shimomura

Not enough good things can be said about Shunma Katsumata. They just can’t be. At a young age and still relatively inexperienced, he’s built up a massive fan following not only in Japan but all around the world. He’s incredible, a high-flier who works the ropes with an insane amount of confidence for how long he’s been wrestling and a fun character that people absolutely adore. On the last DNA show, he found himself opposite a returning Kota Umeda who had been gone taking care of his family after the tragedy in Kumamoto. On this show, he finds himself across from another returning wrestler in the form of Daiki Shimomura. Shimomura has been gone for three months with an injury but is finally back and ready to go! And thank God, because it’s always sad to have the trainees gone when they’re so early in their careers. Shimomura, like the rest of DNA, was picking up everything very quickly when he was injured so let’s hope he jumps back into the water with both feet and picks up some momentum now that he’s home.

This match. This match was something special. Shimomura is just as confident on the ropes as Katsumata is, which makes for an interesting dynamic that you don’t often see Katsumata having to face since there’s not really that many people in DNA who spend as much time in the air as he does. And Shimomura was in fine form here. He hit picture perfect moonsaults from the top rope onto the floor and another from the top turnbuckle. He hit a great lariat off of the top rope as well, and a beautiful senton with a little twist in the middle. This match also allowed Katsumata to do something he doesn’t get to do often in that he got to bully Shimomura around a little, something that doesn’t usually happen because Katsumata is smaller than most of the wrestlers and that casts him usually into a more underdog-type role. But Shimomura just came back and that puts Katsumata at the advantage, something he fit rather well considering he doesn’t do it often. Between vicious strikes and spots that saw him jumping up and down on Shimomura’s gut, he looked amazing. Both of them looked amazing, and Katsumata picked up the victory with his Swan Dive X Factor. Here’s to them wrestling each other more in the future to see if Shimomura can become as talented on the ropes as Katsumata is. Because if he does, we’re looking at a pair of rivals that will be fantastic for each other.

Kazusada Higuchi & Kota Umeda def. Mao Inoue & Mizuki Watase

When people talk about how great the young boys of DDT are and how bright the future of DDT is, they’re talking about young men like these four in the ring specifically. Kazusada Higuchi has had eyes on him since his debut. He’s big, he’s strong, and his background in sumo shows up in his in-ring poses. He also stands out in a promotion like DNA where most of the wrestlers are slimmer and lighter than he is, making him and his build an outlier that always promises amazing matches. Mao Inoue is back and he’s been looking good so far, and this tag match should continue to help strengthen him inside the ring so that he’s all good to go now that he’s shaken off the ring rust from his time spent injured. Not enough good things can be said about how Watase and Umeda have developed into these young, arrogant, cocky heels. It’s a character that saw them both seconding LiLiCo in her match against the Kawaii Connection earlier this year, a place where they seemed to so naturally work together as a team. It’s roughly the same character for both of them but what they do with that character and how they make it different is what makes them both so special. This match should be tremendous.

This match is also a perfect highlight of how much Higuchi sticks out in DNA— and not in a bad way, because his entirely different form of offense makes him one of the most enjoyable acts in the promotion. He’s the biggest guy they have and the way he can pick up Mao and Watase, twist them into pretzels and throw them like ragdolls on a whim is fantastic. He isn’t slow despite his size, either, because he can move just as fast as they can and demonstrates that well. Mao is probably the most athletic of the four of them, though, and his superior speed allows him to whip around Umeda’s kicks and slip out of Higuchi’s holds before either of his opponents can figure out what he’s done. Umeda’s kicks are absolutely incredible. He spends a good amount of the match kicking the hell out of Mao and Watase and he looks amazingly dominant in the process even though he doesn’t have much more experience than they do. He and Watase either have some beef (POSSIBLY because Watase was the one who ended up with LiLiCo permanently) or that slap Watase delivered at the beginning of the match just pissed Umeda off because the two of them had some great heat with each other. Watase shows off his strikes and flips and the four of them manage to make an amazing little tag match together. Umeda gets the win over Watase with his vicious kicks and secures the victory for his team.

Post-match, he calls out Kenso who DEAR FUCKING GOD comes out dressed the most questionably he’s been dressed thus far. Umeda isn’t happy with the way Kenso has been trashing DNA and he wants to fight him… Apparently right now because Kenso is ready to go to war in his weird faded dad clothes and his beanie. Higuchi is the voice of reason and their match is set for the next DNA show.

Yet again, DNA puts together a fantastic little card that shows off their growing talent pool and how bright the future of DDT looks right now.