As everyone knows, Road To shows for most promotions can be fun and entertaining, but if you’re strapped for time or only focus on the bigger shows, they feel just kind of there and don’t contain much of value that most people would find to be important. However, that is not the case with this show. After successfully defending his KO-D Openweight title at Super StarLane earlier in the month, Konosuke Takeshita finds himself with a new opponent only two weeks after his grueling match with Yuko Miyamoto. Tensions run high in the younger tag team of Happy Motel as Tetsuya Endo scheduled his title match within moments of Takeshita’s first successful defense. The two have been partners for years and have found success as tag team champions, but now they square off one-on-one to determine which of them is the better man and, as a result, has more of a right to be called the champion of DDT.
But we have an entire card of matches to get through before we get to watch these two young men square off, so let’s get started.
Also, DDT need to be commended for the quality of their opening videos. They are absolutely phenomenal and set the mood for everything perfectly. I’m a sucker for great opening videos and hype packages, though.
That’s Breaking The Rut! Saihai of Super Talented General Amon Tsurumi!
Kenso & Sanshiro Takagi def. Mizuki Watase & Tomomitsu Matsunaga
The storyline between Kenso and Sanshiro has been one that’s kept me fully invested in what’s going to happen next between the two of them. It’s funny to watch Kenso strive to prove to Sanshiro that he deserves to wrestle in DDT while Sanshiro throws countless obstacles in his way in an attempt to make him leave. In an attempt to try to find some peace between the two of them, Tsurumi had them team together for this match. It’s likely going to result in the hijinks you would expect of a DDT opening tag match, but I’ve really enjoyed Kenso’s character in DDT and his feud with Sanshiro, so I’m sure it’ll be a fun match. Matsunaga and Watase are good opponents for them, guys who can be funny and play the backdrop to their comedy act.
This match is already off to a great start, as Sanshiro and Kenso are already arguing in the back. They don’t even get to the ring before they start fighting with each other. This is fantastic. What’s even more fantastic is Sanshiro dancing to Kenso’s music on the turnbuckle.
As predicted, this was all about the odd pairing of Kenso and Sanshiro, and it was brilliant. They caught each other with running clotheslines early in the match that led to Kenso being manhandled by Matsunaga and Watase for much of the first half of the bout. In typical Kenso fashion, he and Matsunaga dueled to see who could get the fans to chant for them— and the fans were happy to acknowledge both of them. When Kenso tried to tag in Sanshiro the first time, Sanshiro feigned knee pain and hopped off of the apron in agony so that Kenso had no one to turn to. Finally, when Sanshiro did tag in, he and Kenso found themselves on the outs again as Sanshiro couldn’t hold Watase still long enough and ended up eating a slap meant for the younger man. He tricked Kenso into walking right into a clothesline, then Sunflower Bombed him into Watase’s prone body. It turned out to be to their team’s fortunes, though, because after a little struggling between the two of them, Kenso pulled Watase down during a Figure Four attempt and pinned him. Great little comedy bout, Sanshiro and Kenso are a great team of weird dads.
Post-match, Tsurumi set up a singles match between the two of them. If Kenso wins, he gets to go to Peter Pan. Luckily, Sanshiro can’t seem to ever really stop him from going forward in DDT, so it looks like we get wacky dancing strange fashion dad at Ryogoku.
Akito & Soma Takao def. Shuten-doji
Akito and Soma Takao are two guys I like immensely, both of them incredibly young and still a core part of DDT’s roster. It’s something I’ve always really admired about DDT, that they’ve found young men, given them good characters to work with, and trained them into talented stars before they even reach the age of thirty (Takao is 28 and Akito is 29). They should be a fun team, too, as their styles complement each other. This is another one of those weird tag matches Takao has been involved in since the split with Team Dream Futures, but this is definitely one I can get behind. On the other side, we have my favorite member of Shuten-doji, Masahiro Takanashi, and young upstart Kota Umeda. I’ve said so much about how great the two of them are, and how the partnership with Shuten-doji has given Kota Umeda a well-defined character and overall strengthened the group as a whole. This match should be a ton of fun.
A bit of the match was clipped, but what we got to see was pretty fun. DDT is fantastic at random tag matches like these and the chemistry between these four was great. Watching Kota use Masahiro’s back as a launchpad for his dropkick to get a little more air is a great touch, and the finisher counters were smart, from Akito just lifting Masahiro off of Soma’s back to Masahiro turning a Gin and Tonic attempt into a crucifix bomb. Another Gin and Tonic attempt almost spelled doom for Soma, as Masahiro nailed him with a superkick and Umeda used the momentum for a roll-up pin attempt. Everything in what you can see of this match is fast-paced action and it was great. Soma and Umeda battled with strikes, Soma’s forearms and elbows against Umeda’s kicks, and in the end Soma was victorious as he was able to get Umeda up for his Gin and Tonic finisher that looks absolutely brutal every time he uses it.
Post-match, the music of Hikaru fucking Sato started playing through the arena. After defeating former teammate Keisuke Ishii earlier for the right to challenge Sato for the World Junior Heavyweight title, it looks like Takao is finally going to get his chance, as Sato has accepted his title challenge and has declared it’s going to take place at Peter Pan. Soma is incredible and Sato is one of the best grapplers in Japan, and probably the world, so it’s going to be amazing.
T2Hide, Cherry, Gota Ihashi & Guanchulo def. Happy Motel, Danshoku Dino, Saki Akai & Super Sasadango Machine
This match has comedy written all over it based on the members on either side. A bunch of these wrestlers are very talented at wrestling but they’re also incredible at putting together comedy matches with a ton of laughs together. After the last tense moment between Soma and Hikaru, this is probably the best way to really break things up, which is something that DDT is great at, being able to intersperse their serious segments with some light-hearted fun. It’s like a palette cleanser, and I’ve found it works especially well on their longer shows. This also has my personal favorite Happy Motel team in it, as I absolutely love the way that Hiroshi and Honda work with each other and play off of each other to make people laugh. They are the perfect duo, completely in sync with each other, and I have always enjoyed the matches they’re in together.
Exactly as predicted, this was a comedy affair at heart, even though the match was clipped, and a great way to take a breath of air after the intensity between Soma and Hikaru. Hirata killed Saki and his own partner, Gota Ihashi, with his deadly chops to the side of the neck. Guanchulo busted out his fun little neckbreaker on Hiroshi, popping off with a cute little “Bye bye!” right before hitting the move. In a fun little sequence, Honda, SSM, and Dino all lined up together in the ring to execute Honda’s little punch routine— and they all danced together, which was adorable and fantastic. The finish came when SSM unmasked himself— which happens quite regularly— and put the mask on Owashi, but turned so that he couldn’t see through it. Despite this, Owashi was able to get the win with La Magistral Cradle, which is something that’s been very effective for him.
Post-match, everyone chased Owashi around trying to get his RTC contract if he wasn’t going to cash it in. As you probably remember, these contracts bounce from person to person if the holder gets pinned. Owashi isn’t the only person to keep his contract, as Ohka was able to keep his, but Owashi has kept his for the longest without getting pinned, and everyone is impatient for him to either choose a day to wrestle Takeshita or to give the RTC contract up.
Damnation def. NωA
This is another match where I happen to enjoy both teams an immense amount. Everything they’ve done with Daisuke Sasaki since he had Shuji Ishikawa join him in a tag team has been phenomenal, but Damnation is by far the cherry on top of the sundae of goodness. He’s a small, sneaky little asshole with two huge dudes who are willing to back him up, and because they’re bigger than a good portion of the DDT roster, they are extremely good at manhandling their opponents in a way that the smaller Sasaki cannot, which gives Damnation a constant and distinct advantage over their opponents. NωA has been so fun as a stable, too, and their performances are so much fun to watch because all three men are great singers and they can get really into the act. It’s a role that was practically tailor made for them, not only because they’re three attractive men but also because they’ve always been pretty popular with the girls, and this has gone miles in heightening their popularity. This should be a fun little match, too.
It’s a well-known fact that most of the roster members of DDT are junior heavyweights, and the members of NωA are on the smaller side in general, but it was no more apparent than it was here. This match was also clipped, but what we saw was pretty great. At one point, Sasaki had Mao locked into his crossface while Ishikawa held Oishi in a torture rack and Polly held Shunma in a full nelson, swinging him around like a doll. If you want to pick a young boy to keep an eye on, pick Mao, because he hit this beautiful spin kick in the air and he, in general, has some of the most interesting offense for such a young man. NωA hit an in stereo triple dropkick on Sasaki but nothing was enough to put him away. Ishikawa took over, battering poor Shunma with everything he had in him. Damnation also hit a double triple powerbomb on Oishi and Mao (The Shield who?) and in general dominated the match. Ishikawa finally picked up the victory with the Fire Thunder on Katsumata. Really great for what we saw. I’d love to see more of them together.
SSM showed up and offered to be the manager for NωA moving forward, and they accepted. That’s cute, I like that they’re playing up this idol gimmick and giving them a manager, and Oishi and SSM have been super fun in the past together so this should be a good time.
Dick Togo Return Second Leg!
Dick Togo & Yasu Urano def. Kazusada Higuchi & Kouki Iwasaki
Dick Togo looked better than ever in his last DDT match and proved he can work well with members of the roster, but that was Yasu and Guanchulo at Super StarLane and both of them are generally more experienced than Higuchi and Iwasaki are. It was smart, then, for DDT to pair him with Yasu, who is one of the main trainers of the DNA boys and someone who knows them probably better than most people do. Togo has always worked well with all of his opponents, and Iwasaki and Higuchi are two of the best and brightest in DNA (and they’ve also held DDT gold in their short careers, too). I can’t imagine this match being any less good than the last one was, and I really can’t wait to see Togo and Yasu team together. Yasu is one of the guys who is commonly overlooked, as he’s in a group with the DDT ace and a future star in Akito, but he’s nothing less than incredibly solid and has been a great wrestler, so this should be good.
So, easily one of the best things about watching the older guys work the younger guys is when they just completely no-sell their offense, right? Well, that sure did not happen at the start of this match. Togo carries himself so well and seems ten feet tall, and then Higuchi is almost a head taller than him, and his thighs are about as broad as Togo’s torso is. He’s a big fucking guy, and he and Togo had a hell of a time battering each other. In fact, he’s so much bigger he was able to pick Togo up at one point, run him into the turnbuckles, and slam him down onto the mat. It was incredible. Higuchi is just one of the best young boys in the business today, and he really showed off his power and strength here. Yasu and Iwasaki had some fun interactions too, as Iwasaki applied submissions and Yasu fought his way out of them. In the end, it was Togo who picked up the victory after completing no-selling Iwasaki’s kicks with a smile, giving him a Pedigree, and finishing him off with the top turnbuckle senton. This was phenomenal. I’m so glad Dick Togo is back in DDT, working with these amazing kids I’ve come to really love.
Daisuke Sasaki came out after the match to welcome Togo back to DDT, as Togo was once his mentor. Togo was so happy to see him, he had the biggest smile on his face, and they even shared a hug. And then Sasaki took yet another level in evil by low-blowing his former mentor and talking about how he’s better than him. Togo did not take that lying down and had to be restrained by Yasu and his DNA boys. Sasaki made his final statement by giving a referee the Michinoku Driver and then swaggering out of the arena. These two absolutely need to feud, what a great call for DDT to make considering all of the history between them.
Shigehiro Irie Send-Off Match
Shigehiro Irie & Yukio Sakaguchi def. Harashima & Keisuke Ishii
It is with a heavy heart that we come to this match as this was Shigehiro Irie’s send-off match before his excursion in America. Irie is one of the best in DDT and he always has been. He connects well with the audience, has a great moveset, utilizes all of his strengths perfectly, and is one of the sweetest, kindest men in the entire world. He goes out of his way to speak to his fans on Twitter, often replying to nearly everyone, and he knows enough English to have actual conversations with, too. He’s a lovely human being. This match has come to pass as, after being defeated in the semi-finals of the King of DDT tournament, Irie decided he wanted to have an excursion in America but also wanted to wrestle everyone he could before he left. He teams with Yukio Sakaguchi here, as the two of them are close friends, and the opponents are somehow more heartbreaking. Keisuke Ishii used to be Irie’s partner, but the two haven’t collided much since the Dream Futures split. And Harashima is the man Irie has never been able to beat, who has always been able to best him time and time again.
This match was also about Irie, as it should have been, because he absolutely deserved the best send-off possible and this match was a great way to give it to him. His interactions with Ishii and Harashima were incredible, and whether he was in the role of control or found himself under their merciless onslaught of strikes, he shined. Irie has always been able to do this, always been able to find his place in a match and look great. I couldn’t think of a better pair of opponents to send him off considering what these two men happen to mean in his career. Yukio was also a great partner, as he seemed determined to make sure Irie could win the match, helping him set up moves and otherwise disposing of one of their opponents so Irie could handle the other one. It was thanks to Yukio dispatching Harashima on the outside that allowed Irie to hit two Beast Bombers and put Ishii away, winning his send-off match and putting a pause on his career in DDT.
Enjoy your time in America, Irie. DDT will miss you, and it’ll be waiting with open arms when you return.
KO-D Openweight Title
Konosuke Takeshita (c) def. Tetsuya Endo
When I first started watching DDT, Endo stuck out to me. His grace, his confidence in the ring, and his varied moveset made him a star before I even knew very much about him. There is so much to love about this guy, and he has been nothing but great this year in the Happy Motel feud with Damnation and in the King of DDT tournament. For months, I wanted him to split away from Takeshita to become a singles star because it was something I thought he would be great at succeeding in. While he hasn’t found the success that Takeshita has by winning gold, he’s been able to put on great matches and has shown a fire and intensity that makes him even more special than he already was.
On the other side of the fence, Takeshita took time to win me over. He’s always been a good wrestler, but he didn’t appeal to my tastes as much as his partner did. His reign as KO-D champion and the matches he has put on, not to mention the current storyline he is embroiled in, are what finally won me over. I want to see him succeed. He’s twenty-one years old and is already an amazing talent for DDT, their next big babyface ace for sure if they play their cards right (as they nearly always tend to do) and the faith they have put in him as yielded some surprisingly great results for someone so young. I was conflicted going into this match, even though I was pretty sure I knew who was winning, because both guys are just that good.
This match got pure nasty as soon as it started. Takeshita slammed Endo’s arm down on the corner spring and Endo was never really able to come back from that, as his strikes were noticeably weaker because every single time he tried to hit Takeshita, he hurt himself in the process. That doesn’t mean he gave up, though. Despite being wounded, he still through as many forearms and lariats as he could, even though most of them were far less effective than the ones Takeshita returned. When he finally realized something had to give, he changed to using his kicks, aiming for kicks and Frankensteiners since he’s been able to use them to his advantage in the past. At one point, he pinned Takeshita down to the mat and hammered him with forearms for so long that the referee finally had to pull him off. A slap exchange between the two of them ended with Endo standing up so he could stomp on Takeshita’s head. Takeshita was just as merciless, targeting Endo’s arm like a predator, stretching and contorting his limb and bending his fingers backward until he was howling in pain. Endo at one point caught him and gave him a spinebuster into the turnbuckle that was more like a mean, messy throw, but somehow that worked for this match. In the end, Endo found himself falling to a lariat and the bridging German suplex from Takeshita. The champion retains over his best friend.
Takeshita finds himself cut off from speaking by Damnation’s music, because Daisuke Sasaki closes in on every opportunity and has been waiting in the wings for this very moment. He offered a Damnation t-shirt to Endo, and Takeshita approached with a hand extended to his friend. In the end, Endo shoved Takeshita away hard and donned the new t-shirt, effectively leaving Happy Motel and joining the new heel stable. In a truly heartbreaking moment, Endo gave his former partners one last look of disgust as he left the ring and Takeshita crumpled to the mat, having not only lost his tag team partner, but also having lost the best friend he was so looking forward to being able to face in their match.
Tetsuya Endo turns his back on Konosuke Takeshita and joins Damnation, disgraceful scenes. #ddtpro pic.twitter.com/QmPdoBtO6X
— Dan (@GolazoDan) July 23, 2016
Honda spoke to Takeshita in the ring and found himself interrupted by Hirata, who was only there to wave his friend and partner Toru Owashi in the ring. Owashi wants his title match on the first day of the Beer Garden shows, on 8/8. And finally, after having undergone everything he has, Takeshita manages to give out a go-home promo, because he’s still the champion, and he’s still going to do his duties as such.
This show was something from top to bottom. Absolutely watch the main event to see these two go at it, and definitely check out the Togo tag match because DICK TOGO but also his interactions with Higuchi and Iwasaki are more than worth it. Peter Pan is shaping up into a great show.