The lead-up to DDT’s incredible summer show DDT Peter Pan 2016 at Sumo Hall has been an adventurous one as the building feud between Damnation and Happy Motel culminates here in a match between young Konosuke Takeshita and his challenge, Shuji Ishikawa. Family ties show strongly on this show, a stable is finally brought back together as Kudo rejoins Shuten-doji in the ring, and LiLiCo and Danshoku Dino war as they fight for the love of young Mizuki Watase.

Daisuke Sasaki faces his former mentor Dick Togo in what is sure to be a fierce tag team match and the DNA boys up and down the card will definitely be prepared to give it their all so they can prove that they belong in DDT. There’s no time to waste, as this show clocks in at five and a half hours long, so let’s get started.

King of Dark Title
Tomomitsu Matsunaga, Hoshitango & Rekka def. Chikara (c), Mitsuo Momota & Nobuhiro Shimatani

This match came to be during the Beer Garden shows when Chikara failed to defeat Sanshiro Takagi one-on-one and therefore was tasked with defending his King of Dark title on this show. His father came out of the crowd and asked if he could help his son lose the title, as he’s been in plenty of dark matches before. Joining them is Nobuhiro Shimatani, someone who has impressed me immensely in the DNA matches I’ve seen of him. Taking them on is Tomomitsu Matsunaga, who has a little good fortune going for him lately now that his old stable is back together, Hoshitango the Argentine-born former sumo wrestler, and Rekka, my favorite DNA boy tied with Higuchi who has a penchant for making friends with his opponents, then beating the hell out of them.

I have never seen a match with that much chop-based offense out of one man and I’ve seen multiple Chikara matches and I also watched the main event of Fortune Dream 3. I was also distracted during most of the introductions because Rekka got new, fancy pants and a gold ribbon to tie back his ponytail with, and I thought that was pretty cool that he got new gear just in time for the big show. Anyway, this match. Whoo boy. Look, if you went into this match with expectations of any kind, you were making a mistake already. Shimatani and Rekka were good when they were in the ring and better when they were taking each other on as they are probably the two best wrestlers in the ring— and also the young boys.

Matsunaga and Chikara spent a lot of time yelling at each other and if DDT would put them together in a match where all they did was yell at each other and hit lariats, it would probably not be a bad time. It’s not even that Chikara is bad because some guys are bad and they’re still fun to watch because they’re bad. He’s just kind of bland, kind of there, and his chops aren’t all that great despite the fact he utilizes pretty much just chops for most of the match. At least he got to have some fun with his dad, which in the big scheme of things is nice for DDT to do. Shimatani trying to knock down Hoshitango with dropkicks only to more or less get punched off of his feet was fun. Matsunaga picked up the win for his team after the most awkward roll-up attempt I’ve seen this month, and therefore, Chikara retains his championship and will continue to carry the cursed title, which also has a better design than WWE’s Universal Championship.

Tokyo Joshi Pro Offer Match
Miyu Yamashita, Yuka Sakazaki & Akane Miura def. Syoko Nakajima, Hyper Misao & Yuu

I recognize some of these names from the Hakata show, as there was a clipped Tokyo Joshi Pro match on offer then, as well. Miyu Yamashita is very impressive and is Tokyo Pro’s only champion, as she hasn’t been defeated in her title matches yet. Sakazaki was very confident and at home on the ropes during the match, very easily gliding through the air when she decided she wanted to. Nakajima also has an excellent offense of strikes and flying. I’m definitely looking forward to getting to see Yuu finally, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about her, and sadly I don’t know a lot about the rest of these ladies. If these shows made tape more often, that would be different, but we take what we can get when we live in countries that are not Japan, and I am thankful DDT puts these ladies on these big shows so we can see what they’re made of.

Since I don’t know most of these women very well, I’m going to include my first impressions on their entrances. Hyper Misao’s superhero outfit is very cool, Syoko Nakajima’s furry entrance outfit reminds me of Kris Wolf in Stardom, and Yuu looks… She just looks cool, she’s very stoic and her entrance outfit is plainer but she’s the judo-trained wrestler so this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Akane Miura also has plainer entrance gear than her companions which is always something I find interesting as joshi has a lot of colorful and eye-catching gear. Sakazaki has a crown and curly genie shoes, that’s neat! And Yamashita is dancing, which is fantastic for a promotion like DDT. I don’t know, these ladies certainly look cool and have caught my attention, so I’m excited to see what they bring to the table.

I really, really liked this little multi-woman match. My earlier thoughts about Sakazaki being a high-flyer turned out to be correct as she jumped off the top rope as soon as she was tagged into the match and otherwise specialized in the offense you’d expect from a high-flyer. There was also a really cool spot where Miura was holding Nakajima up on her shoulder, and I started to wonder what for and then Sakazaki just appeared on the side of the screen, running along the top rope like it’s no big deal, to stomp on Nakajima. Really neat double team move. Miura in general was pretty cool, and she’s bigger than the other ladies so that allowed her to get in some of that cool offense that typically only bigger guys in matches get i.e. clotheslining two of her opponents off their feet at the same time and catching people in mid-air. Apparently Hyper Misao is about to make a turn for super villain as she took off her cape and used it to choke Sakazaki at one point. The interactions between Yuu and Yamashita were very cool, as Yuu’s chops and that snap suplex looked great paired with Yamashita’s great kicks. Super duper fun little match here. Yamashita picked up the victory for her team over Hyper Misao.

DNA Fights— Battle of Last Summer
Kazusada Higuchi & Daiku Shimomura def. Kouki Iwasaki & Mizuki Watase

This is the match with my personal favorite DNA boy in it and so I’m incredibly excited. Kazusada Higuchi is just on a whole different level than most of his fellow young boys and he improves by leaps and bounds. He’s fallen a bit down the card but I really hope he gets his feet back under him soon, graduates DNA, and becomes a full-time DDT roster member. He’s teaming with Daiki Shimomura, an excellent high-flyer, to take on former partner Kouki Iwasaki of the strong stiff kicks and Mizuki Watase, whose love and affection are being fought for further up the card. Iwasaki and Watase should be a fun team and I love the difference in a small high-flyer and a big strong guy, so Shimomura and Higuchi as a team more than works for me.

Higuchi is on another level compared to the rest of the DNA roster. The way he carries himself, the way he makes his entrance, just he, as he is, is so special and wonderful and everything about him really feels larger and life. People have been comparing him to Tenryu recently and I have to say that feels just about accurate right now especially. He walked into this match that isn’t even close to the biggest on the show, as it’s just the first match on the actual DDT Peter Pan card, and he made it feel important. He also looked fantastic in his offense, throwing brutal lariats and shoulder blocks and strikes. At one point, he picked Iwasaki up on his shoulder and dropped him face-first on top of the turnbuckle, and it was great. He and Shimomura made a fun big man/little man team, which are some of my favorites.

Watase is looking more competent each and every time he steps into the ring and Iwasaki is coming closer and closer to being a finished product as far as being ready for the big leagues goes. They also make a good team between Watase’s forearm/elbow strikes and Iwasaki’s kicks. Shimomura also looked impressive even if he almost died coming off of the top rope to the outside wrong. At least he’s okay and he can continue to wrestle. The most exciting little tidbit in this match is that Higuchi and Iwasaki are refining a spot from one of their DNA matches where Iwasaki catches Higuchi in an armbar off of a lariat and Higuchi powers his way out of if. In the end, Higuchi picked up the win for his team over Iwasaki. Please, graduate DNA soon and become the big star we all want you to be and know you can be.

Iron Man Heavymetalweight Title
Yakitori def. Toru Owashi ©

Toru Owashi was exhausted having to defend his Iron Man title against all of the people who came to challenge him for it; the video alone showed Saki Akai and Guanchulo trying to get the jump on him for it, but he easily dispatched them. A box of yakitori snacks caught his eye and he ate some, then fell asleep shortly after. Because the chicken was laying on his chest at the time of the incident, it became the new champion. While it might seem like a strange move to make a partially eaten food item your champion, you have to remember that this title has had a lot of inanimate object title holders. And besides, this makes for an even more interesting battle royal, so I’ll take it. Plus, the yakitori has better entrance music than most wrestlers and was personally carried out by Suguru Miyatake, who, God willing, might be back soon.

Iron Man Heavymetalweight Title
Toru Owashi def. Yakitori (c), Joey Ryan, Reika Saki, Keisuke Ishii, Saki Akai, Kazuki Hirata, Cherry, Guanchulo, Mad Polly, KENSO, Gota Ihashi, Jun Kasai & Yoshihiko

Lord, this lineup is interesting.

Most of the people in this match are well-known for their comedy shenanigans so that alone should make this a fun little battle royal. It’s a gimmick that can work really well if done correctly, and DDT almost always does things like this well. Reika Saki makes her debut here and is the muscular young lady who announced she would be debuting here after graduating from Tokyo Joshi Pro. I’m excited to see what she gets to do in the match and in general excited to have another lady on the roster. Kazuki Hirata is maybe one of the funniest men in DDT and has his act down to an artform between the dancing and the absolutely murderous expressions. One of my favorite wrestlers in the world is here as Jun Kasai is a member of this battle royal, and so is YOSHIHIKO well-known as one of the best acts and wrestlers on the DDT roster. This is going to be great.

This battle royal was a HOOT. Comedy is DDT’s specialty and they brought it in spades here. Letting Hirata do his entire dance at the beginning was great because people love Tokyo GO so much and if you notice all the flashing lights in the venue when the lights go out, those are Hirata glasses. Watching the wrestlers fight over the yakitori stick was a good time, too, as was the dramatic moment everyone had trying to eat it. Cherry and Hirata were fun at the beginning of the match, too. Cherry picked up the championship after eating the yakitori while holding Joey Ryan (who got about as big of a pop as a Shingo Takagi victory in Dragon Gate) in the Manjigatame. Keisuke Ishii ended up defeating her for the championship further in the match. The little changes during the match were actually super clever, too, and very well done.

Jun Kasai was great here. The crowd really loved him and he was clearly having fun with himself, whether it was trying to figure out what exactly Yoshihiko was or participating in the Tokyo GO dance with Hirata after Hirata stole his goggles. Hirata had several funny moments throughout this match as you would expect, a great one being when he chopped Gota Ihashi in the neck for Saki Akai, then chopped her right after. Mad Polly looked pretty great too and did a really nice Vader Bomb on Ihashi. He also eliminated Joey Ryan so he’s automatically a hero. Yoshihiko showed up and knocked Kenso clear out of the ring, tapping out Ishii to become the Iron Man champion. Kasai and Hirata eliminated pretty much everyone while dancing, and then Yoshihiko, assisted by Hirata and Owashi, eliminated Kasai. In the end, Owashi came out victorious as he used the La Magistral cradle on both Yoshihiko and Hirata at the same time. AMAZING spectacle. I loved it.

Iron Man Heavymetalweight Title
Joey Ryan def. Toru Owashi (c)

I am going to level with all of you reading this: I really do not like Joey Ryan and there’s not really anything about him that I find acceptable in DDT. He’s boring, he isn’t funny, and he went and ruined a really great battle royal by making it all about himself, very much like he did when he brought this title to the U.S. to bounce it between other wrestlers, as he gained it back over and over again. There is just nothing good about this guy, and he sticks out like a sore thumb in DDT, which is ironic because a character like his should fit right in. But he doesn’t, and it’s jarring and terrible and I really don’t want this man to stay in this promotion for much longer. This was unnecessary, or it could have gone to one of the other wrestlers, other than Joey Ryan for the billionth time in the past few months. I wish his cat had come back to DDT instead of him. You could give the cat to Makoto Oishi and it could be the mascot of NωA which is already more interesting than anything Joey Ryan is going to do or has done in DDT.

KUDO Comeback— Yellow Dragon Come back
Kudo & Masahiro Takahashi def. Akito & Yasu Urano

I’m glad this match came after that debacle because I am so excited to see Kudo back.

Shuten-doji is easily my favorite stable in DDT as the dynamic between the four of them has been an absolute delight to watch. They are such a good team, and the addition of Kota Umeda (to replace Kudo while he was out injured) to what was a perfect great stable only added to its value rather than detracted from it, as is sometimes the case when you add more members to a group. Kudo has always been an excellent wrestler, one of the best in DDT, and seeing him sidelined for so long was heartbreaking, but it was always great to see him come to cheer Shuten-doji on in their matches just the same. But now he’s back, and he and Masahiro are teaming again, and it’s exciting! This makes me think of the interactions they had during Masahiro’s title match against Isami Kodaka earlier this year when Kudo was ringside and cheering Masahiro on with all he was worth, elevating the match even more. They face Akito and Yasu Urano of Smile Squash, a duo who are capable of incredible teamwork as Akito has the strength and youth and Yasu has the years of experience, creating an amazing team. Akito is also no stranger to coming back from injury, as he was out for a brief period of time and missed King of DDT because of injured ribs.

This is one of those moments where having emotional ties to the returning wrestlers makes their return so much more special. I got a little choked up when Kudo walked out to hug Masahiro before their match. He’s been out of the ring for so long and his loss felt extremely emotional when Shuten-doji found themselves feuding with Isami Kodaka, as one of Isami’s signature moves is the same double knee drop that Kudo uses. Kudo is in incredible shape and he looks great, so it’s good to see he was taking care of himself as well as working with his injury. Seeing him get in the ring and through his kicks was a good time as they look as graceful and stiff as ever, and when he hit his body strikes followed by the head kick at the end of the match, I popped incredibly hard as his agility was something of his I noticed as soon as I started watching him.

Masahiro and Akito have such incredible chemistry that it’s absolutely unreal. Akito was showing off his strength in this match, at one point just kind of holding a struggling Masahiro by the gut, off of the mat, for an extended period of time, as well as being able to drag him back when he tried to scramble away. He was also able to catch several of Kudo’s kicks before they could do any damage to him, using the opportunity to start working his knee. A particularly great spot between him and Masahiro was when he reversed the Taka Tonic into an ankle lock, and Masahiro simply pressed his other foot into the back of his own knee so that it would bend and force Akito to let him go. It was just a super smart move and really smart wrestling. In the end, Kudo picked up the win for his team with his patented double knee drop, hitting it on Yasu Urano. He and Masahiro celebrated afterward with a drink in the ring, as per tradition. I liked this match a lot. Kudo looked good, and he’ll probably be able to bounce back pretty fast if he’s already at this level post-injury. I can’t wait to see him get that intensity back in his step.

NωA Road To DDT Fes 2016— Sasadango Teaches The Way To Survive Showbiz
Makoto Oishi, Shunma Katsumata, MAO & Super Sasadango Machine defeated Antonio Honda, Trans-Am ★ Hiroshi, Ladybeard & Gorgeous Matsuno

I love this idol group so much. I loved the idea of it in theory when Sanshiro told them they were going to be a group together, but seeing it in practice has confirmed it entirely. The three of them are just such a fun act together. Makoto Oishi is in his thirties but he doesn’t really seem out of place in this group and the fact all three of them can sing has been a delight. Mao especially has been able to impress even more because now he’s more likely to get matches on these bigger shows because of the group and any match with Shunma Katsumata in it is going to be good because Shunma is just one of the best wrestlers in DNA, surely one of the top future acts of the promotion. They take on a mixed bag of people who can also sing and I hope this means we get lots of singing in this match, especially from Honda and Hiroshi because I’ve always loved listening to them sing when they abruptly bust it out in the middle of the match. And I love Ladybeard.

Who doesn’t love Ladybeard?

This was such a fun match. It started off with an SSM patented PowerPoint presentation and then NωA performed their single, which is also their theme music. They looked extra great on this run because all three of them had new sparkling entrance gear (Makoto Oishi sporting adorable blue kitty cat ears on his) and they have updated their arm sleeves so that they now feature stars. The match itself was very fun as everyone got to get their act in and it was just fantastic. Shunma brought out that vicious side he has that we see mostly from time to time when he’s wrestling down at DNA and Oishi always brings out that side of himself when it comes to matches like this. The most impressive, of course, was Mao, as he showed off his high-flying style and his amazing dropkicks. He also adorably forgot he’s only going by his first name now as he accidentally said his last name when making the call for the bionic elbow.

My favorite part of this match was the finish, though, as Hiroshi pulled my favorite Hiroshi/Honda spot into the match when he started singing to help Honda fight his way out of a sleeper hold. This erupted into Ladybeard, Gorgeous Matsuno, and Hiroshi erupting into a spirited performance of “We Are The World” that they got so wrapped up in they didn’t realize that SSM was taking advantage of a disoriented Honda behind their backs. Honda suffered a bionic elbow attempt from all four of his opponents, getting punched a total of sixteen times, so he was stumbling around badly. In the end, Mao was able to pick up the win for his team with his gorgeous 450 splash, much to the horror of Honda’s teammates. It was great, Mao looked amazing, and he got a big win on DDT’s biggest stage, so he was extra excited. What a fun little thing to give to one of your youngest wrestlers.

AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title
Soma Takao def. Hikaru Sato (c)

This match is hard. Soma Takao was long my favorite member of Team Dream Futures and when the stable broke up, I hoped we were going to get a strong singles run out of him and maybe a title reign or two. I did not expect this feud, though. Soma has been strong in his singles matches and looks good even without his usual partners to back him up, better than I ever could have hoped for. He had to fight former partner Keisuke Ishii to earn the right to make this challenge, as Ishii has been chasing AJPW gold for years. He talked about leaving the dojo and joining DDT, but Soma defeated him and so, if he wins, I imagine that is a feud we are going full steam ahead on.

Soma takes on Hikaru Sato here, twisting my gut into a knot because I love Hikaru, too. He’s a member of Evolution and his story as he climbed the ladder to get to this title over and over again only to fail so many times has been an exhilarating one to watch. He finally captured it from tag team partner Atsushi Aoki in what was an incredible match. There’s also the background to his group right now that makes this very interesting, as Suwama and Hikaru have been butting heads since Suwama made his long-awaited return to All Japan. Suwama wants more from the group, and Hikaru has been defending them as at the time, only he held gold in the group. If he loses the title here, Evolution may very well finally implode on itself.

This was an excellent match and the two men involved gave everything in their effort to make this a great performance. Sato has always been an excellent wrestler and he was in fine form as he made his return to DDT. I am beyond excited to have him here at DDT Peter Pan and I can only hope that the relationship between DDT and AJPW continues with these excellent matches. The majority of his offense was spent chipping away at Soma’s arm, and while limb work is not everyone’s cup of tea, this made Soma’s struggle all the more realistic as he sold his arm in small but brilliant ways. At one point, he was crouched on the top turnbuckle with his fingertips resting on the ropes and he shook out his injured arm. It’s the little things like that that make him so good at what he does. Sato, of course, was looking for the armbar submission that he’s been able to beat Takao with recently and worked his way up to that by contorting Soma’s arm around the ring ropes and punishing him with the stiff kicks that Sato is well known for.

Soma spent a lot of this match working from the bottom but he looked all the better for it as his recent losses to Sato made him somewhat of an underdog walking into this match. He was great at selling his arm and at fighting Sato back with everything he had, from his own incredible kicks to forearm strikes. At one point Sato caught the ropes to miss Soma’s dropkick and Soma responded by simply somersaulting over to catch Sato with another one when he came off of the ropes himself. He also survived multiple armbars and even a kimura, absolutely refusing to tap out. When he finally got Sato setup for the G ‘n Tonic, he had to fight to keep a struggling Sato in place but, in the end, was able to do so and picked up the win as well as earning himself the AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight title. This was an impressive match and a great effort on Soma’s part, legitimizing him as a singles wrestler capable of succeeding all by himself.

Hirata showed up after the match to make a challenge to Soma. Hopefully, that challenge will be accepted because Hirata would be so much fun in a title match.

DDT Extreme Title— Watase Contra Watase
Danshoku Dino def. LiLiCo (c)

I have a lot of hopes for this match and I’m sure these two performers are going to deliver. LiLiCo has been making waves in DDT ever since making her triumphant return, currently on her second title reign in DDT and accompanied by her loyal and loving boyfriend, Mizuki Watase. Their storyline has been so fun to follow as their love has been able to conquer all of the adversity they’ve faced, and it’s just overall fun. Cue Danshoku Dino coming in to make some suggestions of his own in an attempt to plant the seeds of doubt between them. Dino emerged after LiLiCo successfully defeated Makoto Oishi, claiming that her relationship with Watase was just a farce and that they should put Watase up as something to be won in their match. Fast forward a bit later and we have Dino also claiming that Watase is using the relationship to hide the fact that he is gay. Watase is allowed to interfere in the match, so the real question becomes this: Is he going to help LiLiCo and prove that he loves her, or is he going to help Dino?

This match was pure comedy and it was brilliant. LiLiCo has been an absolute delight to have in the ring and she’s even starting to become a competent wrestler as her move are less assisted than they used to be and she’s starting to be able to hit them on her own. Dino accidentally knocked the referee unconscious with a kiss— as his kisses are an actual offensive maneuver— so LiLiCo and Watase’s linked arm DDT did not get the pin. One of the most fun moments during the match was when LiLiCo used humiliation to escape Dino twisting her arm, telling him and everyone in the audience that he had a small penis, which made him stop the maneuver so he could quickly go around and tell everything that absolutely was not true. Oishi got involved a few times on his behalf, roughly rubbing a towel over LiLiCo’s face to wipe off her make-up and running her into Dino’s ass when he was positioned on the turnbuckle. Watase made it clear whose side he was on as he hit Dino with forearms, resisted his attempts to kiss him, and even hit a pretty impressive backdrop on him. LiLiCo hit a hurricanrana on Dino that actually looked really good. In the end, however, Dino was triumphant. He kissed Watase, tricked her into running into a brainbuster, and pinned her with the Danshoku Driver.

Post-match, Watase refused to leave LiLiCo’s side and Dino said it wasn’t like they were getting married. Watase then rolled out of the ring and returned with a velvet box which did, in fact, contain an engagement ring. Before LiLiCo could give her answer, more men quickly trotted out to stake a claim to asking her to marry them. Suguru Miyatake, who has been out with an injury and therefore could not team with LiLiCo back when she started her Kawaii Connection storyline, arrived and proposed with his shoulder sling. Bernard Ackah, LiLiCo’s first bodyguard, appeared and proposed with a red handkerchief tied around his neck. Makoto Oishi proposed with a wrist band and SSM proposed with his mask. Dino decided to make it a 4-way match between Oishi, Watase, SSM, and Ackah to see who would earn the right to be LiLiCo’s fiance. Miyatake could not participate, as he is not fit to return to the ring. I should note that as of this writing, that match has been made into a 5-way because Miyatake pleaded with Dino to fight for him.

Iron Man Heavymetalweight Title
Yakitori def. Joey Ryan (c)

Guanchulo choked Joey Ryan with yakitori snacks backstage. Who would have thought the chicken would be such a tough opponent? At least the belt is off of Ryan.

Sanshiro Takagi, Shiro Koshinaka & NOSAWA Rongai def. Great Kabuki, Yukio Sakaguchi & Kota Umeda

This six-man tag looks unbearably fun, and I like all of the men in it quite a bit. Nosawa is someone who’s grown on me, his act being something that’s just clicked with me recently so I’ve been able to enjoy him quite a bit more as opposed to dreading the moment when he gets tagged into a match or just outright skipping his matches. He’s teaming with samurai Shiro Koshinaka and DDT’s grump dad, Sanshiro Takagi, here. His third partner beside Takagi was supposed to be Terry Funk to play on the singles match they were supposed to have at Tokyo Carnival, but both fell through after Funk suffered a hernia and could not travel to Japan. As a result, he is replaced here with the Koshinaka. The legendary Great Kabuki teams here with Yukio Sakaguchi, easily one of the best in DDT with his stiff kicks and shoot-style offense, and one of the hottest up-and-comers in Kota Umeda, who as been improving in leaps and bounds.

This match is a six-man tag that essentially has no meaning other than to be entertaining and to allow everybody in the ring to do their shtick. Kabuki is one of those old guys who just won’t fucking retire no matter how old he gets— keep in mind I am saying this with concern for his health, not because I actually have anything against the man. He has issues standing straight and has mobility problems, and at the beginning of the match he was choking Nosawa in the corner, except I couldn’t really tell he was choking him because the effort just did not seem to be there. He’s better during the Rambo when he can come in, be himself for a minute, and then leave soon after. Here, this was not a good idea. The one good thing that came out of it is that now we know Yukio Sakaguchi and Kota Umeda look pretty damn cool with facepaint on. I love the older men of puro, I absolutely adore them with all of my heart, but once it looks like they’re at more of a risk for their health than they should be, at that point I’d rather see them retire and relax for the rest of their life. They’ve all done more than enough for this sport.

So to focus on the good: Sakaguchi and Umeda. Pairing them together in a stable was such a smart idea because I can see shades of Yukio in Umeda when I see them side by side. Umeda has been tremendous for an extremely long amount of time and is one of the best DNA boys to come out of the program so far. He’s taken to carrying himself as more of a heel, and it’s changed his entire aura and everything about him. Here, in this match, that was the most apparent as he was landing devastating kicks left and right. He nailed Takagi with a particularly beautiful dropkick, one that was easily Shibata levels of hitting Takagi right in his face. He feels like he’s Sakaguchi’s protege which seems to be the way that the cards have fallen where Shuten-doji is concerned, and that looks excellent for his future. When the youngest man in the match doesn’t stick out or feel like he doesn’t belong around men who have been working much longer than him, you know you’re on the right track. There was some comedy in this match as well, such as both Nosawa and Takagi gearing up for their big moves before being hit with sharp knee pains that required the audience’s power to help heal. Also funny that Takagi and Nosawa hit Umeda with a linked-arm DDT reminiscent of the one LiLiCo and Watase used in their match. Takagi pinned Umeda with the Sitdown Himawari Bomb.

Daisuke Sasaki & Tetsuya Endo def. Dick Togo & Mike Bailey

The sheer amount of history behind this match is amazing as Dick Togo was once the mentor for a younger Daisuke Sasaki and the two of them were rather close. When Togo returned to DDT, Sasaki came out to speak to him after a match and the smile on Togo’s face became heartbreaking as, a moment later, Sasaki gave him a low blow and effectively turned on him, jumping several more levels in evil in the process.

Now, the two of them face each other in this match, each of them bringing a partner with them. Mike Bailey is a Canadian freelance import, a self-styled karate expert who incorporates his martial arts skills with his impressive high-flying offense in a blend of styles that makes him utterly unique and has captivated a lot of his new fans in DDT. Tetsuya Endo is making a new name for himself as a member of Damnation, ditching his former stable Happy Motel and his face persona in favor of smudged eyeliner, a cool new haircut, and a slew of wins that have started him on his climb back to the top. Endo has never been as interesting as he is right now, so it’ll be great to see him in this match. These four are undeniably four talented guys, so this should be great.

When there are matches between wrestlers who in-storyline hate each other, sometimes the matches simply do not convey that hostility that the storylines do. It makes a match feel flat and can hurt a feud. But that is absolutely not what happened in this match. Daisuke Sasaki and Dick Togo tore apart at each other like they were there to kill each other from the moment they stepped into the ring together. Watching them throw each other’s partners into the corner because they wanted to fight each other more was enthralling as you so often get used to these heels who are cowardly and run away, but that wasn’t the case with Sasaki, who was ready to take on his former mentor and end his career like he promised. They threw closed punches and Sasaki hit several of his beautiful standing dropkicks on Togo. The way they worked each other with the crossface was incredible and the fact neither of them came even close to tapping out was fantastic as it’s only going to add another layer to a feud we know isn’t even close to done yet. Togo’s senton, which has been winning him matches since his return, was easily countered by Sasaki easily raising his knees up to catch his mentor in the back, and Togo was able to muscle his way out of Sasaki’s grip just as he started to alter his crossface into the more devastating version which has been choking men out since he began employing it.

Endo and Bailey did not have even close to the same issues with each other, but the two of them still went at each other like animals. Seeing Endo in the heel role has been perfect, and nothing really cements that like him standing tall and dark over Bailey, telling him to get up and hit him. Everything about his aesthetic and the way he carries himself speaks so much to his skill as a wrestler. These two traded kicks and forearms, showed off their ability to fly through the air without it being too much of a performance and less of a fight. Bailey in particular fell back into a role we’ve seen him work before, which is where he finds himself at the disadvantage even though he has more experience than Endo does. Damnation just feels like that much of a force this early into this run as a real group. Even Togo accidentally nailing Bailey in the face with a steel chair made this match feel more as the color added a nice touch. Sasaki finally gave Togo enough low blows to take him out of the action for an extended period of time and Endo nailed Bailey with the chair again before finishing him off with the Sky Twister Press. This match was incredible and the Sasaki/Togo feud will likely continue, which is fantastic. More from these two can only be great, Bailey continues to shine in DDT, and Endo looks like a force to be reckoned with. Finishing off the match smeared in someone else’s blood makes him look like a badass.

KO-D Tag Team Titles
Smile Yankee def. Bad Comi (c)

Bad Comi is a team of underdogs Kai from Wrestle-1 and Ken Ohka from Ganbare. The two are well-liked by fans but have either had to come by their good fortune by chance or not be able to come by any at all. Ohka has been more or less aimless since he lost a KO-D title match to Harashima, and Kai was at one time the Wrestle-1 champion after defeating the monstrous Yuji Hino with a cradle roll-up. Together, however, the two were able to take down the Damnation tag team of Daisuke Sasaki and Shuji Ishikawa who at the time seemed pretty damn undefeatable. Their team has been a fun one to keep an eye on, as Kai has never fit in better than he has here in DDT and they have styles that mesh rather well together. But, their challengers are pretty damn incredible. Harashima is the man, the ace of DDT and the guy by whom everyone else’s success will inevitably be measured. He was unlucky in King of DDT, falling to a flash pin by Tetsuya Endo, but found himself forming a tighter team with kindred spirit Yuko Miyamoto in the process. The two of them have teamed in the past, but their latest run has seen them become an official team, dubbing themselves Smile Yankee and inducting Yuko Miyamoto into Smile Squash. They are simply talented and charismatic wrestlers, and they are far more of a challenge than Bad Comi could have hoped to run into in their run as champions. Things don’t look good for them.

This match really does highlight everything that makes Bad Comi work as a team. It’s the fact they don’t give up easily, that they sell well, and that despite becoming tag team champions, their name says it all: their communication is just bad, as they manage to hit each other in almost all of their matches together. This match was no different, as we get maybe two minutes in and Kai ends up hitting Ohka with a plancha meant for Miyamoto and Harashim, who simply shrugged away. They’re a fun team, with some fun tag team maneuvers, but they work best as the underdogs whose simple mistakes can spell the end for them when more experienced teams have better chances of being able to work together. Miyamoto and Harashima have teamed together long before declaring themselves Smile Yankee and you can see it in how fluidly and easily they move in the ring with each other. From their swan dive press and moonsault combo to something as simple as Harashima standing atop both opponents and Yuko leaping up onto his back to double the weight, they have each other well scouted and they know each other well, and that makes for excellent teamwork on their part. It also gives them a distinct advantage over Ohka and Kai, who have been teaming together for much shorter of a time. Their inability to give up and their drive to fight as much as possible helped them take down Damnation, but it was not enough for them to take down Smile Yankee as well.

Smile Yankee, on the other hand, are a fantastic team. They showed up here wearing matching Yankee jackets in red and blue to represent both of the colors they favor and just in general really mesh well as a team. Harashima dodging corner offense from Kai, just for Miyamoto to come in and take out his knee, followed by wedging Ohka between the ropes for a double corner stomp, was executed easily and brilliantly. The swan dive press and moonsault I talked about above are done with an equal amount of grace and precision that show just how well these two can work together. The finish of the match itself was even built on the fact they make better partners for each other than Ohka and Kai, as Ohka speared his own partner and effectively took him out of the match, leaving himself open to the double-team offense of Miyamoto and Harashima. A combination Fire Thunder/Somato put away Ohka and ended Bad Comi’s reign before it ever really began. Bad Comi are a team that could really be great in DDT, but for right now, they find themselves back where they started while Smile Yankee enjoy a run with the belts. I’m so happy to see them together and succeeding.

KO-D Openweight Title
Shuji Ishikawa def. Konosuke Takeshita (c)

This is another match with a ton of history behind it, its roots planted in Judgment Day and the tag team match that changed Daisuke Sasaki’s fortunes for what feels like forever. Shuji Ishikawa became his partner to take on Happy Motel and twice, the big man/little man tag team proved to be too much for Happy Motel to take on. Sasaki even got a minute and a half pin on Takeshita, one that Takeshita tried to avenge when he defeated Ishikawa in four minutes.

Now, Ishikawa wants his own change to avenge that loss and gets it here at DDT Peter Pan after becoming the King of DDT. He’s been quite a force in DDT, not unbeatable but hard to take down and keep down because he is quite literally the biggest guy currently on the roster. He ran through Shigehiro Irie and Tetsuya Endo in King of DDT in impressive matches and looks to continue his trend of dominant singles victories if he takes down Takeshita. But, Takeshita has been improving, too. He’s young and his ceiling his high, and he’s shown improvement with each and every KO-D title challenge he’s faced, able to overcome Yuko Miyamoto, Toru Owashi, and his own ex-friend, Tetsuya Endo. He’s beaten Ishikawa in the past when they were one-on-one with each other, and though this Ishikawa is hardly the same man he faced then, Takeshita isn’t the same, either. If this isn’t an incredible match, I’m going to be gobsmacked.

I want to preface this review by saying that walking into this show, I told myself it would be okay if Takeshita won this match. I have been incredibly high on Shuji Ishikawa all year and the people closest to me know that I have absolutely been rooting for him to win all of his matches and every tournament he’s been in because whether as a singles wrestler, a deathmatch wrestler, or in his tag teams with Kohei Sato in BJW and Daisuke Sasaki in DDT, he is my favorite. Because he’s done so much, and won so much, between King of DDT, Strong Climb, being a double champion, having all of these great matches during Strong Climb including his amazing match with Kamitani, I told myself it would be okay with Takeshita won here, that he really is the future of DDT and that Shuji losing this match would be okay even if I wanted him to win more than I wanted Takeshita to win. But the video package alone wildly swung my emotions in the exact opposite direction, because seeing his history with DDT, and seeing his history with Union Pro, I wanted him to have this match, and this title, too, at least one more time.

People have been expressing doubt about Takeshita’s run with the KO-D title, citing his age and lack of charisma as proof that he’s been pushed too hard and too far too early into his career. But this match, I feel, laid all of those arguments to rest and proved that given time, and given the push needed to really incite his confidence, Takeshita has done an excellent job as champion. He sold his ass off in this match and threw everything he had at Ishikawa, the desperation mounting with each big move that failed to keep the big man down. No one ever looks as strong as they do when they wrestle against Ishikawa, because he is such a large and imposing man that being able to get him up for superplexes and brainbusters and German suplexes makes Takeshita look that much more incredible of an athlete than he already is. Watching him throw lariats hard enough to take Ishikawa off of his feet multiple times was captivating. Kicking out at one over and over again, screaming, shaking his head to let the audience know he was not about to go down that easily, that Ishikawa would have to use everything in his arsenal to keep him down was beautiful. There were moments in this match where Takeshita was on his knees, his expression vacant as he struggled to recover from another attack, only to surge back to his feet and give everything he had in order to keep his title and his place at the top of DDT, and it made this match.

Shuji Ishikawa is forty years old and turns forty-one on September 25th. Some men do not have his mobility and skill once they reach that age, especially if they’ve had careers and even just this year packed full of incredible matches, tournaments, and high-pressure situations. The talent he has is simply amazing. He works well with almost anyone and he worked perfectly here with Takeshita. As one-sided as this match felt at times, Ishikawa knew how to sell Takeshita’s offense to make it feel like the champion had a real fighting chance while at the same time absolutely manhandling him. He was able to roll a cloverleaf over and heave Takeshita up for a powerbomb, punished him with countless knees to the gut and face, and in general showed off the amazing strength he has. Takeshita is by no means a small man, as he’s billed at six-two and has a very well-built body, but Ishikawa ragdolled him time and time again. It seemed easy to get him up for Splash Mountain, to lock his hands behind Takeshita’s head and throw him back for the dragon suplex. The finish even displayed this great moment where he easily lifted and folded Takeshita’s body up for the Giant Slam to finish the match. Shuji Ishikawa becomes the new KO-D champion, and after a run like he has had and a match like this one, that title is well-deserved. Absolutely go out of your way to watch this match. If you have long since decided DDT is not for you, suck it up and watch this match. It’s easily one of the best this year.

The aftermath of this match is very important, for those of you who don’t know DDT as well as other promotions. It is tradition than the entire roster come out to celebrate together after DDT Peter Pan and Damnation sent them away to keep the ring to themselves for the celebration. So much faith has been put in Damnation as a group, and based on this show, they are doing nothing but proving they absolutely deserve that faith put into them.

Iron Man Heavymetalweight Title
Ryota Yamasato def. Yakitori (c)

So of course this belt changed hands one more time on this show. This time, comedian Ryota Yamasato finished off the yakitori skewer that choked out Joey Ryan and, in the process, became the new Iron Man champion. This is a nice change and I’m intrigued to see what they do with this belt. I’d be glad if it doesn’t go back to Joey Ryan.

Final Thoughts:

DDT Peter Pan promised to be one of the biggest shows of the year with a card loaded down with title matches, a battle royal, and most of the best talent DDT has to offer. The comedy was perfect for a setting like DDT and the top three matches on the card especially rang through as great matches. So did Sato vs. Takao. The way these men have strove to put on these shows over the year has been a sight to see, and as Danshoku Dino said during Beer Garden, these shows are put together with love from the wrestlers to the fans who come to support them.

I am beyond excited to see where Damnation goes now, as they have absolutely been booked in a way that few promotions in Japan are willing to do with an incredible dominance over their fellow roster members. The future of DDT has never looked as bright as it does with this show.