Kouki Iwasaki, Guanchulo & Daiki Shimomura Def. Nobuhiro Shimatani, Mizuki Watase & Rekka
This was more of a dark match than an opener, more something to give those already in the building something to look at while the rest of the crowd files in while also giving the DNA guys a chance to perform on the show. DNA’s been in the news lately as it was announced that it’s becoming it’s own promotion on the DDT branch and less of a rookie system. What that really means, I’m not sure, I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it may seem on paper, but who knows, maybe it will become an entity of its own eventually. I often forget how good a lot of the DNA guys are and am a bit taken aback when I see them, so I enjoyed this more than I thought I would initially. While none of them have that obvious star potential their peer Kazusada Higuchi has (more on that in the next match), all of them, with the exception of Guanchulo who I’ve not been impressed with, have potential to be real good workers some day. They’re still green, there were some messy spots throughout this match, but they’re young, they’re rookies, there’s more than enough room for improvement. Fun little match. **1/2
KUDO, Soma Takao & Naomi Yoshimura Def. Keisuke Ishii, Akito & Yuki Ueno
I mentioned the lack of star potential among DDT’s rookies in the previous match. It’s an interesting concept, it’s something that’s rarely tangible and is usually spotted the second you lay eyes on someone. Everyone knew Futa Nakamura had potential to be a star when he debuted in a multi-man at Kobe World, everyone knew Higuchi would become a star if DDT wanted him to be one, and I’m calling it right now, come 2017, people will be talking about this Naomi Yoshimura if his work is even slightly impressive. This was his debut, and it was easy to spot his potential before the match even started. He looks like Yuji Hino and Shingo Takagi’s love child, he’s ripped to shreds, he was impressive in the ring, I’m into this guy. I’ll definitely be seeking out whatever he does from here on out. Another fun match. **1/2
Aja Kong & LiLiCo Def. Saki Akai & Ladybeard
Clearly a comedy match with three comedy wrestlers and Aja Kong who tends to do stuff like this in outside promotions. I’m not into this LiLiCo business like a lot of DDT fans are, I think Saki Akai sucks and was not good in this match even by the given standards, and Ladybeard is…Ladybeard. It thankfully didn’t overstay its welcome but it still did nothing for me. I can’t rate a match like this. N/R
Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship Battle Royal
Kuishinbo Kamen Def. Pork Bun (c), Masahiro Takanashi, Toru Owashi, Kazuki Hirata, Mad Paulie, Kikutaro, Dai Suzuki, Shoichi Uchida, Kenshin Chikano & YOSHIHIKO
The whole novelty of the Ironman Heavymetalweight title wore off a while ago. It’s a fun little thing, I don’t hate it, I just don’t get the enjoyment out of it that I once did. There were a few decent spots in this match, it was worked at a good pace, and like the previous match, it thankfully didn’t overstay its welcome. The highlight was probably Toru Owashi busting out the Paradise Lock as a shout to his old Toryumon peer Milano Collection A.T. And yes, the champion coming into the match was a pork bun, which Mad Paulie promptly took care of. Another match I cannot rate. N/R
Shigehiro Irie, Yasu Urano & Yuni Def. Makoto Oishi, Shunma Katsumata & MAO
Yuni is eight years old. That’s not a joke. She is a literal child. Given the fact that Irie challenged the champion after the main event, it does surprise he wasn’t in a bigger match, or at least a match that didn’t also involve an eight-year-old and a bunch of comedy guys, but I guess that’s just how they do things in this company. It was short, it didn’t accomplish a whole lot, and it was there. *3/4
Masakatsu Funaki & Yukio Sakaguchi Def. Kazusada Higuchi & Yoshihiro Takayama
DDT is doing all the right things with Higuchi. They know he’s a special talent and they know they’re going to have to elevate him even further down the line and their bookings indicates such. The only question mark is his status with the new DNA though I wouldn’t worry about that just yet as I don’t know that it’ll be its own entity, as said earlier. And even if it its own entity, I highly doubt he’ll be sticking around for very long. This match didn’t really meet the expectations I had coming in and that’s basically Sakaguchi’s year in a nutshell. I always think his matches are going to be great, they always have potential to be great, but they’re never that great. He’s been a massive disappointment in 2016, although this was still the best match on the show up until this point. ***1/4
Sanshiro Takagi, Kota Ibushi & Gota Ihashi Def. Dick Togo, Antonio Honda & Takashi Sasaki
While you’re not going to see him on every show, you may end up seeing Ibushi on all the big shows from here on out. It’s better he be saved as a special attraction both for his body and for the fans. We’ve been spoiled over the years, now is when we learn to really appreciate him when he shows up. He doesn’t ever need to be in the title picture again, he’s past it. He doesn’t need to be in huge matches on every show, he’s past that too. This is his new role. However, if he doesn’t have a singles match with Togo at some point, I’m going to be very upset. Togo’s comeback story has been one of the more interesting stories in wrestling this year, which is saying a lot. He hasn’t lost much of his touch, he’s still the man, and enjoy him while you can. Who knows how much longer he’ll be around. If you live in New York or Maryland, get your ass out to one of the EVOLVE shows on the 10th and the 11th. Not many can say they’ve seen Dick Togo wrestle in person. He’s a joy to watch, this run he’s on right now couldn’t have gone better. Unlike some of the other comedy matches on the show, I enjoyed this. ***
DDT Extreme Championship
Jun Kasai Def. Danshoku Dino (c)
I hated this. Look, I try to be fair in my reviews, trust me when I tell you I know what DDT is and what DDT does and I’m not expecting them to change their ways. What they do works and people like it, they’re the second or third biggest promotion in Japan. I don’t try spinning things to fit my narrative, for my personal opinion has nothing to do with their business and their fans. This was not for me, and that shouldn’t be a problem. I enjoy the Ishikawa’s and the HARASHIMA’s and the Endo’s of DDT, what I don’t enjoy is the Antonio Honda’s and the LiLiCo’s and the Danshoku Dino’s. They’re not my thing. Dino’s title match with Ishikawa in October bored me to tears and that’s a match I’ve seen people put that in their top ten for the year. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. This was the same match Dino always has and Kasai did nothing to make it anything more or anything less than such. If you like this sort of thing, you probably thought this was all sorts of great. Me? I thought it was the worst match on the show. *
KO-D Tag Team Championship
Konosuke Takeshita & Mike Bailey Def. Daisuke Sasaki & Tetsuya Endo (c)
It’s clear as day that DDT is trying to recreate Kenny Omega with Mike Bailey if you’ve been paying any sort of attention to the way he’s been treated by the company. Kenny Omega is a special talent, and while Bailey is very talented, I’m not sure he’s Kenny Omega. Not many people are. He’s talented enough to be their top gaijin, I just have my doubts that he’ll become what Omega was. I can’t say it’s good that he’s been banned from the United States, I wouldn’t wish such a thing on anyone, but he’s been doing quite alright for himself. He’s landed himself a full-time gig in Japan, he’s become a regular in Europe, still doing his thing in Canada, we live in a time where not being able to wrestle in America isn’t going to kill someone. And who knows, maybe I’m wrong about the Omega thing, maybe he’ll become a huge star in Japan like Omega did and not need America at all by the time he’s allowed to go back. I’m certainly pulling for him.
This was similar to the match Bailey and Togo had against Sasaki and Endo at Sumo Hall in August, though I’d put that match slightly ahead of this one. Endo is my favorite wrestler in the company and someone who has an incredibly bright future if he stays healthy and on the right track. He’s young, he’s at his physical peak, and he’s a guy I can’t wait to see in twelve years, which is about the age most wrestlers really tend to peak. Although his current role is perfect for him right now, it would be a complete flop if it didn’t eventually lead to him either turning on or being kicked out of DAMNATION. It’s set up on a tee, all they has to do is swing. His future is very clearly as a babyface, he’s too likable to be a heel forever. ****
KO-D Openweight Championship
HARASHIMA Def. Shuji Ishikawa (c)
DDT doesn’t keep this title on anyone for very long. There’s been nearly sixty champions in its existence, and only seven of those champions have held onto it for over 200 days at a time. MIKAMI from December 2002 through July 2003, Takashi Sasaki from July 2003 through February 2004, Poison Sawada JULIE from February through November 2004, Toru Owashi from May through December 2006, Sanshiro Takagi from September 2008 through May 2009, HARASHIMA from August 2013 through March 2014, and HARASHIMA from May 2014 through February 2015. No one has held onto it for over 300 days. It changes hands very frequently, so it’s better you keep your expectations at a minimum. Ishikawa has been champion since August, it was almost a given that he’d lose to HARASHIMA on this show.
This was all about heart vs. power. HARASHIMA is not the biggest guy on the roster, he’s not as powerful as Shuji Ishikawa, he may not even be as fast as Shuji Ishikawa, but he has something Ishikawa does not have. HARASHIMA’s strategy was all about heart. Ishikawa used power and speed throughout the match and did everything he could to ground HARASHIMA, while HARASHIMA did everything he could to avoid it, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to recover should he let Ishikawa get ahead of him. HARASHIMA wouldn’t stay down, he wouldn’t give up, he pushed forward, he fought, and he did what he could never once do in the past. He defeated Shuji Ishikawa.
Shigehiro Irie challenged HARASHIMA afterward and will presumably take the title from him when he gets his shot on Christmas, so to come full circle here, don’t expect HARASHIMA to have a very long reign. ****
This was a decent show. I hesitate to call it bad and I hesitate to call it good. It was what DDT tends to be, a mixed bag. You had the rookie matches, you had the comedy, you had the serious matches, you had all sorts of stuff. If you enjoy DDT, you’d love this show. If you’re like me and you only enjoy parts of DDT, watch the top two matches and Naomi Yoshimura’s debut.