Judgement ~ 20th Anniversary Show
March 20, 2017
Saitama Super Arena (Attendance: 10,702)
Dai Suzuki, Naomi Yoshimura & Nobuhiro Shimatani Def. Daiki Shimomura, Rekka & Yuki Ueno
Naomi Yoshimura has sort of slid into the Kazusada Higuchi role on these DDT shows as Higuchi has moved up from the DNA level, and although Yoshimura clearly does have a long way to go, he’s been tremendously impressive. Everyone worked hard here as these DNA guys tend to do even with more than half of the arena being empty. Yuki Ueno is another guy I’ve been impressed with and is probably one of the better rookies they have at the moment, despite not having nearly the same amount of presence or star potential as Yoshimura. Fun little multi-man pre-show/dark match/whatever you want to call it. ***
Ito Maki, Mil Clown & Yuu Def. Azusa Takigawa, Reika Saiki & Rika Tatsumi
A spotlight for one of the 57 DDT sister promotions: Tokyo Joshi Pro. I’m not intimately familiar with any of these women outside of Yuu, who I saw have a great match with Shoko Nakajima on January 4th, and none of them particularly jumped off the page. Yuu was easily the most impressive and the only one who didn’t look like a complete amateur, to be frank. Sloppy, messy, and slightly below average. **1/4
DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship/King of Dark Championship Dramatic Rumble Winner: Guanchulo
Pretty standard comedy Rumble DDT does on all of their big shows. Surprise entrants included Munenori Sawa, who I wish would come back full time because he’s awesome, and DDT legend Poison Sawada JULIE, while the rest of the match consisted of a bunch of guys they couldn’t get on the main show. If you enjoy the comedy aspects of DDT, you’ll probably enjoy this on some level. Me? I could’ve done without it. Not my cup of tea. **
KO-D Six-Man Tag Team Championship
New Wrestling Aidoru (Makoto Oishi, MAO & Shunma Katsumata) Def. Kazusada Higuchi, Kouki Iwasaki & Mizuki Watase (c) and Smile Squash (Akito, Soma Takao & Yasu Urano)
Hot little opener where Higuchi was once again presented as the clear star, although I still wish he was higher up on the card. Him, Oishi, Iwasaki, Watase, Takao and Akito were the standouts here while the other three were just there for the most part. Oishi’s a guy who’s never really done a whole lot but has been around forever and is always fun to watch, and the same could be said for Akito, who’s very unique and very charismatic and could probably be a much bigger deal if DDT wanted to push him. Everyone worked hard, did their thing and got the hell out of there, and that’s all a good opener needs to be. ***1/4
Jaguar Yokota, Keisuke Ishii, Masahiro Takanashi & Yuni Def. Kazuki Hirata & Toru Owashi, Antonio Honda & Ladybeard
Look, this wasn’t for me. It was very much a comedy match and the epitome of what I don’t like about DDT. Ladybeard and an eight-year-old child were involved, that should tell you all you need to know. N/R
Shigehiro Irie Def. Mike Bailey
If you like short, concise, balls-to-wall spot fests, this is your match. If you like matches such as KENTA vs. Ricky Marvin or Will Ospreay vs. Matt Riddle, this is your match. It didn’t need a lot of time, it didn’t need to be a knock-out, drag-out battle. It needed to be a short exhibition between two great wrestlers where they did nothing but run through their spots and try to have the craziest match they possibly could within the short amount of time they had.
Bailey has improved a ton over the past year or so and never fails to deliver in this company no matter where he is on the card, whether it be in the main event with HARASHIMA or in the third match on the card with Irie, who always delivers when he comes around as well. As someone who’s been a bit let down by his North American indie run, I wish DDT would start using him on a regular basis again, because he really is a tremendous pro wrestler with an incredible amount of charisma. After spending a majority of the match playing defense, Irie tapped Bailey in about nine minutes with a Katahajime. ****
Meiko Satomura, Saki Akai & Shoko Nakajima Def. Aja Kong, Cherry & Miyu Yamashita
Good opportunity for the Tokyo Joshi Pro women here as they team with and wrestle two of the greatest female wrestlers in history. Shoko Nakajima looked the best of the four and is someone I’d love to see more of, while the other three looked at least somewhat more polished than the ones in the dark match but still weren’t particularly great. Satomura and Kong go without saying, Kong can still go when needed and Satomura is one of best wrestlers in the world, male or female. Very fun multi-man that could have been even better if given more time. ***1/4
Dick Togo & Yoshihiro Takayama Def. KUDO & Shungo Oyama
I legitimately fear for Takayama’s well-being every time he steps foot in a ring, the guy seriously looks like he’s going to croak at any second, and the messed up part is that he’s only 50 years old. He’s not much older than Togo and Togo looks at least somewhat decent.
Regardless, Takayama still tries hard every time out and still manages to look okay despite his awful appearance. Obviously the story here was him and Oyama, two big name MMA guys who have never fought before, and although Oyama wasn’t exactly Don Frye, the two did have some cool interactions in this match. It’s certainly not easy to transition from MMA to pro wrestling, especially in your later age I would imagine, so I have to give credit to Oyama for doing a solid job. Will we ever see him back in a wrestling ring? I doubt it, but this was a good debut. ***1/2
DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship Anal Explosion Deathmatch
Danshoku Dino Def. Joey Ryan (c)
You know that friend that makes the same joke every time he sees you because he said it once and it was funny? You know how you pretend to laugh every time just to be nice even though it’s not funny anymore because you’ve heard it a million times and your friend has no sense of subtlety? You know what I call that friend? I call him a one-trick pony, and I call him painfully obnoxious. Joey Ryan is that friend.
Joey Ryan is that friend who made one funny joke and has been riding the wave ever since to the point where you can’t stand hearing it anymore. I haven’t seen a Joey Ryan match since November 2015 where he hasn’t done the same testicle spot at least twice. I get it, wrestling has always been about getting something over and making it your trademark, but look, it isn’t 1994. Everything is being watched, everything is being seen, everyone on earth has seen your testicle spot a million times over, Joey. It isn’t funny anymore. It was funny in November 2015 and that’s when it stopped being funny. Talk about overkill and a lack of subtlety.
I could almost look past it if it wasn’t the exact same thing every time. I could almost look past it if it was only used in big matches. But no. Another match built around the testicle spot and another match where nothing that happened was funny, and I’m not letting Dino off the hook either. I’d rather set my house ablaze with all my belongings inside than ever watch this again. DUD
KO-D Tag Team Championship
Masakatsu Funaki & Yukio Sakaguchi (c) Def. Tetsuya Endo & Shuji Ishikawa
If anything can get me back into a show after sitting through the complete piece of garbage that was Joey Ryan vs. Dino, it’s Masakatsu motherfuckin’ Funaki, Yukio Sakaguchi, Tetsuya Endo and the big dawg Shuji Ishikawa.
Endo is my favorite guy in the company and has been for a long time now, and as the only man under the age of 40 in this match, he was the real standout and the real outlier here as he brought something completely different to the table. While Ishikawa, Funaki and Sakaguchi were doing what they do best and kicking ass, Endo was in there flying around and trying his best to stand up to his opponents despite clearly not being on their level. I’ve come to enjoy Sakaguchi a lot more as a tag guy than I have as a singles guy since he always leaves me a bit empty in singles matches, and he was arguably the other highlight in this one next to Endo. It seemed strange on paper that Endo didn’t take the pin like you’d normally expect him to, but considering that he’s next in line for a title shot, it made sense. And speaking of title shots, Takayama and Dino challenged Sakaguchi and Funaki afterward. God bless these four for their great performances – they were much needed and much appreciated. ****
Kota Ibushi, Daisuke Sekimoto & Jun Akiyama Def. Sanshiro Takagi, Isami Kodaka & Keiji Mutoh
How does one even begin to run down such a match? First of all, look at the names. Second of all, they were all dressed as gladiators and had swords. And third of all…look at the goddamn names.
I can’t break this down as if it was some sort of serious match, because it absolutely was not, but it did pit Akiyama and Mutoh against one another, which is very much a serious rivalry dating back to the WRESTLE-1 exodus several years ago, and it did pit best friends/enemies Takagi and Ibushi against one another. So even though it was just a light-hearted trios match where everyone was having fun, it did have a little bit of meaning behind it. I enjoy Ibushi as a guy who only comes around once every few months and works these insane matches. It’s clear he loves it, it’s clear the fans love it, he doesn’t need to taken super seriously in the booking, he just needs to show up and have fun. Nothing wrong with some fun every now and again. Mandatory viewing for all Japanese pro wrestling fans, it’s exactly what you would expect it to be when looking at it on paper. ****
It was announced after the match that DDT would be running the Tokyo Dome sometime in the near future, which is obviously a very ambitious move on their part. Here’s hoping it works out.
DDT Extreme Championship Hardcore Match
Daisuke Sasaki Def. Jun Kasai (c)
Daisuke Sasaki doesn’t do a whole lot for me. He doesn’t do anything particularly exciting, he’s average, he’s bland, and he usually looks like he doesn’t care. It may just be a charisma thing, it may just be his appearance, but that’s the vibe I get from him. However, this was a very good match and a very good performance by him, possibly one of his best. Maybe his calling is as plunder brawler, maybe he’s better suited for this sort of style than he is for a normal style. After watching this, I tend to believe that, because I can’t recall ever being more impressed with him than I was here. It wasn’t quite as brutal as most Jun Kasai matches in the sense that they were essentially ripping each other’s guts out, but it was still relatively brutal and relatively intense as both guys busted their ass and took all sorts of insane bumps. If that sort of thing tickles your fancy, this was right up your alley. ***3/4
KO-D Openweight Championship
Konosuke Takeshita Def. HARASHIMA (c)
Between 29-year-old Kazuchika Okada leading New Japan into the future as IWGP champion, 28-year-old Kento Miyahara surpassing one year as Triple Crown champion, and 29-year-old Katsuhiko Nakajima assuming position as the new ace of Pro Wrestling NOAH, we’re living in the age of the youth in Japan. It seems as though all of these promotions have found themselves a guy they can trust as their top star without running back to the old faces. It’s Miyahara’s time in All Japan with Suwama and Akiyama taking a step back. It’s Okada’s time in New Japan with Tanahashi taking a step back. It’s Nakajima’s time in NOAH with Marufuji taking a step back. And with HARASHIMA passing the torch to the 21-year-old prodigy everyone recognizes as a future star, it’s now Takeshita’s time in DDT.
Konosuke Takeshita was 2 years old when DDT held their debut show in 1997, 5 years old when HARASHIMA debuted in 2001, and 11 years old when HARASHIMA won the KO-D title in 2006. HARASHIMA was nearly the exact same age Takeshita is now when Takeshita was born. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not been a pro wrestler, at least not in the past decade or so, who’s been as successful as Konosuke Takeshita has been at 21 years of age. I have my opinions on DDT, I’m certainly not the biggest cheerleader of theirs, but personal opinions aside, DDT is a big deal in Japan. It’s the third biggest promotion in the country and one of the biggest promotions in the world. Takeshita main evented Sumo Hall in August with Shuji Ishikawa, and he main evented the biggest show in the company’s history with one of their biggest stars here. 10,000 people showed up at the Saitama Super Arena with him on top, and I challenge you to show me another man who has a comparable feat under their belt at the age of 21.
Part of what made this match so special was the desperation and the frustration both men conveyed throughout. You could see it on HARASHIMA’s face every time Takeshita kicked out of a move he thought would put him away, as he was desperate to hold his ground as the top star and as the ace but couldn’t get ahead of Takeshita no matter what he did. Takeshita had a lot to lose himself. If he didn’t get it done this time, when would he be given another opportunity? DDT put him in the main event of Sumo Hall and he lost to a man older, wiser and stronger than he was. He couldn’t let it happen again, he couldn’t risk the fans losing faith in him should he lose again. He needed this just as much as HARASHIMA needed to stand his ground and not give up his spot. No wasted motions, every second mattered, there were no down periods, from bell-to-bell these guys fought like their lives were on the line. Both were desperate to win, both showed such incredible emotion throughout the match, but in the end it was HARASHIMA who couldn’t hang in any longer and lost his title for what could be the last time. Now’s Takeshita’s time. HARASHIMA passed him the torch, and he’s now the man HARASHIMA once was. ****1/2
I have to give credit where credit is due, being the fair man that I am. DDT really did deliver on this one. I’m never as into their big shows as hardcore DDT fans are, but there was a lot to like here with the comedy being kept to a minimum and all of the big matches delivering. A rare thumbs up for DDT from yours truly.