DDT Peter Pan 2017
August 20, 2017
Ryogoku Kokugikan
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: DDT Universe

DDT returned to Sumo Hall for their annual Peter Pan show, headlined by KO-D champion Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo. It drew just under 6,000 fans, a few hundred more than it drew last year and a few hundred less than the shows drew in previous years. Since it drew more than it did last year it has to be considered a win for the promotion if even they did better numbers prior to 2016. I suspect attendance will continue to climb back up as Takeshita continues to gain more popularity. Beyond that, it was a great night of wrestling that showcased the diversity DDT brings to the table and created a ton of interest for the promotion moving forward.

Gota Ihashi King of Dark Championship Gauntlet

We follow Gota Ihashi outside of Sumo Hall as he searches for his challenger. We see Dai Suzuki hiding behind a wall before quickly ambushing Ihashi, who quickly took out the rookie and scored the fall, then threw him down a set of stairs. We continue into the building where we meet Gergeous Matsuno, standing on a platform preparing to sing for everyone. Ihashi began walking away but was hit from behind, leading to a big brawl in the bathroom where Matsuno stuck a toilet plunger in his face. Following a botched springboard elbow by Matsuno, Ihashi won with a big splash.

We then go down to where the wrestlers are signing autographs. Ihashi began shouting at Mad Paulie who then turned around and swung away on him. A minute or two of them brawling goes by and they make their way down to the ring where Ihashi managed to land a big moonsault but wore himself out in the process, allowing Paulie to get the win. Nevertheless, we continued on into the backstage area. We run into boxer Rocky Kawamura, who legitimately beats the living shit out of Ihashi and scores the win. Ihashi then walks into the women’s dressing room to search for his last challenger, and who does he meet? Munenori Sawa as Keiji Mutoh in lingerie, in the bathroom, next to a tub full of water. Ihashi began working over the knee of Lingerie Mutoh, even going as far as to spray the knee with the shower hose, causing Mutoh to scream in pain. He fought back however and was quickly able to land a Shining Wizard into the tub for a big win. Lingerie Mutoh defeats the King of Dark champion.

Pro wrestling is great. *****

Daiki Shimomura, Diego, Mizuki Watase & Rekka Def. Hoshitango, Masato Kamino, Nobuhiro Shimatani & Tomomitsu Matsunaga

Not much to this. A quick showcase for some of the young guys and comedy veteran Hoshitango. Watase is always impressive, Diego has made some nice improvements this year and everyone else looked good as well. It was a meaningless dark match but seeing these DNA rookies do their thing in Sumo Hall, even in front of a half empty crowd, is cool. **3/4

DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship Battle Royal
Yuu Def. Tetsuya Koda (c), Azusa Takigawa, Cherry, Maho Kurone, Marika Kobashi, Miyu Yamashita, Mizuki, Nodoka-Oneesan, Nonoko, Rika Tatsumi, Shoko Nakajima, Yuka Sakazaki & Yuna Manase

DDT usually does a big battle royal on all of the big shows with the talent not booked in a regular match, however this time they did it with only the Tokyo Joshi Pro women and Tetsuya Koda. It was more to-the-point and not as comedy-heavy as they generally are but it did have a fair amount of unique, fun spots and some decent wrestlers involved such as Shoko Nakajima and Yuu, who pinned Mizuki for the win in about 16 minutes. **1/4

Naomi Yoshimura & Yuki Ueno Def. Yuki Ino & Kouki Iwasaki

Yuki Ino is another name to add to the list of prospects this company is churning out. Like Yoshimura when he debuted back in December, as soon as this man hit the ring you could tell there was something special about him. His charisma, his look, the way he presents himself; it looks like he was made in a factory with the sole purpose of being a pro wrestling star. Will he be? I have no idea, but I was impressed by what I saw here.

Kouki Iwasaki on the other hand, the most experienced of the four, is also someone who’s made some great impressions on me this year and is someone I also think could be a star. He’s the most polished of the DNA—DDT’s developmental company—group and I would be shocked if he was not in a more meaningful match on the next Peter Pan. Otherwise, Yoshimura continues to improve and has replaced Higuchi as the big rookie prospect since Higuchi has moved up in recent months. He’s not ready to do much else yet, but they clearly have big plans for him in the future, so keep a close eye on Yoshimura (and now Ino for the same reasons).

Another good showcase for the young guys as everyone worked hard and got a chance to shine on the biggest show of the year. DNA is arguably the most important thing DDT has at the moment, and this was a good example as to why. Great opener. ***1/4

KO-D Ten-Man Tag Team Championship
Ken Ohka, Ladybeard, LiLiCo, Makoto Oishi & Super Sasadango Machine Def. Kazuki Hirata, Toru Owashi, Joey Ryan, Saki Akai & Yoshihiko

I mean hey, if you like DDT comedy, this was right up your alley. You had your Ladybeard in there, you had your Super Sasadango Machine PowerPoint, you had your LiLiCo, you had your Tokyo Go dance routine, Joey Ryan did all of his usual garbage, what else you could ask for? It was every hardcore DDT fan’s dream.

Following the Tokyo Go session Ken Ohka took Hirata out with a Fire Spear and won the match for his team as they were crowned KO-D ten-man tag champs. Congratulations to them. In all seriousness this was completely harmless and even got a few smirks out of me due to the sheer absurdity of what was happening. **1/4

Jiro Kuroshio Def. Shuma Katsumata

Jiro and Shunma were trained under the SMASH dojo together several years ago. Shunma, now member of idol group New Wrestling Aidoru alongside Makoto Oishi and MAO, jumped to DDT before the fall of SMASH while Jiro, now WRESTLE-1 regular, stuck around until its demise.

Here they met once again, both with their own share of success, both adored by the fans. It was a simple match, it was a match more about lightheartedness than it was anything else, but for what it was, it was extremely fun, with both men looking great and both men being super over with the crowd.

Jiro is the more experienced of the two and looked as though he was simply better than Katsumata was throughout the match, and in the end that was what got him the win as he pinned Shunma with a moonsault followed by an Ikemen Clutch. ***1/4

Kotaro Suzuki & Soma Takao Def. Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto, Kaz Hayashi & Keisuke Ishii and MAO & Mike Bailey

A perfectly placed clusterfuck four-way tag. It came at exactly the right time on the show as it was used to break us away from the undercard and move us into the business side of things. Not too heavy, not too silly, it was a great match to stick in between the two sides of the card, and it delivered. All eight guys got enough time to shine in the ten minutes they had since it was worked at an extremely brisk pace, with MAO, who I mentioned previously, especially making an impression. He was the youngest and least experienced guy in the match and he had to rely on Bailey to save his ass, but he showed some guts and he looked like he belonged in there with all the veterans.

Ishii was another guy who made an impression on me here. I have always struggled to get into his matches and am not a fan of his look but since he only had a small window of time to get his spots in, he was fun to watch. Everyone else held their end up, there were lots of nice spotz, lots of nice movez, and so the match did its job to a tee. Awesome little sprint. ***3/4

KO-D Six-Man Tag Team Championship
KUDO, Masahiro Takanashi & Yukio Sakaguchi (c) Def. Antonio Honda, Dick Togo & Yasu Urano

If the main event was the youth of DDT, then this match was the old, as was the the next match. Takanashi was the youngest person here at 34 years old, with Honda being the second youngest at 39, so it was very much a match between the veterans of the roster. Togo has been pals with Urano and Honda for a while so popped in to challenge for some titles with his boys and was once again an absolute treat to watch. Only having him show up a few times a year has proven to heighten his star aura, because every time he wrestles on these DDT shows he feels like a big deal, similar to Ibushi. He’s also pushing 50 years old and his body is not what it once was so having him on a regular schedule would be rough.

Again, everyone involved worked hard and managed to look good (Honda was mostly there for comedy but he was alright). You had your cool spots, your nice moves, everything in between, so while it was by no means a great match, this was another fun multi-man that took place at the right time on the show. KUDO pinned Honda with a diving double knee drop to retain his team’s titles. ***1/2

Weapons Rumble Match
Danshoku Dino Def. Sanshiro Takagi

What on paper seemed to have been just another Dino match and just another comedy match, had some of the highest stakes in DDT history. Both men had so much on the line. A loss for Takagi meant Dino would take full control of the company, while a loss for Dino meant he would be forced to get married. As ridiculous as that sounds to someone who is not fully in-tune with the history of Dino’s character or DDT, this was a serious stipulation and one that has goes back several years. He’s 40 years old, he’s been single his whole career, his mother was concerned and helped Takagi put together the stipulation as a result.

As for the weapons rumble gimmick, it was rather simple. A new weapon was introduced into the match every few seconds. Weapons included in the match were a barbed wire dildo, Dino’s gay friends, a boy band, a video of a drunken Takagi stripping on camera from 2007, Kendo Kashin and Mitsuo Momota who were scheduled to have a match together at 6:30 in the morning, Dino’s mother, and Takagi’s wife. Dino’s mother of course was on Takagi’s side so immediately kissed her son on the mouth to distract him, while Takagi’s wife was on Dino’s side so gave her husband a nice beating. I should note that Takagi’s bare ass was hanging out this entire time. Dino eventually won with a Danshoku Driver and took Takagi’s spot as owner of DDT.

If you’re going to do a match like this and build it as this super important thing, especially on the biggest show of the year, it needs to have some major consequence. Dino losing would have worked, but Takagi losing made the match and the result more important.

I hate Dino and have let that be known since I began covering DDT for this website, but being the fair man that I am, I have to admit that I enjoyed this. It was absurd, it was stupid, there were a million things going on at every second, and all around I had a lot of fun watching it, which is not something I can ever say about Dino matches. On top of it being funny, there was also a good amount of emotion because of the stipulations. Emotion that even I, someone with no personal investment coming in, caught onto as the match progressed. For that, I do have to commend DDT and everyone involved. I cannot possibly give it an actual rating, just know it was great for what it set out to be. N/R

DDT Extreme Championship Hair vs. Hair Match
Daisuke Sasaki (c) Def. Akito

As much as he bores me in regular singles matches, Sasaki is a good tag team wrestler and a great hardcore wrestler. When he’s able to let loose and do whatever he wants in matches, he’s highly entertaining, and not only was this a hardcore match, this was also a submission match, which is his other specialty. It was a match between two guys trying to outdo each other and see which one could endure the most, which one would give in, which one was willing to go the furthest to not only win the title and protect their hair, but to protect their pride. Akito was representing the ALL OUT unit while Sasaki was representing DAMNATION, much like Takeshita and Endo in the main event. A loss for either wrestler was a loss for their unit as well as their own hair and their pride.

Akito did his best to defeat the dastardly Sasaki, but his neck was constantly holding him back. Sasaki destroyed Akito’s neck, Akito tried to get passed it but the pain was too much. Sasaki nailed him across the skull with a guitar and locked him in a La Mistica Cross Facelock for the win as he retained his title, forcing Akito to then be shaved bald. Great work by both men here. If Sasaki could have matches like this on a somewhat regular basis, I would consider myself a big fan of his. He’s one of the best heels in Japan at the moment whether I love all of his matches or not, and this was good example of that. ***3/4

Before the tag title match DDT announced that they will return to Sumo Hall on March 25th with the main event being the KO-D champion defending against the winner of the Grand Prix tournament in January.

KO-D Tag Team Championship
HARASHIMA & Naomichi Marufuji Def. Kazusada Higuchi & Shigehiro Irie (c)

Kazusada Higuchi was in the opener of this show last year. He wrestled three rookies in a DNA showcase match. Two months later he main evented Korakuen Hall with Shuji Ishikawa for the KO-D title, and now a year later he’s in the semi-main event of Peter Pan against two of the biggest stars in the country.

I was worried about him for a while, I was worried DDT would waste him when they had a chance to make him a legitimate star. Now I see that they know exactly what they need to do with him and that they recognize his potential as someone who could headline shows and make them some serious money. It was a slow push, a slow elevation, they took their time and let him gain some steam, they gave him room to improve, and now he’s ready. Now he’s on top. Now’s he’s a guy they can use in spots like this, and bigger spots in the future. He looked like he belonged in there with Marufuji and HARASHIMA, never did it seem he was not on their level or on Irie’s level. It was a given that Marufuji and HARASHIMA were winning and they could have easily had Higuchi take the pin, but instead they had Irie lose to HARASHIMA, which is an important thing to note.

Beyond that, Marufuji continued to show why he’s one of the best tag team wrestlers in the world right now with his performance in this match. Although I would have liked to see Irie and Higuchi hold onto these things for a bit longer, I will never complain about seeing Marufuji as champion, especially in an environment like DDT in which he’s not used to (this was his second time in a DDT ring, the only other time being at the 2010 Peter Pan show where he wrestled Kenny Omega). His exchanges with Higuchi were nasty and made Higuchi look like a million bucks, Marufuji showing no ego and taking everything he threw at him. HARASHIMA and Irie had some nice exchanges as well as they have some tremendous chemistry together, the story there being that Irie has never been able to defeat HARASHIMA despite always coming close like he did here. He’s just not good enough, HARASHIMA is more experienced, he’s quicker, he’s wiser, and he always manages to get the better of Irie as a result. He fought hard, but HARASHIMA again came out on top.

Dino and Takagi came forward to challenge the new champions in the post-match and get their shot on September 20th. Will the dream team of HARASHIMA and Marufuji lose their titles so soon? I hope not, I have a feeling they might, but you never know with DDT. Regardless, this was everything you would expect it to be and did a great job elevating Higuchi even further while continuing the story between Irie and HARASHIMA. One of my favorite things in wrestling is when four major solo wrestlers get together to have a big time tag match similar to what All Japan would do in the 90s, and that was exactly what this was. Another excellent match on an already excellent show. ****1/4

KO-D Openweight Championship
Konosuke Takeshita (c) Def. Tetsuya Endo

A common thing among a lot of wrestling promotions, especially on the bigger scale, is that bookers tend to run back to their old stars in order to be safe, to draw crowds with the guys they know they can rely on, guys that have been with the company forever and they know are not going anywhere.

WWE goes back to John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar when they need to, NOAH tends to rely on Marufuji, Dragon Gate relied on CIMA and Masaaki Mochizuki for a while, DDT has relied on HARASHIMA for years, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, mind you, having stars you can count on is never bad, so long as you build other stars to eventually take their place.

Every year DDT headlines Sumo Hall with someone who’s been with the company forever and who they know can draw. Last year it was Takeshita and the 40-year-old Shuji Ishikawa who’s a huge star not only in DDT but in general. In 2015 it was Yukio Sakaguchi and KUDO who’s been with the company since 2001. In 2014 it was a three-way between HARASHIMA, Isami Kodaka and Kenny Omega. In 2013 it was HARASHIMA vs. Irie with Ibushi vs. Okada behind it. DDT has gone the safe route every year, but now it seems they feel that they no longer need to as they have successfully built up two men they trust to headline on their own.

DDT relied on two young men this year, two men who have only been with the company since 2012. Two men who have been connected at the hip since their debuts and have been feuding for the past year, all leading up to this match. Endo and Takeshita have had several matches over the years, sometimes for the sake of friendly competition, sometimes for title contention, sometimes for the title itself. It was not until their title match in July 2016 that Endo turned on him and joined DAMNATION due to the jealousy he had of him winning the title and once again coming out victorious. He was tired of watching Takeshita get all the recognition and not him, he was tired of being beaten like a drum by the man he’s been directly compared to his entire career. Out of the eight matches they’ve had previous to this one, Endo only won two of them, one in 2014 and one in September 2016 following Takeshita’s loss to Ishikawa at Peter Pan. In April of this year, the two went to a 60-minute draw, and two months later, Endo won King of DDT to earn himself a shot here.

I had one problem with this match within the opening minutes, which I might as well get out of the way now since it was really my only issue. I had a problem with how slow the pacing was early on considering that their last match together was a draw. To compare this to the Okada vs. Omega feud, although this did not have a 30-minute time limit like their G1 match did, you would expect something similar out of Endo and Takeshita in the early stages. Okada and Omega went to a 60-minute draw in their last match and were thus forced to work more fast, more urgent and more aggressive right out of the gate the next time they met, knowing that both of them are able to go to the time limit. Again, Endo and Takeshita did not have the 30-minute time limit, but the fast, urgent and aggressive pace early on would have worked for their story as well. Regardless, the match did manage to tell a great story from there as they took each other as far as they could go and did work at an aggressive pace as it progressed. It was two men, two former best friends turned enemies doing everything they could to put the other away, not just for the title, but for what I talked about earlier: pride.

Endo needed to prove that he deserves the recognition Takeshita has been given, that he’s not just jealous of his friend, that he’s every bit as good as he is. Takeshita needed to prove that he deserves his spot. He beat HARASHIMA in March and he became the new ace of the promotion, now he had to survive as the ace. Could he hold his position, is he a true champion, or was his old friend more deserving? Neither of them were able to get ahead for long, both fought like their lives were on the line, both showed incredible amounts of heart, guts and pride because this meant everything to them, they both needed it. It was a constant back-and-forth between two guys who were unwilling to quit, unwilling to let the win slip away from them. It took Takeshita everything he had to put Endo away. He had to kill him, he had to drop him on his head with three German suplexes, Endo might not have been done, but his body would not let him continue. It slipped away, Takeshita got him again, and when Takeshita went in for a handshake, when he went to put everything behind the two of them, Endo spit in his face.

Matches like these usually mark the end of story, but this was far from an ending. It was merely the end of a single piece in a much longer story. Endo refusing the handshake, walking out of Sumo Hall on the losing end of the biggest match of his career, against the man he’s been connected to forever, it all means something. It is not over, it is far from over. And with that said, while it was not an ending to their story, it was the ending of one era and the beginning of another. It was the beginning of the future; this is what DDT is going to look like for the next decade. It began with this match. We saw the future of the company in them on this night. A memorable performance out of both and a match that will looked back upon forever. ****1/2

Takeshita defends his title against Extreme champion Daisuke Sasaki and Independent World Junior Heavyweight champion Ken Ohka in a three-way on September 24th as announced by Dino. Whoever wins will take the title from the person they defeat. For example, if Sasaki pins Takeshita he takes the KO-D title but Ohka keeps the indie title. So clearly Sasaki will pin Ohka or vice versa. Takeshita is not losing. Interesting match though.

Final Thoughts:

DDT knocked it out of the park with this one. I have trouble investing in them most of the time due to me not enjoying the comedy aspects of the promotion and some of the booking, but because of how good this show was and how interested I am in the direction they seem to be taking, I am going to do my best to cover all the Korakuen shows moving forward as well as the big shows. A great card from top to bottom here with everything delivering on some level, even the comedy matches I would normally dislike (the ten-man was not great but it  was completely harmless). It was six hours long so you need to set aside a bunch of time but it never dragged. It was an easy six hours. Big thumbs up for DDT here.