Dramatic Dream Team
October 21, 2018
Sumo Hall

Watch: DDT Universe / YouTube Live

Meet our previewers

John Carroll: Fresh off a shoutout on New Japan’s English broadcast! Follow them on Twitter @toshanshuinla and check out their two podcasts @wrestleomakase and @moonmakeupcast.

Taylor Maimbourg: Has spent most of the month watching spooky movies to celebrate the best holiday of all time, Halloween.  Follow him on Twitter @tamaimbo.

Time Difference Battle Royal
Gorgeous Matsuno vs. Hoshitango vs. Gota Ihashi vs. Nobuhiro Shimatani vs. Yumehito Imanari vs. Shota vs. Michael Wolf vs. 5th Tiger Mask (Self-Named) vs. Monster Halloween vs. Gundan Hitori

John: The first of two dark matches on the DDT card is a typically wacky battle royal, as Gorgeous Matsuno takes on many wrestlers who are much, much younger than himself. Some of these guys are from the ALL DOIN audition battle royale that took place on the September 23rd Korakuen show, as DDT will be putting on a showcase of independent, student, and local wrestlers on November 9th at Shin Kiba. Yes, of course, that’s an ALL IN reference, what promotion do you think you’re watching here? Prediction: 5th Tiger Mask (Self-Named)

Taylor: This is your standard DDT big show preshow battle royal, except for the fact that this one features legend MONSTER HALLOWEEN.  Monster Halloween is guy who wears a pumpkin on his head and brings a chainsaw to the ring, so he is automatically the coolest guy in this match.  Frankly, it’s October, and every promotion should be required to have at least one Halloween-themed thing on every show. Usually, this match is for the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, but that title is currently held by SKE48 member Akari Suda, who has now held the title for 100+ days, only the 9th time that has happened in the over 1,300 title reigns in the history of the belt.  Her return to the promotion doesn’t seem imminent, so the title reign could stretch on for a bit longer and these preshow matches will have to survive on just the comedy alone. Prediction: Monster Halloween

Mina Shirakawa DDT First Participation War! Tokyo Joshi Pro 6-Woman Tag Match
Miyu Yamashita, Yuki Kamifuku & Mina Shirakawa vs. Yuka Sakazaki, Mizuki & Shoko Nakajima

John: Our second dark match is the now-standard Tokyo Joshi Pro offer tag, except this one has a little bit of a twist: the debut of a new wrestler. Mina Shirakawa comes from the world of gravure modeling (if you’re so inclined you can order her DVD “Full Body Mina Shirakawa” off of CDJapan here!), which has produced plenty of joshi stars and TJPW roster members in the past. She does have a bit of a background in wrestling already as well though, having competed in the low-level “Best Body Japan Pro Wrestling” company. In her debut Mina will team up with fellow model-turned-wrestler (and very brief Neo Biishiki-gun member) Yuki Kamifuku as well as TJPW’s unbeatable ace and current champion Miyu Yamashita. On the opposite side of the ring are the current TJPW tag champions Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki, as well as the 147cm kaiju Shoko Nakajima. Expect a fast-paced, action-packed tag match here, and probably expect newcomer Mina to eat a pin. Prediction: Yuka & Mizuki & Shoko

Taylor: Mina Shirakawa makes her debut here in the second dark match and you really couldn’t ask for better teammates or opponents, as she debuts alongside some of TJPW’s best talents.  Debut matches are usually pretty forgettable, but debuting Shirakawa on such a big stage might mean that TJPW sees big things in her and all six women go all out to deliver a great match.  Either way, I always love the debut of a new wrestler, as the possibilities are endless. Are we watching the debut of a new star, or will she flame out in a few months or even weeks? No one can say.  Prediction: Yuka Sakazaki, Mizuki & Shoko Nakajima

KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Titles
DAMNATION (Soma Takao, Tetsuya Endo & Mad Paulie) © vs. DISASTER BOX (Toru Owashi, Kazuki Hirata & Yuki Ueno)

John: The main card (don’t worry, the “dark matches” will still air!) kicks off with the KO-D 6-man tag titles on the line. If you’re used to NJPW and the NEVER 6-man belts that mean absolutely nothing, these belts are a bit of a step up from that. While they’re not as important as DDT’s traditional tag belts there isn’t the collective shrug from the audience that greets every NEVER 6-man title change, either. For example, on the last Sumo Hall show when the young trio of Takeda/Umeda/Ueno managed to defeat the Shuten-doji veterans to win these titles the crowd went absolutely wild, and I can’t picture a New Japan crowd caring in a similar fashion about any NEVER title change at this point. Here we have the established unit of DAMNATION taking on the recently revived DISASTER BOX, which feels oddly fitting given DB’s previous status as DDT’s top heel unit. The current DB seems squarely placed on the babyface side of things, and indeed much of the build here has focused around Tetsuya Endo’s dismissal of Kazuki Hirata as a comedy guy and Hirata’s underdog fight to prove himself. Yes, Hirata is indeed the funny guy who dances, but as he already showed in his excellent Kind of DDT match with Endo he can more than hold his own in the ring as well. Expect he and Endo to continue to be at each other’s throats, but ultimately I think DISASTER BOX carrying the most likely pin-eater with them in the form of Yuki Ueno kind of gives away the fact that they’re not winning. Prediction: DAMNATION

Taylor: There are a lot of big matches up and down this card, so it’d be easy to look past this one as just the opener, but I think this might be the sleeper match of the card.  DISASTER BOX looks like a pretty strong unit, especially with Hirata’s recent turn towards a more serious wrestling style. Alongside Hirata is Ueno, who I believe to be one of the better young wrestlers not only in DDT, but the world.  With those two guys looking to prove something, you could have a hot match on your hands. It’s also a match I could see going either way. Ueno has held the title before with different partners and if the end of Hirata’s story is that he becomes in some way a serious wrestler, having him win a title would be a good way to put a cap on it. Prediction: DISASTER BOX

Gauntlet Tag Match
Mike Bailey & Antonio Honda vs. Mizuki Watase & Jason ‘the Gift’ Kincaid vs. Kazusada Higuchi & Kota Umeda vs. KUDO & Masahiro Takanashi vs. Tanomusaku Toba & Keisuke Okuda vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga & Michael Nakazawa

John: If you’ve never seen one of these Gauntlet Tags before it’ll start out with two teams with another team entering after each one is beaten. The winning team would likely be in line for a shot at the KO-D Tag Team Titles in the future (not on the line here but currently held by the Moonlight Express team of MAO & Mike Bailey). Bailey himself will team with Antonio Honda in a makeshift team, as Honda will tell his story about Gon the Fox and then probably get them quickly eliminated. Watase & Kincaid are the last remnants of Shigherio Irie’s RENEGADES faction, as presumably, this will be their last match as a team before the unit breaks up after Irie’s imminent departure. Higuchi & Umeda are both DNA alumni with a ton of upside who, as you can tell by their inclusion in this match, aren’t doing much right now. KUDO & Masa Takanashi are veterans from the Shuten-doji (martial arts & drinking-themed) unit. Tanomusaku Toba and his giant boxing gloves have been appearing in DDT since 1997 (!). He’s teaming here with IGF alumni Keisuke Okuda, who as you can probably guess is a bit of a shooter. Finally, Tomomitsu Matsunaga & Michael Nakazawa are both DDT veterans representing the BOOING 2018 unit that’s doing almost shockingly well in this year’s unit election (third place at one point!). I think Higuchi & Umeda win this just because they’re the only team I could see using it as a springboard to a tag title shot, but I guess we’ll see. Prediction: Higuchi & Umeda

Taylor: John has covered all the teams in this match in great detail, so I’ll just say that I agree with them and leave it at that.  Prediction: Kazusada Higuchi & Kota Umeda

Super Joshi Pro Wars 2018
Saki Akai & Maki Itoh vs. Meiko Satomura & Cassandra Miyagi

John: Joshi legend Meiko Satomura, fresh off a brief reign as KO-D Openweight Champion (the first woman to ever hold the belt), competes on her first Peter Pan in three years. Her last appearance in 2005 saw her in an intergender six-person tag, teaming with Shuji Ishikawa & Kazusada Higuchi to take on the team of Sanshiro Takagi, Saki Akai and Genichiro Tenryu (!). Here she finds herself in a more traditional joshi tag match, but once again across the ring from DDT’s former rookie of the year. On Meiko’s team is the thousands-year-old demon from her Sendai Girls promotion, Cassandra Miyagi, while teaming with Saki is the pop idol-turned-TJPW wrestler Maki Itoh. Maki is well on her way toward winning this year’s DDT General Election in a laugher, which should tell you just how high her popularity is right now, and thus will get a shot at the KO-D Openweight Title in the future as well. But she’s still very young in her wrestling career and the most likely person to take a fall here, so look for the Sendai Girls team to come out on top. Prediction: Satomura & Miyagi

Taylor: This match should be great, which will hopefully make up for the fact that I’m fairly disappointed that Meiko is not appearing in the main event.  Satomura’s great work in the Mae Young Classic has deservingly gotten a lot more eyeballs on her and I hope that some of the people who discovered her during that tournament follow her here to see what she can really do.  Any combination of Team Sendai Girls in DDT has produced pretty great matches, and I think this will be another one. Prediction: Saki Akai & Maki Itoh

ALL OUT (Akito, Shunma Katsumata & Yuki Iino) vs. STRONG HEARTS (T-Hawk, El Lindaman & Tian Yunan)

John: On September 23rd at Korakuen Hall, the ALL OUT team of Konosuke Takeshita, Akito, and Shunma Katsumata defeated the trio of Jun Kasai, Kikutaro, and Sabu (yes, THAT Sabu). Following the match, STRONG HEARTS showed up in DDT for the first time, the group simply walking out at Korakuen Hall and coming down to the ring. The crowd reaction for the debut of the ex-DG crew was incredibly strong, as the fans in attendance clearly thought they were seeing something special. Immediately CIMA and his crew confronted the young ace Takeshita and his unit, making it clear that ALL OUT was their target. Two matches were thus made for the Peter Pan show, with this trios match being a bit of a warm-up to the CIMA-Takeshita one-on-one confrontation. The two sides have met only once so far, on the 9/25 Maji Manji show in Shibuya in a very memorable (and fantastic — I went ****¼, making it probably my favorite multi-man tag of the year) eight-man tag team match that saw STRONG HEARTS get the win, T-Hawk pinning Katsumata with the Night Ride. How this match goes probably depends on how the semi-main event does; ultimately I expect the result here to be the opposite of CIMA-Takeshita, with the two sides going 1-1, and the result of THAT match depends on whether or not CIMA and his crew are sticking around in DDT. We’ll talk more about that one when we get there, but I guess I’ll spoil what my pick there is going to be by telling you I think ALL OUT gets the win here, probably by pinning the youngster Tian. Prediction: ALL OUT

Taylor: As a pretty big fan of Dragon Gate, it was depressing to watch both T-Hawk and El Lindaman make it in the company with seemingly little success.  They both had something, but nothing ever really seemed to really click into place, and when it was announced that they were leaving the company, I really didn’t feel all that sad.  It seemed clear to me that they were both a bit of a lost cause in DG. Cut to a few months later, they show up in Wrestle-1 as new men. Sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference, and it certainly has with both T-Hawk and El Lindaman.  They’re putting together great matches (as evidenced by their great Maji Manji match) and showing oodles of personality. I expect nothing less than a great match from this, and a MOTY contender is certainly not out of the picture. Prediction: ALL OUT

The World’s Craziest Couple Battle
Makoto Oishi & Misaki Ohata vs. Joey Ryan & Lauren James

John: My partner on this preview will have a lot to tell you about Misaki Ohata I’m sure, so I’ll just give you the most basic background information: she’s a joshi wrestler from the WAVE promotion, she’s recently engaged to DDT mainstay Makoto Oishi, and she’s retiring at the end of the year. These two wrestling couples will duke it out to see who can claim the crown of THE WORLD’S CRAZIEST COUPLE~!!. You should know what to expect out of the Joey Ryan act by now, I think, so this will be a lot of comedy. Prediction: Ryan & James

Taylor: In a fair and just world, Misaki Ohata would get A LOT of votes from Wrestler of the Year.  In a year with a lot of very strong joshi contenders, she is having the best year of them all, killing it in both singles and tag matches, and deserves a lot more recognition, especially as she rides off into the sunset of retirement.  Unfortunately, if you come into this match expecting another Ohata classic, you will probably leave disappointed. With both Oishi and Ryan in this match, expect a short and sweet match with a lot of comedy. Someone will hurt their knee on Joey Ryan’s groin, someone will get dick flipped, and marriages will be tested.  Prediction: Makoto Oishi & Misaki Ohata

Soken Holdings Present – Will You Eat or Be Eaten!? Giant Special Single Match
Super Sasadango Machine vs. Andreza Giant Panda

John: If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching an Andreza Giant Panda match before, his name is not a misnomer- he is one big ass panda. Our old pal Sasadango has his work cut out for him here. Again, this is strictly in the realm of comedy, but SSM almost always delivers in major comedy matches and just the image of him up against that big friggin’ panda should be quite funny on its own. Prediction: Andreza Giant Panda

Taylor: John says this is a comedy match, but there’s nothing funny about a giant panda eating so much that he causes global warming.  That’s the reason for this match, as SSM enters the match to try save the planet from Andreza’s overzealous bamboo eating habits.  He’s even gone so far as to kidnap Andreza’s trainer, showing you how deadly serious he is about this match. It will be a tough fight because as the name says, Andreza is a giant panda, but with that fate of the world on his shoulders, I believe in SSM.  Prediction: Super Sasadango Machine

The Difference In 27 Years Of Age! Representative Director And President (48 Years Old) And Belonging Wrestler (21 Years Old) Waste Blood Washing Conflict Play – Final Settlement Weapon Rumble!
Sanshiro Takagi vs. MAO

John: For those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing a Weapon Rumble before, the name is kind of what it sounds like: every few minutes there will be a Royal Rumble-style countdown and buzzer, but rather than a new entrant into the match, instead a new weapon will be brought down to the ring to be used by a competitor (the weapon will be “for” one of the two wrestlers). So essentially you have a hardcore match with new weapons being introduced at random intervals. Also, keep in mind that DDT’s idea of a “weapon” can be pretty abstract; for example, in Takagi’s Weapon Rumble against Danshoku Dieno at Peter Pan 2017, one of the weapons was his wife (used by Dieno!). So expect similar wackiness here, as well as probably some vehicular-based action as well. Takagi for those who don’t know is the boss of the entire company, and he and the young upstart MAO have been engaged in a feud all year that saw MAO at one point run Takagi over with a van. No, I’m not kidding. Prediction: MAO

Taylor: Peter Pan’s 2017 Weapon Rumble match was one of the highlights of the show, and I expect 2018’s version will be even better.  The Takagi-MAO feud has been a perfect use of MAO post-NWA, as he has charged up the card with his combination of wackiness and athletic ability.  With a Weapons Rumble, it’s hard to really guess what could happen because the possibilities truly are endless. I would imagine that Mike Bailey, MAO’s tag team partner, might play a factor and I would imagine the match won’t end without at least one of the participants getting run over by another truck.  Other than that, your guess is as good as mine. Prediction: MAO

Shigehiro Irie & Keisuke Ishii vs. HARASHIMA & Yukio Sakaguchi

John: Shigehiro Irie has been a DDT roster member since 2008, basically starting out his career there (he did briefly train with Osaka Pro at one point a few years earlier before transitioning into MMA, and then back to pro wrestling). A decade later, Irie will be stepping away from DDT to pursue his freelance dreams, mainly his continued desire to wrestle overseas. Irie was KO-D Openweight Champion as a heel (or heel-leaning tweener? it was honestly pretty unclear) for much of the year and the leader of the new RENEGADES faction, but all of that is being dropped for his final match before going freelance. He will team with Keisuke Ishii, who he once teamed up with in a trio with Soma Takao as Team Drift, to take on two of his biggest career rivals, HARASHIMA and Yukio Sakaguchi. It’s a fitting end to his DDT career, and I have little doubt he and the rest won’t pull out all the stops to make it a great one as well. Prediction: HARASHIMA & Sakaguchi

Taylor: In a pretty universally strong year for DDT, Shigehiro Irie’s return has been one of the few blemishes.  He returned with an ill-defined character and then put together a stable that never really served much purpose or did anything of note.  Irie was alternatively a heel or a face at any moment, and he won the KO-D and had subpar matches and then lost it to Sami Callihan of all people in a random match in the States.  Like I mentioned earlier with T-Hawk and El Lindaman, sometimes a change of scenery is the best thing, and I think this is the perfect time for Irie to head out and try something new.  However, he’s got one final match in DDT, and as much as his return has seemed lackluster, I expect this match to deliver. Keisuke Ishii is really an underrated talent and both HARASHIMA and Sakaguchi can be counted on to deliver on DDT’s biggest stage.  I hope that this match delivers to send Irie off on a high note. Prediction: HARASHIMA & Yukio Sakaguchi

Konosuke Takeshita vs. CIMA

John: So here we are: DDT’s young ace Konosuke Takeshita vs. the historic ace of Dragon Gate, CIMA. The tagline for this is “Dramatic Dream Match” and I find it hard to argue with that one. Tickets for this show have been moving at a faster rate than many of the recent DDT Sumo Hall events, and though much of that is probably having two of the biggest DDT stars in history in the main event, CIMA is certainly drawing his own fans to the show as well. This will be the first appearance at the famed Ryogoku for him since he and Gamma were defeated by Shingo Takagi and Cyber Kong on March 22nd, 2010 for Dragon Gate’s Compilation Gate event. It will be only the fourth appearance for him in the building overall (the other two being a 2009 DG Sumo Hall show and the 4/9/2000 Super J Cup event, where he lost to Jushin Liger in the finals of the tournament). It took him nearly 9 years, but CIMA has finally returned to Sumo Hall!

His opponent is just 23 years of age (a 17-year age difference) and yet has already held the KO-D Openweight Title for a combined 496 days. His last title reign, clocking in at a mammoth 405, makes up the vast majority of that. Takeshita has already wrestled some amazing opponents in his Ryogoku career: in 2013 he lost to Kenny Omega and Katsuhiko Nakajima, at Peter Pan 2014 he was beaten by Hiroshi Tanahashi, at Peter Pan 2015 he defeated his now-eternal rival Tetsuya Endo, at Judgment 2016 he and Endo were defeated by Daisuke Sasaki & Shuji Ishikawa, at Peter Pan 2016 he lost his first KO-D title to Ishikawa, he competed in a six-man tag for All Japan in 2016, he defeated rival Endo in another KO-D title match at Peter Pan 2017, and finally at Judgment this past March he was able to beat Ishikawa and retain his title (he ended up losing it to the man who challenged him immediately afterward, Shigehiro Irie). CIMA is yet another legend he’ll be taking on at Ryogoku, adding to an already amazing resume. And folks, this could easily be a MOTY-level contest. As far as who wins it, I’m of two minds here: if this is one-and-done for CIMA and his crew, then obviously Takeshita should win. But if CIMA is sticking around, he should get the victory and move on to bigger things, like perhaps another dream match with HARASHIMA or a feud between STRONG HEARTS and DAMNATION. Prediction: CIMA

Taylor: There are very matches you could put together that would get me more excited than this one.  CIMA is an all-time great wrestler (and should be in the WON Hall of Fame) and even at only 23 years old, Konosuke Takeshita is one of the best wrestlers on the planet.  My expectations are absolutely through the roof for this match, and expect both men to deliver a spectacle. Takeshita has shown a willingness to do nearly anything and CIMA, back on a big stage, should be pulling out all the stops.  I hope this isn’t a one-off for CIMA and both he and STRONG HEARTS stick around, as there are countless dream matches with many members of the DDT roster already swirling around in my head. Prediction: CIMA

KO-D Openweight Title
Danshoku Dieno © vs. Daisuke Sasaki

John: Finally, our main event of what’s sure to be a very long show sees two DDT icons going one-on-one. Danshoku Dieno won the KO-D Openweight Title for the third time back on August 14th, though quickly lost it to Meiko Satomura exactly two weeks later. On September 23rd he won the belt back in a three-way elimination match (also involving Shigehiro Irie), making him one half of the main event for Peter Pan. The other half cemented his spot earlier by winning the annual King of DDT single elimination tournament, defeating his DAMNATION unit mate Tetsuya Endo in the finals on August 26th. So here we are: two of the biggest stars in DDT history, one-on-one for the KO-D Openweight Title. Despite being extremely popular, Sasaki has actually only held the title once and for a very brief time, defeating HARASHIMA for it (after cashing in an “Anytime, Anywhere” challenge gauntlet) on 4/24/16 and losing the title to Konosuke Takeshita just 35 days later. Perhaps we’re long overdue for a real Sasaki title reign, as the promotion has virtually revolved around him and his unit DAMNATION since its formation back in 2016 (just look at their record in tournaments since then: Shuji Ishikawa won the 2016 King of DDT, Endo won that tournament in 2017, Ishikawa won the inaugural D-Ou Grand Prix round robin league earlier this year, and then of course Sasaki won King of DDT). It would seem like the perfect time to give Sasaki a major title win here and let him bring some stability to a title that’s bounced around a lot in the past six months (Irie won it 4/29, lost it to SAMI CALLAHAN of all people in the States on 8/1, won it back on 8/8, lost it to Dieno on 8/14, who lost it to Meiko on 8/28, who lost it back to Dieno on 9/23!). While I can understand that Dieno is not everyone’s cup of tea (and I don’t mean that in a way that downplays the real issues some people have with the character, I totally get it), I can assure you that to the Japanese DDT fanbase this is a huge main event between two company icons. Even with the crowd probably having sat through a 5-hour show by this point, I’m quite sure they will still be really hot for this one. In the end, I think the KING OF LOSERS (as Sasaki dubbed himself in an awesome t-shirt after winning the tournament this year) will pull it out and begin his second ever reign as KO-D Openweight Champion. Prediction: Daisuke Sasaki

Taylor: On a roster chock full of some of the great comedy wrestlers of all time (Honda, Ihashi, Ohka, SSM, etc.), Dieno is by far the worst.  The shtick is old, not particularly funny and so unbelievably backwards. I get that he’s an icon, but I have no interest in this and I hope that Sasaki pummels him and sends him back down to the bottom of the card where he belongs.  Prediction: Daisuke Sasaki