DDT put on some awesome wrestling in the month of March, so if their big NYC show over Wrestlemania weekend (see John Carroll’s preview here) has piqued your interest, this should help you sort out the fluff from the good stuff.

March 2 – DDT “Osaka 24 Wards Tour ~ Taisho Ward”

Mike Bailey def. Daisuke Sasaki

The former champ, Daisuke Sasaki, started a losing streak at DDT’s big Anniversary show last month, falling to Konosuke Takeshita in the main event in what was a tremendous match. Since then, he has struggled to pick up wins on the house shows, and that streak continued here as he dropped a singles match to KO-D Tag Team Champion Mike Bailey. Bailey is one of the best young wrestlers in DDT, and he showed why here, although you could tell that these two had a much better match in them, as both guys clearly weren’t trying their hardest in front of 200 people and interference and cheating brought my enjoyment of the match down a little.  ***

KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship
Akito, Konosuke Takeshita, & Yuki Ino def. HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura & Yuki Ueno

These six put in an absolutely incredible effort here and delivered a match that way over delivered on expectations and borders on the territory of a must watch match. All six guys played a role here to put together a masterclass of a fast paced six man that at times reminded me of more of a Dragon Gate style match rather than a DDT style match. The exchanges between the two big guys – Naomi Yoshimura and Yuki Ino – kicked off the match, but later Yuki Ueno’s high-speed style took over, and his sequences with Takeshita were incredible. I have no words writing this review right now as this blew any expectations I had completely out of the water; this was up there with my favorite matches under the DDT umbrella this year. ****1/4

March 10 – DDT “Dokuganryu! 2019”

HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura & Yuki Ueno def. Konosuke Takeshita, Shunma Katsumata & Yuki Ino

A rematch of the great six man tag title match these two teams had just eight days prior, with Shunma Katsumata swapped into Akito’s spot to continue the ALL OUT versus DISASTER BOX rivalry. They had about half as much time as they did in the aforementioned match here, but this was still excellent. Ino and Yoshimura’s exchanges were tremendous, and I enjoyed the contrast of that hard-hitting style with Yuki Ueno’s more quick-tempoed type of match. This was much more of a house show style match but was still really good. Unsurprisingly, Katsumata took the pin here to the Extreme Champion HARASHIMA. ***1/2

Tetsuya Endo vs. Akito

Tetsuya Endo, the man long thought to be the Yankees to Konosuke Takeshita’s Red Sox, got the main event spot in his home town here against one-third of the KO-D Six-Man Tag Team Champions: Akito. This match went 25 minutes, and I will say it dragged during the first half and ended up being a little disappointing. You could tell the guys wanted to deliver a big main event for the fans, but it just didn’t connect. Endo won with a shooting star. **3/4

March 21 – BASARA 91: “Katana Ryodan”

BASARA is a DDT sub-promotion and all their shows can be found on DDT Universe. They are an incredibly consistent company at the top with some hardcore and comedy wrestling underneath. I’d recommend the main events of BASARA 85, 89, and 90 specifically as other matches to watch if you enjoyed these two.

Fuminori Abe & Ikuto Hidaka def. Minoru Fujita & Ryuichi Sekine

They worked a mat based match here for the first bit as you might expect with the guys involved. Hidaka and Abe are both tremendous strikers, but I didn’t love the Sento Minzoku team. Both guys are currently involved in the BJW Death Climb tournament (a block tournament where every match is a deathmatch) and both put in sub-maximal effort here. Abe continued to shine as a prospect and future wrestler to watch, but this match was largely just fine. Abe picked up the win with an octopus.  ***

Union Pro MAX Championship
Ryota Nakatsu def. Isami Kodaka

BASARA rarely runs Korakuen Hall, and this was the match to main event with: Kodaka’s first title challenge since returning from injury that he suffered at BASARA’s last Korakuen versus Masashi Takeda in a cage match. Chances are you know who Isami Kodaka is from his first Takeda match last year that got legit MOTY buzz, but Ryota Nakatsu is probably the best wrestler you’ve never heard of, and he has put in great work at the top of these BASARA shows all year. Given how much I love both guys, his was disappointing, and a lot of the build-up tags to this match were better than the match itself. It probably could have used a little bit more time (went just 17 minutes) and the closing stretch was really good, but the bulk of the match felt like it had little meaning. ***1/2

March 21 – DDT “Into The Flight 2019”

KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship
Chihiro Hashimoto, DASH Chisako & Meiko Satomura def. Akito, Konosuke Takeshita & Yuki Ino

Two similar teams put on a really good match back on Maji Manji in July (Cassandra Miyagi was in the place of Chihiro Hashimoto) and I’ve seen a lot of hype for this match online, so I’ve got pretty high expectations. Yuki Ino mixing it up with Chihiro was awesome to see, and Hashimoto more than held her own. The Meiko/Takeshita interactions were incredible as you would expect. Normally when you have a team from a foreign promotion coming in to face a homegrown team, the home promotion’s team gets a great reaction, but the roles were reversed here as team Sendai Girls won the crowd over. Incredible match, deafening reaction when Hashimoto pinned Ino, but I’d have it *just* below the March 2 defense for ALL OUT, partly because it really left me wanting more, going just 15 minutes. Show this match to anyone that doesn’t enjoy intergender wrestling (it is available for free on DDT’s YouTube).  ****

KO-D Tag Team Championship
Daisuke Sasaki & Soma Takao def. MAO & Mike Bailey

After Sasaki came up on the losing end in the singles preview match on March 2nd, Takao pinned MAO here to win the titles and carry them into the NYC show Mania weekend. Mike Bailey will not be on those shows because of a long-standing visa issue, although I wish he was because he would certainly impress that crowd. Things might get a little weird on those shows though as MAO and Sasaki will team up on one of the WWN shows in New York City just two weeks after being in a great match against each other here. As usual with Moonlight Express matches we had some super creative spots here that are almost too hard to describe like a superkick into a Canadian Destroyer. There was a ref bump at one point but it didn’t hamper the match much to me, and the short 15-minute length led to a very sprinty last ten minutes that the crowd was incredibly hot for. Tremendous match. ****

DDT Extreme Championship
Two Out Of Three Falls Extreme Rules Match
HARASHIMA def. Muscle Sakai

This was the first time in a while a big DDT show was main evented by a comedy match like this, but Muscle Sakai’s first singles match (as Muscle Sakai) since 2015 drew 1,433 to Korakuen. The first fall was more or less “red light, green light” while they had a wrestling match, the second fall was a match where you were on a phone call and the phone could not leave your ear for a count of three, and the third match was a “make your opponent pin you” to win match.

The first fall led to some funny bits like “red light” being called while HARASHIMA was on the top rope in the middle of a springboard or when Sakai was in the middle of a delayed vertical suplex. Sakai took the round to a huge reaction from the partial Korakuen crowd. At one point in the second fall, you could hear Michael Nakazawa, who had his DDT retirement match earlier on in the show, on the phone lamenting how his two friends split up and went to different wrestling promotions (NJPW for Kota Ibushi and AEW for Kenny Omega). This fall was won by HARASHIMA. The third fall was the most near a normal wrestling match, but resulted in some hilarious out of context gifs on Twitter with the guy pinning the other being the one to “kick out.” HARASHIMA knocked out Sakai with kicks and let Sakai fall onto him to pick up the win in a pretty good comedy match.

March 31 – TJP “The Sparkling Girl Will Fly To Hakata”

TOKYO Princess of Princess Championship
Miyu Yamashita def. Yuka Sakazaki

Somewhat fairly, Tokyo Joshi Pro (DDT’s all-female sub-brand) often gets a rep as the “storyline promotion” in Joshi. Many of the wrestlers in TJP have just a couple of years of experience under their respective belts and are still very green in the ring, but that stereotype does not apply to these two. Miyu Yamashita held the Tokyo PoP Title for almost the entirety of 2018, winning the belt on the promotions January 4 show. Here she took on future AEW star Yuka Sakazaki. The match started off at a high pace with Yamashita dominating with her strikes until the underdog Sakazaki began her come back. Yamashita is still a face, but she has been champion for so long that the crowd always gets behind her challengers hoping to see a title change (maybe a good comparison would be Okada towards the end of his title reign last year in New Japan). Yamashita picked up the win with a running knee in a very good match that just left a little more to be desired. It went 19 minutes but felt like it went nine, which can be interpreted as both a good and bad thing I guess depending on your perspective, but the finish felt really abrupt. These two have a better match in them but I’d still say like ***3/4

March 31 – DDT “Goodbye Hakata Starlanes!”

ASUKA def. Shunma Katsumata

Katsumata is an awesome prelim wrestler who just recently returned from injury at the big Judgment show. He took on former WAVE wrestler ASUKA here in the opener of DDT’s second big show of March named for the venue that will be closing after this show, and they put on an awesome goodbye performance to the venue here. Katsumata has taken no time getting back into the swing of things since his injury, and ASUKA has fit perfectly into DDT since leaving WAVE. DDT has an awesome division of little ten minute opening match guys with people like these two, Nobuhiro Shimatani, El Lindaman (when he is around) and others. Really great opener worth checking out. ***1/2

Daisuke Sasaki & Tetsuya Endo def. Makoto Oishi & Shiori Asahi

Oishi and Asahi can be a comedy team when they want to be, but when it’s time to put their working boots on, these two can go. They take on the top two guys in the DAMNATION faction: former KO-D Openweight Champion Daisuke Sasaki, and a guy that many believe will one day soon be a KO-D holder in Tetsuya Endo. These four put on a fast-paced semi-main with the perfect mix of a little comedy, some high flying, and quick strikes. The Oishi/Asahi team is really fun to watch, and I’d love to see a tag title match featuring the two. The finish was Sasaki hitting a top rope pedigree and Endo following up with a Torture Rack Bomb and a Moonsault Press for the win in a semi-main that over-delivered on expectations. ***3/4

KO-D Openweight Championship
Konosuke Takeshita def. Jiro Kuroshio

Jiro’s entrance is one of the best things in wrestling, and I hope all the promotions that have him booked for New York let him do his thing on the way to the ring. If you’ve never seen Jiro wrestle, he is mainly a WRESTLE-1 guy, although he did have an extended stint in DDT at the beginning of last year for their first D-Ou Grand Prix block tournament, which is where he first really impressed me. He wrestles the whole match in a jacket and takes about every possible opportunity to pose. “Ikemen” is a super-charismatic guy, which sometimes takes away from the fact that he is also an awesome wrestler.

The crowd at Hakata was mixed for the most part. It seemed like they really wanted to cheer Jiro, but he ended up playing heel and had a long control period, which took away from the match a little bit, as I much prefer Jiro as a face and the crowd wasn’t really buying into him as the ruthless killer on top for the first half of the match at least. Once we get into the near falls, the crowd gets electric for the final match in the building. Of course the crowd starts chanting “Ikemen” so all that work they did at the beginning was for nothing. The finishing stretch is awesome and Takeshita ends up getting the win after they exchange roll-ups. Really hot last few minutes but it couldn’t quite save the match in what was a somewhat disappointing main event. ***1/2