DDT is Coming to America
April 4, 2019
New York City
Watch: DDT Universe
This was arguably the best show of the entire WrestleMania weekend: a sumptuous and rich feast of the best that DDT has to offer and a card that never slowed down in front of a red hot Thursday night audience. For DDT novices this was a chance to see that, yes, DDT has a lot of comedy, but it also great matches too.
Mr. Haku is out to welcome the fans and introduces the 1350th Iron Man Heavymetal Weight Champion Saki Akai as the rules for the belt are explained (for old school WWF fans, it’s basically a reworking of the old 24/7 hardcore title). Makoto Oishi decides he would rather give this audience a practical demonstration, comes in, spits in Saki’s face and rolls her up to become champion number 1351!
Soma Takao & Tetsuya Endo def. Yukio Sakaguchi & Masahiro Takanashi
Sakaguchi has a shooter gimmick and sits down to bait Endo into some grappling. This is great stuff and GCW need to hire this guy (and Yuu, who worked a great semi-shootstyle match with Yamashita last year) for Bloodsport next year. Takanashi and Takao tag in and flip the mood with some hair pulling spots. Crowd are loving everything. Endo tags in and Damnation puts the boots in for a while before Sakaguchi makes the hot tag and starts kicking in Takao’s chest. The two start trading forearms and it ends with a cool spot with Takao getting knocked to the ground only to quickly kip up and knock Sakaguchi. Endo is in and a running shooting star gets 2. Sakaguchi running kneelift gets 2. Endo and Takanashi trade some believable nearfalls before Endo finally picks up the win for Damnation submitting Takanashi with a yurikamome hold. Great opener at a fast pace ***1/4
Iron Man Heavymetalwieght Battle Royal
Saki Akai and Hirata start off and Saki gets the crowd behind her with a jumping kick. Kikutaro comes out and the New York State Athletic Commission turns heel by preventing him from competing due to high blood pressure. Colt Cabana is out next and gets a nice pop and then gets booed as he adds his own contribution to the intergender wrestling debate by mocking Saki Akai’s punching ability and then making lewd hip thrusting gestures at her. Colt please! Akai slaps him in the face hard.
Mizuki Watase is next, and while he is a DDT roster member he wasn’t considered high enough in the rankings to make this show, so he actually flew himself out to the US on his own dime. I also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of what was perhaps the most ludicrous spot of 2018 when he did a flying dropkick on Irie from the top rope to the floor. Watase looks pretty cool in his waistcoat as he does a coast to coast on everyone. Cabana is eliminated off camera. That scoundrel Oishi is next out, and is followed pretty quickly by the surprise entrant Yuu who gets a huge pop! Yuu starts judo throwing everyone and lifts up Watase and throws him out like a sack of trash. Oishi pins Saki Akai to eliminate her. The final entrant is Yoshihiko who comes out to Ministry era Undertaker music. Fittingly Yuu chokeslams him all the way to hell. Yoshihiko retaliates with a headscissors and Oishi knocks a dizzy Yuu over the top rope.
Oishi then powerslams Yoshihiko off the top rope, Yoshihiko kicks out at 2! Holy shit chants from the crowd! Oishi tries a sharpshooter, but Yoshihiko reverses into a single leg boston and looks uncannily real as he applies the hold. Oishi taps out to the loudest pop of the night so far as Yoshihiko becomes the new Iron Man Champion!
Hirata is back in and punches Yoshihiko who tries some lucha libre but gets a chokeslam for his troubles. Yoshihiko mounts a comeback and you have to wonder if there were any talent scouts from WWE here and whether they offered Yoshihiko a contract after this match because he is ridiculously over with the crowd. Yoshihiko hits a beautiful hurricanrana, but Hirata reverses into a pin for the final three count. After the match, Saki Akai comes back out and boots him in the face and then delivers what I think she is calling the Quetzacoatl, which is an abdominal stretch into a crucifix bomb. It looks really cool, and it’ll probably become the new indie meme move of 2019. 1 2 3! New champion!
This was everything you could have wanted from a Iron Man battle royal. The Kikutaro thing was a bit weird, I’m guessing that he really did have a medical issue? It didn’t really matter in the end because this was great stuff. *** 3/4
HARASHIMA & Kazusada Higuchi def, Akito & Ethan Page and Shigehiro Irie & Jason Kincaid
Harashima, Akito and Kincaid do a nice dragon screw leg whip chain spot. Harashima stacks page and Akito up in the corner and stomps on both of them. Kincaid hits a swift coast to coast and then rope assisted double stomp on HARASHIMA. Akito does a hanging gut wrench on Irie followed by a second rope elbow from Page. Kincaid and Irie do some double team offense on Higuchi and Harashima. Kincaid is really impressive and was probably the MVP of this match, he has a cool moveset and a smooth delivery. HARASHIMA picks up the win for his team with a reverse hurricanrana and running double knees on Akito. Another good match ***1/4
Sanshiro Takagi def. MAO
Like the main event, this is a rematch from Judgement, but no worries, the weapon rumble gimmick means a fresh arsenal for both guys. Mao’s first weapon is Hulk Hogan (Antonio Honda dressed as the orange goblin) who gets the biggest heel heat of the night. Even more heat for the hulk up, but the crowd chant along for “Youuuuu” anyway and the big boot gets a pop. Crowd can’t seem to decide whether to boo the very image of Hogan or cheer for Honda’s parody. In scenes reminiscent of Wrestlemania 8. The Big Leg Drop only gets a 2 count.
Weapon number two is the hottest weapon of 2019: The plastic storage boxes! Even a simple bodyslam shatters them into a million pieces with a satisfying crunchy sound. Weapon number three are garbage cans. Mao botches a 619 on a Takagi and tries again. On the subject of the 619, when did this move become so widespread? It’s tedious to set up and always looks so weak.
Weapon four is a bicycle. Commentators oblige with the Dusty Rhodes quip. By the way, the commentators, Trevin Adams and Patrick Gill were really great for this show. There’s always a danger with western commentators on Japanese shows that they spend too much time explaining things and not enough actually getting into the show, but these two balances the necessary explanations with the play by play perfectly. Mao tries to ride the bike into Takagi knocks him off. Takagi then sets up Mao for a shattered dreams with the bicycle, but the chain has come off in the process so the spot fails and he just throws the bike into Mao’s leg instead. Weapon five are the generic brand stackable plastic building blocks (Have you seen the price of Lego these days?) and Mao hits a beautiful twisting split legged senton onto Takagi. Weapon six is a toilet (unplumbed) and the crowd chant “holy shit!”. Takagi DDT’s Mao’s head directly into the bowl. He then superplexes Mao onto the plastic boxes. Weapon seven to a huge pop is Chinsuke Nakumura! And he still has the biscuit tin US title. The resemblance to a certain WWE wrestler is uncanny. I wonder how many people at the back of the hall had to turn to their non-DDT watching friend and shake their head with a smile.
Mao does a 450 onto a box of blocks but gets a running knee from Nakumura. Mao kicks out of a death valley driver onto a garbage can but Takagi hits him with a powerbomb onto a stack of two plastic boxes for the pin. A fun match and like all the matches the crowd loved it. Perhaps it didn’t reach the crazy heights of their Judgment match, but they kept the weapons coming quickly and this never dragged at all. If DDT come back next year perhaps we might see Andreza’s debut, now that he’s sorted out his family problems? ***1/2
Miyu Yamashita def. Maki Itoh
So Itoh was guaranteed a place on this trip after placing third in the DDT elections last year. For those not acquainted with her, her gimmick is she’s an emotionally unstable fired idol who has a big head. Miyu Yamashita, the karate ace of TJPW, comes out next and gets a smattering of purple streamers. These two had a match back in January that fell flat with the crowd. But there’s no danger of that happening on this card as both are very much over. Itoh sends Yamashita into the corner and mounts the turnbuckle to ask the question she never gets tired of asking “Who’s the cutest in the world?” “Itoh-Chan!” shout the crowd. Falling headbutt misses and Yamashita puts the boots in. Crossface applied and Ito gets a rope break. Itoh hits a bodyslam and then finally connects with the falling headbutt. Yamashita kicks her in the head, but no! It’s Yamashita’s foot that comes off worse! Itoh hits a ddt and goes to the top rope but misses the swandive headbutt. Yamashita hits a brutal spin kick and finishes off Itoh with the crash rabbit heat. This was short and sweet and they ran through all the big spots they needed. Itoh refuses to shake Yamashita’s hand and flips her off. ***
Joey Ryan & Royce Isaacs def. Danshoku Dieno & Antonio Honda
I guess there was a question of how Dieno’s schtick would go down in America, but everyone seems in high spirits as he makes his way through the crowd making out with random fans. In fact many fans seem eager for him to plant a smacker on their lips, including a woman at ringside trying in vain to call him over. Lady, there’s more chance of Speedball showing up tonight than you getting a liplock from Dieno.
Dieno and Ryan start off and there’s some dick touch teasing. I wonder if there’s a porn community where people give star ratings to scenes or talk about people selling out to Brazzers or whatever? Honda tags in and oh no he’s fallen and hurt his knee! He takes the house mic and announces his retirement, but first.. a Gon the fox story! As someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, I definitely got a kick out of finally getting to hear one of these famous fables.
Dieno is in and puts a prostate lock on Isaacs and then pulls down his trunks and sits on his face. Dieno hits an atomic drop on Ryan, but runs into the same problem that Yamashita did trying to kick Itoh in the head. Dieno then positions his butt against Ryan and does an buttplex (?). Honda positions Dieno in the corner pushes Ryan’s head into Dieno’s ass. Isaacs hits a jackhammer on Honda (the wrestling hold not the sex move). Somewhat inevitably, Isaacs also ends up getting a Dieno stinkface. Honda then pulls down the third layer of Dieno’s trunks and charges up his Gon the Fox hands to attack Ryan. Ryan twists Honda’s Gon into his own eye and then takes Honda’s other hand and applies it to his penis for the penisplex. Dieno comes in and tries to flip Ryan with his butt again, but Ryan counters and penisplexs him. Ryan then sticks his lollipop where the sun doesn’t shine and shoves it in Honda’s mouth, a superkick and then 3.
By now, you should know what Joey and Dieno are all about and this was either your dream match or something you want to skip over. Either way, the crowd loved it. ***
KO-D Openweight Title
Daisuke Sasaki def. Konosuke Takeshita (c)
They start with some nice mat grappling. Damnation interferes at ringside to give Sasaki the early advantage. Sasaki smashes Takeshita’s knee against the metal barricade. Back in the ring, Sasaki continues to work the knee, putting on a figure four variation until Takeshita gets the ring break. Takeshita finally get a shot in with a beautiful overhead suplex, DDT and spinning sitout powerbomb. Sasaki tries a cheeky rope assisted rollup that gets 2 and then hangs Takeshita out to dry on the top rope and dropkicks him. They end up in the crowd and Sasaki hits a Russian legsweep onto the chairs, which on paper doesn’t sound that interesting, but it looked quite brutal. Sasaki then jumps off the middle rope over the barricade onto Takeshita. Diving elbow gets 2, and then gets put in the crossface. He escapes and then catches Sasaki’s wrist and stomps on his hands and hits a loud knee strike. The two trade waistlocks and then referee ends up catching a boot from Takeshita. Sasaki hits a low blow for 2. Takeshita rolls out the ring and then in the spot of the match, Sasaki goes for a suicide dive but Takeshita catches him and suplexes him onto the apron! Crowd chants DDT!
In the ring, Sasaki hits a pedigree, Takeshita hits a deep german suplex and then sends Sasaki for a whirl with a huge lariat. Sasaki reverses a powerbomb into a headscissors that flips Takeshita backwards onto his head. Ouch. Takeshita reverses a crossface into a piledriver for a nearfall! Duelling chants start up. Takeshita tries a german suplex, but Sasaki holds onto the ref and then pushes him towards Takeshita who leapfrogs the ref but get a Sasaki low blow and then another and finally Sasaki hurracanrana’s Takeshita for the win and NEW CHAMPION!
This was the longest match on the card and the early part was a change of pace for the crowd as everything that preceded it had been done at an incredible workrate. After the suplex on the apron, the crowd here came alive and fittingly so because this was the best match on the card and one of the best matches of the entire weekend from any promotion ****1/2
Well overall this was a great card and…WAIT A MINUTE! ENDO JUST ATTACKED SASAKI AND IS CASHING IN HIS GAUNTLET!
Sasaki is almost out on his feet and Endo is fresh. Spanish Fly from Endo gets 2. Sasaki tries to leave but Endo pulls him back into the ring but misses a 450 and Sasaki rolls him up for a two count. They trade forearms on the apron and an “Endo!” chant breaks out. Sasaki applies a rope assisted crossface. Hey this is almost turning into a cool match in itself. Endo hits a jumping kick and torture rack bomb for two. Finally he hits a gorgeous shooting star for the three and NEW CHAMPION! What’s next for Damnation?
Well, what a show…and WAIT THERE’S MORE! Saki Akai hits the ring with the Heavymetalweight belt and gets rolled up by Oishi for the belt (again). Hirata pins him and Itoh pins him. Dieno arrives and kisses everyone except Maki Itoh of course, who gets a piledriver and Dieno ends the night as champ!
From top to bottom this was a great card and DDT put on a showcase that was not only one of the best shows of the entire WrestleMania weekend (if not the best show) but was one of the best DDT shows in recent memory. They were helped by a raucous crowd, but everything delivered and they worked at a rapid pace to ensure that nothing ever felt sluggish or labored. From comedy matches to athleticism, DDT really demonstrated that they aren’t just a comedy promotion but have a little bit of something for everyone. If you’re looking for an intro to DDT this show is a great starting point.