Dramatic Dream Team
Ultimate Party 2019! DDT Group Big Gathering!
November 3, 2019
Watch: DDT Universe
Meet our reviewers:
Thomas Fischbeck: If you need any background to this show check out the preview Thomas wrote with John Carroll and Taylor Maimbourg. He’ll also be on the next episode of Wrestling Omakase with John, Taylor, and VOW contributor Jack Beckmann to discuss the big week in wrestling and you can follow him on Twitter @rasslinratings.
Ewan Cameron: Ewan has reviewed TJPW and DDT shows for VOW as well making outlandish claims about the best tag team of all time. You can follow him on twitter @ewanwcx
Daichi Kazato, Masato Kamino & Shuhei Washida def. Tomomitsu Matsunaga, Mizuki Watase & Keigo Nakamura
Thomas: These under matches are never much, and with these six working in front of a crowd that was still filing in, for the most part, the heat was minimal. BASARA’s Masato Kamino really impressed me here in his extended exchange with DDT rookie Keigo Nakamura, something that I predicted in the preview. Kamino is a young guy that has shown a ton of potential in BASARA, and it’s a testament to his talent that he was able to impress in this environment. Nakamura showed some fire, pulling down his straps at one point, but was ultimately bested by Kazato. Nakamura bowed to the crowd and collapsed in the ring post-match after perhaps his best performance to date. ***
Ewan: Nakamura is getting some decent range as an underdog, and showed some good fire. I’ve been a fan of Mizuki Watase since he pulled off a ridiculous drop kick last year against Irie. This was good for what it was. **3/4
Hikari Noa, YUMI, Mahiro Kiryu & Suzume def. Raku, Pom Harajuku, Haruna Neko & Mirai Maiumi
Thomas: Tokyo Joshi under matches are a staple on big DDT cards, and with the “All Brands” theme to the show, this was no exception. I love hearing TJP ring announcer Saryuri Namba in Ryogoku, she is one of the best to do it today. The match was fairly rudimentary with your standard Pom Harajuku comedy mixed in. If I had to pick a standout here, I always love Raku so it’d be her, but in-ring wise the best worker in the match was former up up girl Hikari Noa, who picked up the win, pinning Harajuku. This was plenty of fun, and I appreciated that they gave everyone some shine. **¾
Ewan: One of the things I appreciate about the TJPW house style is the focus on mat grappling. Mirai and Suzume did a really excellent sequence of quick reversals and holds to start things off. Then Pom came in, who isn’t so much a grappler as a clownish heel. Her move set is ludicrous, but it works, when she’s in the ring you can’t take your eyes off her. I wonder if Neko Haruna and Isami Kodaka get their tails from the same source. Raku’s Brain choppah may not look like she puts a lot of force into it, but the side of her hand is a thin surface area, which means the force exerted is incredibly powerful. That’s just science. In the end, it’s Hikari who gets the deserved win for her team, a good sign for Hikari-maniacs everywhere who hope to see her win more singles matches this coming year. **3/4
Under Match: Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship Delayed Entry Battle Royale
Kazuki Hirata def. Chair ©, Shota, Toru Owashi, Gorgeous Matsuno, HARUKAZE, SAGAT, Yuki Kamifuku, Mina Shirakawa, Pokotan, Yoshihiko
Thomas: Before the match, Ganbare’s Shota, the schedule champ coming in, was pinned by a folding chair, which was then pinned by another chair. I love this goddamn company so much. Chants of “Isu” (chair in Japanese) flooded the ring as the match began, and Kazuki Hirata was booed furiously as he unloaded on the chair, which then countered with a suplex. The famous doll, Yoshihiko, then entered the ring, which set up a possible dream match in Chair vs. Yoshihiko. Hirata controlled the ring against the two inanimate objects, and the next entrant was the DDT mascot, Pokotan, who debuted at Judgement earlier this year in this very building. Pokotan was quickly eliminated by a flying head scissors from Yoshihiko, who was then eliminated by Shota and Hirata.
Around this time, TJP’s Yuki Kamifuku entered the match and accidentally became the champ while posing on the chair, therefore pinning it. However, in DDT battle royales, while the title can change hands during the match, the match is not over until all but one competitor is eliminated. BASARA’s SAGAT rolled up Kamifuku to become the next champ. He was then pinned by Gorgeous Matsuno while Matsuno was singing, and they do some comedy with no one able to interrupt Matsuno’s song. Matsuno’s ability to continue singing while working a normal match was incredibly impressive. The match came down to Hirata and Matsuno, and Hirata was still not able to stop the singing despite repeated chops to the throat. Matsuno hit Hirata with a chokeslam, finished his song, but then missed the slow-motion springboard elbow, Hirata then hopped on him for the cover and won the title. Matsuno’s ability to continue singing throughout everything was incredible, and that was far from the only great comedy in the match. This was up there with the best DDT comedy this year. ****¼
Ewan: The crowd was firmly behind the chair and Hiirata gets a chorus of boos as he stomps the chair. He tries to deck the chair with a brainbuster but is throne to the floor with a reversal. Sofa so good. Ok, no more chair puns. Yoshihiko is out next and Pokotan to complete the avant-garde trio of DDT wrestlers . Kamiyu is out and starts posing on the chair and unwittingly ends up champ. HARUKAZE and Mina Shirakawa get chased by Sagat around the ring. This whole match was a madcap cartoon of set pieces that wonderfully interacted with each other and Matsuno crooning while walking through and into chaos was the icing on the cake. ****
100 Plastic Cases Match
Isami Kodaka def. Sanshiro Takagi
Thomas: Starting off the show with this match is just absurd. Sanshiro Takagi, the President of DDT, is a staple of the promotion, and Isami Kodaka is one of the best wrestlers in the world and the BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Champion. The ring looked crazy here, stacked with 100 plastic cases, and the two struggled to reach each other at the start, needing to traverse through the boxes and crashing through them on the most basic of moves. Things like bodyslams and back suplexes looked like death because of the brutal-looking cases, which splintered easily, leaving sharp shards throughout the ring.
Kodaka hit his patented top rope double stomp through a case onto Takagi for a great near fall before the President fired up, hitting a spinning powerbomb into the boxes for a close two. Kodaka ended up getting the win with a strike combination in an awesome hardcore match, securing some momentum heading into his main event title match against Yuko Miyamoto tomorrow at Big Japan’s Ryogokutan, and even hit a swan dive into the remaining boxes post-match to show his manliness, I guess? The two embraced after the match as the crew cleaned the ring. ****
Ewan: There was a nice visual to start with as they wrestle in a sea of boxes up to their ankles. Instead of teasing the first big box smash, they basically just wrestle a match around the boxes smashing them when they take bumps. This match didn’t really work for me to be honest, there wasn’t much tension surrounding the boxes as they basically started smashing them from the start (compare to ASUKA vs Akito from Peter Pan). **3/4
2nd KO-D 10-Man Tag Team Champions Decision Match
Danshoku Dieno, ASUKA, Yuki Iino, Mizuki & Trans-Am☆Hiroshi def. Super Sasadango Machine, Yuna Manase, Jiro IKEMEN Kuroshio, Hiroshi Yamato & Makoto Oishi
Thomas: We were blessed with one of Super Sasadango Machine’s famous powerpoints pre-match here, introducing all of the entrants in the match. Then, of course, Jiro did his patented four-minute entrance complete with a dozen fakeouts in what may be his final big match before leaving for the fed. Jiro was incredibly over here as he usually is, I’m not sure why he was never really able to become a drawing guy in Japan, but unfortunately, we will never know if he could’ve gotten there as he will be leaving to WWE at the end of the year.
ASUKA and Jiro started off the match and got in some pretty solid wrestling before the comedy could completely take over. If you’ve never seen Trans-Am☆Hiroshi, he is one of my favorite comedy wrestlers ever, and his gimmick where he sits cross-legged, gets kicked, and rolls back to the same position always gets a pop out of me. Danshoku Dieno comedy, on the other hand, never really does land with me, and this was one of the few points on the show where they lost me.
In came Yuki Iino, and he hit his signature elbow on Makoto Oishi for what was sure to be a three count. The ref counted one, two, and then time stopped. A video played with Oishi reminiscing on his career, considering names for his new kid, and then he kicks out and we go into slow-motion time. Team SSM unloads on Iino, culminating in a DDT from the captain until time stopped again. It’s a message from Yuki Iino’s dad, Michihiro Iino telling Yuki to pull through. Time unfroze and Iino kicked out and hit a spear in slow-motion for three, giving the KO-D 10-Man titles to team Dieno. I love the slow-motion comedy so much it makes up for the Dieno spot early on. ***½
Ewan: We find out from Sasadango’s powerpoint that Mizuki is the number one merch seller in the company. “Big ¥” Mizuki’s also part of the two most popular DDT youtube videos. She put in a good showing for herself here with a dive to the outside onto everyone (well mostly onto Sasadango). Ikemen did a flip dive too and almost overshot everyone. Hiroshi’s yogic flying gimmick is fun too. Does anyone else think Yamoto resembles a young Gorgeous Matsuno? It all ends with some of the patented K I N O slow-motion flashbacks that take us into the minds of Oishi and then Yuki Iino who gets encouragement from his dad to get the win for his team. After the match in what might have been a minor shoot incident, Mizuki, ASUKA and Dieno squabble over the pink-colored tag belt. ***½
Gauntlet Tag Match
Nautilus (Yuki Ueno & Naomi Yoshimura) def. Yukio Sakaguchi & Ryota Nakatsu, Shuichiro Katsumura & Kouki Iwasaki, Chris Brookes & Maki Itoh, Yukio Naya & Cody Hall & BAKURETSU Sisters (Nodoka Tenma & Yuki Aino)
Thomas: Next up came a gauntlet tag, something that has become a staple of big DDT shows. We started off with the Ganbare team of Shuichiro Katsumara & Kouki Iwasaki taking on talented strikers Yukio Sakaguchi & Ryota Nakatsu, the latter of whom I always say is the most underrated guy in the world bar none. Nakatsu and Iwasaki unloaded on each other with kicks early on before getting hot tags to their partners. These four worked incredibly stiff, and this was a perfect pairing to start off the gauntlet with, Yukio picked up the win for his team.
Next in was the TJP team of the BAKURETSU Sisters. The two bad-asses on the other side of the ring did not seem scared of the sisters and took it to them with kicks and strikes. However, Nodoka Tenma bumped Nakatsu into Sakaguchi, sending Sakaguchi off the apron, eliminating the strikers by over the top rope. Next in was Chris Brookes and Maki Itoh, Brookes tried his best to placate Itoh on his way to the ring, but couldn’t help himself from attacking the sisters pre bell. Tenma and Aino stacked on top of each other to try and reach the height of Brookes for a good comedy spot and then unloaded on the Brit with dueling nut shots. A flying headbutt to Aino from Itoh advanced the NEO Itoh Respect Army to the next leg, where they faced DDT up and comers Yuki Ueno & Naomi Yoshimura. After some brief comedy, Ueno rolled up Itoh and they advanced to face Cody Hall & DDT young boy Yukio Naya in the final leg of the match.
Hall and Yoshimura started off the leg with some big guy exchanges, and then Naya tagged in as the two giants continued their double-team of the rookie. Yoshimura fired back though, taking control with a piledriver. A lariat finished off Naya and picked up the win for Nautilius, an odd choice for winners as they just lost a tag title #1 contendership match at the last Korakuen, but perhaps they set themselves up for a future title match all the same here. This gauntlet was fun, quick-paced, easy in and out. A very enjoyable watch, but nothing must-see. ***½
Ewan: The first tag team pairing is Sakaguchi and Nakatsu vs Katsumara and Iwasaki. Nice kick fest to start off. The former team won and out came Nodoka and Yuki. It feels wrong seeing Sakaguchi jabbing Yuki in the stomach and then unleashing a vicious MMA style kick to her chest, but the moral victory belongs to the Bakeretsu as they knock Sakaguchi off the apron after he grandstands too much. Itoh Respect Army came out to WAR, which is clearly the superior Maki Itoh theme. It’s like Frodo meeting Gandalf as Nodoka and Brookes square up and both teams do some height gags. Itoh gets mad at Brookes for trying to steal her cutest in the world spot. Diving headbutt from Itoh gets the win for the IRA (unfortunate initials there). Yuki Ueno and Naomi Yoshimura are next up and dispatch Itoh to the sound of people across the world slamming their laptops shut in frustration. Next up is Cody Hall, who looks somewhat like Ryback, and Yukio Naya, but they fail to win and it’s the team of “Nautilus”, which according to Wikipedia, is a pelagic marine mollusk of the cephalopod family Nautilidae, who pick up the win. ***
Independent World Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Keisuke Ishii © def. Fuminori Abe
Thomas: This was maybe the match I was most looking forward to on the whole show coming in, and it lived up to the hype. Keisuke Ishii is one of the most underrated guys in the world today, and Fuminori Abe is one of the hottest up and comers in all of Japan. They started off hot and it only escalated throughout. The two threw everything at each other, from brutal strikes to tiger suplexes.
These two had incredible chemistry, the match flowed beautifully and built to a perfect crescendo with Ishii retaining his title. I won’t go into the play-by-play, just go watch it, this was a quintessential pro wrestling sprint at its finest, and I hope these two turned some heads. ****¼
Ewan: I wasn’t that familiar with either of these guys going into the match, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of them. This was the first straight singles match on the show and for the time they were given, they built something nice. I wouldn’t say it stole the show, but it was very good and they justified the spot they were given. An extra five minutes would have been extra sweet. ***3/4
UWA World Trios Championship 3-Way Match
Takumi Tsukamoto, Yasu Urano & Takato Nakano © def. DAMNATION (Tetsuya Endo, Mad Paulie & Nobuhiro Shimatani) & Ken Ohka, Yumehito Imanari & Ms. Mongol
Thomas: The match broke down early with everyone in the ring at the same time, and the Ganbare team was cleared from the ring to set up a BASARA vs DAMNATION showdown. Yasu Urano and Tetsuya Endo kicked off the official portion of a match, reminiscent of Urano’s challenge of DAMNATION’s Daisuke Sasaki and Soma Tako for the tag titles on Peter Pan earlier this year.
The Ganbare team stormed back later on in the match, with Ken Ohka running wild on the DAMNATION boys. Perennial pin eater Nobuhiro Shimatani tried to win the day for his team but ultimately fell victim to a kick from Tsukamoto as the BASARA guys retained the titles in a fun match that contained a good mix of action and comedy. Even in a losing effort, Tetsuya Endo shined. Endo is one of the best in the world, and while its a shame to see him going from having a MOTYC main event on the last big DDT show to being in a mid-card act here, it happens, and he made the most of it. ***½
Ewan: For what it was, this was a good match, but it was clearly a “go in and get your shit in” affair with no real story of sorts. Endo was the star of the show, with a 450 standing moonsault senton early on and a twisting suicide press to the outside. Very fast-paced and a good showcase for everyone. Also, Ken Ohka’s theme music > Ikemen’s theme music. ***
Princess Tag Team Championship
Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe def. NEO BIISHIKI-GUN (Sakisama & Misao) ©
Thomas: DDT has been building here for months after then-Hyper Misao turned on Rika Tatsuki to join NEO BIISHIKI-GUN and become Misao. She enlisted the help of promising up and comer and former up up girl Miu Watanabe here. Watanabe is one of my favorites in TJP, so I’m glad she got a spot to shine here on the big stage.
Miu shined in this one, and while it was far from a work rate classic, it was a really fun watch with all four showing some great fire throughout, and they told the story they wanted to tell which is all you can ask from a match. The match ended with Rika getting her revenge on Misao in a fitting conclusion to the months-long story, as Miu wins her first of potentially many titles in TJP. ***½
Ewan: This was a change of tempo from the previous match, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Indeed this was a very well worked match with a clearly defined story. Neo Biishiki Gun pretty much adds a star to any match just by descending to our mortal realm to grace us with their presence. Such was the strength of character and charisma here that even a few little botches didn’t detract at all, if anything they gave a realistic sheen to Miu’s nervousness. It was good to have a clearly defined battle between good and evil. Barthes would have loved it. Is Rika’s top rope hip smash a slightly goofy finisher to win the tag titles and dethrone the coolest team in wrestling? Perhaps. But still this was great stuff and the crowd was very much into it by the end. ****
KO-D Tag Team Championship 4-Way Hardcore Match
DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki & Soma Takao) © def. ALL OUT (Akito & Shunma Katsumata), FUMA & Yusuke Kubo & Sento Minzoku (Minoru Fujita & Daiki Shimomura)
Thomas: The talent in this match was crazy so I expected a lot coming in, but it over delivered on those high expectations. Shunma Katsumata came out dressed as the joker, which was something! This was a hardcore match with no real semblance of order so the action came fast and furious with guys coming in and out of the ring all the time. We saw legos, chains, metal boxes, everything you could possibly think of used as weapons in this one.
ALL OUT’s Katsumata, one-third of the KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champs, was a stand out here, taking a bump off of a ladder structure at one point. The finish saw Sasaki hit Daiki with a guitar on top of the ladder structure, followed by a pedigree and his signature cross face (all still on the structure!) for the successful defense. Although, with Masahiro Takanashi and Chris Brookes up next I’m not sure how much longer the DAMNATION guys will be holding those titles. ****
Ewan: This was another whiplash change of pace from the last match and it was pretty much your average hardcore spot fest. Shunma, dressed as a joker, took loads of crazy-ass bumps, the first one quite literally as he went rear first through a ladder. Lego, in the shape of a crucifix (why?), was introduced and people took front bumps onto it. Ouch! Nice ending visual of Sasaki applying the cross-face while on a raised table platform balanced on two ladders. Was good to give the card variety but aside from that, it wasn’t a paradigm shift.***
Masahiro Takanashi def. Ryuichi Sekine ©
Thomas: This match was for BASARA’s top title, the UnionMAX championship. Masahiro Takanashi is one of the most underrated guys in the world because he just doesn’t get many opportunities, so I was excited to see him in a singles match fourth from the top at Sumo Hall here.
The two wrestled a technical style match that never dragged. Over four hours into the show though, the crowd reactions did leave a little to be desired in a match lacking many high spots, but it was enjoyable to watch from home. The technical counter wrestling ability on display from these two guys was really great.
The two traded pin attempts and Takanashi popped out to hit Takatanic to become the new UnionMAX title and steal the belt from BASARA just two months ahead of the promotion leaving DDT! BASARA founder Isami Kodaka challenged him after the match. ****
Ewan: After the intermission, this match had a big fight feel going in with the video package and the early feeling out lockups giving a sense that these two would have some time to lay out a match. There was a brilliant spot early on with Takanashi trying to lock Sekine’s arm in the ropes, but Sekine kept weaving himself in and out the ring to escape. As expected from a Gatoh Move legend, Takanashi did lots of pins and quick bodywork. He eventually hit the Takatanic for the win. Good match. ***1/2
Princess of Princess Championship
Yuka Sakazaki def. Shoko Nakajima ©
Thomas: With the AEW connections for both girls, especially Yuka, this was the match that I was most intrigued by the result. As I’ve said before, I’ve enjoyed this Shoko reign more than most and said that it didn’t feel like it was time for a title change here, but that being said Yuka Sakazaki is almost definitely a better worker and could help bring some more exposure to TJP with her AEW connection. Also, let’s just mention how cool it is for these two to be in this spot. This was the first Sumo Hall show from any promotion with a women’s title match since 2013, and not only that but these two got to do it third from the top over stars like Daisuke Sasaki and Tetsuya Endo.
This match was quick paced, fast and furious throughout, and the crowd bought in for the whole thing, the two ladies got a great reaction from the packed house in Sumo Hall. Yuka picked up the win with the Miracle Miracle Girl Splash, finally getting the top crown in the promotion in what was an emotional moment after an excellent match. This was the best TJP singles match since probably Miyu vs Reiki Saiki on ¼ a couple of years back, just tremendous stuff. ****1/4
Ewan: For me, this match stole the show and it felt like a victory not just for Yuka and not just for Shoko, but for TJPW. Since they began, some people have said that TJPW is separate from the heritage of the joshi scene or it’s an “idol promotion” (although every wrestling promotion has aesthetic considerations), but this match showed that they belonged here on this card and can put on matches at a high level (though hardcore teej fans already know this promotion is the best kept secret in wrestling). This was maybe the biggest TJPW match in history and I don’t think anyone could claim they knew for sure who was winning. As the pre match video showed, Yuka and Shoko have a long history as both partners and rivals and they are two of the pillars of the promotion. They’ve been working great together in tag matches for the past month, but this was even a step above that work. It was smooth, flowing, and the crowd, many of whom weren’t there to see this match, were hooked by the end. Shoko’s title reign, in retrospect, may have been short but she was a damn fine champion and her defenses were excellent.
This truly was years in the making and arguably the best TJPW match of all time. I’m not going to watch it again before submitting this rating, because I know if I do, I’ll be nitpicking for reasons not to give it top marks. Sometimes you just get a feeling that a match was something special. An absolute treat for long term fans of the promotion *****
Souken Holdings Presents: Dramatic Dream Match
Kenny Omega & Riho def. Antonio Honda & Miyu Yamashita
Thomas: It’s DDT vs AEW in the semi-main event here at Sumo Hall as Kenny Omegas returned to DDT for the first time in years and returned to Japan for the first time since January 4th in the Tokyo Dome. He was absurdly over here, coming back to his old music, “Dr. Wily.” You could just see the happiness on his face on the way down to the ring, it was clear he was really looking forward to returning to the promotion which gave him his start. Omega came out with the AAA Mega title, and Riho came out with the AEW Women’s Title, so good on AAA and AEW for getting some shine here in the semi-main event of the biggest non-NJPW Japanese show of the year.
The four all shook hands pre-match, and it was clear how over Omega was as he hyped the crowd up pre-match. They were just molten for his return to Japan. All four wrestlers just oozed charisma as the match got underway. They did the traditional Honda comedy spots that I love so much with the timeout and such, but I think it’s underrated how solid Honda is in-ring. Granted, I think Riho and Kenny Omega could make me look good in-ring, but nevertheless.
Riho, the ace of AEW’s women’s division, and Miyu, the ace of TJP, had some great interactions. We built to the climax of the match with Honda attempting a suicide dive, but he tripped and fell and injured himself! Oh no! Kenny looks shocked. Honda says he will give up, but first, he must tell the story of Gon the Fox! You’d think seeing the Gon the Fox routine a million times I’d get sick of it, but I love it every time. Also, he changes it up every time, for example, here, he goes for a too sweet with Gon The Fox before nailing Kenny in the eyes.
Miyu unloaded on Omega with kicks, which was great, but the AAA Mega Champion rebounded. Riho got a double stomp from off Omega’s shoulder on the top rope onto Honda, and the crowd went crazy for a V Trigger before Omega ultimately fell Honda with the One-Winged Angel. This match was a fun mix of action and comedy, and I’d say it’s well worth your time to check it out. ****
After the match, Kenny cut a promo to the delight of the crowd and teased a return to DDT. Omega vs Takeshita has been the rumored match for DDT’s big show at Super Saitama Arena next year, which seats 20,000, and this match did nothing to change my prior that that will be the match.
I'll see you again on TV from the States…or back in DDT.
Bye now…oh no I forgot my closing line.
Goodbye and Goodnight BANG!#DDTUP
— DDT English Update (@ddtpro_eng) November 3, 2019
Ewan: Honda looked kinda nervous as he enters the ring, maybe he was just soaking in the atmosphere for the biggest match he’s had for a long time. DDT production really milks the Omega entrance and the Abema Stat counter gives him a comedy-free 10, 10 10 ratings. Come on guys, Kenny can take a joke. This was a really interesting match, because at first, it seemed like they were going the comedy route, which they did with the obligatory Gon spot, after that the match became a straight forward tag, well straight forward probably isn’t the right word, because this was brilliant stuff. To be honest, I was never the biggest fan of Omega’s main event “epic” NJPW matches, but I thought the second half of this match was really great. It was awesome to see how everyone interacted, especially Miyu and Kenny, which was the fresh pairing of the match. Riho hit super duper stomp onto Anton and it was left to Kenny to finish the match off. A unique match and everyone in the ring had tons of charisma and this was everything you could have wanted from a semi-main event. ****
KO-D Openweight & DDT Extreme Double Championship Match
HARASHIMA (DDT Extreme ©) def. Konosuke Takeshita (KO-D Openweight ©)
Thomas: This is the match. These are the two aces of DDT, the legend HARASHIMA, trying to take back his crown from the new ace Konosuke Takeshita, somewhat reminiscent of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s journey to finally beat Kazuchika Okada again in the buildup to Wrestle Kingdom last year. Takeshita dominated HARASHIMA in the buildup to this match, and the pre-match hype video was great at getting you ready for the main event, with DDT legends like Ken Ohka and Isami Kodaka getting behind HARASHIMA.
Takeshita refused a handshake prematch, and we were off. Five and a half hours into the show at this point and fresh off Kenny Omega, the crowd was still living and dying by everything these two did.
Takeshita locked in the Walls of Takeshita early on, which bested HARASHIMA twice during the buildup. The KO-D champ then locked in the submission in the ropes, drawing the ire of the partisan crowd in Ryogoku, which was squarely behind the Extreme Champ HARASHIMA.
This had that quintessential “big match feel,” and it felt like a fight, with HARASHIMA desperately unloading on Takeshita with strikes at every opportunity, and Takeshita wrenching back on the Walls of Takeshita whenever he was able to lock it in.
The crowd added to the match tremendously, and while this was a very different match than the Takeshita-Endo Peter Pan main event, it had the same frenetic pacing I’ve come to love from the DDT style. HARSHIMA’s DISASTER BOX stablemates cheering him on, slapping the apron as he desperately crawled to the ropes while locked in the Walls of Takeshita was a great moment, and after a crazy finishing stretch, HARASHIMA nailed back to back Somatos to become double champion! Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. Just an incredible chapter to a great rivalry. After the match, HARASHIMA got the entire DDT roster (including Kenny Omega) to come out and he hugged it out with Takeshita. Takeshita teased a rematch, and they pretty explicitly teased Omega-HARASHIMA. Maybe that’s the match for Saitama, not Omega-Takeshita. ****½
Ewan: Early on in the match, Takeshita took a post bump and then landed on his neck on the outside mats. Oof. This was all about Takeshita targeting HARASHIMA’s back. Around 2/3rd of the way in when Takeshita had HARASHIMA in a Boston crab right in the center of the ring and then let’s go of the hold to go yell at Disaster box around the ring. Silly Take. Poison Rana from HARASHIMA off the top rope was insane. I don’t think it topped the Endo/Take match from Peter Pan, but this was a fantastic main event in its own right and they really went all out in the second half. Maybe a slightly surprising winner in HARASHIMA, but this really felt like a night to celebrate DDT and he was a worthy wrestler to end the night as double champ. ****1/2
Thomas: This was just about a perfect show. The six and a half hours just flew by, which isn’t always the case for these big DDT shows. They paced this really well, kicking off the main show with the Takagi-Kodaka weapons match and then slowly building up to a great top three with some real gems hidden in the mid-card as well. Nothing on this show touched Endo-Takeshita from Peter Pan, my previous show of the year, but I think top to bottom this was a more enjoyable show, and the uplifting ending with HARASHIMA winning back the KO-D Openweight crown was great to see. It’s close, but this is my new show of the year, and after this show, DDT is the sure fire, no questions asked promotion of the year.
Ewan: I woke up at 5 am to watch this and when it finished 6 hours later I did not feel drained or that I had wasted my time. This was an incredible card with every match delivering on some level.
It’s somewhat disappointing that when Kenny Omega was landing in Japan, instead of Western wrestling fans being interested in checking this show out, instead the talk was dominated by stories of AEW not collaborating with Bushiroad promotions. For many, who have only seen DDT in gifs or short clips, DDT is seen as a comedy mud show promotion, and yes DDT does a lot of comedy, but that’s really only part of what is an incredibly variegated promotion that offers, comedy, juniors, hardcore, pseudo-shoot-style, serious and everything in between. There’s something for everyone and let’s hope that more people can dip their toes in the warm waters of Dramatic Dream Team.
While DDT Coming to America was a tight show with a cozy atmosphere, and Peter Pan had some incredible stand out matches, I think Ultimate Party has claimed the top spot as the best show this year, not through attrition, but because it felt like the celebratory flourish of a promotion showing the world what it has to offer and what we have to look forward to.