JUNE 6, 2020

Watch: Wrestle Universe

The empty arena era has had its ups and downs, but with it seemingly coming to an end next week (DDT will begin holding shows with fans one week from today), we cap it off with a two night spectacular – DDT’s Wrestle Peter Pan 2020. This show was originally scheduled to be one night, in the massive Saitama Super Arena, where DDT hoped to crack five-figure attendance. Now, with no one in attendance, the company will look to set the promotion off into the back half of the year on the right foot. Day one is certainly a weaker card than day two, at least from a workrate perspective, but I’m excited to hop in and review it. DDT Wrestle Peter Pan 2020 (Day 1) STARTO!


I said in my preview of this show that I thought this could be a sleeper match of the night, so I’m glad we started things off hot with this match. As the match title says, these are two lower card guys looking to move into a more featured role in the promotion: DAMNATION sign holder Nobuhiro Shimatani and former WRESTLE-1 star Seigo Tachibana.

This started off fast-paced with lots of action before Tachibana began to work over the plucky underdog. Shimatani had some great, great fire, and he turned on the jets, finishing Tachibana in a hot closing stretch. This match only lasted five or so minutes, but it was really fun while it lasted. ***¼

Danshoku Dieno helped Tachibana to the back after the match, later saying he liked his fire.


I think Keisuke Ishii, who is the champion of the Ganbare sub-brand, has been the best worker in DDT this year, so I was excited that he got a shot on the big show here, low on the card as it is. Watching him come out, I forgot how much I loved Hiroshi Yamamto, and the tremendous Saori Anou struggling to hold back laughter as he sang was really funny to watch.

Ishii and Yamamto started with some basic grappling, and then the women tagged in, with Saori Anou brutalizing HARUKAZE. Anou has been a standout of the DDT TV Show series to me, I’d especially recommend her match against Saki Akai from episode three (May 16th). Yamato tagged back in and HARUKAZE got a chance to work from underneath. I had never really seen her before but she impressed me. It was painfully clear watching this that Ishii was in another league from the other three, but Anou held her own in their exchanges. The finishing stretch saw HARUKAZE and Anou going back and forth in a grappling exchange. Some transitions looked a little choppy on HARUKAZE’s end, but some looked great. A deadlift German from Anou finished it for the DDT main brand team. ***¼


Good for the DDT young boys, working their way up from the opener to take on the DAMNATION team of Soma Takao and Mad Paulie. I mentioned in my preview it was sad that Soma, who I really love, went from being in the semi-main of Peter Pan 2019 to in a match with the young boys here, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

The match mostly consisted of the DAMNATION boys just brutalizing Nakamura and Okatani. Okatani is so new that he still doesn’t have a cagematch profile, I believe clocking in at five or six career matches. He looks like he has potential, but I do think the more experienced Nakamura looked the better of the two here. Soma impressed me here as usual, and he got the pin on Okatani with a diving knee drop in a pretty perfunctory match. **½


We cut to a vignette filmed in Niigata for the Super Sasadango Machine vs. Pokotan match. This match is celebrating Yoshihiro Sakai’s presidential appointment at Sakai Seiki Co., LTD. Hate to unmask here, but it is the VOW way, Sakai is DDT Wrestler Super Sasadango Machine. Anyways, DDT President Sanshiro Takagi sent DDT mascot Pokotan to congratulate him on his promotion. We got a funny bit with Sakai/SSM spraying off Pokotan before he enters his store. Once inside, Pokotan delivered a package with a letter from Takagi asking if there is anything he can do to help, etc. and telling SSM he can book the match against Pokotan. However, because he does not want to risk infection of his factory, SSM decides to show Pokotan around the facilities at a safe distance rather than wrestle, and we got a video with Pokotan hitting on the company’s PR person as she shows him on a tour of the facilities. Afterward, SSM realized he could use Pokotan as free labor and sent him to work.

After getting to work, Pokotan, believing he heard something, went to investigate, and much to his surprise, he found a door with the letters ‘NJPW’ on them. He discovered a secret – SSM is trying to start a joshi promotion! Niigata Joshi Pro Wrestling (NJPW, hopefully, that acronym isn’t taken!). The PR person/future wrestler, Yukako Mito, decided that Pokotan couldn’t return to Tokyo alive with this secret! Thus, the match is booked


Hilarity ensued with Mita-san struggling with basic wrestling techniques, and SSM, who is the ref now, coaching her on throughout the match. Pokotan clearly feels bad for hurting his true love, but he must do so to escape with his life. Eventually, Mita-san turned it around, and finished Pokotan with a diving crossbody. NJPW is coming to take over the pro-wrestling scene! The match was nothing but the NJPW jokes were funny. ¼*

We are now in a situation where we are halfway through a Peter Pan show in an hour. For the uninitiated, these shows often last six, seven hours, but split into two they are a relative breeze!


Jun Akiyama in DDT is still a trip, but if it means he can tear it up with awesome, underappreciated guys like Akito and Yuki Iino, I’m all down, All Japan isn’t really using him outside of comedy anyways. Iino gave Akiyama everything he had, but the veteran’s wileyness kept him in control for the bulk of the contest. The two’s exchanges were really great throughout, though.

Watching Akiyama in DDT I’m pretty sad that he probably won’t be in the Champion Carnival this year, the guy can still really tear it up. Watase looked good too, his speed going up against the power of Yuki Iino, the two had a really hot finishing stretch and just as I was really getting into it, IIno speared Watase for the pin. ***

Akito held Iino back from attacking Akiyama after the match. Holy shit, give me that match, it’ll be awesome.


The setup for this match was really cool. For those that don’t know, ABEMA (the parent company of DDT) recently purchased Pro Wrestling NOAH, and installed DDT President Sanshiro Takagi as the President of NOAH as well (this is all real, not kayfabe). The same day that the announcement was named, Kenoh voiced his frustration for the outsider taking control of the company on Twitter, and on the most recent episode of the DDT TV Show, he challenged Takagi’s authority, calling him a joke, and as President of NOAH, Takagi ordered Kenoh to fight him, thus, here we are. Kenoh brought two of his stablemates, and Takagi brought Kazusada Higuchi, someone who appeared in NOAH’s Global League in the past, and Tomomitsu Matsunaga, who set up the ring on NOAH’s first show.

Kenoh and Takagi started things off, circling each other before tagging out despite never touching, at a stalemate. We got the Kitamiya vs Higuchi big boy battle that we all expected, and then finally Kenoh and Takagi squared off in the middle of the ring, Kenoh treating Takagi like he does young boys in NOAH, not reacting or selling anything that Takagi does, popping right up from any attacks. Takagi, frustrated, called for one of his signature plastic boxes, which Kenoh promptly broke with a double stomp in an awesome moment.

At this point, the match descended into chaos, with all six brawling outside of the ring, Kenoh unloaded on Takagi with gorgeous strikes before Kongoh triple-teamed the DDT President. Kenoh came across as an absolute killer, taunting Takagi and dominating him. The former GHC Champ continued to refuse to sell at all, and flattened Takagi with one kick.

Eventually, Takagi was able to make the tag and we got a tremendous extended sequence between Kitamiya and Higuchi. Kitamiya no-sold some plastic box shots from Takagi, and crawled to Kenoh to make the tag. The match descended into chaos again, and Hao caught Matsunaga in a flash pin for the win in a really fun opening chapter to this rivalry. ***½

Takagi and Kenoh stared down after the match. Afterwards, Takagi’s partners walked to the back, leaving him alone in the middle of the ring, where he appeared to attempt to settle the rivalry by proposing peace.


The main event of the in-ring portion of this show and we got JOKER SHUNMA BACK! The match began and Sasaki and Kodaka instantly teamed up and threw the face paint-clad Katsumata out of the ring, unloading on each other with kendo sticks. This was a fun, brutal hardcore match in the early stages, with a rotating singles match in the middle of the ring. Two guys would fight, the third guy would come in, bring a new weapon, and throw one of the other two out, and the process repeated.

Shnuma took Isami to the outside and they brawled in the fanless crowd of the studio. Both guys took some nasty bumps and Sasaki took both guys out. Some more crowd brawling and it was now Sasaki’s turn to take a nasty bump, this time off a ladder through a pile of chairs.

These hardcore/death match types really feel like they don’t work as well without the crowd pops and the frantic energy of a death match. Spots feel a lot more convoluted where you don’t have the crowd’s energy and excitement to distract you. This was still a ton of fun, though, all three guys worked incredibly hard and we saw a bunch of creative, awesome looking spots throughout.

Throughout this whole match, Sasaki refused to take his shirt off as a sign of disrespect for the other two, or maybe he just put on a quarantine 15 and was feeling self-conscious, I don’t know. I can’t help but watching this feel like this match is really missing a crowd, more than I have the whole night.

At one point, Shunma hit a pedigree (Sasaki’s own finisher) on the champion onto a pile of chairs and legos for a sick near fall that almost got me, he followed it up with a sick looking Moonsault Double Stomp onto a pile of chairs, but Isami broke up the pin. A low blow and rollup earned Sasaki the victory. This was awesome at times, but also disjointed at times, so it feels hard to pin a rating on. I’ll end up at ***¼


After the match, Isami challenged Sasaki to a singles match as he wasn’t pinned. Sasaki then named Masahiro Takanashi as his next challenger, which was funny because Takanashi will be out for over a year with an injury!


In the past I’ve really loved the Yoshihiko gimmick, but during this feud against Konosuke Takeshita’s ALL OUT faction, I’ve realized that the doll is much better served in small doses. Seeing him in a singles match every week has gotten a little exhausting, but I’m keeping my hopes up for this main event, the culmination of his quest to make ALL OUT… ALL DEAD. On the go-home show to this match, Takeshita ripped out the arm of Yoshihiko’s girlfriend Akihiro, so now, things are very personal for this Peter Pan main event.

The VTR for this match has some very ominous music, and when we go live to the match, it’s revealed that the remote location which Ysohihiko invited Takeshita to is actually a graveyard! Boneyard match parody time! I’m excited for this, DDT does parodies very well normally.

The match started out quick with Yoshihiko attacking the ace from behind, and the two brawled throughout the graveyard. The lighting is frustratingly dark and it is a little difficult to see what’s going on at times. Yoshihiko is in Takeshita’s head, he sees the doll flying back and forth all around and runs away.

The ace ran and hid from the doll, and tried to call Yuki Iino for help, but Yoshihiko attacked from behind and chased the former KO-D champ through a building. Takeshita, however outsmarted the doll, surprising him with a dive off of the building, before throwing him off of a large ledge… until… Yoshihiko is back! Appearing behind Takeshita, the doll’s face is covered in blood, and he grabbed Takeshita in a rear naked choke!

DDT Wrestle Peter Pan 2020

The leader of ALL OUT was able to escape, though, then decided to escalate things by pouring gasoline all over the doll. Yoshihiko fought back in desperation, though, pulling out the eye of Takeshita! The sun began to rise as Takeshtita grabbed his eye back and returned it to its socket! Canadian Destroyer from Yoshihiko gave the doll a chance to set Takeshita on fire, but the ace reversed, throwing the lighter on Yoshihiko! We see a fiery explosion, as Takeshita has finally conquered Yoshihiko. Drenched in blood, Takeshita watched the Tokyo skyline as the sun rose. Yuki Iino finally shows up, and the credits rolled with the two walking away from the scene with cheesy music in the background. This was both incredible and awful at the same time, but at the end of the day, I was grinning ear to ear by the end. ***1/2

DDT Wrestle Peter Pan 2020

After the credits, Yoshihiko’s eyes light up. Perhaps this war is not over.. I can’t tell if this is supposed to be making fun of AJ Styles coming back to WWE like a week after being killed or what but, either way, come on, this is like the perfect shitty movie ending, and isn’t that what wrestling is at the end of the day?

Final Thoughts

This show was a nice appetizer for the bigger day two (check out Andy LaBarre and I’s preview here). There was some good stuff at the start, I thought the middle lulled a little bit, Kongoh vs DDT was fun, and I liked the main event, which I’m sure some will hate as it was part of that cinematic style, although done very ironically, which made me love it even more. I firmly expect day two to be significantly better from an in-ring perspective, so if you’re more that type of fan vs the comedy style, make sure to check back in tomorrow for my review! See you then, you can also follow me on twitter @rasslinratings!