JUNE 7, 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 yesterday), 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 (read my review here) was a fun appetizer for what should be the main course – a stacked day two card, so let’s get into it! DDT Wrestle Peter Pan 2020 (Day 2) STARTO!

Nothing gets me hyped like DDT’s intro music as they go over the card. Let’s get it.


Toru Owashi comes out to Darude-Sandstorm, and Antonio Honda is whatever the Japanese version of a QAnon conspiracy theorist so I’ll be cheering for Owashi here. This match was being produced remotely by DDT wrestler Super Sasadango Machine, and they announced they’ll be donating 100 yen times the number of chops during the match to COVID relief organizations. For the uninitiated a yen ≈ a cent in US dollars.

The ref, who was Ganbare wrestler Shota, was counting the chops throughout the match, which was a funny bit. They went around and chopped everyone around the ringside area to raise money for charity, and then brawled to the back after 51 chops. At this point I assumed the match was over and couldn’t help but think “I mean, any bit helps, but I would think a big company like Abema could dole out a little more than like 50 US Dollars!”

The match, however, continued throughout the show, we cut to it a few times. We saw Honda and Owashi chopping each other as they sat in the back, eating chips and watching the show. After the Ironman Heavymetalweight tile match, we cut to Honda and Owashi at the restaurant, where they tied up the owner, who was Ganbare wrestler Ken Ohja. It seemed like KUDO was going to save him, but he just added to the chop count. The match ended in a No Contest at 1,000 chops! SSM is shocked that they have reached this number, figuring as the opener the match would have gone seven or eight minutes, not seventy-two! He decides to donate the money anyways, as this was for a good cause. NR


These TJP offer matches have become a staple of big DDT shows. For those that don’t know, Tokyo Joshi Pro  is the women’s sub brand of DDT, you’ve probably seen some of their wrestlers pop up in AEW, especially Yuka Sakazaki.

The work was crisp and fast-paced here, but I never really got into this until we got to the ‘Miyu Yamashita kicks the shit out of much shorter women’ portion of the match, which I always love. This really picked up and we had some awesome transitions, double teams, and pinning combinations. You couldn’t tell that most of these women hadn’t wrestled in two months.

The BAKURETSU Sisters landed a double team top rope clothesline and Yuka Sakazaki for a close near fall that I really bought, but at the end of the day, a spinning back crescent kick from Yamashita and the Magical Girl Splash from Sakazi picked up the win for team aces on Aino. This was frenetic, fast-paced, and a ton of fun. ***1/4


The rules for this match are no countout – you can go wherever you want! This is to celebrate the lifting of the stay-at-home request. Shinya Aoki has been a blast in DDT, I love his shoot style work, and he can also do comedy very well, so he’s a perfect fit for the Extreme Title, which has a different gimmick every match. Back in a previous run with the belt he had a match under boxing rules, among other MMA styles, but also plenty of comedy. Yukio Naya is the grandson of a famous sumo, but I’m not super high on his work so far in his career. He’s had a few really good matches, against Kazusada Higuchi and Hideki Suzuki instantly come to mind, but all in all he’s just been all right.

The match started off very slowly paced, with the much larger Naya dominating Aoki. The two brawled throughout the DDT TV Show set, including in the elevator, a nod to the famous Go-Fujita match, and then proceeded to use DDT young boy Keigo Nakamura as a weapon. They passed Maki Itoh practicing her entrance song, and she didn’t even flinch as they brawled around her, which was funny. Back in the ring, Aoki picked up the win with a bridging pin. This match was really just whatever. **1/4


Brookes and Itoh are so, so cute together, I love the pairing so much! Brookes faintly going along with Itoh’s dance routine and her trying to get him into it was so funny. Eruption are very much the opposite of the happy-go-lucky dancing duo of Neo Itoh Respect Army, they are serious, bad looking m-fers. Yukio Sakaguchi was fresh off of an amazing title challenge of Masato Tanaka here, I strongly recommend anyone to go check that out, it was perhaps my favorite match of the empty arena era (****¼). Maki Itoh ran to the back, scared of Sakaguchi once the match started, and Brookes took control. Itoh tagged and pretended to cry when staring down with Sakaguchi, giving her an opportunity to take advantage, however, the much larger man instantly took back control.

We got Saki Akai locking Maki Itoh in the paradise lock (can we start the paradise lock discourse again? I really miss that! /s). Brookes tagged in and beat off both members of Eruption. We then moved into a more serious portion of the match and the work was very good from all four. Sakaguchi’s brutal-looking kicks on the tiny Maki Itoh were an amazing visual, and a PK finished her. This was solid although perhaps a dad disappointing given my sky-high expectations. ***¼


They’ve tried to have this match four times now, but it keeps getting canceled again and again for whatever reason: forgetting to book a ref, forgetting their gear, etc.. Dieno came out looking incredibly serious with the IMHMW Title, and I just couldn’t help but laugh. Makoto Oishi…. doesn’t show up! Dieno then checks his texts, and Oishi says his baby can’t stop crying! The ref tried to declare Dieno the winner, but Dieno begged to give Oishi three minutes to get there. We got a retrospective of Oishi and Dieno’s careers against each other and teaming together, and I got scared for a minute that Oishi, who is a legitimately incredible wrestler, was retiring. Luckily, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case. Oishi runs as fast as he can to the arena, but about as he’s going to get into the ring, he trips and hurts himself. This match will happen another day I guess… NR


As we now move into the certified banger portion of the show, I do need to make a correction from the preview, as it seems MAO’s AT/AW contract has expired, he never used it due to injury, and it will not carry over to after this show. However, there will be new AT/AW contracts which he will be able to obtain.

Jun Akiyama is the guest commentator for the second half of the show and… Jun Akiyama commentating a Naomichi Marufuji match in DDT is such a trip.

The match started out fast-paced and fun, I’ve missed seeing ASUKA, who I thought was one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world last year.

This match was very well worked but the early stages lasted a little long, and it felt as if it dragged a lot at the start. What do we always say: keep empty arena short and fast-paced, that’s a must. Somato from HARASHIMA finished ASUKA. This was good but definitely too long. ***¼

After the match, Marufuji helped ASUKA to her feet and she thanked him with a slap, which ruled.


These are perhaps the two front-runners for tag team of the year, so I was very excited for this match going in. Nautilus had been dominating the tag division, but lost back to back challenges against DAMNHEARTS for the KO-D Six-Man tag straps. 2/3rds of the DAMNHEARTS trio, T-Hawk and El Lindaman, then demanded a tag title match against the Ueno and Yoshimura, and so, here we are.

This started off super fast-paced as one would have expected. Lindaman and T-Hawk have such unrivaled chemistry, their double team efforts always look flawless. El Lindaman should be a much bigger star than he is, he is such a joy to watch, so quick, so explosive. His suplexes and throws are so crisp and it’s always a great visual because of his small size when he picks up his opponents with ease, as he did to Naomi Yoshimura later on in this match.

The match slowed down in the middle portions with the STRONGHEARTS duo double-teaming Yuki Ueno, who is someone I expect to be main eventing this show within the next five years. We then moved into a hot stretch between T-Hawk and Ueno with both guys trading pinning combinations, suplexes, and knees. Both guys collapsed on the mat in exhaustion. Lindaman then fired up, hitting deadlift Germans on both guys. Crucifix bomb from T-Hawk on Ueno got two. A top rope rock bottom from Ueno and Nautilus’ tag finisher land on Lindy, but he kicked out! Ueno finally finished Lindaman with a brutal looking move in a great finishing stretch to a great match. ***¾


Masato Tanaka invaded DDT eight months ago, and he has still yet to be defeated. The closest anyone has come is a draw with HARASHIMA during DDT’s Grand Prix (their block tournament), but he then beat HARASHIMA straight up for the KO-D title.

This match is a rematch from the finals of that Grand Prix tournament, as Tetusya Endo looked to win back the title from the invading Masato Tanaka, something DDT aces Konosuke Takeshita and HARASHIMA couldn’t do. I wonder if this still was going to be the match would DDT have ran the 10,000+ seat Super Saitama Arena. There was speculation of a Takeshita vs Omega or HARASHIMA vs Omega match, but I think there’s a chance this was the planned main event all along with that just being a hyped semi. Obviously, because of travel restrictions and because you wouldn’t want to burn either of those matches in an empty arena anyways, Kenny couldn’t make it to this show.

We started off with some grappling here, which Tanaka, the more experienced veteran, dominated in the early stages. They took it to the outside, and the hardcore legend Tanaka continued to control Endo, brutalizing his knee with bits of the table. I was a little worried at this point, Tanaka had a knee match with Takeshita a few months ago where the selling was super spotty on Take’s end, but Endo did a brilliant job selling the knee throughout here.

Back in the ring, Tanaka continued to brutalize Endo’s knee, but the DAMNATION member fought back. It seemed any time Endo took control of the match, his injured knee gave Tanaka just enough breathing room to avoid a full-on onslaught, which was a cool story that they told.  I really miss crowds, man, I think a hot arena crowd would have this match trending towards MOTYC status and instead it’s just a well-worked match in an empty warehouse. That’s making me sad.

Endo locked Tanaka in the Rings of Saturn, but the KO-D champ escaped. Looking to follow up, Tetsuya went for a back handspring kick, but his knee gave out. Tanaka took the opportunity to deliver a sick looking chop block, and toss Endo knee first through a table! Frog splash from Tanaka, paying homage to his ECW roots, but Endo kicked out at one!. This is great, great stuff.

Endo looked for a backflip kick, but Tanaka moved out of the way, causing Endo to land on his knees! Endo recovered, though, and went to the top, looking for something big but landed on his knees again! Tanaka looked to end things with a sliding D but Endo moved out of the way and nailed Tetsuya In The Sky for two! The match is too fast to call now. Flip piledriver gets two, as we’ve moved into the “Tetsuya Endo does cool shit portion of the match” Shooting Star Press, another one, and Masato Tanaka has finally been pinned! Tetsuya Endo is the KO-D champion for the second time. This match was crazy amounts of fun, and one of the best of the empty arena era, I can’t help but feel disappointed, though, as with a crowd I do think this could’ve edged into MOTYC territory. Either way, a great main event, and a great win for Tetsuya Endo. I can’t wait to see where he goes with the belt. ****¼

Final Thoughts

It would be disingenuous to not say this was the “worst” Peter Pan in many years, but that is the situation we’re under with empty arena stuff. As far as crowdless shows go, this was pretty good, although truthfully you could probably just watch the top two matches and end up much happier. Endo vs. Tanaka was one of my favorite empty arena matches yet, and I’m really excited to see where Endo goes with the belt. His last run was amazing, and he had great matches with unheralded guys like Makoto Oishi and Keisuke Ishii, so I hope we get that again. For now, DDT plans to continue to run their DDT TV Shows with limited fans, so I’m excited to see how that goes. Anyways, I’m very optimistic for the future of DDT, with Endo, Nautilus, and DAMNHEARTS as the main champs, that is a strong group of young guys you can build around for the future.