AUGUST 9, 2020

Watch: Wrestle Universe

DDT’s annual King of DDT tournament–a single-elimination affair with the winner receiving a shot at the KO-D Openweight Title–continued at Kanda Myojin Hall on Sunday with a stacked show featuring all seven second-round matches as well as the “Dramatic Challenge” match, a second-chance battle royal featuring all those eliminated in round one. Let’s get into it.

King of DDT 2020 Second Chance Battle Royal
Tetsuya Endo def. 13 others (16:31)

This was the opportunity for the 14 men eliminated in round one to compete for a second chance in the tournament, with the winner earning a quarterfinal spot facing the winner of Minoru Tanaka vs. Shunma Katsumata later in the show. This was a quite fun match, as most of these DDT style delayed-entry battle royals are. Highlights included Yuki Iino and Yukio Naya going at in a battle of the big boys, and DAMNATION dominating the ring, at one point, there were five people in the match, and four of them were DAMNATION members. Chris Brookes broke up a pin at one point, which…. come on man… its an elimination battle royal what are you doing? Eventually, it all fell apart, as Nobuhiro Shimatani turned on Soma Takao only to be eliminated by Chris Brookes, leaving KO-D Champion Tetsuya Endo as the only DAMNATION member in the match. Brookes and Endo had a hot closing stretch, and Endo hit a Canadian Destroyer on the apron to win and keep his dream of facing Kenny Omega at Ultimate Party alive. ***1/4

King of DDT Second Round Match
T-Hawk def. Makoto Oishi (11:00)

Makoto Oishi pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the first round, defeating DDT Universal champ Chris Brookes with a kneebar. This was a solid, technical style match between two of the best in the promotion in that regard, and featured a lot of leg work from Oishi. T-Hawk sold really well throughout, and when Oishi went for the same kneebar he used to beat Brookes, the STH member reversed it into a pin for the victory. ***1/4

King of DDT Second Round Match
Yuki Ueno def. Danshoku Dieno (10:18)

It’s really shitty that Dieno is what non-DDT watchers think of when they think of DDT. This is just the dirt worst shit in wrestling and should have no place in 2020. After wrestling a straight match against Antonio Honda in the last round, Dieno did not do the same here. Some firey offense from Ueno keeps this from being a DUD, but it was awful.  3/4*

King of DDT Second Round Match
Akito def. Toru Owashi (5:33)

After scoring perhaps the biggest win of his career in the first round against KO-D champ Tetsuya Endo, Akito jumped Owashi at the bell here to try and continue his hot streak. At just five minutes, this was the shortest match on the show, and it mostly consisted of Akito beating the shit out of Owashi, a brief comeback, and the Goliath Bird Eater forcing Owashi to submit. This wasn’t much, but I’m loving Akito’s swagger right now. **1/2

King of DDT Second Round Match
Daisuke Sasaki def. Shinya Aoki (7:40)

After Aoki took advantage of Yuki Iino’s quick start in the first round, Daisuke Sasaki was careful to not rush into this one. I used to be a big fan of Sasaki, but have found his work lacking ever since he lost the KO-D belt to Tetsuya Endo about 18 months ago. Sasaki unloaded on Aoki with a chair on the outside, but back in the ring, Aoki dominated, tying up the former champion and controlling him on the ground, reversing Sasaki’s crossface finish at every attempt. A WRISTLOCK (!!!) submitted Sasaki. The finish kinda ruled, but the match was fairly average. ***

King of DDT Second Round Match
Minoru Tanaka def. Shunma Katsumata (11:52)

Minoru Tanaka really impressed me in round one. For a guy that is 47 years old and had wrestled just twice in almost four months prior to this tournament, he had an unquestionable swagger, great ring awareness, and incredible speed and quickness which he also put on display here. His kicks were crisp and fierce. I wasn’t too impressed with Shunma in this match, he felt like a bit player in what was mostly a showcase for Tanaka, but the two worked an awesome finishing stretch where I bought Tanaka potentially tapping after leg work earlier in the match. Finally, Tanaka tapped out Katsumata with a leg bar after repeated kicks to the knee. A very good match bordering on great. ***3/4

King of DDT Second Round Match
Konosuke Takeshita def.  El Lindaman (13:54)

After his match with Yoshimura in the first round got a little stifled on time, DDT gave Konosuke Takeshita, the undisputed ace of the company, the most time in round two for his much-hyped match with El Lindaman. Takeshita dominated the smaller Lindaman for the early portions of the match, with the junior getting in some high-flying offense whenever the leader of ALL OUT slipped up. For a match between two guys I’m big fans of, this didn’t really click. The sprinty tag wrestler against the main event “epic” style ace just didn’t really feel like a good match of styles. The closing stretch was great in a vacuum, but I just never really bought Lindaman as having a chance of winning to truly love it. Takeshita got the win with a rolling German after a reversal sequence. This was really solid, but not next-level. ***1/2

King of DDT Second Round Match
Kazusada Higuchi def. HARASHIMA (13:47)

Big match Gooch got the main event spot here against the former ace of the company and multiple-time King of DDT winner HARASHIMA. The opening to this match was excellent, with HARASHIMA trying to finish the bigger man early on and Higuchi countering and winning the exchange. As good as the opening stretch (and match) was, I do feel like there is a peak that can be hit in matches without commentary or much crowd noise. In many cases, the commentators screaming, even in a language you don’t know, can make up for the yelling restrictions, but on a show like this, you get neither. After an excellent back and forth affair, Higuchi pinned HARA with the Doctor Bomb. This was really good, and my favorite match of the tournament, but I can’t say I loved it because of the lacking atmosphere. ***1/2

Quarterfinal Matches

  • T-Hawk vs. Yuki Ueno
  • Akito vs. Shinya Aoki
  • Tetsuya Endo vs. Minoru Tanaka
  • Kazusada Higuchi vs. Konosuke Takeshita

Final Thoughts

Shunma vs Tanaka is my favorite match of the tourney to this point, and a big win for Higuchi was cool to see, but I can’t recommend checking out this show as a whole, the first half was quite poor, and there wasn’t anything next level in the second half to make up for it. I much preferred the sprinty nature of the first show, even if the overall “starz” might not look too different.