AUGUST 10, 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 Monday with a stacked show featuring a sick lineup of quarterfinal matches. Let’s get into it.

I skipped the undercard tags because I’m not a psychopath. Results were as followed:

  • Keigo Nakamura & Yukio Naya defeated Junretsu (Mizuki Watase & Hideki Okatani) in 6:27 when Naya pinned Watase following a Power Bomb
  • Eruption (Saki Akai & Yukio Sakaguchi) defeated ALL OUT (Shunma Katsumata & Yuki Iino), Danshoku Dino & Seigo Tachibana, and Kazuki Hirata & Makoto Oishi in a four-way tag match in 5:18 when Sakaguchi pinned Hirata following a PK
  •  Chris Brookes & Antonio Honda defeated DAMNHEARTS (El Lindaman & Nobuhiro Shimatani) in 10:11 when Brookes pinned Shimatani following a Praying Mantis Bomb
  • DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura & Toru Owashi) defeated DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki, Mad Paulie & Soma Takao) in 11:05 when HARASHIMA pinned Paulie following a Somato

King of DDT Quarter Final Match
T-Hawk def. Yuki Ueno (13:23)

I came in hyped for this one, and it truly delivered. They started out high-energy, both guys opening with lots of energy and passion. The veteran, T-Hawk, decided to take things to the mat, where he dominated the high-flyer. This had strong strike exchanges and brilliant reversals throughout. Akito is known for his technical ability, but the dude can strike, and he really took it to the rising star. A top rope missile dropkick from Ueno got two, and then we went into a heated closing stretch. I got serious Ibushi vibes from Ueno’s performance here. He went up to the top to hit BME (Best Moonsault Ever) and connected, but T-Hawk crawled to the ropes before Ueno could cover him. A brutal knee and a gutwrench powerbomb from Hawk got two, and then a strong right hand to the jaw softened Ueno up for the Night Ride, which connected flush. This ruled and is my new best match of the tournament. ****1/4

King of DDT Quarter Final Match
Akito def. Shinya Aoki (8:24)

We knew what this was going to be coming in, a technical battle between perhaps the best two wrestlers in DDT at that style. I know many aren’t fans of the shoot-style stuff, but this was one of the best I’ve seen at this style in a while and was kept short and interesting. The crowd’s clapping after every exchange and both men seemingly desperate to avoid any strikes. I’m a bigger fan of the “HARD HIT” style matches as some (although some like it more than me) so this won’t be for everyone but it was excellent for what it was. Akito tied Aoki up in the Goliath Bird Watching to get the win. Very good stuff. ***3/4

King of DDT Quarter Final Match
Tetsuya Endo def. Minoru Tanaka (17:20)

Tanaka has been a great fit in DDT, his eccentric personality and quick junior style with a touch of grappling is a great fit for the promotion, and I’ve loved his work here. It was clear, however, that this was where his story was going to end, Tetsuya Endo has been building up his potential Ultimate Party match with “The Gamer” Kenny Omega so much that it would be foolish to knock him out of the tournament before Korakuen Hall.

Tanaka dominated the early portions of the match, working down the knees of the KO-D champ in hopes of earning a victory and the future KO-D Title Match that would go with it. One of my biggest criticisms of Endo came back here, though, as he refused to sell the leg for much of the match while he was on offense, remembering, and then subsequently forgetting it, throughout. The selling issues kept this from being next-level great, but the high-energy nature of the match kept it super fun to watch. Endo got a near-fall with a Canadian Destroyer and then hit the Shooting Star Press for the win to advance to the semis. ***3/4

King of DDT Quarter Final Match
Kazusada Higuchi def. Konosuke Takeshita (16:13)

Kazusada Higuchi getting back-to-back main events against HARASHIMA and Konosuke Takeshita says something about the level DDT views him at. The new Eruption stable has felt for a while to be a way to elevate Higuchi, he and Endo are 1-1 in matches this year, everything made sense for the company to finally take the next step and strap a rocketpack to Higuchi. He was my pick to win the tourney from the start, but part of me was worried they weren’t going to actually do it. I’d been burned before with DDT always eventually going back to the same handful of guys.

After a methodical start to the match, Higuchi dominated back in the ring with big strikes. One thing I’ve loved about this tournament has been seconds in every match, for some reason, it made the tournament feel like that much more of a big deal. We got a chop battle ending in a big forearm from Takeshita, and then proceeded into the first firey reversal sequence in the match, won by Higuchi. A Last Ride from Takeshita got a close two, and Higuchi followed up with a pair of chokeslams for a very close near fall.  The leader of Eruption withstood some forearms from Takeshita and pounced on the leader of ALL OUT for the 1-2-3, getting an audible gasp from the crowd. Didn’t love the finish, but this was an awesome match and one of the best of the tournament. ****

The semifinals and finals of the 2020 King of DDT Tournament will take place on August 23rd from Korakuen Hall. The full card is as follows:

  • Under Match: Toru Owashi & Kazuki Hirata vs. Antonio Honda & Keigo Nakamura vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga & Yukio Naya
  • King Of DDT 2020 – Semi-Final: Tetsuya Endo vs. Kazusada Higuchi
  • King Of DDT 2020 – Semi-Final: Akito vs. T-Hawk
  • Eruption (Yukio Sakaguchi & Saki Akai) vs. Danshoku Dieno & Seigo Tachibana
  • Junretsu (Jun Akiyama, Makoto Oishi, Mizuki Watase, & Hideki Okatani) vs. ALL OUT (Konosuke Takeshita, Shunma Katsumata, Yuki Iino, & Shinya Aoki)
  • King Of DDT 2020 Special 10-Man Tag Match: DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA, Yuki Ueno, & Naomi Yoshimura), Minoru Tanaka, & Chris Brookes vs. DAMNHEARTS (Daisuke Sasaki, Soma Takao, Mad Paulie, El Lindaman, & Nobuhiro Shimatani)
  • King Of DDT 2020 – Final: X Vs X

Final Thoughts

By far my favorite of the three King of DDT shows, every tournament match on this card is worth checking out. Everything getting time to breathe and involving major players was a big help, and I’m beyond excited for the semifinal matchups, which both will see a pair of rivals with history facing off. For Endo and Higuchi, the two feuded over the Right to Challenge Sword earlier this year, and Akito and T-Hawk had a heralded match at Judgement 2019. Korakuen should be excellent.