DRAMATIC DREAM TEAM
JUDGEMENT 2022 ~ DDT LAUNCH 25TH ANNIVERSARY
MARCH 21, 2022
Watch: Wrestle Universe
YUSUKE OKADA, YUYA KOROKU & ILUSION DEF. TOMOMITSU MATSUNAGA, TOUI KOJIMA, YUKI ISHIDA (11:00)
This was a frenetic sprint from the get-go. Koroku is getting really good, and joining the new iteration of Burning has been a big help to him. Ilusion is from the DDTeeeen!! project and he’d be at home in the U.S. indies. He can do some impressive high-flying moves, but not much else. Ishida and Okada had some great strike battles towards the end here.
Ishida kicked out of an Okada Diving Headbutt then got pinned after Okada’s Sudden Death. A really strong opener, and hopefully a sign Okada will start to get the attention in this company that he deserves. Ishida continues to progress nicely too. ***½
TIME ADMISSION TAG BATTLE ROYAL
YUJI HINO & YUKIO NAYA DEF. TOMOHIKO HASHIMOTO & SEIYA MOROHASHI, YASU URANO & SHOTA, MINORU FUJITA & MJ PAUL, GORGEOUS MATSUNO & GOTA IHASHI, ANDREZA GIANT PANDA & SUPER SASADANGO MACHINE (14:28)
Urano replaced Takao, who tested positive for COVID-19. DDT Battle Royals are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I thought this was played pretty straight, and as a result thought it was fine, barring a few Gorgeous Matsuno spots that were silly. Hino suplexing Hashimoto was impressive given Hashimoto’s size. Another great Hino spot was him chopping Andreza who got knocked over as a result.
Hino and Naya delivered their finishers to Shota and Urano and pinned them simultaneously to win. This was passable by the end. **½
Before the proper start of the show, comedian Ryota Yamasato came out and then Super Sasadango Machine came out and declared that we must have an anal explosion ceremony to start the show. Danshoku Dieno then came out and declared that the explosion would be 25 times more powerful. Hoshitango dressed like a Secret Service agent complete with sunglasses then came out and grabbed Yamasato and carried him to Dieno who then placed the explosive in Yamasato’s butt or at least he appeared to because the camera angle gave it away that there was a launcher just below Yamasato’s crotch. They then did a second one even bigger one for good measure. This is DDT, folks.
After that, there was a great opening video showcasing some of the most (in)famous moments in DDT’s 25-year history, all the way back to the very beginning. It was tremendous. I have to say, I forgot that Sanshiro Takagi used to have a really nice head of hair in the early years. There was lots of Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega in the video too. Also RIP Super Uchuu Power (Koichiro Kimura). Always loved that guy.
KO-D 10-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
POISON SAWADA JULIE, TAKASHI SASAKI, GENTARO, MIKAMI & THANOMSAK TOBA DEF. TORU OWASHI, ANTONIO HONDA, KAZUKI HIRATA & YOSHIHIKO © (8:49)
Seeing Poison Sawada JULIE here really takes me back. I haven’t seen them in years. JULIE’s team is definitely a throwback to DDT’s early days. We got the old JULIE spots like the poison and the magic. There was a musical number that totally took me out of this match while it happened. MIKAMI pinned Honda after a schoolboy. I have to say, I don’t think this was great, but I didn’t hate it or anything. The nostalgia was fun, and it looks like we will be getting more of it, given the new champs. The champions failed in their V2 defense. **¼
SAKI AKAI DEF. MAYA YUKIHI (10:40)
These two didn’t waste any time laying into each other. Yukihi used a number of different knee strikes on Akai’s head and neck. While Akai has improved a lot in the last couple of years, Yukihi is on another level. While your deep joshi nerds know how good she is, with the rise of people who only watch Stardom as far as joshi goes, she is actually underrated. Akai kicked out at one after a Buzzsaw Kick right to the head. The last couple of minutes felt like a real struggle, but Akai powered through and hit the Quetzalcoatl for the victory. I dare say this was the wrong result, as this is a feud that could definitely go on longer. They shook hands after the match, however. The first must-see match of the night. ***¾
DDT 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL SINGLE MATCH – NO DQ “I’M SORRY” MATCH
SANSHIRO TAKAGI DEF. MICHAEL NAKAZAWA (10:20)
That’s right, the only way to win this is to make your opponent say “I’m sorry” into a microphone. Nakazawa came out with his AEW polo shirt, headset and khakis.
About a minute into the match, they brawled to the backstage area and eventually into the men’s washroom. They did the Piledriver into the toilet bowl spot of course with Nakazawa once again having his head in the toilet. The ring attendants built a huge pyramid out of steel chairs and Takagi drove the DDT Dramatic Machine into the pyramid after Nakazawa jumped out of the way. Takagi hit both the Hadouken and the Kamiygoye to Nakazawa but he refused to say I’m sorry. Takagi got Nakazawa up for the One-Winged Angel and teased doing it into three stacked plastic boxes, but then Nakazawa said I’m sorry. Takagi threw him into the plastic boxes anyway.
I wasn’t expecting much from this match, and in the end, I thought it was passable. This is the 25th-anniversary show afterall, you have to do the stuff that put DDT on the map. **½
After the match, Christopher Daniels appeared on the screen and announced that AEW and DDT have an official working relationship and DDT wrestlers would be appearing in AEW soon.
They announced a King of Street Wrestling tournament for April consisting of Sanshiro Takagi, Shunma Katsumata, Chris Brookes, Worawutnoy Kiatchaiyong (Muay Thai fighter), Hikaru Machida (Muay Thai fighter), The Grudge, Suzu Suzuki and Abullah Kobayashi. As the name of the tournament implies, this won’t be taking place in the ring but on the streets.
37KAMIINA (YUKI UENO & SHUNMA KATSUMATA) DEF. ISAMI KODAKA & YUKIO SAKAGUCHI (11:02)
Another match with non-stop action. Katsumata and Kodaka had some great sequences early on. Then Sakaguchi and Ueno did. The last few minutes of this were wild with a bunch of near falls from each side. Sakaguchi and Ueno were really laying into each other towards the end. Ueno hit the WR on Sakaguchi for the pinfall and a huge win for him. There was so much going on in this at times it was a fool’s game to try to keep track of all of the big spots. This ruled. ****
LILICO RETIREMENT MATCH
PHEROMONES (DANSHOKU “DANDY” DIENO, YUKI “SEXY” IINO & YUMEHITO “FANTASTIC” IMANARI) DEF. LILICO, RYOHEI ODAI & AKITO (16:52)
LiLiCo is a Japanese media personality, actress, voice actress and singer who started wrestling for DDT in 2014. Cagematch only has her as wrestling 14 matches in her career up to this point, though she is a former K-OD Ten Man Tag Team Champion, DDT Extreme Champion, and a two-time DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Champion. That’s quite the number of accomplishments for that many matches. In 2020, she fractured her patella and decided to end her wrestling career, with her retirement match finally happening on this show. Odai is her husband and an actor in his own right, having starred in Kamen Rider Ryuki and done voice work for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. He’s also a singer in the band JUNretsu, who accompanied them to the ring and even got involved in the match at points.
There’s not much of a story to this match other than Pheromones don’t want LiLiCo to have a nice retirement match. There was lots of crotch-grabbing by LiLiCo on Dieno to start, including her putting Dieno’s hand into hers. Does she know what happened to Joey Ryan? It didn’t take long for Iino to strip down to his assless underwear. This had all the pervy spots with asses and crotches in faces and the fire extinguisher that you would expect, even if you don’t want to see. Just as Dieno looked to have pinned LiLiCo, time stopped in the ring and Odai’s career flashed before everyone’s eyes on the screen. Odai broke up the pin and then got chopped multiple times by Iino in retaliation. This all happened in slow motion of course.
LiLiCo went after Dieno but he kicked her bad knee and Dieno got a near fall from a Piledriver. Dieno then put her in a Knee bar and got the submission. Pheromones succeed in ruining LiLiCo’s retirement. At least the finish of this made sense with LiLiCo’s injury. I’ll be generous and give this ¼*, because I don’t think it deserves a DUD, but it did go on way too long.
After the match, Pheromones continued to assault LiLiCo and her team until Andreza Giant Panda came out to make the save and gave big headbutts to all of the members of Pheromones. LiLiCo then got a retirement ceremony, a gift from Sanshiro Takagi and a ten-bell salute. JUNretsu then performed a song.
After the intermission, Kenta Kobashi came out to say a few words and then join the Japanese commentary team, so you know business was about to pick up. It’s all serious from here on out.
JUN AKIYAMA 30TH ANNIVERSARY MATCH
BURNING WILD (JUN AKIYAMA & TAKAO OMORI) DEF. ERUPTION (KAZUSADA HIGUCHI & HIDEKI OKATANI) (12:36)
Unlike many anniversary matches, this was all about kicking ass, not nostalgia. Akiyama came out to Sternness instead of Shadow Explosion, which was an interesting choice. After Junretsu broke up, putting Okatani in Eruption has proven to be a great idea.
From the start of this, it was clear Akiyama wanted to kill his former stablemate, Okatani. They had some heated moments at the beginning. Akiyama also beat up Okatani on the outside a bunch.
Despite Omori showing his age a lot more than his long-time colleague/rival Akiyama, he worked hard here and did some good stuff with Higuchi in particular.
Akiyama brutalized Okatani a bunch, but Okatani got in a couple of hope spots and kicked out of an Exploder, but Akiyama lowered his kneepad, hit a running knee on Okatani for a close fall then finished him off with an Wrist-Clutch Exploder. A fitting anniversary match for one of the greatest of all time. And Okatani got some shine here too and looks to have a bright future. ***½
DDT UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP HARDCORE 3 WAY MATCH
MAO DEF. DAISUKE SASAKI © & JUN KASAI (19:56)
Kasai is the only wrestler in this that I am a fan of. MAO hasn’t lived up to his potential thus far in his career and Sasaki is well… Daisuke Sasaki. I know he has his fans but he’s not for my tastes.
The weapons and plunder came out right away. Kasai did a splash of the top rope to the outside onto Sasaki who was laying on a table. Kasai then hit MAO right on the head several times with a piece of the broken table. Safety police, beware.
Unsurprisingly, everyone ended up bleeding. Sasaki did a wild spot where he stacked Kasai and MAO on top of each other on chairs in the front row, then did an elbow drop off the top rope. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it, but he did. This got pretty wild towards the end with everyone doing big moves to each other with weapons or on things like ladders and tables. MAO did a Fire Thunder Driver to Sasai through a table after jumping off a steel beam that was on the higher rungs of two ladders. It looked insane. This ended the match thankfully for the health of everyone involved. MAO is your new DDT Universal champ for the first time, while Sasaki failed in his V5 defense of his second reign with the title. I have to say, I liked this a lot more than I was expecting. ***½
After the match, Michael Nakazawa came out to challenge MAO for a title match at Korakuen Hall on March 27. An interesting choice for a first challenger to say the least.
KO-D TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
CALAMARI DRUNKEN KINGS (CHRIS BROOKES & MASAHIRO TAKANASHI) DEF. DISASTER BOX (HARASHIMA & NAOMI YOSHIMURA) © (18:50)
CDK are the Asia Dream Tag Team Champions in Gatoh Move and came out with those titles.
Takanashi got worked over for a while before making a hot tag to Brookes. Brookes and Yoshimura did some good stuff together. This was building up to something nice, but Takanashi got tagged back in. He was the weak link here. Things did pick up when CDK started hitting a bunch of double team moves on Yoshimura. Brookes and Yoshimura had a hot closing stretch with several near falls, but Brookes caught Yoshimura in the grounded Octopus Hold and after some struggling, Yoshimura submitted. Though he did the job, Yoshimura was the standout in this.
Disaster box failed at their V1 defense of their second reign with the titles after vacating them for the Ultimate Tag League, then winning the tournament. After the match Yuji Hino and Yukio Naya came out to challenge the new champs.
Despite some shaky stuff in the midpoint of the match, this got pretty damn good by the end. ***¾
KO-D OPENWEIGHT TITLE
TETSUYA ENDO DEF. KONOSUKE TAKESHITA © (46:30)
The video before the match went over Endo and Takeshita’s long history in DDT together. I can’t help but feel this might be setting up for a farewell to Takeshita who has been rumored to be AEW bound. My hot take is that it’s not a bad thing for that to happen at all. DDT has some great young talent they are developing.
Takeshita, who turns 27 this May, is already a five-time K-OD Openweight Champion and has been in the title scene for six years now. While HARASHIMA has the cumulative record in total reigns and title defenses, Takeshita has the single longest reign at 405 days with the most defenses in a single reign of 11. He and Endo have been rivals/partners for almost a decade at this point. Their careers have been intertwined much like Toshiaki Kawada and Mitsuhara Misawa’s were, or like Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Takeshita has done pretty much everything there is to do in the company and even won the last D-Ou tournament as the champ. He runs the risk of being stale at the top of the company before he’s 30. While I expect him to work big DDT shows if he’s in AEW, that will keep him from seemingly always being at the top of DDT and allow young talent to rise up the ranks. And I think he’ll do very well in AEW given Kenny Omega will be his biggest advocate.
This started with some arm and mat work from both men, with Endo shifting over to go after Takeshita’s neck. Takeshita would follow suit and target Endo’s neck. The work was the level of crispness that you would expect from these two, and it never lost my attention though I think they could have picked up the pace a little sooner into the match, but when they announced 25 minutes had passed, it didn’t feel like it.
Endo hit a swinging DDT to Takeshita on the outside and the match really picked up from there. Endo was in control for a while but missed the Shooting Star Press and Takeshita went on the attack. Endo fought back and hit a Canadian Destroyer on the apron. Endo then hit a Springboard 450 and a sloppy looking Capture Canadian Destroyer for a 2.9. A Shooting Star Press got another 2.9. Endo was shocked and decided to try some submissions but that didn’t work. Takeshita roared back and nearly got the submission with the Plus Ultra. They had a strike battle that caused both men to go down. Endo countered a Lariat with a Pele Kick and hit a Tetsuya in the Sky with Diamonds for another 2.9. They got into a German Suplex exchange where they started dropping each other on their heads. Endo hit two Exploders for a 2.9 and another for yet another 2.9. A Torture Rack Bomb got – you guessed it – 2.9. Endo then hit two Shooting Star Presses for the win.
What a war! I guess you could argue the match went too long and the finishing sequences featured some excessive stuff, but I mostly loved it. It did tell the story of Endo doing everything he could to finally overcome Takeshita. This was the first time that Endo has ever defeated Takeshita in a K-OD Openweight title match, making this a historic moment. Takeshita raised Endo’s arm after the match and Kenta Kobashi presented the title to Endo after the match. It certainly felt like this was a changing of the guard.
Takeshita failed at his V3 defense of his fifth reign, while Endo now begins his third reign with DDT’s top title. ****½
This was like a lot of other big DDT shows. It went over five hours. There was a lot of stuff on the undercard that people will be unenthusiastic about or downright hate. I was a little more forgiving than usual for some of the comedy stuff on the undercard because this is the 25th-anniversary show after all, and you are going to do stuff on a show like that got the company attention in the first place. But the stuff that landed, really landed.
It remains to be seen what will actually happen with Takeshita. But regardless of whatever happens, DDT has a bright future ahead of it with the talent it is cultivating. However, I think they will have to eventually make the choice deciding whether or not they want to keep doing anal explosions or become a more traditional company. That tension seems to be more obvious these days, more so than even a decade ago when Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega were on top. But I think in many ways, CyberAgent’s purchase of NOAH will probably keep DDT very much a comedy promotion on the undercard for the foreseeable future.
What is most impressive about this show is that it marked DDT’s 25th anniversary. This is a company that emerged from Pro Wrestling Crusaders, one of the many companies that were started after the demise of SWS. For a company to be started by some indie wrestlers with no ties to one of the big companies to last this long is unprecedented in puroresu. Even with Big Japan, you had Great Kojika who was part of JWA and later All Japan. DDT has defied the odds, and while it has many dectractors, including among older Japanese wrestling fans, what Sanshiro Takagi has built, and now with the creation of Cyber Fight, deserves a hall of fame spot for him in my opinion.
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