DDT Wrestle Peter Pan 2022
AUGUST 20, 2022
Ota City General Gymnasium
Tokyo, Japan

WATCH: Wrestle Universe

OPENING MATCH
Yusuke Okada, Yuya Koroku & Ilusion def. Toi Kojima, Yuki Ishida & Takeshi Masada (9:11)

This was your typical opener with the young boys. The match was solid, and everyone worked hard and hit their spots. I was interested to see how Takeshi Masada performed, given that this was only his second match. Masada didn’t do too much, as Kojima and Ishida carried the bulk of the match, but he didn’t look out of place. There was one spot where Koroku gave Masada a suplex and Masada was supposed to land on his feet and go straight into a go-behind on Koroku; Masada did not land on his feet and had to quickly jump up and recover but they completed the spot otherwise as planned. I thought this showed good composure from Masada, not letting the blown spot get to him and he carried on the rest of the match without a flaw.

Yusuke Okada was the veteran in the match and the intensity picked up with him and Toi Kojima in the ring. I remain bullish that DDT need to stick a belt on Okada and elevate him up the card. Barring the Takanashi match, where he got hurt two minutes in, Okada has delivered in every big spot that he’s been put in.

The finish of this match had Ishida and Koroku in the ring. Ishida hit the Nekodamashi and the Sumo Rush for two near falls, before Koroku zeroed in on Ishida’s arm. First, Koroku had the armbar, then he was maneuvering Ishida’s wrist and fingers before wrenching the arm behind Ishida’s back in the Modified Stranglehold and Ishida submitted. I really like that Koroku works to put submission holds on and constantly adjusts his position. He doesn’t just sit in a hold until someone taps, he really sells the struggle in submission wrestling. Ishida taking the loss here instead of Masada, further shows the confidence that DDT have in Masada. Nothing would be lost here if he was to take the fall in his second match but instead, it was Ishida. Fun stuff. ***

3 WAY 6-MAN TAG MATCH
Yuki ‘SEXY’ Ino, Danshoku ‘DANDY’ Dino & Koju ‘SHINING BALL’ Takeda (w/ Yumehito ‘FANTASTIC’ Imanari) def. Yuji Hino, Yukio Naya & Super Sasadango Machine & Toru Owashi, Kazuki Hirata & Antonio Honda. (12:18)

Before this match, a video package played where Hino and Sasadango seemed dejected that they were facing Pheromones. The video ended with Sasadango looking inquisitively at Hino’s gear. Hirata, Owashi and Honda made their entrances as normal and then Naya, Hino and Sasadango came out and we saw the payoff to the video package. Hino was dressed in Sasadango’s mask and Sasadango came out dressed as Hino, complete with Hino’s tattoos and beard drawn on in marker pen. Everyone in the match acted as if they didn’t realize that it was Hino under Sasadango’s mask and it was a cute little spot.

Unfortunately for Pheromones haters, Pheromones are extremely over, and this is obvious now after a couple of shows with vocal fans. The fans love chanting ‘Sexy’ and waving their pinkies. I wondered where Takeda would fit into the stable in the preview to this show, and he quickly established that he was the buff guy that flexes his muscles. The crowd, again, were very into this.

This was probably the most I’ve been entertained by a Pheromones match. There were all the signature spots; first they did the ‘Sexy Pillar’ on the man wearing the Sasadango mask, revealing that it was Yuji Hino under the mask. They broke Hirata’s glasses between their rear ends and did the Triple Hip. For those that haven’t seen the Triple Hip: three of the Pheromones members mount the top turnbuckle in a corner with their buttocks exposed. Imanari then Irish whips the opponent (in this case Owashi) into their backsides. I promise I’m not making this up.

Hirata, furious that Pheromones had broken his glasses then performed his trademark chop on the ‘holes’ of the Pheromones members stacked on top of each other. Takeda then fell off the turnbuckle, reversed Hirata’s Egoist Driver and gave Hirata a superkick, sending Hirata flying into Dino and Ino, still exposed, on the turnbuckle. This was enough to daze Hirata and allowed Pheromones to smother Hirata with the ‘Sexy Bay Bridge’, leading to a referee stoppage. **1/4

DNA SPECIAL 6-MAN TAG MATCH
Naomi Yoshimura, Keisuke Okuda & Kota Umeda vs. HARASHIMA, Hideki Okatani & Yukio Sakaguchi (12:44)

This was my kind of match. Three young, hungry guys took it to the veterans and Okatani. If you’ll excuse my language, this was a total dick-measuring contest. Guys who did not want to get beaten and took punishment just to dish it out to their opponent. No matter the combination, the animosity between the two teams was too much and they’d be baited into ‘my turn, your turn’ strike exchanges.

In the preview, I stated that Umeda was a ‘what could have been,’ and he showed again that he is a sorely missed commodity. Umeda bullied Okatani in this match, repeatedly kicking Okatani in the chest with the sole of his foot. These kicks were not only to punish Okatani but also to show him disrespect and dismiss the younger wrestler. Okatani finally got some reprieve with a Missile Dropkick and in came Okuda and Sakaguchi.

Okuda vs Sakaguchi must be made into a singles match. In Dragongate, Okuda was criticized post-Ishida feud for only being able to wrestle his own style of match. In DDT, Sakaguchi is happy to oblige. In the pre-match press conference, Sakaguchi had threatened to glass Okuda by smashing a bottle over his head and the two men brought that intensity to the ring. Okuda and Sakaguchi took turns blasting each other with kicks to the chest, talking smack in between, with Okuda calling Sakaguchi an old man and Sakaguchi brushing Okuda off. Eventually, Sakaguchi cleverly baited Okuda into an overhand strike and Sakaguchi caught Okuda, rolling through into a beautiful triangle and kimura.

Buoyed by confidence after pinning former tag partner HARASHIMA and winning the KO-D Tag Team Championships, Yoshimura came into the match and seemed to take Mr. DDT lightly. In a strike battle between the two Yoshimura knocked down HARASHIMA and seemed to be laughing at him, goading HARASHIMA to get up. This cockiness would be detrimental to Yoshimura as he lost his first fall since joining with Higuchi to form Harimao.

On the outside, Sakaguchi nailed Okuda with a PK while taking Okuda out of the match on the apron. After being tormented by Okuda and Umeda all match, Okatani finally got his chance to shine, hitting Umeda with a beautiful double underhook suplex, which left HARASHIMA and Yoshimura alone in the ring. HARSHIMA hit the Buzzsaw Kick, but Yoshimura survived and got the Judo Throw off for a close near fall. HARASHIMA escaped and sent Yoshimura into the middle turnbuckle in the corner with a Hurricanrana, then hit a vicious Somatou to the back of Yoshimura’s head followed by a standard Somatou to win the match for his match. HARASHIMA got his win back here to build to the Tag Title match between Harimao and HARSHIMA and Owashi. The match will take place in Nagoya in September, and I see Harimao retaining, but this pinfall showed that Harimao aren’t unbeatable. ***3/4

SHINICHIRO KAWAMATSU DEBUT MATCH – TOKYO METROPOLITAN ASSEMBLY MEMBER VS BUNKYO WARD ASSEMBLY MEMBER
Osamu Nishimura, Makoto Oishi & Akito def. Shinichiro Kawamatsu, Sanshiro Takagi & Soma Takao (14:47)

DDT is my favorite promotion currently, so my tolerance for shenanigans and comedy shtick is high, but it’s time for me to be a curmudgeon. I thought this was a dud. I questioned why this match was happening on the biggest show of the year and then Kawamatsu wrestled in a suit and then he threw some of the worst strikes I’ve seen in a wrestling ring. Strikes so awful, that I thought that it was embarrassing that the wrestlers had to sell for him.

I gradually became more annoyed the longer the match went on and this match would not end. This was fifteen painful minutes and was such a waste of the talented wrestlers in this match. For balance, others I have spoken to seemed to think Kawamatsu was fine, and he did get a reaction when he hit a body slam but that’s just not enough for me. One body slam does not outweigh the rest of the match. Nishimura won by submitting Kawamatsu with a Figure Four leglock and after the match, Kawamatsu announced that he wants to have more matches in DDT. This greatly angered me; few things would make me happier than never seeing this man in the ring again. DUD

After this match, a video package played announcing the debut of Cara Noir in DDT. I must admit, I am totally ignorant to BritWres, so this will be my first time seeing Noir. I know his gimmick is a little out there, so I look forward to seeing how he fits in on the roster.

SPECIAL MIXED TAG MATCH
Jun Akiyama & Saki Akai def. Chris Brookes & ASUKA (15:21)

On first watch, I wasn’t especially into this match but I’m certain that was a hangover from the previous match, as I enjoyed this match considerably more upon re-watch. This was Akiyama’s first-ever intergender match. In the pre-show press conference, Akiyama had stated that no matter the gender of his opponent, he would wrestle hard, the only way he knew how. In the match, though, this was clearly not the case.

In the opening exchanges, Akiyama looked very unsure about wrestling ASUKA. ASUKA would attempt to take down Akiyama and would attempt to a lock up with Akiyama, but he would swat ASUKA away dismissively. Akiyama teased brawling with ASUKA on the floor, but Brookes came in for the save.

The rest of the match told the story of Brookes not taking Saki Akai seriously. Brookes and ASUKA would have the better of Akai and would double-team Akai in the corner with boots while the referee was trying to restrain Akiyama. Although, Akai was weaker in the strike exchange with Brookes, she found success with kicks and used the opening to hit a Headscissors into an armdrag, which enabled her to tag Akiyama back into the match. Akiyama used the sliding knee on Brookes and turned the Praying Mantis Bomb into a backdrop, but Brookes countered and crushed Akiyama with a Senton. ASUKA tagged in and was finally able to take Akiyama off his feet with a Missile Dropkick before Akiyama ravaged ASUKA with a short lariat.

The match really picked up here, with ASUKA hitting a running Shooting Star Press on Akai for a two count. ASUKA and Akai exchanged slaps and boots and Akiyama came in and gave ASUKA the Running Knee. This allowed Akai to recover. Akai and Akiyama hit a double knee on ASUKA, but Brookes came in for the save. Akai went for a triangle, but ASUKA showed tremendous strength to powerbomb Akai from off the mat. ASUKA then hit a nasty Michinoku Driver before going for a Moonsault, but she was caught by Akai with a triangle again, forcing ASUKA to submit. Unfortunately, the finish was executed sloppily, but the preceding sequence was excellent. In the post-match, ASUKA, once again showed defiance toward Akiyama by slapping him, but Akai and ASUKA finally shook hands, seemingly putting their rivalry to an end. ***1/2

DDT EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH – HARDCORE MATCH
Joey Janela © def. Shunma Katsumata (18:56)

I will preface this by saying that I don’t think Joey Janela is very good. I don’t think Janela is lazy, I do think he tries his best, but he’s not athletically gifted so I think his matches have a ceiling. If you’re a Janela fan, you may enjoy this match more than me. I thought his match with Akito was a slower version of the IPPON match and I thought the same here. If you’ve seen a hardcore match with Katsumata, you can picture this match. Now imagine the match at half the speed. I will admit, though that Joey did take some big bumps and some nice spots made this match worth your time. I did enjoy Janela stealing the Dramatic Dream Mobile and crashing into fans in the front row. Katsumata also took a nasty bump on the ring apron after Janela dropped him on his head. Janela would use this time to set up two tables on the outside and placed a barbed wire board on top. Katsumata would go for a topé, missing Janela and sending himself through the barbed wire board. I thought this was a poorly executed spot as there was no point where Katsumata even looked close to taking out Janela with the dive. Janela had gone to the floor and then Katsumata started his run up and ended up soaring a good couple of feet above where Janela was.

Katsumata then dove off the balcony onto Janela, putting him through a table; There was an audible pop for Katsumata pouring thumbtacks into his Lego and taking Janela’s shoes off. Janela then went for a stomp off a ladder but missed and the camera caught a shot of Janela’s feet punctured with the thumbtacks. Handcuffs were involved and Janela hit two low blows before putting Katsumata through a barbed wire table with a Death Valley Driver off a ladder. ***1/4

DDT UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Yuki Ueno def. Masahiro Takanashi © (14:26)

The Universal Championship was unveiled in December 2019, with a touring champion’s intention of the belt being defended worldwide. Chris Brookes defeated Konosuke Takeshita in the inaugural title match in February 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic scuppered plans. Fast forward to 2022 and current champion Masahiro Takanashi has taken the belt with him to Thailand. Yuki Ueno challenged Takanashi to a match and expressed his desire to defend the belt in Thailand and overseas.

Takanashi’s matches can often get bogged down by comedy heel antics and cheating but I thought he wrestled this match well. His performance was much more akin to a crafty technical wrestler, using his knowledge to put Ueno in submissions and flash pins. Takanashi used referee Kiso to hit a Taka Tonic on Ueno, but that was the closest to Takanashi shenanigans we got in this match. This match was worked at a frantic pace with lots of counters and Ueno was a step quicker than Takanashi for most the match, showing his superiority. Takanashi went for the Taka Tonic multiple times in the match, showing a sense of urgency and selling that Ueno was a major threat to Takanashi. Takanashi knew he had to put Ueno away quickly with his big move, but he couldn’t.

In the finishing stretch, Takanashi tried the Taka Tonic for seemingly the tenth time in the match, and Ueno sat down on it for a near fall. This forced Takanashi to resort to flash pins, all of which Ueno countered. Takanashi escaped from the WR, before Ueno hit a nasty dropkick to the head and Ueno attempted the WR once again. This time, Ueno was successful and got the three count.

Ueno is a fantastic wrestler, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won the KO-D Openweight title within the next two years. He’s a brilliant seller, who takes big bumps, and is very dynamic; his offense has a snap and he’s got a great look – everything you want in your top guy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the passing of the torch moment between himself and Takeshita soon. After the match, GM Imabayashi came to the ring and announced that Ueno would defend his title against Cara Noir. ***3/4

LiLiCo and GM Imabayashi announced that there will be a show on December 29th 2022, at Tokyo Dome City Hall, where if you attend and don’t enjoy the show then you can get a refund. I’m sure this system could be open to abuse, but I think DDT just want to have a packed show and will be happy to have fans in the building at this point. LiLiCo said that as she was the ambassador to the show, she wanted to ensure that everyone had fun, so she would take part in an anal explosion at the show. Imabayashi insisted that LiLiCo did not have to do this as she’s a woman, but she seemed like she wanted to.

DDT 25th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL 6-MAN TAG MATCH
Konosuke Takeshita, MAO & Yasu Urano def. Dick Togo, Daisuke Sasaki & KANON (w/ MJ PAUL) (20:41)

This match opened with MAO and Dick Togo and immediately, I knew that this match was going to be great. Togo really tried hard in this match; he looked much better than in any of his matches in his current NJPW run. I could have watched Togo and MAO chain wrestle for the entire match. It was that good. Sasaki and Takeshita came in and immediately showed their great chemistry, with a smooth sequence before Togo and KANON attacked Takeshita from behind.

Seeing Urano again is nice, he’s older and is notably a step slower than the other wrestlers but he did his job as the face in peril well. KANON came in and worked over Urano and was very assured. KANON threw multiple knees to the mid-section as well as a punch to the gut. KANON is suited to be being a heel much more than a face, he’s got a great smug face and has much more charisma.

It goes without saying that Takeshita looked like a mega star. In one sequence that lasted 20 seconds, Takeshita demolished all members of DAMNATION T.A. First Takeshita hit his beautiful flying lariat in the ring to Sasaki; Togo jumped on the apron, so Takeshita knocked him down with a big boot and a wiped Togo out with a plancha. Now outside of the ring, Takeshita levelled MJ Paul, Minoru Fujita, and KANON with huge forearms. KANON, now prone on the floor took a double foot stomp before Takeshita returned to the ring and gave Sasaki a Blue Thunder Bomb. This sequence was reminiscent of the famous Cesaro sequence a couple of years ago, where he destroyed everyone on the outside of the ring and was met with an eruption of noise. Here, this sequence was met with applause and a couple of Takeshita calls. Unfortunately, although cheering was allowed, this crowd was not wild. It appears crowds will take a while to make real noise again in Japan.

In another great spot, Takeshita powered Sasaki up and Wheelbarrow German suplexed him, but Sasaki popped up and took Takeshita down with La Mistica and locked in the Crossface. Togo then locked the Crossface in on Urano, while KANON had MAO in a Cobra Twist. The heels with a rare triple submission spot. Togo and Sasaki hit dual Pedigrees and went for Diving Elbows which missed. We got the inevitable MJ Paul interference spot, when he dragged referee Matsui outside the ring, but Takeshita thwarted him with a suplex. Togo attempted to hit Takeshita with a chair, but Takeshita blocked. Sasaki was successful, however, and cracked Takeshita across the back. This brought in KANON who hit a brutal looking Volleyball Spike. KANON usually hits his opponent in the pec, but here he paintbrushed Takeshita across the face. Takeshita quickly recovered and hit the running knee for the three count.

After the match, Takeshita announced that he was back and that he wanted to be the best wrestler in the world and that he’d do it while being a member of DDT. This was a fantastic match and I’d urge fans who watched Takeshita for the first time in AEW to check this match out. ****1/4

KO-D OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Kazusada Higuchi © def. Tetsuya Endo (25:24)

The main event. The man who never lost the title versus the man who never pinned the champion. Two extremely different wrestlers who offer different qualities to DDT as champion. The acrobatic Endo has sought mentorship from Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama in the past two years. The improvements to his game, finally earning him a victory against his rival Konosuke Takeshita for the KO-D Openweight title. The no-nonsense, powerhouse Higuchi is an imposing presence, who always seemed poised to breakout and now was his time. From my standpoint, there was no wrong way for the company to go with this main event. Either man winning was a success, with lots of interesting matches and stories to be told down the line.

Higuchi gained control early, using his power to dominate Endo on the mat. Endo signaled for the Endo Special early in the match, after sending Higuchi outside the ring; Higuchi moved away and caught Endo’s boot, dropping Endo face first on the ring apron and in one motion sent Endo sprawling to the floor with a nasty flying big boot. I replayed this spot so many times, even though Endo hit a mat instead of exposed concrete outside of the ring, the sound of Endo’s body hitting the floor was a sickening splat.

Higuchi then started brutalizing Endo with chops in every corner of the ring. It was at this point, where you could see Endo was a man still burdened with the events of CyberFight Festival. It may have been smarter to stay down and try and recuperate, but Endo would not. Sanshiro Takagi said that Endo would have to live with the humiliation and the consequences of that knockout for the rest of his life. Higuchi was blistering Endo’s chest with chops, but Endo was provoking him. Endo was asking for more. Endo was trying to prove himself again. He had to let everyone know that he could withstand any pain and regain the title.

This pain seemed to ignite Endo however, as for the first time in the match he looked like he could win. Higuchi was perched on the top turnbuckle and Endo sent him tumbling to the outside with a dropkick. Now he had a chance. He hit a beautiful Endo Special on Higuchi, then a Flying Forearm and a Tornado DDT, but it wasn’t enough to keep the big man down and just as quickly, Endo’s hopes seemed to disappear again.

Endo looked for another huge move from the top rope, but he got caught and Higuchi gave Endo a huge Brain Claw Slam from the top rope onto the ring apron, to a massive wave of gasps from the crowd. Endo tried to fight back but Higuchi was unrelenting with his chops. Endo would chop Higuchi back, but Higuchi’s chops made a different sound. Higuchi was on that level above. Endo was willed on by the crowd though and instead of trading with Higuchi, realized that he must do what he does best. Superkick, handspring kick, a huge powerbomb and a Saito suplex. A dazed Higuchi then tried to suplex the challenger twice and both times Endo landed on his feet. It seemed Endo was finally in the ascendency.

Tetsuya In The Sky followed by an Exploder suplex and the Torture Rack Bomb only earned a two count. The champion’s resiliency could not be called into question. The only thing left was the Burning Star Press. Higuchi unmoving on the canvas, Endo scaled to the top and successfully landed the move. “1! 2! …” Before Matsui could count three, like a hand rising from the grave, Higuchi kicked out by smothering Endo with the Brain Claw. Endo’s greatest nightmares were coming true. Endo writhed in agony helplessly and Endo fell victim to the Brain Claw Slam. Not enough for Higuchi, he starched Endo with a Nakajima-esque slap, but Endo refused to leave his feet.

A huge sumo tackle swept Endo’s legs out from under him, and Matsui started the ten count as Endo was contorted on the canvas. Calmly, Higuchi stopped the referees count and screamed at Endo, “Get up, come on, make it to your feet.” Endo stood up, only to take more punishment. Three huge lariats put Endo down and he kicked out, but Endo knew he was done. It was a kick out of defiance, a statement that he wasn’t weak. He might lose this match but was strong enough to carry the company again. Endo screamed at Higuchi, daring him to finish him off. Machine-like, merciless, Higuchi obliged. Another huge sumo rush and Brain Claw Slam. 3. This is a must-watch, I urge everyone to track this down. This has a real possibility to make it onto my year-end MOTY list. Endo and Kobashi sharing a moment after the match was real heart-wrenching stuff too. ****1/2

After the match, GM Imabayashi asked Higuchi if he had any challengers in mind for his next defense. Without a moment of hesitation, Higuchi answered, “Konosuke Takeshita.” This is a huge match, and I can’t believe that it’s happening so early into Higuchi’s reign. The match is taking place on September 25th in Korakuen Hall and I’m a little surprised that the match is happening in Korakuen rather than a big building. This feels like one of the hottest matches possible, but I trust in the company’s direction.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I ended up watching the show twice, once for enjoyment in Japanese commentary and the second time to make notes with English commentary. There must be a change in the English commentary, it is not good. As DDT is quite comedy and promo-based, CyberFight seem to have gone with fluent Japanese speakers who can translate the promos. The problem being that they don’t know anything about wrestling. Your biggest show of the year is NOT the time for one of your commentators to admit that they’ve never even watched the product before. Bring back Haku-san!

I thought the show from an in-ring perspective was a great success, barring the politician match. The Extreme Title match was a little lethargic but had enough to make it entertaining. All the other matches, I thoroughly enjoyed. The main event and semi-main delivered and are must-see matches in my opinion. After a difficult couple of months in the middle of the year, the company feels hot again and I’m happy to be along for the ride with DDT. It’s always great to see a company push hot young stars. If you don’t like the comedy aspect of DDT, then the top-of-the-card stuff always delivers in a traditional pro-wrestling sense and is worth checking out. I want more people to give DDT a chance and watch this promotion I love.

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