“Dramatic Dreams and Those Who Have Them” is the perfect introduction to the originality, madness, and goofiness found in the pro wrestling world of DDT. This book gives you a brief history of the promotion through the history of their main titles, offshoot promotions, and their wrestlers. Michelle Caine gives you great insight and history accompanied by Matt Charlton‘s great art.
This book was perfect for me since DDT is a blind spot for me. All I knew about DDT was the following: it being the home for great wrestlers in the main event, the goofiness of the comedy matches, the Pheronomes, the Golden Lovers, and the antics of the Ironman Heavymetalweight defenses. It is also, in my view, one of the few promotions that do actual funny, non-universe breaking comedy in pro wrestling. It’s hard to break a universe that does not have normal rules and norms.
This book is in the vein of Matt Charton’s J-Crowned series: it gives you an introduction, and then goes through the history of the promotion by talking about the championships and the wrestlers that held them. For DDT, we also get the history of all of the sister promotions and offshoots like TJPW, UNION, Ganbare and more. One of the first parts of the books was how DDT started and I was surprised at how much it has created and inspired.
The championships featured in this book are the KO-D Openweight championship and the Extreme championship. We get a brief history of the title, and then it is followed up with a short biography of each of the title holders and their relationship with DDT, which is important. By being laser-focused on their work on DDT, we learn more about the history of the promotion, from a kayfabe and non kayfabe way.
Some of these biographies are funny. When you are dealing with DDT, you will find silliness along the way. From the leadership roles being decided in pro wrestling matches, Poison Sawada many aliases, people drinking things and changing allegiances, anal explosions, constant retirements, Powerpoint presentations, you’ll find all kinds of original stuff. There are also the usual pro wrestling stories and championship reigns, but the most original side will be hard to forget after closing the book.
There is also a section on the Ironman Heavymetalweight championship, a title that is defended anytime, anywhere, by anything or anyone, as long as there is a referee. Caine recounts the most original defenses and the objects that have won the title, like books, ladders, and the championship itself. The belt has been exchanged on dreams, back and forth between wrestlers, playing “rock-paper-scissors”, all kinds of stuff that you can’t help but smile at the inventiveness of the brains behind the company. Even the DDT YouTube subscribers became champions when an iPad fell on one champion. Recently, the NJPW Junior Heavyweight championship became the Ironman Heavymetalweight champion.
This book is perfect to sit down and read quickly. The chapters and biographies are short, which is perfect for those that like to read and sit things down. The art is beautiful, as Charlton’s work always is. I loved the book and gained an even bigger respect for DDT as a promotion.
While the silliness is not my favorite style of pro wrestling, I’m glad that DDT exists in the pro wrestling space since it offers not only this, but good wrestling also. There needs to be a place where people can be inventive and break the boundaries of what pro wrestling can be, and even be a little silly about it. I like that there is a promotion where wrestlers can be totally free to do what they want and develop since it is the ethos of the company. It does not break the rules established by the promotion when they do this since this is part of their ethos: pure originality.
This is a promotion where Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega, and Konosuke Takeshita broke out. Sure, those are great talents by themselves, but their inventiveness here was part of their development.
Add this to the list of books that are great resources in English about Japanese pro wrestling. You’ll learn about DDT, the spirit of the promotion, and the wrestlers, all in a great package with not only great writing, but art also.