Furious’ DDT Never Mind 2016 Review
DDT Never Mind
December 25 2016
That’s right, Christmas Day. In Japan they have graps on Christmas Day itself. What a wondrous place the Land of the Rising Sun is. Not just any graps either but DDT and the culmination of Shigehiro Irie’s learnings from his tour of the United States earlier this year. Has he learned enough on his excursion to unseat HARASHIMA and become KO-D Openweight Champion?
Danshoku Dino, Jiro Kuroshio & Keisuke Ishii vs. Sanshiro Takagi, Kazuki Hirata & Toru Owashi
It seems Hirata, of the tremendous dancing gimmick, is jealous of Kuroshio (from Wrestle-1) and his recent jacket-wearing popularity. Of course Hirata, because of the dancing, is also popular, but Kuroshio has had far more success. Here Jiro annoys the hell out of Hirata by milking his entrance for all it’s worth and covering almost every inch of Korakuen Hall. Hirata isn’t the only one who’s effected by Jiro and Dino becomes sexually frustrated at being unable to molest his tag team partner. To the point where Ishii has to restrain Dino while Kuroshio is applying holds. Jiro looks pretty confused by the whole thing. There are not that many sex pests in Wrestle-1. DDT do a fine job of making Jiro look like a visiting star, even though he’s dumped in the opener. Hirata makes a point of wanting to pin Jiro, fending off his own teammates. Dino also wants to pin Jiro. Wink. Dino’s infatuation, which includes grabbing Jiro’s crotch and kissing him, should provide ample opportunity for the other team to win but Hirata manages to get himself pinned by Ishii while Jiro is still in a liplock. This was a fun enough opener but it went on for too long for what it was.
Final rating: **1/4
New Wrestling Aidoru (MAO & Shunma Katsumata) vs. Soma Takao & Mizuki Watase vs. Antonio Honda & Guanchulo
It amuses me that someone as hideous as Shunma can get pushed as a pop idol. There’s hope for us all. Maybe it’s his insistence at wearing head to knee pleather gear. Honma finds himself unable to keep up with all the younger, faster wrestlers. He grabs the microphone and starts to verbalise the story of Star Wars while Hiroshi Trans-Am ‘sings’ the Star Wars music at ringside and a few of the lads on the apron play with imaginary lightsabres. Star Wars transcends language. So does deliberately botching a dive, which gets a bigger pop than all the lads doing actual dives. It takes skill to look deliberately bad. Fuck ugly Shunma gets the roll up on Guanchulo for the win.
Final Rating: **
Joey Ryan & Laura James vs. Makoto Oishi & Saki Akai
Although Laura is English I’ve never seen her wrestle and her entire career has taken place in the USA. The reason for DDT booking her is because she’s legitimately shoot ‘with’ Joey Ryan. He even proposed in the ring earlier in the year. Now the couple have set their sights on becoming the leading couple in DDT, which starts badly as leggy Saki takes the piss out of her lack of height. The native duo manage their own hijinks involving a Santa hat, which is sufficient to convince Laura that Makoto is in fact Santa Claus, down from the North Pole to deliver prezzies. Laura’s gimmick is using her rock hard buns to beat up opponents. The staggering, selling Oishi looks to be having entirely too great a day. The visitors have the local crowd in stitches when Laura slides off Joey’s back to headbutt Oishi in the corner, following a liberal application of baby oil. It seems Laura also has a powerful crotch. Not sure if was a natural occurrence and led to their union as a couple of whether it’s a sexually transmitted thing. I probably shouldn’t think about it too much.
Final Rating: **1/2
Yoshihiro Takayama, Kazusada Higuchi & Kouki Iwasaki vs. Akito, Yasu Urano & Tomomitsu Matsunaga
The second team are understandably trepidatious of the lofty Takayama. Tak is a formidable figure to face off against, even if he is deteriorated as a grappler. He’s still got phenomenal presence and enough power in a few half-assed kicks to overcome the likes of Matsunaga. Given the powerhouse figure and increased standing of Higuchi, Akito’s trio only really stand a chance when Iwasaki is in there. They erred on the sides for this one. I would have loved to have watched Higuchi step up to Tak. Especially as the alternative is the smaller lads trying to man up with thigh slapping strikes and generally looking weak by comparison. Poor Higuchi has to look the fool, taking spots off Matsunaga before running through him with a lariat and powerbombing him for the pin.
Final Rating: ***
Mad Paulie vs. Konosuke Takeshita
Takeshita has matured a lot recently and he’s starting to develop his style. He’s definitely sliding towards strongstyle and I’m sure he has a big future. Mad Paulie is a bit of a challenge for him, frankly. The former “Masato Shibata” (which sounds like a made up name from Football Manager when it’s spawning new players) is in his late 30s and has never been an accomplished grappler. On an already crowded DDT roster his role is basically to look tough, with his weird face paint, before losing to people DDT actually want to push. He does have a decent power offence, which allows him to spend the match throwing Takeshita around and treating him like shit. It’s not as offensively dull as I thought that scenario would be. It certainly starts out as a bit of a grind but improves immensely and by the time Takeshita is firing through his comeback, like a less good Kento Miyahara, I’m all in. Takeshita man’s up and hits his dead weight German suplex to win. This shocked me and I’d be into seeing it again. Mad Paulie’s spot may be as gatekeeper to the upper card but he’s going to make a stab of having some good matches too. Fair play.
Final Rating: ***1/2
KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship
Shuten Doji (KUDO, Yukio Sakaguchi & Masahiro Takanashi) (c) vs. DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki, Shuji Ishikawa & Tetsuya Endo)
Every time Shuten Doji have these belts I figure they’re good to keep them forever (this is their fifth reign) as the group are all maverick shooters who kick people’s faces off. But across the ring are DAMNATION, perhaps the biggest success story of 2016 for DDT. Sasaki has come into his own as a main event star and Ishikawa carried the title in a way that suggested he was getting settled in to be DDT’s main guy for years. Meanwhile Endo has figured out how to work heel. The result is six very talented men in the same ring, vying for trios titles. Again the ugly thigh slapping sneaks into view, with Endo at fault, but for every slapped thigh there’s a beautiful display of MMA-style grappling from Sakaguchi. I genuinely love Sakaguchi’s style. I’d like to see him go after Katsuyori Shibata. Hell, New Japan have had working agreements with DDT before. It could happen! Their styles and even move sets are very similar. Shuji has a few ideas about MMA too, including doing a stretch muffler into a spin and then throwing KUDO across the ring. I’m sure that’s a wonderful experience for KUDO and his knee joint. Where Shuten Doji succeed is by being on the same level of understanding and brotherhood. Whereas DAMNATION just do Sasaki’s bidding. You’d can’t replicate that combined desire to succeed by barking orders. Shuji still dominates the match but Shuten Doji work together to stop him. It’s Sasaki who fails, getting rolled up by the crafty Takanashi. Which is ironic as Takanashi is surely the weak link of the Shuten Doji boys. Very good match. Everything Shuji Ishikawa touches in DDT seems to turn to gold.
Final Rating: ****
KO-D Openweight Championship
HARASHIMA (c) vs. Shigehiro Irie
Irie has widened his audience by working over in the United States. His persona of a loveable big lad comes across in everything he does from his in-ring to his interviews to his Twitter account. He’s so wholesome and nice. I genuinely wished him good luck when he went on his excursion and he replied with “thanks, mate!” Here there’s a very strong story. Irie has been here before, unable to dethrone HARASHIMA as DDT’s ace but in the past he was encumbered with personal weakness and a reliance on his friends. Now he’s all alone and he’s better prepared than ever. His in-ring work looks better than ever with the Americans having tightened everything up and taught him to use his size more effectively. He bosses HARASHIMA. He looks like a big fucking star in the process. My personal ambitions for DDT involve Irie winning the title and defending against Higuchi until he’s good enough to win the belt. HARASHIMA is one of my favourite wrestlers in DDT but there’s a feeling he keeps winning the title back because no one else is ready. Well, guess what fuckers? Irie is ready for this spot.
His big spots are looking fantastic. The pounce sends HARA flying across the ring, and almost out of it. The Black Hole Slam looks impactful but not dangerous. Irie is using his size to great effect. It’s never in more evidence than during his insane tope. He obliterates HARASHIMA with it. As the match hits a higher gear and starts to go longer it becomes apparent we’re being treated to something special. While Irie constantly has the advantage he can’t put HARASHIMA away. HARASHIMA has this history of big matches and big wins and it’s second nature for him to escape defeat. Not even the Owen Driver ’97 can put him down. The speed at which Irie barrels into HARASHIMA at key moments in this is amazing. The pounce is great, the tope is better but the lariat, where he goes clean through HARA is just magnificent. If he can keep up that level of intensity he’s going to be a huge star. It’s next level shit. HARASHIMA is his usual calm self. He doesn’t let the level of abuse put him out of the fight. He just waits for his opening, whether it’s through logical mat work or speedy hard hitting strikes. Eventually he manages to clock Irie with back to back Somato’s, both of which look fucking amazing, to retain. Irie is clearly disappointed but he delivered huge in the top spot here.
Final Rating: ****1/4