Category Archives: DDT

(04/29) Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs. Dream Team Futures (Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie)

Korauken Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship 

In a quick turnaround for Jun Akiyama, just two days after falling to Takao Omori in the Champion Carnival finals he and tag team partner Yoshinobu Kanemaru put their All Asia Tag Team titles on the line at a DDT Korakuen card.

As a duo, Ishii and Irie have appeared on some recent All Japan cards.  Even so, this match on paper had all of the markings of a lower-profile promotion attempting to use an outside title defense to beef up their major card.  Those matches usually follow a pattern.  The local challengers get a bunch of close near falls and are made to look good, but ultimately fall short.  The fact that the script was flipped – with Ishii and Irie actually capturing the All Asia belts – was the most noteworthy development in this match.

Ishii and Irie are still a bit green, but worked hard.  Between this match and the final day of the Carnival there has been a lot of Akiyama to watch recently.  He continued his solid but ultimately unmemorable string of performances here.  Kanemaru ran all around the ring here getting in his offense and bumping late for the DDT pair.

The match picked up a bit in the last minute or saw as the Dream Team Futures started to roll out some near falls that were accentuated by late kick outs from the champs.  It appeared that the crowd did not totally buy a title change but at the same time the near fall reactions got progressively better so they certainly succeeded to that end.  When Kanemaru is rolled up and counted down for three, there is a nice loud and genuinely stunned reaction from the DDT fans.  Nothing truly out of the ordinary but a good, excited reception for the surprise title win nonetheless.

This was a solidly executed underdog title win but one without any real future ramifications in all likelihood.  It is sort of shocking that the All Japan would even keep a secondary set of tag titles around given their current state.  Being the All Asia tag title holders does not mean much anymore, but maybe it will give Ishii and Irie a little rub and slightly higher profile.

Japan Tag | Common | Tag Title Switch

(02/23) HARASHIMA (c) vs. Masa Takanashi

Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
KO-D Openweight Championship

For our still ongoing re-watch of 2000’s US Indies, we watched quite a few matches involving wrestlers that were not necessarily the big stars of that genre and era. These matches were hyped or recommended at the time they occurred by somebody (usually Phil Schneider, currently of Segunda Caida/DVDVR fame) but you always go in wondering if the match is going to be genuinely good or simply “better than expected” good. There was probably a mixed bag of results between those two options (and maybe a couple of matches that just weren’t very good at all) during that project. I think its natural to go into some matches with that sort of skepticism. I won’t be blamed for questioning the true quality of 2000/2001-era Elax versus Dixie matches (for the record, they were by-and-large pretty good).

That’s my long-winded way of pointing out that sometimes matches seem good because they are unexpected and it takes time to sort out which ones fall in that group and which ones are just good on their own merit. I am not sure yet which group HARASHIMA vs. Takanashi falls into after a first watch, but I liked it a whole lot. So much so that I am going to squeeze it into the January/February re-watch group and give it another look.

The opening minutes are your basic, but very well executed, feeling out and opening mat work minutes. It has hopefully become evident by now in my writing that I value good opening foundation work like this, which is why I mention it so often. I am a bit of a DDT novice (what I have watched 2014 wise hasn’t done much for me) so admittedly I probably dug this part a bit more because it was unexpected, but to keep with the theme of the opening paragraphs, I am not so sure it wasn’t also strong work on its own merits. Both guys fight over leg and arm holds while continually jockeying for position. It is just the kind of foundation setting hold exchanges that is right up my alley.

They transition out of that opening period about 5 or 6 minutes in. HARASHIMA works a headlock for a little while which Takanashi eventually escapes out of kicking off a quick sequence that appears to be heading towards a standoff. Instead, Takanashi does forward rolls all around the mat before settling in the center and turning himself into a ball Johnny Saint-style. The ball has its usual desired effect on both HARASHIMA and the crowd – the guy in the front row rocking a plaid blazer, white t-shirt, and gold chain combo goes into hysterics over it – with Tananashi transitioning into some arm work (he began working the arm in the opening period). I loved all of this.

HARASHIMA takes over shortly after and just brutalizes his opponent for several minutes with stomps, kicks, and all sorts of brutal offense that looks like it kills the slender Takanashi. For those that look for these sorts of things, HARASHIMA is awesome here favoring his arm for a little while even while on offense until slowly shaking it off. Takanashi makes a short-lived comeback once again targeting the arm, mixing in some painful-looking arm bars with more traditional ways of working that particular limb. He also keeps going to the roll ups to good-effect. The pacing is very good in that Takanashi’s offense is all arm-focused or pinning combos so this match never gets all that close to “too much” territory.

HARASHIMA takes over again with a dropkick that Takanashi takes a BIG neck bump on which rivals the one Ibushi took off of an Okada drop kick in their March 6th match.

The near fall section of the match is good for much of the same reasons mentioned above about the pacing. They don’t do anything all that big and the innovative moves they pull out work well and don’t seem out of place. They get a few strong near falls along the way, with the match wrapping up about when it should have (it is about 19 minutes long overall). HARASHIMA kills Takanashi dead with a pile driver delivered from the side that spikes Takanashi right on the head; just brutal looking.

Takanashi looks like an emaciated homeless man. HARASHIMA – despite being almost 40 – is a nondescript babyfaced Japanese wrestler in appearance. The match takes place in a promotion known for bizarre gimmicks, even stranger angles, and a whole lot of comedy. So maybe all of that worked to make this an unexpectedly good match that isn’t actually as good it seemed on first watch. I am not so sure that’s the case . . .

Japan Singles | Watch It | Quality