Originally published at DDT PETER PAN REPORT: Jun Akiyama vs. Konosuke Takeshita
By: Mark Buckeldee
Welcome to this POST Wrestling report for DDT’s Wrestle Peter Pan 2021. Wrestle Peter Pan is an annual tradition going back to DDT’s first show in Sumo Hall back in 2009. It is usually the biggest event in DDT’s calendar. This year’s event is the first outdoor Wrestle Peter Pan, taking place in the Fujitsu Stadium in Kawasaki. The venue has some wrestling pedigree as the previous stadium on this site hosted many of FMW’s biggest events back in the 1990s.
There was a decent crowd for a COVID-era Japanese wrestling show, but the venue meant that it was spread out and this was still an open-air event with a clapping crowd, so the atmosphere was often lacking compared to recent events held in the USA. The choice to have the hard cam facing away from the main stand, while understandable, made the crowd look very small. It would be remiss of me to say that the show did not have English commentary. If you are interested then the following link is useful, as it is an English translation/explanation thread for the show. It’s usually best to read it after a promo or someone has talked, to avoid spoiling something: https://twitter.com/ddtpro_eng/status/1428978631435452423?s=20
- Preshow: Yukio Naya & Keigo Nakamura vs. Hideki Okatani & Yuya Koroku – A decent but basic tag match showing of DDT’s younger wrestlers.
- Preshow, Electric Current Explosion 8-Man Tag Death Match: Atsushi Onita, Sanshiro Takagi, Akito & Maki Itoh vs. Kuro-chan, Super Sasadango Machine, Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hikari Noa – A goofy, flabby walk and brawl. But with exploding barbed wire baseball bats.
- El Unicorn & Ilusion Debut Match: HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura, Yusuke Okada, Raimu Imai & El Unicorn vs. Yuji Okabayashi, TAMURA, Mizuki Watase, Yuki Iino & Ilusion – A good 10-man tag built around El Unicorn & Ilusion, who are in their teens. They tried to make the most of it.
- Double Ring Double Singles Match: Toru Owashi vs. Antonio Honda and Danshoku Dieno vs. Kazuki Hirata – Pure comedy with some fun ideas. Lots of people will hate this.
- Special Hardcore Tag Match: Shunma Katsumata & MAO vs. Chris Brookes & Jun Kasai – A crazy, action-packed plunder match crammed full of action, unwise choices, and Lego. – RECOMMENDED (If you like plunder matches)
- KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Titles: Tetsuya Endo, Soma Takao & Yuji Hino (c) vs. Kazusada Higuchi, Yukio Sakaguchi & Saki Akai – A good match built around Saki Akai trying to earn Yuji Hino’s respect. Not for people who dislike intergender matches.
- DDT Universal Title: Yuki Ueno (c) vs. Daisuke Sasaki – An interference heavy start elevated by some crazy high spots and a good second half
- KO-D Openweight Title –Jun Akiyama (c) vs. Konosuke Takeshita – A very good battle of attrition style match with Takeshita fighting from underneath – RECOMMENDED
Preshow: Yukio Naya & Keigo Nakamura vs. Hideki Okatani & Yuya Koroku
This pre-show match featured 4 of DDT’s younger, less experienced wrestlers
This was a basic tag match, with Yukio Naya and Keigo Nakamura isolating Yuya Koroku. The hot tag to Hideki Okatani was fun and Nakamura’s comeback showed off his athleticism. The finish came when a fired-up Koroku kept fighting against the much bigger Naya before he was pinned after a Chokeslam
Yukio Naya pinned Yuya Koroku via Chokeslam (10:38)
This wasn’t anything worth going out of the way to watch, but it was a fun display of the strengths and skills of DDT’s younger wrestlers. Understandably they all need time to grow but it was a fun, if very basic, match.
Preshow, Electric Current Explosion 8-Man Tag Death Match: Atsushi Onita, Sanshiro Takagi, Akito & Maki Itoh vs. Kuro-chan, Super Sasadango Machine, Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hikari Noa
It was fitting that a big show in this venue would involve explosions. FMW founder, former politician (no, I’m not joking), and leather jacket enthusiast Atsushi Onita has worked with DDT multiple times in the past. This random-sounding intergender tag team match pitted Onita’s team against one headed by Kuro-Chan, a comedian with a tendency to lick people’s knees.
Fair play to Akito, who decided to wrestle this match in a suit and tie. After some random brawling and a lot of talking, Kuro-Chan hit Onita with an exploding barbed wire baseball bat, but DDT President Sanshiro Takagi broke up the pin. TJPW’s Hikari Noa then attacked Takagi and then hit him with the exploding barbed wire bat. Onita hit Tetsuhiro Kuroda with a piledriver onto a table. Maki Itoh and Noa faced off with exploding barbed wire bats, with the best visual in the match being the explosion as their bats collided. The finish came when Onita hit Kuro-Chan with the Exploding barbed wire bat.
Atsushi Onita pinned Kuro-Chan via Exploding Barbed Wire Bat (9:35)
This was goofy, a bit too long, and it didn’t protect the explosions with some of the pacing. So, it was very similar to most Onita matches from the last couple of years. That said, it had fun moments and explosions so some people might like it.
After the match, Kenta Kobashi was brought out to start the show as he is the guest commentator for the main event. It was a nice moment, but I bet that he would have liked to have been able to walk around the entrance ramp and avoid the steps.
HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura, Yusuke Okada, Raimu Imai & El Unicorn vs. Yuji Okabayashi, TAMURA, Mizuki Watase, Yuki Iino & Ilusion
Ilusion and El Unicorn are newcomers to DDT, two teenagers trained by the company as part of a new project. I would imagine that DDT might be hoping to recreate what they had with Konosuke Takeshita, who debuted for DDT aged 17. Aside from Ilusion & El Unicorn (who may or may not be absent DDT child wrestler Yuni), a lot of the talent in this match were in their 20’s. It was anchored by the veterans: DDT ace HARASHIMA and Big Japan’s Yuji Okabayashi.
The youngsters Ilusion & El Unicorn started things off, with Unicorn showing off his athleticism.
This had lots of fun interactions between the various pairings. Okabayashi & HARASHIMA traded big strikes before a ridiculous multi-man Suplex spot where Ilusion suplexed El Unicorn on the backs of the other wrestlers as they went for an 8-man Suplex. Ilusion nearly pinned El Unicorn with two double underhook face busters, but the other wrestlers made the save. Multiple dives followed, including a springboard Moonsault to the outside by El Unicorn. He followed that with a slightly clunky-looking Dragon Rana on Ilusion, where it looked like Ilusion may have landed on his head. The pinfall was a little off and El Unicorn won by standing on Ilusion’s shoulders (think Matt Sydal on Cesaro) to hit a Meteora.
El Unicorn pinned Ilusion via elevated Meteora (11:43)
Despite the talent involved in this match, it was all about Ilusion & El Unicorn. They had good-looking gear and the match was designed to let them show off. Ilusion looked good and very solid, aside from some issues before the finish. El Unicorn showed off incredible athleticism and balance with his highspots, especially going for a Dragonrana. Understandably there was some spottiness, and you could see holes, but these are young, inexperienced wrestlers given a big stage to show what they can do, and they made a good impression. I look forward to seeing how they grow.
Double Ring Double Singles Match: Toru Owashi vs. Antonio Honda and Danshoku Dino vs. Kazuki Hirata
With limited time on the card due to COVID restrictions, it was decided to have 2 singles matches at the same time, taking advantage of having the space to do a 2-ring setup. These 4 are a big part of the more comedic part of the DDT roster. The ring announcements and even the entrances were all done at the same time, in a lovely touch. Sandstorm & Tokyo Go playing on top of each other needs to be a real song.
Both matches ended almost immediately with stereo roll-ups in both matches that saw Toru Owashi and Danshoku Dino both win. DDT General Manager Hisaya Imabayashi threw a hissy fit and ordered a restart, with both matches taking place in the same ring. The referees started arguing with each other about whose match was more important, with the match being ruled as a no-contest due to the referees going at each other. Imabayashi ordered the match restarted as a 6-man tag, with the referees involved and Imabayashi as the referee.
No contest due to fighting referees
Double Ring Double Singles Match: Danshoku Dino, Kazuki Hirata & Yukinori Matsui vs Antonio Honda, Toru Owashi & Daisuke Kiso
Yes, this was getting very out of hand. Both referees got involved in a lot of the action, and I loved how referee Yukinori Matsui sold the damage of wrestling. Matsui worked heel and was arguably the highlight of the match. The finish came when referee Daisuke Kiso pinned Matsui with a small package that countered a stalling Brainbuster.
Daisuke Kiso pinned Yukinori Matsui via small package (2:53)
This was a flowing series of silly comedy. It built naturally and had some charm. The angle with the referees was unexpected but probably the highlight of the match. Dieno’s gay panic comedy was kept to a minimum. It peaked with the 6-man tag, with both referees doing a great job. The finish was brilliant and well-executed. I appreciate that a lot of people don’t like comedy wrestling, but I liked this a lot, with how it was structured all around the General Manager having a breakdown as things kept going wrong.
Special Hardcore Tag Match: Shunma Katsumata & MAO vs. Chris Brookes & Jun Kasai
Shunma Katsumata & MAO are part of the DDT stable The 37 Kamiina (The Sauna Kamiina), 4 guys in their 20’s who love hanging out in the sauna. If you think that team sounds weird, wait until you hear about DDT teams of yore like the Shit Heart Foundation, the Italian Four Horsemen or the tag team that was 2 people both pretending to be CM Punk. Anyways, Katsumata & MAO love wrestling with Lego. Their opponent, Japanese Death Match veteran Jun Kasai, hates wrestling with Lego. I don’t know what Chris Brookes’ stance on Lego is.
Katsumata entered the ring with a Lego encrusted baseball bat. Brookes had a sickle, as you do. MAO & Brookes did an opening exchange that was made more impressive because MAO was holding a plastic crate during the whole thing. Katsumata and MOA both got scoop slammed onto small Lego houses. Kasai hit a top rope splash through a table onto both of his opponents. Katsumata fought back using the Lego baseball bat and MAO hit a split-legged Moonsault while holding a plastic crate. He then did a springboard dive to the outside while wielding another crate. It should be noted that these crates explode in an incredibly satisfying fashion.
The ring was absolutely covered in Lego before the barefooted Katsumata went for a top rope Moonsault. He landed on his feet ON LEGO and immediately regretted it. He regretted more things later when Brookes hit him with a 110th Street Slam onto a ladder. All four wrestlers ended up with bamboo skewers in their heads. Brookes managed to dodge two Cannonball 450 splash attempts and Kasai hits Pearl Harbour splash for a near fall. Brookes took out Katsumata by slamming him off the apron onto chairs. Mao got superplexed off a ladder onto chairs and Lego before Kasai & Brookes won the match with stereo double underhook piledrivers.
Chris Brookes pinned Shunma Katsumata via Praying Mantis Bomb (14:03)
This was a ridiculously busy plunder match. Most plunder matches feel plodding or take time to set things up. This one was just go, go, go. On one hand, you could say that this lessened the spots as there was less time to sell the damage, and I get that. Despite that, this was a feast for the eyes. There were the established hardcore elements (chairs, tables), the DDT specific touches (those exploding plastic crates) and the relatability of people wrestling on a ridiculous amount of Lego. If you don’t enjoy plunder matches then this won’t change your mind, but it’s worth a look if this is your kind of thing.
KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Titles: Tetsuya Endo, Soma Takao & Yuji Hino (c) vs. Kazusada Higuchi, Yukio Sakaguchi & Saki Akai
The Champions are all part of DAMNATION, DDT’s main heel stable. Tetsuya Endo is a very athletically gifted former KO-D Openweight Champion. Soma Takao is the definition of a 6/10 wrestler and Yuji Hino is a big, big lad. The challengers, collectively known as Eruption, consist of ex-sumo Kazusada Higuchi, tattooed ex-shoot fighter Yukio Sakaguchi (the son of former New Japan president Seiji Sakaguchi), and Saki Akai, the only regularly used woman on the DDT roster.
The story of the match was that Akai kept bringing it to Hino, but he refused to use his signature chops on her. His teammates didn’t, as they isolated her in their corner. Akai tagged in Sakaguchi, who got involved in a heated forearm exchange with Takao. This then led to Hino vs Higuchi having a big guy fight with some big chops.
Most of the match was between Hino & Akai, with Hino continuing to bully Akai by refusing to fight back so she rocked him with a series of slaps and kicks to the head. Eventually, Hino hit a huge chop that floored Akai. Endo cleared the ring and hit a springboard Shooting Star Press to the outside before the finishing stretch. Akai kept fighting Hino with everything she had, but the big man’s chops were devastating. She kept going, kicking out of chops and a stiff Lariat, and forcing Hino to use the Fucking Bomb to pin Akai. After the match, Hino said that Akai had earned his respect.
Yuji Hino pinned Saki Akai via Fucking Bomb (11:34)
This match was all about Saki Akai fighting against the odds to get Yuji Hino to recognize her as a challenge. In my opinion, this was a good match that achieved the goal and told the story that they wanted. I would have preferred more from Akai’s teammates, but I appreciate what they went for. I appreciate that many people will struggle to enjoy a match where the core is a large man constantly fighting a woman. If intergender wrestling is not an issue for you then this was a good match. Akai did a great job and Hino was very good in his role as the big man forced to respect his opponent. The others didn’t get a lot of focus here, but it was another good match on what had been a good and varied card.
DDT Universal Title: Yuki Ueno (c) vs. Daisuke Sasaki
Yuki Ueno, who is only 25 years old, has had a very successful last 2 years. In 2020 he held the KO-D Tag Team titles (alongside Naomi Yoshimura) for almost 300 days. Less than 2 weeks after losing that title, he won the DDT Universal Title and became the longest-reigning Champion in that belts’ (admittedly very short) lifetime. The last 2 months have been less successful, as Daisuke Sasaki stole the title belt. Sasaki is DDT’s resident cheater in chief, unafraid of using a kick in the unmentionables or other nefarious tactics.
Things got going when Sasaki distracted the referee and his second Mad Paulie attacked Ueno on the outside. Sasaki initially focused on the neck while Ueno looked for any opening to get back into the match. This was disrupted by dirty tactics from both Sasaki & Paulie. Ueno overcame things by clotheslining Sasaki out of the ring and hitting a corkscrew Pescado. After more interference, Ueno dodged one Sasaki belt shot but was hit by a second one. That belt shot left Ueno bleeding from the head, and he struggled to get back into the ring.
Sasaki focused on trying to open the wound, even more, catapulting Ueno into an exposed turnbuckle. Ueno tried to fight back but Sasaki superplexed him to the outside. Sasaki followed that up with a flying elbow drop to the outside onto Ueno, who was on the timekeeper’s table. Ueno kicked out of a Pedigree, but Sasaki immediately transitioned into a crossface. Another Sasaki flying elbow was countered by Ueno getting his boots up.\
A fired-up Ueno fought back with a trio of Half Nelson suplexes. Sasaki kept looking for the Crossface, but he ended up going face-first into the exposed turnbuckle. Ueno used a frog splash, but Paulie pulled the referee out of the ring. The Champion got rid of Paulie and hit Sasaki with a German Suplex on the apron followed by a top rope Moonsault to the outside. Endo nearly won the match with a DDT onto the exposed turnbuckle. Sasaki tried to use his Frankensteiner, but Ueno countered it with a dismissive powerbomb. Ueno hit the Best Moonsault Ever, but Sasaki kicked out. An attempt at the WR by Ueno ended with Sasaki using a La Mistica style Crossface to win the match and become the new DDT Universal Champion.
Daisuke Sasaki submitted Yuki Ueno via La Mistica style Crossface (17:20)
For many newcomers to DDT, I can see why people might compare this to a New Japan EVIL match. The opening half of the match was heavy on the heel antics and interference, although the pace helped things out. As soon as Ueno started bleeding then things went up a gear in terms of the pacing, the action, and the ridiculous high spots. Some of the work was very good and the match was designed to have Ueno fighting from underneath but in the end, I felt that this was a good match with some memorable spots but not much more than that. I’m not a big fan of Ueno losing the title, but if the goal is to build him up to where he can start challenging for the KO-D Openweight title then I will be very happy.
KO-D Openweight Title, Jun Akiyama (c) vs. Konosuke Takeshita
All Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH legend Jun Akiyama joined DDT in May 2020, initially on a loan deal. In November 2020, Akiyama beat Konosuke Takeshita in a singles match. Takeshita is one of DDT’s top guys, a 4-time KO-D Openweight Champion at the age of 26. Back in December 2020, they met in the finals of the D-Ou Grand Prix tournament. Akiyama was again victorious, taking advantage of an arm injury that had hampered Takeshita throughout the tournament. That tournament victory allowed Akiyama to dethrone Tetsuya Endo and become the KO-D Openweight Champion. People’s opinions have varied on Akiyama’s title run, which has produced some very good matches but maybe hasn’t been as good as some people had hoped. Takeshita won the King of DDT tournament back in July to set up this rematch.
Takeshita gained the upper hand in the opening exchange before Akiyama’s experience let him grab a leg lock. The younger man used elbow strikes to keep control of the veteran, switching between submission holds and impact moves like DDTs. This included Mitsuharu Misawa’s facelock. Takeshita was firmly in control until Akiyama escaped a German Suplex attempt on the apron and hit a DDT on said apron.
Akiyama focussed on Takeshita’s neck, using knee strikes on the outside before a piledriver in the ring earned Akiyama a 2 count. Takeshita fought back with forearms, but the neck damage meant that he struggled to stand toe to toe with his opponent. Akiyama unleashed an onslaught of knee strikes but Takeshita managed to counter a vertical suplex. That was followed by a Jumping Clothesline before Takeshita hit a Tope con Hilo to Akiyama on the outside. However, Takeshita got overconfident and ate a surprise Lariat from Akiyama. Takeshita hit a Lariat of his own for a near fall and looked for his new modified Chicken wing Facelock, a move designed to defeat Akiyama. Sadly, for Takeshita, Akiyama escaped and went back to his strategy of kneeing the challenger in the face.
A front neck lock by Akiyama was released into an unsuccessful pin attempt, one of the more illogical Japanese tropes. Takeshita hit a barrage of forearms before a flurry of German Suplexes and knee strikes ended with a double clothesline. Takeshita outjumped Akiyama on a jumping knee strike, getting near falls with a Blue Thunder Driver and a German Suplex. The challenger again went for the Chicken wing Facelock, but Akiyama reached the ropes. Akiyama fought to avoid a cross-arm German suplex, relying on headbutts and a knee strike to escape. A pair of Exploder Suplexes by Akiyama lead to a near fall. That was followed by another front neck lock, but Takeshita grabbed the ropes. Takeshita kept trying to get to his feet, but Akiyama kept him down with knees and kicks to the face.
Akiyama hit the wrist clutch exploder, but Takeshita just about managed to kick out. Takeshita caught another running knee strike, hitting a German Suplex and a knee of his own, which forced Akiyama to grab the ropes to stop the three-count. Takeshita lowered his kneepad and unleashed a series of knee strikes. Akiyama tried to fight through them, but it was too much. Takeshita then hit the cross-armed German Suplex and locked in the chicken wing facelock in the middle of the ring, forcing Akiyama to tap out. This meant that Takeshita was now a 5-time KO-D Openweight Champion
After the match Chris Brookes challenged Takeshita in Japanese, asking for a title shot as Brookes is 3-1 against the new champion. The match takes place on 9/26. After the match, Sanshiro Takagi announces a show at Yoyogi Gymnasium on 12/26
Konosuke Takeshita submitted Jun Akiyama via Chicken wing Facelock (24:43)
It’s nice to a Japanese men’s main event title match that is under 25 minutes long. This was a great match, what I would probably call a 4 or 4.25* match if I did star ratings. The story was of Takeshita fighting against the crafty veteran who tried to wear down the challenger in a battle of attrition. Unlike their last match, Akiyama didn’t have the advantage of being able to target an injured body part, so he focused on the neck and upper torso. Takeshita’s gameplan was looking for the opportunity to apply the Chicken wing facelock. This had a lot of hard-hitting action and felt like a match to see who could take the most punishment. There was an overly long fighting spirit sequence, and I did feel that the match missed a little something, which could be aimed at most of Akiyama’s KO_D Openweight title reign. That said, this felt like the right length, and it didn’t outstay its welcome. There was a lot of action, and the execution was good, with Takeshita being very sympathetic at times. This is not the kind of match that will instantly blow you away, compared to matches from the likes of Go Shiozaki & Takashi Sugiura in NOAH. But if you want a very good main event match that doesn’t go north of 30 minutes then this is worth having a look. Although honestly, I think I preferred their D-OU Grand Prix match as my favorite between these two.
This was not a show that produced a match-of-the-year candidate. This was not a show that I expect to convert new fans to DDT. Instead, this was a fairly compact show with a lot of variety, where each match had a purpose. Yes, sometimes the purpose was nostalgia or silliness, but most matches didn’t outstay their welcome. I don’t know if I can say that there will be something for everyone, but I think that there was a lot of interesting stuff. The plunder match with Katsumata & Mao vs Brookes & Kasai and Takeshita vs Akiyama are both well worth a look and the comedy match is a good, accessible, and mostly inoffensive example of DDT’s comedy leanings. Sasaki vs Ueno was not what I had hoped, but I probably had unreal expectations considering the build of the match.
DDT is not a promotion aimed at producing a litany of MOTY candidates. It is very much a variety show product that tries to balance wacky humor and good wrestling. That’s a tricky balance, and it doesn’t always work but it is a promotion that has gained a lot of fans over the years. It doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes, but if it sounds appealing then why not give it a try.
If you are interested in seeing me review Japanese wrestling other than New Japan then please let me know on Twitter, where I can be found @monkey_buckles.