DDT’s JUDGEMENT 2022 – 25th Anniversary: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Tetsuya Endo

Originally published at DDT JUDGEMENT 2022 – 25th Anniversary: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Tetsuya Endo

DDT’s JUDGEMENT 2022 – 25th Anniversary: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Tetsuya Endo

By: Mark Buckeldee

Welcome to this POST Wrestling report for DDT’s JUDGEMENT 2022 – 25th Anniversary. As the name says, this show celebrated DDT’s 25th anniversary and included many names from DDT’s past. It was held in Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, the 2nd show in this venue in a nine-day period. The next two shows will be from STARDOM. The attendance for this show was 2,516 fans. This was a traditional DDT big show, as the run time including the dark matches went over 6 hours, and I recommend that you use this report to choose what you want to watch. In many ways, it was a show of two halves, with the nostalgia and sillier elements in the first half and the more serious wrestling in the second half.

The English commentary was from ChocoPro’s Baliyan Akki, Wrestling Journalist Hiroshi Arai and Christele Ciari, who is the voice of the English announcements on the trains in Japan. Let’s be polite and say that there are better English commentary teams in Japan. The good news is that Wrestle Universe lets you switch between English and Japanese commentary with the press of a button, so I listened to most of the show with Japanese commentary.

Please note that this report will not explain every reference or thing that happens on this show. Honestly, no one wants a 10-thousand-word report from me. If you are interested in learning more about DDT, then I am part of the DDTeach! Podcast, which is designed to introduce new fans to DDT and can be found on Twitter @DDTeachPod.

NON-SPOILER MATCH GUIDE

A. Yusuke Okada, Yuya Koroku & Ilusion vs Toui Kojima, Yuki Ishida & Tomomitsu Matsunaga – A good rookie match that showed the skills of Okada and three very different young rookies – RECOMMENDED

B. Tag Team Battle Royal – An okay Battle royale that mostly focussed on Yuji Hino and a Giant inflatable Panda

1. KO-D 10-Man Tag Team Titles: Toru Owashi, Antonio Honda, Kazuki Hirata & Yoshihiko (c) vs Poison Sawada JULIE, Takashi Sasaki, GENTARO, MIKAMI & Thanomsak Toba – Pure DDT nostalgia involving blow-up dolls, poison, dance numbers, and snake hypnosis. Lots of silliness

2. Saki Akai vs Maya Yukihi – A decent wrestling match that served as an oasis of sanity on the undercard

3. Sanshiro Takagi vs Michael Nakazawa – A short but traditional Sanshiro Takagi walk and brawl with toilets, chairs, bicycles, plastic crates, and underwear. Nostalgic fun

4. Isami Kodaka & Yukio Sakaguchi vs Yuki Ueno & Shunma Katsumata – A good match that focussed on Ueno and Sakaguchi

5. LiLiCo Retirement Match: LiLiCo, Ryohei Odai & Akito vs Danshoku “Dandy” Dieno, Yuki “Sexy” Iino & Yumehito “Fantastic” Imanari – Inappropriate humor based around genitalia, buttocks, gay panic, and fire extinguishers that also had sweet, affirming messages about marriage and an inner monologue. This segment went ridiculously long. If you want to skip to the next match, then the time point is 3:28:50

6. Jun Akiyama 30th Anniversary Match: Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori vs Kazusada Higuchi & Hideki Okatani – A good, solid match centered around Okatani trying to prove himself against Akiyama

7. DDT Universal Title – Hardcore 3 Way Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs Jun Kasai vs MAO – A chaotic hardcore match full of plunder, some great athleticism and a spectacular finish.

8. KO-D Tag Team Titles: HARASHIMA & Naomi Yoshimura (c) vs Chris Brookes & Masahiro Takanashi – A good, tricky match full of inventive action and a very good showing from Yoshimura

9. KO-D Openweight Title – Japan Bakery Marketing Presents: Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs Tetsuya Endo – A fantastic but long match full of action, flashy moves, and big bombs with Endo trying to finally defeat a dominant Champion who he had never beaten when it mattered most – RECOMMENDED

Pre-show

Yusuke Okada, Yuya Koroku & Ilusion vs Toui Kojima, Yuki Ishida & Tomomitsu Matsunaga

Matsunaga’s experience nearly saw him beat the much younger Ilusion. Ishida showed off his strong spirit while Kojima and Koroku continued their heated rivalry. Ishida was isolated by his opponents and the DDT rookie had to crawl to the ropes to escape a Boston Crab. Eventually, he tagged in Kojima who used a series of running dropkicks and a crossbody. Koroku and Kojima had a great sequence, with Koroku coming close with a series of cradles. Ishida showed his spirit by taking down Okada, earning a pair of two counts. Ilusion took everyone out with a scary Tope Con Hilo while Okada beat Ishida with a Fisherman’s Buster.

Yusuke Okada pinned Yuki Ishida via Fisherman’s Buster (11:00)

This current class of DDT rookies is arguably the best batch in DDT history. They have so much potential and are a personal highlight on DDT shows. This was a great example of that as Koroku, Kojima & Ishida all have very different styles. A well-paced undercard opener that let the rookies and Okada show what they can do.

Tag Team Battle Royal: Tomohiko Hashimoto & Seiya Morohashi vs Yasu Urano & Shota vs Minoru Fujita & MJ Paul vs Yuji Hino & Yukio Naya vs Gorgeous Matsuno & Gota Ihashi vs Andreza Giant Panda & Super Sasadango Machine

Hashimoto, Morohashi, Matsuno, and Ihashi are names from DDT’s past. Urano was a last-minute replacement for Soma Takao. Andreza Giant Panda is an enormous Panda. Highlights included Hashimoto suplexing Naya, Hino suplexing Hashimoto, Gota Ihashi being Gota Ihashi and Gorgeous Matsuno being terrible. Honestly, that is his gimmick. When Andreza entered the match, he swatted everyone until Hino chopped him down to size. Andreza accidentally headbutted his partner, who was pinned by Hino. The match came down to Hino & Naya vs Urano & Shota, with Naya and Hino pinning their opponents after Hino’s Fuckin’ Bomb and Naya’s backdrop driver.

Yukio Naya & Yuji Hino won the match (14:28)

This was the more skippable dark match. There was some fun nostalgia but most of the highlights were either centered around Hino or Andreza Giant Panda. You realize how useful Hino is on the DDT roster seeing how he controlled this match.

Main show:

In a DDT tradition that harkened back to DDT’s first show at Ryogoku Kokugikan in 2009, the opening ceremony involved fireworks being launched from between someone’s buttocks. This version involved a PowerPoint presentation and a live dress rehearsal.

The opening video packaged highlighted big and memorable moments from DDT’s 25-year history. It was a great showcase of so much of DDT’s history and is well worth seeking out, although I was genuinely surprised about a couple of the choices.

KO-D 10-Man Tag Team Titles: Toru Owashi, Antonio Honda, Kazuki Hirata & Yoshihiko (c) vs Poison Sawada JULIE, Takashi Sasaki, GENTARO, MIKAMI & Thanomsak Toba

The challengers for the KO-D 10-man tag titles made this another celebration of DDT’s past. They included a Snakeman with hypnotic powers, a death match wrestler, a highflyer with an affinity for ladders, and a glove-wearing Thai kickboxer. They were seconded by Naomi Susan, who was both a manager in DDT and the GM for DDT’s UNION sub-brand.

The Champions were defending the titles with only 4 members. To cut a long story short, the titles briefly became 8-man titles and management did not let the Champions add an extra member. Highlights included neck chops, a Blow-up doll running wild, a poisoning incident, two dance numbers, Antonio Honda’s Gon the fox story, and snake hypnosis. JULIE’s hypnosis was too strong for Honda, who was pinned with a Schoolboy from Mikami.

Mikami pinned Antonio Honda via Schoolboy (8:49)

This was pure DDT nostalgia. As such, it will be baffling and confusing to most newcomers. There were lots of fun nods to DDT’s history, although the execution would have been better if some of the competitors were the ones wearing the rose-tinted glasses. At least now the 10-man tag titles will now be defended by the correct number of people.

Saki Akai vs Maya Yukihi

Maya Yukihi nearly joined DDT before Akai became DDT’s only contracted female wrestler. In a short, decent match both wrestlers relied on their signature kicks, with Yukihi kicking out of Akai’s Rookie Award. After a slap exchange, Akai was eventually victorious with her Quetzalcoatl finisher.

Saki Akia pinned Maya Yukihi via Quetzalcoatl (10:40)

This was a good, decent match. Understandably it did not get a lot of time, but it went the right length. It was nice to see Akai get some time on the show, although this one won’t stand out in your memory. This was a useful match as it served as an oasis of sanity at this point of the show.

I’m Sorry match: Sanshiro Takagi vs Michael Nakazawa

Michael Nakazawa was a long-time member of the DDT roster before joining AEW. He was the opener of DDT’s first-ever show in Ryogoku Kokugikan: They started the show by shooting fireworks from between his buttocks. After years of Takagi bullying Nakazawa, it was ruled that this would be an “I’m Sorry” match. The match could only end when someone got their opponent to say “I’m sorry.”

They quickly ended up going backstage, as Takagi & Nakazawa toured the corridors and bathrooms of Ryogoku Kokugikan. This included the traditional piledriver into a toilet. When they returned to the ring a castle of chairs and Takagi’s trademark bicycle were already on the scene. So of course, Takagi crashed the bicycle into the chairs. Nakazawa removed his underwear to use his Ultimate Venom Arm, a more disgusting version of Mr. Socko. Takagi refused to apologize despite being hit with chairs and plastic crates. Takagi’s comeback included punching through a plastic crate, a Stunner, Kenny Omega’s Hadouken (An Omega trademark from his DDT days), and Kota Ibushi’s Kami-go-ye. Every time that Nakazawa tried to say I’m sorry, Takagi kept stuffing his mouth with underwear in order to deliver more punishment. Nakazawa eventually said I’m sorry to avoid being powerbombed through 3 plastic crates. Of course, Takagi did it anyway.

Afterward, Nakazawa talked about how he hated Takagi, but he loved DDT. A video package with AEW’s Christopher Daniels announced that AEW will now be using DDT talent in America. Let’s see if they use them better than their use of Takeshita last year.

Sanshiro defeated Michael Nakazawa after Nakazawa said “I’m sorry” (10:20)This was a pleasantly short, but typical, Takagi walk and brawl. It stuck to the classics if “classic” is the right way to describe crashing a bicycle into chairs and piledriving someone into a toilet. Still, I did enjoy the finishing stretch and Takagi’s comeback. Punching through a plastic crate was a great visual. The right kind of nostalgia for a 25th-anniversary show.

DDT also announced the King of Street Wrestling Tournament. This is a tournament based around street wrestling, what DDT calls Rojo wrestling. DDT have held shows in campsites, ironworks, amusement parks, and office buildings. The competitors will include Sanshiro Takagi, Chris Brookes, Shunma Katsumata, Onryo, Big Japan’s Abdullah Kobayashi, and former Ice Ribbon wrestler Suzu Suzuki.

Isami Kodaka & Yukio Sakaguchi vs Yuki Ueno & Shunma Katsumata

Isami Kodaka has been associated with DDT since 2004, both on the main brand and in the UNION and BASARA sister promotions. Kodaka’s current home promotion BASARA split from DDT a few years ago. Ueno and Sakaguchi started by grappling. Sakaguchi kept kicking Ueno, but Ueno kicked out and fought back. Katsumata got the hot tag, using a tope con hilo, a missile dropkick and his trademark wrist clutch double stomp. Kodaka got his knees up to block a Stuka Splash. Sakaguchi’s striking superiority let him gain the advantage, but Ueno would not stay down. Ueno got baited into a Jujigatame, although Katsumata made the save. A Blizzard suplex earned Ueno a two count before Kodaka and Katsumata got involved. Ueno countered Sakaguchi’s Right Knee of God with a dropkick and the WR to win the match.

Yuki Ueno pinned Shunma Katsumata via WR (11:02)

This was a short and sweet match designed to give Ueno a spot and a win on the card. Sakaguchi and Ueno had a great match in 2021 and while this didn’t have the time to improve on that, this was a good match that gave you a taste of these four wrestlers without outstaying its welcome. It was also another welcome period of normality.

LiLiCo Retirement Match: LiLiCo, Ryohei Odai & Akito vs Danshoku “Dandy” Dieno, Yuki “Sexy” Iino & Yumehito “Fantastic” Imanari

LiLiCo, the Japanese voice of Eric Cartman, was a frequent DDT special guest before a leg injury. Ryohei Odai is her husband, part of the music group Junretsu. Odai’s bandmates were ringside for this match. Sadly, training showed that LiLiCo was the one with the wrestling skills in their marriage. They were facing the Pheromones. If you have not come across the Pheromones before, they’re perverts. The video package for this match makes that abundantly clear, although I don’t know why the golf ball exploded.

LiLiCo came out to The Final Countdown, showing that DDT are more fearless than AEW. The match starts with LiLiCo taking things into her own hand, and then taking Dieno’s hand into her “thing”. Danshoku Dieno then got his hands on LiLiCo’s husband. If you have seen a Dieno match, then you know what this means. If you don’t then ignorance might be bliss.

Odai fought back against Iino, which only lead to Iino’s striptease version of Hulking up. Referee Matsui‘s face ended up in a mass of ass and Junretsu did a run-in. Pheromones then used one of their “unique” double teams on LiLiCo, before they took out their opponents with a strategically placed fire extinguisher. There were then a series of spots involving people’s faces in inappropriate places before calming music played and we got a slow-motion inner monologue from Odai. Honestly, this is one of my favorite DDT tropes. Odai took Iino’s chops but sadly it was not enough to stop Dieno from hitting LiLiCo with a brainbuster. Odai again tried to overcome his physical limitations to protect his wife. LiLiCo then got out all of her frustrations before falling victim to the Danshoku driver. Somehow LiLiCo kicked out, but she eventually tapped out to a knee lock.

After the match, LiLiCo was saved from a post-match beat down by Andreza Giant Panda. This was a call back to when Andreza auditioned to join Junretsu after a member left due to a sex scandal. Andreza’s then got embroiled in his own sex scandal with Ice Ribbon’s Tsukasa Fujimoto. That saga ended when Fujimoto wrestled Andreza’s wife. The wife was also a Giant inflatable Panda. And you thought that WWE lore could be weird. There was then a retirement ceremony for LiLiCo. Somehow this became a really heart-warming and earnest segment that ended with a Junrestu musical performance.

Danshoku Dieno submitted LiLiCo via knee lock (16:52)

This was an experience. It was also stupidly long, going 50 minutes from the opening video package to LiLiCo going backstage. Amidst the usual Pheromones gay panic spots and gross-out spots they actually told a surprisingly nice story based around LiLiCo’s marriage. Akito might as well not have turned up as he did very little. A lot of people might find this offensive, and this was not a match that you could get away with a lot of countries. I usually hate Pheromones matches but I appreciated the story around LiLiCo and Odai. Also, I will always pop for the DDT inner monologue trope. While I liked bits of this, I cannot in good conscience recommend a 50-minute segment like this.

Jun Akiyama 30th Anniversary Match: Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori vs Kazusada Higuchi & Hideki Okatani

Omori is a long-time tag team partner of Akiyama’s. They both debuted in All Japan in 1992, which is why this is Akiyama’s 30th-anniversary match. Hideki Okatani is one of DDT’s rookies and he learned a lot from Akiyama when they were part of the Junretsu stable.

Okatani showed his fire and spirit against Akiyama, while Higuchi got the better of Omori. Akiyama and Omori isolated and bullied Okatani before Okatani tagged out. Higuchi’s version of Omori’s Axe Bomber was unsuccessful, and Omori tagged in Akiyama. Higuchi took down Akiyama before letting Okatani have another try. Okatani hit a diving knee drop for a two count, but Akiyama avoided a second diving knee drop. Higuchi made the save after a second rope backdrop suplex, only to be taken out by Omori’s Axe Bomber. Okatani relied on his speed but it nearly backfired when he ran into an Exploder suplex. The rookie kicked out of that, but he then fell victim to another Exploder suplex

Jun Akiyama pinned Hideki Okatani via Exploder suplex (12:36)

This was built around Okatani trying to prove himself against Akiyama. Okatani brought a lot of fire, and Akiyama was a great grumpy veteran. Higuchi did not get a lot of time here, but he looked as strong and assured as he usually does. This was a good, solid match and it did its job in terms of building up Okatani. It says a lot about Akiyama that his anniversary match was about building up a rookie.

DDT Universal Title – Hardcore 3 Way Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs Jun Kasai vs MAO

Kasai is a semi-regular on big DDT shows. The build to this match was both Sasaki and Kasai ignoring MAO. This might explain why MAO’s weapon of choice was a massive wooden plank. MAO showed off his athleticism and agility, but Sasaki dodged an Asai Moonsault to the outside. Kasai did a diving splash off the top rope through a table and suplexed Sasaki through a metal construction barrier. MAO returned and successfully hit the Asai Moonsault. All three men were bleeding as Mao found a metal girder, which Sasaki managed to fend off by using a ladder. Sasaki used the diving Elbow drop and a crossface, only for Kasai to return and stick wooden skewers in his opponents’ heads.

MAO kicked out of the reverse tiger driver and got revenge by using wooden skewers on Kasai. There was a Tower of Doom spot that sent Kasai and MAO crashing through plastic crates. Sasaki hit a top rope elbow drop to the outside onto both MAO and Kasai. Sasaki then hit Kasai with a Pedigree onto a barbed wire bat. After a series of chair shots, MAO nearly won with a small package. Sasaki somehow dodged MAO’s 450 splash and Kasai’s Pearl Harbour Splash. Kasai German suplexed MAO into a ladder, dodged a top rope guitar shot from Sasaki, and hit the Reverse Tiger Driver for a nearfall. SASAKI fought back and hit Kasai with the Razor’s Edge onto a Ladder. MAO hit Kasai and Sasaki with the guitar before creating a ladder bridge. MAO then hit a Michinoku driver off the ladder bridge through a table to pin Sasaki and win the Universal Title.

After the match, Michael Nakazawa challenged MAO, who accepted the challenge for the next DDT Korakuen Hall show.

MAO pinned Daisuke Sasaki via Michinoku Driver off a ladder bridge through a table (19:56)

This was the usual chaotic, plunder-filled hardcore match that people have seen before. There were some inventive spots, and some great athleticism by MAO but it was mostly the usual collection of big spots disjointedly strung together. MAO was the star of the match, and my personal highlights were MAO’s athleticism and the finish. A good plunder match but not much more than that.

KO-D Tag Team Titles: HARASHIMA & Naomi Yoshimura (c) vs Chris Brookes & Masahiro Takanashi

YOSHIMURA manhandled Brookes, with Takanashi using a blind tag to turn the tide in his team’s favor. Even then, YOSHIMURA easily slammed Takanashi and HARASHIMA took control with his signature offense. Takanashi eventually tagged out using trickery. Brookes hit a tope Suicida and locked in the Octopus Stretch on Yoshimura, before hitting HARASHIMA with a springboard double stomp on the ramp. Brookes and Takanashi then used the referee to hit a headscissors on HARASHIMA. HARASHIMA fought back with kicks and tagged in Yoshimura, who hit Takanashi with a Chokeslam. Brookes interrupted a double team attempt and he then caught Yoshimura with a Springboard cutter. Yoshimura and HARASHIMA went for a double superplex, which turned into a two-man sunset flip powerbomb on Yoshimura. HARASHIMA made the save and Yoshimura unleashed a flurry of blows on Brookes, only for Brookes to fight back with slaps. Brookes ran into Yoshimura’s lightning-quick Judo throw, only to counter the Osaka Dream into an Octopus stretch. HARASHIMA nearly made the save but Takanashi held him off, letting Brookes trap and hook the leg in order to make Yoshimura submit.

Chris Brookes submitted Naomi Yoshimura via modified Octopus Stretch (18:50)

This was another good match. I’m not sure if it is worth recommending, as it was not as good as some of DDT’s better tag matches this year. Part of that is the team of Brookes and Takanashi, which doe not really work for me. I felt that Yoshimura was great here, a good showing from him. Ultimately this was a lot of action with some really fun exchanges between Brookes and Yoshimura, but nothing that will stick out in your memory.

KO-D Openweight Title – Japan Bakery Marketing Presents: Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs Tetsuya Endo

The careers of these two wrestlers have been fully entwined for the entirety of their 10-year careers. Endo had never beaten Takeshita in a big venue, or when the KO-D Openweight title was on the line.

After a lot of cagey mat work, Takeshita took control after a leg lariat. Endo took advantage of Takeshita’s cockiness by raising his knees to block Takeshita’s senton. The challenger capitalized by suplexing Takeshita back first into the turnbuckles. Endo controlled the match by targeting Takeshita’s neck and back. This included some clever submission work as Endo kept reapplying a headscissors.

Takeshita relied on big strikes and DDTs to try and fight back, but Endo used superior grappling to try and keep control. Takeshita used a Headscissors and a tope con Hilo, although Takeshita got the worst of the dive. The Champion fought back, targeting Endo’s neck and spine. When Endo attempted a springboard forearm on the ramp, Takeshita countered with a jumping knee on the ramp.

Endo used the Sasuke Special, but Takeshita caught him in mid-air. They fought over a Tombstone Piledriver before Endo reversed it into a DDT on the floor. Takeshita replied by powerbombing Endo onto the apron and hitting a Brainbuster on the floor. Back in the ring, Takeshita locked in an Octopus stretch but Endo reached the ropes. Endo fought back with the Tetsuya in the Sky, and they traded roll up attempts and counters, ending with Endo hitting a Brainbuster.

Endo won a strike exchange and hit the Torture Rack Bomb for a nearfall. When he went for the Burning Star press, Takeshita moved and then hit the jumping knee. Takeshita nailed the Zahi knee strike and then hit a corner-to-corner dropkick. That was followed by a super Brainbuster for a nearfall. Takeshita again went for the Plus Ultra, briefly applying the Marshmallow Hedgehog before locking in the hold, only for Endo to reach the ropes.

Endo hit a headscissors, sending both wrestlers sprawling out of the ring in a call back to one of their previous big matches. Endo had enough left to hit his signature springboard corkscrew Moonsault. Endo also flipped out of a German Suplex on the apron and hit a Canadian Destroyer on the apron. Endo then hit a springboard 450 splash and a double arm Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall before hitting the Burning Star Press. Somehow Takeshita kicked out.

Endo got desperate and locked in the Walls of Takeshita, which Takeshita used to beat Endo at Peter Pan 2019. Takeshita managed to reach the ropes and he kept fighting back. They traded Samson clutches before Takeshita hit a deadlift German suplex for a big nearfall. Endo escaped the Straightjacket German Suplex but got kicked in the face doing a Pele kick.

Takeshita reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the Fable, but Endo still kicked out. Endo reached the ropes to escape the Plus Ultra and Takeshita signaled for the Straightjacket German Suplex. The challenger escaped with a desperate headbutt, and they traded forearms. Takeshita suddenly collapsed before firing up and using Antonio Honda’s Bionic Elbow, only for Endo to use Daisuke Sasaki’s Crossface as a counter. Takeshita escaped with a roll up and turned Endo inside out with a Lariat, but Endo hit a Lariat of his own and a handspring Pele kick. Endo took Takeshita to the top rope, successfully hitting Tetsuya in the Sky with Diamonds, but Takeshita still kicked out.

Endo went for the Stardust Press, but Takeshita moved and hit the Touchdown, his original DDT finisher. Takeshita then hit a huge Zahi knee strike, but Endo still kicked out. Endo just about escaped a Straight Jacket German Suplex and both wrestlers traded German suplexes before Endo got a nearfall with a pair of Exploder suplexes. Takeshita kicked out of another Exploder suplex, and then he kicked out of the Torture Rack Powerbomb before Endo hit two Burning Star Presses to win the match and finally defeat Konosuke Takeshita for the KO-D Openweight title.

After the match, Takeshita frustratedly raised Endo’s arm as a show of respect before Kenta Kobashi put the title around Endo’s waist. The rest of Burning then joined Endo in the ring to huge applause. After the match, Endo said that he wanted DDT to grow, and he wanted to be the person to help it grow.

Tetsuya Endo pinned Konosuke Takeshita via Burning Star Press (46:30)

This was a great match, in the DDT big match style. It was a big, excessive Indy match full of head drops, big counters, and flashy action. There was no limb work, and it eventually became a bomb fest full of big moves. At times it was messy and excessive, but the effort was there, and the excess was part of the story, designed to make you doubt Endo’s chances. I’m not sure if this was the best match between these two, but it felt like a culmination of their journeys so far. I was shocked that this match went over 45 minutes. It did not feel like it, although I can see many people disliking the length or the messy excessiveness. This was Endo and Takeshita doing everything that they can in a big match at this stage of their careers. It was Endo finally getting his big moment in front of a Japanese crowd.

The structure was simple. Endo controlled the early going but every time it looked like Endo had enough momentum to win, Takeshita would fight back. They did two false finishing stretches for Endo, to hammer home that Takeshita was always able to fight back and win in their big matches. This time Endo had enough to overcome Takeshita and he won because his final offensive flurry relied on wearing down Takeshita with big suplexes, which Takeshita had not expected.

The match structure and layout was great considering the stakes involved. It was Endo relying on perseverance, trying to surprise a Champion who was constantly reaching into his bag of tricks. Endo finally defeated his career rival, fighting back again and again from circumstances where he had lost to Takeshita in the past. There were so many references and call-back spots in this match, referencing their previous matches, their previous teams, and even Endo’s current mentor Jun Akiyama. It felt like a celebration of their ten years together in the ring.

Summary

DDT has a reputation for going long on their big shows, and this was one of the longest. In some ways that is understandable. You want to reference your history and you want to give everyone a little time. They achieved that and the nostalgia was fun and kept pretty short. The problem with this show was the LiLiCo and Pheromones segment going 50 minutes and then leading into a 20-minute intermission. It felt like it derailed the show and while I liked some elements, it did not need that much time considering that LiLiCo was just an irregular special guest.

I found it hard to pick matches to recommend from this show. If you are a long-time DDT fan, then you know what to watch. If you are not, then the nostalgia will be unlikely to do much for you. In the end, I chose the opener because it shows the potential of DDT’s future and the main event as it showed DDT’s present. That is not to say that the second half was bad. Each match on the second half was good and fulfilled its purpose but those wrestlers will have better matches on smaller shows in 2022.

Ultimately this show was all about the main event. That match had two jobs: Show just what DDT’s best wrestlers can do, and finally elevate Endo to being a true company leading star by giving him a title win on the big stage. After all, Endo’s previous title wins were in New York City and during the no fans era. I think it’s safe to say that they delivered on both accounts. It always feels like Endo and Takeshita are aiming to recapture the magic of Ibushi vs Omega from Peter Pan 2012. While this match sometimes felt messy and often felt excessive, they did a great job of telling the story of Endo finally overcoming Takeshita.

Time will tell what the future brings for DDT. The working relationship with AEW could be useful or it could be a damp squib. Endo could grow to be a Champion or he could show that he’s not cut out to be one of the company’s top stars. No matter what is to come for DDT, it will probably prove to be interesting, and occasionally baffling.

1 Like

Thanks for this, Mark! Definitely found it helpful in skimming through and picking what to watch and what to skip today.