Ian here with the first DNA review on WWW and to say that 2015 was a good year for DNA in terms of match quality and improvement of the young talent is an understatement. There have been some really stellar matches from DNA in the year 2015 and the last show was just released a few days ago. In this, we have the graduation match of Ryota Nakatsu as he faces off against KO-D Openweight Champion Isami Kodaka. How did Nakatsu fair against the established hybrid, and did he show that he has what it takes to be apart of DDT’s main roster, or did he fold? Let’s find out.
To start the show we got ourselves a decent opening tag in Bed Scene/Rekka vs. Suzuki/Kazato that went about twelve minutes, and while this match had some shoddy start-and-stop pacing in it, there was still something to enjoy here. Some of my favorite work in this match was from Bed Scene and Kazato but everyone did well enough in some capacity; Yes, even Suzuki. As a matter of fact, this actually might’ve been the most entertaining I’ve seen the dude since watching DNA. I’m still not a huge fan of the pink singlet (for some reason I’m not really sure of myself) but he did damn well and if there was a ‘weak link’ in this match I could see, it’d maybe be Rekka.
There was some weird antics in this match involving Bed Scene and Rekka working over Suzuki’s fat.. Or uhm, his mid section. I’m not really sure what was going on there and I just kind of tuned out of those parts of the match. To elaborate on what I said earlier about the ‘start-and-stop’ pacing, this match had points where it looked as though the guys were at the finishing stretch of things before they slowed it back down again, and I could get teasing wins but it felt almost like they didn’t realize how much time they had, which was actually quite a bit for an opening match. The match ended when Bed Scene made Suzuki tap with a single leg crab. After the match, Kazato yelled at Suzuki… For about three minutes. I didn’t understand a word he was saying and I’m not familiar enough with Kazato’s character so I have no idea what he was saying but I thought this was excellent.
Next, we got the first singles match of the night and a GREAT one. I’m not familiar with Guanchulo but the guy sold me from before the bell even rang. For one he’s cute, but that’s besides the point. His chemistry with Shunma is near perfect and that coupled with his antics throughout the match (that actually helped the match more than hurt it) made me absolutely love this guy even though he was effectively the ‘heel’ in this match.
Speaking of face/heel dynamics, to paraphrase what Trask has said in the past: You can make a case for Shunma being a better face in peril than Honma. Not only that though, but Shunma has become one of those few talents I can NEVER hate or root against. Even when he’s booked to have some edge or be the ‘heel’ (in his interactions with Inoue for example), it just never really feels right and I’m never as invested as I am when he’s the one getting his ass kicked. As for the match, the pacing was a little on the slow side at times and match structure was pretty conventional, but the antics and the chemistry both of the talents had really made this match a lot of fun to watch. Shunma pinned Guanchulo with a running cradle after a nice little sequence of roll ups attempts from the latter. After the match, the two gave each other their little handshake and a big hug.
Second and last tag match of the show! This match had better pacing, no antics, and a longer length than the last tag, but for some reason I just really couldn’t get that much into this. I don’t know what the general consensus is on Umeda and his improvement but between his strikes, his kick-outs, and his ring-awareness, I think the guy has gotten SO much better from the earlier matches I saw him in. I can’t exactly say the same for Watase when it comes to how fast he’s improving, however he’s shown that he can take a serious beating and that he’s at least learning. A few notable spots in this match were Watase and Umeda’s long guillotine spot (that actually had me thinking it was it), Watase and Takanashi’s really rough slap exchange, and Umeda & Iwasaki’s interactions. I’m not sure if Umeda & Iwasaki have had themselves a singles match but I’d be all for seeing a bout between just them. Outside of those spots and the finish though, this match was just kind of there for me. Umeda picked up the win for his team when he gave Watase a sweet kick to his dome.
Semi-main time! Both Miyatake and Higuchi have definitely improved since the last time they faced off just eight long months ago and we saw how more polished they were in this here, but one of the big gripes was that this felt (to me) like a shell of their last match. I don’t think it was so much because of the amount of the time or anything like that, if anything that helped a lot since I’m convinced that Higuchi for at least the short term is a lot better in singles matches that are under twenty minutes. I can understand the argument that he CAN perform in matches over that mark (albeit barely), but it doesn’t necessarily mean he SHOULD. The guy IS still learning after all.
The pacing was nothing special all that special but I was fine with it and we got some excellent strike exchanges. I have no damn idea how Miyatake can breath when you take into account all the chops the dude’s been exposed to in DNA last year (between Hino, Higuchi, and others) but jesus christ. We had some decent transitions but a few of them were poorly executed but at most that’s a small squabble. Higuchi pinned Miyatake with his Canadian Backbreaker/Chokeslam combo and outside of it lacking some of the intensity that they had in their previous match, I enjoyed this.
This match was just something else. I have tons to say about not only this match, but the two guys in it. When it came to the match itself, while having it’s flaws (including an awkward moment where Nakatsu and Kodaka stared at each other for a second before Kodaka finally hit a clothesline), none of the flaws really took that much from how the match came off to me. The pacing had a start-and-stop kind of feel to it but was done in the best way. There was a steady build to the finish, even if I thought the finish was relatively uneventful. The storytelling in the match revolved around both men targeting each others arms, Kodaka a bit more so than Nakatsu, although there were times were he got the upperhand.
Kodaka was probably the BEST person you could put in the ring with Nakatsu to help compliment his style and bring a lot of his positives to the surface. The match highlighted so almost all of Nakatsu’s positives; his mat work, his strikes, and his ring-awareness. Another thing that was highlighted was how well he could do with methodical pacing. Even though he’s only wrestled closing in on a couple years, he really knows what to do with the amount of time he’s given, whether it’s ten minutes or twenty. Granted, he’s not all the way there as there were definitely some hiccups during the match, but like I said before, none of the flaws in this match really killed it for me. He’s well on his way to becoming one of those guys in the ring who has little to no waste in motion.
When it comes to Isami Kodaka, he suffers from something I like to call the “Masato Tanaka” stigma, in that even though he’s established how amazing he can be in both traditional wrestling and deathmatch wrestling, he generally still gets pegged in the “deathmatcher” column. This is actually something our very own Lawrence has pointed out before numerous times in the past. Masato Tanaka, Yuko Miyamoto, and many others all suffer from this little stigma and it’s a damn shame because all of them (most notably Tanaka) have proven how excellent they can be without the barbed wire and steel chairs.
The finish came when Isami hit Nakatsu with a running kneeling superkick, and honestly, this seemed like it was the only flaw about the match that kind of hindered the enjoyment for me. Sure, I understand he’s used the kneeling superkick as a finish for a good while now, but there could’ve been some better way to finish this.
“Kodaka said wrestling in DNA was fun and addicting but now was the time to prepare for BASARA if they want to make it the best mad wrestling organisation in the world. Nakatsu said he formed good relationships in DNA including a friendly rivalry with Kazusada Higuchi. He shook hands with the other DNA wrestlers but his handshake with Higuchi was especially tight. Higuchi told BASARA to reach the top of BASARA so when he himself reaches the top of DDT they can have one more match!” -Courtesy of Dramatic DDT
All of the DNA boys got together for one final group picture with Nakatsu before his departure.
Final Thoughts: For the last show of the year, DNA 12 exceeded my expectations in a way. While we did get a couple of tag matches I wasn’t the most fond of, the three singles matches were worth the watch and if you can I’d check out all three (especially the main event). Thanks for reading.