Who needs NJPW New Beginning or NXT when you have one of the hottest promotions going with DDT DNA? I don’t care that this is developmental — this is good old rookies getting their learning on the job and how can you not get behind all of this? Following the departure of Ryota Nakatsu at DNA 12 it should be quite interesting to see who will fill his role as the ace of DNA and then move onto DDT. Could it be Koki Iwasaki? Shunma Katsumata? Kazusada Higuchi? Or Kota Umeda? It’s all captivating and intriguing, you even get appearances from Shuji Ishikawa, Zeus (yes, that Zeus) and lastly Konnosuke Takeshita who many pundits of DDT claim to be the future of said company. It’s also worth noting there is no commentary to bury any of the rookies and that these rookies have incredible ring attire, makes them stand out and each guy has their own identity. In the immortal words of @TheFrayMovement, “I’M FIRED UP”! ALL HAIL DNA.
In previous viewings of Dai Suzuki, he has not impressed me but I’m hoping that Kazato can carry him to a decent match, it’s not too much to ask I hope. Daichi Kazato screaming in people’s faces is a million times better than Kotoka’s BLEHH gimmick and adds a star alone to this match. Fairly even start to the match where both men trade forearms until Suzuki is outmatched by Kazato’s strikes. Suzuki is worked over for a while until he makes it to the rope when Kazato has a Single Leg Crab hooked in. Kazato kicks poor Suzuki even when he is down but Suzuki is showing an immense amount of heart which is making me turn around and like this guy. Why’d you have to do that Suzuki?
Suzuki comes back with some swell strikes of his own and turns into Bryan Danielson with his own version of an Airplane Spin into a Landslide. I’ll address the elephant in the room, there is quite a bit of yelling throughout the match as a form of fighting spirit which some may find annoying but it’s oddly charming in this match. A fun sprint towards the end and Kazato picks up the win with a lariat and a more beautiful version of Sister Abigail than Bray Wyatt can ever hope to hit. The after match segment is wonderful as Suzuki is in tears and Kazato seems to cut a scathing shoot promo. As it stands, Suzuki is now under the wing of Kazato which can do nothing but wonders for him. The best Suzuki match I have seen and Kazato is as usual a world-class professional, why is he not booked in more places?
Hey it’s Kota Ibushi Jr. (Koki Iwasaki) going against a rookie who has the respect of Shinjiro Ohtani (Mizuki Watase). This should be another fantastic sprint which may be better than the opener. They immediately go to town on each other after a slap from Watase and Koki hits a nasty double stomp and a spine kick. Koki follows that up with a snap suplex on the floor and continues to rattle the spine of Watase with kicks targeting the spine.
Watase is incredulous and continues to rise up against Koki with half-hearted forearms which are ultimately snuffed out by Koki. Koki is continually self-assured throughout the match even stomping on the head of Watase while having Watase trapped in a Single Leg Crab. Awesome flurry of simple offense from Watase climaxes in a running forearm that Misawa would approve of. The finishing stretch sees a DDT variation, guillotine choke, victory roll and a dead lift suplex. Iwasaki finally puts away with a double under hook suplex and a deep Boston Crab.
Better than the opener and this didn’t overstay its welcome. Both men were solid and this was such a simple story being told with Iwasaki having a game plan and sticking to it while for all of the fire that Watase possessed he could not pull off the victory. It would not surprise me if Koki is the future ace of DDT by 2018 or possibly sooner. No knock on Watase as he has been consistently entertaining each time I’ve seen his matches.
You know there is going to be a decent amount of comedy within this match when you have Guanchulo and Yasu Urano attached to it. Their shtick is weighed out by two of the best juniors going that no one talks about in Katsumata and Asahi. Some miscommunication between Urano and Asahi leads to Asahi being worked over by Katsumata and Guanchulo. The amigos have some pretty fun double team maneuvers. Asahi essentially has to fight the match all by his own but he eventually gets the hot tag to Urano.
I zoned out near the end of this as nothing was immensely memorable and it seems that Asahi’s talents were wasted for this match but at the least Asahi won-silver lining, right? Katsumata looked great and even scored with a major league dive to the outside but other than that there was nothing here that stood out and that’s truly unfortunate. Maybe next time let’s just have a Asahi and Katsumata singles match, that’s a million times better on paper than what this match delivered. What can you do? Not every match can be a winner.
This is something I have been looking forward to since the opener and of course we begin with the two bulls in Ishikawa and Higuchi to start the match. Time for my favorite pastime in wrestling, shoulder tackles between two big men. We then get into one of my favorite clichés in wrestling, the pose off and then a test of strength. If these guys keep it up we might have a 5 Star Classic on our hands. Poor Miyatake, no mere mortal can contend with the power of Zeus (save for All Japan).
This is such an enjoyable match if you love the sight of Miyatake getting decimated by both Ishikawa and Zeus. The tenacity of Miyatake breaks through and we are treated to Higuchi going off on both Ishikawa and Zeus but Zeus roars back to life with a suplex and the power of Titan Towers is running wild. Copyright that WWE. Higuchi gets an opening with a dropkick but can Miyatake follow-up on this advantage?
I’ve said it a million times to anyone willing to listen, do not trade forearms with Shuji Ishikawa. The combined might of Titan Towers nearly chokeslams Miyatake through the mat but Higuchi comes to narrowly save the day. In the end, Zeus hits a decapitation lariat on Miyatake and from there its academic with a Zeus chokeslam to put down the rookies with a heart of gold and massive amounts of fire. All of these matches have a simple story to them and they have all been a breeze to watch. This was a semi final that got the crowd invested and got them excited for the main event. I could have these four go at it again as even Miyatake was not overshadowed in this match even if he is not the biggest star in this match.
It’s still surreal to me how both men were born in 1995 and how much promise they have for only having 4 years of experience between the both of them. Takeshita has recently been getting more opportunities in the main event scene of DDT even though Happy Motels is hugely successful in DDT. Umeda has hooked up with Yukio Sakaguchi KUDO and Masa Takanashi as part of Shuten Doji and the sky is the limit for him.
There’s a bit of a feeling out process to begin this match with each man going for any kind of opening. Umeda grasps one with work to Takeshita’s knee consisted of kicks and stomps. Takeshita tries to answer with strikes of his own but Umeda is relentless and keeps Takeshita grounded. I can only hope that Takeshita actually realizes the work down on his knee and remembers a wounded wheel does not mean you can jump all over the ring. Takeshita rallies back with chops and some body slams even favoring his knee during his offensive flurry.
Takeshita’s Boston Crab and subsequent chop battle has Umeda reeling until he hits a dropkick and both men are down and drained. Fantastic back and forth down the stretch with Umeda getting combination strikes, Takeshita with a Fisherman’s Buster and Umeda countering Takeshita’s Blue Thunder Bomb into an ankle lock. Umeda bursts onto Takeshita with a tope con hilo furthering his advantage in the match. Umeda continues to wreak havoc on Takeshita with kicks to the chest and it’s possible there could be an upset here. At least I’m somewhat buying into it as in this instance it feels believable.
Stiff shots from both gentlemen as neither one is refusing to give an inch until Umeda catches Takeshita yet again with another ankle lock and somehow Takeshita escapes. Stellar strike sequence where both men rattle off some shots to crack a jaw or two. Umeda fights through a lariat and a brainbuster before finally succumbing to Takeshita’s wonderful Dead lift German Suplex. No, this is not a MOTYC or anything like that but a solid main event to cap off a highly enjoyable show that you should watch. I’m sure it’s unnerving to both Takeshita and Umeda’s peers how talented they are for only having a couple of years in the business together. Everything about this worked, the pacing, strikes, the fans buying into Umeda putting down Takeshita and Takeshita letting Umeda control the majority of his match but also picking smart spots for Umeda to follow through. Not a carry job by any means, both men were great dancing partners. I’d love to see them waltz yet again.
Final Thoughts: Go watch this show now. It’s 5 matches and less than 2 hours. Is there anything earth shattering? No. However, this is a consistent show where you feel like your time was not wasted. These DNA shows are credible and while they may not seem huge, sometimes what appears small in stature has the biggest heart of all. If you can’t get into DDT, DNA may just be the medicine for what ails you.