Puroresu Reviews

DDT Judgement 2016 Review (3/21/16)

Come one, come all to Dramatic Dream Team’s biggest show of the year. It’s their 19th Anniversary and the card is absolutely loaded. It’s Judgement 2016 from Sumo Hall! Clocking in at a nearly SIX HOUR length broadcast, it’s assuring everyone that it will deliver not only from an in ring standpoint, but from spectacle and comedy standpoints as well. Backing that claim up is the booking, with Akebono vs. Danshoku Dino on the card, as well as Yukio Sakaguchi, plus, in the main event, HARASHIMA looks to reclaim what was always his championship vs. Isami Kodaka, ace of the indies! So much more is on the show, including Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae, a traditional battle royal, a huge KO-D Tag Championship match, and EVEN MORE, so let’s get into the frenzy that is DDT Judgement 2016 on tape delay from Sumo Hall in Ryugoku.

We got Tokyo Joshi Pro, DNA, and BASARA offer matches as dark matches, in which still aired on Samurai but there’s already so much to cover over multiple hours, I’ll have to watch these later.

We got an epic opening to the show as for every match on the card, the arena would go dark and spotlight the ring where said match participants would be in the ring taunting.

(K-OD Openweight Championship Right to Challenge Anytime, Anywhere Battle Royal) Cherry vs. Gorgeous Matsuno vs. Kazuki Hirata vs. Kazusada Higuchi vs. Ken Oka vs. Masa Takanashi vs. Ryota Nakatsu vs. Ryuichi Sekine vs. Soma Takao vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga vs. Toru Owashi vs. YOSHIHIKO

There were 4 contracts setup above the ring, and they were up for grabs, with four ‘winners’ of them plus the winner of the actual Battle Royal. As for the match itself, this was a fun Battle Royal, but not anywhere near some of the best DDT ones. I’m glad DNA people like Higuchi got a massive showcase in front of nearly 7000 in Sumo Hall, and Ken Oka being over with the crowd was an awesome sight. Yoshihiko was a surprise entrant who this time was Undertaker Yoshihiko, but only lasted a minute or two until he was thrown out by douchebag Hirata! Cherry, Matsuno, Nakatsu, and Sekine all were short lived. Soma Takao didn’t win a card, nor the match, hence he was the next to last competior left standing. The finishing stretch with Takao and Higuchi was awesome, with exciting near falls. Eventually Takao got overpowered and Higuchi hit his signature chokebomb for the win and K-OD Openweight Championship opportunity. Ken Ohka got a Right to Challenge with his card, and will be cashing it in on March 26, Matsunaga and Owashi also got Right to Challenge contracts, but never said when they’d be cashing them in, and Hirata got Aja Kong as a present. Kazusada Higuchi will get his KO-D Openweight Championship shot on April 24. A fun, very DDT opener.

Smile Squash (Akito & Yasu Urano) vs. The World's Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae) vs. Team Dream Futures (Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie)

This was a very entertaining match! Everyone kept me laughing and intriged all the way through. This was a good balance of comedy and wrestling, and didn’t lean too far towards one subject matter. Candice LeRae and Shigehiro Irie were by far the stars of the match, and it was no surprise that there interactions were fantastic. Part of the match was built around the fact that Irie didn’t want to directly make contact with LeRae, because he’s a ladies man. This led to some hilarious situations and awkward dodge and dives from both LeRae and Irie. Ishii and Akito, and Urano too all were serious about the match, which kept things moving as the comedy would split up the moves and then they’d try and act all serious like this was an important match. We got Joey Ryan’s dick gripping people, a Tower of Doom Ballsplex, a huge off the apron Candice hurrincanrana, double DDT’s, and a lot more. In the end it came down to Irie and Akito. Irie gave a massive Beast Bomber to Akito to win the match for Dream Futures. Really fun time spent, especially World’s Cutest doing their shtick and getting over well. It’s crazy how Irie was just main eventing a show vs. Isami Kodaka and was then put in the second match on the biggest show of the year. It goes to show how versatile and awesome he is at whatever he does. I laughed and grinned at him and Candice.

LiLiCo, Kota Umeda & Mizuki Watase vs. Saki Akai, Makoto Oishi & Ladybeard

I don’t have much to say about this match other than a few things. First off, this was a lot better than expected. I’m not sure if I expected a trainwreck, but it definitely wasn’t a trainwreck. The match had more structure and finer action than anticipated, that’s for sure. LiLiCo looked like a mother to Umeda and Watase where as the Akai, Oishi, and Ladybeard team was just plain goofy. Saki Akai looks to be improving as once upon a time her wrestling skill was hot garbage; but she’s slowly coming around. She gave a mean Penalty Kick! When you add in Umeda and Watase tagging in and out and Oishi/Ladybeard being entertaining and putting up a fight, the end result really wasn’t that bad. It was short and nothing offensive. The finish saw LiLiCo apply an Octopus Stretch on Oishi after escaping the choke grip he had on her thanks to Umeda.

LiLiCo cut a promo presumably putting over the fact she’s Iron Man Heavymetalweight Champion and how she beat the other team. Akai went for a roll-up out of nowhere but LiLiCo kicked out. More blabber on the mic and both teams exited.

Antonio Honda & Hiroshi Fukuda vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & LEONA

We had ourselves a WWE Hall of Famer working Judgement 2016! There are matches that are mostly boring. This was one of them. It is always great to see Fujinami still work, but you guys have got to understand that LEONA is one of the most bland wrestlers on the planet. Yes, that is Fujinami’s son. What was humerous here was the fact that Honda and Fukuda messed around as they love to do — but basically all the time in comparison to serious bland LEONA and legend Fujinami. There were Ric Flair impressions, there were Dusty Rhodes impressions, and everything got funky. LEONA tagged out to his dad, who came in and cleaned house with dragon screws. Fukuda sang to distract Fujinami, and Honda low-blowed him, but that didn’t matter in the end as LEONA saved the day by dragon screwing Honda; and Fujinami locked in the Dragon Sleeper on Fukuda who immediately tapped.

(DDT Extreme Championship Ultimate Royal Barbed Wire Power Point No Electric Current Blast PWF Rules) Kendo Kashin (c) vs. Super Sasadango Machine

How about that stipulation, huh? WHAT DID I JUST WATCH? This was the most confusing match in the history of professional wrestling. It was worked like a regular match, but it was almost like a board game. Someone would take a card out and play it, which then would ignite the titantron with a slow zoom-in on a cartoon Ultimate Warrior. Them, a hoard of the person playing’s clones would come out from under the ring and attack the opponent. Also, the ref would have a mask of Kashin on when Kashin played his card. A few of those happened and then we got to the finish. Sasadango played a card in which put a mask of his on the ref, and then the ref fast counted Kashin. Super Sasadango Machine is the new DDT Extreme Champion! There was no point in having the barbed wire Power Point computer, but this is DDT. That was just on the side. Super Sasadango Machine did his powerpoint presentation before the match anyways. Long live awfully confusing yet insanely fun DDT comedy matches. At least Kendo Kashin isn’t champ anymore.

(Kota Ibushi Return Match ~ 3-Way Falls Count Anywhere Weapon Treasure Hunt Match) Golden Storm Riders (Kota Ibushi & Gota Ihashi) vs. Sanshiro Takagi & Jun Kasai vs. KENSO & Michael Nakazawa

I don’t even know where to start. This was the peak of professional wrestling insanity. Take the Hardcore 24/7 rule, apply that craziness to a match, make it more puroresu influenced, add in vintage Dramatic Dream Team happenings; and you’ve got Kota Ibushi’s return match. The first thing that happened was the guys made their entrances, but all met outside Sumo Hall to do battle. There, through large crowd frenzies, they fought everywhere and someone fell down the staircase. Then we saw KOTA IBUSHI DO A PILEDRIVER TO MICHAEL NAKAZAWA THROUGH A TOILET. Throughout the arena we saw battling through stands, Kenso and Takagi chasing each other on bicycles, and the last thing before people hit the ring — Ibushi doing a moonsault off the elevated stands onto Ihashi and Nakazawa. Then, once we were in the ring, this randomly turned into a boxing match after there was a human body in the coffin that so happened to have boxing gloves on that escaped. Everyone shot on each other and I’m pretty sure Ihashi got shoot knocked out. Ibushi got knocked out too, and was splashed by Kenso, but TAKAGI BROKE UP THE PIN WITH A FIRE EXTINGUISHER. Loads of other things happened like Jun Kasai hitting his signature splash off the coffin or various other non-Ibushi related side brawls throughout the match. In the end Ibushi got the win with a Phoenix Splash on Nakazawa. Absolutely amazing stuff, and a match that will be remembered all throughout 2016 because of multiple things: Kota Ibushi’s first match back, working this type of match, all the spots especially the toilet piledriver, and the event it took place on. You have to see this to believe it.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Yukio Sakaguchi

You won’t find a more average ‘dream match’ than this one. I was shocked at how this failed to deliver on a high level considering the quality of wrestling these two provide and the stories and shock value that is prevalent throughout all their bouts. There was none here. It felt as if the two simply were going through the motions, having a good house show type of match, feeling each other out and leaving no long lasting impact on the fans. It wasn’t memorable nor notable in relation to this show and other dream matches that have been booked. This wasn’t even the best match on this show thus far! Some may call it good, but I wouldn’t even go that far. There were some great exchanges such as Penalty Kick ownership battles, with Minoru Suzuki proving that that’s HIS move by dominating, and back and forth damage being dealt like Yukio holding Suzuki in the Cobra Clutch; yet, I didn’t feel like it was special nor building to something. The finish came out of nowhere where Suzuki managed to keep the sleeper on Sakaguchi no matter how hard he tried to fight out of it. Abruptly the bell rang and the two hugged. That was it.

Important news: Danshoku Dino kissed a child wearing his merch and it was the cutest thing ever.

Akebono vs. Danshoku Dino

From one dream match, to a DDT labeled dream match, or a dream match in some’s sick, twisted minds. This was legitimately a better match than Suzuki vs. Sakaguchi. This kept me entertained the whole way through and was the best possible usage of the DDT roster, including the best usage of those Super Sasadango clones on this show! Also, Kota Ibushi made an appearance, coming out with a near fully naked Gota Ihashi to add onto the ass corner frenzy. After a lone few minutes of ‘actual’ wrestling, the lads turned this into a comedy clinic featuring booty tributes, one by one, volunteering to stick out their ass in the four corners of the ring to create almost like a lumberASS match. This made for multiple hilarious promos and mass confusion, including Akebono who was left sitting up in the middle of the ring pondering what in the world to do. Makato Oishi and Dino did a ROLLING ASS CRADLE to finally get Dino’s ass in Akebono’s face, but, little did Dino know Akebono would beat him at his own game. Akebono put on a replica of Dino’s undergarment gear, kissed Dino, did the signature hump spot which sent Dino flying into asses, and gave him a piledriver for the victory. If you’re a homophobic prick that can’t take a joke or erotic comedy, skip this one (Cornette). If you’re like most awesome people and can enjoy something for what it is, as well as an erotic gimmick that’s to be sure to make you laugh, scope this bad boy out.

(KO-D Tag Team Championship) Happy Motel (Konosuke Takeshita & Tetsuya Endo) (c) vs. Daisuke Sasaki & Shuji Ishikawa

Tag team wrestling, when done right, is my absolute favorite thing in wrestling. This match was done right, producing a lot of drama, and furthering us into a universe where Sasaki and his ‘pet’ dominate Dramatic Dream Team. This was simply a battle for the tag team championship, and one that integrated lots of excitement. There wasn’t a story told other than the fact that Happy Motel wanted to keep the titles, and Sasaki and his literal PET wanted the titles to prove their dominance. The action in this match was unreal, with Ishikawa the MVP of the match; dealing damage as one of the best big men in wrestling left and right, and getting chopped down like a tree at times to leave Sasaki alone; only to come back just in time to save the match. Between Sasaki and Shuji getting hit with a mountain of offense for exciting near falls, to knees gutting Happy Motel in the midsections, to the Doomsday Device making me think it was the end of the match before not happening, to Takeshita pulling out an RKO and Phoenix Splash; this all built to an epic finish. Two helluva kicks and a German suplex…PLUS an inside-out lariat still wasn’t enough to retain the titles. Takeshita kicked out of the Doomsday device, and Endo continued to save the match. An Endo pele got countered into a Big Ending and Takeshita was once again vulnerable for Sasaki to beat. A compelling submission spot saw Takeshita be put in the La Mistica Cross Facelock and with all his might, getting close to the ropes, only to be dragged back; yet he still didn’t want to tap. So, with that being the message, Sasaki locked in a brutal abdominal stretch varation that made Takeshita tap out in seconds. We have new KO-D Tag Team Champions. Fantastic stuff!

DDT is the best in the world at video packages. This precursor had a big time feel, with highlights of training, interviews, and the like. Just so awesome and entertaining plus gripping. HARASHIMA’s entrance is always the best.  The BASARA army came out with Isami which was really cool.

(KO-D Openweight Championship) Isami Kodaka (c) vs. HARASHIMA

This was not only a fitting main event for Sumo Hall, but a fantastic one. Although it ended on an unexpected note, it was on one that made sense, and that goes hand in hand with a characteristic of one of the best in the world; HARASHIMA. His big matches are so special, because every little thing he does adds up in the end and adds something to the battle. It’s a methodical fight with HARASHIMA, but one in which he keeps to one approach and sells damage like no one else you’ll see. For example, at the beginning of the match, HARASHIMA did 4 stomps all whilst conserving his energy. There was tons of leg work from Isami throughout the match, and for those that complain about someone who ‘stops’ selling in a match; you all need to see this performance from HARASHIMA as not only does he sell the whole way through, but he does it in a natural way; one in which you believe his leg is legitimately worked to the point of exhaustion. The first pin of the match wasn’t even rushed to, but was a big deal with a super hurricanrana false finish. This was labeled as an ace vs. ace battle, and it was worked like such, with two of the best in Japan working against in other; but in the way that you can tell it’s the best vs. best. The counters weren’t paint by the numbers, are were unique in relation to the limbwork and momentum switches. There would be knees up for an Isami double stomp, and the next blink of an eye you’d see Kodaka turn a sequence of moves back into leg limbwork. HARASHIMA has better facial expressions than anyone in wrestling, and nearly turned into a mixture of sadistic and happy when he finally got in control of the match. A huge kickout spot saw HARASHIMA kickout of the Trance Rave to keep on trucking. Earlier in the match, a swipe took out Isami, so Isami dodged this one, and dodged it again, but was taken out by a repeated swipe as HARASHIMA was simply the better man. A Somato was hit and the crowd erupted. Just like that, in another blink of an eye, I only remember the next thing being a SPRINGBOARD SOMATO that ended Isami Kodaka’s reign in front of a jam packed Sumo Hall. Not a classic match, but one that did everything right, and although was still a longer type of match, felt so short. Time goes by quick when you watch some of the best do their jobs, and when you watch your favorite thing in the world.

After HARASHIMA’s victory speech, a video package recapped all of DDT’s anniversary shows in the past, and announced that on March 20, 2017, DDT will hold its 20th Anniversary Show in Saitama Super Arena; not in the hub, but in the main hall. That has a capacity of 37,000. That show is going to be fantastic. Speaking of fantastic shows, DDT Judgement 2016 more than delivered. As usual with the DDT brand, we got a boatload of variety, and everything for the most part was mega fun. Challengers were set up for HARASHIMA with the always entertaining battle royal which gave out three Right to Challenge contracts, the undercard was harmless with highlights being Candice and Joey killing it alongside Shigehiro Irie. Team Kawaii losing to LiLiCo and her two sons (not actual sons), Tatsumi Fujinami making an appearance but being dragged down by LEONA as per usual, Super Sasadango Machine capturing the Extreme Championship in a ridiculous match with Kendo Kashin that saw clones of each guy come out from under the ring. The only unfortunate part of the show being Minoru Suzuki and Yukio Sakaguchi falling flat, Akebono and Danshoku Dino putting on a comedy clinic, fantastic tag wrestling paired with the fact that we have new KO-D Tag Team Champions in Daisuke Sasaki and Shuji Ishikawa; and a thunderous main event that saw HARASHIMA win the KO-D Openweight Championship for a ninth time. It looks like DDT can only be on the up and up from here. Until next time.

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