DDT’s D-Ou Grand Prix came to an end last week with the finals on December 5th, where B Block winner and current KO-D Champion Konosuke Takeshita defeated A Block winner Yuki Ueno. Ueno reached the finals having scored tiebreaker victories over fellow six-point leaders in his block while Takeshita went through his block undefeated and finished on nine points. HARASHIMA on the other hand failed to score a single victory in the whole tournament.
That being said, Takeshita didn’t win every match. On Day 1 of the Grand Prix, he and Yuji Okabayashi reached a 30-minute draw to start the tournament, with both men going on to dominate the rest of the field. Unfortunately for Okabayashi, he met his tag partner in a potential block decider and HARASHIMA refused to end his tournament without a single point.
Like most HARASHIMA matches, this started off with slow mat grappling which is probably the only thing holding this match back. Unlike Takeshita/Yuji from the opening of the tournament, this pace doesn’t feel meaningless as it served to transition into HARASHIMA’s work over the leg. Nevertheless, it still feels a little odd to see someone like Yuji start off with technical wrestling.
Starting with a chop block, HARASHIMA targets Yuji’s leg with mostly kicks which is counteracted with Okabayashi’s brutal chops. Yuji sells the leg nicely as it slows him down enough to make you notice but not enough to take away from his amazing-looking offence. Even his torture rack tour around ringside is slightly hampered by a pained expression and a slight limp. HARASHIMA soon regains control with a springboard crossbody to the floor.
Back in the ring, the match heats up with HARASHIMA’s brutal mid-kicks. As soon as Yuji finds a counter, he gets locked in a kneebar. The match turns into a strike exchange as HARASHIMA and Okabayashi take turns in throwing some of the loudest strikes in wrestling today. Yuji throws chops consistently whereas HARASHIMA throws a mixture of kicks and chops, trying to find something that works but ultimately unable to match his opponent.
Eventually, a mid-kick from HARASHIMA knocks the wind out of Okabayashi and the strikes heat up even further. Both men’s expressive screams at each other only adds to the beauty of it. Okabayashi nails a powerslam and locks in a torture rack that HARASHIMA fights out of with a ropebreak. Getting thrown to the apron, HARASHIMA springboards into the waiting arms of Yuji who slams him down and looks for a lariat only to be met with a pair of roundhouse kicks and a Poison Rana. This sets up a standing Somato followed by a second to a kneeling Okabayashi who springs back to his feet and hits a lariat.
At some point in the strike exchange, Okabayashi’s eye gets cut open which adds an extra flair to an already fantastic strike exchange, especially when HARASHIMA isn’t shy to target his tag partner’s injury. Even a torture rack is made to look even more impressive when the man inflicting it has blood dripping down his face and chest.
HARASHIMA tries another kneebar only to be blocked and dropped with a deadlift German suplex. A pair of lariats sets up a diving splash which HARASHIMA counters with arguably the best moment of the match by leaping to his feet and catching Yuji by falling down with a mid-air double knee attack. They return to the strike exchange, even laughing at the others attempt as both men refuse to crumble under the pressure of the approaching time limit.
HARASHIMA throws some brutal slaps to the face which are returned by even louder shots from Okabayashi. A close cover after a powerbomb and a torture rack ends the match… in a time limit draw. Yuji holds the torture rack even after the time expires, refusing to accept anything less than victory. HARASHIMA ends his tournament with a single point and Yuji watches his D-Oh final dream slip away in just 5 minutes where Takeshita defeats Higuchi in the following match.
Watching this match live with a friend was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had watching wrestling in a long time. The opening portion of the match laid the groundwork for a fantastic contest between tag partners that want to win for totally different reasons. HARASHIMA desperate for a single point meeting Okabayashi who was destined for a place in the finals made for a brutal, spectacular and captivating story. A tournament ending with a potential finalist and a man with 0 victories – and yet the man with not a single win may have ended his tournament more satisfied than his opponent that didn’t lose a single match.