The D-OH Grand Prix kicks off for the third time in under two years on Friday. The tournament features fourteen participants split between two blocks, the winner receiving a shot at the top prize in DDT, the KO-D Openweight Championship. The participants range from foreign freelancers (Chris Brookes & Bull James), local outsiders (Masato Tanaka & Chihiro Hashimoto) and a member of DDT sub-brand Ganbare Pro (Keisuke Ishii) along with a mix of DDT regulars. We’ll start with a preview of the A Block and break down the feuds as well as everyone’s tournament outlook.
Konosuke Takeshita (DDT – ALL OUT)
5x & Current KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champion
4x KO-D Openweight Champion
3x KO-D Tag Team Champion
3x DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Champion
The twenty-four year old, thought to be next ace of DDT, Konosuke Takeshita, had his fourth reign as KO-D Openweight Champion ended at the hands of HARASHIMA earlier this month. Takeshita brings a lot of experience to the tournament as the winner of last year’s D-OH Grand Prix. He followed up that win by defeating Daisuke Sasaki to begin his third reign, only to lose it back to Sasaki shortly thereafter. Takeshita went on to win the single-elimination King of DDT tournament as a way to challenge once again for the title and begin yet another run as champion.
Dominating DDT for the better part of four years, this is Takeshita’s tournament to lose. Anyone else coming out of the A Block would be seen as a significant upset. All six block participants will be looking to make a statement at the expense of Takeshita but that’s easier said than done. Since 2016, Takeshita has held the KO-D Openweight Championship four times and owns a 67-16-5 record in singles competition.
Tetsuya Endo (DDT – DAMNATION)
1x KO-D Openweight Champion
4x KO-D Tag Team Champion
3x KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champion
1x DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Champion
The eternal rival to Konosuke Takeshita, Tetsuya Endo turned on his tag team partner and joined DAMNATION back in 2016. Since then the two have been attached at the hip, having wrestled four KO-D Openweight Championship matches. They’ve been the main event of two of the last three Peter Pan events and went to a 60-minute draw at Korakuen Hall in 2017. Takeshita put an end to Endo’s first reign at this year’s Peter Pan which has been the crux of their feud.
Every title match has seen Takeshita leave as the champion. Endo defeated Takeshita at last year’s D-OH Grand Prix but even that wasn’t enough to keep Takeshita from advancing to the tournament finals before ultimately winning the entire thing. This has the feeling of a make or break situation for Endo. If not now, when?
Chihiro Hashimoto (Sendai Girls)
5x Sendai Girls World Champion
1x Sendai Girls Tag Team Champion
1x KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champion
Similar to the rise of Konosuke Takeshita up the ranks of DDT, Chihiro Hashimoto has been doing the same in Sendai Girls. Now on her fifth reign in three years, Hashimoto comes in as the Sendai Girls representative to this year’s tournament. She has ties to DDT, specifically the ALL OUT faction, that saw her teaming up with DASH Chisako & Meiko Satomura to win the KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championships off of Takeshita, Akito & Yuki Iino.
Takeshita and company would reclaim the titles a couple of months later but Hashimoto managed to pick up a singles win over Iino on the same night so the night. The ties to ALL OUT make Hashimoto a great addition to this year’s tournament. While unlikely to win, the powerhouse is sure to make a great impression bowling over some of these men.
Chris Brookes (Freelancer)
1x FCP Champion
2x FCP Tag Team Champion
4x ATTACK Tag Team Champion
3x PROGRESS Tag Team Champion
Having found his way onto DDT’s radar earlier this year, Chris Brookes has become one of the more interesting foreigners DDT has brought over in recent memory. He won fans over quickly by fully immersing himself into the DDT style. Teaming with Masahiro Takanashi and wrestling in places like Gatoh Move has endeared Brookes to the DDT faithful.
Brookes wrestled Takeshita for the KO-D Openweight Championship earlier this year and will have another shot against him, this time in tournament format. DDT fans are hard to win over but Brookes’ stock continues to rise and a good performance in the D-OH Grand Prix will go a long way in cementing his place as a regular, much like Mike Bailey.
Keisuke Ishii (Ganbare Pro)
1x AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion
2x Independent Junior Heavyweight Champion
1x DDT Extreme Champion
6x KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champion
A fixture of the DDT roster for more than a decade, Keisuke Ishii made the move to DDT sub-brand, Ganbare Pro, earlier this year. His goal was to raise awareness of the brand as well as test himself as a draw. Ishii is a very consistent pro-wrestler who has competed in virtually every major promotion across Japan.
Now that Ishii is coming into the tournament as something of a self-made outsider, he’ll have a bigger chip on his shoulder to prove both himself and represent the Ganbare Pro brand. If you’re placing bets on who will win, stay away from Ishii. With that said, he’ll be one of the most consistent watches of the tournament night in and night out.
Yuki Iino (DDT – ALL OUT)
2x & Current KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champion
Current KO-D Ten Man Tag Team Champion
Having just come off his first KO-D Openweight Championship challenge to HARASHIMA on Sunday, all trends are pointing upwards for Yuki Iino. With less than three years of in-ring experience, this will be Iino’s first singles tournament. He has twenty-four singles matches to his name and more than twenty losses. This will be the next big test in the former rugby player’s career.
Iino has singles history with Sendai Girls own Chihiro Hashimoto who is one of Iino’s twenty-two losses. He’ll be looking to get that win back and make as many waves as possible in the biggest test of his career to date. Having received a recent KO-D Openweight challenge shows DDT have plans for Iino. There are crazier picks than him to win the block. He won’t win the tournament but there might be a push to the final in his future.
Yuki Ueno (DDT – Disaster Box)
1x KO-D Six Man Tag Team Champion
5x DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Champion
One of my favorite prospects in DDT is Yuki Ueno. He has an infectious charisma to him that makes him impossible to root against. A genuine crazy man, Ueno will scare you to death with some of the wacky bumps he takes. Unlike Yuki Iino, Ueno doesn’t seem to have any real direction right now. He’s been on the backburner but the talent and charisma are there whenever DDT decides to give him the opportunity.
A Ueno super push would be the wildest decision DDT could make for this block. I expect him to have some great performances and plenty of disgusting bumps but outside of a surprise win or two, I don’t see big results coming for him.
Safe Bet: Konosuke Takeshita
Dark Horse: Yuki Iino