Many promotions in the wrestling and MMA industries accomplished many great things last year. UFC 100 broke buyrate records, WWE drew over 50,000 people to Houston for Wrestlemania, New Japan successfully ran the Tokyo Dome, Dragon Gate expanded their company in a great variety of ways and there are probably several other examples I could name. However there was one accomplishment last year which stands out to me head and shoulders above the rest. This is one accomplishment that on the surface looks like a complete miracle but when you move the magnifying glass a little closer, you can see that it was no miracle but purely the product of hard work, solidarity and ambition.
Ryōgoku Kokugikan, or as it’s more commonly known – “Sumo Hall” is a venue steeped in tradition, both in the pro wrestling and sumo industries. It is a venue for big companies to run and it is a venue which is hard to sell out unless you really have you have a pretty good sized following in Tokyo. So when the Dramatic Dream Team promotion (DDT) announced that they were venturing into Sumo Hall on August 23rd of last year, many eyebrows were raised. DDT is your prototypical Japanese indy promotion. They don’t have a big TV deal, their wrestlers are by no means household names and they usually don’t run buildings much bigger than the 2,000 seat Korakuen Hall (which they would very rarely sell out). However, in Sanshiro Takagi, they have a president who really believes in his company and has an unyielding faith in his wrestlers. Takagi felt his little company could march into the big boys playground and hold their own.
Let’s be honest, everyone thought he was Antonio Inoki level insane. People looked at what Masahiro Chono’s two day “extravaganza” at Sumo Hall just a few months prior was able to draw (barely over a 1,000, and heavily papered) and understandably felt DDT with hardly any big names (except Chono himself in a midcard quasi-comedy match) would crash and burn in the same spectacular fashion. They were wrong. So very, very wrong.