The new lift in Japan started out with a title match for Chris Brookes, as DDT crowned their first Universal champion this morning.

Yes, we’re picking up our irregular “looking at our favourites in other promotions” series – since Leyla Hirsch’s STARDOM run so far has mostly been tags, and we don’t want to monopolise it with Daniel Makabe!

This one comes from Korakuen Hall, and was the first match in Brookes’ year in Japan “excursion”. Oh, it’s also for some hardware, as DDT created a Universal championship. On paper, Takeshita’s the favorite, having had a lot of form in DDT with singles gold…

DDT Universal Championship: Chris Brookes vs. Konosuke Takeshita
Brookes has successfully gotten the Human Fly remix off of Lucky Kid, but his attempt to blindside Takeshita at the bell went bad as his missile dropkick was caught and turned into a powerbomb.

They end up outside early on as Chris got a Brookesing, before Takeshita took him up into the seating decks. Stomping on Chris’ hands does the trick, but Takeshita had his legs swept from under him as he ran… and after crashing to the floor, he’s pulled into an Octopus stretch. Takeshita gets free to pop Brookes into a stairway, before a running knee has Chris crawling back towards the ring… stopping only to swing a metal guardrail into Takeshita like a really shiny catflap.

On the ring apron, Brookes gets his own back for the stomping, before he draped Takeshita across some railings in the crowd and stomped him between some sections of seating. Finally they make it into the ring, where something resembling a regular match broke out, with Brookes working over Takeshita’s arm. Chops followed in the ropes, before Takeshita surprised Brookes with a Blue Thunder bomb for a near-fall.

A diving clothesline off the ropes, then a DDT keeps Takeshita in front, but a gamengiri out of the corner and a back senton off the top rope turned it around. At least for a moment, as he gets caught on the top rope with Takeshita looked for a superplex, only for Chris to slip free and shove him onto the apron as we passed the ten minute mark. Takeshita returned to the top rope, but had to fight out of an avalanche Praying Mantis Bomb attempt, slipping through so he could hit a German superplex instead. A springboard something or other’s countered into a cutter from Brookes, as a Shoop cutter quickly followed for a near-fall… before Takeshita countered out of a Praying Mantis Bomb in order to cut things off with a dropkick.

After waffling Brookes with a Shining Wizard, Takeshita keeps going as he looked to go for a Tiger driver… but switched it up into almost a package powerbomb for a near-fall. I’ve no idea what to call that! The pair go back and forth until Takeshita’s clothesline is no sold… the punch wasn’t, before Brookes countered a Last Ride into a sunset flip for a near-fall. The Praying Mantis Bomb’s next for another two-count, as another Octopus hold took Takeshita to the mat, only for it to be broken as Takeshita powered up and climbed the ropes, dumping Brookes with an Air Raid Crash onto the turnbuckles.

A springboard senton into Brookes is good for another near-fall, but rather than follow up on him, Takeshita lets Brookes get to his feet… and gets caught with a mounted key lock. That’s broken up and almost countered with a suplex until Brookes laid him out, and maintained wrist control, which worked against him. A ripcord German suplex attempt backfires for Takeshita who’s rolled up for a few near-falls, before a rebound German suplex and a knee strike set up Brookes for a Last Ride…

…except he gets free and shocks Takeshita with a figure four clutch, like Darby Allin’s Last Supper, and that’s the win! The lad from Tipton did good! Those of you worrying the year in Japan would be aimless, well, quit worrying – it’s going to be just fine. ***¾

Chris doesn’t get much time to celebrate though – he tries to thank the crowd, but gets nailed in the back with a chairshot from Daisuke Sasaki… who grabbed the belt and ran. I guess he has his first feud!

A pretty good first match back in Japan for Brookes, and if you’re looking to watch his adventures there, then www.ddtpro.com/universe is probably going to be your go-to VOD service for the coming year…