Maybe You Can Go Home Again: Konosuke Takeshita in the United States

Two cliched phrases come to mind when looking at the extended excursion DDT’s Konosuke Takeshita just completed in the United States of America. The first one is “Travel broadens the mind.”

The whole idea of Japanese wrestlers going on excursion, of course, is to get experience with multiple styles of pro wrestling, and use that experience to come back to the home promotion as a star of the future. It’s a practice that goes back to the beginnings of pro wrestling itself in Japan. As awful as it was, you don’t get Kazuchika Okada as The Rainmaker without first getting O-Kato.

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So it was, when Konosuke Takeshita announced he would be taking some time away from DDT earlier this year to go on a tour of the United States. Having had his fifth reign as DDT’s KO-D Openweight Champion end after a 46-minute bout with Tetsuya Endo at the JUDGEMENT 2022 25th Anniversary Event on 3/20/2022, and his confidence as leader of his stable, The 37KAMIINA, being shaken, Takeshita opted to go on this excursion in order to grow as a wrestler.

Keeping in mind that Takeshita’s career began 8/18/2012 at the age of 17, DDT’s Wrestle Peter Pan 2012, their 15th Anniversary event, losing in his official debut to none other than El Generico. Not only has Takeshita held the KO-D title five times (third all-time to only HARASHIMA [10] and Sanshiro Takagi [6]), but also the longest single reign at 405 days (3/20/2017 – 4/28/2018), one wonders just how much growing as a wrestler did he have to do?

Cinnabon Dark, Cinnabon: Elevation

Leaving after being on the losing side of a special 6-man match at DDT April Fool 2022 on 4/10/2022 from Tokyo Korakuen Hall, Takeshita made an immediate splash in America … by posting his constant trips to various Cinnabon shops during his travels. He posted about Cinnabon almost daily. Naturally, in this age of terminally online social media employees at the corporate level, Cinnabon eventually began to take notice and interact with Takeshita over Twitter. Indeed, once Takeshita left to go back to DDT in mid-August, Cinnabon had a sad day online, as not only was one of their biggest fans leaving the country, but the other big cultural touchstone involving Cinnabon, the TV series Better Call Saul, aired its final episode. (Takeshita did offer to rewatch Better Call Saul with Cinnabon.)

There was more to Takeshita’s excursion than just cute interactions with Cinnabon, however. He featured semi-regularly on AEW programming. Sure, a lot of Takeshita’s AEW matches were against the likes of Ryan Nemeth and Brandon Cutler on the Dark and Dark: Elevation YouTube shows. But in addition to those, and participation in two battle royales he would not win, Takeshita did get some choice matchups against the likes of Adam Page and Eddie Kingston, as well as a particularly bloody AEW World Title Eliminator match against the interim champion, Jon Moxley. All of this culminated in Takeshita challenging the then-newly crowned Ring Of Honor World Champion, Claudio Castagnoli, at the Battle Of The Belts III event that aired on 8/6/2022.

In between AEW events, however, Takeshita became a marquee attraction in the American indies, having several matches in PWG. PRESTIGE, Black Label Pro, DEFY, GCW, all had Konosuke Takeshita in a featured matchup. He was even able to take part in the resurrected Jim Crockett Promotions event for Ric Flair’s Last Match on 7/31/2022. Much like Minoru Suzuki’s extended American tour last autumn, Takeshita made quite a name for himself in the states, expanding not only his horizons as a wrestler, but also, his fandom and name recognition among professional wrestling fandom at large. Perhaps the pro wrestling corollary should be “Travel broadens your fame.”

Home Again

As with all good things, however, this excursion came to an end. Takeshita returned to Japan, with a brief stopover for a two-night event in the UK for PROGRESS, in time for DDT’s traditional biggest show of the year, Wrestle Peter Pan 2022 on 8/20/2022. Two days after the exact 10th Anniversary of Konosuke Takeshita’s wrestling debut, he would take part in a special 25th Anniversary match for the company that fostered him his whole career.

Wrestle Peter Pan 2022 was held at Tokyo Ota Ward Gymnasium, a smaller venue than the one that usually hosts this event, Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan. And there are still restrictions on both crowd attendance and crowd interactions in Tokyo due to the continued pandemic. Sadly, this kept the attendance at 1250 people, and like any NJPW event held in the last two years, the only crowd noise was limited to handclaps.

That said, it didn’t stop the crowd at Ota Ward Gymnasium from appreciating the return of Takeshita, getting as big a reaction as legally allowed, when he arrived with his The 37KAMIINA stablemate MAO and wrestler Yasu Urano to take on DAMNATION T.A.’s Daisuke Sasaki & KANON, teaming with Dick Togo, arriving in a House Of Torture shirt. DAMNATION T.A.’s MJ Paul and Minoru Fujita also were on the scene as seconds for the heels.

I mentioned above “Travel broadens the mind.” To listen to the English announcers for the match (Christelle Ciari, Hiroshi Arai & Bryan Burton Lewis), you’d think it also broadens the body, as they could not stop talking about how much bigger Takeshita was since last he was in a DDT ring. Maybe all the Cinnabon bulked him up. Ahem.


The match started with MAO v. Dick Togo, with the latter showing more actual wrestling than he’s done in the last two years in NJPW. After a few minutes, we get the real attraction of the match – Takeshita vs. Sasaki, old rivals going at it once more. (Sasaki ended Takeshita’s 3rd reign as KO-D champion, at the Coming To America show in NYC on 4/4/2019… only to lose it minutes later to then-stablemate Tetsuya Endo.) KANON would get involved, as would MJ Paul and Minoru Fujita, anything to give DAMNATION T.A. the edge.

As the match progressed, it was clear Takeshita was the focus. In one sequence, Takeshita went to the outside to take out all of DAMNATION T.A. before getting a near-fall on Sasaki. Then, Sasaki & Togo got Takeshita & Urano, respectively, into double crossface holds, broken up by MAO after he shook off KANON. However, Sasaki & Togo then both hit Pedigrees on Takeshita & Urano, and went for dual diving elbow drops, but the heels missed. Takeshita & Sasaki went at each other again, with Sasaki superkicking Takeshita, before tagging in KANON.

KANON then nearly got the better of Takeshita for a time, with multiple near-falls and submission attempts. Urano & MAO then lended a hand to the fighting Takeshita, leading to a Jumping Knee Strike from Takeshita that surely would have sealed the deal but for DAMNATION T.A. pulling the ref out of the ring! Sasaki, Togo & MJ Paul then lay into Takeshita with chairs for KANON to take advantage of, including hitting Takeshita with his own lariat variant.

In the end, Takeshita got the win over KANON with another Jumping Knee Strike. Afterwards, he told the crowd he’s back, and ready to be the best wrestler in the world, while still working for DDT, his “true home.”

Let’s Fight

The night wasn’t over for Takeshita, however. Following the main event, where Kazusada Higuchi defeated Tetsuya Endo to retain the KO-D title, Higuchi immediately nominated Takeshita for his next defense, on 9/25/2022 at Korakuen Hall. Takeshita came back out to the ring, merely saying “Let’s fight” before departing once more.

While Takeshita claims DDT is his true home, who knows what the future actually holds for him. Takeshita is due to return to America by October. He has said he wants to be the KO-D champion for his return to the States. With the great impression Takeshita made in his first excursion, it would not be any great shock to discover Tony Khan may want him around AEW a lot longer than originally planned and offer him a deal to make Takeshita All Elite. Indeed, with the new regime at WWE, who’s to say Paul Levesque may not make a shock offer to this wrestler who’s yet to hit his prime. Or he could just be holding out for a Cinnabon sponsorship.

I said at the top of the piece there were two phrases that come to mind. The other one, may not be as accurate as we thought. If his match at Wrestle Peter Pan 2022 is anything to go by, even after a high-profile excursion as the one Konosuke Takeshita has just had, maybe you can, in fact, go home again.