On January 26, 2020, DDT’s silken-haired agent of chaos, Daisuke “Charisma” Sasaki, had an epiphany.
The Damnation leader was one of three wrestlers who secured an Anytime/Anywhere gauntlet over the course of the Anytime/Anywhere Delayed Entry Battle Royale match at DDT’s Sweet Dreams! that night. He was given one of the regular AT/AWs that is thrown into the mix each year, a contract that can change hands in any official match, and allows the holder to challenge for the KO-D Openweight Championship (essentially a more turbulent Money In The Bank situation). But one of the other victors, Yasu Urano, won a sword. This Saitama Super Arena Right to Challenge Sword had the same basic rules as the other gauntlets, but entitled the holder to a title shot in the main event of Peter Pan 2020, DDT’s biggest show of the year. Also, it was a sword.
In the final moments of the presentation ceremony, Sasaki very quickly worked through a bastardized version of the stages of grief and loss:
- Depression: That’s just his baseline state.
- Anger: Why didn’t he have a sword?
- Bargaining: Could he have a sword? Could he use his gauntlet to challenge for the sword?
- Acceptance : He was using his gauntlet to challenge for the sword RIGHT NOW.
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Two minutes later, Daisuke Sasaki had a sword.
As Sasaki was presented with his sword and launched into his first of what would soon become countless Fire Festival poses and seppuku attempts, many Damnation fans across the world went through their own series of realizations, most which can be distilled into “Fuck yeah! Sasaki has a sword… Oh no. Sasaki has a sword.”
Fuck yeah, because handing an iconic sharp object to an endless source of bizarre schemes and perversely whimsical misadventures opened up a whole new world of possibilities. This was a man who, in the past six months alone, had tried to convince an opponent three years his junior that he was his father, tried to avenge adolescent rugby grudges, tried to convert his stable into a rugby team, tried to incite a civil war in his stable/rugby team, and threatened to start a wrestling promotion in space, among many other things. Imagine what he could try to do with a sword!
Oh no because just as instantly as those prospects occurred to the average Sasaki connoisseur, so too did the inevitability of their collapse. Whatever wondrous bullshit awaited us, it could only end in tragedy.
It was truly gratifying ludicrousness while it lasted, though. Sasaki had big plans for that sword. In his first official actions as a sword holder, he declared that he was taking the sword to NXT to show it to the (frequently and vehemently) unrequited love of his life, Candice LeRae. Within forty-eight hours, he’d threatened to kill his fellow Damnation member, Tetsuya Endo, over it on Twitter. And although he made no tangible steps toward those plans, he did proceed to spend even more time dramatically swinging and posing with the sword, threatening opponents and teammates alike with almost equal fervor, and generally conducting himself like an older but no more mature kid with a knife meme. “Please don’t use it like that” became a regular request from members of the press during backstage interviews. He never learned how to sheathe the thing for himself, preferring to thrust both sword and sheath toward the nearest ref with the resigned petulance of a child kicking an untied shoe into an adult’s hands. It was hilarious. Sometimes it was mildly alarming. If you happen to be into that kind of stuff — which it turns out I totally am — it was pretty hot.
It also provided a certain vicarious pleasure.
There’s a real everyman quality to Charisma. Not in any aspirational sense. When placed into extraordinary circumstances — like, say, being given a sword to wield and defend — he will not rise to the occasion and become a hero. A real People’s Fuckup, if you will. As much as I like to imagine that I would do any better if given a sword of my own, I know in my heart that I would just swing it around at great risk to myself and everyone around me and try to impress someone who would care even less about my sword than they cared about me. And it’s nice having a wrestler who can meet me where I’m at with this shit.
Much like life, though, Sasaki’s sword possession could not last forever. And, much like life, all we could hope for was to try to extract some joy and meaning from the delightful fuckery while it lasted. No amount of preparation can truly insulate you from the pain when the inevitable finally occurs, though.
On February 23, Daisuke Sasaki lost his sword after Akito pinned him in an eight man elimination tag match at Into the Fight. It was arguably the best case scenario for the end of the Sasaki With A Sword Era. He didn’t lose it in a bar one night, which seemed like a real possibility. Everyone who came into contact with him and/or the sword is still alive and unmarred, at least physically.
The sword is fine.
Endo won it a few moments later and while he has figured out how to sheathe it, he seems otherwise prone to similar levels of dysfunctional sword-related behavior. He’s already threatened to kill Charisma over it on Twitter. Sasaki’s bullshit is in good shape, too. He’s already moved on to stealing belts, liberally interpreting Marie Antoinette quotes, and apologizing for his actions with the utmost sincerity.
It might not be the same, but the important thing is that it happened at all. A month ago, it had never even occurred to me that Sasaki should have a sword, and now I have all of these memories to lighten the rest of my wretched days. Memories about a dipshit who had a sword, tried to stab his closest ally, the media, and himself with it, and then lost it.
Oh no, Sasaki lost his sword. Fuck yeah, Sasaki had a sword.