The biggest wrestling show of this past weekend was WWE Stomping Grounds, the but it was not the best or most important. The best and most important was the one I found myself watching the night of June 22, DDT BOYZ Harajuku Kawaii Special ~ Women Festival 17. I expected it to be fun, but I didn’t expect it to be the entertainment equivalent of an extreme sugar rush, from which I crashed at about noon the next day. When I recovered from the crash, my mind and soul were rejuvenated. I realized I hadn’t just enjoyed a wrestling show, I had had a revelation about wrestling. That why I’m writing this article; to share that revelation with the party that needs to read it the most: World Wrestling Entertainment.
People talk and write about what WWE main roster programming could learn from NXT, from New Japan, from itself twenty years ago, but after watching BOYZ and then Stomping Grounds in a period of under twenty-four hours, I realized that all of these takes are stupid and wrong and that the only wrestling brand WWE should be taking pointers from is the only flawless wrestling brand in the world, DDT BOYZ.
What Is DDT BOYZ?
BOYZ is one of the brands of DDT Pro Wrestling, the Japanese promotion that features a variety of wrestling styles but is most widely known for its more absurd comedy matches, some of which have taken place in places like campgrounds and office buildings. Some of DDT’s side brands, like those of WWE, have their own identities based on who is on the roster and what style of wrestling occurs there – Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (TJPW) is all women, while Basara is less flashy and has a roster of all men. Two of DDT’s brands, however, also build their identities based off of who makes up their audience. The currently inactive YaroZ brand sold tickets to live shows only to men and BOYZ sells tickets only to women.
Here’s how BOYZ’s new producer, wrestler Akito, described the brand after their most recent show (translation from DDT English Update):
“BOYZ, being a female-only audience show, was designed to be fan service for the regular DDT female fans, but I also want to bring new fans in, which continues to be the most important challenge for the whole industry. I do feel that more females are interested in the product now, so I want to run shows that get them more interested.”
As someone who doesn’t live in or attend wrestling shows in Japan, I’m not the primary target demographic of BOYZ. However, I am closer to being in the primary target demographic of BOYZ than I am for any other wrestling brand in the world. After watching the revived BOYZ product (the brand had been inactive since a show on Halloween 2017), I finally understood why some people who were adolescent boys during the Attitude Era still pine for it to return. Watching a wrestling show that cares about entertaining you specifically is an addictive feeling.
This article isn’t about pining for that high though! This is a serious and well-thought-out editorial about what WWE can and must learn from this company that is objectively doing pro wrestling better than anywhere else on the planet right now. These are the five crucial lessons WWE can and must learn from BOYZ. Vince, if you would like to discuss any of these points in depth or use my DDT Universe password to watch the show I’m talking about, you can DM me on Twitter.