A tense press conference ahead of DDT Pro Wrestling’s Judgment 2021 event on March 28th led to a stinging exchange between KO-D Openweight Champion Jun Akiyama and his next challenger, Kazusada Higuchi .
The pair have been on a collision course for months, with Akiyama having fallen to Higuchi during the D-OH Grand Prix tournament, en route to his eventual title win at February’s Kawasaki Strong event.
In the immediate aftermath of his title win, Akiyama selected Higuchi as his first challenger and noted that he could not wear the belt until he had corrected that defeat.
Higuchi, who is currently one half of the KO-D Tag Team Champions with Yukio Sakaguchi, cut a stern figure throughout the press conference and noted his unwillingness to accept Akiyama as a true DDT roster member, despite the legendary figure having signed with the company earlier this year:
At Kawasaki he won the belt, and in the ring, in the DDT ring, there were Akiyama and Kobashi. To me, that’s not DDT. To me, he’s still an outsider.
Kenta Kobashi had indeed been at ringside as a ‘special observer‘ for the Kawasaki Strong title match between Akiyama and then-champion Tetsuya Endo, who had sought his advice in the build up.
Akiyama was quick to respond by suggesting that Higuchi’s time in DDT had perhaps limited his world view:
This is what is not good about DDT. He shouldn’t care that Kobashi is in the ring, but he’s been wrestling in a small bubble and doesn’t know the outside world.
I know the outside world, I will teach him in the ring.
Judgement 2021 will stream live on the subscription service Wrestle Universe on March 28th and will also feature a KO-D 8-Man Tag Team Championship match between champions Antonio Honda, Kazuki Hirata, Shinya Aoki and Super Sasadango Machine against challengers, Team Thoroughbred, which consists of Sanshiro Takagi, Yukio Naya, Chikara and Yakan Nabe.
With thanks to DDT/TJPW English Update (D/TEU) for the transcript. Full translation of the press conference can be found here.