熱波 wer!! An introduction to Konosuke Takeshita’s stable in DDT
With his recent excursion to America, DDT star Konosuke Takeshita has been making waves in the western wrestling community. Winning over even staunch critics of his comedy-heavy home promotion with his undeniable talent, he already has a widely praised TV match against then-AEW champion Adam Page and many fantastic indie main events to his name. Many fans are wondering:
What will be next for him?
One option that many DDT fans are clamouring for is for him to bring over his stable members for a couple of shows. Takeshita certainly seems open to the idea. This article aims to introduce you to them ahead of time, via a brief description and recommendation for a representative match.
The 37Kamiina (read “Sauna Kameena”), often called T37K or the Sauna Club for short, is a faction founded on the relationships its members formed through their eponymous shared hobby. Inspired by legendary DDT tag team The Golden Lovers, they claim that their great bond and lack of inhibitions makes them stronger than any other stable. The energy that going to the sauna gives them is called upon in their signature phrase of “熱波 wer!!” (Read “Neppower!”, roughly translates to “Heat wave power!”). Much like the Golden Lovers, they are lovable mavericks, not exactly pure babyfaces, but too widely adored to be heels. Every member is a memorable character who brings something unique to the table and occupies a “sauna role” that matches their position.
Konosuke Takeshita – In charge of the boiler:
Social Media: @Takesoup (Twitter); realtakesoup (Instagram)
Match Recommendation: Konosuke Takeshita vs Tetsuya Endo (Judgement 2022)
Takeshita is the one to turn on the heat. As by far the strongest wrestler in 37Kamiina and DDT at large, he drives the faction forward. Feeling isolated by his unequalled talent and lacking a worthy rival, much of Takeshita’s story consists of him trying to create such rivals through a mix of tough love and warm encouragement. His own stable is not exempt from that. While his singular focus on getting stronger can make him seem harsh and uncaring at times, his bond with the rest of T37K often reveals a softer side. In terms of wrestling, Takeshita is the closest thing the faction has to a brawler. His devastating mix of strength, speed and durability leave him with no identifiable weaknesses and the only way to beat him is to survive his terrifying bursts of power long enough to slowly whittle him down. All of this leads to Takeshita often being mistaken for the leader of T37K, but he prefers training and having fun with his friends over the intricacies of stable management.
Shunma Katsumata – In charge of the cold bath:
Social Media: @k_shunma_ddt (Twitter); k_shunma (Instagram)
Match Recommendation: Shunma Katsumata vs Hyper Misao (Dramatic Explosion 2021)
Shunma, the actual leader of 37Kamiina, is in many respects Takeshita’s polar opposite. As cold baths after sauna improve your circulation, he maintains the relationships of T37K. While he is somewhat prone to childishness and bad decisions in the heat of the moment, he can be the most mature and emotionally aware member of the stable when he puts his mind to it. Due to his small stature and troublemaking nature, he gets picked on and suffers a lot of misfortune. Despite this, he’s determined to always do his best and find as much happiness as he can. His attitude is also reflected in his wrestling style, which relies on his immense heart and utilizes his experience as a former idol win over the crowd, then draw strength from their support. The rift between the show- stealing moments he wants to create and his physical strength has led to many comedic failures, though. All in all, Shunma is not an imposing or respected leader, but he is very much beloved by and vital to 37Kamiina.
MAO – In charge of the bubble bath:
Social Media: @xinomaox (Twitter); xinomaox (Instagram)
Match Recommendation: MAO vs Veny (Mega Max Bump 2022)
MAO, the youngest of the original four, is an unpredictable source of creativity and levity. He is only beholden to his own whims and approaches his often ridiculous ideas with intense seriousness. His hobbies include creating punk music, birthing rubber ducks and trying to run over the owner of DDT with a car. MAO is actually quite well-studied, but considers that fact demeaning to his image and actively tries to hide it. In the ring, his creativity and cleverness are incorporated into a mix of flashy high-flying and very solid grappling. Much like Shunma, however, his showmanship can sometimes cost him. While MAO is still a very comedic wrestler, he is increasingly becoming a presence in the DDT title scene and not to be taken lightly.
Yuki Ueno – In charge of the showers:
Social Media: @dna_ueno (Twitter); dna_ueno (Instagram)
Match Recommendation: Yuki Ueno vs Yukio Sakaguchi (Kawasaki Strong 2021)
Ueno, former classmate and aspiring rival to Takeshita, is known for his positive and refreshing attitude, rarely polluted by negative emotions. He maintains that demeanour during matches, being primarily concerned with enjoying himself. There is a bit of a petty, teasing side to him, but he also loves his stablemates deeply and does not hesitate to admit it. As a wrestler, he is very well-rounded, utilizing submissions, strikes and high-flying alike, depending on what the situation demands. He can, however, be a bit of a glass cannon. His style and immense talent are often compared to Kota Ibushi and he is considered to be the future of DDT.
Toui Kojima – In charge of the future firewood:
Social Media: @toy_ddt_k (Twitter); toykojima (Instagram)
Recommended Match: Toui Kojima vs Yuya Koroku (Dramatic Dream Tour 2022 in Chiba)
Kojima’s role is one that is not immediately necessary but will be important as time goes on. The youngest member of the faction and still very much a rookie, he joined quite a bit later than the other four. He is very intense and emotional, but speaks in an awkward and monotone manner. Kojima is constantly bullied by everyone around him and typically too timid to stand up for himself. On the rare occasion that he does, he can manifest brief spurts of amazing strength. He has not yet developed a consistent style, but might be looking to dip his toes into something MMA-inspired. Currently, Kojima is still the baby of the bunch, but he’s clawing his way up bit by bit.
The variety, talent and close bond of T37K have firmly cemented them as the most dominant and popular stable in DDT. While they will probably not last forever in the promotion’s constantly changing landscape, right now they are untouchable and likely to have some great years ahead of
them. Not only is Takeshita laying the groundwork for them finding more widespread recognition worldwide, the rest of the stable is boosting their image in Japan, attempting to break into the mainstream via their recent appearance on the popular talk show “Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai”. DDT
has since added a showcase category specifically for them to their streaming service Wrestle Universe, which you can check out with a free 2-week trial.
As The 37Kamiina become more and more well-known, I hope that this article can be a jumping-off point for western fans who wish to dive deeper into Takeshita’s and his faction’s backgrounds. While disconnected matches can be fun to watch, it is ultimately the stories and character relationships that set wrestling apart as an artform and make those matches meaningful. And few factions have a stronger connection than T37K.
Thanks and credits:
Thank you very much to Joe for helping me with translations and wrestling style descriptions!
Photo credit: k_shunma; toykojima