I’m not going to go into great detail in any specific match as you can watch the full show for yourself here. I would like to say how great it is to see DG in a big venue for an important PPV again. It feels like it’s been a long time for some reason and by all accounts it sounds like Sumo Hall was super no vacancy. However, the question remains, was the show good enough to justify the importance?
3-22-2009 from Sumo Hall in Tokyo, PPV:
1. Akira Tozawa and Kenshin Chikano vs. RYOMA and KAGETORA
A decent opener for this event but nothing super special. I’m starting to get more into Chikano now but I’m really not feeling RYOMA at ALL. His image is just horrible and he still feels super green in the ring. Tozawa and especially KAGE held this one together, and although I’ve never been a big fan of him, I felt he was the standout in this match. He whiffed a big lariat that just boggles the mind near the end of the match which just left me speechless. He clearly decided it was Chikano’s fault though and took it out on his with the finish. RYOMA’s sasuke special probably got the biggest pop of the match (probably out of surprise more than anything) but KAGETORA and Tozawa did the best job bringing the crowd into the match. A decent showing.
2. Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, Magnitude Kishiwada vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kento Miyahara, Takashi Okita
I know very little about Kensuke Office. I kind of zoned out during this match as I’m very ho hum on just about everyone in the ring, especially Mochi. In all honesty I probably enjoyed the Sasaki vs Ichikawa match that followed more. I apologise for this.
3. Open the Twin Gate: Susumu Yokosuka, Gamma (C) vs. Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi
Dragon Gate lately has been on fire in the twin gate realm, most notably with SpeedMuscle and the now defunct AraIwa. This, match however, would have to go down as one of the worst I have ever seen from this promotion. There’s some serious history going on here between Ryo and Susumu most obviously, but you still have Gamma wanting revenge on RH. However, the match is just an absolute mess from start to finish with every single participant responsible, ref included. The majority of the match is spent either with Gamma using spit offense, or RH using it on Gamma. The pace is slooooow and, while you can’t ever expect the rules to get in the way of a good match, here it’s just a joke beyond believability. Why exactly is Yagi stopping Susumu from entering the ring when 90% of the match it is Genki and Ryo double teaming Gamma? And I’m not talking flash run-ins with ref distraction, I’m talking actual two on one handicap match. They seemed to just decide to give up on any semblance of believability here.
The finish was equally laughable with what appeared to be a couple of whiffed three counts from Yagi, although I suspect he was hoping Ryo would attack him earlier than he did. Poor form on Ryo really who really isn’t fitting into his heel role at all well based on this match. When the bell finally comes it is amidst more series of confusing events that involve RH involvement and RH leave looking pleased even though they left without the belts and W-5 look pissed even though they kept them. I think Gamma looks the most angry here but this is probably because he knows that he was part of DG’s Taker/Kane vs Kronik. If I could give this match negative stars I would.
4. Open the Brave Gate: Masato Yoshino (C) vs. CIMA
Finally a good solid match with some good pacing going on. For the most part it is CIMA dominating which is a shame, especially in the second half with his serious lack of selling. It certainly wasn’t on the same level as their series last year, but it was a good match to get the crowd involved once more. I’m not entirely sure what the point of putting the belt on CIMA is other than to keep him out of the Dream Gate section, but really, they should be using this belt to bring up the younger guys. Even though he’s challenged for the Dream Gate a couple of times, I’d like to see Iwasa make a Brave Gate run sometime soon.
5. Open the Triangle Gate: Taku Iwasa, Shingo Takagi, Dragon Kid vs. BxB Hulk, PAC, Naoki Tanisaki vs. YAMATO, Yasushi Kanda, Kenichiro Arai
Now we’re talking. This is really what DG has to offer. The match has some fantastic pace and everyone here delivers solidly if not moreso. I’m starting to worry about Kanda a little though as he looks like he is detoxing big time. RH’s pre-match nonchalance is fantastic here. I think specific mentions for YAMATO, Shingo and DK need to be made as these guys really worked the crowd. DK is still so crisp and really got the crowd going big time with his few spots and I’d really like to see them do more with him. YAMATO and Shingo really are Dragon Gate right now and can do nothing wrong.
On the whole this match really made me sit up for the first time in the show.
6. Mascara contra Caballera: Cyber Kong vs. Anthony W. Mori
Well the crowd was just dead on this one and I don’t blame them. The preceding match took it out of me also. But even though this match has been building for a long time it was pretty clear who was going to win based on the fact Mori came to the ring with half his hair already seemingly cut off. Predictably lots of RH involvement leading to another confusing end. Luckily, for everyone involved Mochi and Fuji made the save and the match was restarted. The second fall was exceedingly better but Mori still falls to RH protein and blue box shots for the loss. I’ll be very interested in the direction Mori takes once he gets the Owarai gate out of his system.
7. Open the Dream Gate: Naruki Doi vs. Koji Kanemoto
First of all, what in the world-1 is Doi wearing when he comes out? A shiny silver and gold coat with feather trim? Is he trying to look like Ric Flair on Hollywood Blvd? The stare down between Kanemoto and Doi wearing this thing is just astonishing. I’m surprised Koji managed to stop himself from laughing.
On with the match and really Kanemoto just makes Doi look like a second rate junior. Lots of ankle locks and kicks of course and some nice near finishes near the end, but unfortunately I’m still unconvinced by Doi as an ace. He nails the Muscular Bomb to a huge pop which was nice as I’m sure everyone in attendance expected a Kanemoto win. I think they made the right choice keeping it on him, but unfortunately for me he still hasn’t taken that necessary step.
Overall a very disappointing show that left a lot to be desired. With the exception of the Triangle Gate match, there wasn’t really anything here that I would say was better than what you would see on a regular Infinity, and I will always remember that Twin Gate match and wince. It’s unfortunate that this was the level of quality of the show considering the growth of Dragon Gate and I hope that their attendance in big venues in the future isn’t hurt by the show. Akebono is bizarrely the next contender for the ODG, but I hope once that catastrophe is out of the way they can start promoting some guys who are more than deserving such as YAMATO. The fans are ready for it, so let’s hope for Doi/YAMATO at World this year.