Dragon Gate’s biggest show of the year has a surprising card, but they still had a lot to live up to. Here’s hoping it surpassed the fairly lackluster Gate of Anniversary.
Hit the link to read my match-by-match thoughts on this show. Feel free to chime in the comments with your own feelings.
A strange opening this year with some random girl group singing and dancing in the middle of the ring. It makes a nice change to the droll America the Beautiful (or whatever anthem you want to put in here) but it certainly felt a bit out of place. They were pretty cute though and the music was mostly unoffensive so I’ll give them a pass
I have to say, even though I’ve heard it a million and 1 times, I did get chills when the Dragon Gate theme played. Ah nostalgia
1. K-ness, Super Shisa & Shisa BOY vs. Cyber Kong, Yasushi Kanda & Kenichiro Arai
K-ness and the Shisa’s come out in matching attire with K-ness in his big match (Batman) mask. I’m not a huge fan of this mask but seeing K-ness in any form is always better than none in my books.
This RH team are all great heels and are playing their roles to perfection. I’m still digging Araken’s drunken gimmick (sleeping during their intros – awesome) but Kanda still appears to be detoxing.
The match was a pretty typical Dragon Gate curtain jerker – meaning a fairly standard tag team affair. Mostly fun stuff going on with little drama and not much story telling. A nice little exhibition of moves from Super Shisa (I’ve always liked him in the opening match role and always find him fun to watch). K-ness got a nice little pop when he entered and a little nod from him as if to say, yes, maybe I should try and come back to the big time. That is more likely wishful thinking on my part though ;)
Real Hazard didn’t really do too much in this match, just mostly being set up for a few spots from the K-ness team. Kong is a BEAST though at the end and his Kong Combination was fantastic. His HARD powerbomb on Shisa Boy for the finish was great.
Overall a sort of, what you’d expect match. The two highlights were K-ness’ entrance pop and Kong kicking various fans in the face upon leaving. Really – this was golden!
2. “Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa Bousou Series Final: Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa vs. Abdullah The Butcher
Hmm… Well Abdullah the Butcher is obviously in great shape. Not too much to say about this as I’m not really sure why DG booked him in the first place. Sure he is a legend, but when you can barely walk and are not even able to put on a fun show with Stalker then enough is enough. Sorry Abdullah fans. If you want an example of what garbage wrestling can do to a man just look at his forehead.
His giving his appreciation to the fans and stare down with CIMA were both fun though. Without wanting to sounding too mean, I hope this is the last we see of him in Dragon Gate.
3. Anthony W. Mori & Super Shenlong II vs. NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA
When I saw NOSAWA on the card I groaned big time. Not a fan. But I’m not really a big Mori fan either. The one hope I had for any entertainment from this match was Super Shenlong, and he didn’t disappoint.
He comes out wearing a camo body suit and see-through mask. Pretty bizarre and it is pretty clear he is hoping for a spot in WARRIORS-5. His current ego gimmick, while clearly sitting in comedy roots, I think has some legs to get him some momentum.
The match itself is fairly boring save for whenever Shenlong is doing his antics (such as when he “accidentally” takes out Mori then does the W-5 salute. Funny stuff. The end, with Shenlong feigning the mask-pull but it backfiring allowing for a NOSAWA shining wizard is also a fitting end to an otherwise mediocre (at best) match.
4. Naoki Tanizaki vs. Kzy
I’ve been looking forward to this one. DG gave the Kzy heel turn and inevitable Tanizaki feud some serious attention leading into this show and I think both guys deserve this. They are both good, young talent and a little push in the right direction can to wonders.
The match starts on the ramp with Naoki getting a huge pop for punching through a chair into Kzy’s face. The match eventually makes it’s way to the ring where it begins to slow a bit but in a good way. There is a lot of back and forth with some nice spots from both guys. Special mention needs to go to Kzy planting three chairs on Naoki’s head then whacking them away with a fourth. That was pretty badass. Thankfully RH left the match alone for the most part until the end leading to a couple of nice near finishes. Kzy hits the Canadian Destroyer to a bit of a stunned silence.
Both guys did a great job in this match and I’m really feeling Kzy as a heel. He’s doing a great job and has charisma to spare, which was kind of wasted in W-1. Hopefully Naoki can continue this momentum also as he really played his part in making this a great match to watch also. It may not win any awards but it is match of the night so far.
5. Open the Triangle Gate Title Contendership: Susumu Yokosuka, Gamma & KAGETORA vs. Akebono, Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii
Another groan from me when I saw this on the card, but actually this turned out to be a fantastic match. I’m really liking this W-5 team. Gamma is really on form and all members have new attire. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the biggest fan of Mochi or Fuji, but luckily neither do the things I normally dislike about them and put on a very good show. I have to really call out Susumu for actually bringing some good psychology to the match by working Mochi’s leg. Really, why don’t more people do this when wrestling him? Unfortunately, it didn’t really make a difference leading into the latter stages of the match.
Obviously I haven’t mentioned Akebono yet. I think everyone is in agreement that he seems out of place in the DG ring, but lucky for us in this match he was used really well. He didn’t exactly do anything of note, but all the spots that involved him were fun to watch and set up well. Overall this was a very entertaining match with everyone doing their part well. Bono getting the splash win on Gamma wasn’t much of a surprise though and I can’t say I’m delighted by the prospect of this team being the next challengers for the Triangle Gate, but oh well.
6. Open the Triangle Gate Title: Masato Yoshino, BxB Hulk & PAC (c) vs. Dragon Kid, Taku Iwasa & Akira Tozawa
This is what Dragon Gate is all about. Fast paced, high-octane 6-man tag action. A seriously strong showing by all participants here with no real stand-outs, but that is just because everyone was so good. Yoshino’s pop at the start was a little surprising (I mean I knew he was popular but still…). His new golden hair and attire leave a little (a lot?) to be desired though.
GREAT to see Iwasa back. I’d love to see him get a run with the Brave Gate or higher sometime soon in the future. His NOSHIGAMI on PAC on the apron was fantastic.
Overall the match had great pacing and lots of great spots. Only a few near finishes thankfully as the momentum kept going back and forth the whole time. Again, no surprise PAC got the pin on Tozawa with the 360 shooting star (really DG, do you always have to be so predictable with who pins who?) but it didn’t feel forced.
Oh yeah, and Hulk has a new entrance. Dude still can’t dance worth a damn but it’s nice to see him mixing it up at last. Still nowhere near the energy a choreographed dance entrance needs though. I think he needs to take another look at Magu’s entrances.
7. Open the Twin Gate Unified Tag Title: Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi (c) vs. Shingo Takagi & YAMATO
Was looking forward to this one. I’ve got all kinds of man love for YAMATO but still cannot understand why they turned him face when he had so much heel heat and momentum. Kind of similar to Shingo but that kind of made sense with CIMA being forced out of action.
Anyway, onto the match. It was pretty much your standard twin gate big match affair: meaning pretty damn good for the most part. There was a period in the match where Shingo got his arms taped to the ropes which allowed RH to pound on YAMATO for a while. This was working for a bit but went on a touch too long.
There were some good spots in the match and the pacing was also decent, slowing down when necessary and speeding up towards the end. The finish came when Genki blue misted YAMATO, leading to a blue box then protein attack from Araken. Genki hit the Backslide from Hell for the win.
Like I said, a fairly standard affair with a somewhat surprising outcome. I was expecting a YAMATO double cross since it made no sense to me why he turned in the first place. However, that possibility seems long gone now with him firmly within the ranks of KAMIKAZE. Such a shame. However, KAMIKAZE has by far the best roster right now, and yet really are the lowest ranked faction. Still, they managed to appear in 2 of the three upper card matches, so that is something. They seriously need some gold in there though. YAMATO with the Dream would of course do nicely ;) Make it so Dragon Gate. Please make it so.
8. Open the Dream Gate Title & Open the Brave Gate Title: Naruki Doi (c) vs. CIMA (c)
I think everyone can agree this is a bit of a puzzling match to make. I understand they want as big a match as possible for their biggest main event of the year, but putting CIMA against Doi with both belts on the line is a lose lose situation for Dragon Gate. If CIMA wins we have another dominant run for CIMA (boring) and if Doi wins, well we have Doi winning. It’s pretty clear that they are trying extra hard to get Doi over as a credible ace and champion, but it is really feeling forced, and has been for a long time.
But alas, the match happens anyway. Doi manages to not disappoint with another flamboyant entrance get up. I’m guessing he is trying to appeal to the gay demographic with these outfits. But if I were gay I would find that very insulting as he is seemingly devoid of any sense of taste whatsoever. CIMA, is also displaying an abundance of dorkiness these days, something that is getting very irritating.
Luckily, both can still perform well in the ring. The match wasn’t a stand-out but still very solid. There was some working of the leg by Doi with CIMA actually selling it for a portion of the match, and CIMA followed suit by working the back of Doi. Doi didn’t return the favour and refused to sell it once. Maybe it was because CIMA used this extremely odd boston crab variant that made it look like it was hurting CIMA more than Doi.
Some fairly nice near finishes at the end, with a Doi 555 from the second rope and several Bakatare Sliding Kicks coming from Doi. Some of the spots seemed rehashed from their 2007 singles match (crossfire reversed into schwein?) but mostly it flowed well. The final Muscular Bomb hit by Doi was very deep; I guess CIMA wanted to over compensate so he didn’t get injured like the first time. A three count gives us a new Brave Gate champion: Naruki Doi.
A very solid show on the whole and deserving of Dragon Gate’s biggest event of the year. Highlights for me were matches 4, 5 and 6 but with the exception of the Stalker match, there wasn’t really anything bad about the event. World-1 is seriously dominating right now, holding not only the Triangle and Dream belts, but also the Brave Gate. That’s 3 out of the 4 major championships.
It will be interesting to see how they handle this going forward. Doi is the undisputed number 1 singles wrestler in the company, but I still feel that no one is buying it. We may, unfortunately, see him hold it until a new King of Gate champion is crowned. Saying that though, I would be extremely surprised if he didn’t lose at least one of the two belts before the year is out, and KoG isn’t until the end. RH have a firm hold on the Twin Gate, with MarahaIssapa looking strong in that field. The upcoming Adventure Tag League will more than likely see the winners take the belts in the resulting championship match, and we already know the next challengers for the Triangle Gate: Mochi, Fuji and Akebono. I sure do hope they fail in that attempt… yikes.
Dragon Gate is going from strength to strength when all other promotions seem to be having trouble, so it is great to see them keeping it up with shows like this. It was especially important after the abomination of Gate of Anniversary. The latter half of the year should prove very interesting indeed.