As a wrestling fan for 23 years I’ve had a lot of periods of “new discovery” which I always find massively exciting and reinvigorating for my fandom. Continue reading
In the US, pro wrestling was down because WWE was down. TNA was more putrid than ever, which is a shame because they started 2010 with such high hopes. ROH and Dragon Gate USA continue to put out a product that, for the most part, their audiences like, but their audiences are small and hardcore. And based on what Alan has said, there’s some great stuff in some of the bigger independent organizations.
There’s always good stuff. Sometimes, you just have to dig. Alan, Duan, myself, and Stevie J from Angry Marks have listed our picks for our awards. Also, we have Big D making his return to the site for “One Night Only”, giving his thoughts as well. You can find D at Superfriends Universe.
Most Outstanding Wrestler Of The Year
Alan – Chris Hero
Career year for Metropolis’ finest. He tore it up in NOAH, PWG, ROH, EVOLVE and wXw during the course of the year, having one great match after another. Shined in both singles and tags (as part of the Kings Of Wrestling). His matches with Akira Tozawa, the Briscoes, Martin Stone and Davey Richards were crazy good.
Duan – John Cena
Another brilliant year for Cena. He delivered his best work when needed and remains the best reason to tune into WWE TV.
If ever there was a promotion with its house firmly in order it’s Dragon Gate. Compared to the likes of New Japan and NOAH they’re a tiny company, but only if your measuring sticks are things like number of employees, big sponsors, external funding etc. When it comes to ticket sales, popularity and global presence – Dragon Gate are right in line with them and in some cases ahead. They are doing A LOT of things right both in the ring and outside of it.
The product is top notch. If you go to a live show (as I did last month), you’ll see the most jaw-dropping, incredible action you’ve ever seen before your eyes. If you watch the TV show, you’ll see one of the most well produced, engaging and action packed hours of Pro Wrestling television ever. Yes, ever. They know exactly how to book for their fans and they create storylines which range from the hilarious to the emotional.
With guys like Shingo, Masaaki Mochizuki, YAMATO, CIMA and Open The Dream Gate Champion, Masato Yoshino they have what I consider far and away the most talented roster anywhere in 2010. There are no passengers here, everyone works to the high high standard that’s drilled into them from training. I would say my top 20 matches of 2010 has more Dragon Gate presence than any other fed. Matches like Shingo vs. Hulk hair vs. hair, Mochizuki vs. YAMATO and Doi vs. YAMATO were all legitimate match of the year contenders.
Right now a unit shuffle may be on the horizon. The promotion consists of several stables and every so often there will be a big switch sparked by one or two guys changing allegiances. The spark right now is Naoki Tanisaki (a really great wrestler and character) turning on World-1 and taking a lead role in the dastardly Deep Drunkers. Tani now wants to kill W-1 off and will have a chance with an impending “losing faction must split” match.
There are two more big PPVs for them to build to in 2010. November in Osaka and December in Fukuoka. With that, the year will close and 2011 will have the impossible task of topping Dragon Gate’s best year ever.
A sold out crowd showed up for the first authentic Dragon Gate show on UK soil, and the final leg of the company’s European tour. Some quick notes first on the non-match related stuff:
-The meet & greet was remarkably well run. Mark Sloan and his crew did a great job organising it and the wrestlers were really great and friendly. Everyone got tons of awesome photos and autographs.
-The venue was very cool and helped in creating a great atmosphere. It’s definitely somewhere I’d love to watch wrestling again.
-Aside from a couple of sound issues, the production was first class. Looked very very sharp.
Dark Match: Stixx vs. The Lion Kid
Lion Kid gimmick got over huge in, what I believe was it’s debut. Total big man vs. little man match and they put together some cool stuff. I particularly liked Stixx’s shoulder block based offence – he hit some big big tackles, including an awesome one to the back of Kid who was sitting on the apron. There was a lot of flying and catching which for the most part looked good, but none of it was as good as the KILLER Boss Man Slam by Stixx towards the finish. Finish played off that, as he went for another and was cradled for three. Fun match!
1. Real Hazard (Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito) vs. Jonny Storm & Marty Scurrl
Went way longer and was way better than I expected (and I was expecting a good match to begin with). Genki was absolutely hilarious throughout – he’s such a fun live act, getting offended at H-A-G-E chants, slipping odff the ropes, selling the twisting of his dreadlocks and repeatedly seeking comfort from Ryo. Both Brits looked right at home in there with the DG vets, and Scurrl in particular with how young he is, could really fit nicely into the roster in a way similar to PAC and The Young Bucks. Dude has tons of potential. The match was real fun interactive babyface/heel stuff for the first two thirds, but then they went nuts down the stretch with some big BIG moves like a German Suplex into the corner, a tope into a tornado DDT, a SWEET brainbuster by Genki and plenty more. Finish after all that was a double low blow by Ryo, but trust me, it worked. His reaction after getting the pin was awesome! Crowd ate this up.
2. KAGETORA vs. Mark Haskins
Sandwiched between the best pro wrestling TV show of the year the week prior and a Korakuen show the next week, Infinity 146 looked to be a pretty low key show. However it turned out to be one of the most solid episodes of the year from start to finish. The show featured the two main matches from the tour show at the always lively Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium #2.
Shingo & YAMATO vs. Naruki Doi & Naoki Tanisaki
This match pitted the company’s current singles champs (who did a lovely double belt pose pre-match) against the #1 contenders to the tag titles. If you didn’t get enough Tani last week, there was plenty more for you here. The KAMIKAZE team isolated him early and he did what he does best – create sympathy. Doi eventually got his usual hot tag and we got a very fun finishing stretch which came down to Shingo and Naoki. They laid it in hard, including some sick headbutts which Naoki busted himself open with. The finish was awesome as Shingo turned him inside out, and I mean INSIDE OUT with an insane lariatoooo and then put him down with the Made In Japan. Good match.
RealHaz attacked post-match to build to the Twin Gate match at Korakuen and also Tani’s first Brave Gate defence against “Mr. Brave Gate” Genki Horiguchi.
Non-title Match: Masato Yoshino, BxB Hulk & PAC vs. CIMA, Gamma & Susumu Yokosuka
Crowd was H.O.T. for this from the get go. Lots of things going on here. Yoshino and PAC were having a personal game of one-upmanship for the title of GREATEST WRESTLER ON PLANET EARTH AT THIS VERY MOMENT, Gamma appeared to have taken the last protein bar at lunch and BxB was NOT happy about it so he was all uppity at him, CIMA was working his ass off as he usually does in multi-mans and Susumu was just being Susumu – keeping everything flowing as it should, catching flying dudes and throwin’ some choice lariats.
Yup, we haven’t had too many of these in recent weeks, due to pesky real life issues clogging up my time, but I have been INSPIRED to write a new review this week. That inspiration has come from one man named Naoki Friggin Tanizaki, my absolute favourite wrestler in the history of the world (this week). Infinity 145, eminating from Hakata Star Lanes, was the Naoki show. Well actually it was the Naoki & His Daughter Show. The show centered around the Open The Brave Gate tournament to crown a new champ. We had two semi final three ways with the winners meeting in the final.
Naoki Tanizaki vs. Kzy vs. Super Shiisa
I’m not the hugest fan of three ways and triple threats anymore, but this was fun and kept nice and short. Kzy heeled it up with the help of his Real Hazard buddies at ringside (he’s really fitting into the rudo role nicely) and I think most of the crowd expected him to advance past veteran lower carder Shiisa, and the man who Kzy beat at World, Tanizaki. They were right as far as Shiisa went, as he was pinned after a mask-jacking by Kzy. However they were very wrong as far as Naoki went. He battled past the RH interference to snatch a win and move to the final. Post match he was beatdown bigtime by chair shots and a Kzy-Time (Canadian Destroyer from the corner).
KAGETORA vs. Tozawa vs. Super Shenlong