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.
M-Pro 1999.1.10 Crazy Max (Shiima Nobunaga, Judo Suwa, Sumo Fujii) vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa, Masato Yakushiji, Masaru Seno
So nothing’s topping yesterday’s match right? … right?
Nope, WRONG! This topped it. Or at the very least, equalled it. It’s two years later and Hoshi is still battling a band of no-good thugs only this time they’re younger, hungrier and jerkier! Out with Kaientai DX, in with Craaaaaazy Max!
Yakushiji is once again by Hoshikawa’s side and this time they’re joined by a man I’ve never seen before – Masaru Seno, a fresh faced youngster bedecked in plain black tights. From the outset CIMA and pals are just heeling it up like nobody’s business. A couple of minutes in and I got proof of God’s existence as Naohiro Hoshikawa and Judo Suwa were in a ring together. It was as awesome as you’d expect. Hoshi was significantly more threatening in 1999 than he was in 1997.
The bulk of the match was C-Max destroying Seno and Yakushiji and it was a joy to behold, but it was nothing that you were going to lose your mind over. However once Hoshi got the hot tag – boy oh boy, you lost your mind. And this wasn’t like losing your keys and finding them down the side of your couch, this was losing your keys and having them fall down into the sewer and swallowed by a rat. So anyway Hoshikawa was kicking a load of Ultimo Dragon lovin’, Worldwide jobbin’ ass and the people were loving it. The babyfaces delivered a combo cooler than the KDX murderising from yesterday as Yakushiji hit a perfect Dragonsteiner, Hoshi hit his flying enzigiuri and Seno (who was the most sympathetic babyface ever by this point) hit a HYOOGE lariat. It got a ridiculous nearfall.
Speaking of nearfalls, we then got alot of them down the stretch and I was jumping up and down for every single one. Crowd was going mental. Throw in a nutty dive by CIMA too for good measure and yeah this was rockin’. Unlike yesterday’s match the finish of this was PERFECT as SUWA finally manages to put down the valiant Seno.
****3/4 again! YOU WANT THIS PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING MATCH.
Hey guys, Superfriend JP Nichols typed this up about his experience at the Friday Night DGUSA show. Dragon Gate USA ran in Glendale, AZ in Celebrity Theatre as night one of their Wrestlemania double-shot weekend.
Firstly, the results:
– In a dark match: Brad Allen won The Dragon Gate Fray.
– Yamato defeats Luke Hawx with a brainbuster. Bob Saget (Yes from Full House) was the Special Ring Announcer. The match was taped for Saget’s A&E series.
– Susumu Yokosuka and Grenki Horiguchi defeat Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw when Yokosuka pinned Quackenbush with a Tiger Driver 98 set up into a DDT
– Yamato defeats TJP with a sleeper.
– Brian Kendrick and Jon Moxley defeat Paul London and Jimmy Jacobs when they get a rollup on Jacobs. Moxley attacks Jacobs after the match. London took a really nasty spill right before the finish and it shows on his back. Moxley and Jacobs brawl and Jacobs sets Moxley up on the table outside for London to put Jon through. London and Kendrick are now in the ring talking. Kendrick is on the mic telling him that it’s not worth the cheers to do this. He tells Paul that it isn’t worth it. Teddy Hart comes out and says that London has lost his balls. Hart does a moonsault and puts Moxley through the table. London tells Teddy to do another moonsault and Teddy backflips into the ring. London and Kendrick attack Hart. Teddy is now attempting to get back in the ring and is asking where is Jack. London and Kendrick come out and are attacking him but Teddy makes a comeback and eventually dives from the ring onto them. Teddy left and London and Kendrick also leave. Hart appeared to have hit his head hard on the ground when he made the dive to the floor. Before the main event, Jack Evans returned and said that Teddy Hart is supposedly on his way to the hospital with a broken clavicle. Evans wants London and Kendrick in some form tomorrow night.
– Masato Yoshino defeats Shingo with the Sol Naciente in what was described as a great match. After the match, Jon Moxley comes out to help Shingo.
– LA PARK and Hijo De Rey Mysterio defeat Derrick Niekirk and G.Q. Gallo by disqualification after Gallo hit LA PARK with a low blow.
– BxB Hulk defeated Naruki Doi with the E.V.O.P. to retain the Open the Freedom Gate Title.
– CIMA, Gamma, and Dragon Kid defeat Jack Evans and the Young Bucks when Cima pinned Matt Jackson with Meteora.
And now… the story
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.