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.
Dragon Gate USA Inc. Commemoration Bonus Match: BxB Hulk & PAC vs. Naruki Doi & Naoki Tanizaki
If like me, you like THE MOOOVS, then you’ll love this match. All four guys are crisp as hell doing all this mind blowing stuff. PAC is the star in my opinion. He’s easily become the best flyer I’ve ever seen. The stuff he does is unreal. Tanizaki was the glue of the match, holding things together and making sure everything transitioned right. BxB and PAC won after a Shooting Star Kneedrop followed by an E.V.O.P followed by an Inside Out 450 Splash. Got all that?
Cyber Kong vs. Masato Yoshino
Oh what a glorious match this was. These two have the best big man/little man chemistry in wrestling right now. Kong attacked before the bell and squeezed a pineapple all over Yoshi. Awwwwesome. He fired some pineapple debris at the crowd which I would think would hurt if it dinged me in the face. Kong controlled most of the match but Yoshino exposed the weakness of the big man’s often injured arm to gain openings for himself. After some nice exchanges down the stretch, Yoshino trapped Cyber in the Sol Naciente Kai for the submission and the giant killing.
Post match Yoshino challenged his partner Doi for the Dream Gate at World. The crowd went banana, and as Doi was about to accept Gamma hit the ring saying he should be getting the shot. Thus Yoshino/Gamma was signed for #1 Contendership.
YAMATO vs. Don Fujii
As great as these two men were here, they were trumped by the greatest man of the day – SUPER SHENLONG. Yes you heard that right. After Yamato forced a double countout two minutes in, Shenlong hit the ring and got all firey and demanded a restart. So the match resumed and there was much interference from Real Hazard and Shenlong. The highlight of this was a series of EPIC FAILS by SS on everything he tried. It was glorious. Needs to be seen to be believed. Eventually it was a screwup on the heel side (Genki hitting Yammy with protein powder) that led to Don getting the cradle pin.
Tremendously entertaining show. You get a great fast paced match, a great big man/little man match, and a …… well I don’t know what to call YAMATO/Don but it was most definitely great.
Infinity 132 – 8/10
So yeah, this Infinity came along, and I guess due to timing there was really nothing major to show so instead we got a bunch of crap that we’d NEVER normally see and it ruled the earth!!
Open the Owarai Gate Title: Jackson Florida Â© vs. “Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa
For those unfamiliar, Jackson’s gimmick is that he’s the broken down, crippled remains of the 2004/2005 Florida Brothers faction. And he’s so crippled that he falls all over the place in dramatic fashion. He wrestles with a crutch that he never lets go of and does many crutch related spots. Perfect for a comedy match such as this. If you don’t know Stalker then get the hell out of my column, I don’t wanna associate with your kind.
Anyway, the match was hilarious and Jackson took his usual TERRIFYING bumps (eg Undertaker rope walk -> slip -> bounce off ropes -> land head first on apron). A crutch assisted backslide got the duke and Mr. Florida takes home da gold!
Masato Yoshino, PAC & m.c.KZ. vs. Dragon Kid, Taku Iwasa & Kenshin Chikano
The card for Dragon Gate’s first venture into Sumo Hall is one of the most stacked wrestling cards in years. This is far and away their biggest show ever and demonstrates what great strides the company has made. Word is that the advance ticket sales have been very strong and everyone is expecting a roaring success come Sunday.
3/22/2009 Tokyo, Ryougoku Kokugikan
-Akira Tozawa, Kenshin Chikano vs. KAGETORA, WARRIORS 5 #5
-Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, Magnitude Kishiwada vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kento Miyahara, Takashi Okita (Kensuke Office)
-Mascara contra Caballera: Cyber Kong vs. Anthony W. Mori
-Open the Brave Gate: Masato Yoshino vs. CIMA
-Open the Triangle Gate: Taku Iwasa, Shingo Takagi, Dragon Kid vs. BxB Hulk, PAC, Naoki Tanisaki vs. YAMATO, Yasushi Kanda, Kenichiro Arai
-Open the Twin Gate: Susumu Yokosuka, Gamma vs. Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi
-Open the Dream Gate: Naruki Doi vs. Koji Kanemoto
Thanks to dgusa.puroresufan.com for the card.