Dragon Gate PPV on 2/23/05
review by Kevin Wilson
Date: February 23rd, 2005
Let's do something different. At the beginning of the summer I reviewed my first Big Japan event, and since Autumn is now upon us it's time to review another new promotion. Dragon Gate, as far as I can tell, is unlike any other promotion I have watched before. They have a lot of Lucha Libre traits, but it is far from the same. For starters, Dragon Gate throws in a bit more comedy/silliness in some of their matches then many other promotions. Dragon Gate can almost be seen as a blend of Puroresu and Lucha Libre, as they have the acrobatic spots but are also more stiff with their strikes and have more power/dangerous moves. The wrestlers are set up in different factions, which I will get into when the matches come up. For this show, the card is as follows (these were the announced matches, two would actually change as the PPV unfolded):
- Don Fuiji vs. Kenichiro Arai
The event starts with a handful of wrestlers drawing colored balls out of a box. When two wrestlers draw the same color, they are paired off in a tournament that is taking place at the next event. Since I won't be covering the tournament in this review, I won't bother go into details, although the crowd does get quite excited watching this.
Don Fuiji vs. Kenichiro Arai
Post match: Blood Gen drags Nakajima into the ring to continue their abuse of the young wrestler. Irish whip by Fuiji, but Nakajima ducks the clothesline and dropkicks Fuiji to the mat. Nakajima then quickly bails the ring and re-joins Final M2K on the outside, as the crowd roars their approval. They mouth off some more and start brawling all over again, but Final M2K gains control of the ring in not too much time.
Match Thoughts: Not a bad opener, as it was more about Blood Generation vs. Final M2K then Arai vs. Fuiji. Fuiji played the part of brute heel well, and Arai hit all his spots. I was impressed that even in this short of a match that Fuiji still focused on the arm (since in theory, the wrestlers in the match don't know it is going to be short beforehand), and Arai sold it throughout the match. The ending was a bit disappointing for a PPV, but since it was the opener it didn't come across too bad. Score: 6.0
Milano comes out and announces that he is too injured to defend the Triangle Gate Championship. The last match tonight will crown the "interim" champions until an official title match can be held at a later date (March 6th).
Naoki Tanisaki vs. Stalker Ichikawa and Michael Iwasa
Post match: Tanisaki leaves, obviously mad. Iwasa gets on the mic and, from what I can tell, makes fun of Ichikawa for getting beaten so fast. He then challenges Ichikawa to a match, which Ichikawa accepts. They crowd is laughing throughout this, so you can assume this is not a heated exchange. The bell rings, and the match starts.
Stalker Ichikawa vs. Michael Iwasa
Match Thoughts: To quickly explain, Tanisaki was "mad" that he was put in a comedy match, so he choked out Stalker and left. I don't know how to rate comedy matches, so I am not going to. What always amuses me the most in these matches is that both of these guys really can wrestle, which they showed a few times in the mat, but instead do comedy matches. A good bit of the match they were playing with the crowd, and since I don't speak Japanese I really can't say how funny they were being except that the crowd and the cute commentator were all laughing throughout. A fun spectacle to watch once, although naturally you wouldn't want to see a full card of matches like this. Score: N/A
Super Shisa picks Horiguchi up and grabs what little hair he has while YOSSINO comes off the top with a double stomp on Horiguchi's head. Cover by YOSSINO, but it only gets a two count. Super Shisa comes back in and he applies an abdominal stretch. Dragon Kid and TOKYO get sound-makers from under the ring (no, I am not kidding), and lead the crowd in a H-A-G-E chant to help revive Horiguchi. It works, as he hits a hiptoss. Mori immediately jumps on him though, and the two exchange chops. Horiguchi hits a rolling dropkick, and this gives him time to tag in TOKYO. Irish whip by TOKYO on YOSSINO and he dropkicks him down. Super Shisa runs in, and he also gets a dropkick. Irish whip by Super Shisa on TOKYO, but TOKYO rolls through a sunset flip attempt and dropkicks Super Shisa in the face. Dragon Kid runs in to intercept YOSSINO and Dragon Kid goes up on his shoulders, rotates all the way around YOSSINO twice, and then transfers over to Super Shisa while still in the air and headscissors Super Shisa out of the ring. Beautiful. YOSSINO attacks Dragon Kid, Irish whip from the corner, but Horiguchi runs in and headscissors YOSSINO out of the ring while Dragon Kid hits a hurricanrana from the apron down on Super Shisa. Horiguchi then goes off the far ropes and flies out of the ring with a somersault tope suicida on YOSSINO. Back in the ring, Mori and TOKYO face off. TOKYO gets Mori in a corner, Irish whip, reversed, but TOKYO flips over and knees Mori in the face. TOKYO puts Mori up the top turnbuckle and nails his Gyrating Frankensteiner. Cover, but it only gets a two count. TOKYO goes off the ropes, but Mori gets him down with a delayed DDT. Mori gets back to his feet, but Dragon Kid comes off the top turnbuckle with a hurricanrana. This brings in YOSSINO, Irish whip by YOSSINO on Dragon Kid, but Super Shisa intercepts them. Double Irish whip, but Horiguchi comes in the ring with a springboard dropkick on YOSSINO and Super Shisa. Mori goes for a missile dropkick from the top turnbuckle on Horiguchi, but Horiguchi steps out of the way. H-A-G-E! Irish whip by Horiguchi to Mori from the corner, Dragon Kid hits a spinning heel kick, Horiguchi hits a somersault, and TOKYO comes in last with a clothesline. Dragon Kid goes off the ropes, and hits a multiple rotation DDT on Mori. Cover, but it only gets a two count. TOKYO goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a missile dropkick. Cover, but YOSSINO breaks it up. Horiguchi picks up Mori, but Mori rolls him up for two. Horiguchi goes for a backslide, Mori rolls out of it, but Horiguchi ducks a punch and holds Mori for TOKYO. Mori avoids TOKYO's kick however, and is hit instead. Mori tries to roll-up TOKYO, can't get him over, but Super Shisa runs in the ring and rolls up TOKYO successfully for two. TOKYO reverses the roll-up and he gets a two count as well. YOSSINO comes running in and gets a sunset flip on TOKYO, but he also only gets a two count. Super Shisa is back, he rolls up TOKYO, but he also gets two. YOSSINO hits a chop on TOKYO and applies an arm submission, and Super Shisa rolls up TOKYO (with a headstand) for two. TOKYO gets Super Shisa in a waistlock, Super Shisa gets out of it with elbows, but TOKYO hits an enzigieri. TOKYO goes for a pump handle slam, but Super Shisa reverses it into the Yoshi Tonic for the three count. Your winners: Anthony W. Mori, Super Shisa, and YOSSINO
Post match: Super Shisa talks on the mic, but is rudely interrupted by Tanisaki. YOSSINO is still in the ring as well, and he slaps Tanisaki, but Horiguchi dropkicks YOSSINO and grabs the microphone. After talking for a moment, Tanisaki kicks him down and continues his own tirade. TOKYO talks as well, but no more blows are thrown.
Match Thoughts: Certainly a fun match, and a good representation on the essence of Dragon Gate. It started with a bit of comedy, which the crowd really got into. Then we had a phase where they were actually tagging in and we had solid one vs. one action, and we ended with a giant cluster with different wrestlers hitting their big moves until one came out on top. I wish there was a little long-term selling (as I usually do), but the way this match was structured it really wasn't needed. My biggest complaint is that the ending sequence I think took way too long, it probably took Shisa a good 10 seconds to reverse the pump handle slam to the Yoshi Tonic as he had to go all the way around TOKYO's back while in mid-air to make the reversal. With such a fast pace match, it just seemed to go against what they had been working towards, I was expecting a "flash" pin of some sort since wrestlers were flying all over the place. All the other moves were hit flawlessly however (I think I might have popped a little for the transferred headscissors, which doesn't happen with me too often), and all six wrestlers looked very impressive. I already liked Dragon Kid, but Super Shisa in particular really stood out in this match. Overall an entertaining match for sure though, and like I said it's a good example of what Dragon Gate wrestling is. Score: 7.0
Next they showed a match from 10/28/01 (a mega flashback if you will) that crowned the UWA Six Man Tag Team Championships. This is to help hype the final match tonight, which is for the interim Truth Gate Championship. Normally I would recap it, but the match is literally cut in half (11 minutes of 21 minutes shown), which is just a bit too much. Since it is not part of the actual event shown, I will just let it slide, but it is a very good match from what they showed us.
Daniel Mishima vs. Ryo Saito
Post match: Horiguchi makes an appearance, and hits a Beach Break on Mishima. Iwasa tries to help, but he gets kicked back outside. Horiguchi gets on the microphone and talks with Mishima
Match Thoughts: Saito is currently the leader of Do Fixer, although at the time of this event he was the #2 man. Mishima is one of the Florida Bros., but as you could tell is currently wrestling seriously and not in comedy matches like his partner Iwasa. I can't say this match did much for me, there really wasn't any flow to it and I didn't like the no selling. As I have said in the past, there are many times that no selling is a great visual, but I tend to like it when either both wrestlers are doing it or the wrestler does a delayed sell instead of not selling the move at all. Here, Mishima twice flat out didn't sell something (one of which was one of Saito's bigger moves) and not only did Saito not ever return the favor but Mishima didn't even do the delayed sell to make Saito look good. Something like that really hurts the match and doesn't add anything besides changing the momentum for no real reason. To me it is a cop-out for not having a well-planned transition spot. To their credit both the wrestlers hit their moves fluidly, but the match itself was lacking. Score: 3.5
CIMA, Naruki Doi, and Shingo Takagi vs. K-ness, Masaaki Mochizuki, and Susumu Yokosuka
The brawling continues, as Final M2K tries to get help for K-ness. Blood Generation says that they won, but the referee informs them that they have not. Arai gets on the microphone to retort, and it is decided that the match will be restarted with Arai in K-ness's place.
(K-ness was too injured to compete in the first place, so they did this angle to take him out of the match and insert a different member of Final M2K in his place.)
Mochizuki comes in the ring, scoop slam by Mochizuki and he applies a single leg crab to Takagi. Doi tries to come to his aid, but Arai intercepts him. Takagi gets to the ropes, Irish whip by Mochizuki to the corner, Takagi gets his foot up when Mochizuki charges and goes to the second turnbuckle, but Mochizuki kicks him as he comes off. Mochizuki goes for a suplex, but Takagi reverses it into one of his own and tags in CIMA. Yokosuka greets CIMA with a kick, Irish whip to the corner, but CIMA headscissors Yokosuka into the second turnbuckle. CIMA puts Yokosuka up top and goes for a superplex, but Yokosuka pushes him off and delivers a snap suplex to CIMA. Cover, but it gets a two count. Yokosuka goes off the ropes, but CIMA hits a drop toehold, then jumps off of Yokosuka to dropkick Mochizuki (who had just come in the ring). Back to Yokosuka, Irish whip by CIMA, reversed, and Yokosuka hits a drop toehold. Yokosuka then tries to do the same thing that CIMA just did, but Takagi moves out of the way of the dropkick. Takagi goes for a dragon suplex on Yokosuka, Yokosuka spins out of it, but Takagi nails a STO and applies his MANRIKI hold. Yokosuka slowly inches to the ropes and finally he makes it. Stomp to the back by Takagi, he picks Yokosuka up, Irish whip, and he hits a backbreaker followed by a DDT. Cover, but Yokosuka kicks out. Takagi tags in Doi, who promptly drops an elbow on Yokosuka. After a few stomps he picks Yokosuka up, hits a series of strikes, but Yokosuka gets fired up and returns with a staggering blow. Irish whip by Yokosuka, reversed, he kicks Doi in the chest, but Doi fires back with an elbow strike and gets a two count cover. Doi tags in Takagi, CIMA comes in as well, Irish whip by Takagi and he slams Yokosuka into the mat. Yokosuka then sets up Takagi in a catapult and flings him to CIMA and Doi, who hit a double Complete Shot. Takagi holds down Yokosuka, as he is kicked repeatedly into the mat by CIMA and Doi. CIMA stays in the ring with Yokosuka and applies a leg submission. Doi kicks Yokosuka while he is in the hold, but Yokosuka still manages to make it to the ropes. CIMA picks up Yokosuka and headbutts him against the ropes. He then holds Yokosuka across the ropes for Doi, who jumps over his back and down on Yokosuka. Doi then does the same for Takagi, Doi holds Yokosuka again, and CIMA comes off the top turnbuckle with a double stomp. Cover by Doi, but it only gets a two count. Irish whip by CIMA from the corner, CIMA hits a double knee strike, Doi hits a forearm, and Takagi comes in last with a clothesline. Yokosuka sure is taking a lot of punishment here. Takagi puts Yokosuka up on his shoulders, CIMA goes up top, but Yokosuka ducks the crossbody and flips Takagi into the second turnbuckle. Finally able to roll out of the ring, he does so, and his team mates storm the ring. Mochizuki and Arai go to Irish whip Doi and Takagi into each other, Doi and Takagi reverse it, but Mochizuki and Arai avoid each other and charge back at Doi and Takagi. Both Mochizuki and Arai hit a boot to the face, and Arai flies out onto Takagi with a tope. In the ring, Mochizuki kicks Doi hard in the chest repeatedly, Doi hangs in there at first, but eventually goes down.
Mochizuki picks up the limp Doi, Irish whip to the corner, but it is reversed by Doi and he rakes Mochizuki in the eyes. Doi goes for a front bodyscissors, Mochizuki gets out of it, Doi then goes for a German suplex, but Mochizuki lands on his feet. CIMA comes running in, he goes for a German suplex, but again Mochizuki lands on his feet. Double Irish whip by CIMA and Doi, but Mochizuki ducks the clothesline and kicks them both. Mochizuki goes of the ropes, but he is met with a double dropkick and falls out of the ring. Doi follows him out with a tope, back in the ring CIMA goes for a tombstone on Arai, it is reversed multiple times, and Arai ends up nailing the move. Arai goes up top, but his old friend Don Fuiji grabs his leg, allowing CIMA to recover and hit an Iconoclasm. CIMA goes up top for a mad splash, but Yokosuka grabs him from the apron. This gives Arai time to recover and he hits a jawbreaker on CIMA from the second rope. Arai goes for a Tiger Suplex, but CIMA kicks him low to get out of it. Doi bounces off the ropes, but Yokosuka grabs his leg from the outside. Yokosuka comes in the ring the same time Takagi does, Irish whip by Takagi from the corner, Yokosuka gets his foot up when he charges, but Takagi gets Yokosuka down with an armdrag. Takagi goes for a clothesline, it doesn't work, he goes for another, and Yokosuka catches him with a cross armbreaker. Takagi shows his strength by lifting Yokosuka off the mat and hitting a sit-down powerbomb, cover, but it only gets a two count. Takagi picks up Yokosuka and goes for the Last Falconry, but Yokosuka elbow out of it. Takagi goes off the ropes now, but Yokosuka ducks the clothesline and Takagi is kicked hard from the apron by Mochizuki. Mochizuki comes in the ring, double Irish whip, and Yokosuka hits a drop toehold. Arai then hits a springboard knee drop from the apron, and Mochizuki kicks Takagi hard in the chest. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Yokosuka gets Takagi to his feet, CIMA runs in and goes for the Schwein on Yokosuka, but Mochizuki springboards off the side ropes and kicks CIMA in the head before he can complete the move. Arai spits liquor in CIMA's face as he nears the ropes, Yokosuka charges CIMA, but CIMA nails a Nakayubi. Doi comes in the ring, but Mochizuki catches him with a dropkick before he can do anything. Yokosuka goes off the ropes and hits a clothesline on Doi, Mochizuki nails the Twister, cover, but Doi barely kicks out. Mochizuki gets Doi to his feet and goes for a brainbuster, Doi gets out of it, Mochizuki kicks Doi to the mat, but Takagi kills him with a lariat. Takagi gets Mochizuki to his feet, CIMA brings in a chair, Takagi puts Mochizuki on his shoulders and CIMA comes off the top rope with a chair shot. Takagi nails a sit-down powerbomb, cover, but Mochizuki kicks out. CIMA hits a quick kick on Mochizuki, connects with the Schwein, cover, but Yokosuka breaks it up. Doi picks up Mochizuki and hits the Doi 555. With Mochizuki kneeling, Doi bounces off the side ropes and takes off his head with a Bakatare Sliding Kick. Cover by Doi, and he gets the three count pinfall! You winners and new (interim) champions: CIMA, Naruki Doi, and Shingo Takagi
Match Thoughts: A very entertaining main event, as we got to see the more "serious" side of Dragon Gate. No dancers, no sound makers, no chants.... just solid hard hitting action. Mochizuki lays in kicks so hard that even Tajiri would cringe, and Yokosuka took a man-sized beating for his team. Similar to the last six man tag, the first half of the match was very structured, but the ending was chaos with wrestlers from both teams running in and trying to make the difference to pull off the victory. While the craziness can seem random at times, it was clear that all the wrestlers knew what their role was and there really wasn't a miscue or hiccup in the entire match. Even though Mochizuki at the time (and still is) the main champion in Dragon Gate, it took a lot to get him pinned, including getting hit with two different finishers in under a minute. Overall a lot of fun, and after this I am tempted to pick up more Dragon Gate in the future. Score: 8.0