Dragon Gate Dead or Alive, 5/5/08
review by Brad Garoon

Anthony W. Mori, PAC & Syachihoko Machine VS. Cyber Kong, Akira Tozawa & Super Shenlong
Tozawa & PAC start. Tozawa hits a butt butt. PAC hits a leg lariat. Kong and Machine tag into the match. Kong kills Machine with clubbing blows. He holds the Machine up in a press slam and does not fall when PAC and Mori try to make the save. He hits the Typhoonies with clotheslines. His team gangs up on Machine in the corner. Tozawa hits a senton for 2. Machine hits the satellite head scissors. PAC and Kong tag into the match. PAC hits a dropkick to the back. He hits an enziguiri. He follows Kong to the floor with a moonsault. Shenlong hits Mori with a facebuster. He hits a dropkick for 2. Tozawa hits a second rope senton. Shenlong hits a back flip kneedrop for 2. Machine rolls Kong up for 2. Kong hits an avalanche. He hits Shenlong with the Pineapple Bomber by mistake. PAC dropkicks Kong to the floor. Mori hits Shenlong with the Elegant Spike. PAC follows with a corkscrew shooting star press for the win at 4:13. I’d call this a complete waste of time but it was kept incredibly short and PAC looked better than I’ve seen him in over a year.
Rating: *

Syachihoko Machine comes out to wrestling Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa. The referee reminds us that this is PPV and that Stalker will be facing someone in his trial series (in which he gets destroyed by big names from different promotions in Japan). He calls former joshi star and current Japanese politician Shinobu Kandori to come from commentary to fight Ichikawa.

Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa VS. Shinobu Kandori
Kandori, in semiformal dress and offended by Ichikawa’s disrespectful pre-match demeanor, beats Stalker in 18 seconds with an armbar. The referee asks for another go around, much to Ichikawa’s dismay. Ichikawa gets to the ropes quickly to avoid the armbar. He goes to the eyes and hits a low blow. Kandori remembers that she’s a woman, blocks a clothesline and puts on a cross armbreaker for the win in 33 seconds. This would have been more fun had Takeshi Morishima tagged along with KENTA to fight Ichikawa. After the match Kandori takes a picture of her adversary with her camera phone.
Rating: DUD

Naoki Tanisaki VS. Shingo Takagi [Hardcore Match]
Generally Dragon Gate matches don’t have disqualifications for plunder, so when they book a hardcore match they really mean a pseudo deathmatch. Tanisaki brings out a barbed wire baseball bat. Takagi has his arm heavily wrapped in barbed wire. In the ring already are many weapons of death, including a pile of chairs, a barbed wire board and a table. Tanisaki disarms Takagi of his barbed wire. They fight to the apron where Takagi hits a powerslam through a table at ringside. In the ring he abuses Tanisaki with a chair. They try to put each other through the barbed wire board. Takagi ends up getting whipped into it back first. Tanisaki hits a vertical suplex while the board is stuck to Takagi’s back. They fight over a wood plank until Takagi knocks Tanisaki loopy with it. He hits the Yo Throw for 2. He makes a bridge out of the barbed wire board and some chairs. Tanisaki regains control and powerbombs Takagi through the bridge. Sloppy execution leads to Tanisaki hitting a headbutt on the pile of chairs. He puts a chair in Takagi’s face and hits it with the Casanova. He hits a backdrop on the chairs. He hits chair shots to the head, firing up Takagi. Takagi clotheslines a chair into his face. He puts a chair on Tanisaki’s face and hits a second rope kneedrop for 2. He hits a lariat for 2. He hits Made In Japan on the chair pile for the win at 6:07. This was typical deathmatch garbage, completely with a botched spot and no transitions. I don’t understand what Dragon Gate is going for with Tanisaki. Even in a deathmatch where he should have had the edge he lost in under ten minutes. I should also note that though there was a ton of wire there was no blood. Why bother with the wire then?
Rating: *¾

Gamma, Genki Horiguchi & NOSAWA Rongai VS. Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii & El Blazer
The Muscle Outlaw’z are accompanied by Dr. Muscle. Gamma is announced as the Open the Gamma Gate Champion, so I guess they’re going full bore with that. He attacks with his cane before the bell. Fujii jumps off of Rongai’s back to attack Horiguchi. Mochizuki kicks Gamma’s back. He kicks Blazer by mistake. He kicks Gamma to the floor. Blazer dives out after Gamma. Gamma regains control on the floor and feeds Blazer to Rongai in the ring. The Outlaw’z focus on Blazer’s arm. Horiguchi hits a facebuster. Rongai and Gamma sandwich Blazer’s head with dropkicks. They hit a double flapjack. They hit a double Ocean Cyclone Suplex for 2. Horiguchi hits a vertical suplex for 2. Gamma tags in and tries to rip off Blazer’s mask. Fujii chops Gamma’s back until Horiguchi makes the save. Rongai bites Blazer’s hand. Horiguchi hits a back suplex for 2. Gamma gives Blazer the Osuikougeki. Blazer comes back with a million flips before hitting a head scissors takedown. Fujii tags in and cleans house. Mochizuki hits Gamma with a dropkick. He hits Rongai with the Sankakugeri. Blazer dives out after Rongai. Fujii hits Gamma with his own cane. He hits a bulldog and Mochizuki hits a running kick for 2. Fujii hits a chokeslam for 2. Blazer hits the Venus and the Iconoclasm. He goes for a frog splash but it hits knees. Rongai clotheslines Gamma by mistake. Blazer hits Rongai and Horiguchi with dropkicks. Mochizuki does the same to Horiguchi. He hits the Ikkakugeri and Fujii hits the Nice German for 2. Gamma canes Blazer. Rongai hits a Michinoku Driver. Blazer blocks the Blitzen and cleans house with kicks. Gamma hits a low blow. Muscle hits a cane shot and Rongai hits the Shining Wizard. Mochizuki does the same to Rongai. Gamma dropkicks Mochizuki. He hits Blazer with a powerbomb for 2. Horiguchi hits the Beach Break for 2. Gamma hits a superkick and the Gamma Special for the win at 10:33. This was pretty much just an extended version of the opener with more heel chicanery thrown in.
Rating: **

KENTA VS. Naruki Doi
They stare each other down intensely during introductions. They trade strikes to start. Doi hits a dragon screw and a forearm. He follows KENTA to the floor with a suicide dive. In the ring he puts on a chinlock. KENTA hits a chinbreaker but Doi reapplies the hold. He dropkicks KENTA’s leg in the corner. He puts on a figure 4 leglock. KENTA gets to the ropes. He hangs Doi on the top rope, punts his chest and hits a kneedrop off the top. Doi gets fired up by KENTA’s kicks until they overwhelm him. KENTA slaps him across the face. They trade strikes until KENTA hits a big boot. KENTA hits a bodyslam and puts on a camel clutch. Doi gets to the ropes. KENTA hits chest kicks until Doi catches one. KENTA hits another big boot. He puts on the Mark Nulty Special. Doi gets to the ropes. They trade strikes until Doi hits a leaping forearm. He hangs KENTA in the Tree of Woe and hits the Dai Bosou. He stops KENTA from springboarding with a slap across the face. He hits a dropkick in the ropes. He hits the hanging senton and a brainbuster for 2. KENTA hits a powerslam. He hits a jumping boot for 2. He hits a clothesline and a running kick for 2. He puts on the STF but Doi gets to the ropes. Doi hits a Stun Gun and a DDT for 2. He hits a back elbow and the Vertebreaker for 2. That was about the safest execution of that move I’ve ever seen.

They fight up top until Doi hits a German superplex for 2. He hits the Doi 555. KENTA counters the Bakatare Sliding Kick to the STF. He hits the springboard dropkick. He hits a Yakuza kick and a dropkick in the corner. He hits a fisherman suplex for 2. Doi hits the Doi 555 and the Bakatare Sliding Kick for 2. He hits the Doi 555 off the second rope for 2. KENTA avoids the Muscular Bomb and hits a tiger suplex for 2. KENTA hits the Busaiku Knee Kick but Doi immediately comes back with a straight jacket suplex for 2. He climbs the ropes but KENTA catches him with the super Falcon Arrow for 2. KENTA hits the Busaiku Knee Kick for 2. Doi hits the Muscular Bomb but takes too long to cover and KENTA kicks out at 2. KENTA hits the Go2Sleep for 2 when Doi hits his foot on the ropes. Doi gets a crucifix pin for 2. KENTA hits a lariat for 2. They trade strikes until KENTA hits the Go2Sleep for the win at 21:56. I liked that Doi lost because he got caught up in KENTA’s game, but I dislike the immense no-selling of deadly finishers down the stretch. Still, the action was consistent in the beginning and severe down the stretch. Had there been more selling it could have been really special. They shake hands after the match.
Rating: ***¾

Arai & Taku Iwasa VS. Ryo Saito & Yokosuka [Open the Twin Gate Championship Match]
Arai and Saito start. Saito knocks Iwasa off the apron. Yokosuka clotheslines him by mistake. The fight goes to the floor where Yokosuka hits a clothesline on Arai. In the ring the challengers double-team Iwasa. Yokosuka hits a super exploder and Saito hits a big splash for 2. Saito hits a bodyslam and an elbowdrop on Arai. He hits two double stomps off the top for 2. Yokosuka hits a knee to the gut. Iwasa hits Yokosuka with a chop block. He and Arai slam Yokosuka’s knees to the mat. Yokosuka is too weak to run the ropes. Iwasa stays on the leg. He slams the knee against the apron. Arai puts on a figure 4 leglock. Iwasa puts Saito in an abdominal stretch to keep him from making the save. Yokosuka gets to the ropes. Arai forces him to run himself back to the mat. That’s pretty cool. Iwasa tags in and hangs Yokosuka in the Tree of Woe before hitting a clothesline on the knee for 2. Arai tags in and runs into an exploder. He comes back with a sleeper hold. Yokosuka gets to the ropes. Iwasa tags in and hits an enziguiri. Saito tags in and whips Arai into a clothesline from Yokosuka. He hits Iwasa with a hurricanrana but Iwasa rolls through for 2. Iwasa gets a roll up for 2. He chops Saito to the mat. Arai blocks a Yokosuka clothesline with head hard head and then puts on an armbar in the ropes. He hits a springboard dropkick to the arm. He hits a diving headbutt to the arm. Saito and Arai play chicken until Saito hits Iwasa with a hurricanrana. Yokosuka hits Arai with a super DVD for 2. Yokosuka helps Saito hit a German suplex on Arai into Iwasa. Iwasa hits Yokosuka with a backdrop driver.

The champs hit the Doomsday Device. Iwasa hits a dragon screw. He puts on a 3-in-1. Saito makes the save. The champs hit a double Ocean Cyclone Suplex for 2. Iwasa flips Arai onto Saito. Arai hits a springboard double stomp for 2. He misses the headbutt off of Iwasa’s shoulders. Saito and Yokosuka sandwich Arai with clotheslines. Saito hits a German suplex. Yokosuka hits a clothesline. Saito hits a dragon suplex for 2. Iwasa hits Saito with a clothesline for 2. He hits Yokosuka with the Kegon for 2. Yokosuka clotheslines Arai to the floor. Arai comes back with a German suplex and a tiger suplex for 2. Yokosuka catches Iwasa with a sunset flip for 2. Iwasa hits a lariat and the Noshigami for 2. He hits Saito with the Noshigami. Arai hits Yokosuka with a 450 splash for 2. He goes for another but comes up short. Saito hits him with forearms in the corner. Yokosuka hits a lariat. They hit the Genkai for 2 when Iwasa makes the save. Saito hits Iwasa with the Premium Bridge for 2. Yokosuka hits a lariat. He hits a few more for 2. A final lariat gets the win and the titles at 26:47. I thoroughly enjoyed the way Arai picked apart Yokosuka’s arm and leg throughout the match. Of course Yokosuka stopped selling halfway into the match but that’s expected of him. Like the last match a little more (selling) would have made this a classic, but they still put together something special through attrition.
Rating: ***¾

CIMA VS. Dragon Kid VS. Masato Yoshino VS. BxB Hulk VS. YAMATO VS. Yasushi Kanda [Hair VS. Mask Cage Survival Match]
There are 5 flags above the cage. The person left without a pole gets their head shaved (or gets de-masked if you’re Dragon Kid). Everyone brawls to start. Hulk goes after Kanda, CIMA and YAMATO square off and Kid and Yoshino brawl. Hulk makes YAMATO spear Kanda against the cage. He hits YAMATO with a standing moonsault. Kid hits Hulk with a hurricanrana. Yoshino hits Kid with a dropkick. Kid takes care of Yoshino and Kanda at the same time. Hulk rams YAMATO’s head against the cage. Kid climbs but it seems that you’re not allowed to go for a flag until ten minutes into the match. Yoshino pulls him down. Mindless brawling consumes the match for a while. CIMA and YAMATO inexplicably team up against Hulk for an instance. CIMA and Kid hit a double dropkick on Kanda. The Outlaw’z hit a triple dropkick on Kid. After a couple more minutes of dull brawling a whistle blows and everyone goes for a flag. Nobody is able to reach one. CIMA springs off of YAMATO’s back to climb the cage but Gamma hits his hands with an extra large cane from the floor. The Outlaw’z try to help each other escape but Kid, CIMA and Hulk are able to keep them in check. CIMA slams Kanda off the top rope. Yoshino hits Kid with the sleeper slam. Kid comes back with a stunner. He puts YAMATO in the Christo. Yoshino puts Hulk in the From Jungle. CIMA and Kanda climb so Kid and Yoshino release their holds to stop them. YAMATO hits Hulk with a German suplex. He shoves Hulk off the top rope into the cage. Kid hits him with a DDT. Kanda hits Kid with a side slam only to get double stomped by CIMA. Yoshino kicks CIMA so Hulk kicks Yoshino. Hulk climbs the cage but Horiguchi pours oil on it to make him slip. Hulk hits YAMATO with the Mouse. He kicks the crap out of Kanda. Kanda and YAMATO hit Hulk with a double back superplex. The Outlaw’z gang up on Hulk in the corner. Hulk springboards off the top turnbuckle and throws powder in the Outlaw’z faces to grab the first flag at 19:01.

Kanda hits Kid with a bodyslam. Kid dropkicks him off the top turnbuckle. He hits Yoshino with a super duper hurricanrana. YAMATO and Kanda hit him with a double suplex. YAMATO powerbombs him against the cage. CIMA is right by a pole for so long that his not grabbing it becomes nonsensical. Eventually he’s drawn back into the cage by Kanda and YAMATO threatening to rip Kid’s mask off. He this Kanda with the Venus. He hits a side Russian legsweep into the cage. He hits YAMATO with a superkick. Kid hits a hurricanrana. Both Typhoonies go for flags. Kid grabs one at 22:57 but CIMA isn’t so lucky. Now he’s all alone with three Outlaw’z. They all tease box shots until Kanda finally hits him with it. YAMATO hits a DVD. The Outlaw’z all climb. CIMA is able to pull Yoshino and Kanda down and hit them with a double stomp but YAMATO gets up to a pole at 24:54. Yoshino dropkicks Kanda by mistake. Horiguchi plays peacemaker. They hit CIMA with a double vertical suplex. Yoshino climbs but Kanda beats him down with the blue box. YAMATO ties Yoshino’s shoelaces to the cage. I guess that’s it for him in the Outlaw’z. Doi runs out and keeps Kanda from climbing with multiple blue box shots. I guess that’s it for him in the Outlaw’z too. Yoshino gets free, hits Kanda with a super Torbellino and then climbs up to grab a flag at 27:48 while Doi keeps the rest of the Outlaw’z at bay. Kanda hits CIMA with an exploder. He hangs CIMA in the Tree of Woe and goes for the last flag. The last flag is not by any turnbuckle and the cage below it is covered with oil. CIMA suplexes Kanda off the ropes. Kanda hits CIMA with a facebuster. CIMA hits the Schwein. He hits the Redline and climbs the cage. Saito passes him gloves, showing that he’s back in Typhoon for the long haul. CIMA uses the gloves to acrobat himself up the cage. The Typhoonies keep the extra Outlaw’z at bay. Kanda gives chase but Yoshino knee kicks him down and CIMA grabs the final flag at 31:54.

This was brutally dull for the first ten minutes. Nobody could get the edge for any significant amount of time because of the amount of other wrestlers who would break it up. It was a total cluster until the flag ban was lifted. The ten minute ban was an awful idea that led to a completely baron third of match! From a storyline perspective the final ten minutes were brilliant. Hulk looked great by flying up the cage to be the first man out. CIMA distracting the Outlaw’z so Kid could get the second flag was great. YAMATO’s escape while insulting CIMA was excellent given that CIMA was busy with two other Outlaw’z. The Speed Muscle saga ended in astonishing fashion as not only did Doi and Yoshino completely separate themselves from the Outlaw’z, Yoshino also helped CIMA win the match. Had the first ten minutes of the match not been here this would have been unbelievable. However they were here and they were mind numbing, so they match gets knocked down significantly.
Rating: ***½

After the match the Outlaw’z attack and try to rush Kanda out of the arena without getting his head shaved. Hulk meets Kanda on the ramp and drags him back to the ring. Hulk, Yoshino, CIMA and Kid all take turns shaving Kanda’s head. Doi and Gamma spar on the microphone, further cementing the Speed Muscle/Muscle Outlaw’z split. Hulk reminds Takagi and Kong that they have to dance with him before the upcoming Triangle Gate defense against the Outlaw’z now. They all do a little preview shimmy. Kid and CIMA reconcile their differences to completely the Typhoon resolution. Doi and Yoshino are left in the ring, hinting that they might start their own faction.

The undercard of the show is crappy, but very short. Tanisaki vs. Takagi was the biggest disappointment. However the top three matches make up half of the show. KENTA vs. Doi and the tag title match are both excellent and worth seeking out. The main event is worthwhile if you’ve been following the storylines and don’t mind fast forwarding through the first ten minutes. The top three matches are all worth checking out, but all could have been even better if one or two things had been different. Overall I was a little disappointed, but didn’t feel that I completely wasted my time.

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