Dragon Gate "Glorious Gate Final Battle" PPV
review by Luke M.

Date: April 23rd, 2006
Location: Oota-ku Taiikukan

Dragon Gate continues their string of brilliant pay per views with the finale of the Glorious Gate tour. This show in many ways set up 2006 for the company, with three- as you shall see- very important events occurring. This card had no poor matches, the worst of which still being entertaining, while the best are potential match of the year candidates. The only unfortunate element is that this show marked the end of Dragon Gate's monthly presence on pay per view. Hopefully, something new will be worked out, because this promotion has too much good to flounder clipped up on weekly cable.

As always, the show begins with the rousing "Dragon Storm" anthem and an introduction of the card. Strap it down and get ready for a hell of a ride.

1. Tozawa Akira, Michael Iwasa, Daniel Mishima, & The Turboman vs Anthony W Mori, Super Shiisa, King Shiisa, & Katsuo
Some background: on March 17, Tozawa earned his first victory by defeating Doi Naruki. In celebration, his mentor, Arai, offered him a spot on Final M2K, including an M2K jacket. Tozawa refused and set out on his own, developing a whole new attitude and forming the Tozawa Cram School- a faction which entering this match only technically has Tozawa himself as a member.

Danny comes out alone, constantly looking over his shoulder, wondering where Michael is. Finally, Tozawa's very rockin' new music hits, and he enters in full cram school regalia along with his standard bearer and a partially confused, partially enthralled Michael Iwasa.

Super Shiisa and Tozawa begin. Shiisa charges in for a lock-up but Tozawa puts his arms behind his back and unleashes a mighty roar. Perplexed, Shiisa stalks around the ring and tries again, meeting the same result. A knuckle lock attempt leads to a third Tozawa roar. Fed up, Shiisa goes in hard with a boot and locks in a front chancery, followed by whips and some fast chains on the ground, concluding as a stalemate and another cry from Tozawa. Daniel and Mori tag in.

Mori immediately uses his elegant gimmick, directing Danny to the referee, who then does the same, causing Danny to go back to his corner and tag in Turboman. The former Pentagon Black, King Shiisa, replaces Mori.

Turboman backflips into the ring and takes up a lucha pose, but gets a boot from King for his superfluousness. Turbo reverses a whip, leaps in for a monkey flip, gets tossed off then barreled over with a shoulder tackle. Turbo counters a whip into the corner with a nice twisting rana vaulted off the top. He then misses with a lariat but tosses King out of the ring, misses with a slide to the outside, and takes a big chop to the chest. King goes for a whip into the corner post, but Turbo grabs it and spins around it and under the ropes, back to the outside. He dodges a lariat, jumps up to the second rope and darts down for an armdrag but misses (King blew the spot).

Katsuo and Iwasa enter the ring and quickly exchange chops. Iwasa gets the advantage with stomps to the feet, then he and Mishima hit a Florida Brothers double team ending with an elbow drop from Iwasa. The two then engage in a Florida specific celebratory gimmick, but Tozawa steps in and guides Iwasa back to the corner, staring him down. Michael seems torn, but capitulates to Tozawa. Daniel stays on Katsuo, holding him for a Tozawa diving elbow to the back.

Katsuo gets beaten down with forearms and stomps, but is able to shove Tozawa into the blue corner, where Shiisa tags in and hits some kicks and a bodyslam, only to receive another roar. Mori briefly enters for some strikes, doing only superficial damage. Finally, Katsuo re-enters.

Tozawa walks to the neutral corner and once again puts his arms behind his back. He proceeds to no-sell and roar after charging moves from Shiisa, Mori, and Katsuo, but falls flat on his face after a huge running lariat from King. He makes a cover, but its only a two. King follows with a violent STF for another near-fall as Tozawa makes the ropes.

Shiisa enters and gets assaulted by a Florida-esque double team: Iwasa kicks Tozawa into his opponent, causing a front chancery. Michael then gives his partner a Russian leg-sweep, thus DDTing Shiisa. He then drags a beleaguered Tozawa back to the friendly corner and tags himself in. Mori enters and immediately suffers more double teams, including Michael hip-tossing Tozawa into him. He retreats to the outside but Tozawa pursues with a running Thesz press from the apron. Shiisa hits a tope suicida and Turbo a top rope quebrada, connecting directly with the camera man and endangering expensive GAORA equipment. In the ring, Danny and King battle, King getting the advantage. He goes up top but instead of splashing Michael he hits a quebrada to the pile of fighters on the outside.

In the ring, Katsuo hits something on Danny the production misses for a near-fall, then lays in with elbows. Michael shoves his partner out of the way, allowing him and Tozawa hit another double team, Tozawa dropping Katsuo with a diamond cutter. Turbo hits a firebird but Shiisa makes the save. Tozawa goes up top. He and Iwasa do an elaborate Tozawa-juku salute, followed by a diving headbutt, but only for two. With help from Iwasa, Tozawa drops directly on to Katsuo, landing cross-legged for another (albeit silly looking) pin. King makes the save.

Danny puts Katsuo on his shoulders and Michael goes up top for a lariat, but stops and climbs back down, causing Katsuo to hit a victory roll for a near-fall. Back up, Danny locks a full nelson and waits for Michael. He comes in with an axe bomber, shouting Danny's name- and connects. Iwasa points and laughs as Danny suffers a missile dropkick from Katsuo. Katsuo follows with a modified death valley bomb for two. King Shiisa enters and hits his twisting diamond cutter, Super Shiisa a bodyslam, and finally Mori connects with the Elegantón for the win at 9'44".

Post-match, Tozawa tells Iwasa his name is Taku, not Michael (which is true, his full name is Iwasa Takamichi). He gives him a Tozawa-juku school jacket, and Mishima a white t-shirt emblazoned with the kanji for "dismissal". The Florida Brothers are no more. Iwasa and Tozawa then beseech Mori to join them, but he responds by running away.

The main purpose of this match was to dissolve the Florida Brothers and establish what Tozawa-juku is going to be all about. It appears that the group will have some comedy elements but be much more serious than the Florida Brothers. As for the match itself, it was a pretty standard lucha-esque affair designed to get the show off to an exciting start. Whoever the Turboman is, he isn't that amazing, going for elaborate flippiness over anything more sensible. Dragon Gate management couldn't have been happy with his cameraman assaulting quebrada. Finally, Anthony W Mori did almost nothing in this match aside from get the victory, which was odd, but then it was also a 10 minute eight man tag, so it wasn't a problem. The match served the purposes it was designed for.

2. Tanizaki Naoki vs Horiguchi Genki
This is introduced as Horiguchi vs Mr Primetime (announced as representing APW), but he gets jumped by a metal box wielding Tanizaki on the way to the ring. Tanizaki gets on the mic and says something to the effect of "what's a big match in Dragon Gate without Tanizaki?" He asks the crowd if they want to see him or some gaijin face Horiguchi, and they respond with a "Naoki" chant. He jumps in the ring and goes at Horiguchi, and the ref rings the bell.

Horiguchi suffers knee strikes but comes back with a rana off the ropes and a tope con hilo when Tanizaki retreats. Tanizaki reverses a whip, sending Horiguchi into the ring post, following with strikes and a whip into the chairs four rows in! He then digs under the ring and throws several chairs in. Both men back in the ring, Tanizaki hits a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Meanwhile, Primetime begins to regain his senses at ringside.

Tanizaki struggles for a bodyslam on to the chair pile, but Horiguchi reverses and lands a punch, then hits ropes- only to suffer a flying knee for another near-fall. Tanizaki puts him up top and looks for a frankensteiner, but Horiguchi counters with a powerbomb into the chairs! He places a chair on top of his opponent and hits a moonsault! Feeling it, Horiguchi rushes in, only to take a low blow. Tanizaki lands a flying knee and hits the ropes, but gets tripped up by Primetime, who then connects with an elbow from the apron and finishes with a big blow with Tanizaki's box. Horiguchi locks in the Backslide Where God Dwells and gets the three! Horiguchi defeats his former DoFixer mate in 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

Despite being only four minutes, this was a solid bout. The hardcore elements were good, with the chairs being sold as though they should actually hurt more than normal unarmed offense. I found the booking unnecessary, as Tanizaki jumping the gaijin did nothing but set up something of a cul-de-sac of an angle for the following match. Granted, it was well executed, just superfluous. Overall, though, this was good fun.

3. Open The Brave Gate Championship
Yoshino Masato (c) vs Jack Evans

Evans enters via flippy things all the way down the ramp to ringside, then does his usual breakdancing, acting as though we should all be intensely impressed with these skills 100% unrelated to wrestling. His corner man is Mr Primetime. Champion Yoshino enters with Blood Generation mates Gamma, Doi, and Tanizaki. During the introductions, Evans is announced as representing Ring Of Honor, despite being a mercenary like every other US indy performer.

Evans strikes before the bell with kicks and gymnastics, hitting a gangly dropkick to send Yoshino outside and following with a reckless handspring firebird suicide dive, luckily not seriously injuring himself or any of Blood Generation at ringside. After quite awhile, Yoshino re-enters and Evans continues his assault with a whip and an elbow strike to take Yoshino down, then unleashing a series of double stomps off the ropes, finishing with a standing moonsault for a near-fall. Evans locks a ground cobra twist, but Yoshino makes the ropes.

Back up, Yoshino's had enough and goes at the challenger with hard overhand chops. He hits the ropes, but Evans counters with a kick out of a cartwheel and a double knee drop for another near-fall. A whip into the corner is followed by a rather undefined cartwheel handspring attack. Evans then attempts a missile dropkick but Yoshino dropkicks him in midair.

Yoshino continues the assault with more hard chops, the momentum clearly his. He drapes the tiny challenger over the middle rope and holds him for some shots from Gamma and Tanizaki. Evans reverses a whip into the blue corner and charges, but Yoshino ducks. Evans grabs the top rope and looks for a rana but Yoshino throws him off and nails a kick to the tenders, crumpling the gaijin to the mat.

Evans reverses a whip, but Yoshino comes back and hits a twisting neckbreaker drop, then covers for a count of two and a half. Back up, he lays in chops in the corner, followed by a whip. Evans jumps up top, twists around, almost falls, recovers, and hits a rana, sending Yoshino out of the ring. Evans pursues with a top rope suicide skytwister press which barely connects with anyone, Evans himself taking the brunt of the impact on the floor, indeed missing breaking his neck on the apron by less than an inch. Nevertheless, Evans is up first and rolls the champion into the ring for a cover, but its only a two.

Yoshino reverses a corner whip and goes up top, but Evans hits a dropkick. They exchange chops on the top rope, Evans eventually backflipping off and landing feet first in the ring, only to take a missile dropkick right in the grill. Yoshino covers, but Evans isn't done yet. Back up, he hits a northern light suplex, then rolls through, loses his dorag, and drops Yoshino with a fisherman buster. A running firebird splash off the ropes brings him naught but a two count.

Evans attempts another handspring move to the corner, but Yoshino dodges out of the ring while Gamma and Doi hit lariats. Tanizaki's gets dodged, however, and he suffers a big splash from Primetime, who then picks him up in a fireman's carry. Evans springs from the top rope to Tanizaki's back, just barely getting a moonsault over on to Yoshino (he slipped, and narrowly avoided paralysis for a third time in the match). He covers, but Yoshino's not done. Meanwhile, the non-essential personnel clear out of the ring. Evans drops Yoshino in the corner and hits the 630, but Doi disrupts the ref before he can count three. Evans goes back up but takes a low blow and a brutal swinging DDT, but its only a near-fall.

They exchange strikes, Evans getting the advantage with a spinning leg lariat. Yoshino replies with his twisting reverse neckbreaker and goes for the Sol Naciente, but Evans sees it coming and rolls into a cradle for two! He locks a crucifix cradle but Yoshino rolls through and brings it directly into the Lightning Spiral.... but Evans kicks out! Yoshino smells victory, though, and gets it with the Sol Naciente. Evans doesn't wait long to submit. Yoshino fulfills his V3 title defense in 10 minutes, 41 seconds.

After the match, a mic battle ensues between Doi and CIMA to set up the semifinal match later in the evening. The stipulation is agreed that the match will be for the Blood Generation name, but also, if CIMA & Fujii win, then the rudos have to return to their old gimmicks. CIMA even has a baseball bat and mocks Doi's old bunting gimmick when he was Second Doi.

Due to his violently unnecessary gymnastics maneuvers, Evans controlled the pace of the match. The flow was essentially Evans hitting these moves, feeling good about himself for not being paralyzed, then not being able to win because the moves had nothing on them other than flash and visual appeal (to some, anyway). I don't think Jack Evans is a good worker at all; in fact, his flippy moves are so reckless and dangerous I'm afraid he's going to seriously injure a quality worker every time he's in the ring. Also, when you take these moves away and study his form, its obvious there's not a whole lot else there, and it hurts serious matches against real wrestlers with real training, and that was exactly the case here. Yoshino was helpless to do much other than go with the flippy stuff; borrowing a football term, his "time of possession" was very low, the bulk of the match being Evans' aerial masturbation.

There was outside interference in this match, including a key moment where Blood Generation "robbed" Evans of the match. However, the manner in which this was done did not make the finish cheap. As with most Dragon Gate situations such as this, it didn't feel like Evans was screwed. Yoshino still came out looking like a deserving champion, and indeed the finish itself was very well done. The crucifix rolled into the Lightning Spiral was beautiful.

In the final analysis, wrestling purists will see this match as fluff not worth focusing on, while US indy fans will think the flippy stuff is really cool. And I'd disagree with them.

4. Yoshie Yutaka vs Stalker Ichikawa
The happiest fat guy in all of Japan is accompanied by a matching pink masked K-ness. Stalker is announced at 42 kilos, Yoshie at 160. That's a weight difference of almost 260 pounds, folks. Ouch.

Obviously, this wasn't a serious match at all, and just as obviously the humor was based around Yoshie's massiveness with a healthy dose of arse involved. The finish saw Stalker attempt a German suplex and get squashed. Yoshie followed with a big splash, then a diving body press. The three count was a formality. Poor Stalker gets stretchered out.

Post-match, Yoshie congratulates K-ness on his anniversary of being a pro-wrestler (he debuted in April of 1999). Having been out with an injury, K-ness announces his intent to return to the ring for the big Kobe show in July.

5. Magnum TOKYO & Dragon Kid vs Mochizuki Masaaki & Arai Ken'ichirou
The quasi-DoFixer duo jump their opponents before the bell, isolating Mochi in the ring. Sending him into the corner, Kid hits a leg lariat and Magnum a running lariat. After some tussling up top, Magnum hits a springboard frankensteiner and Kid a swinging DDT out of a corbata. Magnum hits the ropes but gets tripped by Arai. Mochi follows with a stiff kick to the spine. Magnum fakes returning the same and almost wins already with a crucifix cradle.

Arai jumps in. M2K whips Magnum into the corner, but he dodges their attacks and hits a dropkick on Mochi, sending him to the floor. Arai backswitches but takes an elbow from Magnum, who uses the opportunity to a hit a tope con hilo on Mochi.

In the ring, Kid hits an armdrag and corbata on Arai, then charges into the corner, only to get spun around and placed up top. Kid lands a dropkick, but Arai's head is way too hard, and in the battle of leg versus head, head wins. Arai stays on the injury with a kneebreaker and an ankle lock, seeking to ground the little man. Kid breaks the hold with a chop to the throat, but Arai drops a double sledge on the left knee. Despite this, Kid still attempts a dropkick, landing a glancing blow so he can tag out.

Magnum hits some strikes and shoulder shots in the corner, then brings a cravat into a snap mare into a side headlock on the mat. Arai reaches the ropes. Magnum slams him into the red corner and tags in Kid, who- while Magnum holds his opponent- connects with a series of chops followed by a point blank dropkick. Kid snaps him over and hits a right knee drop for a one count. Limping slightly, Kid tries to stay on the attack but suffers a spinebuster. Thus separated, Arai tags out.

Mochi immediately brings Kid down with kicks to the left knee and body. Mochi hits a trio of bodyslams and a sharp kick to the back for a two count. He then goes after Kid's left knee with a single prawn. Kid makes the ropes, but Arai tags in and assaults him with chops, forearms, and a spinebuster / low kick double team. Arai pins, but Kid kicks out, taking kicks to the lower back as he writhes on the mat. Slowly regaining his vertical base, Kid initiates a big exchange of chops and elbows, finally bringing Arai down with a rolling sabato. It isn't enough, and Arai pulls him out of the ring and slams him back first into the apron, then sets him up for a running kick from Mochi, who then suplexes him back into the ring for a near-fall.

They whip him into a corner, but Kid dodges Arai's running attack and drops Mochi with a low dropkick, enabling him to tag in Magnum. The fresh man goes after Mochi, nullifying their offense. Eventually isolating Arai, Magnum hits a cartwheel and a frankensteiner, then pulls him out of the ring.

Kid whips Mochi into the corner and charges in, only to take an axe kick. But Kid springs off the ropes and hits the Deja Vu to send Mochi outside, following with a quebrada from the corner.

In the ring, Magnum hits a lariat and facecrusher on Arai, but almost loses from a small package. Back up, Magnum exchanges chops with Arai's headbutts- a lengthy sequence almost bringing both men down. Eventually, though, Magnum hits a jumping knee, then blocks a suplex attempt. Kid jumps into the ring but gets caught and Hanshin Tigers suplexed. Magnum makes the save at two. Arai and Mochi hit a double team on Kid, who replies with an attempted Christo on Arai, only to get dropped in a side slam. Arai goes up top and hits a diving headbutt for a near-fall. Mochi goes up top, and Arai seeks another headbutt off of his shoulders, but Magnum catches them, holding so Kid can hit a frankensteiner on Arai! Mochi jumps off, but Kid dropkicks him! Mochi stymies a corner attack by Kid but takes a big chop from Magnum, who then brings out Tenryuu's chop/punch sequence, dropping his opponent. Magnum hits a modified side slam for two and Kid a Jesus for another near-fall.

Kid hits the ropes but Mochi kicks him and attempts a Twister. Kid twists out of it and nails a stunner and a hurricanrana but Mochi just barely kicks out. Magnum hits a missile dropkick, goes for the cover, but Arai makes the save.

Arai reverses a whip into the corner, but takes a shoulder from Magnum, who then hits the ropes. Arai tags him with a chinbreaker, and Mochi hits the Sankakugiri. Arai hits the ropes but Magnum hits a drop toe hold and la magistral for a two. He goes up but Arai is there and hits an arm arrangement chinbreaker all the way from the top! Mochi hits a series of hard kicks and covers, but Magnum kicks out at one! He pulls him up and hits the Twister for one, two..... Kid makes the save!

After some tussling, Kid and Arai tangle on the top rope. After some hard shots, Arai takes a swinging diamond cutter, followed by a kick from Magnum and a cover broken up by Mochi. Magnum hits a big lariat on Arai for another near-fall, then an enzigieri. Kid springs into the ring and hits the Ultra Hurricanrana! Magnum blocks Mochi and Kid gets the three at 18 minutes, 22 seconds!

Great fast paced action as expected from Dragon Gate. The execution was superb- I don't recall seeing any blown spots (though Magnum's magistral was rather sloppy). Dragon Gate does this kind of match all the time, so there wasn't anything tremendously unique about it- it was simply a well executed, exciting contest perfectly placed to end the first half of the show on a high note and leave the fans amped up during intermission. The only real knock one can give this is that early on Arai & Mochizuki worked over Dragon Kid's back and left knee, only to have this utterly ignored later. It didn't take away from the match, but that is a nitpicky thing that really sticks out to me.

Open The Dream Gate #1 Contendership Match
6. B×B Hulk vs Takagi Shingo

A battle of Dragon Gate trueborns for a right to challenge for the title. Takagi made his wrestling debut October 3, 2004; BxB Hulk, March 5, 2005. This is the first of what should be many epic battles. BxB is accompanied by all of PoS Hearts (Anthony W Mori & Super Shiisa), but Takagi has absolutely no Blood Generation backup.

Takagi attacks before the bell, hitting a brutal chop and shoulder tackle. BxB reverses a whip into a beautiful armdrag. Another whip, and BxB attempts a leapfrog but is caught and planted with a powerslam. A lariat sends him out of the ring for a beating into the chairs and timekeeper's table, followed by hard chair shots. Takagi whips him into the ring post and misses a lariat, hitting nothing but metal. BxB stays on the arm with a rolling sabato and a whip into the post, using Takagi's swoon to re-enter the ring.

Takagi enters and takes a series of stomps, a whip, and a dropkick. BxB goes back to the arm with elbow shots, stomps, and a legdrop, followed by a Kimura lock. Takagi reaches the ropes but BxB stays on him as he begins to rise, hitting a stiff dropkick to the face followed by a snap and a standing tumbleweed for two. BxB continues work on the right arm with arm wringers and breakers, but Takagi attempts a sleeper. BxB elbows out and hits the ropes, but Takagi locks the sleeper again, using it to spin his opponent around and fling him down to the mat. Takagi hits a chop and a back elbow for a near-fall. On kickout, he locks a side sleeper but BxB reaches the ropes.

Both back up, they exchange chops, Takagi quickly getting the better of it. BxB goes down with a brutal knife-edge chop. Takagi follows with a kneedrop and a cover for two, then attempts a big military press slam, but his damaged arm gives out, so the move doesn't have full power. BxB's feeling the worst of the two, though, and Takagi sends him head first into a neutral turnbuckle, adding some chokes with his boots, concluded with a reverse waterwheel slam for a near-fall. On kickout, Takagi locks a deep crab hold, then brings it into a facelock. As Mori gets the crowd to chant "Ha-ru-ku", he finally makes the ropes. The hold is broken, but Takagi drops a knee of the second rope, followed by a slam and more boot chokes next to the ropes. After being crotched on the top rope, BxB gets chopped hard down to the apron. Takagi tries suplexing him back into the ring but BxB reverses with shots to the injured arm and re-enters with a springboard dropkick!

Feeling it, BxB attempts the BxB Smash, but is thrown off. Takagi hits the ropes but his lariat is dodged with a cartwheel. BxB hits the ropes and gets caught in a stomachbreaker but stops Takagi's charge off the ropes with the Mouse and looks for a swinging DDT off the opposite side but Takagi reverses it into a vertical drop brainbuster! He covers, but BxB kicks out at two, only to soon be dropped on his head with a backdrop suplex! Takagi signals its not over yet and hits a second and goes for the win..... but BxB kicks out!

Takagi locks a modified Anaconda Vice in the middle of the ring as more chants for Hulk begin. Slowly, painfully, he makes the ropes. Takagi stays on his man, looking for maybe a Thunder Fire, but BxB slides out of it and locks a back switch Takagi quickly elbows out, hits the ropes, and takes a lariat as BxB shouts "Bakayarou!" The fighting spirit kicking in, BxB attempts the E.V.O. but Takagi counters with a reverse vertical drop brainbuster and a big powerbomb hold which BxB narrowly escapes, kicking out at two and a half.

Both men struggle to their feet. Fully up first, Takagi charges with a big running lariat to the corner, dropping BxB hard to the mat. BxB reverses a whip with a cartwheel, dropkick, and elbow smash, but Takagi goes back to the whip and gets it, only to have BxB spring from the top of the opposite corner and connect with a dropkick right to the damaged right arm! Off the ropes, BxB hits a swinging DDT, then takes a quick route to the E.V.O. but only for two! BxB still with the advantage, he slams his opponent down and begins to climb up top, but Takagi catches him halfway up, looking for a backdrop suplex. BxB elbows out but takes a hard chop. Takagi sets him up for an avalanche-style brainbuster, but BxB once more hits some elbows and fully breaks free with- much to the crowd's surprise- a headbutt! He tries to position himself for launch but Takagi crashes forward with a lariat, sending BxB all the way to the floor!

At a ring-out count of 14, BxB finally makes it to the apron. Takagi connects with some shots and hits the ropes, but BxB slingshots in and leaps into a hurricanrana! A series of close near-falls takes place, each man rolling through the other's pin, Takagi narrowly kicking free. BxB hits the ropes but almost has his head taken off with a lariat. Takagi sets him up for the Last Falconry but BxB escapes and tries to counter with a reverse DDT or something bigger but can't quite get there. Takagi hits another big running lariat, then ignores attacks on his arm and drops his opponent with a German suplex. Off the ropes again, he connects with the Pumping Bomber and goes for the win.... but BxB won't stay down! Takagi hits the Last Falconry, but that doesn't win it, either!

Takagi picks up his battered opponent for another Last Falconry, but BxB wiggles free and hits two rolling sabatos. He attempts a lariat and connects, but so does Takagi. Both men hit the ropes for another double lariat. BxB ducks a third lariat, hits a rolling sabato to the face, another to the back, then hits the E.V.O. right in front of the corner. He goes up top, hits a moonsault press and gets the three! Dragon Gate's second trueborn has defeated its first in 19 minutes, 4 seconds!

One could consider this both Takagi Shingo and BxB Hulk's first genuinely big match. Neither man is quite ready for championship caliber bouts, but they'll be there before you know it. They shared control of the match- neither one seemed to carry the other, though they weren't always on the same page. BxB worked over the arm very well, but other than a spot or two it had no real effect on the progression and outcome of the match. Takagi, in turn, did nothing of the sort, preferring straight up power maneuvers Nothing sensational, but they were all effective, especially against an opponent that looks weaker and prettier. Impressively, neither man seemed legitimately tired after 19 minutes. By the look of them, they could have gone at least 30, which shows promise for the future.

The only blown spot was the Last Falconry reversal attempt in the waning minutes, which is a really bad time to blow a spot. I was worried that this would end up being like Suzuki Kotarou's first win in NOAH, where he blew the finish. Fortunately, that was not the case here. The actual finish is somewhat perplexing. The moonsault seemed rushed, and given the positioning of Takagi and Hulk's behavior, I'm wondering if maybe the finish wasn't supposed to be a shooting star press, but BxB neither had the muscle to fully control Takagi's big body in the E.V.O. (which is a pump-handle Emerald Flowsion) nor the positioning in the corner to hit it correctly. Half due to this and half due to Takagi not being spectacularly talented at selling accrued damage made it seem like BxB had the match lost but won anyway, disrupting the flow a bit.

Though the finish was a bit sloppy, this match, while not perfect, shows that Takagi Shingo should continue to be a worthy heel monster and BxB Hulk is the next big thing and will only improve as his very young career progresses.

7. CIMA & Don Fujii vs Doi Naruki & Gamma
First, the rudos, lead by Doi, enter to the Blood Generation theme. Both Tanizaki and Yoshino will be in Doi and Gamma's corner. The four of them pose in the ring and receive some boos. CIMA and Fujii also enter to the Blood Generation theme, getting a big ovation from the crowd. They're seconded by- of all people- Jack Evans. CIMA still has the baseball bat from earlier. Also, his ribs are bound, indicative of an injury. The match, despite being something of a grudge and a contest to determine who gets the Blood Generation name, is announced as having a 60 minute time limit, with of course no explanation as to what would happen in the event of a draw.

The rudos charge as Fujii is introduced and the action unsurprisingly is taken to the floor. Gamma brawls with CIMA on the ramp, going after his hurt ribs, while Doi goes after Fujii on the floor, ramming him into chairs and the ring post. With CIMA negated on the outside, Doi & Gamma bring Fujii into the ring and continue the beat-down. A whip leads to a double elbow and a knockdown.

Gamma throws CIMA into the ring and grabs the aluminum bat. As he re-enters, CIMA hits a kick from a kipup, leaving Gamma crotched on the middle rope. CIMA grabs the bat and gives the rope a big uppercut swing, neutralizing Gamma; he then goes at Doi with a dropkick and a double stomp to the back. Clutching his side in pain, he quickly tags out.

Fujii and Doi exchange fierce chops, Fujii winning the exchange with chops to the face, setting up a big diving shoulder tackle from the ropes. Doi escapes. Gamma enters, but gets beaten down with boots and fists. CIMA tags in and they hit the Blood Generation big splash / CIMA double stomp sequence. Gamma down, CIMA hits another double stomp, then produces a spray can and starts.... coloring Gamma's hair.... And the crowd's really into it. Fujii tags in and the two hit a double team shoulder tackle.

Fujii hits a bodyslam, but Gamma gets up and a big chop exchange ensues, ending with a face rake from Fujii. He locks a front chancery but gets pushed into the blue corner and Doi tags in. They lock up sumo style. Fujii gets pushed back but he replies with a sumo head and arm throw! He stays on the attack with a leg trip and giant swing into a CIMA dropkick! CIMA tosses Doi out of the ring and demands Gamma's presence and a knucklelock. Gamma obliges, but doesn't notice Fujii behind him and takes a sharp dropkick to the back. CIMA sends him neck first into the middle turnbuckle then connects with a running dropkick to the tailbone, driving the neck hard into the corner.

Doi jumps in but gets whipped. He stops himself against the ropes and kicks CIMA's ribs. The rudos go back to work with stomps as a loud chant for CIMA breaks out. They hit a double team whip, both kicking him off the rebound. With CIMA down to his knees, Tanizaki enters the ring and the three hit simultaneous dropkicks. Gamma goes for the cover, but its only a two; they follow up with a nifty double team bulldog drop and a Flashback from Gamma. His turn now with the spray paint, he writes something on CIMA's back, displaying it to the crowd with a front chancery. Fujii attacks and breaks the hold, but gets beaten down with a dropkick from Gamma and a legdrop from Doi.

Doi tosses Fujii into the corner, stomps him to a sitting position, then from the opposite corner hits a hard running somersault back attack, followed with a shot into Gamma's boot, who re-enters the match with boot chokes and stomps. Fujii back to his feet, they exchange chops until Gamma hits an eye-gouge, followed with a choke on the mat. The rudos then drape Fujii's knees across the middle rope, Gamma holding him up off the mat so Doi can hit a somersault senton off the top! Gamma makes the cover but they're too close to the ropes.

The brutality to Fujii continues. Gamma hits a whip into the corner, followed with a running back elbow and a slingshot dropkick to the head and a second dropkick to the face for a close near-fall. Gamma and Doi hit another whip into the corner, but Fujii comes alive and dodges Doi and shoulder tackles Gamma, ducks a Doi lariat and sends him to the mat with a dropkick and makes the hot tag to CIMA!

CIMA runs under a Doi lariat to knock Gamma off the apron, then pulls Doi down to hit a double stomp. Gamma hits a shoulder strike through the ropes and goes for a slingshot move but CIMA catches him in a stiff diamond cutter. Doi reverses a whip to the red corner and charges in, but CIMA flips him up on to Fujii's shoulder, who then hits a powerslam on the apron! CIMA reaches out to pull him in. Gamma hits the ropes and looks for a low dropkick to CIMA, but he dodges and it connects with Doi!

CIMA whips Gamma to the corner and hits a double knee followed by the Perfect Driver for a near-fall. Gamma fires kicks to CIMA's midsection, which he haughtily no-sells. Another kick gets caught, but he waits too long to follow up and gets a dropkick to the proverbial "lower midsection." Gamma drives him into the corner then hits a running dropkick to the ribs and charges in again, but somehow CIMA manages a spinning back heel kick. He hits the ropes but takes a diamond cutter and a Flashback for a near-fall. Gamma sets him up for a powerbomb or piledriver but CIMA shoulders him up and over, then locks a full nelson for a big running lariat from Fujii! Gamma rolls to safety and Doi enters the fray.

He and Fujii exchange elbows, Doi getting the advantage. Fujii reverses a whip with a knee strike and hits the ropes, but Doi stun guns him across the top rope and follows with a flying elbow off the ropes for a near-fall. Doi goes up top but Fujii meets him there. They jockey for position. Eventually, Doi flips over and holds his man up. In a beautiful double-team, Gamma connects with a missile dropkick as Doi hits the powerbomb hold! Its not quite enough, though, as Fujii kicks out at two and a half!

Doi maintains the momentum and hits the Doi 555 and looks for a running dropkick but gets tripped by CIMA, who enters the ring and hits the ropes, only to be, in turn, tripped by Tanizaki! Doi and CIMA trade backswitches, CIMA finally ducking out of the way as Tanizaki accidentally hits Doi with the metal box, then takes a thrust kick in the grill from CIMA. Fujii hits a diving lariat to Doi, then a nodowa otoshi in front of the corner for a 630 from Evans. CIMA hits the Schwein and goes for the win.... but Yoshino breaks it up! Referee Kanda kicks Yoshino in the gut and throws him out of the ring to a huge ovation from the crowd. Yoshino gets into it with Kanda while Fujii hits a hard running lariat to Doi in the corner, then places him up top. CIMA hits the Venus, the Iconoclasm, then goes up top for the Mad Splash but Gamma throws a chair to knock him all the way to the floor!

Fujii hits the ropes and charges Doi, who ducks and sends him across the middle rope with a drop toe hold. At ringside, Tanizaki throws weight gain powder at Fujii, but misses his face. Doi hits the ropes but Fujii no-sells the botched powder shot and connects with a diving lariat, only to suffer a chair broken over his head by Gamma! Fujii stunned and kneeling, Gamma gets another chair and holds it across his face. Doi connects with a hard Bakatare Sliding Kick to the chair and covers Fujii for the victory in 18 minutes, 35 seconds! (Evans was right in front of it but didn't interfere)

Post-match, Doi gets on the mic and says, in a nutshell, that CIMA and Fujii can keep the Blood Generation name. He, Tanizaki, Yoshino, and Gamma are now a new group: the Muscle Outlaw'z. They display a banner showing their logo, along with a sign spelling the faction's name in katakana. The injured Magnitude Kishiwada appears and throws in with the new group. Eventually (and somehow) Mochizuki and Magnum TOKYO get involved in this segment for the purpose of setting up an eight man tag at the next Dragon Gate show at Korakuen Hall.

Great stuff. This wasn't scientific wrestling, nor was it supposed to be. This was a hard hitting grudge match. The big spots were of almost joshi level brutality, and all were executed flawlessly and fantastically. The missile dropkick / powerbomb combo, CIMA being knocked off the top rope with a thrown chair, the Bakatare Sliding Kick- spectacular and high impact, all. Even more importantly, everyone sold the match like there was real hate between the sides, and Fujii genuinely looked to be on his last leg after the chair attacks. The only mistake was Tanizaki's aim with the weight gain powder, but the improvisation around it was perfect. There was lots of interference, including an ending some would call a screwjob, but it was believable hardcore. Like the earlier Horiguchi match, the chairs were mightier than normal offense and swung hard to make it look like it. The rudos won with rudo means, serving to put the crowd fully against them and fully behind CIMA.

There is only one real demerit to this match. First, Jack Evans was in perfect position at the end of the match to interfere and save Fujii, but just stood there with the pin happening directly in his face. There had already been a precedent set that the technicos weren't above those tactics, as Evans hit a 630 a couple minutes earlier. Obviously, he wasn't supposed to break up the finish, but he should've been somewhere else at ringside so as to not look foolish.

I feel it necessary to note that certain websites have reported that the crowd had an apathetic reaction to the Muscle Outlaw'z introducing themselves. This is just plain not true. I won't begin to hypothesize why this was reported as such, but it is wrong, regardless of anyone's personal opinion on the direction of the company itself. The crowd reacted exactly how one would expect them to react to a new rudo faction forming after winning a match through dubious means. If they were expected to riot in anger with pitchforks and torches or break into a spontaneous orgy in celebration, then sure, the reaction was tepid and apathetic. But- here using terminology I tend to avoid- contrary to what has been said by less observant and cognitive elements, the MOz were "over" as rudos. End of story.

The final word is that this is my pick for match of the night. It had pretty much everything, the pace was fast and brutal, and the less than clean finish didn't at all detract from the quality of the match. Finally, it was perfectly placed to directly contrast with the previous contest and the forthcoming title match. If any fans were upset over the technicos losing, the title match will serve to erase or distract from those feelings. Highly recommended.

8. Open The Dream Gate Championship
Saitou Ryou (c) vs Yokosuka Susumu

Holder of one of the best faces in all of wrestling, Saitou Ryou won his second singles championship- and first since giving up cycling- from Magnitude Kishiwada on February 24, 2006. He enters the night seeking his first successful defense against Final M2K's first officer, King Of Gate winner, and warrior seeking his first singles title, Yokosuka Susumu. Cornermen are for Saitou all of DoFixer (Magnum TOKYO, Dragon Kid, & Horiguchi Genki); for Yokosuka all of Final M2K (Mochizuki Masaaki, K-ness, & Arai Ken'ichirou). The proclamation, key ceremony, and pre-match photos complete, its main event time.

At the bell, both men proceed cautiously... then absolutely explode into a very fast flurry of strikes and backswitches. Saitou lands a knee and hits the ropes, but takes an elbow. Yokosuka brings him up for the Yokosuka Cutter already, but Saitou wiggles free and locks a full nelson for the dragon suplex, but Yokosuka rushes to the ropes for a break.

In the center of the ring, a knucklelock is engaged, but Saitou backswitches and locks an arm. Yokosuka takes him down amateur style and, arranging the legs in a kama-gatame position, goes to work on the left ankle. He then applies a knee to the legs and looks for a surfboard, but Saitou armdrags him down and applies a Kimura to the left arm. Yokosuka makes his way to his feet and breaks the armlock with a bodyslam, then adds some stomps and sends Saitou into the corner, landing sledges to the lower back.

They exchange strikes as Saitou returns to his feet, but Yokosuka holds the advantage and sends the champion back to the corner. He hits a whip and charges with an elbow, but Saitou ducks and dropkicks the right arm, following with strikes which Yokosuka no-sells, adding elbow strikes in retaliation. Eventually, Saitou gets the advantage, engages a hammerlock, and sends Yokosuka elbow first into the corner, adding a kick and overhead elbow shots. Saitou climbs up top and sits, pulling the hurt arm. He rips the elbow guard off and hits a big knee drop, crushing the elbow between his knee and the mat. Yokosuka escapes to the floor, but Saitou pursues. He wrings the arm and drives the challenger's hurt arm repeatedly into the cornerpost, following with another big kick. Saitou throws his battered opponent back into the ring and adds more strikes, then quickly drops into a juuji-gatame. Yokosuka struggles mightily to keep the arm from being extended. He loses the battle, but makes the ropes quickly. Saitou waits until a four count before releasing the hold.

The champion stays on the arm with legdrops and kicks. Slowly getting to his feet, Yokosuka attempts overhand chops with his hurt arm, doing more damage to himself than Saitou, who retaliates with an armbreaker. A second armbreaker attempt is reversed into a sleeper, but Saitou elbows out and hits the ropes- only to be dropkicked in the left knee! Yokosuka follows with a kneebreaker to the mat and a figure four! After arduous seconds and wails of pain, Saitou makes it to the bottom rope to break the hold.

Saitou counters a kneebreaker with a waki-gatame, but Yokosuka breaks the hold by throwing the champion between the ropes to the apron. Yokosuka hits the ropes for a right-armed lariat but Saitou kicks it and attempts one of his own. Yokosuka blocks and hits a reverse kneckbreaker across the top rope. Both men now on the floor, Yokosuka drags the challenger up the ramp and looks for a powerbomb, but Saitou shoulders up out of it, dropping Yokosuka on his back. Saitou grasps a rear waistlock right on the edge of the ramp's incline. He can't get hit the German, so he runs back and charges with a lariat.... which Yokosuka counters with an exploder down the ramp!! Saitou rolls down its entire length, looking beaten. At a ring-out count of 19, he uses every ounce of strength to dive back into the ring.

The champion gets shakily to his feet. Yokosuka hits the ropes, wanting to hit the Jumbo no Kachi lariat, but Saitou connects out of nowhere with a hurricanrana! Yokosuka rolls through for a near-fall on the champion. When both men return to their feet, Yokosuka hits a whip to the corner and charges forward only to meet a boot. He tries again and receives two boots. Saitou attempts a lariat but gets caught again, Yokosuka looking for an exploder. Saitou hammers on the hurt arm, breaking the hold.... only to take an exploder from the left side, instead!

Back up, they exchange elbows, Yokosuka beating the hell out of his own hurt arm. Nonetheless, the exploder hurt the champ, and Yokosuka gets the advantage. He backs up and charges forward, but Saitou comes alive with a belly to belly suplex right into the blue corner! The champion revived, he once again looks for a German suplex and can't get it. Firing a forearm to the back, he releases the waistlock and hits the ropes. Yokosuka hits a lariat, but the arm is too battered and Saitou suffers no damage. The champion hits the ropes again and dodges a high leg lariat, then comes back and hits a high-angle German suplex hold! Yokosuka kicks out at two and a half!

The challenger down, Saitou goes up for a big splash, but comes down on to two raised knees. Yokosuka hits the ropes and tries a frankensteiner, but gets powerbombed. Both men are down, but eventually the challenger is up first. He goes back up top, but Yokosuka sees him and jumps up to the second rope, getting there first and hitting an avalanche-style exploder! Again, both men are down. This time, Yokosuka is first up and climbs up top... but Saitou jumps to the second rope and gets there first. After some exchanged shots, Saitou locks on and hits a fisherman buster all the way from the top rope! He immediately covers, but its not enough! He pulls the challenger up and attempts a dragon suplex but can't lock his hands. Giving up, he hits the ropes only to take a huge leg lariat! Yokosuka hits the the Yokosuka Cutter, but the champion won't go down, kicking out violently at two.

Yokosuka stays on the attack and hits the Ai Cutter, but Saitou rises, a fearsome look in his eyes. He lunges with a lariat, but Yokosuka hits one as well. And again! Yokosuka tries a third lariat but gets dropped on his head with a release dragon suplex... but he jumps to his feet! The challenger charges with a lariat but once again gets caught, this time Saitou holding on..... but only for a near-fall! Saitou jumps back up and tries to lock for the Premium Bridge, but Yokosuka shoves backwards into the corner to break. Saitou is first to his feet and places the challenger up top, then climbs to the top rope and struggles for a dragon suplex! Yokosuka struggles free and slides to the apron, hitting three lariats, the last huge one knocking Saitou backwards to the mat, flipping him over to his stomach.

Yokosuka pulls the swooned champion up and drags him to the blue corner, setting him up top and climbing to the second rope. His face plastered with horror, Saitou finds himself placed on Yokosuka's shoulder, then dropped violently, that same face now plastered with mat from the avalanche-style Ai Cutter!! The challenger hits the ropes and connects with the Jumbo no Kachi! He goes for the win, but the pin is countered with a crucifix cradle. Yokosuka narrowly kicks out, only to get caught again! He hits the ropes but Saitou connects with a massive lariat and a dragon suplex hold... but Yokosuka kicks out! Saitou stays on him and hits the Premium Bridge for one, two............. Yokosuka just barely kicks out! The champion smells victory and locks for a second Premium Bridge, but Yokosuka, running on fumes, breaks free and hits a lariat! They exchange violent strikes, the champion downing the challenger with another Jumbo no Kachi! He goes for the win...... but Saitou kicks out! Yokosuka pulls him up and hits a violent double underhook variation of the Ai Cutter (the Mugen), but its still not enough!

Yokosuka returns to his feet and strikes with another Jumbo no Kachi. Saitou roars and charges. Yokosuka hits another Jumbo no Kachi, falls into a cover and.......... we have a new champion! In 22 minutes, 50 seconds, Yokosuka Susumu is the 4th Open The Dream Gate Champion!!

This is what a title match is supposed to be. No interference, no weapons, just two men giving it their all for the belt and glory. The crowd was split straight down the middle for this, their chants blurring together so evenly you couldn't make out either man's name. Saitou Ryou has the best expressions in all of wrestling, rivaling even Kobashi in his heyday, and Yokosuka was great with his selling as well. The work was intelligent, the big spots were big- these guys obviously grew up watching All Japan- and overall the match came together very well for two criminally underrated performers.

They worked straight up- Saitou attacking Yokosuka's right arm to try and nullify primarily the Jumbo no Kachi lariat, Yokosuka attacking Saitou's knee to lesson the impact of his dragon suplexes. Early on, Saitou must have forgotten Yokosuka was right handed, working on the left arm, but he quickly realized his mistake and went to business on the correct appendage. As the match progressed, Yokosuka switched from the Yokosuka Cutter to the Ai Cutter, which is a similar move but uses the left shoulder instead of the right, thus lessening damage on his targeted arm. As with other major Dragon Gate singles matches, the limb damage was eventually overcome with extreme heart and fighting spirit. Purists would say they "forgot" about their injuries or eventually ignored them because they're poor workers, but nothing of the sort happened and those who suggest it are imbeciles. When Yokosuka unloaded lariats at the end, it was because he was putting his entire well-being at risk for the title, for the glory, for victory- things more important than your own body. He was fighting for and won the pinnacle of Dragon Gate. Here, the championship is the most important thing, not merely some prop to carry in your car from gig to gig. He gave it all he had and emerged victorious.

The finish itself was slightly anti-climactic, a lariat coming after a sequence of brutal looking head drops (especially the Ai Cutter off the top, which busted Saitou's mouth open). However, when taking the match and the accumulated damage within a holistic context, it was sensible. After the top rope Ai Cutter, Saitou was running on adrenaline more than consciousness, and it was that one final Jumbo no Kachi that took him out. Also, one could say that maneuver was symbolic, Yokosuka winning his very first singles title with a technique he named after his idol, Jumbo Tsuruta (the name means "Jumbo's Victory").

Both Yokosuka and Saitou are still young- 27 and 28, respectively- and will only get better from this match. Look out, world.

-- LCM, 8/7/06

Luke can be reached at lunarorrery33@yahoo.com if you'd like to give any feedback about the review

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