review by Simon Wight
Date: July 19th, 2009
Location: Kobe World Hall
Hello, my name is Simon Wight and this is my first review for this here website. It also the first time I have ever seen a Dragon Gate show, though I am familiar with the promotion via magazines and the Internet. The card in question is the conclusion of their July tour, with the main event being a title vs title match, with the company’s major singles titles on the line. So as the DG theme song so eloquently puts it – Ready? GO!
Shisa BOY, Super Shisa & K-Ness vs. Kenichiro Arai, Yasushi Kanda & Cyber Kong
BOY, Shisa & K-Ness are wrestler unaffiliated with any particular faction in DG, while Arai, Kanda and Kong are member of the villainous Real Hazard stable, all three bringing weapons with them. Kong brings a pineapple. You’ll read why later.
Shisa and Kanda start, trading reversals, armbars and wristlocks until Kanda gains the advantage by raking Shisa’s eyes. Irish whip by Kanda reversed by Shisa who hits Kanda with two consecutive armdrags and a dropkick that sends Kanda to the floor.
Ness and Kong in. Kong towers over Ness. A knuckle lock leads into a headlock on Kong by Ness. Kong simply picks Ness up by one arm and muscles him over to the ropes. Irish whip. Ness hits Kong with a shoulder block to no effect. Kong poses to show of his muscles. A second shoulder block by Ness barely moves Kong. Kong poses again, which raises a laugh from the crowd. Ness changes tactics by stamping on Kong’s foot; slapping his ears and delivering a spinning heel kick, finally knocking Kong down. Arai runs in to be met by a boot to the stomach by Ness. Super Shisa comes in and aids his partner in delivering a double Irish whip on Arai. A double drop toehold knocks Arai to the mat. Ness and Shisa lock Arai into a double Mexican surfboard, allowing BOY to hit a dropkick to Arai’s chest. BOY stays on the mat to hold Arai off the mat, allowing Ness and Shisa to hit dropkicks to either side of Arai’s head. Arai begs off from BOY. Kanda hits BOY from behind and knocks Ness and Shisa off the apron.
Arai tags in Kong, and holds BOY for Kong to deliver a double axe handle to the back. Kong lifts BOY into a military press. Ness and Shisa run in to chop Kong, but have no effect. Kong kicks them both in the stomach then throws BOY onto them. Ness and Shisa roll out, leaving BOY alone. Kong yells, “Give me the pineapple” (In pretty good English, I might add) and Kanda obliges. Kong stands over BOY and squeezes the pineapple, squirting juice all over BOY. Kong then goes nuts and throws pineapple chunks into the audience.
Kanda sits on the top turnbuckle and Arai climbs onto his shoulders, hitting a double foot stomp onto BOY. Arai covers for a two-count. Kanda comes in and slaps BOY, who doesn’t take them too kindly, leading to a forearm trade off between the two, BOY winning. BOY hits the ropes, ducks Kanda’s clothesline and hits a tilt-a-whirl into a cool looking submission I can only describe as a combined piggyback and modified double chickenwing armlock. Kong runs in to break it up.
Arai enters the ring, he and Kanda hitting a double Irish whip and double flapjack on BOY. Kanda covers, buy BOY kicks out at two. Kanda attempts a suplex, but BOY escapes and grabs a waistlock. A series of Kanda elbows knocks BOY into into the turnbuckles. Kanda charges but BOY catches him in the dace with a big boot. BOY hits the ropes but is caught by Kanda. Kanda runs the ropes himself, only to be hit by a BOY dropkick. Kong attacks BOY but Shisa makes the save. Double Irish whip on Kong. Shisa and BOY duck a Kong clothesline and catch him with a double dropkick, sending Kong to the outside. BOY goes for a slingshot cross body block, but is caught by Kong, but Shisa hits a dive through the ropes, knocking Kong down.
Ness and Arai are left in the ring. Ness takes Arai into the corner, but his Irish whip attempt is reversed, Ness hitting the turnbuckles. Arai charges but Ness slips out of the way and hits Arai with a high kick to the head. Ness drags Arai into the centre and runs the ropes, but Arai catches him with a spinebuster. Arai tries to headbutt Ness in the groin but Ness kicks him away. Ness gets to his feet and runs the ropes as Kanda throws Arai his preferred weapon, a sake bottle. Arai kicks Ness in the gut but a bottle swings misses, Ness taking advantage with an enzugiri. Ness locks on a submission where he straitjackets Arai’s arms like Jinsei Shinzaki’s camel clutch variation, but lies to his side as if applying a crippler crossface. Kanda breaks it up.
Ness, Shisa and BOY isolate Kanda and whip him into the corner, before hitting successive running reverse elbows to the Real Hazard member. Shisa jumps up to the top turnbuckle and hits a sunset flip, Kanda being carried into a double legsweep by Ness and BOY. Unfortunately, the sequence is ruined when Ness botches a double roll through when he loses grip on Kanda’s arm and a subsequent sunset flip leaves Shisa/BOY caught up in the ropes. A cover is still made, Arai saving at two.
Kanda blocks two BOY Irish whip attempts into a corner by holding on the ropes, then reverses a third. Out of nowhere Arai sprints in and strikes BOY with an elbow, followed by Kong hitting a Stinger splash and corner lariat. BOY staggers out of the corner and is hit by another lariat from Kong, who then hits the ropes again and drops a big splash. Kong covers, with Ness and Shisa saving at two. Kanda and Arai clear the ring, leaving Kong and BOY. Kong lifts BOY for a powerbomb, but BOY wriggles out and rolls Kong up fro a close two count. BOY hits the ropes but is caught with a sick looking lariat, BOY taking all the impact on his neck and shoulders. Kong covers, but BOY kicks out at two. Kong picks BOY up and finally hits the powerbomb. Cover. One two three.
Your winners: Kenichiro Arai, Yasushi Kanda & Cyber Kong
Verdict – My first Dragon Gate match turned out not to be too bad at all; ideal for the opening match. There was no huge standout moments and some glaring errors, but the bout was still an action-filled bout designed to get the audience warmed up for the remainder of the show, as well as establishing for newbies like myself that the Real Hazard bunch don’t so much break the rules have no regard for such petty annoyances in the first place. A solid effort. ***
“Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa vs. Abdullah the Butcher
Ichikawa comes out to the theme tune for The Lone Ranger, while wearing what looks to be a Halloween costume. I get the feeling I shouldn’t expect a ***** classic. There is a collective gasp from the audience when Abdullah appears, a symbol of his legendary status in Japan, as he doesn’t seem to move too easily nowadays. Nevertheless, Ichikawa looks terrified.
Ichikawa attack Abdullah outside the ring, throwing wild punches and chops that don’t seem to have any effect. Abdullah hits a karate thrust to Ichikawa’s throat, dropping him immediately. Abdullah continues his assault by driving Ichikawa into the timekeeper’s table twice, then hitting in the throat and over the head with a microphone. Abdullah picks him up and drags him around ringside before throwing him into the ringpost.
Abdullah climbs into the ring, but takes so long due to his size, that Ichikawa has crawled in first. Ichikawa resumes his initial flurry and tries to pick up Abdullah. He fails, so goes back to the chop, punches and eyerakes. Abdullah just stands there wondering what the hell he is facing. Eventually, Abdullah gets fed up and hits Ichikawa with a soft-looking headbutt that Ichikawa sells like a champ anyway. Ichikawa picks himself up as the referee (yes, the referee) starts an ‘Ichikawa’ chant. Abdullah hits another karate thrust to the throat. Ichikawa is on the mat, not moving. Abdullah seizes the moment and lands his big elbow drop. One two three
Your winner: Abdullah The Butcher.
Post-match, Abdullah hits another big elbow on Ichikawa to the fans. He then shakes the hands of the majority of the front and does a fat man dance. And the crowd love it.
Verdict – All right, by any standard, this technically was a terrible wrestling match. But then it wasn’t meant to be a wrestling match per se. It was merely a chance for the crowd to have a laugh and see a bona fide legend in action. In the end, the crowd was entertained, I was laughing away and Abdullah looked like he was having fun as well. Everyone was left happy (apart from Ichikawa perhaps) and that’s all that matters right? *1/4 (The star for the comedy, the ¼ for the actual match)
Super Shenlong II & Anthony W. Mori vs. MAZADA & NOSAWA Rongai
Mori looks a little more reluctant to tag with Shenlong than Shenlong is to tag with Mori. Shenlong attacks MAZADA at the bell, with NOSAWA blindsiding Mori before helping his partner. Shenlong Irish whips both MAZADA and NOSAWA into the turnbuckles and charges. They move and Shenlong hits the turnbuckles himself. NOSAWA throws Shenlong to the outside while MAZADA chokes Mori in the corner.
NOSAWA suplexes Shenlong. MAZADA Irish whips Mori, but Mori reverses MAZADA into the turnbuckles. A Mori charge countered by MAZADA trying to back body drop Mori, but Mori catches the top rope and uses his momentum to catch MAZADA with his legs and deliver a flying headscissors. Mori scores with a back elbow. The two trade forearms before Mori hits a dropkick, knocking MAZADA outside. Mori climbs to the top and hits a Swanton dice onto MAZADA and NOSAWA. Shenlong tells Mori to hold their opponents, climbs into the ring and performs a dive through the ropes, just as NOSAWA and MAZADA move out of the way. Shenlong hits Mori.
MAZADA and NOSAWA seize the advantage by dragging Shenlong into the ring. Double Irish whip on Shenlong leads to a NOSAWA drop toehold/MAZADA legdrop/NOSAWA Camel Clutch/MAZADA basement dropkick sequence. NOSAWA covers, Shenlong kicking out at two. NOSAWA snapmares Shenlong then kicks him the back of the head. Another pinfall attempts only scores a two-count. NOSAWA targets Shenlong’s mask, attempting to tear it off. A tag to MAZADA, who continues attempts to demask Shenlong. Another snapmare then more mask wrenching. Shenlong’s face remains covered for now. MAZADA stomps Shenlong, then scoops him up and hits a backbreaker. Two count. MAZADA throws Shenlong into his corner and tags NOSAWA. More tearing at the mask. NOSAWA hits a couple of kicks to Shenlong’s gut, scores a bodyslam then goes back to the mask. He almost succeeds in taking it off, but Shenlong holds on. It is at this point I realise Shenlong’s mask is see through. Yes.
Shenlong is back in NOSAWA and MAZADA’s corner. MAZADA decides to tie Shenlong’s mask to the ring ropes for a couple of minutes. Not sure why but it made me laugh. MAZADA is now the legal man. He drills Shenlong with a few shots then runs over and knocks Mori off the apron. Double Irish on Shenlong leads to double flapjack (botched as MAZADA loses his grip on the elevation), transitioned into a double swinging-style slam. Another cover, but Shenlong again kicks out at two. Another double Irish whip. Shenlong tries to fight back with a double clothesline, but has no effect. He hits the ropes, ducks a NOSAWA/MAZADA double clothesline and manages to knock them down with a double dropkick. He rolls over to his corner and makes the hot tag to Mori.
Mori ducks a wild swing by MAZADA, but is kicked in the back by NOSAWA as he prepares to run the ropes. Irish whip by MAZADA. Mori ducks a clothesline and knocks NOSAWA to the floor. He is stopped by a kick to the gut from MAZADA, but counters another Irish whip with a dropkick to the knee. Shenlong joins his partner in delivering a double Irish whip into the corner on MAZADA. Mori hits a running reverse elbow. Shenlong tells Mori to Irish whip him back. Mori does so, but MAZADA hits Shenlong with an elbow. Mori catches MAZADA with a snapmare and goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Shenlong elects to pick up MAZADA for an attempted suplex. Mori looks confused. Shenlong can’t lift MAZADA so he calls Mori down to help him! MAZADA blocks the subsequent double suplex attempt, leading to Shenlong and Mori arguing amongst themselves. MAZADA tires to attack, but Shenlong and Mori hit him with a double shoulderblock. NOSAWA enters the ring but receives a kick to the gut, and Mori and Shenlong manage to double suplex NOSAWA. Mori snapmares NOSAWA, and Shenlong hits a standing moonsault into a double kneedrop. Mori climbs the turnbuckles and scores with a Swanton Bomb. Shenlong also goes up top and hits a Shooting Star press. He covers for two, MAZADA making the save. Mori and Shenlong Irish whip MAZADA, but MAZADA hits a double clothesline. Mori rolls to the outside, leaving Shenlong at the mercy of MAZADA and NOSAWA. Shenlong yells for help but Mori can’t answer. In desperation, Shenlong takes off his mask and throws it NOSAWA. Now MAZADA and NOSAWA look confused. MAZADA decides enough is enough and hits Shenlong with a Fisherman DDT, while NOSAWA puts on Shenlong’s mask. NOSAWA channels his inner Muta and nails Shenlong with a Shining Wizard. NOSAWA covers. One two three.
Your winners: MAZADA & NOSAWA Rongai.
Verdict – What a strange match. It started off serious then suddenly morphed into this pseudo-comedy match with no rhyme or reason. Maybe because I don’t know any Japanese I’m don’t know the whole story, but all I could think at the end was why would Shenlong throw his mask away when he’d spent part of the match fighting to keep it on? As for the match itself, it was just ‘there’. Shenlong looked like he was still a rookie, Mori really wasn’t in the match enough to make an impression, and MAZADA and NOSAWA didn’t seem to have the sufficient skill level to carry the match, sticking mainly to punches, kicks and the basics. Every card needs a toilet break match, and this one was it. *1/4
Naoki Tanizaki vs. Kzy
A video package chronicles the story behind this match when Kzy (formerly M.c.KZ) quit the WORLD-1 stable (of which Tanizaki is a member) to join Real Hazard. Tanizaki felt betrayed by his former friend, leading to run-ins and brawls, Kzy being thrown into a river and Tanizaki fighting in only a towel and with shampoo still in his hair. And so the grudge match was signed…
Tanizaki comes out first and runs at Kzy with a chair as Kzy makes his entrance. Tanizaki misses several chair swings. Kzy blocks a final one by wrestling the chair away. Kzy attempts his own chair swing, but Tanizaki punches through the chair (knocking the seat part clean off the frame) and hits Kzy. Tanizaki takes the frame and tries to hit the floored Kzy, who rolls out of the way of several attacks, but as he gets to his feet, Tanizaki lands a chair (frame) shot to Kzy’s back.
Tanizaki picks Kzy and attempts a suplex off the ramp into the crowd. Kzy blocks and hits a low blow, then hits Tanizaki with a piledriver on the ramp. Kzy drags up Tanizaki and throws him off the ramp into the crowd. Kzy swaggers to the ring, mouthing off to the fans. Tanizaki begins crawling as the crowd chant his name. The referee’s count reaches 18 at which point Tanizaki finds the strength to sprint into the ring by 19.
Kzy beats down Tanizaki, who tries to fight back with forearms to the stomach. Tanizaki gets to his feet, beginning yet another forearm trade that quickly turns into a face slap trade. Kzy wins and hits the ropes, Tanizaki countering and gaining control of the match with his Dashing Hizagiri (jumping knee strike) and a headbutt. Kzy is knocked down. Kenichiro Arai jumps onto the apron and distracts the referee. Kzy grabs a chair and cracks it over Tanizaki’s head. The seat part flies off again and the frame is left around Tanizaki’s neck. Tanizaki remains on his feet. Kzy destroys two more chairs over the Tanizaki’s cranium, leaving their frames around his neck as well. A home run swing with another chair sends the frames flying and Tanizaki down to the mat. Kzy covers, but only gets a two count.
The crowd chant ‘Tanizaki’ again. Kzy hits a front slam and climbs up to the top turnbuckle. Tanizaki jumps up and hits Kzy with a big right, then joins him up top. The two struggle, before Kzy knocks Tanizaki down with a forearm. He attempts a double footstomp, but Tanizaki gets a boot up into Kzy’s jaw. Kzy staggers into the corner, Tanizaki capitalising with a Flying Hizagiri (step-up knee strike). Kzy rolls out into position for a stiff-looking Casanova (running knee strike) from Tanizaki. Cover. Kzy kicks out at two. Tanizaki tries to lift Kzy into position for his Implant (back-to-belly piledriver) finisher. Kzy rolls out, but Tanizaki hits another Casanova, followed by a thrust kick and two roundhouse kicks to Kzy’s head. Kzy looks out of it. Tanizaki covers. The referee counts to two before Arai pulls the referee out of the ring.
Tanizaki goes for the Implant again, but Kzy throws him into the ropes, where Yasushi Kanda hits him with a blue box (Kanda’s weapon of choice). Cyber Kong enters the ring and drills Tanizaki with a lariat, leaving Tanizaki prone for a KZ Time frog splash by Kzy. Kzy covers, but Tanizaki kicks out at two. Kzy sets up for his CDJ (front flip piledriver), but Tanizaki blocks and finally hits the Implant. He covers for two, when Kanda breaks up with another blue box shot to the head. Kanda picks Tanizaki up and hits him with his Ryu Spin (think Christopher Daniels’ Angel Wings) into the box. Kzy picks up Tanizaki and keeps him standing on the canvas as he climbs to the middle turnbuckle. From there he hits the CDJ. Cover. One two three.
Your winner: Kzy
Post-match, Kzy and Real Hazard mock Tanizaki by draping a WORLD-1 flag over him.
Verdict – This was Wrestling Booking 101. I got the story without needing to know Japanese, the brawling style of the match suited the story, and the finish continued the story, with Kzy getting one over on his rival, but needing a lot of help to do it, meaning that he’s not better than Tanizaki just yet. Tanizaki was good as the never-say-die babyface, but Kzy was excellent, playing the cocky punk heel to the point where he even let out a suitably evil laugh following his win! OK, the match was basic up until the home stretch and Tanizaki going from crawling to sprinting in one second raised an eyebrow, but at the end of it, I wanted to see the rematch, and see Kzy get his comeuppance. Mission accomplished for this match. ***
KAGETORA, Susumu Yokosuka & Gamma vs. Don Fujii, Masaaki Mochizuki & Akebono
This match is to establish the #1 contenders for the Open The Triangle Gate Championships. Warriors-5 attacks the unofficial ‘Veteran Army’ at the bell. Yokosuka and KAGETORA knock Fujii and Mochizuki out of the ring, but Akebono is unaffected by Gamma’s offence. Gamma tries to muscle Akebono over but Akebono throws him aside. Yokosuka and KAGETORA attack Akebono one after the other, but suffer the same fate as Gamma. Warriors-5 attempt a group attack, but Akebono knocks all three down. Gamma rolls to the outside with Akebono following. Gamma gains the advantage by raking and then spitting into Akebono’s eyes. Meantime, Fujii is seen dragging Yokosuka into the crowd and ups stairs.
At the top, he drives Yokosuka’s head into a chair. The girl sitting exactly to the left of them looks terrified.
Gamma and Akebono are on the ramp, with Akebono preparing for his Osuikougeki (basically spitting water into someone’s face). Akebono slaps Gamma in the face, knocking him down, giving Akebono ample time to deliver an Osuikougeki of his own. Gamma tries to regain the advantage with a series of slaps to Akebono’s stomach, but a retaliatory single slap to the face knocks Gamma back down.
KAGETORA and Mochizuki are in the ring. Mochizuki throws KAGETORA out and focuses on Gamma. Mochizuki bodyslams Gamma then kicks him hard in the back. Mochizuki forces Gamma into the Veteran Army corner and hits a big overhand chop. Fujii is tagged in and chops Gamma. Gamma kicks out at Fujii but Akebono slaps Gamma in the chest, knocking him down. Fujii kicks Gamma a few times for good measure, then picks Gamma up and holds him for another Akebono slap. Fujii takes Gamma to the centre of the ring. Irish whip and a reverse back elbow on Gamma. Fujii scoops and slams Gamma and locks on a single-leg crab. Gamma reaches the ropes. Fujii picks Gamma up and throws him headfirst into Mochizuki’s outstretched boot before tagging in Akebono. Fujii and Akebono Irish whip Gamma and nail him with a double shoulder block. Gamma rolls to the side of the ring, where Akebono simply stands on him. Just so you know, Akebono is a former Sumo wrestler, and therefore is a BIG guy. Gamma rolls to the centre of the ring where Akebono makes a one-footed cover. Two count only.
Akebono takes Gamma into his team’s corner. Mochizuki becomes the legal man. Gamma is hit with a roundhouse kick to the chest. Mochizuki attempts his trademark twisting brainbuster, but Gamma wriggles out, ducks a Mochizuki kick and makes a hot tag to Yokosuka, who kicks Mochizuki in the gut. An Irish whip attempt in reversed by Mochizuki, sending Yokosuka into the Warriors-5 corner. Yokosuka backdrops a charging Mochizuki, who lands on his feet on the apron, where Gamma cracks him in the leg a couple of times with a Singapore cane. Meanwhile, Yokosuka knocks Fujii off the apron (but tells the referee to watch Akebono. Wuss!).
Yokosuka snapmares Mochizuki, allowing KAGETORA to deliver a slingshot elbow drop. KAGETORA covers but Mochizuki kicks out at one. KAGETORA throws Mochizuki in the Warriors-5 corner. Yokosuka grapevines Mochizuki’s leg into the ropes, and holds it for a KAGETORA running dropkick to the knee. A role reversal leads to second dropkick to Mochizuki’s knee, this time from Yokosuka. He lifts Mochizuki over one shoulder, then drops into a pretty sweet sitout kneebreaker, and applies a Figure-4 Leglock. Mochizuki tries to reach the ropes, but KAGETORA grabs his arms, leaving Mochizuki prone for a Gamma Osuikougeki. Akebono takes offence and comes in but is stopped by the referee.
KAGETORA enters. He continues the attack on Mochizuki’s knew with stomps and Mochizuki tires to fight back with punches. He finally gains the advantage by nailing KAGETORA with a stiff kick to the chest (using his bad leg incidentally). Mochizuki tries to run the ropes but Yokosuka hits a cheap shot to the back and holds him for KAGETORA, whose own attempt to run the ropes is stopped by a slap from Akebono. Gamma and Yokosuka try to charge Akebono off the apron, but Akebono doesn’t move. A second attempt sees Akebono grab both Yokosuka and Gamma by the throats and stop them from interfering, as KAGETORA Irish whips Mochizuki, who ducks a clothesline and misses a roundhouse kick attempt, but a second one connects, knocking KAGETORA to the mat.
Mochizuki tags in Fujii, who attacks Yokosuka. Gamma saves with a double axe handle. He and Yokosuka Irish whip Fujii, who runs through a Warriors-5 double clothesline and scores with a double DDT. KAGETORA attacks Fujii. The two run the ropes at the same time, with Fujii catching KAGETORA with a kick to the gut. The two run the ropes again, KAGETORA ducking one Fujii lariat, only to be hit full on with a second. Fujii Irish whips all three members of Warriors-5 into the same corner, then Irish whips Akebono into them.
Mochizuki comes back in, no longer favouring his knee. An Irish whip attempt on Yokosuka is reversed, sending Mochizuki into the corner. Yokosuka charges, but Mochizuki catches him with a kick. Mochizuki attempts another kick, but Yokosuka catches and spins him into a waistlock. Mochizuki flips out of a German suplex attempt onto his feet. Two respective Mochizuki high kick/Yokosuka lariat attempts are blocked. Yokosuka ducks a roundhouse kick and hits a short-range lariat. Mochizuki is stunned. Yokosuka runs the ropes but Mochizuki catches him with a jumping kick. Mochizuki climbs to the top turnbuckle but Yokosuka joins him.
The two jostle for position (with Mochizuki nearly losing his balance at one point) before Yokosuka gains control with an avalanche Exploder, sending Mochizuki to the mat, leaving him prone for a KAGETORA top rope elbow drop from the opposite corner. KAGETORA covers, but only manages a two count.
KAGETORA hoist Mochizuki into a fireman’s carry, but Mochizuki escapes with a knee to the head. KAGETORA staggers into the corner as Mochizuki tags in Fujii. Big corner lariat by Fujii, who Irish whips KAGETORA into a Mochizuki front kick, sending KAGETORA to his knees. Mochizuki drills KAGETORA with a stiff low kick to the chest. Akebono enters and tries to hit an Abdullah style big elbow drop, but KAGETORA rolls out of the way. Gamma clears the ring while Yokosuka signals for a lariat. Three consecutive lariats leave Akebono staggering. A fourth attempt see Akebono counter with a clothesline of his own, but Yokosuka ducks and attempts a waistlock, but he can’t reach right round Akebono’s waist. I don’t think that spot was meant to be funny, but it was. Akebono knocks Yokosuka away with a big butt bump. Gamma comes in and hits Akebono over the head with the Singapore cane. Gamma and Yokosuka attempt a double belly-to-back suplex on Akebono but just can’t muscle him over. KAGETORA hits Akebono with an enzugiri, and Gamma and Yokosuka finally execute the suplex. The crowd gasp with shock at the sight.
Gamma covers but Akebono kicks out at two. Yokosuka hits a seated Akebono with a sliding lariat and covers, but only scores a two-count. Fujii and Mochizuki attempt to get back in to match, but Warriors-5 clears the ring. KAGETORA and Yokosuka hold Akebono down as Gamma climbs to the top turnbuckle. He hits a Skytwister Press. All three pile on top of Akebono but still only manage to score a two-count. Gamma hauls Akebono up to a sitting position and drills him with a thrust kick to the jaw. Gamma’s subsequent showboating pisses off Mochizuki, who hits Gamma with a springboard dropkick to the back of Gamma’s head. Mochizuki hits a second springboard dropkick off the middle rope to Yokosuka, knocking him off the apron.
Fujii knocks KAGETORA off the apron with a clothesline, then chokeslams Gamma, leaving him prone for an Akebono big elbow drop. The subsequent cover results in a two-count. Mochizuki re-enters, picks up Gamma and squeezes in between the top and middle turnbuckle. He runs to the opposite corner and charges, drilling Gamma with a big running knee. Mochizuki uses his momentum to hit the ropes and execute a dive over the top rope, hitting KAGETORA on the floor, while Fujii hits a diving clothesline off the apron on Yokosuka. In the ring, Akebono chokeslams Gamma then hits him with a big splash. Cover. One two three.
Your winners: Don Fujii, Masaaki Mochizuki & Akebono.
Verdict – Well, this was all-action. One could gripe about Mochizuki’s selling of his leg, particularly after he still manages to deliver stiff kick after stiff kick, but in truth that was the only real flaw in the match. True, Akebono didn’t really do much, but he was used intelligently, being the man that Warriors-5 just couldn’t deal with until the big suplex spot, without exposing the negatives that comes with a man of his size, like stamina. In the meantime, the other five went all-out to provide a good match. It was these type of matches that gained Dragon Gate its audience, and this one lived up to the standard. One can only imagine what a Dragon Gate six-man, where all six men are of similar size and build could be like… ***1/2
OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE TITLE MATCH
Kamikaze (Akira Tozawa, Taku Isawa & Dragon Kid) vs. Champions WORLD-1 (PAC, BxB Hulk & Masato Yoshino)
Tozawa is so pumped for the match he nearly ends up falling into the crowd while high-fiving fans! Meanwhile, Hulk’s dance routine is one of the greatest entrances in wrestling.
Tozawa and Hulk start, Tozawa still really pumped! A knucklelock is turned into a wristlock by Hulk, reversed into another by Tozawa. The two drop to the mat trying to gain the advantage. Hulk manages a quick one count. Break, and the two back to their feet. Another knucklelock. Hulk kicks Tozawa in the gut. He runs the ropes. Tozawa drops down then hits Hulk with a flying butt bump. Tozawa celebrates. Hulk on his feet and scores kicks to the gut and legs. He runs the ropes. Hulk and Izawa avoid each other using leapfrogs and cartwheels, then Hulk delivers an armdrag on Tozawa, who retaliates with an armdrag of his own. Both attempt dropkicks at the same time, canceling each other out. Stalemate.
Isawa and PAC are tagged in. Isawa kicks PAC and locks in an arm wrench. PAC escapes but Isawa Irish whips him. PAC shoulderblocks Isawa into the ropes, but Isawa comes back with his own shoulderblock, knocking PAC to the mat. Isawa Irish whips PAC again. PAC leaps over Isawa and sweeps out Isawa’s legs with his arm. Isawa tires the same but PAC hits a perfect back flip. They run the ropes avoiding each other’s charges with leapfrogs. One final charge sees Isawa drop down, PAC slam on the brakes and execute a standing Skytwister Press to Isawa’s back.
Yoshino and Kid enter. The crowd cheer loud for this! Collar and elbow tie-up. Yoshino Irish whips Kid, avoiding Kid’s charges by dropping down then leapfrogging. Yoshino runs the ropes several times, very gracefully, but misses a dropkick attempt. Kid takes his chance, ducking a Yoshino clothesline and hitting a tilt-a-whirl flying headscissors, sending Yoshino to the outside. Kid leaps out of the ring onto the apron, and moonsaults off the middle turnbuckle. Yoshino moves out of the way, leaving Kid and Isawa exposed for a PAC top rope Shooting Star Press to the floor! We can’t be more than 5 minutes into this match!
PAC throws Isawa back into the ring and covers for a two-count. Isawa blocks a bodyslam attempt by PAC and scores with one of his own. Isawa catapults PAC into a left hand by Tozawa, knocking PAC onto Isawa’s knees. Tozawa follows up with a slingshot somersault senton onto PAC. Isawa covers but PAC kicks out at two. Isawa drops an elbow on PAC’s back then tries to lock on some sort of leg submission. Yoshino runs in but Isawa catches him and grapevines Yoshino’s legs with PAC’s so a standing Yoshino is applying a submission hold on his own partner. Kid executes a tilt-a-whirl into an octopus stretch on Yoshino, while Isawa puts a Camel Clutch onto PAC. Tozawa prevents Hulk from breaking up the submission attempt(s) and tries to put him in an abdominal stretch, but Hulk reverses and put Tozawa into one instead. Kid and Isawa break their submission to save their partner.
Back to 1-on-1 action with Hulk and Tozawa. Hulk lays in some evil sounding kicks to a grounded Tozawa, with Izawa flipping up and catching Hulk with a kick to the head. Bad idea – Hulk lays in the stomps on Tozawa. Hulk picks Tozawa twist his arm and scores with a standing leg lariat, and then Hulk lays in a few more stomps for good measure. Hulk Irish whips Tozawa and executes a perfect dropkick to Tozawa’s face. Cover for two. Hulk lays in the punches, but Tozawa absorbs them and the two trade forearms. Tozawa briefly gains the advantage but Hulk cuts him off with a kick to the gut. PAC runs in and knocks Isawa and Kid off the apron as Hulk takes Tozawa to the mat and locks on a Camel Clutch. Yoshino runs the ropes several times, gaining an unbelievable amount of speed before drilling Tozawa with a basement dropkick.
PAC is tagged in and covers Tozawa, but only scores two. Tozawa tries to fight back, but PAC hits a bodyslam and legdrop. Another two count. PAC tags in Hulk and hits another kick to Tozawa, with yet more stomps. Tozawa gets to his feet and hits some rapid-fire slaps, but Hulk cuts him off again with a spinning roundhouse kick. PAC is tagged back in and drags Tozawa to the centre of the ring. He attempts a belly-to-back suplex but Tozawa blocks. A second attempt sees Tozawa flip over PAC and apply a waistlock. Couple of elbows knocks TOZAWA against the ropes. PAC runs the opposite set. Tozawa goes for another butt bump but PAC manages to hit a dropkick to Tozawa’s back. PAC runs the ropes again, but Tozawa stops his momentum with a dropkick.
Isawa is tagged in. He drills PAC with a shoulderblock and executes a bodyslam on Hulk. PAC leaps onto Isawa’s back and applies a sleeper hold. Hulk charges at Isawa, but Isawa catches him with a big boot. Isawa grabs Hulk and executes a brainbuster on Hulk, while squashing PAC who was still on Isawa’s back at the time. Yoshino runs in but Isawa kicks him the gut, allowing Kid to come in and hit a tilt-a-whirl flying headscissors with about four revolutions! Isawa knocks PAC off the apron with a dropkick, and then dives through the ropes, PAC hitting the floor. Meantime, Kid executes a springboard hurracanrana onto Yoshino (who is on the apron), sending him to the floor as well.
Tozawa and Hulk are in the ring. Tozawa takes Hulk into the corner with an Irish whip, but Hulk avoids Tozawa’s charge and attempts his own. Tozawa backdrops Hulk onto the apron, but Hulk leaps over the top rope back into, springboards off the middle rope and catches Tozawa with a dropkick. Isawa enters. Hulk throws him into the corner and hits a heel kick. He prepares to attempt another but Isawa races out and drills him with a lariat in the corner, then drills Hulk with a modified Fisherman’s Buster. Isawa covers, but Yoshino breaks up the count at two.
Kid re-enters and throws Yoshino out. The Kamikaze duo attempts a double clothesline but Hulk lands kicks on both. Hulk attempts to kick Kid. Kid catches Hulk’s foot and spins him, but Hulk uses the momentum to hit a spinning kick on Isawa. Hulk attempts a Dragon suplex on Kid, but Isawa rolls Hulk into a bow and arrow hold, leaving Hulk’s chest exposed for a Kid double stomp. Hulk is covered, but PAC saves his partner at two.
PAC attempts an Irish whip on Kid, but Kid blocks and scores with a spinning wheel kick. Kid runs the ropes but PAC counters with a tilt-a-whirl into a backbreaker. Kid is thrown into the corner. He avoids a PAC charge, but PAC counters Kid’s attack with a backdrop, Kid landing on the apron. PAC leaps out on the apron, catches Kid with a right then leaps back in, catching Kid with a Stunner over the ropes. Kid is knocked to the floor. PAC leaps out on the apron to attempt an Asai moonsault, but Isawa chops him the back, then executes his Noshigami (Gory Bomb) off the apron, PAC’s face smacking against it.
In the ring, Tozawa reverses a Yoshino Irish whip. He charges, but is caught by a kick to the face. Yoshino hits the ropes but is caught by another Tozawa butt bump. Tozawa attempts a clothesline, but Yoshino ducks and executes a Sling Blade. He covers and scores a two-count. Yoshino climbs the ropes and attempts is big top rope dropkick. Tozawa moves out the way, Yoshino landing on his feet. Tozawa attempts a corner charge on Yoshino, who back drops Tozawa out, but Dragon Kid runs in and catches Yoshino with a spinning wheel kick. Tozawa tries to drive Yoshino’s head into the opposite turnbuckle, but Yoshino blocks the attempt. Kid runs at Yoshino, but Yoshino flips out of the corner. He attempts a clothesline, but misses. Kid attempts another tilt-a-whirl, which is countered by Yoshino into a brainbuster attempt, but Kid counters that to put Yoshino on the mat, where Tozawa runs along the apron and executes a springboard diving headbutt on Yoshino. He covers, but Yoshino kicks out at two.
Kid leaps onto Yoshino’s shoulders, but Yoshino pushes him down and applies a waistlock. Kid elbows his way out and attempts a somersault into a hurracanrana, but Yoshino catches him. He goes for a running powerbomb, but Kid hurracanranas him into the ropes in position for Kid to hit him with a 619. Hulk kicks Kid in the stomach and attempts a clothesline, but Kid ducks and executes another tilt-a-whirl, this time into a DDT, Hulk spiked directly onto his head. Hulk reverses an Irish whip attempt out of the corner and charges. Kid back body drops Hulk out, but this leads to a WORLD-1 triple team; Hulk and Yoshino on the apron kick Kid in the head, while PAC drills him with a running elbow smash. Kid staggers out and Hulk executes a springboard dropkick. PAC also hits one, then Yoshino scores with his big top-rope dropkick. He covers, but Kid kicks out at two. PAC bodyslams Kid, who avoids a Hulk top rope moonsault, but Hulk lands on his feet. Hulk charges at Kid in the corner but misses, with Isawa sprinting in and hitting Hulk with a big corner clothesline. He sits Hulk on the top turnbuckle and kicks him in the head, then climbs the turnbuckles. Tozawa and Kid help put Hulk on Isawa’s shoulders, and then Kid hurracanranas Hulk off Isawa’s shoulders. Hulk stands in the opposite corner all groggy, and is drilled with an Isawa lariat in the corner then another in the middle of the ring. Isawa covers but PAC breaks up the cover at two.
PAC and Isawa trade chops and forearms. PAC ducks a clothesline and hits an enzugiri. He runs the ropes, but is caught by another Isawa lariat. Isawa goes for his Noshigami, but PAC counters into a pinning combination for two. PAC attempts a clothesline, but Isawa catches him with a backbreaker into a Complete Shot. He executes his Noshigami on PAC, who is left exposed for a springboard hurracanrana by Kid, but PAC kicks out at two. The crowd are screaming at this point.
Tozawa (still pumped!) comes in and grabs a waistlock on PAC. A German suplex attempt is blocked when PAC grabs the ropes. Tozawa runs the ropes, but is hit by a series of kicks by PAC, then a roaring face slap and a tilt-a-whirl into a facebuster by Yoshino. He goes for his Lightning Spiral (leg hook Fireman’s Carry slam), but Tozawa reverses and hits a German suplex for two. Tozawa goes for a German suplex again, but Yoshino holds on. Isawa comes in to help but accidentally lariats his partner. Hulk and PAC throw Isawa out, leaving Tozawa at a 3-on-1 disadvantage.
PAC and Hulk Irish whip Tozawa into the corner. They hit running reverse elbows, with Yoshino hitting a third one after using PAC as a springboard. Tozawa is bent over holding his stomach. PAC climbs the ropes and hits a Shooting Star double kneedrop to Tozawa’s back. Yoshino scores with a Lightning Spiral, but Isawa breaks up the resulting cover at two. Kid enters the ring and catches Yoshino with a double axe handle. He tries to clothesline out of the ring, but is back dropped out himself. Yoshino then dives through the ropes hitting Kid and Isawa at ringside.
In the ring, Hulk and Tozawa trades shots. Hulk runs the ropes but his caught a Tozawa hurracanrana for two. Tozawa ducks a clothesline and attempts a German suplex, but Hulk muscles out and hits an enzugiri, then his E.V.O. pumphandle Emerald Frosion. PAC climbs the turnbuckles and hits Tozawa with a corkscrew Shooting Star Press. He covers. One two three.
Your winners and still champions: PAC, BxB Hulk and Masato Yoshino
Post-match, the new #1 contenders, Don Fujii, Masaaki Mochizuki and Akebono come out and stare down the champions.
Verdict – I used a Dictaphone to take notes on this match, and I lost count of the number of times I had to pause and go back to certain point because this match was just so packed. From start to finish, this was a non-stop blur of fast but tight hard-hitting strikes, innovative spots and close near-falls. Every man when all out and led to a match that left me leaping out of my chair at certain points and exhausted after just watching it. If you need a sense of psychology and logical build in your matches then you may not like it, but in my opinion these are the only things this match didn’t have. It had everything else IMHO. ***1/4
OPEN THE TWIN GATE TITLE MATCH
Shingo Takagi & YAMATO (Kamikaze) vs. Champions Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi (Real Hazard)
A video package shows YAMATO choosing to assist (former Real Hazard member) Takagi and prevent a beat down by Saito and Horiguchi, leading to YAMATO joining Kamikaze and leading to this match. Before the match starts, an all-female J-Pop group (who began the show with a song) present flowers to the four competitors. The lass presenting to Horiguchi looks legitimately scared, probably ‘cos Horiguchi is sporting some awesome makeup that makes his face look all scarred. Real Hazard get heat by throwing the flowers away and Saito kicking a ring boy clearing streamers from the ring. It’s the little things that matter…
Kamikaze attacks Real Hazard at the bell. Saito and Takagi brawl in the ring while YAMAMTO throws Horiguchi up the ramp and claws at his eyes. In the ring, Saito gains the advantage then spits in Takagi’s face three times. This pisses off Takagi that he swats away Saito’s chops and hits a big one of his own, before drilling Saito with a (Masa) Saito suplex. YAMATO throes Horiguchi back in the ring. Kamikaze chop away at him in the corner, following up with an Irish whip and another double chop. YAMATO continues the offence with a double arm suplex and covers for a two count. YAMATO attempts an Exploder, but Horiguchi blocks. Takagi helps YAMATO hit the Exploder by German suplexing YAMATO – who immediately favours the neck, unable to get up.
Takagi lifts Horiguchi into a suplex, holding him up for a good 20+ seconds before dropping him. A second attempt sees Horiguchi slip out and apply a waistlock. Takagi elbows his way out, hits the ropes and goes for a lariat. Horiguchi ducks and attempts a running hurracanrana, but Takagi catches him and hits a powerbomb.
He goes for a pin, but Saito breaks the count with a chair shot to the back. YAMATO is back on his feet but is hit with a chair thrust to the neck. Saito and YAMATO both attempt suplexes, each blocking the other. YAMATO kicks Saito in the gut, run the ropes and attempt a pinning combination of some description, but Ryo manages to hit a German suplex on a chair, YAMATO landing on his neck. Takagi forearms Saito and whips him into a corner, where he nails Saito with a lariat. Tagaki sets Saito up for his Original Falconry (spinning wrist clutch Olympic Slam off the middle turnbuckle), but Horiguchi spits Red Mist into his face. Atsushi Kanda (the respective stables are at ringside) distracts the ref (why he needs distracting now,
I have no idea) for Horiguchi to hit Takagi with a chair shot to the head. Kenichiro Arai and Saito then duct tape Takagi to the ropes, leaving Real Hazard with a two-on-one advantage as Horiguchi hits YAMATO with a tornado DDT.
Saito and Horiguchi whip YAMATO and hit him with a double elbow. YAMATO tries to fight back, but the numbers game proves too much, Real Hazard knocking him down. Saito covers for a two-count. Horiguchi snapmares YAMATO and holds him as Saito hits a top rope double stomp. Real Hazard then taunt their rivals, Saito choking YAMATO with a whip he brought to the ring while Horiguchi spits water and takes cheap shots at Takagi. Outside the ring, Real Hazard top Kamikaze from helping Tagaki break free. YAMATO breaks free and wins a trading of forearms with Saito, but Horiguchi jumps him from behind and spikes YAMATO with a brainbuster. Horiguchi covers, but YAMATO kicks out at two. Saito coughs up a greasy one to spit in YAMATO’s face, which lights a fire under YAMATO who has a sudden burst of chops and forearms, but the champions stomp him down. They whip YAMATO but out of nowhere he spears Horiguchi and catches a Saito attack. He attempts another Exploder, but Ryo fights out. He runs the ropes, but YAMATO catches him again and finally hits the Exploder. YAMATO tries to free Takagi from the ropes but Horiguchi and Saito recover quickly enough to stop YAMATO. Real whip YAMATO, then hit a gut kick (Horiguchi) - facebuster to knee (Saito) - bulldog (Horiguchi) - basement dropkick (Saito) combo. Horiguchi picks up YAMATO and bodyslams him as Saito climbs up to the top turnbuckle. However, Takagi has managed to free himself from the rope and sprints over, clotheslining Horiguchi over the top rope and hitting a superplex on Saito.
Horiguchi rolls back into the ring. Takagi whips him and folds him up with a shoulderblock. Horiguchi reverses another whip attempt and sends Takagi into the corner. He attempts a running dropkick but Takagi catches him and flips him up into a fireman’s carry, only for Horiguchi to twist his weight and hit Takagi with a reverse DDT. He covers, but Takagi kicks out at just one. The two trade shots, with Takagi gaining control with a Mongolian chop. He hits the ropes and manages to catch a jumping Horiguchi, drilling him with yet another Exploder. Horiguchi blocks a Takagi lariat and goes for a Backslide from Hell, Takagi countering with a DDT, and a jumping kneedrop to the back. Horiguchi staggers into the corner. He stops a Takagi charge and runs the ropes, but Takagi hits a snap powerslam, transitioning into an Anaconda Vice. Saito and YAMATO come into the ring. YAMATO catches a Saito kick and twists it into an anklelock, transitioning that into an STF. Arai distracts the referee again, allowing Kzy to break up the submission attempts. YAMATO drops Kzy and throws him out of the ring.
YAMATO turns his attention back to Saito, whipping him into the corner. Saito stops YAMATO’s charge with a kick then runs the ropes. YAMATO ducks a Saito lariat, runs the ropes himself and counters Saito’s hurracanrana attempt with a powerbomb. He twist and kicks Saito’s arm them leaps onto Saito’s shoulders, rolling forward into a cross armbreaker. He cranks it on, Saito making the ropes. YAMATO lifts Saito into a fireman’s carry, but Saito manages to force YAMATO into the Real Hazard corner, where he again grabs the whip and choke YAMATO. They move to the centre of the ring, where the referee sees the whip and stops the cheating. He and Saito jostle for the whip as YAMATO attempts a spear. Saito moves at the last minute, the referee taking the full impact.
Real Hazard invades as Takagi checks on the ref. They grab Takagi and whip him into the corner. Horiguchi, Saito, Arai and Kzy all hit him with reverse elbows, with Cyber Kong hitting a corner clothesline. Kzy executes a CDJ on Takagi. Horiguchi positions Takagi in the middle of the ring as Arai, Kanda and Saito climb to the top. Arai hits a headbutt, Kanda a diving elbow, and Saito a splash. Saito covers but the ref is still dazed and only manages a two count before YAMATO makes the save. Real Hazard throws Takagi out and pushes YAMATO into the corner. Kong signals for a big lariat, but Akira Tozawa tackles Kong as he runs towards YAMATO, as Dragon Kid lands a springboard hurracanrana on Arai. Kanda attempts a lariat on Kid, but Taku Isawa hits a lariat on Kanda first.
The factions spill outside, leaving Saito, Takagi and YAMATO in the ring, the Kamikaze team gaining control with a double spear/lariat on Saito. They cut off Horiguchi entering the ring and whip him into the corner. YAMATO hits a big elbow smash followed by a Takagi lariat. Takagi quickly follows up with an Original Falconry and covers, Horiguchi kicking out at two. Takagi goes for his Made In Japan pumphandle half nelson driver, but Horiguchi blocks and waistlock Takagi. Takagi elbows Horiguchi into YAMATO’s clutches. YAMATO holds him for a Takagi lariat, but Horiguchi ducks, Takagi hitting YAMATO. Horiguchi reverses a second Made In Japan attempt into a Backslide from Hell, YAMATO saving for a two count. Horiguchi runs the ropes, but Takagi hoists him up and drops him with a Death Valley Driver, then damn near caves Horiguchi’s chest in with a big lariat. Cover gets two. Made In Japan attempt #3 succeeds, Saito breaking the resulting cover at two.
YAMATO and Saito exchange forearms, Saito winning the exchange. He runs the ropes, but YAMATO catches him with a Roaring Elbow. A YAMATO charge is stopped by a kick to the head from Saito, who then ducks the following lariat attempt by YAMATO and counters by hitting a release Dragon suplex. YAMATO springs right back up, to Saito’s shock (his facial reaction here is AWESOME!!!) and charges. Saito avoids another lariat and this time plants YAMATO with a bridging Dragon suplex, YAMATO kicking out at two. Saito attempts his Premium Bridge (wrist clutch Dragon suplex) but YAMATO fights out. Saito whips YAMATO but YAMATO strikes with a flying forearm, following up with a brainbuster for a two count. Takagi signals for his lariat. Saito ducks attempt #1 and absorbs #2, daring Takagi to try it again. He does, #3 knocking Saito down. YAMATO grabs Saito and drops him on his head with his Gallaria (inverted facelock lift into a Michinoku Driver) finisher, Horiguchi breaking the count at two.
YAMATO and Horiguchi trade forearms, YAMATO nailing a series of lefts and right that look like they legit knock Horiguchi loopy for a few seconds. Takagi drops Saito with a Death Valley driver on the apron then tells YAMATO to finish it. YAMATO signals for the lariat, but Horiguchi blocks the attempt by spitting Blue Mist into YAMATO’s face. Horiguchi showboats but YAMATO locks on a choke sleeper hold. Horiguchi forces YAMATO back to the ropes, where a Real Hazard member (the camera angle means it’s uncertain which one) hits YAMATO in the back, breaking the choke. YAMATO looks round, allowing Arai to throw powder in his eyes. Horiguchi pounces and catches YAMATO with the Backslide from Hell.
One two three.
Your winners and still champions: Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi
Post-match, Real Hazard take out Kamikaze and taunt YAMATO over his loss.
Verdict – Anyone else beginning to think Dragon Gate are good at this tag team lark? Just like the last one, it was a non-stop rush of big moves and stiff strikes, locked within the never-old story of good vs evil. I enjoyed it as much as the OTG match, but in the harsh light of analysis, there are some criticisms. Why did Real Hazard have to distract the referee to use illegal tactics when he didn’t book them for Saito’s chair shot on Takagi, suggesting he wouldn’t disqualify them anyways? Why did Kamikaze try their hardest to save YAMATO from a Real Hazard group attack when they let Takagi (their leader!) take a beating? Why did the ref not signal for someone to come out and cut Takagi’s taped wrists? All I saw was him trying to pull the tape apart once. It’s stuff that took me out of the match because I was asking why? And that’s a shame. If it weren’t for those flaws I would have easily rated it equal, or even higher than then the OTG bout, but... ***
OPEN THE DREAM GATE & OPEN THE BRAVE GATE TITLE MATCH
(Dream Gate champion) Naruki Doi vs. (Brave Gate champion) CIMA
The Dream Gate title is the top title of Dragon Gate, while the Brave Gate title is seen more as a light heavyweight strap. Doi, at the time of the match, was about seven months into his first reign. CIMA is the company’s only two-time Dream Gate champion (thus far), his second reign ending when he was forced to vacate the title due to a neck injury. He was four months into his Brave Gate reign. This essentially, was the match to decide who was the ace of the company. Before the match started, the Japanese national anthem played, everyone standing to attention. It was a simple thing, but it made the match seem that more important.
The two circle each other and lock in a collar and elbow tie-up. Doi pushes CIMA into the ropes and breaks cleanly. They lock up again and take it to the mat, Doi applying a waistlock and CIMA countering with an armbar, pressing his knee onto Doi’s face for good measure. CIMA takes them back to a vertical base and wrenches Doi’s arm. Doi rolls through and wrenches CIMA’s arm, flipping CIMA over. CIMA pushes Doi away with his feet. Stalemate. Another collar and elbow tie-up. CIMA applies a side headlock, taking Doi down to his knees. CIMA follows with a headlock takeover, Doi scissoring CIMA’s head with his legs. CIMA escapes, but Doi applies his own headlock takeover, CIMA scissoring Doi’s head. Doi breaks free, avoids a CIMA roundhouse kick and locks CIMA in a cravat-style headlock. Doi snapmares CIMA and applies a chinlock, but CIMA bridges up. The two jostle for position before CIMA hits an armdrag and tries to remain on top of Doi, but Doi rolls CIMA into a crucifix hold, scoring a two count. Tempers fray as the two start pushing each other.
A third collar and elbow sees CIMA force Doi into the corner. He targets Doi’s legs with kicks, then wraps the leg around the middle rope and hits more kicks to the exposed knee. CIMA runs to the opposite corner and starts charging when Doi sprints out and drills CIMA with a dropkick to his left knee, which is conspicuous by its heavy padding. CIMA rolls out to the floor, where his fellow members in WARRIORS-5 faction try to ease CIMA’s pain by covering the knee with some sort of spray. Doi joins them on the floor and target’s CIMA’s knee with kicks and leg wrenches. He throws CIMA back into the ring and focuses his attack on the leg and knee, fixing various leg locks before CIMA is able to make the ropes. CIMA tries to land a few kicks from his grounded position but Doi just stamps on the knee again. Doi drags CIMA to the corner and wraps CIMA’s leg around the ropes, cashing in a receipt from earlier. Doi runs the ropes and scores big with a dropkick to the knee. CIMA is really feeling the pain or his selling is just off the charts.
Doi wrenches CIMA’s arm then whips him into the corner. CIMA kips up and over Doi’s charge but Doi quickly recovers and hits another dropkick to CIMA’s knee. He attempts a Figure-4 but CIMA rolls Doi into an inside cradle from a two count. Doi grabs CIMA’s leg and hits a knee breaker and applies a modified figure-4, using his hand to press down on CIMA’s legs. Doi taunts CIMA into a slap fest, but as CIMA starts to hit a flurry, Doi twists on that knee again. CIMA reaches the ropes. Doi goes outside, dragging CIMA’s leg and slams it into the apron twice. He drags CIMA out the ring and up the ramp, holding his leg. CIMA fights back with another flurry of slaps but Doi executes a Dragon Screw leg whip, then locks in a conventional Figure-4 Leglock. He holds it until the referee’s count reaches 13, when Doi breaks it and runs back to the ring. CIMA rolls himself down the ramp to the ring area, and pulls himself in at 18. CIMA pulls himself up in the corner and avoids a Doi charge. CIMA charges at Doi, but Doi gets his boot up and hits CIMA in the face. He charges towards CIMA in the middle of the ring, but CIMA uses Doi’s momentum against him by lifting and dropping him into a backbreaker (dropping Doi on his bad left knee), then hitting a double knee backbreaker. Both men down.
CIMA gets to his feet first and hits two stiff kicks to Doi’s hurting back. The second is with his bad leg, CIMA visibly limping and wincing. He rolls Doi out to the outside and pushes him back first into the apron, then kicks in the back again, finishing by bodyslamming Doi, who hits the floor with a nasty sounding thud. CIMA rolls Doi back into the ring and stands on his back, before pushing up on the top rope and dropping a double stomp onto Doi’s back. CIMA snapmares Doi and applies a Camel Clutch. Doi breaks free by pushing CIMA off, but CIMA offers no respite by hitting another kick to Doi’s back. CIMA takes Doi into the corner by ramming him head first into the top turnbuckle, then targeting Doi’s back again with several forearms. He positions Doi so he is sitting on the middle rope, chest facing the turnbuckle, and drops him into another backbreaker. CIMA covers, but Doi kicks out at two. CIMA’s still selling the knee, but hits another kick to Doi’s back. CIMA picks up Doi and hits another backbreaker. Doi manages to get to his hands and knees, but CIMA kips up out of the corner and hits another double stomp to the back.
CIMA whips Doi. Doi counters with a sunset flip, but CIMA rolls through. He misses a double stomp, Doi capitalising with a snap DDT. Doi attempts a Bakatare sliding kick, but CIMA catches hits foot and applies a Boston crab, where Doi’s legs are parallel with CIMA’s body, all the pressure going on Doi’s back. Doi reaches the ropes, but CIMA lands two more kicks to Doi’s back. CIMA attempts a slingshot move off the top turnbuckle, but Doi pushes him off. CIMA lands on the apron. Doi attempts to suplex CIMA back into the ring, but CIMA blocks and lifts Doi to try and suplex him onto the floor, but Doi escapes. He ties CIMA into the ropes so CIMA is still standing on the apron, but his upper body is between the top and middle ropes, arms hooked over the top rope. Doi runs the ropes and lands a dropkick to CIMA’s chest. He climbs to the top turnbuckle and attempts a somersault senton but misses. CIMA gets back into the ring and springboards off the middle rope, hitting a double stomp. He attempts another springboard move off the top rope, but Doi pushes off the rope to the floor. Doi then executes a running dive to the floor, hitting CIMA. Both men are down at ringside.
Doi climbs to the top turnbuckle. As CIMA tries to re-enter the ring through the ropes, Doi finally hits CIMA with a somersault Senton. Doi goes for his 555 (Fireman’s carry into a sitout facebuster), but CIMA counters into a waistlock.
Doi fights his way out. CIMA runs the ropes but is caught by a shot from Doi, who follows up with a belly-to-back suplex, covering for a two count. Doi attempts the 555 again, but CIMA manages to land on his feet. Doi runs the ropes, but CIMA strikes back with an enzugiri, and then lands a double stomp to the shoulders of a seated Doi. CIMA lands two more kicks to Doi’s back then hits the ropes, but Doi lands an elbow strike. CIMA ducks a lariat attempt, but Doi stops CIMA’s momentum off the ropes with a sitout spinebuster. CIMA kicks out the resulting cover at two. Doi signals for his main finisher, the Muscular Bomb (Wheelbarrow lift into a half nelson driver). He attempts it, but CIMA grabs the ropes and swings round, rolling Doi up for a two count. CIMA gains another two count following a Perfect Driver (cross-legged Michinoku Driver). CIMA dumps Doi on the top turnbuckle and climbs up. He attempts an avalanche Perfect Driver, but Doi fights out and attempts a sunset flip bomb, CIMA managing to keep hold of the ropes. Doi climbs back up and hits CIMA with an avalanche German suplex, CIMA landing heavily on his knee.
Doi pulls down CIMA’s kneepads to lay in a few more shots, but CIMA reverses a Boston Crab attempt into a cradle for another two count. CIMA is up first and charges, but Doi executes a drop toehold. Doi attempts the Muscular Bomb again, but CIMA reverses into a Perfect Driver attempt. Doi escapes and runs the ropes but is stopped in his tracks by a CIMA super kick. CIMA lifts Doi into position for the Schwein (over-the-shoulder back-to-belly piledriver), hits the ropes for increased momentum then spikes Doi on his head. Doi kicks out at two. CIMA puts Doi onto the top turnbuckle again, and hits another super kick. Doi flops forward, CIMA locking him into a reverse tree of woe, where Doi’s back is exposed. CIMA climbs up the opposite turnbuckle and dropkicks Doi in the back. CIMA puts Doi back on the top turnbuckle, hits a Shotei then executes his Iconoclasm flipping slam. CIMA climbs back to the top and attempts his MAD splash, but Doi gets his knees into CIMA’s gut. Doi seizes the opening and finally hits the 555, followed by his Bakatare kick. He covers, but CIMA gets his foot on the ropes at two.
Doi waits as CIMA crawls into a corner then hits a running cannonball splash, following with a 555 off the middle rope. Doi covers for another two-count.
The crowd chant ‘CIMA’ as Doi signals for another Muscular Bomb. Doi attempts it but CIMA fights his way out and goes for his Crossfire (wrist clutch sitout powerbomb), but Doi lifts CIMA and drops him with CIMA’s own Schwein!!!
Doi immediately picks CIMA up and executes a Tiger suplex. CIMA kicks out at two, much top Doi’s shock. Doi goes to pick up CIMA, but CIMA muscles Doi into a ground crucifix pin for another two count. CIMA is up first and lands another kick to Doi’s back, before picking Doi up and executing another Schwein. CIMA climbs to the top and hits a somersault double legdrop onto Doi’s back, but this aggravates CIMA’s knee. The crowd are yelling now.
CIMA plants Doi with a jumping DDT and climbs to the top once again. He hits his primary finisher, the Meteora diving double knee drop, but immediately favours his knees, giving Doi precious seconds to recover. CIMA finally covers but Doi kicks out at two. A frustrated CIMA goes back up top, but Doi avoids a second Meteora. Doi strikes with a Bakatare kick for a two-count. Doi hits another Bakatare, but CIMA shakes it off and motions to Doi for another. Doi complies. CIMA’s still on his knees, demanding another! Doi hits CIMA with a barrage of slaps, runs the ropes and hits a Bakatare kick to the back of CIMA’s head, then another to CIMA’s face. CIMA finally goes down. Doi goes for the Muscular Bomb and finally nails it.
Doi covers. One two three.
Your winner and new Open the Brave Gate champion: Naruki Doi
Post-match, a tearful CIMA accepts defeat and shakes Doi’s hand, before Doi addresses the crowd with what I will assume to be a typical ‘thanks for coming, keep supporting us’ speech to end the show.
Match verdict – Now this was good. It had the big moves and action that look to be typical Dragon Gate, but this one added the all-important psychology and story, setting it apart from the other matches. It was so simple, Doi’s targeting of CIMA’s knees throughout paying off just as it looked like CIMA was heading for victory, while CIMA tried to hurt Doi’s back at every point it could, and neither forgetting what was hurting on themselves or their opponent. Everything built and built to the point everyone was hooked into the big finish, and is the perfect rebuttal to anyone who has an initial impression of Dragon Gate matches as being no more than spot fests. These guys can wrestle. ****
I picked a good show for my first Dragon Gate event. Of the eight matches, it was only the Shenlong/Mori vs NOSAWA/MAZADA match I didn’t particularly care for (the comedy match being funny for what it was). The Twin Gate bout was a little flawed but enjoyable. The opener and the Tanizaki/Kzy matches were good little time-fillers. The two upper card six-man matches were just crammed with big moves and the main event lived up to what was at stake. A great show, and since it is available for the sum of just $5.99 from Chris at IVP video, there is really no reason not to buy.
Overall rating: ****
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