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Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2018 (May 6) Review

Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2018 (May 6) Review

DRAGON GATE
DEAD OR ALIVE
MAY 6, 2017
AICHI PREFECTURAL GYM – AICHI, JAPAN

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: Dragon Gate Network

SHUN SKYWALKER, GAMMA, KAITO ISHIDA, & PROBLEM DRAGON DEF. BXB HULK, HYO WATANABE, U-T, & YUKI YOSHIOKA

As expected, the shine in this match was given to Shun Skywalker, who will be an A Block representative when King of Gate kicks off. Skywalker looked great here. He’s so big, but he’s finally found a way to move around the ring at a ridiculous speed while staying under control. He showed me here that he belongs in King of Gate, and I’m super excited to see what he can do against YAMATO, Ben-K, and Kzy, especially. He picked up the win over Yuki Yoshioka. The final minute of this match was the best Yoshioka has looked in quite some time. An epic flash pin attempt and some great counters from Yoshioka weren’t enough, however, to knock off Skywalker. Excellent opener. ***1/4

DON FUJII & K-NESS DEF. STALKER ICHIKAWA & SHACHIHOKO BOY  

This ruled so much. I don’t remember the last time I saw Stalker in such a serious match, but after some opening comedy, this turned into he and Shachihoko trying to upset Fujii & K-Ness in the most bizarrely entertaining match. It looked like he was going to be able to pin K-Ness after finally hitting a Bridging German, which has obviously given him so much trouble throughout his career. Fujii was able to break up the pin, but Ichikawa fired back and eventually clutched the waist of Fujii and leaned back, only to be crushed by Fujii’s weight. An awesome and fitting way to end a really fun match. ***

TAKASHI YOSHIDA DEF. KAGETORA

Painfully flat and terribly boring. If there is ever a death spot on a Dragon Gate card, it is the match before the business end of a Dead or Alive show. No one cared when the match started, and these two certainly didn’t do anything to get the crowd on their side. Yoshida planted Kagetora with a Running Powerbomb for the win. **

OPEN THE BRAVE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
DRAGON KID DEF. YOSUKE SANTA MARIA

Dragon Kid has had a storied history in his hometown of Aichi. In 2012, he was able to knock off Ricochet to win his second Open the Brave Gate title. A year later, he would finally lose it to Masato Yoshino in the same building. He would challenge for the title two years later, this time against Akira Tozawa, and would come up short again. Yosuke Santa Maria defended the Brave Gate (or in her case, Open the Love Gate) here in 2016, defeating Mondai Ryu.

Yosuke Santa Maria has become a master of the slow build. There is something special about her, because when she delivers, it is really epic. The problem is often times, that big finishing stretch that I’ve come to expect never happens, and we are left with simply a boring match. This found some middle ground.

The first portion of this match really was boring. Even for a Dragon Gate “feeling out process”, this was going nowhere. Santa Maria picked up the pace, however, and had the veteran on the ropes for most of the closing stretch. She delivered a deadly kiss, then followed it up with a Rainmaker-esque version of a kiss, and planted DK with Sky Love, but that was not enough. Dragon Kid has been a man on a mission since returning from injury and he was not ready for his third reign as Open the Brave Gate Champion to end. He fired back, using more wit than quickness, and eventually pinned Maria using his signature Bible for an impressive victory. ***1/2

OPEN THE TWIN GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
BEN-K & BIG R SHIMIZU DEF. T-HAWK & EITA

T-Hawk isn’t that good, which is a shame, because I really want T-Hawk to be good.

If you remove the lifeless T-Hawk brawling from this match, you’ve got quite little match on your hands. Ben-K, Shimizu, and Eita are the future of this company in my eyes, and they backed up those thoughts with their performances in this match. Ben-K and Eita have terrific chemistry. It’s a shame they aren’t meeting in King of Gate. Eita realizes that Ben-K could toss him around with ease, so Eita makes sure that never happens. He was so quick and evasive. The cat & mouse game worked to perfection here.

Big R Shimizu is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and has been for some time. This will be his fourth title reign (his previous Twin Gate reign was with T-Hawk, oddly enough) and hopefully from here he can capture the Dream Gate title that has been haunting him.

Shimizu has such a unique weapon with the Shot-Put Slam. Even though it has been kicked out of a handful of times, it feels like the most dangerous move in all of wrestling. There is such build up to it, and the visual of Shimizu slamming down an opponent from ceiling-to-canvas is so dramatic. He finally got a hold of T-Hawk, lifted him up, and on top of the chokeslam, Ben-K delivered a spear at the same time. Total domination. After falling short in November to CIMA & Dragon Kid, Big Ben finally have the Twin Gate titles. ***3/4

OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
KZY, GENKI HORIGUCHI, & SUSUMU YOKOSUKA DEF. JASON LEE, MASATO YOSHINO, & NARUKI DOI

The greatest thing about MaxiMuM is the fact that they’ve brought such a sense of urgency to these Triangle Gate titles. With gold around the waists of Yoshino, Doi, and Lee, these titles have felt far from trivial, which is something that has plagued the titles in recent years with the countless combinations of Jimmyz, VerserK/Antias, and Tribe Vanguard members that have been casually tossed into Triangle Gate chaos. With these three as champions, these titles have meant something. For as great as they’ve been as champions, this was the right time for them to lose.

Natural Vibes rules. In no way do I relate to a dancing, fun-loving, Rasta-inspired unit, but I love the tandem of Kzy and Genki Horiguchi. It helps that Susumu Yokosuka is in the three-hole, ready to deliver at a moments notice. Despite being a new unit, these three looked fully comfortable teaming with each other, which ultimately led them to the victory.

Kzy put in another special performance in this bout. He has taken the ball and run with it, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he ends up. He was locked in Yoshino’s Sol Naciente at one point, and after refusing to quit, Yoshino began digging the sole of his shoe into the cheekbone of Kzy. Something that vicious is typically reserved for the likes of a Shingo, but Yoshino was not ready to lose the gold that he’s worked so hard for. Kzy fought out of it, only to be dropped by a Doi 555 and a Bakatare Sliding Kick minutes later. Kzy miraculously kicked out, which the Aichi fans loved.

Doi dropped him for three consecutive Doi 555s, and as he bounced off the ropes to deliver another Bakatare and what would’ve surely been the nail in the coffin, Kzy sprang up, grabbed Doi, and rolled him into his Skyade Schoolboy for the victory. Excellent stuff. ****1/4

DEAD OR ALIVE CAGE MASK VS. HAIR 7 WAY STEEL CAGE MATCH
EL LINDAMAN, PUNCH TOMINAGA, MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI, YASUSHI KANDA, YAMATO, & SHINGO TAKAGI DEF. RYO SAITO

This year’s cage match had everything

  • An exciting new set of rules
  • A dramatic babyface turn
  • A great blow off to what has been a lackluster feud
  • Baseball bats, confetti poppers, and homoerotic swimwear

Really, not that much different than every other year.

Yes it had all these things, and once again Dragon Gate was able to show that they are the most creative and innovative company on the planet by working a match like this. Intertwining tension between El Lindaman and Shingo Takagi, Kagetora finding a new unit, Masaaki Mochizuki constantly having challengers breathing down his neck, and the bizarre feud between Takagi and Ryo Saito all into one match is no easy feat, but they managed to pull it off.

The match clocked in around an hour. Lindaman escaped first around the 13 minute mark, and then escapes trickled in over the next 40 minutes. Tominaga followed Lindaman, then Mochizuki, Kanda, and YAMATO, leaving Saito trapped inside the cage with Takagi. These two had five minutes to pin the other, or else they would both be shaved bald.

In magic that only Dragon Gate could produce, Takagi pinned Saito at 4:59. I hope these two are separated for awhile, because to me, this was the perfect blow off. Saito hardly got in any offense in the five minute period. He simply survived. Lariats, powerbombs, a Last Falconry. Takagi threw everything at him, and it was almost not enough. One last Last Falconry was able to do it.

I never rate these matches. This is not for everyone, but although my patience with Dragon Gate has worn thin over the past year, this was another match that reminded me why I love the product.

“It came down to Takagi vs. Saito, and Takagi won with 1 second remaining.

Takagi took over the ring. Mochizuki, Punch, & YAMATO don’t deserve to participate in the haircut. Antias would take all of his hair for themselves. He demanded Saito sit and take his haircut like the loser he is. He destroyed the Owarai Gate title. This is the new reality. A perfect ending to the Golden Week holiday. At the beginning of the year, he ceded control of Antias to the young trio. Lindaman ran from the cage like a coward, while Eita & T-Hawk lost to a pig and gorilla. Takagi was taking that control back from them right here and now. If they don’t like it, there is the door. The only way to the top is his way so that is how things are going to be. Deal with it. As for Nagoya, their food sucks and their women are ugly so he was getting out of this miserable town. They should all go home too.”

Final Thoughts:

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, but this was a good-to-great show. Now, Dragon Gate needs to follow up. Their big shows have not suffered, even in what I would consider to be an 18 month creative and in-ring lull, but now there needs to be a follow up. Kzy is red hot, Takagi vs. Saito is over (hopefully), and the four champions (Mochizuki, Big Ben, Natural Vibes, & Dragon Kid) are all over and have the talent to deliver the goods in any setting. I really hope with all over the King of Gate coverage that is going to be on the Dragon Gate Network, DG is able to produce some gems.

Dead or Alive was a blast. I really had fun watching this show, which is something I don’t always say when watching Dragon Gate, unfortunately. The last three matches are essential viewing for people that like the DG style, and I would toss the opener into that pile as well. It was a really strong showcase for Shun Skywalker. All in all, thumbs up for Dragon Gate’s Dead or Alive 2018.


About The Author

Case Lowe

I mainly do Dragon Gate things for Voices of Wrestling. Dubbed as Joe Lanza's young boy. @_InYourCase on Twitter

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