The Dragon Gate iPPV schedule is a mystery.
Since rolling out iPPV in 2013, all of the major traditional big shows have found their way onto USTREAM for worldwide iPPV, and much like New Japan (although far less frequently), they’ll also roll out the occasional discounted Korakuen Hall show for $15.
We hardly ever hear anything from Dragon Gate about what shows will end up being offered, and there have been cases where the decisions to air them have come so late in the game that at least one show was never even advertised as an iPPV on Dragon Gate Infinity (the company’s television show). This is because Dragon Gate themselves are often in the dark. Their television partner, GAORA, controls the content and they decide what ends up distributed worldwide. In the case of this show, this was a regular Infinity TV episode airing in Japan on GAORA, and only offered as a PPV internationally.
I have zero data to back this up, but based on forum activity, twitter buzz, and other social media metrics such as Facebook likes for the USTREAM page, I strongly suspect these Dragon Gate shows do far worse business than New Japan shows. That makes sense because New Japan is a much hotter company these days, but the difference in twitter activity we see live when live tweeting the shows is staggering, especially for the Korakuen shows. I’ve done live coverage for a couple of Dragon Gate shows where I threw in the towel and quit, because I was getting exactly zero feedback from fans.
With that said, the shows almost always rock. Year for year and pound for pound, Dragon Gate has been my favorite promotion over the last decade. The action is always good, almost too good, to the point it can numb you.
CIMA was originally scheduled to team with U-T in the opener, but suffered a reported abdominal or waist injury. It was announced he’d be replaced by the always dangerous “X”.
“X” would pull double duty on this night, as T-Hawk was also scheduled to team with a mystery partner.
1. Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!, Jimmy Kagetora vs. U-T, “X” – CIMA came out to announce the mystery partner, and it was TAKA Michinoku. Crowd seemed genuinely surprised. TAKA ate the Genki rubber band attack. U-T was babyface in peril, and made a hot comeback before the hot tag. TAKA cleaned house, U-T tagged back in, and things broke down. U-T survived quite the onslaught, but finally succumbed to a great looking Gurumagakari by Kagetora. This was the best Kagetora has looked in a long, long time. Star of the match. Hot opener. **3/4
2. Don Fujii, Kenichiro Arai vs. Shachihoko BOY, Chihiro Tominaga – Tominaga & BOY argued over who would start the match. Fujii got fed up and made the decision for them, slapping the hell out of Tominaga and going to work. The story here was the veterans working over the young guys. Tominaga at one point had Fujii in a triangle, and Fujii basically punched his face in to break it up. Then he hit a chokeslam, and broke him in half with a crab hold for the submission win. Another good match, if not a little short. **1/2
3. Lumberjack Whip Match: Yosuke♡Santa Maria vs. Gamma – The lumberjacks came out first, including a dead Tominaga basically being carried out by BOY. Fujii was waaaay too excited about his flogger, whipping everybody in sight, including ring attendants and the ring announcer. Gamma came out in a fishnet body suit, make up, and underwear three sizes too small. It dawned on me at this point that I was all alone, in the dark, watching two trannies at 4 am. I can’t call this a match, but it was very entertaining. Santa Maria gets better and better at the exotico gimmick every time I see him. Santa Maria “won” but they kissed after the match and left together. Only in Dragon Gate can a match like this happen and not only avoid being a complete train wreck, but end up being entertaining. NR
4. Kotoka, Ryotsu Shimizu vs. Mondai Ryu, Kzy – The young faces attacked before the bell. CIBA is back as Kotoka, so the CIMA tribute act was a temporary deal. Shimizu did his giant swing on Kzy right away. After the hot start, this slowed down and the crowd died. Many hardcore fans dislike Ryu. Kzy hit a frog splash on Shimizu, but Ryu missed a shooting star press. Then the heels tried the yellow box attack, but Shimizu ducked and it hit Ryu. Shimizu quickly covered for the win. Ok for what it was. **1/4
5. K-ness, Dragon Kid, Super Shisa vs. Akira Tozawa, Shingo Takagi, Uhaa Nation – This was the best match on the card to this point, being the first match given some time to develop. K-ness was in the middle of taking a beating when he pulled off a surprise Hikari No Wa on Tozawa for the upset. It looks like the K-ness/Dragon Kid/Shisa team is being prepped for a Triangle Gate title shot. ***
Intermission. The ring announcer had a sore throat and sounded awful, so Akira Tozawa took over for the rest of the night. He did really great.
6. Masato Yoshino, Masaaki Mochizuki vs. T-Hawk, “X” – X was the returning Ricochet. This got an enormous pop. Mochizuki & Yoshino were coming off a Dream Gate title match that many are calling the early MOTY favorite. T-Hawk looked really good here, and is clearly a future star. Mochi doesn’t age. Yoshino is having a great title run. Ricochet looked a little smaller and not as cut as usual. Hmm. He did all of his great flying, including a cool spot where he lands on his feet when the opponent moves on a shooting star press attempt. Yoshino was pinned by Ricochet when his Torbellino was reversed into a crucifix for the flash pin. Match was building to something great but ended abruptly. Ricochet challenged Yoshino for the Dream Gate, and Yoshino accepted. This angered Uhaa Nation, who was saying “we’re all Monster Express!”. Uhaa & Ricochet had a pull apart. This was great, as it set up a new title match, and some dissension within Monster Express. ***1/4
7. MAD BLANKEY vs. JIMMYZ Oedo Elimination Match: Jimmy Susumu, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy Kanda, Mr. Quu Quu Tanizaki Naoki Toyonaka Dolphin vs. YAMATO, BxB Hulk, Naruki Doi, Cyber Kong – Every two minutes or so, one man from each team entered Royal Rumble style. Nothing of note happened until they all entered. From there, it was a standard elimination match. This was like Royal Rumble combined with Survivor Series. Cyber Kong eliminated Saito with a huge lariat and Cyber Bomb. Kanda hit two flying elbows on Kong to put him away. Kanda then blew the blue mist into Doi’s face to take him out. Hulk pinned Kanda after Kanda took the powder in the eyes. Hulk eliminated Quu Quu. This left Susumu with Hulk & YAMATO. Susumu took out Hulk. Susumu & YAMATO had a cool five minute match, with YAMATO winning with the Galleria. So YAMATO was the sole survivor. Hard to rate. Nothing happened for a looong time, then rapid fire eliminations with good action. ***1/4
Overall this was a decent show, but not a great show by Dragon Gate standards. Recent Infinity’s blow this away. Check it out for the Ricochet return and angle with Yoshino/Uhaa. Skip the rest unless you’re a hardcore.
Photo(s): All rights reserved by mCespo