Dragon Gate USA’s Open the Ultimate Gate 2014 is one of our most anticipated cards of the weekend as on paper it has the chance to produce the most top-tier matches. While DGUSA booker Gabe Sapolsky received a ton of criticism for not being able to secure Dragon Gate talent for this show, his replacements (Masato Tanaka and Low Ki) will definitely help heal the wound.
After having minor iPPV issues at last night’s Evolve show, a quick mid-event reset has seemingly fixed all the WWNLive iPPV woes as we’ve heard nothing but positive comments from the second-half of Evolve as well as Friday afternoon’s Wrestling Odyssey.
Chris Hero vs. Masato Tanaka has the chance to be real special but all eyes are on Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. For those not following DGUSA, their big angle at last year’s WrestleMania Weekend was Gargano turning heel on Shingo at Open the Ultimate Gate 2013 then cementing his heel status by turning on his Team Gargano teammates Ricochet and Rich Swann. Ricochet won the main event Six-Man at Mercury Rising which gave him a future DGUSA Title shot which he has yet to cash-in, until today. So there’s a year’s build in this one. Moreover, Ricochet is on a whole new level after having a huge year across the world highlight by his Dragon Gate Open the Dream Gate championship win on March 2 making him in essence the top dog in Dragon Gate Japan. Tonight we find out if Ricochet win both the Japanese and American Dragon Gate titles and if the two-year long reign of Johnny Gargano finally comes to an end.
Open The United Gate Champions The Bravado Brothers vs. Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley: We start the stream with Caleb Konely and Anthony Nese in the ring followed by The Bravado Brothers who receive a huge pop. Colt Cabana joining Lenny Leonard on commentary which is a nice surprise, I’ve always enjoyed his work on commentary. Some groundwork to start off by Konley and Lancelot including a solid looking Mexican Surfboard. Nese tags in and starts take a lot of damage from Harlem an as the two work him in the corner, splitting the ring in half. Nese reverses a suplex attempt by Lancelot, tags in Konley who comes in like gangbusters with elbows to both Bravados. Konely is so much more of a natural heel, I’m glad he’s back in that role.
Mid-air powerslam by Lancelot, crowds cheering for the hot tag and both teams make the tag. Harlem runs wild. Enziguri by Harlem, running forearm. Nese reverses, irish whips but Harlem hits him with a running clothesline. You may not be into the Bravados but god damn have they improved over the last few years.
Harlem jumps onto the top rope and hits a CRAZY somersault onto Konley and Nese on the floor. Huge crossbody by Harlem onto Nese but only gets 2. Spinning heel kick by Konley, knocks Harlem down but only gets the two. Solid action so far from both teams. Tag to Lancelot, drop toe hold into the corner, whips him to the other side, jumping knee, diving knee, another two count. Clothesline from hell by Lancelot, Nese makes the save just in time. TKO by Lancelot and Conley kicks out again at two, he breaks free and gets a tag to Nese who runs wild with a combo of kicks. Nese cartwheels off the apron, hits a huge superkick on Harlem and goes for a planca but is met by Lancelot. Konley jumps in to hit Lancelot from behind and everyone is down. Nese is looking pretty slow right now, there were reports he was holding his knee after yesterday’s Evolve show, I have to believe something is up, working half speed it seems.
Nese and Konley reverse an irish whip and hit a huge double neckbreak-bodyslam combo, not sure what you’d even call it. Mr. A gets into the ring but MOOSE (who is a former NFL linemen) hits him with the three-point stance. Bravados hit the Gentelmen’s Agreement and it’s over! ***
I enjoyed this a lot, wasn’t the best I’ve seen of Nese but certainly the best I’ve seen of the Bravados. Post-match, Nese grabs the mic and starts berating Mr. A as they leave the ring. Su Yung gives an “assignment” to Mr. A which bleeds right into his match with AR Fox.
AR Fox vs. Mr. A: Cabana signs off, apparently he has better things to do, back to Lenny Leonard. Guy on the hard cam side wearing a full Fred Flintstone get-up, stay young sir. And we’re off! AR Fox on the offense early hitting Mr. A with a huge dropkick and a gigantic dive to the outside. The ring is super low it seems, it only goes to AR Fox’s shin. Mr. A hits a spinning heel kick and finally gets on the offense. Mr. A starts clubbing the back of AR Fox. Another heel kick from Mr. A. He’s a better athlete than he has any right to be. Fox back on offense, goes for a bulldog but is thrown across the ring by Mr. A. Abdominal stretch by Mr. A, clubs to the ribs. Fox starts getting some momentum but is tripped on the outside by Su Yung. Ivelisse on her way out, she takes down Su Yung as they have an ECW-style CATFIIIGHT!!!
Fox with a big boot into the corner and here comes Larry Dallas….hooray? It’s Teddy Hart! What? And oh my god, THE CAT IS HERE! Teddy Hart attacks Fox and starts posturing to the crowd. What is going on here? Teddy now goes to attack Mr. A, reverse neckbreaker and moonsault on Mr. A. Teddy has cleared the ring as Larry Dallas grabs his cat. Yes, you heard that right.
And then we get right back into the Fox/Mr. A match, and Fox is going a million miles per hour right out of the gate. Huge senton for the two count! Mr. A to the outside, Fox goes for a senton off the apron but he’s grabbed by Mr. A who drives him into the apron with a huge powerbomb. Mr. A to the top rope, Fox runs over hits the Lo Main Painand pins Mr. A for the 3. **1/2
Fox worked his ass off here, but the Teddy Hart shenanigans hurt this one. Plus Mr. A for all his athleticism is still pretty limited. Not bad by any means but not great.
Biff Busick vs. Rich Swann: All Night Long chants to start the match, Busick shoves Swann to break it up and we’re underway. Busick starts off with an armbar, Swann gets out of it as the two measure each other up. Busick with the takedown and locks Swann in a leg scissors. Swann with a huge hurricanrana on Busick as he starts picking up the pace. Busick flips him to the apron. Swann goes for a German suplex off the apron but naturally Busick holds him off. Swann takes a huge spill, landing awkwardly on the apron and floor but he appears okay. Swan with a superkick to Busick, sets him up for a piledriver and yells “Piledrives aren’t legal here!” to which Lenny Leonard responds “I guess we’re going home early tonight!”. The piledrive is illegal per Louisana Athletic Commission. Busick reverses it so thankfully the show goes on.
Consecutive powerbombs by Busick, Swann tries a superkick but is cutoff by Biff who hits a huge kick of his own. Busick whips him against the ropes but is hit with a huge spin kick by Swann. Busick in the corner, huge hurricanrana. Standing 450 but Busick gets the knees up and gets a two count. Chickenwing attempt by Busick, Swann rolls out but only gets two. Pinning combo by both men, they roll around for a minute or so, Swann holds onto him for the 1, 2 and 3. **3/4
Enjoyed it, wasn’t anything to write home about but well worked by both men.
Fire Ant/Green Ant vs. Chuck Taylor & Drew Gulak: A lot more than two Ants in this one if you catch my drift. Gulak and Green Ant work some test of strength spots to start us off. Green Ant goes for the armbar early but Gulak gets to the ropes. Red Ant tags in, Gulak to the outside bringing Taylor in, Chuckie T plays to the crowd early. He hits a series of moves on red Ant who tags in Red Ant, some ground work by Chuck including an ankle lock but Green Ant reverses it into an armbar. Slingshot senton by Green Ant and back to the armbar. Taylor pushes him to the corner, Gulak holds him up but it backfires on Taylor/Gulak. Red Ant in, Gulak holds him but Taylor smacks him again. Gulak into the ring, shoves Taylor and tells him to stop to which Taylor replies “I’m sorry!”
Fall away slam by Gulak, but he only get two. He tags Taylor back in as the two cut the ring off. Fire Ant finally gets the tag but he’s cut off by Gulak who hits a series of overhad strikes. Springboard huricanarana to Taylor while holding Gulak’s hand, spinning DDT to Taylor but Fire Ant only gets a two as Gulak breaks it up. Quick action here. Green Ant with the Michinoku Drive but again only gets a two. Exploder in the corner on Green Ant, sitdown powerbomb from Taylor but Fire Ant kicks out. The Colony finally gets back on the offense as they hit superkicks to both men. They go for a double dropkick but Gulak grabs them and locks in a double Figure-Four or maybe it’s a Figure Eight… I don’t know, but it looks pretty awesome.
The Colony get out of it, Fire Ant throws Gulak to the outside and prepares for the plancha but he’s cut off by Taylor who misses a moonsault from the top. Anklelock by Gulak on Green Ant, he almost gets to the tops but Gulak pulls him back. Green Ant finally gets out of it, Gulak goes for a rollup but Green Ant rolls through and locks in the CHIKARA Special and Gulak taps! ***
This was a lot of fun, everyone works well. It was non-stop action which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it. Fluid action the whole way. Gulak attacks Taylor post-match and begins beating him down. He grabs a mic and declares The Gentlemen’s Club no more. Chuck receives an ovation from the crowd as he makes his way to the back.
Trent Baretta vs. Low Ki: Hey, Low Ki’s retirement lasted close to a year, that’s longer than you thought it would. Admit it. Action starts slow as the two work each other over. Trent hits a huge chop in the corner which seems to piss Low Ki off to no end. Trent rolls to the outside to stall while the ref cuts Low Ki off. Baretta grabs Low Ki’s jacket on the outside and informs a fan to sell it on eBay. HUGE chops from Low Ki, Trent answers back with a huge one of his own. Man, these are loud. Low Ki locks Trent in a head scissors, the fans chant “You should tap out” which Trent responds with middle fingers while still locked in the hold. Lenny Leonard with the old “Crowd is quiet because they are anticipating something.” Yes and no, they are picking up for the big moments but they have been apathetic to this particular match.
Barretta with a crossbody on Low Ki, covers him but only gets two. Big elbow by Barreta followed by a series of chops. This is being worked pretty slow, not sure if that’s the right idea, especially coming out of intermission.
Low Ki starts to mount some offense but Trent cuts him off with a huge dropkick for the two count. Barreta continues to play to the crowd, mimicking Low Ki’s taunts and mannerisms. Low Ki hits some huge chops, Barreta reverses an irish whip but Low Ki gets his legs up to knock Trent down. Dropkick to the back of Low Ki’s head but it only gets Trent a two. Barretta goes for a German suplex, Low Ki lands on his feet and stomps the ribs of Trent. Cool spot and the fans are solidly behind Low Ki.
Barretta gets himself in the Tree of Woe, Low Ki hints at the headstomp but Trent counters and throws him off the top rope. Trent hits a Busaiku Knee and gets the 1-2-3. Wow, huge upset here. The crowd was definitely shocked by that result. ***1/2
This one was worked at a way slower pace than I assumed it would be, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Trent played smarmy heel perfectly, Low Ki didn’t mount a ton of offense but he looked good in selling and as the underdog face. The chops were great and the action was crisp, it seemed slow at times but it never reached a boring stage. Good work by both men including the shocking upset.
Non-Title: EVOLVE Champion Chris Hero vs. Masato Tanaka: There’s almost no way this match isn’t awesome. The two show a lot of respect at the beginning as they trade holds. Hero looks like a giant compared to Tanaka and as I typed that he takes Hero down and starts working the knee. Both men go for the Rolling Elbow but stop before either can land. Test of strength spot, Hero rolls through it to gain the advantage. Tanaka turns it around and pulls Hero’s arms behind. Hero rolls through, side headlock, Tanaka shots him off, shoulder block but Tanaka stays on his feet and challenges Hero to bring it. Huge dropkick by Hero followed by a senton, gets the two count.
This is awesome chant and I have to agree thus far. Sequence of chops and kicks by both men, Hero hits some huge blows to the head, running elbow in the corner by Tanaka and Hero is down. TANAKA! chants as he gains the full advantage. Some more chop tradeoffs, Tanaka challenging Hero to hit him harder, Tanaka takes control and hits a series of elbows to knock Hero down. Another this is awesome chant.
Tanaka starts playing around with Hero who responds with a huge right hand to knock Tanaka down. Leaping forearms by Tanaka and another, Tanaka goes for a third but Hero hits him with a rolling elbow and both men are down as the crowd rises to their feet. Refs count all the way to nine, Hero with a kip up and burst of adrenaline as he chops Tanaka in the corner. He sends him to the bucket and hits a huge running forearm and a neckbreaker but only gets two. Tanaka hits a huge clothesline on Hero to get back on offense and follows it up with a huge DDT and both men are down again. Tanaka gets to his feet first. Hero gets up and hits a rolling elbow and a spin kick on Tanaka but only gets the TWO.
Both men to their feet an exchange of blow, both men challenging one another. Yet another well-deserved this is awesome chant. HUGE Brainbuster from Tanaka and he’s going to the top rope. Frogsplash but he only gets two. Hero rolls to the ropes to avoid anymore damage. Hero catches Tanaka with a big boot, he goes for a powerbomb but Tanaka crawls out of it, huge elbow, puts him back up in the powerbom…no it’s an Awesome Bomb but Tanaka gets out of it. Firebomb from Hero but Tanaka kicks out at two. Both men down. This isn’t just awesome, it’s fucking awesome.
Hero misses a moonsault, Tanaka sizes him up and hits a huge lariat. Elbow exchange. Rolling elbow by Hero, it barely phases Tanaka. Tanaka with a huge elbow of his own and Hero kicks out at 1! Another huge lariat from Tanaka but Hero kicks out at 2 again. Sliding D, STILL not enough. Third times the charm? ANOTHER Sliding D by Tanaka and YES, this time it’s over. Tanaka with the win. ****1/2
It’s going to be hard to top this one. Absolutely incredible action from two guys who just know how to work. Insant classic and definitely a match you should seek out.
Open The Freedom Gate Title Match: Johnny Gargano defends vs. Ricochet: Lenny discussing the year-long build to this match. I’m not sure it’s being sold how big this match and this build was and is. Either way, here we are and I’m expecting something special.
They start off with an aggressive tie-up, Gargano puts on the armbar. My internet just took a dump so I missed the beginning of this match. Ricochet was seconds away from hitting Gargano with his new finisher the Benadryller (Modified GTS) but Gargano slips out. Ricochet is on point tonight, well, as always. Double handspring hurricanarana, dropkick, Ricochet fakes the plancha, flips across the ring but is speared by Gargano!
Gargano slows the pace and keeps Ricochet in the corner beating him down and working both the arms and legs. Gargano kicks Ricochet to the outside, he puts him on the apron and hits him with a few huge chops. Gargano lifts Ricochet up in the Death Valley Driver position and drops him face first on the apron. Love the way this match is being paced.
Ricochet finally gets offense in with a back elbow and he’s back on the offense. Gargano out to the floor and Ricochet soars over the ring post and turnbuckle with a flipping planca. Ricochet follows with a springboard lariat but only gets a two count. Gargano with a slingspot but Ricochet slides underneath him, teases a Sasuke special but Gargano hits him with a heel kick.
Superkick blocked by Ricochet, Gargano goes to the ropes, Ricochet attempts a hurricanrana but Gargano grabs him for the sitdown powerbomb. 1…2! Ricochet with the flipping heel kick, he’s going to the top but Gargano gets up in time to try and cut him off. Ricochet knocks Gargano back down with a kick, Shooting Star Press but Gargano moves out of the way, Ricochet lands on his feet and eats a huge superkick. “You can’t beat him” chants from the crowd, Gargano playing it up. Gargano spits on Ricochet and is met with a huge chop. Kick exchange and both men are down.
Ricochet on the floor, Tope Suicida by Gargano, caught by Ricochet who turns it into a Death Valley Driver on the floor. Benadryller tease by Ricochet, but he is able to get off the shoulders. We’re on the top rope, Gargano goes for a huricanrana but Ricochet holds on, Gargano knocks Ricochet off, hits the Hurts Donut and only gets TWO. Gargano locks in the Garga-No Escape. Ricochet picks Gargano up and tries to slam him but Gargano keeps it locked in. Ricochet to his feet again, drives him into the corner. 630 by Ricochet but Gargano kicks out! This is awesome chant.
Benadryller tease again, Gargano squeezes out again. Ricochet goes for a dropkick but Gargano pulls the ref in front of him, he’s down. Ricochet hits the Benadryller but there’s no ref! Gargano grabs the belt and hits Ricochet with it. The ref wakes up 1…2… NOOOO! Ricochet gets up! Gargano looks like he’s just seen a ghost. Gargano pulls the rope out of his tights ala Open the Ultimate Gate 2013. Ricochet powers through it. Benadryller, NO, blocked by Gargano and he locks in the Garga-NO Escape. Ricochet almost makes it to the ropes, jumping cradle to get out of the lock 1…2….NO. Gargano off the top rope, another Benadryller, he hits it. 1…2…3….3! NEW CHAMP! Ricochet has done it. ****1/2
Incredible match. Definitely watch it not only for a historic title win but it was one of the best flippy matches you’ll see. Great back and forth, tons of drama, kickouts, everything you can ask for.
The locker room pours out and puts Ricochet on their shoulders. Well deserved for Ricochet who now holds the Open the Dream Gate and Open the Freedom Gate championships.
Chuck Taylor comes out and goes face-to-face with the new champ and gives him a big hug. Great moment for long time friends, Taylor leaves and lets Ricochet have the ring to himself. This is a huge moment. As mentioned in the opening, Ricochet has been on a year-long journey to face Gargano, with the champ dodging him at every turn. Tonight he finally got his chance and the match played heavily into the story. The rope out of Gargano’s tights, the idea that Gargano can’t beat him and he knew he couldn’t beat him… just perfect.
Absolutely worth the $14-$19. The undercard was not great, I didn’t hate it as much as some others did but I could have definitely done without it. You aren’t buying this for the undercard though, you’re buying it for Hero vs. Tanaka and Gargano vs. Ricochet which were both ****1/2 matches. Hardcore indie wrestling fans should watch the whole thing but if you’re pressed for time, skip to the main events and enjoy!