Kobe World 2015 is Dragon Gate’s biggest show of the year, essentially the WrestleMania of Dragon Gate.
While Dragon Gate has had a year of stability, things look like they’re about to be shaken up after this show. In what could very well be a classic, Akira Tozawa defends his Open the Brave Gate Championship with pride against the young Eita. Masato Tanaka joins the crew to fight alongside Shingo Takagi against former Open the Dream Gate Champion BxB Hulk, and one of the fastest rising stars in the company, Big R Shimizu.
Elsewhere, the Triangle Gate Championship is being defended in a cluster of talented wrestlers like Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, and Jimmy Susumu. Finally, in the main event, T-Hawk looks to dethrone Masato Yoshino in a match that could send T-Hawk into superstardom.
Dragon Gate has failed once before when it comes to elevating new talent on their biggest stage of the year. Kobe World 2008 saw Shingo Takagi and BxB Hulk do battle for the Open the Dream Gate Championship. Takagi would win and then lose the title to Naruki Doi several months later. Doi’s reign, from both a business and a match quality perspective, was a disaster.
Doi would eventually lose the title to YAMATO after a lengthy reign and YAMATO would lose it to Yoshino in the main event of Kobe World 2010.
A win in the main event for T-Hawk will have a major effect on the company — whether that’s positive or negative is something that is up in the air. A strong showing from T-Hawk could help him win the fans over and lead Dragon Gate into the future with a 25-year-old ace. A disappointing performance from T-Hawk could lead to another failure, much like the one in 2008.
The other key aspect of this show is the aforementioned Akira Tozawa defending his Open the Brave Gate Championship against Eita. Tozawa, since winning the Brave Gate Championship on the last day of February, has elevated the title to heights well above what is expected. A win here for Tozawa can establish the Brave Gate Championship as a main event level championship, something that no one has been able to do before. Eita, if he wins here, has a chance to not only elevate the championship, but himself, as well.
Kobe World 2015
July 20, 2015
Kobe World Kinen Hall
U-T, Kotoka, El Lindaman vs. Super Shisa, Shachihoko BOY, Mike Sydal
This will go down as El Lindaman’s first Kobe World appearance which is important to me and probably just me. These guys worked really hard and ended up putting on a super entertaining opener. Early on it’s clear that this crowd is much hotter than the Kobe World crowd from last year. Shisa puts El Lindaman down for the three count in a very enjoyable opener. ***1/4
K-ness, Cyber Kong, Mondai Ryu, Punch Tominaga vs. Jimmy Kanda, Mr. Quu Quu Tanizaki Naoki Toyonaka Dolphin, “Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa, Yosuke♡Santa Maria
I was actually surprised at just how much offense in this match revolved around attacking the ass. New Japan’s Taguchi could’ve fit right in. The two Jimmyz largely did nothing as this was a showcase of sorts for Ichikawa and Santa Maria (who looked stunning this evening). Ichikawa pinned Tominaga for the second time in eight days, so at this point, Tominaga is nothing but a comedy character. Keep in mind, last year he had an entire match dedicated to getting him over as a crazed killer at World. Very fun if you like Ichikawa and Santa Maria’s antics. **1/4
Open the Brave Gate Championship Match: Akira Tozawa vs. Eita
This is a textbook example of why Akira Tozawa is one of the best babyfaces I’ve ever seen. Eita, from the start, targeted Tozawa’s arm, trying to soften it for the Numero Uno, his tremendous submission maneuver. Tozawa scraped and clawed his way back and showed such intensity. He was not about to let this young punk beat him for his title! Both men absolutely shined in this match. Tozawa, at this point, has to be in consideration for Most Outstanding and Eita continues to put on stellar performances when given the chance. This was special. ****1/2
Shingo Takagi, Masato Tanaka (Zero1) vs. BxB Hulk, Big R Shimizu
Shingo was/is a huge FMW fan, so I can only imagine how cool this is for him. I expected this match to be built around Tanaka/Takagi/Shimizu with Hulk being more of an afterthought, but Hulk was in there for a majority of the match, leaving Big R on the sidelines. This was fine. I certainly expected more out of it, but I also was completely fooled by the direction this match went. Not a lot of Takagi/Shimizu interaction, which is really disappointing. ***½
Open the Triangle Gate 3 Way Championship Match – CIMA, Gamma, Don Fujii vs. Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Kzy vs. Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy Susumu, Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!
I can see how some people can love this match. A largely dull first half turned into a n incredible closing stretch between the three units. The problem being, the first half was so, so boring. It was a by the numbers match until Kzy of all people showed some fire and fought back against CIMA. I never bought Kzy kicked out of CIMA’s offense. This left more to be desired. ***1/4
Open the Twin Gate Championship Match – YAMATO, Naruki Doi vs. Ricochet, Matt Sydal
Ricochet looks so comfortable here in Japan. He’s a foreigner that doesn’t speak the language and he still fits in better here than he does at The Temple. He was the star of this match. Sydal, YAMATO, and Doi, who busted out a new supervillain look, worked to Ricochet’s strengths. ****
Open the Dream Gate Championship Match – Masato Yoshino vs. T-Hawk
This match was absolutely fantastic. Yoshino did everything he could to make T-Hawk look like a superstar here and in the end, even with the finish (Yoshino retaining at the 30-minute mark), I think T-Hawk came out looking better.
Yoshino is a total pro and these two created magic — he was excellent at being the quicker and sharper of the two but T-Hawk used his power and his charisma to charm the Kobe crowd. Yoshino skyrocketed up my Greatest Wrestler Ever list with this performance. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand and boy, he worked them with every nearfall and close submission. This is the best main event to a Kobe World I’ve ever seen. This match nothing short of excellent and will finish in my Top 10 this year. A great way to close out a great show. ****3/4
Final Thoughts: Dragon Gate delivered on their biggest show of the year. The main event is not only the best main event in Kobe World history, it’s one of the best matches of 2015. Tozawa and Eita did their job and provided an excellent match for the first half of the card. Nothing here was bad, everything was at least watchable. An easy show to give a thumbs up for. I don’t think I’d consider it for Show of the Year, but there are definitely some things here for Match of the Year/Month. Go watch that main event now!