In just short of two years, The Millennials, Dragon Gate’s stable of young and hungry wrestlers, rose to the top of the promotion, capturing titles, winning tournaments, and headlining major shows.
Led by T-Hawk , the group racked up victories over veterans like CIMA and current generation stars like Akira Tozawa. What was originally a trio consisting of T-Hawk, Eita, and U-T expanded into a full fledged unit with additions of Yosuke Santa Maria, Flamita, and in January 2015, Kotoka and Yuga Hayashi, who was quickly renamed El Lindaman.
Their goal was simple destroy roster members born before 1990 and for nearly two years, that’s exactly what they did.
The impact of The Millennials, both in and out of the ring, can’t be undersold. T-Hawk, Eita, and U-T all left their homes in Japan to train in Mexico, something which had not been done since the Toryumon X era. To put that into perspective, Taiji Ishimori, who is now floating around in Pro Wrestling NOAH’s junior division, was one of those trainees. T-Hawk and Eita’s return to the promotion, which doubled as U-T’s debut, was announced during intermission during Kobe World 2013, Dragon Gate’s biggest show of the year. The trio debuted at Kobe Sambo Hall on August 30, 2013 and immediately were positioned as talented competitors, despite their young age.
A month later, back at Sambo Hall, T-Hawk and Eita established themselves as legitimate threats to the entire roster as they defeated YAMATO and Naruki Doi, winning Dragon Gate’s annual Summer Adventure Tag League, as well as the Open the Twin Gate Championship. Their Twin Gate reign was brief, as was their Triangle Gate reign. It wasn’t the early success that shaped The Millennials for their future, but rather T-Hawk’s failed attempt at the Open the Dream Gate Championship in November 2013. Masato Yoshino, who was in the midst of his second reign as champion, was pushed to his limits by T-Hawk. Yoshino came out on top, and after the match, applauded T-Hawk for his efforts.
Their positive attitudes put them on the map, but a change in attitude was needed for 2014 if they were going to add to their list of accomplishments. T-Hawk had established himself as a young, yet talented roster member and he spent most of 2014 trying to establish himself as the next ace of the promotion. Eita had been known for his amazing speed and precision, but after seeing such positive results with his submission maneuver, Numero Uno, he made it clear he was more than just a guy that could flip around.
Their new attitude led them to another reign as Twin Gate Champions, as they defeated Akira Tozawa and Shingo Takagi at Kobe World 2014:
Their dominance didn’t stop there, as they quickly turned to the Veterans Unit. The feud wrote itself. T-Hawk led a group of cocky, young wrestlers and told CIMA and his old friends representing the Veterans Unit that it was no longer their time.
Despite T-Hawk’s confidence, he and Eita struggled defeating the old-timers as they fell to CIMA & Gamma in two important tag matches, one in the Summer Adventure Tag League, the other just over a month later for the Twin Gate titles.
Things came to a climatic end in Korakuen Hall in November as T-Hawk pinned Super Shisa in a 4 on 4 All Out War ~ Unit Disbands contra Deportation Match, ending the Veterans Unit. T-Hawk and was clearly positioned as the guy as Dragon Gate headed into 2015.
The additions of Kotoka and the highly touted prospect, Yuga Hayashi in early 2015 helped The Millennials regain some steam they lost at the end of 2014, as not only did T-Hawk and Eita drop their Twin Gate titles, but Flamita’s incredible reign as Brave Gate Champion came to an end as he returned to Mexico. The beginning portion of 2015 was spent feuding with Mad Blankey, who had added CIMA, Don Fujii, Gamma, and K-Ness, all former members of the Veteran Unit, all of whom were now “evil zombies”.
The Millennials took somewhat of a backseat to start the year off, but an interview segment between CIMA and T-Hawk changed all of that.
CIMA talked about Hulk being Dream Gate champion, while YAMATO, Doi, Takagi, Yoshino, & Tozawa made up the top of the card. Was T-Hawk satisfied with being the guy in 7th place? T-Hawk said that before he became a wrestler, he idolized CIMA. He went to Mexico in an effort to be more like him. No, he was not satisfied with being the 7th guy. He said when they return to Aichi next year, he will be the one carrying DRAGON GATE on his shoulders. He thanked CIMA & the fans to close out the show. –Iheartdg.com
T-Hawk took those words to heart. He ramped up his intensity, defeating YAMATO, Naruki Doi, and BxB Hulk in the King of Gate tournament before falling in the finals for the second year in a row, this time to Masato Yoshino.
He would get a rematch, however, this time in the main event of Kobe World. Lower on the card would be Eita, who was also going after singles gold, as he challenged Akira Tozawa for his Brave Gate Championship.
While the rest of the unit was in non-important matches, it’s still a remarkable feat to return to the company in August 2013, practically as new wrestlers, and then two years later, be in two heavily featured matches on the company’s biggest show of the year.
T-Hawk failed at his quest for glory, which in hindsight, is for the best. The momentum that T-Hawk had gained throughout 2014 was quickly lost in 2015. He seemed less important than ever before, despite his position on the card. CIMA’s speech to him was completely true. T-Hawk, in the eyes of most, was the #7. He was behind an entire generation that had established themselves both in the ring and to the fanbase. T-Hawk didn’t come close to matching that tenure. Leaving Kobe World 2015, T-Hawk had been knocked down a peg, but it’s nothing that he won’t recover from. In fact, it could make him stronger.
All good things must come to an end and August 6, 2015, marked the end for the Millennials unit.
Their run was ended by Mad Blankey in a Losing Unit Disbands match that also featured The Jimmyz. T-Hawk lasted 37 minutes before finally falling to YAMATO. The unit, in just under two years, managed to reshape the promotion: hey ended the longest Twin Gate reign of all time, ended the Veterans Unit, and captured a variety of championships.
While U-T’s time in The Millennials has been somewhat of a disappointment, T-Hawk and Eita’s have been nothing short of outstanding. Flamita, who is now balancing time between Dragon Gate and Mexico elevated the Brave Gate to great heights in 2014 and continues to deliver high-quality matches every time he’s in the ring. Kotoka and El Lindaman played their part well, as they both grew as wrestlers and performers during their stint. Yosuke Santa Maria, of course, added much needed comedic relief.
It is clear Dragon Gate values the members of this unit and they will continue to be booked strongly. While I don’t see Santa Maria, Kotoka, or U-T ever getting strong pushes, Eita, Flamita, T-Hawk, and eventually El Lindaman will be headlining Dragon Gate shows for years to come.
T-Hawk has been positioned as a future ace and it doesn’t look like that is going to change. Just two years after returning from Mexico, he headlined Kobe World. Not even Shingo Takagi or BxB Hulk, who came through the Dragon Gate dojo and were groomed for success since their debut were able to climb through the ranks that fast. His future looks the brightest for the near future.
Eita, if injuries don’t get in his way, could be positioned at the top of the card someday. Despite his excellent performances since 2013, Dragon Gate hasn’t latched onto him the way some fans have. His talent is undeniable, it’s just a matter of how far he can go. The sky’s the limit for Eita.
El Lindaman, to me, could one day be in CIMA’s position. Since debuting in April 2014, Lindaman has jumped off the screen. He received somewhat of a strong push at the end of 2014 by scoring the pinfall in the annual Doi Darts Special Tag Match. His promo skills have been highly touted, which is something that both T-Hawk and Eita have struggled with. Despite being 20 years old, Lindaman looks full of confidence and potential. I personally can’t wait to see what Lindman is up to in five years. At the end of the day, he could be the biggest star to come from The Millennials.
Looking back, everyone is in a better position than when they first joined the unit. The Millennials were the definition of a success. In two years, they’ve established multiple roster members as stars and none of those four have peaked. Dragon Gate’s plan to establish newer roster members worked about as well as it possibly could have. The Millennials might be over, but Dragon Gate’s future looks brighter than ever.