Tonight marked the beginning of a new chapter for Dragon Gate. Forgotten in the madness of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 25 was that Dragon Gate ran one of its biggest shows of the year on the same night and in the same city. Three of the company’s four titles were set to be defended, as well as a huge Unit Disbands Elimination Match between The Jimmyz and Mad Blankey, who are two of the longest lasting units in the Dragon Gate System.
The Unit Disbands match comes fresh off the heels of another Unit Disbands match, which saw The Millennials disband. The members of what used to be The Millennials were scattered up and down the card tonight. T-Hawk & Eita, two of those men, found themselves teaming with another youngster, Big R Shimizu, in an Open the Triangle Gate match.
Elsewhere, Akira Tozawa defends his Open the Brave Gate Championship in a three-way match with two of my biggest guilty pleasures, Super Shisa and Punch Tominaga, Dragon Kid teams up with Flamita to take on two members of his own unit, Dia. Hearts, as he squares off with Masaaki Mochizuki & BxB Hulk, and finally, in the main event, two of Dragon Gate’s biggest stars square off for the Open the Dream Gate Championship. Masato Yoshino, the champion, puts his gold on the line against Shingo Takagi, who is aligned with Yoshino’s unit.
This is the first singles match in Japan between Yoshino and Takagi since the inaugural King of Gate tour in December 2005 and their first singles match anywhere since March 2010 for Dragon Gate USA. In the King of Gate encounter, Takagi came out on top, while in the DGUSA match, Yoshino was victorious.
Before the show officially began, the cameras were rolling for the dark match between Dragon Gate’s two newest trainees, Takehiro Yamamura and Kaito Ishida. They went to a five minute draw. Yamamura is being highly touted as one of the next big things for Dragon Gate, so expect to see his name pop up more and more.
August 16, 2015
Ota City General Gymnasium
Shachihoko BOY, Kotoka, & Draztik Boy vs. Kzy, U-T, & El Lindaman
There was more character work going on here than in your normal Dragon Gate opener. First, we had the debut of Draztik Boy, who comes from DTU, the same promotion that Flamita was discovered in. Draztik Boy came across like a fatter, rougher Flamita here, and I think that is going to completely work here in Dragon Gate. He made a solid first impression on me. Kotoka, who walked out on The Millennials earlier this month, was now squaring off against two of his former unit members. He heeled it up throughout the entire match and eventually pinned U-T with rudo tactics. Interestingly enough, he set up the finishing stretch by pushing Draztik Boy off the top rope so he could be the one to inflict damage on U-T.
After the match, Kotoka brought out some clippers and proceeded to shave part of U-T’s gorgeous mohawk. I would take Kotoka more seriously if he didn’t look 13 years old, but this was an effective angle that did get him over as a heel. **3/4
NOSAWA & Stalker Ichikawa vs. Yosuke Santa Maria & Kenichiro Arai
Tokyo was treated to quite the night of pro grappling, that’s for sure. In one part of the city, you had Katsuyori Shibata slapping the taste out of people’s mouth. In the other part, you had this. It’s hard to describe this in any words other than “magical”. Stalker Ichikawa is so great at what he does and Santa Maria is right there with him. Highly entertaining comedy match that saw Santa Maria score the pinfall with a Shining Ass Attack. I do not believe Arai took a bump in this match. NR
Open the Brave Gate Championship – Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Super Shisa vs. Punch Tominaga
Tozawa defended his Open the Brave Gate Championship here against two oddballs. Shisa is an excellent professional wrestler. He’s a smart grappler and with his portfolio of work this year, a viable candidate for Best Technical Wrestler. Tominaga, who pinned CIMA in a singles match at this event last year, has become one of the weakest members of the Dragon Gate roster. His work in in the ring is sloppy, but he makes up for that with great character work.
Here, all three men tried really hard and ended up with a great little match. They did their best to avoid the three-way trope of “one man out, two men in”. The spots with all three men were pulled off nearly flawlessly. Tominaga was the first to go, leaving Shisa and Tozawa some time to tear it up. Shisa’s flash pins produced a number of believable near-falls, but in the end, Tozawa and his German Suplex were two strong. The two embraced after the match in a really nice moment. Great match. ****
Dragon Kid & Flamita vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & BxB Hulk
Oh boy, Mochizuki was a grump this evening! This entire match was built around him stiffing the daylights out of the two high-flyers. Hulk may not have been as brutal, but he certainly got his licks in as well. This is the second year in a row that Mochizuki has delivered an outstanding performance at this event. Last year, it was him teaming with Dragon Kid to battle T-Hawk & Eita in a match very similar to this. Mochizuki was grumpy and he wasn’t going to put up with any crap. Same story here and eventually the same result – an outstanding match. This is what I want from my Dragon Gate tag matches. This was high-impact, high-speed action for nearly 20 minutes. Amazing stuff. ****1/2
CIMA, Gamma, & Don Fujii (c) vs. T-Hawk, Eita, & Big R Shimizu
Big R was still in plain, blue tights. The story going here is that he left his gear in Kobe and CIMA, being a veteran, was highly annoyed with the youngster being irresponsible. Shimizu quickly got into it with both CIMA and Fujii, who he’s had reoccurring issues with. The match quickly fell apart as CIMA ate a Superkick from Eita and disappeared. I’m not sure just how much impact that kick had behind it, but it looked pretty brutal. CIMA came back and began to rip the youngsters apart. This was a side of CIMA that I’ve never seen before. Big R began to fight back, but his momentum was quickly stopped by Fujii.
T-Hawk was almost a non-factor here. He did nothing to impress me here. The most notable thing about him was that he dyed his hair black and it doesn’t look pretty. This match, unlike the previous one, had no flow to it. There were periods of great action that were followed by periods of dullness. In the end, the good outweighed the bad and this ended up being an enjoyable match. Fujii planted Eita with the Nice German to retain the titles.
Post-match, Kotoka came out to a heavy chorus of boos. He slipped in the ring and attacked Eita, but when T-Hawk went to make the save, Eita delivered a vicious Superkick! Kotoka and Eita quickly fled the ring. Eita, much to the delight of many Western fans, has finally turned heel. ***3/4
Genki Horiguchi, Ryo Saito, Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kanda, & Mr. Quu Quu Tanizaki Naoki Toyonaka Dolphin vs. YAMATO, Naruki Doi, Cyber Kong, K-Ness, & Mondai Ryu
Very few Dragon Gate matches have felt as important as this one did. The Jimmyz had a look in their eyes that I’ve never seen before. They were all business. Mad Blankey was more of the same. Doi was as brash as ever, but the other four were very serious. The match was serious. It didn’t feature the wackiness that we normally see from The Jimmyz or the annoyances of Mad Blankey. This was a war, one that had lasted for three years.
The work from both teams was outstanding. This is one of those matches that only Dragon Gate could have. All 10 men established their characters early on and they all played a vital part in the match. Even Mondai Ryu was entertaining in this. Before the finishing stretch, which I’ll touch on in just a second, Genki Horiguchi was the MVP of this match. Horiguchi is one of my favorite wrestlers and his work here is exactly why I love him. His Backslide From Heaven is one of the most effective moves in wrestling. The crowd, myself included, ate up his near-falls. Horiguchi delivered one of his better performances here.
This was an elimination match and the final two men were Jimmy Susumu and YAMATO. There was a sense of importance here that you don’t really find in wrestling a lot. This was a big deal to the crowd and to the wrestlers. YAMATO and Susumu threw bombs in a thrilling closing stretch. Mad Blankey wackiness began to ensue as K-Ness grabbed a handful of powder and looked to throw it in Susumu’s eyes. Susumu reversed YAMATO’s hold, K-Ness paused, then threw powder in the eyes of YAMATO! K-Ness and Susumu hit a double team move, reuniting K-neSuka! Susumu pinned YAMATO, ended the Mad Blankey reign of terror.
K-Ness is now a member of The Jimmyz and will have until the next Korakuen Hall show (9/9) to decide his Jimmyz name and colors. ****1/2
Open the Dream Gate – Masato Yoshino (c) vs. Shingo Takagi
Takagi, from the start, was nothing but a bully. He charged at Yoshino as the opening bell sounded and began to pound him into oblivion. Yoshino would fight back, using his speed to fool the powerful Takagi. There’s no denying that these two have some really good chemistry. Whether it be Dragon Kid, BxB Hulk, or Yoshino, Takagi always seems to shine brightest against guys that he can throw around. This match hit a dull period. Both guys were fine in their roll, but there was nothing engaging about their work. It was just “there”. Finally, Takagi hit a string of high-impact moves, putting Yoshino in some serious trouble.
There are certain wrestlers that have mastered little things. Matt Hardy has an amazing punch, Minoru Suzuki has amazing facial expressions, and Masato Yoshino has mastered the art of kicking out at 2. He puts his whole body into getting his shoulder up and it pops me every single time. He fought like a fighting champion would, but the sheer power of Takagi was too much for him to handle. Following a brutal Pumping Bomber, Takagi put the three time Dream Gate Champion away with a Last Falconry. ***3/4
Takagi took little time to celebrate his title win. He quickly went after Shachihoko BOY with a Pumping Bomber & Power Bomb to a chorus of boos. He continued to berate him until Tozawa finally shoved him away. He had heard enough. Takagi went to far. Is that it? Is he done with MONSTER EXPRESS? Takagi said that since he was the winner, it was that jobber that leaves MONSTER. Tozawa wondered what kind of teammate he really was, saying such things about a comrade. He must have completely forgotten the reason they formed this unit. When they stood hand in hand, best friends, happiness, all of that. Sure, he remembers. This is the end result of having to put up with all that friendship club bullshit and having to carry losers like Shachi. That wasn’t what he signed up for. He knew Tozawa understood how he felt. Together they would tear through the Tag League, right? Tozawa firmly rejected his invitation. Tozawa had planned on teaming with him, but not anymore. He would team with Yoshino, and if they ended up facing off with Takagi they would beat some sense into him. Takagi really didn’t care. He could pretty much team with anyone and win the thing. Anyone but Shachi, of course. Even he couldn’t overcome such baggage.
He would surely find a suitable partner. In fact, he had just the person in mind. He called out T-Hawk. They were pretty much in the same boat, after all. T-Hawk lost his unit, his best partner just turned on him. They way Takagi saw things, that made teaming together the logical decision. He asked him if he remembered who ended the Millennials. It was YAMATO, who held the Twin Gate. Takagi wasn’t satisfied with just the Dream Gate. T-Hawk agreed with him on all counts, and agreed to team with him. Just as quickly, Takai told him that they were done talking and it was time for him to get the fuck out of the ring. The new Dream Gate title belt arrived in time for the match, so this made him the first holder of the new belt. This was fitting, because Mr Selfish Shingo Takagi was going to begin writing the next page in the history book. The friendship club bullshit is done. Reality was coming to DRAGON GATE. The might of the individual will reign supreme. The weak will be eaten. Only the strong will survive. –IHeartDG.com
Takagi is a serious threat to the Dragon Gate roster as he begins his third reign as Open the Dream Gate Champion. I am extremely excited for his reign.
Final Thoughts: Dangerous Gate was one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. Dragon Gate delivered two of its best matches this year on a card with nothing bad on it. I highly recommend checking out this show on NicoNico. Dragon Gate delivered a home run to oppose the G1 Finals. With a major unit shakeup happening in the near future, now would be the best time to start following Dragon Gate if you aren’t already. This show is a perfect starting point. The future looks incredibly bright for Dragon Gate.