Fantastic Gate 2015
December 20, 2015
Kobe Sambo Hall- Kobe, Japan
The last televised event before Dragon Gate’s Final Gate 2015 was this Fantastic Gate show from Kobe Sambo Hall on December 20, which finally aired on GAORA on December 26 in Japan (or literally the day before Final Gate). It was a pretty standard Sambo show, with a lot of undercard comedy and two main events designed to build up key matches on the upcoming big show.
A word before I get into the review: in general I don’t like doing star ratings, and since I’ll be reviewing secondary shows exclusively (Case will be handling the big shows still, such as Final Gate – coming soon) it would get boring typing *** for everything anyway. So instead I’m going to use a far simpler scale: is this worth your time seeking out, yes or no? We don’t all have time to watch everything, after all, and much of these secondary shows are skippable to a lot of people. So I’ll try to highlight whether or not it’s worth your valuable time to watch these matches whenever they do find their way to the general public.
Thanks to Jae from IheartDG for the match times. I’m almost certain a few of these matches were clipped, by the way, but I didn’t time it myself to check.
Yosuke♡Santa Maria vs. Mondai Ryu
I was honestly pretty surprised this even made air, since it was listed as a match zero, but it was really short anyway. Ryu insulted Maria’s looks before the bell (he’s one to talk) and then immediately got dropkicked in the face for his troubles. Maria took control right off the hop and basically never relented it. Other than a brief segment where Mondai fought back, this was basically a Maria squash, as she won in just 4:44 with the Neraiuchi. It’s pretty interesting that they seem to be letting Maria kick a bit more ass of late, as her match with Mochizuki at the 12/16 Korakuen was surprisingly competitive and then they followed that up with a pretty quick squash for her here. Still, I’m gonna have to go with a No on whether it’s worth your time, it being a quick squash match and all.
Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino vs. El Lindaman, Kaito Ishida
The actual opener of our show was a Monster Express vs. Over Generation tag, which was a really fun match while it lasted. Tozawa seemed in grumpy mode during this match for some reason, constantly hitting CIMA off the apron (he was out there and did a brief pre-match promo) and just generally being more heelish than usual. Really nothing to complain about here except I would have liked to see it get more than 11 minutes. Yoshino pinned Lindaman with the Lightning Spiral, which was mildly surprising just because you kind of assumed Ishida was there to take the fall. I’ll go with a Yes here, there’s really no reason not to watch any match with all four of these dudes in it.
Literally right after the pinfall, all of VerserK hit the ring and beat the crap out of everybody. The rest of Over Generation came in and we got a little microphone battle to build up the main event: VerserK vs. OG in a Naniwa Style Elimintion Match. Doi assumed Yamamura was too young to know the rules so he explained them again (it’s 5 a side, two men start, another guy comes in every 30 seconds, you can eliminate someone via pinfall or submission throughout the entire match and also by throwing them over the top rope battle royale style but only once all 10 men have entered- if you were wondering). Doi then tried to say VerserK should get the man advantage just because, which Gamma understandably took exception to. So instead we got two little pieces of paper, one taken by Kotoka (sporting a funny little cane to play up his legitimate knee injury) and the other by Yamamura. Kotoka’s had a circle while Yamamura’s had an X, because this isn’t TNA and they’re not dumb enough to give the babyfaces the man advantage.
T-Hawk vs. Cyber Kong
Oh my god did this ever suck. I’m sorry, I like Cyber in tags, but they really need to stop putting him in singles matches, because it’s almost always a disaster. This at least only went nine minutes, but it was nine of the most excruciating minutes you’ll ever have watching a Dragon Gate show. Anyway, this continued the weird Kong/Mondai Ryu dissension storyline that’s been going on for a few shows now: first Kong hit Ryu off the apron accidentally, then Ryu threw powder in Kong’s face (which was also clearly an accident, not like that hilarious Gamma/Kanda storyline years back when they were taking turns hitting each other with things accidentally-on-purpose as revenge) which lead to Kong getting rolled up by T-Hawk for the pinfall. Afterwards, Kong actually seemed to forgive Ryu for the screw up and the two left together, so I really have no clue where this is all going. Who of these two men would you actually want to turn babyface, anyway? Shrug. Anyway, hell No this ain’t worth your time. If you see this match uploaded somewhere go tell GAORA so they can take it down immediately. You’ll be doing your fellow fans a huge service.
Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii vs. Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!, Jimmy Kanda
I don’t know why we got a random MochiFuji tag (for one thing, Mochi is in Dia Hearts and Fuji is in, uh, nothing right now…) but I always appreciate it. This match had a lot of comedy early on, as you’d probably expect, before the Jimmyz team took over by working over Fuji’s leg in a pretty dull heat segment. At least they didn’t forget about the leg work though, as it played into the finishing stretch; Kanda got a heel hold on Fuji for a good submission tease before Mochi finally saved, Kanda then hit the John Woo on Fuji’s leg (!), but when he went for a dragon screw Fuji turned it into a cradle for the pin. Weirdly, that was the second straight match that ended with a cradle, which I didn’t even notice as I was watching live. Anyway, this match is very borderline but I’m gonna have to go with a No, as that heat segment really was boring (and like almost half the 14-minute run time). It’s certainly not the worst match you’ll ever see or anything, but nothing really worth seeking out either.
Jimmy Susumu, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy Kness J.K.S. vs. Dragon Kid, Kzy, Big R Shimizu
Our semi-main event was a match to build up the Triangle Gate match at Final Gate, as 2/3rds of each of these teams will be involved (Genki will replace K-ness and Mochizuki will replace Kzy, respectively). This was basically every Dragon Gate six-man you’ve ever seen, which isn’t an insult at all; these things are really fun for a reason, after all. The Jimmyz ended up getting the heat on Dragon Kid for a long time before DK tagged in Big R, who cleaned house on everyone. Big R eventually shoulderblocked both Susumu & Kzy, continuing a subtle little storyline with him where he’s basically a big doofus who doesn’t really know how to wield his own power properly just yet. Eventually we hit the closing stretch where lots of stuff happened: Super Exploder by Susumu on Kzy, Fisherman Buster by SaiRyo on Shimizu (!), a lot of flash cradle attempts (Hikari no Wa by K-ness and two different Skayde Schoolboy attempts by Kzy), and finally Susumu getting the pin on Kzy with the Yokosuka Cutter in exactly 20:00. Really, really fun six-man so it’s a solid Yes, definitely watch this one whenever it goes up.
Over Generation vs VerserK Naniwa Elimination Match
CIMA, Gamma, Eita, Punch Tominaga, Takehiro Yamamura vs. Shingo Takagi, Naruki Doi, YAMATO, Naoki Tanizaki, Kotoka
Finally it was main event time. I’ll go ahead and just give you the order of entry, first of all, because no eliminations happened until well after everyone came in: Shingo & CIMA started for their respective teams, and they were followed by Naoki, Yamamura, Doi, Punch, YAMATO, Gamma, Kotoka, and Eita. Cleverly they reminded us all that the over-the-top-rope eliminations don’t count until after everyone comes in by having three VerserK members gang up on Punch and toss him out right before Eita’s entry, only for Yagi to quickly inform them that did not count. Anyway, the way this match worked was that it was basically wild and out-of-control until all ten men came in, at which point everyone did start tagging like normal. The highlight of this early period was probably Kotoka exchanging chops with Yamamura before CIMA came into the ring, looked at him, then just calmly kicked him in his bad leg and left. During the second stage of the match, Doi hit Punch with a wrench to incapacitate him and then all of VerserK worked over him for a good long while. Once PT finally did start making his comeback the crowd was super into it, as he continues to be almost inexplicably over. Eventually we ended up with Yamamura and Shingo in the ring together and the rookie did get some good offense in on the Dream Gate Champion before he was hit with the Pumping Bomber and pinned for our first elimination, 26:55 into the match! The eliminations started coming rapid-fire after that though: Eita tapped out Kotoka with the Esperanza (building up their Brave Gate match) to even things back up again. Naoki Tanizaki then had CIMA set up for the Implant, but Punch came flying in and hit him in the head with the PT Kick, which caused CIMA to basically turn it into a sunset flip powerbomb for the pin in a really cool spot. Things were quickly evened up again by YAMATO using the Frankensteiner of the Almighty on Gamma for another pin, and then VerserK got an advantage when Doi pinned Eita with the Bakatare Sliding Kick. Punch got a big elimination on Doi by tossing him over the top rope, but Shingo finally put PT down with the MADE IN JAPAN for the pin. That left CIMA 2-on-1 against Shingo & YAMATO, and he was actually holding his own until the usual heel shenanigans caught up with him. Mondai Ryu threw powder in his face and then CIMA was nailed with the red box from the floor, and that allowed Shingo to pin him with his Taka no Tsume cradle in 36:55.
This was honestly pretty dull for the first 15 minutes or so, but starting with Punch’s comeback it turned into a really fun match. Definitely not the best Naniwa-style elimination match you’ll ever see, but still a solid Yes here, as it’s worth a watch.
In the post-match, we had more words building up Final Gate: YAMATO pointed out that Punch’s previous promises (oh god, say that 3 times fast) to get in shape for the Twin Gate match have been lies so far, and basically said he wouldn’t last 5 minutes at Final Gate. Kotoka told Eita his knee would be healed by their Brave Gate match and promised he couldn’t beat him at full strength (he also said bleh a lot). CIMA was generally upset by having another downer ending. He pointed out that yesterday had been a fun show in the same building (it was built around Don Fuji and the Jimmyz’s SumoZ gimmick) but now tonight was back to dire circumstances. He said that “Shingo’s Dragon Gate” had to be stopped, because this wasn’t the fun promotion he helped create anymore, and promised to return to Kobe with the Dream Gate around his waist (nope). Afterwards he called out Dia Hearts & Monster Express to try and give the show a happier ending, but it was clear the damage had been done.
Final Thoughts: For the most part this was a fun show that built up Final Gate very well. It was definitely not a show I regretted watching or anything, and it made me even more excited for Final Gate at the time. Oddly enough this actually kind of hurts it with Western viewers though, because most of you probably won’t be able to watch this show until well after you can watch Final Gate (which is available right now on demand via NicoNico, while who knows when this show will drop through the back channels), and it might seem kind of pointless to watch the build up after you’ve already watched the big show. Still, I would definitely seek out the two main events at least, because both were great fun and classic Dragon Gate.