Dragon Gate’s chaos never seems to stop. Last summer, we saw the destruction of Mad Blankey and The Millennials and the formation of VerserK and Over Generation in only a matter of months. Now, Dia. Hearts and Monster Express are being put on the chopping block in a 4 vs. 4 Losing Unit Disbands Match. Elsewhere, the road to Hakata Star Lanes continues for Jimmy Susumu and Shingo Takagi, the rise of Yosuke Santa Maria rolls along, and El Lindaman is back in singles action against the God of the indie sleaze scene, Kenichiro Arai.
February 4, 2016
The always problematic Naruki Doi led his VerserK buddies into the ring before the opening match. Doi, of course, bragged about how he had talked Monster Express and Dia. Hearts into putting their units on the line in the main event. He was quickly interrupted by Akira Tozawa and Monster Express, then again by Dia. Hearts and the returning BxB Hulk.
He was nervous. Even though he has been around this whole time, working at the various merchandise stands, this is his first time in the ring in some time. Giving speeches like this is his weak point, after all. In his absence, his beloved Dia HEARTS has come to be at stake in a match with MONSTER EXPRESS. He only has one thing to say about that. “WTF!?”. This was a high stakes match suitable to end a huge grudge. There sure wasn’t any of that here. What was this about? The units were the main selling point for DG fans. To lose one in such a poorly implemented manner isn’t fair. This isn’t right. Since Verserk caused this, so it is only fair that Verserk be put in the match too. This should be a three way.
Doi wasn’t into that idea. Nope, nope, nope. This had nothing to do with Verserk! Besides, the entire card was booked. All of Verserk had matches. It can’t happen. Tozawa said this was pro wrestling, and wrestlers should all be ready to fight two, or even three times in one show. He polled the fans on whether Verserk should be put into the match. They resoundingly responded in the affirmative. Mochizuki brought up what Doi said back in Kyoto when the so-called Champions of Verserk beat Dia HEARTS in an 8 man. He called them weak and pathetic. Sure, it sucks to have to do two matches in one day, but surely Doi wasn’t scared of such a weak team? Doi relented and blamed all of this on the fans. The champions of Verserk quartet were added to the match.
CIMA, Eita, Takehiro Yamamura vs. Jimmy Kanda, Jimmy Kness J.K.S., U-T
This was a weak opener for Dragon Gate Korakuen standards, but still perfectly inoffensive. CIMA took the night off. I can’t actually remember any offense he did in the match. This ended up being a showcase for the younger guys on the roster: Eita, Yamamura, and U-T. Yamamura has been wrestling for two years less than U-T but he’s so much more polished. Yamamura is crisp, young and he already “gets it”. U-T, on the other hand, does not and it showed here. Eita submitted him with the Numero Uno. After the match, U-T and Yamamura got into a scrap, which ultimately left U-T looking like a huge geek as he not only lost the tussle with Yamamura, but Punch Tominaga ran in and delivered a kick to him. Things do not look good for the pretty boy. ***
El Lindaman vs. Kenichiro Arai
Chain smoking Kenichiro Arai battling my man, El Lindaman, in Korakuen – SIGN ME UP. This was exactly what you’d expect from these two and because of that, it was a total blast. Arai—who has returned to his dirty Deep Drunkers tracksuit and now sporting Asuka Project Championship belt—tried to outsmart the youngster with absurd tactics and trickery. Lindaman, while young, is not stupid. His technical skill was too much for the veteran and in the end, Arai could not survive the Locomotion Tiger Suplex. The El Lindaman hype train will continue to roll along. ***1/4
Gamma, Punch Tominaga vs. Naoki Tanizaki, Mondai Ryu
This match that demonstrated Dragon Gate’s lowest tier of talent. I have a soft spot for Punch, but he’s no good and teaming with Gamma only makes it worse. Tanizaki, who has floundered since landing in VerserK, is the only true talent here. He looked great when he was in, but that wasn’t enough to salvage this match. Much longer than it should’ve been (an entire eight minutes) and because of that, it’s skippable. **3/4
Don Fujii, Yosuke♡Santa Maria vs. Cyber Kong, Kotoka
Cyber Kong has new paint on his chest, and no, it does not make him any cooler. The rise of Santa Maria as a serious threat to Kotoka and his Brave Gate Championship has been awesome to see. She has looked legitimately very good over the past two months, starting with her match against Mochizuki in December. Fujii added a lot to this match, as well. His hoss spots with Cyber Kong are always a ton of fun and he clearly felt no guilt in caving in Kotoka’s chest. This started hot, hit a dull spot, and then finished blazing. Can’t wait for the eventual Kotoka vs. Santa Maria match. ***1/4
YAMATO, Naruki Doi, Shingo Takagi vs. Jimmy Susumu, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!
While the show had been enjoyable up to this point, there was nothing that anyone needed to go out of their way to see. That changed here as Takagi and Susumu brought the hate to the Korakuen faithful. Both men have strong lariats, but instead of trying to show off how strong the Pumping Bomber was, Takagi focused his attack on taking away the Jumbo no Kachi! from Susumu. Takagi’s plan worked (to an extent) as Yokosuka became too weak to hit the lariat, but backfired in the end as Takagi’s Made in Japan was countered and he was rolled up for the three count.
For anyone that has followed the history between Yokosuka and Takagi, it’s clear that their Dream Gate match in Hakata Star Lanes on Valentine’s Day will be a gritty slugfest that everyone should enjoy. The two, in junction with Dragon Gate: UK, have put on some of the very best matches in Dragon System history. They have followed a similar formula for most of their matches, with Takagi trying to take out the arm of Susumu, and each time, not only does Susumu do an amazing job of portraying pain, but they produce high-level wrestling matches. I am all-in on their mid-February showdown. ***3/4
Losing Unit Disbands Elimination Match
(MONSTER EXPRESS) Masato Yoshino, Akira Tozawa, T-Hawk, Shachihoko BOY vs. (Dia.HEARTS) Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Kzy, Big R Shimizu vs. Shingo Takagi, YAMATO, Naruki Doi, Kotoka (VerserK)
How does Dragon Gate do it? Just last month, they put on a multi-man cluster that turned into a beautiful display of professional wrestling. This month, they do the same. There was so much emotion that went into this match. SpeedMuscle teases, YAMADoi domination, the rollercoaster of Shachihoko BOY’s career, Mochizuki giving it all he had, the incredible Masato Yoshino and his ability to control the Korakuen crowd, and so much more. This, my friends, was a masterful performance by all 12 men.
YAMADoi has to be the most protected act in company history at this point. They scored the final pinfall on Kzy—subsequently ending Dia. Hearts—with their signature series of moves. Takagi was pinned twice in one night, as was Kotoka, but YAMADoi remains strong. Their Twin Gate run has been extraordinary and right now, I think it’s safe to say that they are injecting life into each and every Dragon Gate show that they’re on.
Speaking of Takagi, his harsh words about Monster Express at last month’s Korakuen show came back to bite him as he was humiliated by Shachihoko BOY this time around. Takagi didn’t take him seriously. He was a joke to the current Open the Dream Gate Champion. Shachihoko BOY, himself, admitted that he was the weak link of Monster Express and could ultimately lead to their downfall. Tonight, however, BOY did not quit. He caught Takagi by surprise with a flash pin and eliminated him. Korakuen erupted. It was a beautiful moment.
A red-hot Korakuen crowd witnessed what will surely be one of the best matches of 2016. I can’t say enough good things about this match. Everyone, even Kotoka, who was only in for five minutes, played their roles excellently. YAMATO and Naruki Doi are a unique act that is quickly surpassing MochiFujii, SpeedMuscle, and RyoSuka as one of the best tag teams in Dragon Gate history. Takagi’s Dream Gate run continues to be must-watch, Yoshino continues to ham it up with Korakuen crowd, and Dragon Gate continues to hit new levels, both from an in-ring standpoint and from an emotional standpoint. ****3/4
After the main, Doi took great satisfaction in the end of Dia HEARTS. Fair and square, they were DONE. However, MONSTER EXPRESS was still there. He put Yoshino in particular on notice that this fight was far from over. Takagi was in a rage. How dare some third rate garbage comedy wrestler like Shachihoko BOY pin the Dream Gate champion. The nerve. Two losses in one day. What bullshit this whole day was. This is where he normally would give BOY a singles match but that would be so one sided no one would pay to see it. MONSTER EXPRESS would be smashed to bits… The remainder of the post match translations can be found at iheartdg.com (a lot happened, so you’re going to want to read them!)
Final Thoughts: A show of the year contender by no means, but an early match of the year contender for sure. Unless you want to hop aboard the El Lindaman hype train, matches 1-4 are skippable. Business picks up in match #5 with Takagi and Susumu laying it in to each other, then finally the boys of Monster Express, Dia. Hearts, and VerserK send the folks home with one hell of a match. Go out of your way to watch the main event.