Dragon Gate
Gate of Passion
April 7, 2016
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Yosuke Santa Maria & Stalker Ichikawa def. Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito

It’s Greatest Wrestler Ever season and to celebrate, Stalker Ichikawa is in full Stan Hansen tribute. He delivers a “brutal” lariat to Kenichiro Arai during his entrance and then another to Horiguchi to kick off the match. It amazes me that Ichikawa remains as fresh as he does. Santa Maria is clearly still making the transition from comedy worker to a somewhat serious champion. On a somewhat related note, the Open the Brave Gate title has been transformed into the Open the Love Gate title and it is beautiful. Her comedy spots didn’t land like they normally do, but when she decided to get serious, she looked really good. A sneaky good five months for her now. Skippable opener. **1/4

Kaito Ishida & Takehiro Yamamura def. U-T & Don Fujii

This was way hotter than I imagined it would be. I’ve been a huge critic of U-T in the past and I still am, but I think it’s safe to say this was his best performance ever. He showed fire. He was grumpy. He was the kid with holes in his shoes and jeans that didn’t quite fit that was taking it to the popular kids, the privileged ones – Ishida and Yamamura. I hope their feud progresses more because I can get down with U-T taking it to Ishida and Yamamura. Fujii was massively entertaining, even slapping U-T at times to fire him up.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – Ishida and Yamamura will be stars. I say this every time I review their matches. Unless something goes terribly awry, whether it be injury or booking, these two are going to be something special. They are so incredibly talented for their age and I can’t wait to see them keep progressing. ***3/4

El Lindaman def. T-Hawk

This was Lindaman’s 13th singles match that has made tape in some form, whether it be an Infinity taping or his Prime Zone work, and at this point, way more so than the aforementioned Ishida or Yamamura, I am convinced Lindaman will be a star. I joked about it on Twitter, but this match could easily headline Kobe World in a decade. Lindaman bumped around so well in this match. He took the brunt of T-Hawk’s offense and he took it like a champ. I loved it. His offense is so smooth and the finish was so well-timed. He trapped T-Hawk in a choke and my God, T-Hawk tapped. Huge upset for the youngster. I am so ready for the slightest Lindaman push. All aboard the Lindaman Hype Train, baby. ***1/2

Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino, & Big R Shimizu def. CIMA, Gamma, & Kzy

Dragon Gate is doing something very interesting with Big R. In February, he pinned Masaaki Mochizuki on an Infinity taping at the end of February and now, in Korakuen, he pins CIMA clean. Gamma could’ve taken the fall, but no, CIMA, the legend, took the fall. Fun match with a hot closing stretch. Started off a little slow, but once things picked up, which was mostly thanks to Big R, this became another blast of a six-man in Korakuen. It’s good, but besides the finish, this is a match that every Dragon Gate fan has seen before. ***1/2

Punch Tominaga, Dragon Kid, & Eita def. Naruki Doi, Kotoka, & Mondai Ryu

I’ll start by stating what needs to be said—unless you follow the Dragon Gate product, don’t bother with this match. This won’t win over a casual fan and it won’t make anyone that struggles to like the product enjoy it more. This was full of tropes: cheating, interference, and moves. Lots and lots of moves. Tominaga’s career was on the line here and maybe it was the point, since Tominaga is one of the lowest ranked wrestlers on the roster, but this match just didn’t seem important. It made him look really weak, also. He took the brunt of the offense from Doi and Kotoka. This match just didn’t make a lot of sense. Dragon Gate tends to find magic with their wacky stipulations, but this was not one of those instances. ***1/4

Masaaki Mochizuki, Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kanda, & Jimmy Kness J.K.S. def. Shingo Takagi, YAMATO, Cyber Kong, & Naoki Tanizaki

This is yet another example of Dragon Gate delivering another killer main event in Korakuen this year. Four shows, four main events above four stars. That is consistency. There was a lot going on here. The emotions were off the charts. I was expecting these kinds of emotions for the prior match with Punch’s career on the line, but the crowd, which featured VOW’s friend @Alan4L getting handed a program by Masaaki Mochizuki during his entrance, was fully invested in this one.

VerserK is imploding at a rapid rate. Takagi and YAMATO took plenty of shots at each other here. I can’t imagine these two representing the same unit after the DEAD or ALIVE PPV in early May. They are ready to tear each other limb from limb. Tanizaki appears to have aligned with YAMATO in this split, while Cyber Kong is on Takagi’s side.

Mochizuki fit in with The Jimmyz quite well here. I don’t see this becoming a full-time thing, I actually hope it doesn’t, but for one night, it was a total blast. Mochizuki was once again the star of this match. He’s just so good. On another level, really. His interactions with both Takagi and YAMATO were electric. Highly recommend to both casual fans and hardcore DG fans. ****1/4

Final Thoughts: 

Probably the weakest Korakuen of the year from Dragon Gate. The main event was wonderful, as Mochizuki once again put on a thrilling performance and the crowd was fully behind he and The Jimmyz. VerserK imploding is excellent and I can’t wait for things to unravel. U-T taking his frustrations out on the Over Generation youngsters is another storyline in the making. His performance, the Lindamann vs. T-Hawk singles match, and the main event are all worth watching. The rest is skippable.