Thanks to GAORA, King of Gate is airing out of order. The Korakuen Hall show on the 11th aired live, with this show, from the 8th in Osaka, airing a few days after. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is an annoyance for me because I enjoy watching Dragon Gate chronologically. Regardless, Dragon Gate’s King of Gate technically kicked off here in Osaka in front of a red hot crowd.
King of Gate
May 8, 2016
Osaka Edison Arena #2 – Osaka, Japan
Dragon Kid, Eita, & Takehiro Yamamura def. Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, & U-T
Mochizuki and Fujii must have been so disgusted when they looked at the booking sheet and saw that they were teaming with this youngster. This was before U-T picked up his win in Korakuen (thank you, GAORA, for airing this out of order) so at this point U-T was nothing more than an utter geek. There was a lot of Mochizuki in this match, which made me very happy. He’s been taking a backseat in a lot of matches recently to let Ishida, Yamamura, Lindaman, U-T, etc. shine, but this time he made sure to do what he does best. Eita, again, looked really good. He’s locked in. Loved the finishing stretch with U-T fighting with everything he had to avoid the Numero Uno, but in the end, Eita’s experience and strength was too much and U-T tapped out. Fun opener. ***1/2
King of Gate Block C: Cyber Kong def. Ryo Saito
Rudimentary match between the two, which is a common theme in these King of Gate matches. This is perhaps the only roster in the world that isn’t used to working short singles matches. Once you graduate young boy stage, it really doesn’t happen unless you’re Super Shisa or a handful of other veterans. Neither Kong or Saito are at the stage, and therefore, this match just felt a little awkward. Saito showed great fire, but the size and strength of Kong was too much to handle. **3/4
King of Gate A Block: YAMATO def. Punch Tominaga
The result of this was never in question. YAMATO was fresh off Dead or Alive and Tominaga is a low tier wrestler. This was very basic, inoffensive, and in the end, YAMATO came out on top. **1/2
King of Gate Block D: Gamma def. Naruki Doi
Battle of geeks squaring off in Block D here. They kept this short and for the most part, sensical, which is a major boost for me in terms of enjoying this match. They kept the spitting, water, and wackiness to a minimum. Gamma defeated Doi with a swank flash pin, which brought a smile to my face. Another inoffensive, yet skippable match. ***
Jimmy Kagetora, Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kanda, & Genki Horiguchi def. Masato Yoshino, T-Hawk, Big R Shimizu, & Shachihoko BOY
Kagetora was back in action here for the first time in just under a year here as he squared off with the bulk of Monster Express. The new beard may make him look homeless, but other than that he looks healthy and his performance both here and on the 11th in Korakuen Hall verifies that.
It amazes me that Genki Horiguchi, at age 38, is still able to fly around the ring. Look, he’s not Rey Mysterio Jr in his prime or even Flamita, but Horiguchi is lightning quick and it makes closing stretches like this (and the Triangle Gate match on April 24) incredibly fun. The Jimmyz as a whole looked really good here.
Glad to see Kagetora back in the ring, and more importantly, healthy. I liked the way he and Big R worked with each other here. I mention that because I would expect to see these two in the ring a lot more as we head into the summer. T-Hawk and Big R are going to be in need of challengers for the Twin Gate championships and Susumu & Kagetora, at this point, have become one of DG’s most successful tag teams. ***1/2
BxB Hulk, Kzy, & Yosuke Santa Maria def. Shingo Takagi, Kotoka, & Naoki Tanizaki
This was Hulk’s televised return, but as noted earlier, his match at Korakuen on the 11th made tape before this did. Hulk was a non-factor in this match, practically. His never-ending and always enjoyable feud with Takagi kicked off as soon as the match started, but other than some brief interactions with the current champ, Hulk hung out on the apron. He’s not in ring shape at this point. He seemed gassed here, and on the 11th, his ring rust was evident. Hulk needs time to adjust. He dealt with his lingering shoulder injury for nearly a year and came back seven months after the fact. He doesn’t seem healthy.
Kzy put on another shining performance here. I can’t say enough good things about him. He was quick, he was fresh, and his interactions with all three members the VerserK side here were outstanding. There is money to be made with a Shingo vs. Kzy Dream Gate match.
Yosuke was bullied by Takagi in the early stages of this match, but in the end, she came back with vicious fire and took it to Takagi with a flurry of strikes. If you would have told me a year ago that Yosuke Santa Maria and Shingo Takagi would be having serious interactions that just happened to be wildly entertaining, I would’ve laughed. It’s a reality at this point, however, and I love it. ****
Kzy welcomed Hulk back to the ring. He had been waiting for this day. In recent times, they had agreed to fight together with Maria when Hulk returned. They were watching the events of DEAD or ALIVE unfold and couldn’t stand idly by. They now will be fighting with YAMATO as well.
Hulk thanked the fans for supporting him in his comeback. Like he told YAMATO in Aichi, he really really hates Shingo Takagi. He understands how YAMATO feels. YAMATO was kicked out of his unit. Hulk also understands how that feels. While he was out, his beloved Dia HEARTS was disbanded. Hulk knows what it feels like to be unitless. But no one is alone. Hulk is there. YAMATO is there. Kzy & Maria are there. They will fight together as a new unit to shape the future of Dragon Gate. He talked about his rehab and training. Training, rehab, sparring. He has reinvented his conditioning and body. This is a reborn BxB Hulk.
King of Gate Block B: CIMA def. Akira Tozawa
Tozawa and CIMA have had a pair of disappointing singles matches in their day – one at Kobe World 2012 (with Tozawa being managed by none other than Larry Dallas) and then again at Dead or Alive 2013. Both matches were fine, but with two world-class, elite level workers like this, I expected more from each bout than the end result. A big problem was that those were big, long CIMA matches, and with those kinds of matches, they tend to drag with useless limb work for a heavy portion of the match.
Here, they cut the bullshit. CIMA attacked Tozawa in the midst of his entrance and from there, it was on. These two worked at a blistering pace for a hare over 15 minutes.
There was an interesting dynamic in this match with both guys seemingly being more reckless than they normally are. I took it at these two desperately wanting to win, some may not feel that. Tozawa dropped CIMA with a few nasty suplexes and CIMA, instead of dropping Tozawa on his back with his signature Iconoclasm, simply dropped him on his face.
Tozawa ate a pair of nasty kicks from CIMA before being put away with the Meteora. This was exactly what it needed to be and a great way to kick off King of Gate. These two are elite workers – two of the very best in the world (one could argue that CIMA is on the best run of his career), and they went out there and proved just that in front of a hot Osaka crowd. This was outstanding. ****1/2
CIMA celebrated kicking off KOG with a win. It’s been awhile since he had to fight so hard for a win. He isn’t ready to start losing. It doesn’t suit him. If he has to fight with every last breath then so be it. He fought a very strong opponent today. Even he himself didn’t think he would win. He talked about the high level of competition brought on by the likes of Takagi, Doi, Yoshino, Hulk, Tozawa, and the man who recently walked through a new door, YAMATO. The old and the very new were not going to be left behind, though. Gamma won today. He is a survivor. Dragon Kid is still dangerous. They will continue to tread the dangerous waters that is the new Dragon Gate.
Keeping in mind that this was a simple TV taping and not a big show, or even a Korakuen level show, this was a very fun show to watch. The early tournament matches are skippable unless you are committed to watching every King of Gate match that airs, but from Kagetora’s return match through the main event, this was full of hot fighting and an outstanding main event between Tozawa and CIMA. Thumbs up show from Osaka.