KING OF GATE
May 22, 2016
Kobe Sambo Hall – Kobe, Japan
El Lindaman, Gamma, & Punch Tominaga def. Genki Horiguchi, Jimmy Kanda, & Jimmy Kness J.K.S.
Linda got stuck with his crazy uncle and the disappointment of the Over Generation family on this night. Shame, as per usual, Linda looked tremendous. The other side was full of guys that aren’t afraid to take the night off here and there, and while Kanda and Horiguchi held true to that notion, Kness showed off his technical prowess by mixing it up with Linda on the canvas. I want these two to have a singles match so, so badly. This was fun, if anything, like all Dragon Gate openers seem to be. Linda pinned Kness with his Locomotive Tiger Suplex, as he should have. **3/4
King of Gate D Block
Big R Shimizu def. Naruki Doi
I’ve never been insanely high on Doi’s singles work. It’s always a little awkward. Even great matches like his recent one with Masato Yoshino at the prior Korakuen Hall show (which happened after this show was taped), I was certainly more impressed with Yoshino’s performance than Doi’s. Here, I was all about Doi. He grinded the big man to the mat and worked him over in a totally non-Dragon Gate fashion for upwards of 15 minutes before being caught by the big man and destroyed with a Shot-Put Slam. This was slow, but it worked. Big R looked great after all was said and done. He was made to look very vulnerable for a while, but came back, and came out victorious. This was a blast. Stick with it. Very fun match. ****
King of Gate A Block
Shingo Takagi vs. Don Fujii – 20 Minute Time Limit Draw
A respectable and exciting rematch to their October clash for the Open the Dream Gate Championship. That match went just under 25 minutes, this one was stopped at the 20 minute mark after Takagi had exhausted his moveset and Fujii had exhausted what energy he had used to survive. There was a brief hope spot for Fujii, as he was quick enough to capture the current Dream Gate Champion and roll him into the Gedo Clutch, but Takagi was able to escape and quickly get back on offense. Fujii, sans that one spot, never seemed on the verge of winning. Instead, he was on a path of survival. He took seemingly every move Shingo had. Every strike was delivered at full force, every slam was delivered with maximum impact. The 45 year old Fujii, however, lasted 20 minutes, earning himself a point in the tournament and keeping Takagi from gaining a 2-0 start. ****
Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo Saito def. Masato Yoshino & T-Hawk
There were flashes of Kagetora’s greatness in this match, which was great to see. He’s looked very good since returning from injury, and it’s nice to know that he can still turn it up when he needs to. This was largely built around comedy spots with Saito and the Monster Express duo, as they lit up his chest with some disgusting chops. T-Hawk has a deadly chop of the knife edge variety, but Yoshino’s overhand chop doesn’t get talked about enough – it’s brutal. When Kagetora was in the ring, the action was a little more serious, especially towards the closing stretch as he wowed the Sambo Hall crowd with his sequences with T-Hawk. Kagetora caught him with the Kagenui, perhaps the best flash pin in Dragon Gate other than Genki Horiguchi’s signature Backslide from Heaven. ***1/4
With this win, I’d expect The Jimmyz to get a title shot soon. Nothing is set (as of 6/9) for the July Korakuen, so you could always look for a title match there for either T-Hawk & Big R’s Twin Gate Championship or the Triangle Gate Championship, which is held by T-Hawk, Yoshino, and Tozawa at the moment. Dragon Gate’s booking has strayed away from doing title matches at Korakuen this year, but there’s a show at Kyoto KBS Hall on July 2nd and a show in the small Osaka Edison Arena a week later on the 10th, so I would expect a title match some time within the next month as I don’t see anyway T-Hawk goes into World as a double champion. What will more than likely happen is that the Monster Express trio loses the Triangle Gate belts and then there’s a four-way, 12-man match at World to shoehorn people on the card, which also gives Big T a shot to defend the Twin Gate belts at World.
King of Gate C Block
Dragon Kid def. Masaaki Mochizuki
If I could stand on my soapbox for a moment, Dragon Kid and Masaaki Mochizuki have been in the Dragon System since the very beginning. Dragon Kid was in the main event of the first Toryumon show, Mochizuki made his debut in the system on the second Toryumon show. In 17 years of being the same company, this is their third singles match together. They wrestled at El Numero Uno 2004 in the semi-finals, which was Toryumon’s version of King of Gate, and then in 2005 on an untelevised show. They’ve gone 11 years in the same company without wrestling in a one-on-one match, and when you look at the way other companies burn through big matches at a rapid rate, this just blows my mind.
As you’d expect, the match was wonderful. It was a sprint of sorts that would fit in the G1 as Mochizuki brought the hate and Dragon Kid, to contrast, brought his speed and his agility. Mochizuki tried to limit Dragon Kid’s speed by attacking his ankle from the opening bell, and while it did some damage, it wasn’t enough in the end as Mochizuki fell victim to the Ultra Hurricanrana. This was completely different than the prior two King of Gate matches on the show, which makes three singles matches that all had a unique feel to them, and yet they’ve all been great. ****
YAMATO, BxB Hulk, & Kzy def. “brother” YASSHI, Cyber Kong, & Naoki Tanizaki via DQ
This was ugly. The main issue here was that the VerserK side was full of geeks who surely aren’t going to pin a newly returned Hulk or YAMATO, who is on the fast track to a headlining match at Kobe World. Kzy is higher in the pecking order than any of the VerserK members in this match, also, and it would make no sense for him to be pinned here, so we were left with average Dragon Gate action for just under 20 minutes as the Tribe Vanguard side was dragged down by a clearly less talented VerserK army. To make matters worse, instead of getting the win and looking strong, Tribe Vanguard lost by DQ as YASSHI snapped and wiped out Referee Yagi and all of his opponents with a box attack. This wasn’t good. This teetered on being bad, actually. Skip it. **1/4
King of Gate B Block
Akira Tozawa def. Jimmy Susumu
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by this. Susumu has had his chances to deliver in singles matches this year and he’s delivered in every opportunity, and Tozawa, for my money, is as good as it gets when he’s on his game, so perhaps I came into this with unrealistic expectations, but I wanted more. It seemed like they wanted a big, epic slugfest, and the amount of Jumbo no Kachi’s that Susumu threw would certainly back up that claim. I can’t say this fell into the Dragon Gate hole of starting too slow for it to be great, it just never found its groove, so even when exciting things did happen, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have. They worked hard, and I can’t fault them for that, but I hope these two get another chance down the road to improve upon this match. ***1/2
Not only was this show consistent, but it was consistently great. This was just an Infinity taping, technically, and with that in mind this was an excellent show. Cherry pick your way through this one. I think all four King of Gate matches, even the main event, are worth giving a look, and if you have the time to watch it, check out Yoshino & T-Hawk vs. Kagetora & Saito. Thumbs up. Very enjoyable wrestling.