Gate of Victory
OCTOBER 12, 2016
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN
Dragon Gate returns to Korakuen, and it’s an emotional one as the main event is Akira Tozawa’s last match in the building for the time being. There’s a lot at stake, too, as Tozawa’s Monster Express group takes on the dastardly Verserk in a Losing Unit Disbands match. Also on the card, Eita defends his Open the Brave Gate title against a newly heel Lindaman, in a Brave Gate contra Cape match. The rest isn’t quite as important but still features some interesting matchups, as a trio of rookies looks to make a mark against a trio of veterans, and the rest of the roster aim to entertain before an emotionally loaded main event.
CIMA, GAMMA & DRAGON KID DEF. FUTA NAKAMURA, SHUN WATANABE & HYOU WATANABE
We’ve said it a lot in the past few months but it always bears repeating: Futa Nakamura is going to be a star. And it’s not only his imposing physique or the fact that he is reminiscent of a young Shingo Takagi, but also the way that he carries himself in the ring with such confidence despite the fact that he debuted just six months ago, the fact that he exudes intensity and power in a way that his teammates do not yet. If you’re so inclined, seek out his brief but intense confrontation with El Lindaman on the 9/25 show, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. He was the clear leader of his team here, directing traffic as he and the Watanabe’s took it to Over Generation’s veteran trio.
Speaking of, CIMA and Gamma absolutely brutalized Hyou here, while Dragon Kid candidly cheered them on like a soccer mom at an U15 game. Hyou showed a lot of resilience and fire, as did Shun, who has a sweet moonsault and dropkick. Sadly for the Watanabes though, it seemed like the match revolved around Nakamura, as he stood up to both members of Osaka06, having a particularly heated slap exchange with Gamma.
In a somewhat surprising move, CIMA pinned Nakamura with the Schwein to end the match. I was definitely expecting one of the Watanabes to take the loss here, and I feel like this is significant in some way, as Nakamura’s been presented as a “monster rookie” since debuting.
Yosuke♡Santa Maria & Kzy def. Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida
Over Generation’s wonder duo take on one of the most mismatched and adorable teams in DG, and it’s exciting to see Ishida and Yamamura in more straight tags after the fun matches they had in the Summer Adventure Tag League.
At one point, Ishida decides to no sell Maria’s kicks which is really weird and a little irritating after the hard work Maria put in all this year to shed the “comedy jobber” aspect of her character. I guess we’ve reverted back to where we were this time last year, but if that’s the case then it means I’m getting Maria vs Mochizuki II in the near future, so I’m not complaining too much (hey, a guy can dream ok).
Ishida and Yamamura’s chemistry as a tag team cannot be understated at this point. If they’re kept together, these two will be Twin Gate champions sometime in the future. It’s obvious that these two spend most of their time together both in and out of the ring, because their communication and synchronization is already top notch despite both of them being very early into their careers. They’ve both grown into tremendous young men with seemingly high ceilings,
Kzy did what he does best as he tagged in and kicked the pace of the match up a notch, before he put Yamamura down with the Impact, and my heart grew three sizes at the rare occurrence of a Kzy win.
Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii def. Jimmy Kanda & Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!
Mochizuki and Fujii might be the greatest team on planet Earth. As far as grouchy but comical old men go, they were amazing here as Fujii acted like my grandmother when her hip is acting up, over exaggerating any bump he took, and routinely refused to tag in, to the point where Mochi had to forcefully pull him into the ring.
The Jimmyz team of Kanda and Horiguchi play along with them and then decide they’ve had enough, but if they can get serious, so can MochiFujii. Despite some miscommunication, especially when they borrowed the Jimmyz’s rubber band spot and it backfired on them, the two elders of the roster still managed to bring the fight and the four men produced a really fun tag match, right at the corner of good wrestling and comedy.
When the action picked up, Mochizuki absolutely murdered Kanda with all sorts of kicks, but in the end it’s Fujii who got the win, pinning Horiguchi with the Gedo Clutch. Gedo continues to haunt my every waking moment.
The Triangle Gate champions have been dropping an awful lot of falls lately, to pretty much everyone on the roster. I know these titles are like, fourth in the DG hierarchy, but it’s still a little bit confusing.
— LARIATOOOO!!! (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2016
Open the Brave Gate Championship Contra Cape Match
Eita def. El Lindaman
El Lindaman’s descent into heel-ness since his awful breakup with Yosuke Santa Maria has been an interesting one. The young man claims that, because the fans have rejected him by not cheering him on when he demanded entry into Tribe Vanguard, he would reject them in return, completely dropping the happy-go-lucky young prince act and turning into a moody emo teenager who probably listens to a A Day To Remember more than is usually recommended. He dyed his hair red, ditched the pink and black gear and adopted the standard Verserk red (in a lovely velvety material), although his cherry blossom motif is still present in a small section of the trunks, and now comes to the ring with a giant rope for…some reason. Here, he puts his beloved trademark cape on the line for a shot at his former friend Eita’s Open the Brave Gate title.
Now, if you had asked me to envision this match a year ago, the roles would have been completely reversed. Eita is so good at being an arrogant prick that I would have thought for sure he’d be the heel when this match eventually happened. And even though he’s the face here, his attitude is very much that of a self-assured older brother who wants to put his younger sibling back in his place. And it helps his case that he’s probably the smoothest worker in DG today. His transitions into the Numero Uno are flawless and he can pull them pretty much out of nowhere. Linda may overpower him, but Eita controlled the match for the most part, refusing to let Linda and his cornerman, Mondai Ryu, get the better of him.
Linda’s performance here shows a new side to him, a more vicious, focused version of the wrestler we’ve all grown to know and love. He has a vicious looking armbar of his own, and wastes no time in taking every opportunity he has to put Eita way with his patented Locomotion Suplexes.
Dr Muscle appeared and looked to interfere on Linda’s behalf, but ended up willingly hitting him with the red box before disappearing.
Eita took advantage of that and pinned Linda after the Hidalgo, which is a cool looking move that you couldn’t pay me $10,000 to take.
Eita said a win was a win, interference or not. He said he had no use for Lindas’ cape. So he can keep it. Linda said he absolutely would have won without the interference. He wouldn’t forget this. He should be leaving with both his cape and the belt. It was added to the shame of being rejected by Tribe Vanguard. Payback was coming. He left, without the cape.
Eita moved on to other things. His title defenses so far were YASSHI and Lindaman. It was time for a real challenger. He was nominating Flamita. They fought together in Mexico, when Flamita was only 16. They had a lot of 1 on 1 matches. He won some, he lost some. But things are different now. He is a champion. He wants to show he is now stronger.
— LARIATOOOO!!! (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2016
Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo “Jimmy” Saito def. YAMATO, BxB Hulk & Flamita
Tribe Vanguard is a strange unit, that often fails to be as great as its individual components. YAMATO is amazing, Flamita is amazing, Hulk has shed a lot of his ring rust since returning, Maria and Kzy are a ton of fun, but the unit in itself fails to click for some reason. They haven’t managed to find much success since YAMATO won the Dream Gate title, and they seem to be floating in space for the most part while every other unit is involved in big things.
The Jimmyz, on the other hand, are still going strong after almost five years as a unit. They currently hold both sets of tag titles, and are as always capable of farming any number of entertaining teams. Despite having existed as a unit for so long, any of the combinations of Jimmyz is always entertaining to watch against any opponents, which is a feat in and of itself.
This match very much felt like DG giving the crowd a breather before the oncoming Losing Unit Disbands main event. While the wrestling was good, as it usually is when all these guys are involved, much of the focus was on the Jimmyz trying to pull off their regular crowd-pleasing spots, with Sairyo struggling as usual to lock someone (here, Hulk) in the Cycling Yahoo, and the elastic band making its second appearance of the evening. To jazz things up a little bit, The Jimmyz pulled a Pete Dunne and took turns biting YAMATO’s fingers, and then Hulk and Flamita returned the favor on Saito.
If this took a bit to get started in between the comedy spots, it got really fun towards the end. Saito and Susumu hit a gorgeous assisted German suplex, Flamita flew all over the place, even at his own detriment, and Kagetora continued to look amazing as he pinned Hulk with the Kagenui.
— LARIATOOOO!!! (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2016
Monster Express vs. Verserk 5 vs. 4 Loser Revives Captain’s Fall Elimination Unit Disbands Match
Verserk (Shingo Takagi, Naruki Doi, “Brother” YASSHI, T-Hawk & Cyber Kong) def. Monster Express (Masato Yoshino, Akira Tozawa, Big R Shimizu & Shachihoko BOY)
Monster Express opened the show. There was a problem, though. There were only 4 of them. They explained the situation regarding Peter Kaasa and his injury. Unfortunately, he was also unable to compete today. There were no potential replacements so what they have here is what they have. Verserk came to the ring. Doi was positively gleeful. This was it. This was the day that Monster Express would meet their demise. No Peter? That leaves them with 4. Clearly they had no choice but to make the main event a 5 on 4 handicap match. Tozawa proposed making the match 4 on 4 but Doi wouldn’t hear that. Tozawa had to relent. GM Yagi came to the ring to set the rules for the match. The match would be done under Loser Revives Instant Comeback Captains Fall rules. When a competitor is eliminated, they must go to the entryway. When their team scores an elimination, an eliminated member of their team is able to return to the match. The match can only end when the captain has been pinned or submitted.
The battle of good and evil has always been a central theme in art. Whether or not you believe that professional wrestling is an art, this match was the quintessential “good vs evil” story wrapped up in 37 minutes of crazy action like only Dragon Gate knows how to orchestrate.
But more than that, it was also a story of hope and despair, of friendship and treachery, of what it means to be a unit. Verserk, though dominant they may have been since their formation, have never given the impression of fighting for each other. Monster Express on the other hand, was based around that very concept, and its members were always looking out for each other.
Verserk fought to destroy. They relentlessly chipped away at the hopes of a numerically disadvantaged Monster Express, used every dirty trick in the book to put their opponents down. T-Hawk especially looked like a man on a mission, on a warpath, determined to make good on his promise to end the unit he once called his own, and even goes as far as to completely brutalize poor referee Nakagawa, who eats a BT Bomb for trying to do his job right. In a way, he was transforming into a young Shingo Takagi right in front of our eyes, while the man himself tore through the people he too once left behind. Naruki Doi knows despair and destruction probably better than anyone else, and as the engineer of so much chaos already this year, he was as involved in taking down Monster Express here as the rest of his associates. “brother” YASSHI and Cyber Kong weren’t as noticeable in the match as their acolytes, but still brought their own brand of suffering.
Monster Express fought to survive. They had each other’s backs and refused to retreat for even one second, taking it to Verserk with all the strength they could muster. Shimizu, who had already lost a unit earlier this year, fought like a beast to save the only home he had left. Yoshino was laser focused on victory, stirring the ship into the storm. Shachihoko BOY, the eternal underdog and the best friend anyone could ask for, scratched and clawed his way through the enemy lines. And Tozawa… Oh, Tozawa. In his last match in Korakuen Hall for at least a good long while, Tozawa demonstrated exactly why he will be missed terribly. He threw caution to the wind, desperation and fighting spirit melding together and creating something special, something that only he seems to have the secret to. Tozawa here wasn’t just a member of Monster Express, he was Monster Express, all the hopes and bonds that the unit and created and carried over its three years of existence demonstrating through his performance. It’s not something that can be described in words, it has to be seen and felt and lived.
Then in the middle of it all, like a reflection of man’s own grey morality, Dr Muscle appeared again and continued to aid the faces, this time hitting T-Hawk with the red box and then with… the Caldera. He then unmasked as Kotoka (returning from an injury suffered in early July), who despite his actions in favor of Monster Express, was still wearing his heel face paint and bleeeh-ing wildly. Where this will lead the young man, no one knows yet, but it’s an interesting development nonetheless, especially in a time when the ex-Millennials all seem to have reached a crossroads in their careers.
In the end, Shingo put Tozawa away with a Pumping Bomber, and just like that, it was over. Monster Express was done. Three years of friendship, of defying the odds, of bringing joy and camaraderie to rings all over Japan, over in three unbearable seconds. Evil had won. Despair had devoured hope. Monster Express was no more, and its members regrouped best as they could for a final moment, bitter smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes.
— LARIATOOOO!!! (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2016
Doi taunted Monster Express after the match. They were done. Fair and square. It was over. Have fun in the States, Tozawa. He began to talk about the 11/03 main event, and Doi Darts but T-Hawk came up behind him and gave him the Urajigoku & Night Ride. The goal of dismantling Monster Express was achieved. Doi no longer was needed. He can go to the back of the line. He was out of Verserk.
Takagi said because of his stupid ass toy Doi Darts, Takagi had to be a part of this bullshit match in Osaka. He wasn’t needed in Verserk anymore. He wasn’t needed as a wrestler either and everyone knows it. This is the real Verserk, and the real war was starting.
Tozawa was just as shocked as everyone. He asked Doi ….What now? Doi had no idea what just happened. He wasn’t going to trust or make any decisions until the next Korakuen.
The former Monster Express were left to reflect on their 3 years together. Tozawa thanked them for everything. He expected to see Big as a top player sooner than later. He apologized to Shachi for talking down to him earlier. He loves him. As for Yoshino… Before Monster Express they never really talked beyond very dry greetings and introductions. 3 years ago, they became family. He has a brother that is 5 years older. 3 years ago he gained another brother that is 5 years older.
They closed the show doing the Too Easy pose, as their entrance theme played for the last time.
An overall very enjoyable show capped by a crazy and emotional main event, this was a by-the-book DG Korakuen show in the best possible way. Monster Express is no more, and with Tozawa’s departure to America looming right around the corner, we now focus on what will become of his former stablemates. The most logical conclusion after the developments within Verserk would be that a SpeedMuscle reunion is coming, and it’s been so long now that it might just happen. As for Shimizu and Shachihoko BOY, the future is uncertain, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll bounce back. With friends like that, anything is possible.