DRAGON GATE
TRUTH GATE
FEBRUARY 2, 2016
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: NicoNico (Guide on Ordering via NicoNico)

JIMMY SUSUMU, JIMMY KAGETORA, & GENKI HORIGUCHI DEF. DON FUJII, SHUN SKYWALKER, & YUKI YOSHIOKA

The Jimmyz opening up Korakuen Hall feels like tradition at this point. The more time I spend writing and thinking about the future of Dragon Gate, the more I feel that the promotion would be flipped upside down with a Jimmyz turn. Yes, we saw Naoki Tanizaki bounce at one point, but that’s Tanizaki, and while he’s immensely talented, he was never what you thought of when you thought of The Jimmyz. Shun Skywalker has new gear, and this was the first time he was able to show it off in front of Korakuen. I feel like the guy that designed that spent a portion of the 90s painting monster trucks. It was also nice to see Yuki Yoshioka back, and with the current Dragon Gate happenings, it looks like he’s being ushered onto more and more shows. I’ve spent longer with this review than the match lasted. It’s worth watching if you like seeing these DG youngsters progress, but it’s an entirely skippable match if that’s not your thing. **1/2

BIG R SHIMIZU VS. TAKEHIRO YAMAMURA

For all the negativity that has clouded Dragon Gate in recent weeks (i.e. Yoshino’s major injury, Kotoka’s momentum being derailed), this was such a major bright spot and I hope that the Dragon Gate fan base doesn’t look over this match when thinking about big moments in 2017. Yamamura finally broke out. It took him almost 18 months and Masaaki Mochizuki beating the life out of him, but Yamamura is finally more than just Kaito Ishida’s friend.

Shimizu is so great, and I don’t think he’s getting the credit he deserves for being so great. He has a distinct style that sticks out in Dragon Gate, but he seems so willing to adapt to the strengths of his opponents. He traded strikes with Yamamura, even throwing a few bizarre kicks himself. Yamamura slowly chopping down the big guy with his sharp kicks to the chest intrigued the Korakuen crowd, and his refusal to stay down won them over. Yamamura became one of the few men to ever kick out of the Shot Put Slam. Yes, it took Big R some time to crawl over and cover him, but the fact is, he kicked out.

Yamamura looked like a million bucks. I have never seen him look this good. There’s not another performance that comes to mind that even comes close to rivaling this. After a second Shot Put Slam, the bell rang, signaling the time limit draw. This was a beautiful display of wrestling. This is required viewing. Yamamura has been made, and Shimizu continues to prove that he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world. ****1/2

DR. MUSCLE & “BROTHER” YASSHI DEF. RYO SAITO & JIMMY KANDA

While watching this match, I got a push notification saying that Superbad is now on Netflix. My attention drifted from Dr. Muscle to Michael Cera and his loveliness. I went back and watched this match to focus on it and now I can safely tell all of you that you don’t need to watch it. *3/4

CIMA, DRAGON KID, & EITA DEF. MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI, KZY, & YOSUKE SANTA MARIA

This felt way more intense, and was subsequently way better than the standard, middle of the card, Dragon Gate six-man. Kzy and Yosuke Santa Maria have developed into a true dynamic duo, and Kzy, especially, feels like he’s on the verge of a massive breakout. He’s lost weight, he’s changed his look, and he’s been delivering at a high level for a year now. Eita looked like a world beater, especially against Mochizuki. The two had a singles match in 2012. They’re due for another. CIMA pinned Maria with a Crossfire. I can’t wait for CIMA & Dragon Kid vs. Kzy & Maria in Fukuoka on 2/12. ***3/4

SHINGO TAKAGI, T-HAWK, CYBER KONG, & EL LINDAMAN DEF. NARUKI DOI, BEN-K, BIG R SHIMIZU, & TAKEHIRO YAMAMURA

Oh my, this was something special. This match was originally supposed to be VerserK vs. Yoshino, Doi, Ben-K, and Kotoka. Sadly, Kotoka and Yoshino are now on the DL. The mystery partners appeared to have been CIMA and Mochizuki, but the two most iconic figures in DG history called out Big R Shimizu and Takehiro Yamamura, the two who just tore it up a few hours earlier.

Doi led those three youngsters into battle, and battle they did. This felt violent, and up until the finish, this felt like an extraordinary showcase for all eight men in the match. Yamamura, Shimizu, and Ben-K already belong in the ring with the likes of Takagi and T-Hawk. Ben-K has been wrestling for less than a year and he took it to Takagi here. He’s so young, but I already want gold around his waist. I can’t say enough good things about him, Yamamura, or Shimizu.

The finish blew. Dr. Muscle interfered, smacked Yamamura over the head with the red box, and revealed himself to be Punch Tominaga. Yuck. Tominaga does not need to be in VerserK. He was harmless in Over Generation. Keep him there. If you can get past the last 30 seconds of this match, then it was an outstanding match. A good finish could’ve propelled this into MOTYC ranks. ****1/2





OPEN THE DREAM GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
YAMATO DEF. BXB HULK

These two last had a singles match was at Kobe World 2014. Much like this match, YAMATO walked in the champion. Unlike that match, however, YAMATO left victorious. After 30 minutes of battle with his Tribe Vanguard partner, YAMATO was able to spike Hulk with a Galleria for his third successful defense of the title.

This took awhile to get going. The Korakuen crowd felt ready for a big Dream Gate match, seeing as how this was the first Dream Gate match in Korakuen since the Shingo vs. Gamma debacle in December 2015 (the time before that was Hulk vs. Susumu in February of that year), but they were left sitting on their hands for half of the match. BxB Hulk is someone that I’ve gone to bat for in the past, but Hulk is clearly one of the worst wrestlers on the roster at this point. He’s degressing at a rapid rate, and the next generation of wrestlers is passing him by already. He looks so heavy in the ring. Not his weight, although his days of washboard abs are long gone, but in the way he goes up for moves. YAMATO struggled with him the entire match, and it wasn’t in a poetic, fighting spirit sort of way. Hulk looks gunshy before every big bump. He doesn’t seem to have the poise or the heart to be a Dragon Gate main eventer at this point.

The last ten minutes of this match had me fully engaged, however. After YAMATO took a sickening EVO from the middle rope to the apron, the two were able to put together a sequence of moves that made me unsure of who would come out on top. Hulk is great at bursts of energy, and that makes his finishing stretches quite exciting. YAMATO, being the genius he is, continued to catch Hulk in moments of weakness. The momentum shifted in favor of YAMATO, and an eventual onslaught of high-impact moves, capped off by a Galleria, was enough to put Hulk down for the count. There have been better Dream Gate matches, but this was far from being bad. Parts of this were enjoyable, but BxB Hulk in his current state is not doing it for me. ***1/2

Final Thoughts:

This was an outstanding outing from Dragon Gate. The company has been plagued by injuries and tough breaks, but this made me confident about their future. Takehiro Yamamura and Big R Shimizu stepped up to the plate and crushed it. They stepped into a role that could’ve easily have been filled by CIMA and Masaaki Mochizuki, and they took advantage of that opportunity. YAMATO, now seven months into his reign, has found his footing. It’s a shame he can’t find a good opponent. Big thumbs up for Dragon Gate. This show has me excited for what’s next to come.