DEAD OR ALIVE 2017
MAY 5, 2017
AICHI, AICHI PREFECTURAL GYM
Note: This preview will just be covering the three title matches on Dragon Gate’s first major event of the year. Dragon Gate only announced the undercard matches this afternoon (May 4th), so instead of scrambling together and not giving each match the time it deserves, we opted for just title matches. The remainder of the card is as follows:
Kzy, Yosuke Santa Maria, Flamita vs. Gamma, Eita, Draztick Boy
Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii vs. “brother” YASSHI, Punch Tominaga
Masato Yoshino, Big R Shimizu, Kotoka, Ben-K vs. Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!, Jimmy Susumu, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy K-ness J.K.S.
The obvious highlight of the undercard is that eight-man. Over the last two days, both Masato Yoshino and Kotoka made their full-time return from major, and in Yoshino’s case career-threatening, injuries. In doing so, they finally made the the propose DoiYoshi-gun unit of last winter a reality: MaxiMuM, consisting of Yoshino, Naruki Doi, Kotoka, Big R Shimizu and Ben-K.
MEET OUR PREVIEWERS:
- Michael Spears: Co-host of Open the Voice Gate and the “Iron Man” of VoW. You can find him at @fujiiheya where provides fireside messages from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and misses The Big Cat Hyou Watanabe.
- Milo: That annoying itch behind your ear. DG’s premier storyline analyst & host of #miloafterdark.
- Case: Voices of Wrestling’s official young boy. Officially a legal adult. Current duties include cooking meals for the other writers, mopping the floor and reviewing Dragon Gate and AAW events.
OPEN THE BRAVE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP – JIMMY KAGETORA © VS. TAKEHIRO YAMAMURA
Michael: This match feels really soon. Don’t get me wrong: Yamamura has gone from being an afterthought to Dragon Gate’s Most Improved/Most Outstanding/Arguable MVP of 2017. But, again, this sort of match feels soon for him, especially with King of Gate and Kobe World on the horizon. This feels like Kagetora’s time. After a full career of tag success and not being able to translate that to a singles title, he has finally accomplished his dream. Sadly, Yamamura doesn’t have a 20 minute time limit this match to push Kagetora to the brink. He’ll have a standard title match limit. For that, and the other reasons, Kagetora makes his first successful defense.
WINNER: Jimmy Kagetora.
Milo: I can already feel that this is gonna rock my world. Kagetora is one of the most technically sound yet exciting performers in DG, and in all of puro, while the young Yamamura has gone from an afterthought to a legitimate superstar in the making after stellar performances in Korakuen Hall.
There’s very little left to the imagination when it comes to the result of this match. Yamamura is young and still has time and room to grow, while Kagetora is a fresh champion who can pull out an interesting reign if given the chance. Now, this is Dragon Gate, so I’m not ruling out an upset win for Yamamura, but I feel like there are other things lined up for him in the very near future. Kagetora and his die hard fans have been waiting for this reign for a long time, and long may it continue.
WINNER: Jimmy Kagetora
Case: The biggest match of Yamamura’s young career? He had an Open the Twin Gate match in November that ended in a no contest, so I’m calling this the biggest match of his career. Sadly, I don’t expect him to win. That’s just not the way Dragon Gate does things and I’m totally okay with that. Yamamura has been incredible this year, and this is just the start for him. Kagetora will grab the victory and will hopefully have a long, fulfilling Brave Gate run. Very excited for this one.
WINNER: Jimmy Kagetora
OPEN THE TWIN GATE CHAMPIONSHIP – CK-1 (CIMA & DRAGON KID) © VS. T-HAWK & EL LINDAMAN
Michael: Although CK-1 have made themselves a solid reign, I’m here to say enough already. Neither of them need the title (although fans like it when they hold gold), and there was a perfect opportunity in March for them to drop the belts to Kzy/BXB Hulk. T-Hawk and El Lindaman aren’t the strongest challengers. VerserK is stagnant and neither have been the true number two the unit direly needs. Even considering that, Linda has grown into his young shit-head punk character, however, and T-Hawk seems destined to be better as a tag worker than as the main event player they wanted to position him as in 2015. It’s time for Lindaman to get his first belt.
WINNERS: T-Hawk & Lindaman
Milo: The fact that CK1 are still champions makes me want to jump off of a very tall building. Their reign has been hot garbage, especially compared to the amazing Yokosuka Ichoume run that preceded it, and I cannot wait for it to come to an end. They halted one of Kzy’s very few chances at a push and didn’t deliver on the level you’d expect two veterans like this to deliver. This being said, I can’t decide if my hatred for their reign is stronger than my hatred for Verserk. The unit has run its course a long time ago already, and T-Linda would be better off starting their own group instead of stagnating in the remnants of what used to be a great heel faction.
But when you look at it, out of all the teams that challenged CK1, the young punks are the freshest and most capable of actually making Verserk watchable again, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the belts changed hands here.
WINNERS: T-Hawk & El Lindaman.
Case: I don’t feel like we’ve gotten a lot of El Lindaman interaction with CIMA. That’s a bummer. CK-1 has a had a fine reign. I expected more, partially due to my love of CIMA in tag matches, but what we’ve gotten has been serviceable. I’m ready for them to drop the belts, but I don’t think T-Hawk & El Lindaman are going to be the team to do it. I feel like they have no momentum whatsoever, and with the main event possibly ending with a VerserK member walking out as Dream Gate champion, I don’t see Dragon Gate pulling the trigger on this reign just yet.
WINNERS: CIMA & Dragon Kid
OPEN THE DREAM GATE CHAMPIONSHIP STEEL CAGE TITLE CONTRA CABELLERA/MASCARA – YAMATO © VS. SHINGO TAKAGI VS CYBER KONG VS NARUKI DOI VS BXB HULK
This Year’s Rules:
- 4 Flags in each corner of the on top of the cage, Open the Dream Gate on top, in the center of a panel.
- Any challenger (not YAMATO) may be eliminated at any time by Pin, Submission or KO.
- Challengers must retrieve a flag to become eligible for the Championship.
- When it’s down to YAMATO and one challenger, the winner will be decided by who retrieves the Open the Dream Gate Belt. This is the only way YAMATO can be eliminated. The loser will lose their hair or mask.
- There are no delegates/proxies putting their hair/mask on their line this year.
Michael: Wow this match is a clusterfuck of booking, from a company that loves their yearly cage clusterfuck of booking. So YAMATO challenges all of his opponents from this reign to get locked into cage with him and physically have to take his belt from him. And the last person left in the cage loses their hair or mask. Well that’s one way for a mediocre reign to end. I’m of two minds for this match. One side says “the majority of YAMATO’s appeal is that he is the sexiest and coolest, and he certainly ain’t the sexiest nor coolest when his head is shaved, so he wins.” The other is “My god, this title reign has been mediocre and a title change with YAMATO at Kobe World will have no effect. Shoot the belt onto Takagi for two months and have Doi win King of Gate and take it from him at Kobe World.” So that’s what I’m going with. I don’t really want a Takagi reign after the last two years, but it’s the best way to book themselves out of this corner.
WINNER: Shingo Takagi
Milo: I gotta say, Dragon Gate hasn’t really been doing it for me this year, and this is another reason why. Instead of booking a fun and unpredictable group in the cage, they decided to shove YAMATO and all his past challengers (minus the long gone Akira Tozawa) in there in a desperate attempt to make this admittedly underwhelming reign as exciting as it was when it first started. It’s easy to imagine a dramatic title change in the unique conditions that the cage offers, but the possibility that Shingo Takagi might come out on top is a truly horrifying one to me. Would it make sense to have a hot Naruki Doi win KoG and take the belt off of Shingo at World? Yes. Do I want to have to watch Shingo as the Dream Gate champion again after he held the belt for a nearly uninterrupted year in 2015-2016? Quite frankly, I would rather stab myself in the foot repeatedly. There’s no doubt that this is going to be a ton of fun, but the most likely outcome is the one I dread above all. Give me something new, DG. Make me fall in love with you again.
Case: This will be fun, chaotic, and hard to understand at times. What I do understand is that YAMATO’s Dream Gate run has been painfully boring, and I’m officially ready for it to be over. The problem is who’s going to take his spot atop the card. It’s obvious that had he stayed healthy, Masato Yoshino would either have already become Dream Gate champion at Champion Gate in Osaka, would win the Dream Gate here, or would win it at the Hakata Star Lane shows in June. That is not reality, however, and we’ve been stuck with a lame duck YAMATO reign since. Ideally, I want Naruki Doi to win. That would feel fresh and with Yoshino coming back into the mix, I’m hoping Dragon Gate goes in that direction. Shingo Takagi is the realistic option, but I want to follow my heart and say Doi.
WINNER: Naruki Doi