DRAGON GATE
KOBE WORLD PRO WRESTLING FESTIVAL
JULY 23, 2017
KOBE WORLD HALL – KOBE, JAPAN

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: NicoNico (Guide on Ordering via NicoNico) / Photo: @sachi_5705

MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI, DON FUJII, JIMMY KANDA, & JIMMY KNESS J.K.S. DEF. KAITO ISHIDA, SHUN SKYWALKER, HYOU WATANABE, & YUKI YOSHIOKA

I don’t think World could’ve gotten off to a better start. The veterans of the Dragon Gate roster, three of which were on the first Kobe World back in 1999, came to play as they duked it out with the four of the youngest members on the roster. I love seeing Ishida back in the fold. He looks like he’s rehabbed nicely since what sounded like a scary injury to start the year. He was the one that ended up eating the pin after a series of kicks from Mochizuki. I loved the fire shown by both sides. Everyone had their moment. Two thumbs up. ***

MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI DEF. STALKER ICHIKAWA

This was the usual Stalker nonsense with the added bonus of the members of the opening match, minus Mochizuki, obviously, running trains on both Stalker and Mochizuki at points in this match. Stalker is never bad. NR

OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE TOURNAMENT | 2 COUNT RULES
BEN-K, BIG R SHIMIZU, & KOTOKA DEF. EITA, GAMMA, & TAKEHIRO YAMAMURA

I’m a sucker for 2 count rules. It’s so different and exciting. I loved the way these teams meshed, especially the five youngsters. Gamma didn’t do much, but Eita and Yamamura brought it to the MaxiMuM crew. Ben-K, especially, looked like a million bucks. This, of course, is one year after his coming out party at last year’s World. He nearly speared Eita out of his boots before Kotoka rolled him up for the two. ***1/4

OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE TOURNAMENT | 2 COUNT RULES
GENKI HORIGUCHI, JIMMY SUSUMU, & RYO SAITO DEF. BXB HULK, KZY, & YOSUKE SANTA MARIA

Yosuke Santa Maria stole the show in this one. This was by far the most interesting performance I’ve seen from her all year. It’s not surprising. The 2 Count Rules stipulation plays up to the strengths of someone like her. She picks her spots and gets a reaction, all of which lead to a satisfying ending. Her chemistry with all three Jimmyz caught me off guard. She played up comedy with Susumu, but with both Saito and Horiguchi, she brought the fight to them and nearly defeated them. It wasn’t until Hulk was caught in a Backslide From Heaven that Tribe Vanguard fell to the dreaded two count. Another fun match. ***

OPEN THE BRAVE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
JIMMY KAGETORA DEF. FLAMITA

Due to me being unable to watch Kobe World live, I heard murmurings about a few matches on the card before I was able to sit down and watch. I had heard from multiple sources that this match was a bit of a disappointment. After seeing Kagetora pin Flamita just before the 15 minute mark, I must say that I’m shocked that people were so down on this.

This was Flamita’s second Brave Gate match at World.

In 2014, he came in as the champion and successfully defended his title vs. Dragon Kid. That match was also looked at as a let down by followers of the product, but I enjoyed it. They didn’t go balls-to-the-walls, but instead, focused the match on building up to Flamita kicking out of an Ultra Hurricanrana from Dragon Kid. To me, that match legitimized the DTU standout.

While this match might not have had the drastic effects on Kagetora’s career like it did for Flamita’s career in the aforementioned bout, it was another very strong defense from Kagetora, similar in quality to his only other prior defense vs. Yamamura in May. I loved the way these two bounced off of each other. To me, this was a textbook Brave Gate match. Kagetora took a nasty bump on the floor off of a Hurricanrana, Flamita ate his fair share of strikes, and in the end, was no match for Kagetora’s deadly Gurumakakari. ****

OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE TOURNAMENT | 2 COUNT RULES
GENKI HORIGUCHI, JIMMY SUSUMU, & RYO SAITO DEF. BEN-K, BIG R SHIMIZU, & KOTOKA

The charm of these 2 Count matches has not worn off. The feud that has single handedly kept my interest in Dragon Gate added another great chapter to their feud. Kotoka took a pounding in the early portions of this match, just like he’s done all year. I didn’t expect to ever enjoy Kotoka this much, but he’s found his calling as the bottom man, albeit a fighter in MaxiMuM.

Horiguchi caught Big R with another Backslide From Heaven to put them into the championship match with VerserK. All three of the Two Count matches never got going long enough to be truly great, but they were all exciting in their own way. The first match was an epic sprint between some youngsters (and Gamma), the second had an epic performance from Santa Maria, and this featured Big R & Ben-K throwing around Jimmyz, Jimmyz pounding on Kotoka, and eventually another great flash pin from Horiguchi. This tournament was a much needed dose of excitement in the grand scheme of things. ***1/4





OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
SHINGO TAKAGI, EL LINDAMAN, & TAKASHI YOSHIDA DEF. GENKI HORIGUCHI, JIMMY SUSUMU, & RYO SAITO

The miracle run that carried The Jimmyz past Tribe Vanguard and MaxiMuM simply just wasn’t strong enough to dethrone VerserK. It was by no means a lack of effort. All Jimmyz, but especially Horiguchi, worked on a level all night that needs to be applauded. He took a piledriver through a table in this match!

This felt like a big time Triangle Gate match, and although it was nowhere near the level of such epics as the ones that took place in 2005 and 2007. I don’t mind, it was a refreshing shakeup from what has sadly become a “get everyone on the show” match. There was passion in this match. Horiguchi, the God himself, even ripped off his shirt which elicited a giant reaction from the crowd.

VerserK eventually was too much to handle. Susumu and Takagi traded blows in what has become a signature fashion, countering Pumping Bombers with Jumbo no Kachi’s and Jumbo no Kachi’s with Pumping Bombers. A Last Falconry was finally enough to put away Susumu. VerserK stands tall. ****

OPEN THE TWIN GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
CIMA & DRAGON KID DEF. MASATO YOSHINO & NARUKI DOI

Wow, this result feels like a blow to the gut. It’s not that this CK-1 reign has been bad. Other than a stinker at Final Gate, the reign has been serviceable. It’s just that every team they beat, whether it’s North Tribe, Kzy & Maria, a bizarre mashup like Lindaman & Yoshida, or now SpeedMuscle, it seems like the challengers would make far more interesting champions.

Dragon Gate dropped the ball by not having Yoshino leave Kobe World holding a title. It was only a few months ago that we worried he may never wrestle again. He’s a machine, however, and like the John Cena of Dragon Gate that he is, returned to the ring in a business as usual fashion and has been the headmaster of the scorching hot feud between The Jimmyz and MaxiMuM and here, he had a shot to make a statement by ending CK-1’s lengthy reign in what feels almost like a miracle run.

Instead, the rarely used Dragonrana was unearthed on Naruki Doi, and with that, CK-1 successfully defended their titles for the sixth time.

This was one of the best tag matches I’ve seen this year, which shouldn’t surprise anyone given the names on paper. Yoshino and Dragon Kid have a touted history, but I’ve always gotten a bigger kick out of what the fastest man in wrestling can do with CIMA. Those two look like they were made to wrestle each other. CIMA bumps like a madman off of Yoshino’s accelerated offense, Yoshino is able to sell pain like few others, and in the end, they create magic more often than not.

This was worked and felt like a big Dragon Gate tag match. I love that sort of style, and if it appeals to you, you’ll love this match. I have no possible qualms about this contest, other than the finish. I really think Dragon Gate missed the boat, but I digress. This match is well worth going out of your way to watch. ****1/2

OPEN THE DREAM GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
YAMATO DEF. T-HAWK

This was a match.

It’s a shame that the main event of Dragon Gate’s biggest show of the year is relegated to “it was a match” territory, but after almost 30 minutes of action, all I can say for sure is that it happened.

It wasn’t bad, and it certainly wasn’t the worst World main event ever. But in a vacuum this was just an average match, and in the grander scheme of things, it didn’t feel all that important. T-Hawk failed in the World main event for the second time in his career, but why should I care? If they want to make him a loveable loser, he’s shown he can’t be as sympathetic as someone like BxB Hulk, and too-cool-for-school T-Hawk fills me with anger, but not to the point of me jumping up and down at the sight of his downfall.

This didn’t feel like 30 minutes, which is a positive. These two worked hard and no one can take that away from them. The match felt so flat, however. In no way did this feel like the biggest match on Dragon Gate’s biggest stage. T-Hawk’s valiant kick out at one of a Galleria was all for not as he ate a modified Galleria seconds later, known as Ragnarok. The finish felt abrupt and the match felt flat, which unfortunately sums up YAMATO’s now year-long reign perfectly. ***1/2

Final Thoughts:

If the main event would’ve delivered, this would’ve been a show of the year candidate. The Brave and Twin Gate matches delivered by hitting four star territory, and I can’t say enough good things about the Triangle Gate tournament. That was a brilliant idea. The 2 Count matches were a blast and the eventual title match between VerserK and The Jimmyz was very good. From top to bottom, this was a blast. It was a big show with big presentations, but it was easy to digest. Two thumbs up for Kobe World 2017.