THE GATE OF EVOLUTION
November 8, 2017
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN
Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: NicoNico (Guide on Ordering via NicoNico)
PUNCH TOMINAGA DEF. KAITO ISHIDA
There are so many other things to do in this world. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or go do literally anything else than watch this match. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t good. Punch won with what was essentially a big boot, and then pinned Ishida despite having his shoulder being off the mat. Next! *
DON FUJII, MONDAI RYU, & MISTERIOSO JR DEF. KOTOKA, SHUN SKYWALKER, & U-T
Misterioso Jr can scram. I promise it is not my anti-lucha bias clouding my judgement. I totally understand why he got a shot in Dragon Gate. I’m sure his highlight videos are awesome, but between all the dives is a bunch of boring. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kotoka & U-T share the ring more often. Those are two scrappy youngsters that are on the cusp of elevating themselves to the next level. Skywalker ate a Chokeslam from Don Fujii in what was a pretty uneventful match. **1/4
K-NESS & GAMMA DEF. KAGETORA & BIG R SHIMIZU
Another weak match, but luckily this one had K-ness pinning Kagetora with the Hiraku no Wa, which I will always, always pop for. There’s something about that move, much like Genki Horiguchi’s Backslide From Heaven, which I constantly marvel at, that will always suck me in. This time he was able to defeat Open the Brave Gate champion Kagetora with it, meaning that those two will probably square off down the line for the title, which I am all about. I certainly wasn’t expecting a post-Jimmyz push for K-ness. He won here, while Gamma and Shimizu played minor, irrelevant roles. Harmless, but far from exciting. **3/4
Backstage, Kagetora challenged K-ness. to a Brave Gate title match. It was accepted and later set for 11/19 in Nobeoka. –iheartdg.com
RYO SAITO DEF. YASUSHI KANDA
Another swing and a miss. This started off fun. It was a walk-and-brawl, which certainly isn’t ideal, but it fit the context, seeing as how Kanda turned his back on the Jimmyz in this post-Jimmyz world and joined VerserK. Once things got back in the ring and were appearing to settle down, VerserK jumped the ring and attacked the referee, which led to the DQ. **
NARUKI DOI, MASATO YOSHINO, & GENKI HORIGUCHI DEF. YOSUKE SANTA MARIA, BXB HULK, & JASON LEE
This is more like it.
This match had the energy that the rest of the prior matches had been severely lacking. I can’t believe the year Masato Yoshino is having, considering that we were fearful he would never wrestle again in January. I mention it in almost every one of my reviews, but I feel that it is the best story in wrestling and it is flying under the radar. He’s not having the best year of his career, but he’s delivering at a higher rate than most of the Dragon Gate roster, and I feel like that needs to be talked about way more than it actually is.
Jason Lee fits like a glove in Dragon Gate. He’s different, but he’s different in the best way possible. He came across as a confident wrestler in this match, which is something that I was not seeing in him at the start of this tour. It is amazing what Dragon Gate can do for a wrestler.
The finishing sequence between Doi and Santa Maria was phenomenal. It is probably the best thing Santa Maria has done all year. She went at it with Doi for what felt like forever. She landed a kiss on Doi, which I thought was going to be the end of things, but Doi recovered, blasted her with a Bakatare Sliding Kick, and picked up the pinfall. This was a lot of fun. Recommended. ***3/4
Doi & Yoshino invited Jason Lee to join MaxiMuM. They have teamed with him several times since he came in and they feel he has a very bright future. He accepted and is the newest member of the unit. –iheartdg.com
RICOCHET’S DRAGON GATE FAREWELL
RICOCHET & CIMA DEF. KZY & YAMATO
It’s a shame that Ricochet’s Dragon Gate career ended with this match.
This wasn’t bad by any means, but I just feel like these four were capable of so much more. After a few fun opening spots with Ricochet mirroring YAMATO’s signature hair taunt, this match slowed to a grinding halt. CIMA didn’t click with me like he has been, and YAMATO and I simply have stopped seeing eye to eye on how to be an entertaining pro wrestler. I can’t believe I’ve soured on him as much as I have.
The final few dives of this match were a lot of fun. I thought it was interesting that Ricochet used a Shooting Star Press to win the match. I don’t remember the last time he won a much using just that. This was fine, but considering the talent involved, I wanted something much better. ***1/4
Flatliner, Meteora and an SSP wins it for @KingRicochet & @supercima1115!! #DragonGate pic.twitter.com/de71uQ95wC
— LARIATOOOO!!!! (@MrLARIATO) November 8, 2017
T-HAWK, SHINGO TAKAGI, TAKASHI YOSHIDA, & EL LINDAMAN, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. EITA, DRAGON KID, RYO SAITO, SUSUMU YOKOSUKA & MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI
After fighting for months to win over the approval of legends like CIMA and Dragon Kid, Eita turned his back on those that helped usher him to the top of the card. Just when it looked like Dragon Kid was about to pin Takagi with the Ultra Hurricanrana, Eita blasted DK with a Superkick, leading to T-Hawk hitting the Night Ride for the win.
This felt shorter than most Korakuen main events. It lasted just under 17 minutes and failed to hit that next gear, just like so many matches on this show. I was waiting for Mochizuki to kick things into overdrive and have a great back-and-forth with Takagi, or for Saito to channel a fire from within that we rarely see, but instead, Eita ended the match abruptly, as mentioned previously, and rejoined VerserK. ***1/2
Eita betrayed Dragon Kid in the final stages of the main event, returning to Verserk. He forcibly removed his mask and taunted Over Generation with it. He was sick and tired of being nice and well behaved. Over Generation was nothing but old timers and cripples. CIMA was speechless. Eita mocked him. For someone who talks and talks and talks as much as CIMA he had nothing to say? CIMA is old and fat. So was Gamma. Ishida and Problem Dragon will never be the same after their neck injuries. What about Yamamura? The truth is he is never coming back. The reality is, his neck is beyond repair and he will never be back. CIMA was visibly shaken by this. Eita was welcome to say whatever he wanted about him, but he promised not to speak publicly about Yamamura. Eita didn’t care about any of that anymore. He was done with this team of old men, midgets, and cripples. –iheartdg.com
Ricochet’s graduation ceremony was next, which is required viewing for anyone that enjoys Ricochet (which should be everyone reading this). Even in years like this when Dragon Gate isn’t doing much for me, they have little moments like this that remind me why I care.
YAMATO said that Ricochets’ superstar aura has grown as much as his hair has fallen out. He recalled their battle for the Dream Gate several years ago and apologized if he did anything bad to him. He wished him good luck.
DK had many memories, including their battles over the Brave Gate. Even though he was twice his age, he learned a lot from Ricochet. DK speaks no English but they communicated through body language and feelings. He hoped Ricochet would continue to grow and become a bigger star. He would be watching.
CIMA talked about the first time he tried to get in touch with Ricochet. Ricochet was only 17 at the time and he totally ignored the e-mail that CIMA sent. A year passed. Matt Sydal was competing in Dragon Gate at the time and he asked Ricochet if he actually got the mail. He did, but didn’t think it was real. He was just a kid and didn’t expect to be asked to come to Japan. He was brought to Dragon Gate USA, and the rest was history. Speaking of history, while Kzy is right that he was the first one in Japan to go down to the Double Moonsault, it was Doi who was the first victim. He thanked him for coming back to see everyone one more time. He knows Ricochet has a bright future ahead of him.
CIMA mentioned in passing that Ricochet had suggested a few foreign talents to him. He promised to bring a foreigner than carry on Ricochets’ legacy. –iheartdg.com
Read the full translation for Ricochet’s graduation ceremony here.
"No goodbyes, this is just 'see you later'. I don't know how, I don't know when but someday I'm coming back to #DragonGate". pic.twitter.com/TFYwhu2Bjz
— LARIATOOOO!!!! (@MrLARIATO) November 8, 2017
— LARIATOOOO!!!! (@MrLARIATO) November 8, 2017
Ricochet was a big reason why I started following Dragon Gate. Monster Express was the perfect entry point for me, and since then, I’ve been able to watch Ricochet become the only gaijin Dream Gate champion, I’ve watched him welcome back Matt Sydal into the company that made him into a global star, and I’ve been able to go back through the archives and watch Ricochet’s evolution.
Without Dragon Gate, Ricochet is not what he is today. There would have been no Prince Puma. He would not be a two-time Battle of Los Angeles winner. Wherever Ricochet goes, it will be because Dragon Gate helped take him there.
This is a skippable show, perhaps the weakest Korakuen I’ve reviewed since I started reviewing Dragon Gate for the site. Watch the graduation ceremony, and if you have the time, the MaxiMuM six-man and the main event. Thumbs in the middle, leaning down for DG Gate of Evolution.