MAY 8, 2017

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: Dragon Gate Network

“The opening ceremony for King of Gate 2018 was held at the top of the show. YAMATO, with a new short haircut, gave the greeting. Dragon Gate has undergone a reformation behind the scenes. CIMA, T-Hawk, El Lindaman, & Takehiro Yamamura have departed for Shanghai. They will achieve big things there. Those standing here in the Japan ring will not be outdone. The 65 members of roster and staff will put their all into their efforts and he hopes the fans will continue to support them the same way as they in the past.”  IHeartDG.com


An excellent opener that set up Skywalker as a possible threat in this King of Gate tournament. He’s not going to win the tournament. Realistically, there’s 0 chance he wins his block. Him winning a match or two, on the other hand, is not impossible. His Block A counterparts are YAMATO, Kzy, Yasushi Kanda, & Ben-K. I feel like Skywalker getting the win here instead of Mochizuki, who chose to sit out King of Gate this year, establishes Skywalker as someone that could play spoiler. I would not want to face Skywalker in Hokkaido at the end of the month, but YAMATO and Kzy are both signed up to do just that.

Aside from Skywalker, this opener was still a ton of fun. Shiiba and U-T trading uncoordinated violence is always going to make me happy and it was great to see K-Ness and Mochizuki put in effort here. A worthwhile opener. Do not skip if you care about the progression of the youngsters! ***1/4


Ryo Saito, who was shaved bald at Dead or Alive, came out here in all black trunks and boots. With his hair gone, Saito decided to act like a young boy. His performance was wildly entertaining here. His comedy was on point and it gave this otherwise run-of-the-mill match something to notice. Saito won with SaiRyo Rocket. **1/2


I’m not sure what happened here. Big R Shimizu hit a Shot-Put Slam early on in the match, but Yoshida rolled out of the ring before he could get pinned. The two traded sloppy bombs, and then after a confusing back and forth, Yoshida dropped Shimizu with a Powerbomb and picked up the three. It looked like these two were on different pages. In just over two minutes, Yoshida won the first King of Gate match of 2018. **


The finish here was obvious: Kagetora, who joined Tribe Vanguard at Dead or Alive, pinned the directionless Hyo Watanabe. This was fine. I enjoyed seeing Kagetora bounce off Ben-K. Other than that, there was nothing much to this. BxB Hulk and Jason Lee will square off in the B Block of King of Gate later on this month, but they didn’t do a whole lot to preview that. This was fine. **1/2


Now is the time for Eita to step up to the plate. His longtime counterpart, T-Hawk, is in China, as is El Lindaman, who has been primed for the top of the card since his debut. CIMA, T-Hawk, and Lindaman are no more, leaving spots open for top guys. If Eita doesn’t do it now, I don’t think he ever will.

He showed glimpses of what Top Guy Eita could look like in this match. His explosion in the finishing stretch was refreshing. His Superkicks looked horrifically painful, his counter to the Muscular Bomb was exciting, and he looked focused.

Doi should have one or two more chances to kill it in King of Gate. He will face Dragon Kid, Yosuke Santa Maria, and unfortunately, Punch Tominaga, in the coming weeks. I know he and DK will tear it up, and I think if Maria is on her game, we can see something great between her and Doi. On this night, Doi was at the top of his game. It was great to see. He remains unable to age, just like his partner Masato Yoshino.

Doi fell behind after being blindsided by Eita’s second, Takashi Yoshida. This would be the case until Doi countered a barrage of chair attacks from Eita and miraculously dropped Eita from the middle rope onto a pile of chairs with the Doi 555. He attempted the Muscular Bomb once, but it was countered by a roll up. Just when it looked like Doi was down and out, he was able to muster up the strength to put Eita in position for the Muscular Bomb and deliver it. ***1/2


This match ended in DQ after interference from Eita and Takashi Yoshida.

Natural Vibes got off to a hot start with a great match at Dead or Alive when they (Horiguchi, Yokosuka, & Kzy) captured the Triangle Gate titles. This was step back, not from a character development standpoint, but simply from an in-ring perspective. This was a slow eight-man. It just never went anywhere. Punch and YASSHI on the same team is rough. Even Horiguchi and Yokosuka can’t steer this ship in the right direction. Punch by himself is fine, but with YASSHI, Natural Vibes looks really weak. Alas, I am still excited to see where this unit goes. NR

“Eita & Yoshida interfered to cause the no contest. Eita, with his neck wrapped up from the Muscular Bomb he received earlier, called the match a waste of time. He again insisted that Over Generation had no reason for existing. They should disband immediately. No one wants to see them together anymore. DK told Eita that while he may be proud of his intrusion here, in reality it is pretty pathetic. There is only two of them. Given the current state of things maybe it would be better if Antias is the one to disband. Eita blamed his loss to Doi on DK and attacked. Ishida stopped him with a high kick. He was tired of Eita belittling Over Generation. Eita blew him off. He didn’t even know his name. Everything bad that has happened is because of Dragon Kid, so he is going to make him pay for it. They brawled to the backstage area.”  IHeartDG.com


Something about this match just didn’t click. I understood the story they were trying to tell, and at times really liked it. I recognize what they did was technically proficient, but there was something off putting about this match.

Takagi was positioned in this match as clearly being a level above Dragon Gate’s new VP Masato Yoshino. He bullied Yoshino, tossing him around, smacking him in the face, and treating him no different than he would treat a lower rung member of the roster. I liked that. Shingo is really great and being really mean.

Yoshino, not one to go down without a fight, fired back. He targeted the arm of Shingo in an attempt to obviously take away the Pumping Bomber lariat, but also to weaken a possible Made in Japan or Last Falconry. It looked like Yoshino’s strategy was going to work. His nickel & dime approach to Takagi’s arm eventually wore down the Antias leader, but it wasn’t enough.

Takagi was stronger. He has more to prove. He wants his hard-hitting, fast-paced, smash mouth style to be the house style of Dragon Gate, and Masato Yoshino is the antithesis of that. Sol Nacientes and Sling Blades can only do so much. Yoshino kicked out of two Made in Japan’s, but with the exception of maybe the Shot-Put Slam and Mochizuki’s KO Kicks, there is nothing deadlier in Dragon Gate than Takagi’s finishing run. He finally took Yoshino’s head off with a Pumping Bomber, proving that all the armwork Yoshino put in was no use. Shingo Takagi made a statement in his first King of Gate match.

That all sounds great on paper, and as I recalled this match in my mind, it sounds really exciting. The finishing stretch was. It was a big time Dragon Gate match in Korakuen Hall, and that will always deliver. The heat segment of this match was boring, however. Yoshino fighting back the first time around didn’t do much for me either. It was slow, and it lacked the fire and emotional intensity that these two would show in the finishing stretch. This match was really good, but because of the names involved, it was disappointing.

These matches always leave me puzzled. It’s worth the watch, but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Ultimately, that is my fault. My expectations were too high, because it’s not like these two didn’t do great work. Unfortunately, they just didn’t meet my standards. ***3/4

“Takagi boasted that his win was free of any illegal tactics. Fair and square. Yet people still boo him. What more can he do? Whatever. In Aichi he protected his hair and freed himself of that bullshit comedy title belt. No one finds him entertaining anyway. How did he end up with it in the first place? What was YAMATO talking about earlier? Okamura resigned and CIMA is the new president? There’s a new company called Dragon Gate Entertainment? He doesn’t give a shit about any of it. He’s a wrestler. He is going to come and do his thing like he always has. The others should, too. As for T-Hawk & Linda, they got to spend valuable time outside of the ring with him so it is clear they learned something. If you want to do something, you do it. Choose your own path and walk down it. They clearly have done that by going to Shanghai so he has nothing again them.”  IHeartDG.com


In a shocking turn of events, it was YAMATO that came out on top of this battle between former Tribe Vanguard (and Mad Blankey) unit mates. Kzy has had a burst of momentum since leaving Tribe Vanguard, and I really thought he was going to rocket ship past YAMATO and take the win here to make a statement, but I thought wrong.

This match was good. It never hit the “great” level that I wanted both this match and the prior match to hit, but this didn’t ever feel out of place as a Korakuen main event. I think that is more important than the match quality, because Dragon Gate is going to need guys that can slide into the main event now with T-Hawk and CIMA gone. We all thought the DG model of sliding guys in and out of positions on the roster would work forever, but the top of the card is thin. Guys like Kzy need to step up, and the younger generations need to be ready to fill in the gaps in the middle of the card.

YAMATO was vicious here. These two seemed to work quite snug in this bout and I was all about it. Stiff jabs from YAMATO and sharp uppercuts from Kzy, piled on top of their already explosive offense made this easy to enjoy. YAMATO put Kzy away with a Ragnarok after Kzy kicked out of a Galleria. ***3/4

“YAMATO may have cut off all his hair, but he was still the coolest. He was also the winner. Today, he felt the heart and drive that prompted Kzy to leave Tribe Vanguard. He is now leading his own unit and they are Triangle Gate champions. He’s made a noticeable impact. The dance is pretty cool too. He’d be too shy to even try it. Kzy surely sees the significance of their match today. They’ve battled many times before, but today was different. Naruki Doi. Masato Yoshino. BxB Hulk. …………Shingo Takagi. They have fought for years knowing that at any point they can be burdened with the task of carrying Dragon Gate on their back. Every time they get in the ring, they are prepared for that to happen. There is more to being king than just the crown. 13 years ago, they joined Dragon Gate together. They are peers, in that sense. Who would have expected these two idiots from towns in the middle of nowhere would be fighting each other in the main event 13 years later. He prompted “Kazuki Sawada” for a handshake, but Kzy slapped his hand away. YAMATO wasn’t offended. It is what he expected. He knows that Kzy has what it takes to get back and fight YAMATO again on an even bigger scale. He will be waiting for him.”  IHeartDG.com

Final Thoughts:

Nothing great, but lots of good stuff on this show. With CIMA and his pals in China, I hope this lights a fire under the rest of the roster and King of Gate is the perfect time to show CIMA, Lindaman, T-Hawk, and Yamamura what they’re missing. All of the King of Gate matches, sans Yoshida vs. Shimizu, are worth your time. Instead of watching the battle of big men, watch the opener. Thumbs up for Dragon Gate’s first King of Gate show of 2018.