JULY 22, 2018

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: Dragon Gate Network / Photo: twitter.com/dg_k_h_s


This was all about Shun Skywalker getting his chance to shine. Perhaps by this time next year, he’ll be in the mix for the Brave Gate belt. This was every opener ever, but with Shun getting to do his springboard moonsault to the outside onto everyone and then getting the pin over Shachihoko Boy. **1/2


This match happened. In the middle of the match, 7’3” giant Choi Hong-Man interfered from the crowd. Ichikawa cut a promo on him, and then Man threw the two around. A lot of this was lost in translation for me, but the crowd didn’t seem too into it either. Saito pinned Stalker with a schoolboy. Moving on… *1/2


This was a great match, but I can’t help but feel like it would have been even better if there was a stronger team challenging the champions. The bottom feeders of Antias + Masato Tanaka is not the challenge that Natural Vibes probably needed on this show. Kzy has been white hot and having Yokosuka and Horiguchi behind him have made this unit dominant, so against this Antias trio, it became clear that the only way they’d lose is through heel shenanigans.

That luckily did not happen, as moments after a mist attack from Yoshida, Kzy was able to counter Kanda’s offense and roll him up with a Skayde Schoolboy for the win. I was ready for a more dramatic finishing stretch, but I can live with this. This match was great.

It looked like Tanaka and Kzy were going to be the focus of the match. I was hoping to see Kzy kick out of one of Tanaka’s big moves before pinning Kanda or Yoshida, but as the match went on, the real chemistry seemed to be between Tanaka and Yokosuka. Yokosuka has experience working against talent from Tanaka’s home base, Zero-One, and in his brief interactions with Tanaka, the two created something great. Tanaka in Antias is a really weird fit, but I really enjoy it. I hope he sticks around some more, and we get more of Tanaka vs. Yokosuka, Kzy, and/or Mochizuki.

As for this match, the win was another quality one for Natural Vibes. They are over with me and they are over with the crowd. Kzy continues to be the brightest spot of Dragon Gate this year. Recommended. ****


I’m done with these two. I don’t understand how after all these months (years, really) of building to this match, they work it just like any other match. This was no different than any middle of the card Brave Gate match we’ve seen at World over the past decade. In fact, what I was waiting for, happened right after the bell rang. Eita ripped off the mask of Dragon Kid, and unfortunately, because it happened after the match, means that we still aren’t done with this feud.

I was stunned at the lack of urgency in this match. This felt no different than Kagetora vs. Flamita from last year, which is absurd considering that Kagetora and Flamita aren’t generational rivals. This was flat. The work wasn’t bad, but this was not the type of match that I was hoping for and that is a major letdown.

Eita was tossed a chair from the outside and crashed it down on the skull of Dragon Kid. From there, he landed a Salamander and the match was over. I don’t understand why he needed the chair. If it was out of frustration, seeing as how Dragon Kid kicked out of the Superkick and escaped Numero Uno, then they did a poor job of building up to it. If Eita used a chair because Eita is a dick and he wanted to use the chair, then who really cares? He took a cheap victory on the biggest show of the year. This did nothing but prolong a feud that I stopped caring about long ago. ***


I speculated in the preview that this might be the match of the night by the time things are said and done. Spoiler: it was not. However, that doesn’t mean that this match was a let down. It was the exact match anyone that has experience watching Dragon Gate would expect.

While at times, Maria, Doi, and Jason Lee all shined, the match was at its best when Flamita and Bandido were going at it. Flamita has been in Dragon Gate since 2013, which is hard to believe. It seems like every other year, Flamita brings a new partner along for the ride to either team up with or square off against. He teamed with Rocky Lobo upon first landing in Japan, then did both with Draztik Boy, and is now splitting time between timing and fighting Bandido. While there has been little character development for Flamita since his initial Millenials run, he is still one of my favorite wrestlers on the roster. No one is able to do what he can. His body control is second to none, and although the Kobe crowd did not react to them, I was blown away by his spots with Bandido.

It was Bandido who ate the pin, which isn’t shocking, despite the fact that Doi and Lee look much stronger on paper than Maria and Kagetora. I am still annoyed that Doi was slotted in this match. He’s had a great year, and although this was entertaining, this was a throwaway match. He looked good, and he’ll move on from this loss and his card placement, but I wish he would have had something to really sink his teeth into. ***3/4


I don’t think I could look someone in the eyes and tell them that this match was good, but this match was way more fun than I anticipated it to be. My fear was that we were going to get a lot of faux-grappling, and Mochizuki would have to fake a struggle to get out of the once vice-like grip of Fujiwara. What we got instead was Fujinami and Fujiwara beating each other up like they still have salt in the wounds over UWF vs. NJPW.

Hiro Saito did nothing of note, which is better than LEONA, who had to be replaced due to injury, trying to do anything. Mochizuki and Fujii were as good as you’d expect them to be. This match put a smile on my face, because it was fun, and that is what Dragon Gate is all about. Punch Tominaga rightfully tapped to Fujinami’s Dragon Sleeper. ***1/4

What Gates May Come: Dragon Gate’s Turbulent Year

Read: voicesofwrestling.com/2018/07/21/what-gates-may-come-dragon-gates-turbulent-year


While previewing this show and reviewing prior Kobe World main events, I was faced with a flash of panic and had to ask myself, “is BxB Hulk even on this show?” Despite being so invested in Big Ben and enjoying this storyline, the descent of BxB Hulk has been an epic one, and until I saw his name on the preview, I had forgotten he was challenging for a title. Hulk’s decline can be traced back to Final Gate 2014, when he severely injured his shoulder in a title challenge vs. Shingo Takagi. Hulk went away, came back, and for the most part, has done nothing. He’s gained weight, he’s slowed down, and he’s become a one-trick pony when it comes to offense.

That changed tonight. Hulk showed up. He put up a fight against two of the toughest wrestlers in Dragon Gate, and it paid off greatly. Shimizu and Ben-K were coming in as champions, but the experience edge that Hulk and YAMATO had, not only just in their careers, but in big Kobe World matches, led to their victory in this match. Shimizu and Ben-K would get so close to victory, but an epic spear from Ben-K to YAMATO was kicked out of, and BxB Hulk was able to outlast a Shot-Put Slam/powerbomb hybrid.

Tribe Vanguard is pretty terrible, and no unit matches the output of MaxiMuM, but this was a damn good match. It was the high drama kind of match that I was hoping for. I know Shimizu will one day put it together and become a top guy, but he’s still fumbling for greatness. YAMATO and Hulk beat him here, and the tensions will continue to rise in MaxiMuM because of it. This match was well worth seeking out. ****1/2


Shingo Takagi failed himself in this bout against Masato Yoshino. From the opening bell through the closing stretch, Yoshino had one thing on his mind, and that was to weaken Takagi’s favorite weapon, his arms. He twisted and slammed the pythons that Takagi carries as live ammunition to the ground, weakening attacks for later on in the match. When most wrestlers have a limb targeted like that, they find a new way to attack. They have multiple tools in their arsenal and a big match like this, they are going to exhaust every tool they have.

Takagi, on the other hand, wanted to prove something to Yoshino, to the Dragon Gate fanbase, and to himself. He continued his injured arms with a variety of shoulder blocks, lariats, and throws. He would not let Yoshino have the pleasure of forcing him to change his attack. He powered through, wencing after each move he landed, but landing the move nonetheless.

Perhaps it was due to the aid of a table that Takagi slammed Yoshino through early on in the match, but Takagi was in control for most of this match. Yoshino was lucky to counter with an arm attack once Takagi got into the offensive groove. I’ve seen many Shingo title matches, and this one felt different than some of his others. He was in control. It was a smooth attack. There was no frenzy like there was against Don Fujii three years ago. This was Takagi, in the biggest match, on the biggest show, dissecting Masato Yoshino as best he could.

What Takagi probably didn’t count on was a Masato Yoshino miracle run, which we saw late in the match. All of Takagi’s normal bomb throws from the Pumping Bomber to Made in Japan were no match for Yoshino. He popped up, nailed Takagi with a series of strikes, and eventually found himself in the driver’s seat with a Sol Naciente. I assumed Takagi would break out of the hold, either by rope break or by slamming him down, but no, Takagi was finished. He submitted. The submission hold that targets the arms was no match for an already worn down Takagi, most of which had been damage he had done to himself.

The match felt like a Kobe World main event, which is both good and bad. It was clear watching this match that these are the two biggest stars Dragon Gate has, and they weren’t going to shit the bed here. However, like most Kobe main events, the “big match feel” they were going for got too big, and instead I was left waiting for action and intensity. This never kicked into fifth gear like I thought it would. This match felt tame. I was never bored, but I was never on the edge of my seat. The submission finish was shockingly abrupt, but there are certainly worse crimes a wrestling match can have.

Masato Yoshino is still the Open the Dream Gate Champion, which brings some peace and stability to the company for now. Quite honestly, though, I have no idea where they go from here. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

It’s hard not to give this show a thumbs up. It exceeded my expectations from an in-ring standpoint, and while this show was long, it was not as draining as it has been in years past. This show was fun, ultimately, which is what has been lacking from Dragon Gate this year. The Triangle Gate match over delivered, and the Twin Gate match delivered as advertised. Other than an anti-climatic finish to the main event, the second half of this card rocked.

I am still left uncertain of Dragon Gate’s future from a creative standpoint. I have no idea what is next, where they go from here, or who, other than Masato Yoshino, will be leading the charge. I am left with more questions than answers, but there is a part of me that is satisfied with the show we got, and for now, that is all I can ask for.