GATE OF ORIGIN
SEPTEMBER 9, 2018
SENDAI SUN PLAZA – SENDAI, JAPAN
WILLIE MACK, SHUN SKYWALKER, & HYO WATANABE DEF. GAMMA, PROBLEM DRAGON, & “BROTHER” YASSHI
After a lackluster opener a few days ago at Korakuen Hall, this opening unit turned up the heat and delivered quite an opener. I figured the shine would be mostly on Mack, as that’s the way these matches have been throughout his stay in Dragon Gate, but the focus was put on Watanabe and Skywalker. It looked like Mack might have possibly developed a knee injury between Korakuen and Sendai.
Even with Skywalker and Watanabe getting the focus and Mack picking his spots wisely, this was a lot of fun. Skywalker is not a main eventer, but he is continuing to improve at a rapid rate and is steadily gaining momentum. Watanabe continues to be a mystery, but he moved around great in this match and looked great tangling it up with YASSHI.
Mack got the win with a big frog splash. ***1/4
MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI & CASSANDRA MIYAGI DEF. STALKER ICHIKAWA & MEIKO SATOMURA
This is a rare example of synergy involving Dragon Gate, homebase of Mochizuki and Stalker, Sendai Girls, homebase for Miyagi and Satomura, and DDT, as Satomura currently holds the KO-D Openweight Title.
I don’t know anything about joshi, but even I know that Meiko Satomura is all the rage right now, and quite frankly I can see why. Her kicks rang off of Mochizuki’s chest like a gunshot. Her offense was something to behold, even in this comedy match.
The comedy was on point in this bout. It was a much needed upgrade after the Ichikawa vs. Saito disaster at Kobe World. This had all of Ichikawa’s greatest hits. A flash pin and a restart, a rope walk spot, and a gut-busting quick count finish with referee Yagi. I genuinely laughed out loud watching this. **3/4
BEN-K, BIG R SHIMIZU, SHINGO TAKAGI, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. NARUKI DOI, JASON LEE, DRAGON KID, & KAITO ISHIDA
This was excellent. Everyone showed up with their working boots on. From Kanda to DK, everyone had their moments in this match. As Shingo begins his departure, I wonder how much he’s going to be protected. In this match, Takagi took a beating from Kaito Ishida. It’s easy to forget because he has no respect in the booking order, but Ishida has some wicked offense and some of the best kicks in wrestling. Takagi felt their force on this night.
This was the first time we saw both members of Big Ben aligned with Antias. Even in temporary gear as the group gets ready to rebrand again, Ben-K looks like a killer in trunks. When he debuted as Futa Nakamura, his biker shorts look made him stand out. I always thought putting him in baggy pants was a mistake when he adopted the Ben-K persona. He looked dominate in this match, tossing around Dragon Kid, flinging Ishida from side-to-side, and winning a forearm exchange with his former unit mate, Naruki Doi. These two brought the fire that I was hoping for. Just two days removed from Ben-K turning on MaxiMuM, Doi showed off a side of him we rarely see anymore. He was aggressive, and in return, Ben-K brought that aggression right back to him.
While Ben-K shined, I was left scratching my head at Shimizu. I’ve widely touted Shimizu as one of the best wrestlers in the world since 2016, but his heel run is not lighting my world on fire. I fear Shimizu far less as a heel than I did when he was in Dia. Hearts, Monster Express, or MaxiMuM. As a heel he’s goofy, and he looks weak next to Shingo Takagi. Since his character transformation from Ryotsu Shimizu to Big R Shimizu, he has had nothing but upward trajectory. As a heel, he’s starting to plateau.
Ben-K powerbombed Ishida for the victory. This match was great. I rarely expect anything out of the bottom of the card, so maybe this just wildly exceeded my expectations, but what they did is absolutely worth a watch. ****
If you haven’t yet, please read Michael Spears’ article on Shingo’s imminent departure from Dragon Gate and what it means for the future of the company.
OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
KZY, SUSUMU YOKOSUKA, & GENKI HORIGUCHI DEF. KAGETORA, YOSUKE SANTA MARIA, & U-T
This was all about U-T and whether or not his llave-based attack could defeat the current Triangle Gate champions. U-T submitted Yokosuka on the most recent Korakuen Hall show and then followed that up by submitting Gamma cleanly on a house show. His Bienllave submission is over and it is effective. Kzy knew coming in that U-T’s submission-based offense would be a threat to their titles, so he did his damndest to put a stop to it.
For as good as this Natural Vibes trio is, I hope this is not the last we see of Kagetora, Maria, and U-T as a team. They compliment each other very well, and no one feels out of place in this team. They’re a well-oiled machine and I want to see them continue to battle it out for the Triangle Gate titles. If U-T can secure his second Triangle Gate title reign by submitting Kzy or Yokosuka with the Bienllave, I think it will get a giant reaction.
Tonight was not that night, however, and U-T ate Kzy’s Impact for the victory. ***3/4
OPEN THE BRAVE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
EITA (C) DEF. PUNCH TOMINAGA
This was a Punch Tominaga title challenge. It’s exactly what you’d expect. Bad wrestling, a poor finish, and headache-inducing aftermath. Eita blasted Punch with a superkick for the victory. On a show where everything so far has over delivered, we are reminded of what true mediocrity is by Punch Tominaga.
I don’t hate Punch, which is the frustrating part. When he stays in his lane, he’s entertaining, and his lane is an undercard guy who, at best, should be the third man in a Triangle Gate team. We’ve been beaten over the head with the idea that he isn’t a singles title contender. He’s a joke. If Hyo Watanabe was in this match, would the result have been any less obvious? Eita was clearly going to win. Why did this match have to be with Punch? **1/4
OPEN THE TWIN GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
YAMATO & BXB HULK (c) DEF. DON FUJII & RYO SAITO
I was certainly not expecting a 25 minute Twin Gate defense from the duo of YAMATO & Hulk. With this victory, the Tribe Vanguard team has made their first successful defense of the Twin Gate titles and will now look to defend the gold against Masaaki Mochizuki & Shun Skywalker at Dangerous Gate on 9/24.
This was much more of a Don Fujii/Ryo Saito-style of match than it was a YAMATO and Hulk match. While this match concluded with an “epic” finishing stretch, the bulk of the match was based around Fujii trying to throw his opponents off of the Sun Plaza balcony. When Hulk & YAMATO survived the balcony attack, the race was on to beat the 20 count as Saito had made it back to the ring already. Luckily, Hulk was able to beat the count and keep the match alive.
Once the two teams buckled down and hit another gear, the match was ridiculously entertaining. YAMATO was trapped in a Figure Four from Fujii, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Saito leaped off of the top rope and delivered a SaiRyo Splash to the chest of the champion. I would’ve had no complaints if that was the finish.
YAMATO and Hulk continued to battle and thwart any attempts that the challenger’s had. Fujii ran out of steam, eventually, leaving Saito alone to eat a First Flash. He kicked out, shockingly enough, but the Galleria/First Flash combination was too much for the challenger.
I was worried that DG was missing their opportunity to do Fujii & Saito vs. Mochizuki & Skywalker, but it looks like that will take place at the 9/15 Osaka show. This was not a MOTYC, but I was highly entertained by it. This match was structured like nothing else you’ll see this year. It’s a long match, longer than I was expecting, but I was entertained throughout the entire contest. ***1/2
OPEN THE DREAM GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
MASATO YOSHINO (c) DEF. TAKASHI YOSHIDA
Yoshino was not allowed to use flash pins in this match.
While this wasn’t as offensively bad as the 2012 Dead or Alive Dream Gate debacle between CIMA and Cyber Kong (Yoshida), this has to be in the running for the most boring Dream Gate match of all-time. This wasn’t good, partially because they never did anything. There was so much down time in this match that it was impossible to gain any momentum. The crowd didn’t care, it didn’t sound like the announcers cared, and quite honestly, it looked like Yoshino was going half-speed for most of this match. This was not good, and this is not the match I would have wanted when CIMA, T-Hawk, and the OWE gang are one week away from heading to Los Angeles with the possibility of taking the wrestling world by storm. Skip. Move on. Do something else with your life. **1/2
I was fired up at the start of this show. The opening four matches exceeded expectations in one way or another, and I was starting to think that DG was going to deliver a sneaky SOTYC. I was wrong. The Brave and Dream Gate matches sucked the energy out of the building, and while the Twin Gate match wasn’t bad, I can’t give my full recommendation for it. There was a lot to like on this show, but unfortunately there was a lot to dislike.
With Dangerous Gate coming up in just a few weeks (9/24), the shows at Kobe Sambo Hall and Osaka Edion Arena #2 will have to matter. There’s no Korakuen between now and the 24th. There is potential for the Dangerous Gate show to be excellent, with Mochizuki & Skywalker vs. YAMATO & Hulk and Doi vs. Yoshino. Dragon Gate needs to step up their game with these big shows, because Gate of Origin was nothing more than an average Korakuen Hall show with a fancier setup.