SEPTEMBER 24, 2018

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: Dragon Gate Network


This was Mack’s farewell for now, as he will be returning to America after this show. Mack’s two month stay with Dragon Gate has been excellent. He showed up and immediately added life into the DG undercards. He appears to have found companionship with Don Fujii, which is amazing considering that no gaijin is more tailor-made for Natural Vibes. I hope this is not the last we see of Mack in Dragon Gate. If he didn’t earn a job with this tour, then something is very wrong.

As for the match, it was your standard big show opener. I think this match was purposefully placed as the opener instead of match #2 because they wanted to give Mack a chance to shine. He looked great interacting with Yosuke Santa Maria. Mack picked up the win with a giant frog splash. ***1/4


Kaito Ishida has a new look. He’s gone from tights to biker shorts and has now adopted MaxiMuM-themed colors. He was the true standout in this match. With all of these young guys in the match, you’d have to think at least one guy would stand out, and that guy was Ishida. This was his most convincing performance in a while. He pinned Shachihoko BOY with a Tiger Suplex. **3/4


Look, KAI isn’t the worst wrestler to ever exist. He’s not good, but there are worse wrestlers in Japan. The problem is, though, he is nowhere near as good as the Dragon Gate roster. He’s a lower tier worker on the far inferior All Japan roster. He sticks out like a sore thumb. Something about the context of him on a Dragon Gate show just doesn’t look right. Unfortunately, it looks like he’ll be sticking around as he pinned the exiting Takagi with a rollup in this match I don’t want him in a typical heavyweight-centric puro promotion, so I certainly don’t want him here. ***1/4


We have to start with yet another rebranding for the heel unit. From the ashes of VeserK came Antias, and now Antias has become R.E.D. (Real Extreme Diffusion). Same colors we’ve seen atop the promotion for three years now, with the main difference being Shingo Takagi is nowhere to be found. Instead, their newest member, the “X” that has been teased for this match, was KAZMA Sakamoto. Boy, do I feel dumb for thinking this could be Shuji Kondo or PAC.

Sakamoto was a deflating addition to the group, but I can’t sit here and say that he was awful. He’s no better or worse than Yoshida. He adds muscle to the heel unit. One could argue that they now are a little too big, with Ben-K, Shimizu, Yoshida, and Sakamoto tossing around the juniors on the roster, but for now I will give it a shot. He held his own in this match, and his piledriver finisher looked devastating. I’m willing to give him more chances to shine.

I must also be fair. After dragging the way Punch Tominaga was used earlier in the month at Gate of Origin, he was used to perfection in this match as a pesky troll that eventually eliminated Big R Shimizu Mysterio-Orton-style. He soon ate the aforementioned piledriver from KAZMA. He killed it in this match.

The real star was Ben-K. He is proving that with just three years of experience, he is a main event player in Dragon Gate. He can hang with anyone on the roster. His only two eliminations were the last two, as he cut through Horiguchi with a vicious spear and then Ben-K Bombed Kzy with devastating force to pick up the victory. The opening portions of the match made it seem like Big R would be getting the rocket ship coming out of this match, but his momentum was halted perfectly by Tominaga, leaving Ben-K to be the necessary brute. This match is well worth your time. ****


Eita falls in his second defense of the Open the Brave Gate Championship. This is Dragon Kid’s fourth reign with the title.

Perhaps no match is more fitting of the “this was a mixed bag” treatment than what Dragon Kid and Eita brought to the table on this night in Tokyo. There was a lot of good in this match; clear character progressions, the cap to a long (and at times frustrating) feud, and a massive pop at the end which signals that at least for the short term, this was the right thing to do.

Eita’s character so often toes the line between very good heel and go-away heat. Ultimately, Eita was not put on this Earth to be a scumbag, anarchist heel. I know that as a babyface, Eita can soar to higher heights if he is motivated enough to do so. Eita bringing a barbed wire board to the ring in this match just felt so goofy. I know that’s not who he is and it irks me because it is safe to say that for an extended period of time now, it has not worked. Eita is not where he should be at this point in his career.

He is, however, a great foil to the super babyface that Dragon Kid has perfected over the years. When Eita Superkicked Dragon Kid out of the air to counter an Ultra Hurricanrana attempt late in the match, I fell in love with Eita all over again. That’s what I like to see. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes minutes before when he was tossed into the barbed wire board that he had brought out, but this Eita, the fast, cunning, ready-to-react Eita is what I like to see.

This clearly told a story that at times, was very engaging. My disdain for Eita’s current role cannot be overcome my spurts of really great action, and for that, I can’t call this a great match. This was a good match, however, with a few great moments. I support the decision to have Dragon Kid go over because if Dragon Gate is going to continue in the direction of Eita leading this group, he cannot hold a secondary title when he has two bonafide main eventers in the same unit as him (Shimizu and Ben-K).

Overall, this is not an essential spreadsheet-level match, but I can give it a thumbs up. Hopefully, this is the last singles match between the two for a long time. ***1/2


This match won’t cure all of Dragon Gate’s problems, but it felt great sitting back and enjoying a match to this degree.

Shun Skywalker is not a perfect wrestler. Far from it would be an understatement, honestly. In his past three televised matches, he’s had a relatively major botch in every one of those matches. I wish it was on basic chain grappling or forgetting to kick out, but all three of his botches have been on dives, and for an aerial-based wrestler,  that is no good.

His sloppiness might have helped create magic, though, after nearly face-planting from the top rope to the outside on a springboard dive gone array, Skywalker hit another gear. From that moment on, the match felt different. Mochizuki ramped up and found himself mentally ready for another “epic”, Skywalker began literally throwing himself at Hulk and YAMATO to try to secure the victory, and YAMATO and Hulk soon realized that they had better be on their A-game if they wanted to retain the Twin Gate belts.

YAMATO was quick to shift the momentum back into the champions’ favor, locking Mochizuki in an Ankle Lock. Hulk aided the effort by Superkicking the knee of Mochizuki whilst the Ankle Lock was still being applied. Skywalker came back into the fold at this point, Moonsault onto YAMATO, who had synched in the Ankle Lock and was now on his back applying pressure.

BxB Hulk would escape a series of thrilling roll-ups from Shun Skywalker, each one of them a little closer to getting the elusive three count, but they were all for not. It looked like Skywalker’s luck had run out when he was grabbed by YAMATO and lifted for the Galleria, but somehow, Skywalker kicked out of the finishing move that has put the biggest names on the roster down for the count. A First Flash/Galleria combination was not enough, either, as Mochizuki dove in to break up the count. It took a deadly First Flash from Hulk to finally put the youngster away.

This was as thrilling of a closing stretch as you’ll see all year. Shun Skywalker wanted so desperately to pick up the victory with Mochizuki. This would’ve been the 22-year-old’s first taste of gold in the wrestling industry, but unfortunately, he came just short. I don’t know if the general public will look down on Skywalker for being as sloppy as he was in this match, but the effort he put forth proved to me that Shun Skywalker is here to stay, and he can hang with the best that the Dragon Gate roster has to offer. Go watch this match. ****3/4


Somehow, Yoshino and Doi managed to have a match that mirrored my current emotions about the Dragon Gate product.

This match was not bad. Actually, I don’t have a problem calling it great. I just have to preface that it wasn’t bad because there are 10 minutes of dry-as-a-bone arm work. The moments before they begin wrenching arms and the finishing stretch after they get past wrenching arms is sublime. There is just a noticeable patch of boring that you must get through in the first quarter of this match. Much like the Dragon Gate product as a whole, there were times in this match that I was gasping with excitement and others where I was scratching my head, wondering how anyone could be enjoying this product.

For anyone simply parachuting in, Yoshino and Doi have a storied history together. Together, they make SpeedMuscle, one of the most exciting tag teams in the history of wrestling. Against each other, they tend to create average matches with one or two memorable spots. They just don’t have rock solid chemistry with one another. This was their 12th singles match with one another (with one taking place in DGUK and another in DGUSA), their first singles match in over two years, and their first title match against one another since November 2013.

The match started off really hot with Doi and Yoshino going for finishers early. Doi escaped a Torbellino, Yoshino squirmed out of Doi 555 and avoided a Bakatare Sliding Kick, and the two remained even through the opening sequence of the match. The arm work portion of the match began here, with Yoshino doing some damage on Doi in an attempt to soften him up for the Sol Naciente, but this was really a Doi-controlled stretch with him just sitting in some sort of a key lock for an extended period of time.

Once Yoshino made it back to his feet and clocked Doi with a tope suicida, the match found its groove once more. They called back to the opening sequence, this time with Yoshino hitting a Torbellino and soon locking Doi into the Sol Naciente. Doi was able to roll through and follow up his escape by smashing Yoshino’s face in with the Bakatare Sliding Kick, but that still wasn’t enough to beat the champion.

Doi had promised to debut a new finisher in this match, and in a sense, we got one as Doi used Yoshino’s own submission on him, the Sol Naciente, and for a brief second, I really thought Doi was going to beat his partner with his own move. That was all for not, however, as Yoshino got out of it, and moments later had Doi in a modified version of that submission, the Sol Naciente Kai, and that made Doi submit. ****1/4

I’m shocked at the result, but Dragon Gate is looking for stability is nothing is more stable than Masato Yoshino at the top of the card.

Final Thoughts:

Dangerous Gate was ultimately a win for Dragon Gate as they struggle to keep their head above water. No match on this show was bad, and I can safely call three of them great. This is the kind of action that I expect when I tune into a big Dragon Gate show, and after some lackluster matches at Dead or Alive, Kobe World, and for the sake of the narrative, Gate of Origin, it was great to see the entire roster firing on all cylinders tonight.

The next month for Dragon Gate will be very interesting. Shingo Takagi will officially exit the company, RED will unveil yet another new member, and once the calendar turns to November, Masato Yoshino will be forced to put his open the Dream Gate Championship on the line against Ben-K.

Thumbs up for Dangerous Gate. This entire show is worth watching.