DRAGON GATE
FANTASTIC GATE
DECEMBER 4, 2018
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: Dragon Gate Network

K-NESS, DEF. PROBLEM DRAGON

Technically a dark match, I think this match would’ve been better left in the dark. This was slow and clunky. Perhaps the years and years of injuries have finally caught up the K-Ness, because this was a bummer to watch. **

RYO SAITO, DON FUJII, GAMMA, & SUPER SHISA DEF. BXB HULK, KAGETORA, YAMATO, & DRAGON DIA

Super Shisa is back, baby. This was his first match in Tokyo since December 2015. He grappled with Kagetora, and somehow, even 20 years into his career, he’s still as good on the mat as ever.

Dragon Dia continues to look good, albeit unpolished. He ate the fall after taking a SaiRyo Rocket from Saito, who continues trucking along with Don Fujii in what seems like a pretty permanent fixture on the undercard now. This is worth watching to see Super Shisa in action. **1/2

YUKI YOSHIOKA, MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI, HYO WATANABE, & KOTA MINOURA DEF. NARUKI DOI, JASON LEE, HIROSHI YAMATO, & KAITO ISHIDA

This was awesome. On paper, the match looked like it was going to be a chance for the youngsters to shine. That was accomplished to an extent, but Mochizuki and Jason Lee put on a wrestling clinic with one another. They wrestled in a singles match a few days prior, a match that is receiving rave reviews, and they picked up where they left off here. Lee has been such an incredible addition to the Dragon Gate roster. I hope he stays forever.

Yoshioka scored the fall over Ishida with a wacky pinning combination that has yet to be named. Yoshioka, Watanabe, and Minoura left this match looking better than when they entered. For the first time in ages, perhaps since before Over Generation was a thing, an entire class of youngsters is starting to look really strong. Highly recommended, simply to look at the future of the DG roster. ***1/2

SHUN SKYWALKER VS. U-T – DRAW

This was the 2018 equivalent of Big R Shimizu vs. Takehiro Yamamura. This was the match that I desperately wanted Skywalker to have, and the match that I didn’t know U-T could have.

Skywalker has been on the verge of a horrible accident since he debuted in the company. He’s a big guy that does big moves, and on occasion, it has almost resulted in big mistakes. Skywalker put it all together in this match. He’s spent so much time learning from Mochizuki, both as a member of Dojo Mochizuki and through their time in the All Japan Jr Tag League, and it seemed so obvious in this match that Skywalker is now capable of breaking out in a big way. His offense was brutal in this match. He had control of his body for maybe the first time ever, and it was awesome to watch.

U-T, before adopting a llave-based approach to wrestling, was a waste of space. This guy never moved my needle. He never entertained me. I was ready for him to go away. He’s now one of my favorite wrestlers, and this was easily the best match of his career. U-T rocked in this match, catching Skywalker with various submissions at will. He looked as confident as he ever has and there were points in this match when he looked like a killer.

I’m perfectly okay with this match ending in a 20-minute draw because it didn’t feel like 20 minutes. These two easily had another five minutes in them. The opener with Super Shisa and the young guy tag were recommended because they were fun, but this is getting a recommendation because it was GREAT. Go watch this match. ****1/4

“After U-T vs. SSW, Mochizuki told Shun that while the fan reaction was incredibly positive, if there had been a decision after the draw he thinks SSW would have lost. How he decides to handle that is up to him. As for U-T, he isn’t the biggest fighter but he showed today how effort and sheer will can even the odds” IHeartDG.com







DRAGON KID, BANDIDO, & FLAMITA DEF. BEN-K, DAGA, & EITA

Yes, more good stuff right here. Flamita and Bandido found their footing in Dragon Gate very quickly, but the same hasn’t been said about Daga. This felt like the first time Daga has really shown his worth in Dragon Gate as he battled his fellow luchadores in this bout. Daga was on point for the first time this tour and he showed me that he’s capable of hanging with some of Dragon Gate’s top dogs, should he come back for a future tour.

Bandido continues to crush it. In this match, he gut-wrenched Ben-K and tossed him from side-to-side, just like Ben-K has done with so many men throughout his career. I’m not sure how they’re doing it (and I’m not sure I want to know), but Flamita and Bandido beefing up has added an entirely new layer to their personas. I am all about beefcake Flamita and deadweight-lifting Bandido.

Of course, the majority of this match was built around Dragon Kid and Eita, who have a Hair vs. Mask match coming up at the end of the month. They are finally working with the necessary intensity needed for a blood feud, and with that, their interactions have become enjoyable once more. Dragon Kid rolled up Eita for the victory to give him some momentum as he heads into Final Gate, which will go down as one of the most important matches of his career. ***3/4

KAZMA SAKAMOTO, BIG R SHIMIZU, TAKASHI YOSHIDA, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. KZY, GENKI HORIGUCHI, SUSUMU YOKOSUKA, & PUNCH TOMINAGA

This was probably the weakest match on the show other than the dark match, simply because it lacked novelty or intrigue. It was a fine match that saw the ugly side of R.E.D. overpower Natural Vibes in a relatively entertaining way. This was all about getting Sakamoto over, as he, Yoshida, and Kanda will be challenging for the Triangle Gate titles at Final Gate. Nothing to see here if you’re pressed for time. ***1/4

OPEN THE DREAM GATE CHAMPIONSHIP
PAC DEF. MASATO YOSHINO

After four successful defenses of the title, Masato Yoshino’s luck ran out as he fell to PAC in a valiant effort. PAC is now the first British-born Open the Dream Gate Champion, and the first gaijin to hold the title since Ricochet beat Masato Yoshino in 2014.

While the crowd was not red hot for this match, or at least as hot as I was hoping for, PAC and Yoshino went out there and delivered a sublime version of Dragon Gate’s “epic” match style.

Things started off quicker than they usually do as PAC, with a sickening smile etched across his face, attacked Yoshino in the midst of his national anthem being played. PAC took control early on in a way that still seems so shocking, considering who he was last time he was with the promotion. The R.E.D. influence bursts through in his offense as he spent the opening minutes throwing Yoshino into stacks of chairs and jawing with the crowd.

Yoshino had moments of momentum in this match, but he could never sustain it. He went to hit a middle rope Slingblade on PAC, and PAC backflipped out of it and powerbombed Yoshino into oblivion. He tried to lock PAC in the Sol Naciente, but PAC, once again, powerbombed Yoshino into the canvas. Even when PAC finally locked in the Sol Naciente, it seemed to exhaust the champion more than it did the challenger.

The Sol Naciente that PAC broke by putting his foot on the rope was the last chance Yoshino had. Once PAC escaped, Yoshino was gassed. The Newcastle native was in better shape than the champion, and 20 minutes into the match, PAC landed a Black Arrow for the win.

PAC has drastically changed the course of Dragon Gate since his return in October, and I firmly believe that he is changing Dragon Gate for the better.

It’s not often that in today’s Dragon Gate, the crowd gets a 20-minute singles match in the main event. I thought they used their time to perfection, both guys bumped their asses off, and the finish was more than satisfying. This was great pro wrestling. ****

“After his win, he reminded everyone that he has been saying that R・E・D controls Dragon Gate. Now that he controls the Dream Gate, maybe people will start paying attention. Eita told Yoshino that he lost today for two very simple and clear reasons. 1 – PAC is unbeatable. 2 – Because he is in a unit with Dragon Kid! MaxiMuM is finished. The show is over. R・E・D was ready to leave so they could hit their music…Doi was fine with playing their music so they could leave, but the show wasn’t over. There were two main events today and it was time for Doi Darts 2018!

The match that was selected to main event the 12/18 Korakuen Hall show is: Dragon Kid, K-ness., Ben-K, Kazma Sakamoto, KAI vs. BxB Hulk, “brother” YASSHI, Yuki Yoshioka, Naruki Doi, Dragon Dia.

GM Yagi also revealed that there would be a major announcement made at the 12/18 Korakuen Hall show.” IHeartDG.com

Final Thoughts:

Jump back onto Dragon Gate’s ship before it sails away again and you are left asking “how can I jump back in?” or “what show do I need to watch to know what’s happening?” THIS IS THE SHOW. WATCH THIS SHOW.

The young guys shined on the undercard, one match wildly over delivered, while two others were pacesetters for the upcoming PPV, and the show ended with a new Dream Gate champion. This is what I want from my Dragon Gate. This show felt fresh, yet familiar. The faces are new, but the feeling is the same. This show was why I love Dragon Gate. Two thumbs up. Watch this show from top to bottom. I just loved it.