DRAGON GATE
FANTASTIC GATE
DECEMBER 18, 2018
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN

Translations: IHeartDG.com / Watch: Dragon Gate Network

KOTA MINOURA, KAGETORA, HIROSHI YAMATO, & SHACHIHOKO BOY DEF. DON FUJII, GAMMA, PROBLEM DRAGON, & RYO SAITO

Kota Minoura put the rest of his contemporaries on notice with a rollup win over Problem Dragon in this match. Minoura was less effective on offense than Kagetora or even Yamato during this match, but he made his moves count. After taking a beating from Fujii and Gamma, Minoura still had the presence of mind to roll up Dragon for the victory. This was a very fun opener, capped off by a surprise ending. Good stuff. ***

JASON LEE DEF. EITA

This was to add fuel to the fire between Eita and Dragon Kid for their upcoming Hair vs. Mask match at Final Gate. Jason Lee was constantly harassed by R.E.D. and their outside interference until Dragon Kid stepped in and began doing the same to Eita. Eita and Dragon Kid, however, let their rage boil over and the match became more focused on what those two were going to do to each other, instead of what Lee was going to do to Eita. Eita and Dragon Kid found themselves entangled with one another and throwing punches, and when the referee tried to break it up to keep the match going, Eita assaulted the ref.

This match felt very different than a usual DG undercard match. I liked this, though. It was just different enough to get the point across. It’s clear that DG has put a ton of stock in DK vs. Eita and they’re doing what they can to make a usually dead Fukuoka Final Gate crowd invested in this match. NR

KAITO ISHIDA & MASATO YOSHINO DEF. MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI & HYO WATANABE, YAMATO & U-T

I loved the way this match looked on paper with three unit leaders and their respective young boys. It took so long for the three youngsters in this match to gain momentum in Dragon Gate, but they have all found it, especially Kaito Ishida. I’m very close to reaching victory lap-territory with Ishida because I always knew he had the talent that was on display in this match, it was just a matter of how he was going to be able to channel it. Turns out, he just needed to change his look entirely.

This match acted as a preview for the DG rookies tournament coming up at the start of the new year with Ishida, Watanabe, and U-T taking shot after shot at one another. The tournament is exactly what Dragon Gate needs right now because it’s going to let some of these rookies separate themselves from one another. At this point, I’m expecting Ishida and U-T to be major players. They have more experience than the rest of the field and I don’t know if anyone is hotter on the roster currently that Ishida. He has finally found his groove, and he made that known by planting Watanabe with a Tiger Suplex to get the win here.

This match was awesome. Dragon Gate, of course, has nailed the triple threat tag match long before any other company, despite the abundance of them in the modern wrestling world. Go check this out. It’s well worth your time. ****1/4

“Ishida celebrated the win. Just like he said last month, this proves that he is ahead of the rest of the young generation. Shun managed to injure himself and he isn’t even here today. Stuff like that rules him out from ever being on top. As for U-T and his annoying submission crap, he should prepare himself to die under a barrage of kicks. U-T took offense and having his submissions mocked by someone who only knows how to kick and fluke into a Tiger Suplex. They will find out which one is better soon enough. Furthermore, he hates people who talk shit in Kansai dialect. Yoshino interjected and pointed out he speaks in Kansai dialect. Did U-T have a problem with him? Mochizuki brought up the crack U-T made about kickers last month which prompted YAMATO to warn him to think a little harder before he provokes people. He even got the notoriously level headed Yoshino angry. Hyo got frustrated. All of you are just talking nonsense. Yoshino, YAMATO, & Mochizuki all wondered who was included in that “All of you”. A brawl then broke out between Watanabe, Ishida, & U-T.” iheartdg.com

FLAMITA & BANDIDO DEF. PAC & DAGA

Dragon Gate is often unfairly categorized as a promotion full of spotfests and psychology-void matches. While I detest those labels and their association with this promotion, it is also exactly how I’d describe this match. These four went out there, tried some shit, and most of it stuck.

It’s truly a shame that Bandido is finished with Dragon Gate after Final Gate due to his new Ring of Honor commitments because he has really found his groove not only teaming with Flamita, but as a member of the Dragon Gate roster. He feels right at home flipping around with the likes of PAC and company.

Flamita planted Daga with a Flam Fly for the victory, which is surprising considering that PAC just won the Dream Gate title and that Bandido might be on his way out. I thought Bandido would be eating a Black Arrow for sure. Instead, Mexablood picked up another win as they head into their high-profile bout with SpeedMuscle at Final Gate. This was another very good match worth checking out. ***3/4  

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

Even this match delivered. I have loved Natural Vibes and their epic Triangle Gate run, but I haven’t been into this NV vs. R.E.D. scrubs Triangle Gate build. This match started off slow and was looking like it was going to kill the momentum that the rest of the show had built. It was far too much Yoshida tossing guys around and not enough of Kzy and Horiguchi evading the big man.

The fast-paced action that I was looking for finally came and this match turned into a very solid bout by the end. Horiguchi caught Yoshida in the Backslide From Heaven to steal a win from R.E.D’s big dogs. Kzy continues to look nearly invincible. He is doing no wrong right now, and quite honestly, it rules. With or without the Triangle Gate title, he’s going to have a huge 2019. ***1/2





DOI DARTS 2018 SPECIAL MATCH
KAI, DRAGON KID, K-NESS, BEN-K, & KAZMA SAKAMOTO DEF. NARUKI DOI, BXB HULK, “BROTHER” YASSHI, DRAGON DIA, & YUKI YOSHIOKA

The annual Doi Darts match was another bizarre hodgepodge of talent, storylines, and results. Most of the match was built around Dragon Dia, who was forced to take a beating from Kazma Sakamoto, then a beating from his mentor Dragon Kid, and then a beating from his mentor’s rival K-Ness, all before being nearly split in half by a Ben-K spear. I thought this match would be his version of El Lindaman’s 2015 Doi Darts match, in which Lindaman picked up the pinfall and gained a ton of momentum going into the new year, but that was not the case. He fought back but was clearly treated as a lower tier member of the roster.

Dragon Kid did come out of this match looking great and motivated for his Final Gate fight. He’s an all-time underrated wrestler. He’s been in good match after good match since 1999, and more often than not seems to find a way onto my MOTYC list by being a focal point of a tag team or six-man match. His career is clearly about to transition into a new chapter with the addition of Dia to the roster, but he’s not exactly slowing down. He showed in this match that he can still go when he needs to.

The winner of this match was KAI, which is more puzzling than it is troubling, but it’s still a bit of both. It’s Doi Darts, so who cares, but seeing KAI gets his hand raised is always going to make me second guess my life choice of following Dragon Gate intently. This match didn’t have the same pace that most Doi Darts matches do, and I put a lot of that on him (and some on Sakamoto) for simply being unable to keep up with the traditional DG pace. He wasn’t bad, but like I’ve said before, he’s not a Dragon Gate wrestler. ***3/4

“KAI closed out the final Korakuen Hall of 2018 with a win over Hulk. Hulk is one of the top stars of Dragon Gate, so KAI sees no reason to stop there. He has appeared on one show or so per month since August. He wants to build on that, take his own spot on top and become the man of the year.
Doi reminded him that Dragon Gate wasn’t just BxB Hulk. There was YAMATO, Yoshino, Naruki Doi. There were still capable veterans and hungry rookies. If KAI wanted to carve himself out a spot he was welcome.” iheartdg.com

Final Thoughts:

This show had one great match and a lot of very good matches. I implore all of you to check out the triple threat tag, but if you have the time, this whole show is worth the watch. They do a great job of building to the Final Gate main event and the Triangle Gate match, and the rest of the show felt like an authentic Dragon Gate Korakuen show of old. Thumbs up for Fantastic Gate 2018.