DRAGON GATE

GATE OF ORIGIN

SEPTEMBER 1, 2019

SENDAI SUN PLAZA – SENDAI, JAPAN

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

KAITO ISHIDA & JASON LEE DEF. HYO WATANABE & KEISUKE OKUDA

Hey, what else is new? Kaito Ishida and Keisuke Okuda are still on the verge of murdering each other via any number of submission holds. The great thing about this is that we’re going to see this exact match again in just a few days at Korakuen Hall. I can’t look away from Ishida and Okuda when they’re in the ring these days, whether it’s against one another or another member of the Dragon Gate roster. With Masaaki Mochizuki approaching 50, there has to be questions about how long the Ironman of Dragon Gate can continue his dominance. If he decides to ever take a step back, I trust that Ishida and Okuda can fill his role of the grumpy, kick-that-smug-look-off-your-face bastard that Mochizuki has played for so many years. Ishida planted Okuda with a bridging German suplex for the victory. ***1/2 

RYO SAITO WINS A 12 MAN BATTLE ROYAL 

This was not a good use of time. It has been years since Dragon Gate has aired a battle royal on TV (I don’t think I’ve reviewed one and I’ve reviewed nearly every show since 2015). This match featured Ryo Saito, Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, Jimmy, Martin Kirby, Gamma, K-Ness, “brother” YASSHI, Problem Dragon, Kazma Sakamoto, Takashi Yoshida, & Yasushi Kanda and the only real highlight was Jimmy diving over the top rope to land a dive, but by proxy, eliminate himself. I hope this does not become a regular feature on the card. *1/2 

MEIKO SATOMURA, CHISAKO DASH, CHIHIRO HASHIMOTO DEF. NANAE TAKAHASHI, YOSUKE SANTA MARIA, & STALKER ICHIKAWA

It’s not often that Stalker Ichikawa works over 10 minutes. He put his working boots on against the stars from Sendai Girls, however, in what turned out to be a great showcase for the hometown joshi group. There would never be a good reason for Meiko Satomura to work full time in Dragon Gate, but I’d really love to see it. She rocks whenever she shows up. 

Ichikawa, as the match went past the 10 minute mark, began to get frazzled and eventually grabbed a chair, swinging it everywhere as soon as he had the chance to. Ichikawa connected with no one but himself, hitting the chair on the top rope and then bouncing it back into his skull. Chihiro Hashimoto covered him right afterwards. ***1/4 

PUNCH TOMINAGA, KZY, & SUSUMU YOKOSUKA DEF. EITA, BIG R SHIMIZU, & DIAMANTE 

R.E.D. had a chance to win this match. Their game plan from the opening bell was to target Punch Tominaga and they executed that plan to perfection. Tominaga was out of gas by the time Shimizu put him in his clutches for the Shot-Put Slam. Shimizu connected, then at the count of two, lifted Tominaga’s shoulders off the mat. Instead of finishing off the weakest link of the roster with the most dreaded finisher in the company, R.E.D. decided that they wanted to embarrass Tominaga. Eita slid in the ring with a chair, but his attempt to attack Tominaga was initially thwarted by referee Yagi. 

Yagi was then attacked by R.E.D. before they turned their attention back to Tominaga. As Eita began to reign blows to the back of Punch, the referee called for a DQ. This match was already drifting in the middle of the road, not really that good but not bad, but the finish made me feel like I wasted my time, which is not what this show needed. 

I would be okay with the Natural Vibes and R.E.D. feud continuing, but I don’t want Tominaga to become the focus of the feud. We’ve seen Punch vs. Eita before and it has never and will never be any good. ***

MASATO YOSHINO & NARUKI DOI DEF. BEN-K & SHUN SKYWALKER 

It was nearly three years ago that Masato Yoshino was sidelined with an injury that we thought may end his career. The prevailing rumor at the time was that Yoshino and Doi, who had struck up a partnership yet again after Doi was ousted from VerserK, were going to split up once again, this time with Masato Yoshino turning on Doi and in the process, turning heel for the first time since 2008 when Muscle Outlawz ended. Instead, Yoshino was taken out of action with an injury that was initially suspected to take him out of action for at least a year. Amazingly, he returned to the ring three months later and with such a heroic return, any plans to have him turn heel were cancelled. 

I mention this not because I’m flirted with the idea of doing a “what if Yoshino never got injured?” TEW save, but because this was one of the rare instances over the past decade in which Yoshino worked as a clear heel. 

I loved the fact that SpeedMuscle challenged Skywalker in this match and only attacked Ben-K when the opportunity was right. This was about attempting to beat down Skywalker to prove that he’s not on the main event level. When Yoshino was too busy glaring into the camera to do any moves, Doi was there, pounding Skywalker into the mat. 

As I stated previously, Ben-K was put in the background of this match, which is not a bad thing given that him in the ring with a heel Yoshino and Doi could’ve made for an awkward power dynamic. Ben-K came in and did some big spots, but that was plenty. Skywalker was the focus, and as a result, he was the one that took the pin via Bakatare Sliding Kick right before the 20 minute mark. ***3/4 

DRAGON GATE 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION SERIES 

YAMATO, BXB HULK, KAGETORA, & KAI DEF. DRAGON KID, GREAT SASUKE, JINSEI SHINZAKI, & ULTIMO DRAGON 

There is no denying the spectacle of this match. Ultimo, Sasuke, and Shinzaki represent a certain era of wrestling that is long gone and is never coming back. The fact that those three, after all they’ve gone through, can still lace up their boots and perform at this level, is incredible. However, the law of diminishing returns has set in for Ultimo Dragon in Dragon Gate, and I’m afraid that instead of exiting the joyride while there’s still time to escape safely, Dragon Gate and Ultimo are going to drive this run into the ground. 

This match was good. It was certainly wasn’t embarrassing. Every legend in this match had a great showing and every normal member of the DG roster put on their working boots to try to make this match something special. It just lacked the “oomph” that it needed to be truly great. By this point, the Sendai crowd had seen a barely passable show, and even the legends couldn’t get the crowd to come unglued the way that I would’ve hoped. 

The highlight of the match, much like the rest of the Ultimo run, was him teasing the Asai Moonsault, only for someone to pull him off the apron (this time it was KAI). That spot rules. I buy into it every time. I can’t wait for Ultimo to hit the moonsault, but I fear that once he’s done that, he’ll have done everything that he can possibly do in this company. 

I thought for sure we’d see the legends grab the victory, but instead YAMATO caught Dragon Kid at a moment of weakness and planted him with the Ragnarok, a move he’s been using much more than he usually does lately, for the victory. A strange result. The crowd seemed surprised by this. I know I certainly was. I was hoping Kagetora would be there to take a slew of finishers. I certainly thought it was building to that. He had more in-ring time than anyone else on his team and for his current standards, was working very hard. Alas, Dragon Kid was the fall post this evening. ***1/2 

Final Thoughts:

This show happened. That’s putting it generously. Gate of Origin 2019 was a rare instance in which the Dragon Gate output was less than serviceable. This show was veering into bad show territory before the final two matches, one of which was very good, the other of which was a worthwhile spectacle. However, I can’t recommend anyone going out of their way to see any of this. It happened, and I look forward to moving on immediately after this review is posted.