DRAGONGATE
KING OF GATE 2020 – NIGHT THREE
MAY 17, 2020
KOBE LAPIS HALL
KOBE, JAPAN

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

Dragongate’s King of Gate tournament trudges along for another year, this time without fans. Instead of spanning across two different Korakuen Hall dates and shots in Kobe Sambo Hall, Sapporo, and Osaka, these matches are confined to Dragongate’s home base, Kobe Lapis Hall, which is where their studio show Prime Zone is filmed.

KING OF GATE 2020 C BLOCK
BEN-K DEF. KAGETORA 

A heated finishing stretch saved this from being one of the weaker matches of the tournament. Nothing about this match was bad, but the former Dream Gate champion and Kagetora seemed to have constructed a match that would’ve worked in front of fans. Kagetora took control, Ben-K battled back, and then the match found its natural conclusion. That is all fine. The issue is that a match like this lives and dies on how a crowd would react to it, and with there being no crowd, Ben-K’s comeback felt like it was just another thing he had to do. It was a part of his process. He was going through the motions. 

The final minute of the match, as I mentioned, kicked things up a level. Kagetora diving over Ben-K’s spear attempt was a lovely piece of business and the mean right hand he threw towards the jaw of the former top dog in the company was an appropriate follow up. Kagetora’s luck only could last for so long. He ate a spear and was pinned promptly after that. **3/4 

KING OF GATE 2020 C BLOCK
EITA DEF. STRONG MACHINE J 

I panicked when I saw a duration of 20 minutes on the file. Strong Machine J is a fascinating project in the current landscape of Dragongate, but the idea of another one of his singles going that long after his December debacle with Ben-K gravely concerned me. Luckily, he was squared off against Eita, who represents a vastly different set of problems, but what I’ve learned is that Eita and Strong Machine J have really strong chemistry with one another. 

Similar to the opener, this is a match that clearly would’ve been elevated by a live crowd, but Strong Machine J was able to hold his own the entire match. Years from now, Strong Machine J is going to have a match that will blow our minds. He’s still so rough around the edges, but he’s also only a year into wrestling. It will all click for him eventually. How long that run of greatness will last, I fear to speculate. He could be a one-hit-wonder. He could become a top tier guy in the company. I honestly have no idea because there’s so much about him that feels unknown, but I know he has a really great singles match in him. If anything, this match gave me confidence in Strong Machine J’s future. He ate a Superkick by way of Eita, eliminating him from the tournament. ***


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KING OF GATE 2020 C BLOCK
KAZMA SAKAMOTO DEF. MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI 

Masaaki Mochiuzki’s style is the most adaptable to an empty arena environment on the Dragongate roster. Everything Mochizuki does is loud. His kicks register, his suplexes feel livelier, and the way he simply moves around the ring feels more calculated and cerebral than the rest of the roster. Pairing that against Sakamoto, a typically fine, if not very good wrestler at times, who was having what can delicately be put as “an off night”, made for a fascinating contest. 

Every time Mochizuki was in control, this match worked. I felt momentum building and I was engaged in what was happening. Sakamoto, while in control, was delivering strikes that looked poor or was terribly late on intercepting Mochizuki’s offense, mainly a kick to Mochizuki as he was trying to reenter the ring. I am the last person on Earth that wants to criticize strikes. I think it’s often a cop-out for not enjoying modern wrestling and on top of that it’s just a boring discussion to have, but Sakamoto needs to put some more heat on his right hand. I didn’t buy that it was doing any sort of damage to the Iron Man of Dragongate. 

Sakamoto won with his Package Piledriver after a hard-fought contest. Despite his wonky performance, to this point, it’s the best match of the night. This match never felt dull, while the prior two had to escape from behind the 8-ball because the match started off so dry. Sakamoto’s win is fine. I wish Mochiuzki would’ve gotten the victory, not only because I’d like to see him wrestle more, but I have a feeling Sakamoto’s win just spoiled the result of the main event for me. ***1/4 

KING OF GATE 2020 C BLOCK
DRAGON DIA DEF. TAKASHI YOSHIDA 

This was terribly predictable in execution, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. As soon as Sakamoto got the win against Mochizuki, I knew Dragon Dia would score a rollup win against Yoshida here. It’s how Dia has been handled for the past six months. Dia has ascended to nearly the top of the card in that time period and I’ve loved every second of it, but this booking almost felt too on the nose. If there’s any positive to take away from it, he beat Yoshida here instead of in the second round. That’s one less Yoshida match we all have to watch. **1/2 

FINAL THOUGHTS

King of Gate Night Three is the most skippable night of the opening round, but the booking on this show is the most consequential of the tournament so far. The next round of Block C will see a singles match between Ben-K and Eita and a singles match between Dragon Dia and Kazma Sakamoto. Both of those, on paper, sound very good. I’d like to think Eita wins, Dia wins, and then Eita beats Dia to take the block. I think that would be the most compelling route possible. 

King of Gate returns to the Dragon Gate Network on May 22 with Kzy vs. YAMATO and Diamante vs. Yosuke Santa Maria.