MAY 31, 2020

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.


The winner of this Battle Royal will go on to earn a spot in the semi-finals of the tournament. This is a tradition that dates back to the first El Numero Uno in 2001. 

This was very well done. The clip on Dragon Gate Network started with the members of the roster reaching into some sort of ballot box and pulling out a piece of paper. The slips of paper determined whether or not they were in the match. Guys like Susumu Yokosuka, KAI, and YAMATO did not make the cut. 

Ben-K was the first to go over the top rope as HYO caught him leaning. Jason Lee’s chances were ended by a brutal looking Shot-Put Slam and a pin. Dragon Dia’s miracle run came to an end as after he rolled up HYO with the Reptilian Rana, Shimizu ran over and flipped the pin with his weight on top of HYO to eliminate the prodigy. It came down to Shimizu, Maria, and Doi. Maria, in a last-ditch effort to survive, countered a Shot-Put Slam with her Neraiuchi to pin Doi. Maria got caught up celebrating and it gave Doi an easy opportunity to throw her over the top rope and win. 

Other than Kzy vs. YAMATO, this was probably the most digestible match of the tournament. Everyone hit their spots, the action flowed, and the match was compact. I have been outspoken in my apathy for Dragongate’s battle royals over the last nine months, but this was a major success. 


I mentioned on the most recent episode of the Open the Voice Gate podcast that this match would not only do a good job of telling us what U-T’s role in the company is, it will also let us know where Ultimo’s head is at. A few years ago, Ultimo could’ve used this as an opportunity to eat up the youngster and steal his shine in his return match. While Ultimo did indeed win this match, I found none of his posturing or offense to be offensive. He was simply better than U-T in the layout of this match, which, for as much as it might disappoint me, makes sense. 

U-T has been out for an entire year now. His last match was May 25, 2019, in the midst of his most successful run as a performer. He was every bit as good as Shun Skywalker, Kzy, or whoever else your workrate clubhouse leader might’ve been last year. His injury was untimely and unfortunate. He looked healthy in this match. Nothing he did popped off the screen, but in an empty arena, grappling-centric match, few things will. The fact that U-T is back for when shows open up to fans again is the real win here, despite the fact that he tapped to a Mexican Stretch. ***1/4 


A simplistic approach to today’s show worked for Dragongate. A quick-paced Battle Royal and a return match for one of DG’s most exciting competitors makes King of Gate Night Eight worth watching. 

The action returns on June 6 with the semi-finals of the tournament, as well as the debuts of Madoka Kikuta and Sora Fujikawa.