DRAGONGATE
THE GATE OF ADVENTURE
AUGUST 12, 2020
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

DON FUJII, SUSUMU YOKOSUKA, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. HO HO LUN, KEISUKE OKUDA, & PROBLEM DRAGON 

Don Fujii has been bringing the hammer down since fans returned in early July. He’s been throwing bombs and rookies and veterans for a month and a half straight, and this time around, Keisuke Okuda was the main target on Fujii’s list. I hope we get a Fujii vs. Okuda match before Fujii decides to hang up the boots because Okuda’s trained violence mixed with Fujii’s off-the-cuff-approach is a delight. Okuda’s strength was not enough to bring his team to victory, however, as Problem Dragon ate a combined Jumbo no Kachi and John Woo dropkick from Yokosuka and Kanda followed by the Yokosuka Cutter for the pinfall. ***

Keisuke Okuda stormed out during the finish, abandoning his unit. Don Fujii attempted to continue the slaughter after the match by chokeslamming Problem Dragon from the middle rope, but Dragon escaped Fujii’s clutches and ran to the back. 

RYO SAITO DEF. KONOMAMA ICHIKAWA 

This match certainly existed. Whether you choose to watch it or not is up to you. This was only Ichikawa’s fifth event of 2020. The true iron man of Dragongate has had his easiest year ever. NR 

MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI & GAMMA DEF. KAZMA SAKAMOTO & TAKASHI YOSHIDA 

The unitless veterans scored a win over the R.E.D. behemoths thanks to Mochizuki’s speed and agility. It’s rare to see a match in which Mochizuki is positioned as the underdog, but Sakamoto and Yoshida are two of the few guys on the roster that are bigger and more imposing than the 50-year-old. Mochizuki constantly bounced off of the bigger bodies when he was the man in the ring, while his partner, Gamma, was merely there as a man to take offense from the two heels. With Gamma on the outside towards the end of the match Sakamoto and Yoshida were forced to deal with Mochizuki, who rolled up Yoshida for the victory. **3/4 

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DRAGON KID, NARUKI DOI, SHUJI KONDO, & ULTIMO DRAGON DEF. BEN-K, KZY, STRONG MACHINE J, & U-T 

U-T returned from a year-long absence due to a broken collarbone in May at an empty arena show in a singles match with Ultimo Dragon. U-T was set to make his triumphant return in front of fans on July 10 in his hometown of Nagoya, but a training injury set him back once again. Finally, for the first time since May 2019 in the midst of the King of Gate tournament and hot off the heels of the match of his career against Susumu Yokosuka at Dead or Alive 2019, U-T returned to action in front of a live audience. 

As he proved last year, U-T’s biggest obstacle remains his health. If he stays healthy, he has as much skill as anyone in his generation. He has in-ring skill on the level of Kaito Ishida and plucky, underdog charisma like Shun Skywalker. He held his own against Shuji Kondo. Their interactions were brief, but ultimately important as they battled each other in the closing stretch of the match. 

Kondo hair-whipped Kzy onto the body of U-T. Kzy was then immediately dropped with the Doi 555 onto U-T and then plastered with a Bakatare Sliding Kick, causing Doi to land a senton on U-T in the process. 20 years into his career and Naruki Doi is still innovating multi-man spots. 

Ben-K attempted to break up the Toryumon momentum, but Doi evaded his spear in the corner and Ben-K’s monstrous shoulder ate the steel post. U-T ran Doi off but was quickly put back in the clutches of Kondo. The big man swung wildly and missed with a King Kong Lariat but escaped U-T’s flash pin. Kondo reversed course and landed two King Kong Lariats on U-T, putting him down for good. 

U-T’s implementation to generational warfare can only be looked at as a positive. If he continues to have output like this, Dragongate’s terrific in-ring year will only improve. U-T being in the mix also provides an interesting opportunity for storytelling as he’s been marketed in the past as a lifelong Dragongate fan who greatly respects the Toryumon men who came before him. **** 

DIAMANTE, HYO, & KAITO ISHIDA DEF. DRAGON DIA, JASON LEE, & KOTA MINOURA 

R.E.D. was accompanied to ringside by a man in a green and yellow mask. 

The days of shielding my eyes when Diamante is on the screen are long gone. When he debuted in Dragongate a year ago, he was one of the worst imports the company had ever brought in. He was foisted into the heel group and worked as Ultimo’s main opponent. When he wasn’t doing the lucha basics with the legend, he was struggling to get by on the most elite roster in the world. 

Recently, he’s figured it out. He’s gone from primarily working with Ultimo to working with Dragon Dia, who has brought out the best in Diamante. Dia and Diamante tore it up in their opening sequence, reaffirming my stance that Dragon Dia is the most exciting man in wrestling and continuing Diamante’s evolution into becoming perfectly competent. 

New Twin Gate champions Lee and Minoura continue to look solid, but once more the focus of the match was put on the white-hot Brave Gate champion Kaito Ishida, who submitted Dragon Dia with the ankle lock for the win. Ishida becomes only the fourth man to pin Dia this year, following in the steps of his R.E.D. stablemates Eita and Shimizu, who pinned him in singles matches, and BxB Hulk, who pinned him in a tag match at the January Korakuen Hall show. 

For this match to be the semi-main event of a Korakuen Hall show cannot be understated. Dragongate is currently operating with all of their champions being under the age of 30. The man with the longest Dragongate tenure in this bout was Kaito Ishida, who’s only five years into his career and has missed time due to injury in the past. As Masato Yoshino prepares to exit the promotion after 20 years of dominance, Dragongate is more than prepared to build their next star. ***3/4 




ROAD TO DANGEROUS GATE SPECIAL SIX-WAY MATCH
BXB HULK, KAI, MASATO YOSHINO, EITA, & YAMATO DEF. BIG R SHIMIZU 

The Rules:

The six neutral corner turnbuckle will have the numbers 1-6 hidden at random inside of them. The match will be competed under survival rules, with pinfall, submission, and over the top rope in play. The competitors will be allowed to open a turnbuckle in the order that falls were scored during the match. (For example, Yoshino throws Eita over the rope as the first fall of the match. Yoshino has survived, and gets to pick first. Eita will continue in the match until he scores a fall). The number draw is the number where the competitor will enter the 9/21 steel cage match. In the event that a competitor does not score a fall during the match, they will automatically be assigned the number 6 position.

This was a strange match as the highest points of drama came in between the action when the wrestlers were drawing numbers from turnbuckles. The wrestling in this match was fine, inoffensive and ultimately effective as they accomplished getting over the story of this match, but still strange and perhaps lackluster to a non-regular viewer that isn’t as invested in the storyline. 

BxB Hulk was the first one to escape the match as he ducked a KAI clothesline by pulling down the top rope and sending him to the floor. KAI quickly recovered and rolled his tag team partner YAMATO up to survive the match. Yoshino rolled up Shimizu leading to his escape, then Eita managed to cause Shimizu to fly over the top rope, leading to a showdown between YAMATO and Shimizu. The big man took his third fall of the bout after getting choked out by YAMATO. Shimizu’s poor effort was a blessing in disguise, however, as with the “1” and “5” envelopes left to choose from, YAMATO drew “5”, giving him the second-worst odds to win the cage match. Shimizu, in defeat, won the long game. ***1/2 

Final Thoughts

Dragongate’s Gate of Adventure provides a long term build in a crisp, two hour show. The undercard is entirely skippable, but from the moment U-T and Shuji Kondo hit the ring, this show picks up in a big way. Matches 4 and 5 are essential for anyone that cares about this promotion in the long term and the main event is consequential for people following the promotion on a day-to-day basis. Thumbs up for Gate of Adventure 2020.