DRAGONGATE
DANGEROUS GATE 2020
SEPTEMBER 21ST, 2020
OTA CITY GENERAL GYMNASIUM, TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

MEET OUR PREVIEWERS:

  • Mike Spears (@fujiiheya): Co-host of Open the Voice Gate and Everything Elite. Would usually have something really pithy and witty to put here, but have been spending all my energies on putting a Mochizuki/Fujii/Kondo Triangle Gate team out in the universe.
  • Case Lowe (@_InYourCase): Still not a Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame voter despite covering Dragongate diligently for five years on this site. I’m also still not a player, I just crush a lot. Co-host of the Open the Voice Gate podcast.
  • Jon Hernandez (@fatmansalright): Alright, awesome, I’m on another Dragongate preview. The three of us, getting the gang back together to preview another big show. Me and the Open The Voice Gate guys just g— hey where are you guys going? (If I may plug something, check out a very special and cool record I got to work on that’s rolling out this month here)

Open the Brave Gate Championship Match
Kaito Ishida (c) vs. Yosuke♡Santa Maria

Mike: It’s a shame that as a byproduct of 2020, Kaito Ishida has been ignored throughout the wrestling world. After winning the Brave Gate in his hometown in 2019, Ishida’s put together a top tier Brave reign that should be looked back at in the same light as great runs like PAC’s 11-defense reign and the quality of Akira Tozawa’s “eternal” reign. Next up in his legacy is a defense against Yosuke Santa Maria. Given that Maria’s either an underdog or a comedy figure, Ishida demanded that this defense opens Dragongate’s first S Tier show of the year. And a storyline like that plays right into Maria’s strengths, who I long have considered much more of a better character and wrestler when being an underdog babyface. 

On a normal DG big show, this would be the sleeper match of the night, however, we live in a world where Kzy has a singles match and he’s made his mark in those. If this is given time and RED schtick is kept to a minimum, this can be the beginning to a Show of the Year contender. As we approach a full year with Ishida as Brave champion, there’s a natural inclination to look for a new champion. I don’t think that night is here yet, however, there are worse people to put the belt on other than Maria. Still think Ishida retains. Prediction: Kaito Ishida

Case: Assuming we get a proper blow-off to the feud, there will be no better storyline in wrestling this year than the continued violence between Kaito Ishida and Keisuke Okuda. Their war has stretched far beyond matters concerning the Open the Brave Gate Championship and has seeped into a deeply personal, troubling rivalry. Given how strange this year has been, it’s easy to forget that away from Okuda, Kaito Ishida has been an excellent champion (despite only defending the title three times) and is closing in on a year as Brave Gate champion, something that only PAC has done as Dragon Kid fell one day short of a year as champion in 2012-2013. Ishida’s reign has proven to me that he can only go up from here. Once he puts the white strap behind him, he’ll be on his way to becoming a future Dream Gate champion. That will have to wait, however, as after seeing him take a flash pin from Maria on the 9/13 Osaka show, I have no doubts that Ishida is retaining his title here. Hopefully, he resumes his chaotic rivalry with Okuda after this. Prediction: Kaito Ishida 

Jon: Yosuke Santa Maria has two modes. She can lean into comedy, just as likely to batter an opponent’s face with her ass as with her fists. She can also crank things up, playing as fierce and violent an underdog as you’ll find. The prior is why this will open the show, Ishida deriding Maria as a “comedy wrestler” and deeming her worthy only of the opening slot. The latter is why this match is can’t-miss. At the 9/9 Korakuen show, she made her claim for the belt in somber, low tones without so much as a smile; she’s not showing up at Ota City to kiss. 

Her opponent, Kaito Ishida, only operates in one gear: kick. His nearly year-long Brave Gate reign comes with a COVID-shaped asterisk next to it, but match-for-match has supplied rippers that rival the run of his predecessor, Susumu Yokosuka. As the others said, we’re all waiting for Ishida and Okuda to spark things up again, but until then this’ll do just fine.   Prediction: Kaito Ishida

Yasushi Kanda, Kagetora, Gamma & Ho Ho Lun vs. Keisuke Okuda, Problem Dragon, Punch Tominaga, U-T

Mike: Normal circumstances dictate that this would be the “get everyone else on the show” opener. With 2020 and Ishida demanding to open, it gets pushed up a spot, but I fully believe this match will serve that purpose. You’ve got folks who don’t make televised shows for weeks at a time (Kanda, Lun, Dragon, Tominaga), people who just take it easy (Gamma), and folks with weary injury histories that make you want to not rely on them (Kanda, U-T, Dragon). And then you have “The Most Interesting Man in Wrestling,” Keisuke Okuda.

In a year of a three-way war, one of its longest-lasting battles is between Okuda and Kaito Ishida. What originally started as a feud for the Brave Gate has spiraled out of control, and in recent months Ishida has tried to recruit Okuda to join R.E.D. and Okuda, a man of zero chill, has zero patience for anyone within the Dragongate Army. As he’s the most featured player in this match, I suspect he will be scoring the fall. If that doesn’t happen (and he’s leading a team where that certainly is in doubt given Problem Dragon and Punch Tominaga), I hope he flips out again and maybe punches Tominaga in the face for being Punch Tominaga. Prediction: Okuda, Dragon, Tominaga & U-T

Case: Speaking of Okuda, I’m sure he hates his life here. He’s teaming with some absolute dorks. U-T is very talented but Okuda has been teaming with Ben-K as of late. He’s taking a drastic step down the card with this match. I don’t see any way a team with Tominaga, Problem Dragon, and a pissed off Okuda win. This has Kanda success written all over it. Prediction: Yasushi Kanda, Kagetora, Gamma, & Ho Ho Lun 

Jon: Listen, this match is almost certainly going to center around Keisuke Okuda, but I’m not sure there’s anything that hasn’t already been said in this preview to further drive home how much Okuda rules, and how much we wish he has doing anything other than this match. What we haven’t talked about enough yet, is how grateful we should all be that U-T’s returned from injury, and how we should cherish every moment we get with him before he breaks himself again. Before he went down he was probably the most exciting dude on the DG roster in 2019, and I’ve been giggling and clapping like a stupid toddler at all of his output since he returned at last month’s Korakuen. Really try to breathe it all in when he starts snagging those roll-ups, tijeras and cobra stretches from out of thin air, because really, it’s going to be sweet relief from whatever the hell the rest of this match is.   Prediction: DQ, Keisuke Okuda is going to murder somebody. 

Ultimo Dragon, Shuji Kondo & Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Don Fujii, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito

Mike: When Ultimo Dragon returned to the Dragon System full-time, long time viewers were wary. When he was more hands-on with Toryumon, the promotion became a drastically different company, and one that a lot of viewers disliked. I’m happy to say that we lucked out and Ultimo has mostly been around the start of the show inconsequential tag matches, often tagging with his opponents in this match. Same is the story with Mochizuki, as he is a WAR product, he’s stayed out of the generational war.

The wrestler that’s returned to the Dragon System and that has been better than any of our dreams was the returning Shuji Kondo, who joined the promotion after Wrestle-1 closed and when Dragongate started shows in front of crowds in July. Gone is the going through the motions Wrestle-1 Kondo. He maybe 42 years old and approaching his 20th anniversary, but the power fighter of the Toryumon 2000 Project has been wrestling like someone fifteen years younger. I wonder what their big plans are for Kondo, he’s shown great chemistry with the roster and he’s a giant looming presence in every match. The other team are a bunch of jokesters that lead me to believe that this is a match that will be played for laughs versus a hot fight. Prediction: Dragon, Kondo & Mochizuki

Case: Lately, Don Fujii and Shuji Kondo have created an incredible tag team that primarily bullies the class of 2020 rookies on the roster. Kondo has been reinvigorated since returning home to Dragongate in July and Don Fujii, for whatever reason, has upped his effort drastically since fans returned to the buildings. Had Fujii swapped roles with Mochizuki, I think this could’ve been a sneaky good match. As it stands, however, we’re likely going to get a lot of inoffensive, albeit uninspiring comedy. I don’t blame them. These six guys are old, they deserve an easy pay day, but given how good Fujii and Kondo have been lately, this is a bit of a bummer of a match.  Prediction: Ultimo Dragon, Shuji Kondo, & Masaaki Mochizuki 

Jon: I think I might have higher hopes for this one. Sure, there’ll be stretches played for laughs (two or three minutes will be dedicated to the SaiRyo Rocket, can’t wait) but there’s a little more to mine from this lineup. Saito and Mochizuki (here on a night off from the NOAH N1 tournament) have shown a willingness to turn on the jets at recent Korakuen and Edion stops, and maybe they’ve saved their best stuff for Dangerous Gate? While Don Fujii’s always liable to take a night off, this month’s shows have seen him happily bumping around for Jimmy and pulling out avalanche top-rope chokeslams. Genki’s good for a hot closing stretch every time out, and Shuji Kondo has had an impossible run of fantastic matches ever since returning to Dragongate, his gear seemingly sprouting more tassels with each appearance. I think we’re in for a good time here, no matter how hard Ultimo Dragon tries to stop us.   Prediction: Ultimo Dragon, Shuji Kondo & Masaaki Mochizuki. 

Special Singles Match
Naruki Doi vs. Kzy

Mike: If we lived in just times where people are recognized for their accomplishments, Kzy would be a contender for the Most Outstanding Wrestler on Earth for the year 2020. But we don’t. Instead, we are getting a rematch of the current DG Match of the Year as the special singles match on this big show. Someone also who deserves to live in a just world is Naruki Doi, who had his excellent Dream Gate reign cut off at the knees by The Thing. So it’s fitting, in my mind, that they are running back their 2/7/2020 Dream Gate match.

I don’t know what Doi gains by winning this match. He is Mr. Ota City as he made his mark on the Dangerous Gate shows. He’s probably not getting a Dream Gate rematch with Eita in the near future, and probably will be tied into whatever Masato Yoshino does for his retirement. Doi’s still nominally the leader of the Toryumon Generation, but clearly is in a booking holding pattern until everything around him gets sussed out. Kzy’s been booked looking like a world-beater, and the win here could propel him into getting his second Dream Key in a year, and potentially his first Dream Gate reign. If you are someone who parachutes into DG for the good stuff, this is it. Prediction: Kzy

Case: There are two possibilities here: either Kzy wins and becomes a future Dream Gate challenger (and possible winner). If he loses, I think he becomes the new R.E.D. demon that is set to unmask at the October Korakuen. I think the more likely result is Kzy winning. He’s already dropped a fall to Doi this year, and he pinned Doi last year in King of Gate. Kzy is on his level. Here’s a chance for Kzy to become a top-level, top tier guy. This could easily be the match of the night. Prediction: Kzy

Jon: This really is the match, isn’t it? Kzy and Doi have been fireworks in the leadup to this, sometimes making me want to check if my stream actually sped up when the two have made contact. Their February title match was a total banger, but in a lot of ways, this one feels more interesting to me. Doi is fresh off of a fantastic reign that re-elevated him from background veteran to the top of the mountain, and until he settles back into whatever his role will be in Yoshino’s road to retirement, he’s still the boss of the Toryumon Generation. Kzy is here in a prominent singles match without a title – a role they’ve repeatedly stuck him in going back to his bout with Shun Skywalker at last year’s Kobe World. Since the dissolution of Natural Vibes, decked out in the DG generation’s regal gold/black and a grown-up haircut, Kzy is looking every bit the main event talent he’s presented himself as in-ring for years. Kzy’s going to win this match in a show-stealer, and whatever he’s onto next is going to be huge. One other thing: This time they’re free of the double-edged sword that is the Dream Gate and the customary slower pace that comes with it. They can do whatever the hell they want out there. Prediction: Kzy

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Open the Triangle Gate Championship Match
Ben-K, Strong Machine J & Dragon Dia (c) vs. Takashi Yoshida, Kazma Sakamoto & Diamante

Mike: One of the strengths of Dragongate’s booking brain trust is that they don’t have to hit you over the head with something to make it into a storyline. Sometimes if you have something happen enough in matches, then it turns into a really compelling angle. This is the case with Dragon Dia vs R.E.D. Since last year, Dragon Dia has been on an absolute tear and is one of the breakout stars in all of wrestling. He’d pick up win after win and people couldn’t stop him. That was until King of Gate where R.E.D. figured him out. Since then, every member of R.E.D. has scored a direct fall on the youngest Dragon. Against all other competition, Dragon Dia is unstoppable, but he just is in this tremendous slump against the rudos. This is a hump he has not been able to get over and comes into full focus with this Triangle Gate match.

This R.E.D. challenger team, or the Goons as I’ve been calling them, is not a serious contending team without that storyline. You’ve got Kazma Sakamoto, who’s being legit great in DG and don’t let someone tell you otherwise but is still a freelancer, Diamante, perhaps the most improved wrestler in 2020 and the biggest testament towards if you’re a wrestler and want to get better get to Kobe, Japan and another freelancer and gaijin on top of that, and Takashi Yoshida, who doesn’t make every televised show and is a shell of what he was. This would be a slam dunk easy defense if it wasn’t for Dia’s struggles against R.E.D. and Strong Machine J’s injury troubles. I still think it’s heavily weighted towards the champions, unless the payoff of Dia’s struggles are coming against someone like Ishida for the Brave Gate. Prediction: Ben-K, Strong Machine J & Dragon Dia

Case: A hogwash R.E.D. team is pretty uninspiring. The current champions are an odd group of talent, seemingly a placeholder reign for all three guys that could be off doing different things. Strong Machine J’s future is ultimately this, a prominent member of a Triangle Gate team, but I can’t help but feel like Ben-K and Dia could be higher up on the card. I expect them to win this. I still think the bigger story with this Triangle Gate reign is the young guys vs. the Toryumon Generation. I’ll be incredibly disappointed if R.E.D. leaves this match as champions. Prediction: Ben-K, Strong Machine J, & Dragon Dia 

Jon: Because Dragongate’s signature match format is the multi-man tag, I like to think of the Triangle Gate champions as a symbol of the roster’s condition. From that perspective, we all should have a rooting interest in the Trueborn Generation’s perennial frontline of the future (and Strong Machine J) protecting these belts from the latest iteration of the R.E.D. Goon Squad. Ben-K’s post-lockdown mass has made for epic showdowns with the roster’s bigger men, and Dia’s got the skillset to make them all look like bullies or jungle gyms, whichever he chooses. Also, Strong Machine J. 

On the other hand, like Mike said, there’s a story brewing with Dia coming up short against R.E.D. And the goons have upgraded from Yasushi Kanda to Diamante. And Kazma Sakamoto is going on two years of being Actually Good. And with all the other horrors 2020 has unleashed upon us, why would I rule out Takashi Yoshida holding another title? And hell, R.E.D. might be losing their grip on the Dream Gate in the main event. Oh no, I’ve talked myself into the worst.   Prediction: Takashi Yoshida, Kazma Sakamoto & Diamante. 

Open the Twin Gate Championship Match
Kota Minoura & Jason Lee (c) vs. Susumu Yokosuka & Dragon Kid

Mike: The Dragongate Push Super Weapon was in full effect in how it elevated Kota Minoura over this summer. Once a rookie loss post, he’s now one of the fastest rising stars over this summer. He and Jason Lee will be making their first defense of the belts they won at Memorial Gate in Ota City. Susumu Yokosuka and Dragon Kid are a peculiar tag team in that they’ve been in units with each other all the time in the past, but never were a regular team. Susumu even is tag team champion with someone else in another promotion (Genki Horiguchi for Fukuoka-area regional micro indie Kyushu Pro). I feel like this is the most obvious result of the title matches on this show.

Having this Dragongate Generation team in the semi-main event are huge feathers in both Kota Minoura and Jason Lee’s caps. It’s unlikely that Lee will ever be in the Dream Gate conversation so this might be his mountain top. Minoura is so young that who knows where his career will take them. Someone’s getting pinned by Kota Minoura after eating a Gang, his new package tiger driver. This is another match on this show that should have a high floor and an outstanding ceiling. Prediction: Minoura & Lee

Case: The only thing in question about this match is who Kota Minoura will pin. He will pin either Susumu Yokosuka, a multi-time Dream Gate champion and legendary tag team wrestler with both K-Ness and Kagetora, or Dragon Kid, who was in the midst of a year-long run as Twin Gate champion the last time he was in a Twin Gate title match. Minoura is white hot. He can’t lose. He’s winning main events. He’s pinning people in main events. He’s unstoppable and I expect that trend to continue in this match. Prediction: Kota Minoura & Jason Lee 

Jon: It’s become a regular occurrence for me to put my coffee down and sit straight up when Kota Minoura finds an opening for the Waterwheel Drop. It’s become one wrestling’s most consistent signals that shit is about to go down, the warning shot before he and partner Lee take control of a match and turn it into something special; Minoura anchoring things with an onslaught of suplexes, Lee flying around the ring materializing in all the right places for double teams and cutoffs. It’s incredible that just a few short months ago I was still pining for Jason Lee to be given something substantial, and my biggest takeaway from Minoura was, “Wait, which one is Kota Minoura again?”

I don’t think the result is in question. You want to watch this match because you’re watching Lee and especially Minoura become important promotional cornerstones, and they’ve drawn perfect opponents to do so with. Susumu Yokosuka is the specialist you send in when you need title matches to bring the heat, ie. his March Dream Gate match with Doi, his entire All Japan junior run. At the 9/9 Korakuen Hall show, Dragon Kid flew around the ring with these two at a pace most twenty two year olds could only dream of, which is remarkable because he’s actually twice that age. Under normal circumstances (a show without Doi/Kzy and a cage match) this is your can’t-miss match of the night, it speaks to the quality of this card that it’s one of three here.   Prediction: Kota Minoura & Jason Lee




Steel Cage 6 Way Match
YAMATO vs. KAI vs. Masato Yoshino vs. Eita vs. BxB Hulk vs. Big R Shimizu

The six competitors will enter in order based on numbers drawn on 8/12. 1 & 2 will start the match. 3 will enter after five minutes. 4 will enter four minutes after 3. 5 will enter three minutes after four, and 6 will enter after another three minutes.

As per the usual steel cage rules, a competitor can escape the cage by climbing to the top and retrieving a flag. In the past, the match has started with all five flags available. This match will start with only 1, with 1 more added as the next competitor enters. The fifth and final flag will be added when the sixth and final competitor enters. As the sixth competitor will not join the match until 15 minutes have elapsed, they run the risk of only having a small number of flags available to aim for.

The order of entry will be:

❶Big R Shimizu

❷KAI

❸Masato Yoshino

❹BxB Hulk

❺YAMATO

❻Eita

The stipulations & risks for each competitor were decided based on the results of the semifinal & main event matches on 8/8 in Kyoto, 8/9 in Osaka, & 8/10 in Nagoya.

They are as follows:

▪️KAI (as decided by R・E・D on 8/8)

If he loses the cage match:

・He must leave DRAGONGATE forever

If he is the first to escape the cage:

・He must join R・E・D

▪️Eita (as decided by the DRAGONGATE Generation on 8/8)

If he loses the cage match:

・He must join the DRAGONGATE Generation

If he does not escape the cage first:

・He must defend the Dream Gate against a member of the DRAGONGATE Generation

If he is the first to escape he cage, he incurs no penalty.

▪️Big R Shimizu (as decided by the Toryumon Generation on 8/9)

If he loses the cage match:

・He must leave R・E・D

・Change his hairstyle to a crew cut

・Return to his former name “Ryotsu Shimizu”

▪️Masato Yoshino (as decided by R・E・D on 8/9)

If he loses the cage match:

・He must retire immediately

・Have his head shaved

・Directly afterwards, have his retirement match vs Naruki Doi

▪️BxB Hulk (as decided by the DRAGONGATE Generation on 8/10)

If he loses the cage match:

・He must revert to his real name Terumasa Ishihara & start his career over from zero.

・Join Mochizuki Dojo as a trainee

▪️YAMATO (as decided by the Toryumon Generation on 8/10)

If he loses the cage match

・For the rest of 2020, he has to do the opening talk segment with Mr. Kikuchi

・He has to change his ring gear to design-less white briefs. He must also exchange his entrance gown for a bathrobe.

・Has to straighten his hair.

(Source: Dragongate English Facebook/Twitter)

Mike: The yearly tradition of Dragongate’s Apuestas Cage match moved this year due to COVID-19 from its usual spot of Dead or Alive in early May to Tokyo. From how things were presented in the before times, it’s the general belief that this was the planned main event for that show with these specific participants. Changing the match from May to mid-September drastically changes the repercussions of the risks: in a normal situation I believe that no one would think Masato Yoshino would retire before Kobe World or his homecoming show that’s happening on the 19th in Higashiosaka. Being moved to 9/21 means that he gets his homecoming show, but the month of November looms large over his retirement as it has not only the rescheduled Kobe World, but also Gate of Destiny in Edion Osaka. I’m of the belief that as long as Yoshino can go without serious concerns with his health, he will go and make those shows. Health’s a tricky thing and Masato Yoshino looked noticeably hurt on the 9/13 show in Osaka, so I cannot dismiss him losing out of hand (I also think that him being laid out on the floor was an angle to build anticipation based on his health, but that’s just my suspicion.) I give this a 25% chance of happening.

Taking a look at the other risks, I believe we can surmise that some of them are reasonable and some are unreasonable results. BxB Hulk is closer to retiring than probably anyone else save Yoshino in this match. He never had a rookie phase: he debuted immediately in the BxB Hulk gimmick and aligned with Magnum Tokyo. He’s not losing and I feel most confident saying that it has a 0% chance of happening. YAMATO and Shimizu have small chances of losing this match. To me, YAMATO’s risk of basically becoming a Hiroshi Yamato parody and doing opening introductions for the rest of the year is a joke at his expense being played by the Toryumon Generation. It could happen, but it is unlikely. Similarly, Shimizu very easily could undergo a reboot in his pre-singlet big boy gimmick. I think that it would have long term repercussions and pigeon-hole Big R Shimizu as a comedy wrestler for the long term if that happens. I give both of these results a 10% chance each of happening. KAI is an interesting one. Him joining R.E.D. after him and YAMATO have played off them not being on the same page jokingly could happen. Along with Shimizu, he has the best shot of getting flags. I don’t know if he can play a convincing heel or if R.E.D. really needs someone like him, but this probably has a low chance of happening where KAI escapes first, maybe 5%? KAI leaving the promotion could be more likely than one would expect. He’s still a freelancer, without his own theme music, and was previously booked in the Champion Carnival pre-COVID. He finally has fit into the promotion and has a nice place, but it’s not unreasonable to expect that he loses and leaves. In my mind, there’s a 15% chance of this result.

That leaves 40%, and that leaves Eita. Eita has had discord with both Shimizu and Hulk for the majority of 2020 and is now one of the longer tenured heels on the roster. A first time title run as a rudo doesn’t often happen in the Dragon System. I think he has two scenarios in the near future: He either escapes and drops this belt to someone at Kobe World (Kzy? I don’t know if they go two first time champions back to back,) or he loses this match, leaves R.E.D. and turns face as a result of this. There’s really no chance that escapes first and avoids defending the Dream Gate against a Dragongate Generation member. This probably was a more obvious result in a normal 2020, as then he would be freshly turning face and then runs through the Golden Road of “Face Turn due to the Cage, wins King of Gate, wins Dream Gate at Kobe World,” but I still think a variant of this is happening right now, just in a different order.

Here’s my proposed finish of this match. KAI, YAMATO and either Hulk or Shimizu escape with zero repercussions. That leaves Masato Yoshino, Eita and the other R.E.D. member with two flags. Eita, the person who has wanted the plaudit of retiring Masato Yoshino the most, gets to the top of the cage, looks down, and has a change of heart. He comes back in and defends Yoshino turning on the R.E.D. member. He helps Yoshino escape, security another day of him being an active wrestler. Then all of R.E.D. turns on Eita, do typical DG Cage Hijinks, and Eita loses the match. He then proudly joins the Dragongate Generation, would rather take the honor of perhaps having a Yoshino retirement match earned vs via injury, and turns full-fledged face. If this seems somewhat familiar, I admit I’m cribbing somewhat from 2016’s Dead or Alive Cage Match and YAMATO’s face turn/creating Tribe Vanguard. Regardless of how this happens, the remainder of Dragongate’s jam packed 2020 starts in Ota City General Gymnasium on the 21st and I cannot wait. Prediction: Eita Loses

Case: Anything I say is just going to be echoing Mike. Mike really killed this portion of the preview. There has to be a big turn happening in this match, and it will likely set up a big turn at the October Korakuen. The cage match always delivers. I’m going to just sit back and enjoy it.  Prediction: Eita Loses 

Jon: Mike’s right about the other stipulations. They just don’t fit the gravity of this match. This year’s cage match is meant to shoot the company into The Great What’s Next, or at least whatever’s planned for the rescheduled Kobe World. There’s so much to look forward to now that the oft-maligned Eita’s been given the keys; his Match of the Year level title win against Doi is all the evidence you need. I think we’re getting the big face turn here, and a slew of resulting title defenses that exhibit why he’s been put in this position. This year’s cage match is loaded with interesting dynamics to watch play out – Big R Shimizu’s pulling of the strings in the lead-up, Masato Yoshino’s fight to write his own conclusion to his storied career. My personal favorite though? The ongoing saga of YAMATO and his big, dumb, smiley friend KAI. I get a real Darkwing Duck/Launchpad McQuack vibe from those two and I’ve been a sucker for their buddy-cop dynamic all year long, in pursuit of the dastardly BxB Hulk. It’s going to be a real shame when KAI ends up in the black and red, isn’t it?  Prediction: Eita loses.