NOVEMBER 3, 2020

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

During the contract signing for the main event, R.E.D. announced that Diamante would be missing this show due to an elbow injury. The 69th Triangle Gate Champions are forced to vacate the belts, thus the semi-final will be Naruki Doi, Ryotsu Shimizu, & Punch Tominaga vs. Kazma Sakamoto, Takashi Yoshida, & “X” in a Triangle Gate decision match. 


Words can’t do justice to the opening sequence between Dragon Dia and Dia Inferno. Their offense was crisp, so electric, and so engaging. The Dia Inferno character has been built from the ground up with limited offense that heavily relies on “character” more so than actual moves, but whoever is under the mask demonstrated that they are a terrific base. Any concerns about their Kobe World match not delivering should be put to rest after seeing what they did here. 

HYO is clearly the lowest-ranked member of R.E.D., but he busted out a Snapmare Driver on Ben-K in this match that looked truly devastating. Unfortunately, that didn’t save HYO from taking the fall. Dia planted him with the Reptilian Rana to conclude Gate of Destiny’s opener. ***


The Bodyguard (or, Bodyger, as the match graphic displayed) made his annual stop to Dragongate, this time opting for a big PPV instead of a house show like he normally appears on. As promised, he duked it out with Dragon Kid, and their big man vs. little man dynamics were highly entertaining. 

I loved this match for what it was. Bodyguard duked it out with Shuji Kondo, Ryo Saito attempted to murder Don Fujii by Dragon Suplexing him from the ramp to the crowd, and Kagetora and Mochizuki demonstrated a strong closing stretch that saw Kagetora score the fall with a flash pin on Mochizuki to give his team momentum as they head into a Triangle Gate challenge at Kobe World. ***1/4 

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It was noted on English commentary that Kobune, Kikuta, and Kamei all entered Dragongate on the same day, a fact that I was unaware of until now. The gluttony of talent that this company has amassed between those three, Sora Fujikawa, and now six new dojo boys is incredible. That’s not to mention Dragon Dia, Strong Machine J, and Kota Minoura, all of whom debuted in 2018 or later and have all held titles already. 

It didn’t seem like an accident that large chunks of this match were built around Kento Kobune wrestling Ultimo Dragon. Since his debut last December, Kobune has been the most exciting prospect in wrestling. He is only 20 years old and he jumps off the screen as a future Dream Gate champion. When Ben-K debuted in 2016, he had a look that was undeniable. As long as he stayed healthy, he would be in a protected and pushed position. Kobune is different. His body is tremendous and his work is strong, but he exudes control and determination in a way that few men on the roster do. He carries himself like YAMATO despite being half his age. 

Kobune was superb in this match, hanging step-for-step with legends in Yoshino and Ultimo. Kikuta and Kamei brought their usual energy which made for a riveting undercard bout. Kikuta looked to have scored the fall after taking Kanda’s head off with his signature discus lariat, but the Toryumon team kept the match alive long enough for Kobune to lock in a sharpshooter on Kanda for the win. ***1/4 


This match was billed as YAMATO vs. KAI but executed as YAMATO vs. KAI & BxB Hulk. It never felt like a legitimate contest as YAMATO was battling constant interference that eventually led to a disqualification. I’m not surprised this match was used as an extended angle given that Kobe World is two weeks away and neither man has had a match announced at press time. My only qualm with this is the sudden friendship between KAI and Hulk. Last year, Hulk turned heel partially because of his hatred of KAI. Their bond has lacked explanation. I feel like these two should still be side-eyeing each other instead of hugging each other down the ramp. NR


Kaito Ishida’s 364 day Brave Gate reign concluded with this match as he fell in his fifth defense to Keisuke Okuda 

My Open the Voice Gate co-host Mike Spears detailed their feud in great detail here.

Anyone that claims to have their finger on the pulse will be voting for Okuda vs. Ishida as their feud of the year. Nothing in the wrestling world has touched it. 

Until he finally submitted, I was convinced that Kaito Ishida was winning this bout. His performance was as good as it gets. He ravaged the knee of Okuda early on, attempting to eliminate the sharp kicks and Lights Out finish that Okuda has in his arsenal. Ishida has shown the audience over the last year that he is an elite level wrestler that is only going to continue ascending up the card until he reaches the top. 

The Dragongate house style has been morphing as graduates of the Dragongate Dojo from 2016-beyond continue to pave their own path. Ishida has been the frontrunner in transforming the Brave Gate division into a stiff, hard-hitting division. This match felt like an extension off of that. These kicks and submission attempts would’ve been more at home in NOAH or in New Japan for a NEVER bout. This had every puro trope that you’d expect to see in any promotion besides Dragongate. 

Okuda had one brilliant nearfall en route to scoring the win when he connected with a running knee strike and a Lights Out in rapid succession, but Ishida survived. Ishida recovered, soon kicking out the legs of the challenger and locking him in an Ankle Lock. Okuda pulled himself towards the ropes, causing Ishida to change course and dumb Okuda on the back of his head with a German Suplex. I fully bought into the ensuing Roundhouse Kick being enough for Ishida to get the win. It was not. 

R.E.D. tried to set up a box attack to aid Ishida, but Okuda’s unit partner and real-life best friend Ben-K thwarted the attack. Okuda capitalized on the opportunity, catching Okuda in a chokehold and taking him down the canvas, forcing Ishida to submit. 

This was delightfully brutal. Rarely does a match have all of the excitement and intensity of a G1 Climax sprint with months of backstory built-in like this did. Essential viewing, just like everything else these two have done this year. They will do it again at Kobe World, as Okuda accepted Ishida’s rematch request with the caveat that it must be the opening match. ****


Jason Lee and Kota Minoura continue their hot streak, securing their second defense of the Twin Gate belts with this win. 

The bulk of this Twin Gate reign has been highlighted by excellence on behalf of Kota Minoura, who transitioned from a young non-entity to burgeoning superstar within the blink of an eye back in July. Minoura scored falls over top-level superstars in pursuit of winning the belts and has been unrelenting with the gold wrapped around his waist. He was good once again in this bout, but Jason Lee finally got his moment in the sun with the team’s second championship defense. 

Lee was incapacitated early, losing a fast-paced sequence to Susumu Yokosuka that saw Lee get flipped upside down with a Jumbo no Kachi on the apron. He was largely inactive in the first three-quarters of the match. When he got a chance to shift into a higher gear, however, he ran with the opportunity. He and Horiguchi displayed a terrific sequence of counters and reversals as both men countered each other’s signature moves, the Maximum Driver and Backslide From Heaven respectively. Horiguchi, desperate to overthrow his younger opponent, attempted a Beach Break, but Lee rolled through into a Sunset Flip for a nearfall. 

This was all of the momentum that Lee needed. He continued dishing out offense on Horiguchi until he was flat on his back, giving the Hong Kong import the opportunity to climb to the top rope and nail a Hong Kong Tornado for the win. ****1/4 

Lee and Minoura have continued to improve their chemistry as a team. Together, they’re an exciting, young pairing in a division that had grown stale and complacent before their arrival. Unfortunately, KAI and BxB Hulk attacked them after the match and likely will be challenging for the belts at Kobe World, which will end the reign of Lee and Minoura. 


The R.E.D. team became the 70th Triangle Gate Champions with this win. Ryotsu Shimizu will now be forced to find a new name and character. 

R.E.D. promised a big surprise at the start of the show when they noted Diamante’s injury and they delivered on that promise by turning rookie standout Kento Kobune heel and having him pick up his second submission victory of the evening, this one over Punch Tominaga. 

Kobune got huge chances to shine in this match by dominating Tominaga and coming out on the better end of exchanges with Shimizu. He will need a scraggly beard or a stark shift in attitude inspired by the dulcet tones of Blink-182 to truly fit into R.E.D’s pissed off teenager aesthetic, but his work will surely be up to par. 11 months into his pro career and he’s already secured his first title. That puts him in the same conversation as the likes of Shingo Takagi, Strong Machine J, and U-T, who secured gold before their first anniversary in the business. Since his debut, I’ve touted Kobune as a can’t-miss prospect and in the biggest match of his career thus far, he passed with flying colors. ***1/2 


After winning the title all the way back in August, Eita finally made his first successful defense of Dragongate’s top prize. This puts Kzy at 0-4 lifetime in Dream Gate challenges, falling to Masaaki Mochizuki in 2018, PAC in 2019, and Naruki Doi earlier this year

Kzy had produced three of the greatest Dream Gate challenges of all-time prior to this, but he failed to meet the mark he had previously set in this challenge. This is not to say the match suffered as a result of Kzy’s performance, but in prior challenges he had been so otherworldly that he pushed his matches to MOTYC-level output. While Dragongate has adapted better than any other company to the empty arena and limited capacity settings set in place due to COVID-19, it was clear that this match was hindered by a lack of vocal crowd reactions and a finish that sucked the air out of the building. 

Prior to the match starting, a hype package aired documenting Kzy’s lengthy rise to the top of the card. He was never a blue chip prospect the way that Kento Kobune is or even Eita, at one point, was considered to be. He bounced around undercards, first sporting a LaDainian Tomlinson in all of his matches, then finding his role as a fall post for WORLD-1 before turning heel and becoming comedy fodder for Deep Drunkers, Blood Warriors, and Mad Blankey. English commentary pushed the idea that Kzy liked to party too much as a youngster and it held him back from reaching his true potential. He was inspired by Akira Tozawa, however, who turned his career around after spending years as a comedy wrestler taking up space on the undercard, and decided to do the same for himself. 

As a result, we got the most violent version of Eita vs. Kzy possible. This has been a protected match in Dragongate, with these two only squaring off twice and the only televised affair being in 2015 while Kzy was under the Dr. Muscle mask. For two men known for their tricked out, smooth grappling, they decided to lean into strikes and dish out punishment in the stiffest and quickest way possible. 

Foundationally, the work was strong, although Eita lacked the overwhelming drive and desire that he portrayed on the night that he won the belt. This felt like Eita in cruise control. He attacked Kzy’s ankle with chairs, something already done by Kaito Ishida earlier in the night, and never seemed to truly kick the match into high gear outside of a Pumphandle GTS and Imperial Uno combination that looked truly devastating. Kzy sold offense that looked devastating in the moment, but never felt like it went anywhere. This match seemed to be handicapped by a Dream Gate structure of what now feels like a bygone era. Some of Kzy’s best work has come from him working sprints, notably against Naruki Doi a mere six weeks ago, and while this didn’t find its way into the upper echelon of lengthy Dream Gate bouts, it was paced that way prior to the abrupt finish. 

The finish, ultimately, is where this match failed to meet expectations. An abrupt, tainted win in any setting, let alone one where crowds can’t properly boo or make noise, is poor booking. After Kzy delivered a devastating Impact, his double underhook piledriver, a member of R.E.D. pulled Referee Yagi’s leg and prevented him from counting a pinfall that would’ve led to the end of the match. Brawling on the floor ensued between R.E.D. and the Dragongate Generation, while in the ring, Eita quickly low blowed Kzy and rolled him up for the win. This happened so quickly that the camera nearly missed the finish. This would be a questionable finish if it were happening at the smaller Osaka Edion Arena or Korakuen Hall. On a big show like this, it comes across horribly. Prior to the finish, the work was not bad, but this match never reached the expectations that I had for it. ***1/2 

A post-match brawl between R.E.D. and the Dragongate Generation spilled all over the ringside area. Ryotsu Shimzu ran down the ramp to attack R.E.D. but he was quickly booted aside. Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi attempted to lend a hand but they were also cut off quickly. Following their failed rescue, the lights cut off in the building as a masked man slowly made his way to the ring. When the lights flipped back on, Shun Skywalker was in the ring and unloading on R.E.D.

With the ring cleared of everyone except Skywalker and the Open the Dream Gate Champion, Skywalker grabbed the mic and said, “I’m not the next challenger, I’m the next champion.” 

Eita and Skywalker went nose-to-nose before Skywalker bailed and let R.E.D. proceed with their post-match photo-op to end the show. 

Final Thoughts:

Gate of Destiny 2020 was the perfect table-setter for the biggest month in company history. Between the Kobune turn and the Skywalker return, this show was chalked full of angles that will greatly impact the company in the immediate future and in the longterm. Outside of the noteworthy angles, there is simply too much good wrestling on this show to ignore it. Dragongate continues to pave their own path in a COVID-stricken universe. No company has adapted to the circumstances better than they have. Gate of Destiny was more of the same excellence that I’ve come to expect from them this year.