DRAGON GATE
GATE OF EVOLUTION
NOVEMBER 5, 2020
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

BXB HULK & TAKASHI YOSHIDA DEF. MADOKA KIKUTA & TAKETO KAMEI 

This is the weakest televised match I can remember the youngsters having since their debut. Like always, their work was solid. Kamei sold his ass off and Kikuta showed a valiant fight from underneath that climaxed with a discus lariat on former Dream Gate champion BxB Hulk. The issue here, if you can really call it an issue, was the style of the match. This was slowed down to the pace that the R.E.D. C-Team works at. This lacked the energy that Kikuta and Kamei typically bring to the table because they were never able to get going. Yoshida pinned Kamei with a standing powerbomb. **3/4 

GENKI HORIGUCHI, SUSUMU YOKOSUKA, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. GAMMA, MASAAKI MOCHIUZKI, & PROBLEM DRAGON 

We now have a new match to define the phrase “largely nothing”. Truly, nothing was offensive, but outside of a hot sequence between Mochizuki and Yokosuka and a strong finishing stretch that saw Problem Dragon eating big moves from the ex-Jimmyz, there was nothing of consequence in this match. 

It’s hard to believe that outside of a GHC Tag Title Match on an empty arena show, Mochizuki has been an afterthought in DG booking this year due to not having an allegiance in the generational warfare feud. The fact that the company has been able to have as great of a year as they’ve had without arguably their best in-ring wrestler doing anything noteworthy is worth noting. **1/2 

KEISUKE OKUDA & JASON LEE DEF. KAITO ISHIDA & KAZMA SAKAMOTO 

As I noted on the most recent Open the Voice Gate, the finish of this match was really interesting as Okuda, Lee, and Sakamoto are current champions and Ishida is a protected threat challenging for the Brave Gate title at Kobe World. Dragongate noted the same thing and booked this match to end in a non-finish as Ishida smashed a plastic box into the box of Okuda as he was in the process of choking out Sakamoto.  

The story here is the same it has been all year. Ishida and Okuda beat each other to a crisp, and Sakamoto used his size and strength to bully the Dragongate guys, and Jason Lee used his speed and agility to counter R.E.D. attacks. This is a winning combination. Even with the limited crowd and the rules set in place, the Ishida vs. Okuda interactions feel so heated. They completely carried this match up until the finish which was deflating, albeit logical. They continued mauling each other after the match. A proper build to their grand finale at Kobe World. ***1/4 

ULTIMO DRAGON, DON FUJII, KENICHIRO ARAI, & MASATO YOSHINO DEF. BOKU R SHIMIZU, NARUKI DOI, PUNCH TOMINAGA, & RYO SAITO 

Big R Shimizu, who was briefly Ryotsu Shimizu, is now Boku R Shimizu. The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

This was the first match on the show to be of any real substance. The fast-paced interactions between Masato Yoshino and the Team Boku quartet are worth checking out. Of course, it was he and Doi who did the best work with one another, but Yoshino tangled with every one of the Boku’s members and looked good in the process. Yoshino’s retirement date remains unclear as nothing has been announced for World, which was my original guess for when he was going to hang up the boots. I would guess he’s wrestling through the first half of 2021 now. 

My one qualm with this match was the finish. Ultimo, rather easily, rolled up Shimizu with the La Magistral Cradle. I thought surely Kenichiro Arai would take the fall. He screamed “designated loss post” when this match was announced. Instead, it was the headmaster, who felt largely uninvolved and disconnected from the match until the finish, scoring an easy fall over Shimizu. I’m not sure what this did to help Ultimo and I feel like to an extent, it hurt Shimizu. Puzzling booking for an otherwise fun match. ***1/2 

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BEN-K, U-T, & YOSUKE SANTA MARIA DEF. DRAGON KID, KAGETORA, & SHUJI KONDO 

These two teams will square off in the Open the Triangle Gate Championship match at Kobe World with the R.E.D. trio that currently holds the belts. 

U-T is half the size of Shuji Kondo. U-T clocks in at 70 kg (154 lbs), while the Toryumon veteran clocks in right around 227 lbs. There’s no reason that these two should have such strong chemistry with one another, but they’ve routinely produced bangers since Kondo’s full-time return to the company in July. In fairness, Kondo has killed it with just about everyone, and if there was a coveted Comeback Wrestler of the Year award, the honors would have to go to Kondo. U-T, however, has remained his strongest opponent. Their chemistry was off the charts from the moment U-T flung himself into harm’s way to get the early edge of Team Toryumon. 

Coming out of World, I hope the Toryumon team comes away with the titles. They’ve struck magic with the junior heavyweight in Dragon Kid, the middleweight in Kagetora, and the heavyweight in Shuji Kondo. That team should be the torchbearer of the Triangle Gate division for some time to come, even if it means halting the progress of the recent R.E.D. champions. 

The closing stretch of this match showed off exactly what the Toryumon team can accomplish as a cohesive unit. Their offense was strung together beautifully. Their effort was strong, but ultimately not good enough, as U-T pulled a flash pin out of thin air and pinned Kagetora, scoring an arguable upset heading into the huge title match. ****1/4 

DIA INFERNO, EITA, KAI, & SB KENTO DEF. DRAGON DIA, KOTA MINOURA, KZY, & YAMATO 

There is no singular match that represents what Dragongate is in its current state better than this match. If you’ve been on the fence about checking out the product, this match will tell you everything you need to know. 

As someone that is currently very high on the product, I can tell you that I loved this match and what it represented. We saw character progression from Dia Inferno and SB KENTo (Kento Kobune’s new in-ring name. Going forward I’ll be referring to him as SBK as that’s what his new merch says). The heel side had a spark that is often absent with a contingent that features BxB Hulk and Takashi Yoshida. Inferno, who I expect to be unmasked by this time next month, has found the balance between intricate character work while still maintaining the in-ring quality needed to work in DG. 

SBK is being positioned as a monster. He tapped out Dragon Dia with the SB Shooter. The last time Dragongate put a submission over this match was in 2014 when Eita was trying to tear off Akira Tozawa’s arm with the Numero Uno. SBK has a rocket pack strapped to him right now and the fact that he’s transitioned so seamlessly into this role is a huge sign of things to come. He projects the same confidence that YAMATO did when he turned heel and joined Real Hazard. He looks like he was born to do this. He’s next level. SBK is the future. 

The Dragongate Generation held their own and adequately built towards the upcoming Kobe World matches. There is one more show in Kyoto set to air on the Dragongate Network prior to Kobe World, but this was the perfect go-home match before the company’s biggest show of the year. Highly recommended. ****1/2 

After an excessive R.E.D. beatdown after the match, Shun Skywalker appeared in a similar fashion to how he did at Gate of Destiny. He and Eita went face-to-face once more. 

Final Thoughts

There has never been a better time to jump on the Dragongate ship and there is no better show to start with than this one. This show continued their white-hot, promotion of the year-level momentum as they head into their biggest show of the year. The faces are fresh, the gimmicks are new, and the pond has been refilled. Dragongate’s future is bright, but it’s present is blinding. They are a can’t-miss promotion at this moment.