DECEMBER 15, 2020
Watch: Dragon Gate Network
DON FUJII, SHUJI KONDO, & ULTIMO DRAGON DEF. DIAMANTE, KAI, & TAKASHI YOSHIDA
Ultimo Dragon worked his ass off in this opener! Granted, almost all of his interactions came against Diamante, who was originally brought into DG specifically to work with Ultimo, but those two did the damn deal. Diamante is still taking Hamrick-like bumps and flipping over the top rope on monkey flips. God bless him.
The other star of this match was Don Fujii, who has been one of the 50 best wrestlers in the world this year. Fujii tangled with KAI and Yoshida and eventually scored the fall using the Gedo Clutch on Yoshida. He remains white-hot going into his Twin Gate challenge against KAI and Hulk at Final Gate. ***
KAGETORA & SHACHIHOKO BOY DEF. KEISUKE OKUDA & JIMMY
With the end of the generational warfare angle in sight, it is now time to begin a campaign to get Jimmy into a unit when things reset. He’s improved a ton since coming over last June. This match was short and Jimmy’s primary role was to take a beating, but he took that beating well.
The Kagetora/Okuda interactions were appropriately heated. Kagetora is in a title match, thus he feels like trying. It’s annoying that Kagetora is so often “off”, but when he turns it on it makes it all worth it. This was a nice table-setter for the Brave Gate match coming up in Fukuoka. ***
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BOKULTIMO DRAGON, NARUKI DOI, & PUNCH TOMINAGA DEF. GAMMA, YAMATO, & YOSUKE SANTA MARIA
YAMATO and Naruki Doi started off the match by working hard and exchanging holds like the main eventers they are. That quickly ended, however, and the clown car that carried Gamma, Maria, Tominaga, and Bokultimo quickly rolled into town. As I stated on the most recent Open the Voice Gate, this Bokultimo Dragon character is a step in the right direction. It is an unapologetic attempt at comedy and works much better than the half-hearted attempt that Boku R Shimizu was. He scored the fall on Maria.
After the match, Ultimo Dragon appeared and after much deliberation with Bokultimo, they agreed to team with one another going forward. **3/4
LA ESTRELLA DEF. SUSUMU YOKOSUKA
La Estrella, a masked wrestler who looks like Shun Skywalkercito, debuted as “X” and pinned the former two-time Open the Dream Gate champion clean in his debut.
Estrella is a work in progress, but Dragongate is clearly behind him after this shocking debut.
The good is that Estrella was electric in his debut. His offense, particularly the rope-running dropkick that is straight out of the SUGI playbook, looks awesome. At worst, Estrella can become a highspot machine similar to the early days of Dragon Kid. Estrella was not only positioned to look strong with his high-flying offense, but he managed to kick out of a Jumbo no Kachi that looked like it had the same amount of force as Mookie Betts belting a fastball down the heart of the plate. Disgusting.
Estrella’s biggest weakness after one match is his charisma. Yokosuka locked him in both a half crab and a crossface and neither seemed to greatly phase Estrella. He looked bored in the holds. Even the kick out on the aforementioned Jumbo wasn’t anything thrilling. It was mundane, business as usual to a fault. These are all things that can be corrected in the future.
For a debut match in a new gimmick, this has to be looked at as a success. Estrella, judging from his frame and size, is likely Masahiro Inoue, who wrestled two exhibition matches earlier this year. Estrella is very short, even compared to his peers on the Dragongate roster. With all of that in mind, he put forth a respectable effort in his debut and now, for lack of a better term, becomes the definitive ex-factor in Dragongate’s newest, freshest unit. ***1/4
DRAGON KID, GENKI HORIGUCHI, MASATO YOSHINO, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. EITA, HIP HOP KIKUTA, KAITO ISHIDA, & SB KENTO
With the help of VOW contributor JoJo Remy, we’ve come to the conclusion that Hip Hop Kikuta was named such because of his huge hips. According to Remy, the Japanese commentary was raving about Kikuta’s thick thighs and his hip attacks. Essentially, Kikuta is Mr. Ass.
The build to the unit disbands match between the Toryumon Generation and R.E.D. feels hot. Either team could lose. The rookies could kill off Toryumon once and for all or Masato Yoshino could get a huge win as he goes into the final months of his career. Their matches in Hokkaido were great. This was a step below what they had done the prior weekend. I did like the finish, however, with both Horiguchi and Eita being nailed by box attacks. Horiguchi recovered quicker and rolled up the former Dream Gate champion with the Backslide from Heaven for the win. ***
SHUN SKYWALKER & DRAGON DIA DEF. BEN-K & KZY
Not enough has been said about how Shun Skywalker, who was absent for Dragongate for 11 months as he went away to Mexico on a COVID-stricken journey, has been able to seamlessly transition back into the fold as a Dragongate wrestler and in the process, lead the company into the new year. Whatever rust may have been present in his title win against Eita was quickly shaken off. He and his new unit, now dubbed Masquerade, have injected life into multi-man matches at the top of the card and this was no different.
Skywalker and Ben-K are perhaps the closest we will come to another version of BxB Hulk and Shingo Takagi. It was Takagi who debuted in October of 2004 with Hulk following suit in March of the following year, leaving a five-month gap between their debuts. Skywalker and Ben-K made their exhibition debuts against one another on a December 2015 NEX card. They made their pro debuts on the same day, April 22, 2016 on a NEX card. Ben would get the first crack at appearing on televised Dragongate cards on July 10 with Skywalker’s debut coming in August.
They split wins last year with Skywalker defeating Ben-K at last year’s February Korakuen show, which led to the masked man challenging PAC for the Dream Gate belt. In December, after losing a string of big matches, Skywalker lost the rematch to Ben-K. That loss led to him fleeing Dragongate. They’ve teamed together, they’ve wrestled against one another, and if their interactions not only in this match, but on the Hokkaido triple shot from last weekend are any indication, they are going to destroy one another at Final Gate.
The stiffness that these two have brought to the table is what has set their brief program apart from any other recent Dream Gate angle. Skywalker’s closing stretch of moves looks brutal. He ragdolled Kzy in pursuit of getting the pin. It should be noted that Kzy is the one who started Skywalker’s big match losing streak last year.
Ben-K and Shun Skywalker are flirting with greatness right now. I really feel like their Final Gate match could be something great. Ben-K delivers in the big moments. Shun Skywalker is red-hot right now. I’m all in on the build to their big match. ***3/4
DOI DARTS SPECIAL 10-MAN TAG
MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI, JASON LEE, KAZMA SAKAMOTO, KENICHIRO ARAI, & KONOMAMA ICHIKAWA DEF. BXB HULK, DIA INFERNO, K-NESS, KOTA MINOURA, & RYO SAITO
Prior to this match, Masaaki Mochizuki had only found himself in the main event of two Dragongate shows this year. He headlined the Toryumon Reunion show in January, then with Naomichi Marufuji, he put his GHC Tag Titles on the line during April’s empty arena show. The 50-year-old ironman spent more time at the top of the card in NOAH this year racking up five main events throughout 2020, plus a Michinoku Pro main event. In one of Dragongate’s most exciting years to date, when it comes to both in-ring quality and creative output, they’ve done it without the heart and soul of the promotion being featured in any prominent way. Now, with Mochizuki vying for the Twin Gate belts at Final Gate, he found himself thriving yet again in a Dragongate main event.
In Mochizuki’s second-ever Doi Darts appearance, he plowed through the competition and ended up scoring the decisive fall on current Twin Gate champion BxB Hulk. The last time Mochizuki was in a match like this, he was on the same team as CIMA and Shingo Takagi and facing off against a faction led by Akira Tozawa. Oh, how things change.
Mochizuki, on the other hand, remains consistent. He can’t escape being great. He led the charge in a superb main event.
Even for a Doi Darts match in which the opponents are selected by individuals throwing a dart at a board with every roster member’s name on it, this match felt particularly random. There weren’t a lot of threads to draw between the two sides. Had Dragon Dia been involved in the match, they certainly could’ve done something with him and Dia Inferno. Dia’s stablemates Jason Lee and Kota Minoura were involved instead. The former Twin Gate champions began the match wrestling against one another, but as things broke down and the R.E.D. side became more agitated, they would later team up to fend off Inferno, Sakamoto, and Hulk.
The structure of this match pushed this from being very good to legitimately great. Dragongate handled uncooperative partners in a brilliant way as R.E.D. ended up fighting their partners in an attempt to show unit supremacy. Part of this match was Team Doi Darts A vs. Team Doi Darts B, and part of this match was the Dragongate and Toryumon Generations wrestling R.E.D.
It worked out beautifully.
Dragongate’s final match in Korakuen Hall this year lacked big players like Shun Skywalker, Ben-K, and YAMATO, but it proved how thoroughly entertaining the entire roster is. From veteran hands like K-Ness and Araken to young guns like Lee and Minoura, everyone brought something fresh to the table in this match. It felt like a fitting way to close out the year. ****1/4
Round two of Fantastic Gate in Korakuen Hall showed the tremendous depth of the DG roster. From the opening match through the main event, this show advanced stories, evolved character, and put forth tremendous wrestling. I would file the Estrella debut, the Skywalker vs. Ben-K tag match, and the main event away as essential viewing. This was the ideal go-home show for the upcoming Final Gate show. Thumbs up for Fantastic Gate.