When change happens, new experiences can be part of the package deal. The goal is to provide a better experience of whatever is changed. Sometimes, people can procrastinate and don’t know what they’ve missed. Well, I’ve decided to stop missed too much.
When I started listening to the Voices of Wrestling Flagship, one of the things Joe and Rich would consistently speak about was Dragongate. At the time, BxB Hulk was the Open the Dream Gate Champion, and Ricochet was the talk of the town. As some of their wrestlers would move on from the promotion, I could not only put a face to Ricochet but Akira Tozawa, Uhaa Nation (Apollo Crews), CIMA, T-Hawk, El Lindaman, Flamita, and Shingo Takagi. I enjoyed the talent and skill I saw from these wrestlers, so why did I keep waiting?
Before, it was easier to excuse as streaming services weren’t as big back then. WWE Network and NJPW World had just begun, and Dragongate Network was years out from being launched. Even then, I regret not trying to find shows back then like I did for New Japan. But seven years? I waited seven years to watch Dragongate after enjoying its former talent and knowing how great the company is?
Add in the effects of the pandemic on New Japan’s shows, and I needed a change. After seeing how massive the card for the CyberFight Festival was, I was ready to have more puro in my life. When deciding whether I would go with Dragongate Network or CyberFight’s Wrestle Universe, I asked around about the next event for Dragongate and when. I got my answers:
Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival and Speed Star Final, July 31 and August 1.
Dragongate’s anniversary show, the Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival, or Kobe World, is the equivalent of Wrestle Kingdom or WrestleMania. The Speed Star Final was the retirement show of Masato Yoshino. The dates of the events were three weeks away. I knew I couldn’t wait anymore. Kobe World and Speed Star was my jumping-off point into Dragongate.
I found the commentary team of Jae Church and Ho Ho Lun to be a pretty good team. They work off each other well. For Jae’s part, he was very informative about everything that has happened across the shows. He even threw in some decidedly Westen references and jokes in the broadcast (Buffalo Bills) which added to his presentation.
Here are some of my quick thoughts on what I saw from my very-first Dragongate viewing:
Let me say I am now a fan of Keisuke Okuda. He just looked like a boss walking down to the ring with his stylish jacket, the fingerless gloves, and the white strap on the Brave Gate title.
The stable Masquerade is pretty awesome. The group’s ring entrance for the Shun Skywalker/Kzy main event on Kobe World was majestic, if not a little ominous. The group’s skill in the ring was also a sight to behold.
The Skywalker/Kzy match was great. Some of Skywalker’s offense looked so dangerous it had me on the edge of my seat. The Monkey Flip spot off the apron was shocked me, having an element of danger. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.
The Triangle Gate match with Masquerade vs. RED was a fun, high-flying contest. Dragon Dia, La Estrella, and Jason Lee tore it up in the ring. Not to be outdone, Dia Inferno, SB Kento, and Diamante added to the action. I am very impressed with Diamante for his size and agility.
Kota Minoura vs. Eita was good. I got a laugh out of Lec giving Minoura a gag prize of toilet wipes after his victory. Given his promo and Jae’s translation, Minoura sold it like he got something other than toilet wipes.
The 10-Man was also a highlight for me. It was a decent, mid-card battle featuring DG and Tourymon’s veterans. I admit Aagan Iisou popped me a little with their group dropkick. Yoshino was such a natural flyer in the ring. I’m kicking myself for not being able to see more of him live before he retired.
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Speed Star Final
Skywalker vs. Yamoto for the Dream Gate was a great match but Skywalker losing the title surprised me. When Masquerade retained with the Triangle Gate against Aagan Iisou, I thought Shun would hold on to the Dream Gate too.
After going winless at Kobe World, RED redeemed themselves by going 3-0 on the night. The heel stable is massive and has lots of guys that stand out. I already talked about Diamante. SB Kento has a great look about him. HYO’s intelligence quiz on both nights had me laughing. It’s been a while since I saw Sakamoto in action its good that he’s doing well for himself.
The best interaction with RED on both nights was in the Speed Star Final main event. A fantastic main event, it was also Masato Yoshino’s last match. Yoshino and his long-time partner, Naruki Doi, were defeated by RED’s Eita and BxB Hulk. Post-match, with some prodding by Yoshino himself, the heels, BxB Hulk especially, showed Yoshino his respect before they left.
Yoshino’s retirement ceremony was beautiful. As wrestlers, friends, and sponsors came together to celebrate his 20-year career. As Doi and Ultimo Dragon congratulated him in the ring, Yoshino received many other well wishes from former teammates and opponents from wrestling and baseball, among others, in a touching video package. Yoshino spoke for a bit, and then once the 10th bell rang, it hit him. He choked up briefly, and it got me.
As his friends and co-workers in Dragongate gave Yoshino his final kind gestures, he and the others left.
Dragon Gate delivered for Speed Star Final. All title matches were good to great and Masato Yoshino's final match is one of the greatest final matches anyone could have. Such an amazing send off to one of the best and influential wrestlers of the last 20 years. pic.twitter.com/mCKqKxVMn0
— BlastoSTG (@BlastoStg) August 1, 2021
As the show winded down and the crowd started to go, it was Jae and Ho Ho Lun just recapping the show and Yoshino’s retirement.
I can quote all the statistics and history-making things that happened that made watching these shows unique. In the end, it comes down to the simple fact that they were my very first Dragongate shows, and sadly, they were Yoshino’s last. For that, and the great matches on the upper card on both events, I will never forget them. I finally did it. I watched Dragongate. So now what? I had a great time, so I go forward, learn as much as I can about the roster as I can, and watch them entertain me.
In the end, change can be jarring. In this case, change is good.