This post is a collaboration from Mike Spears and Case Lowe, the hosts of our official Dragongate podcast: Open the Voice Gate. Listen to Open the Voice Gate at https://redcircle.com/shows/open-the-voice-gate or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

Dragongate, in our minds, has been the best promotion in the world over the last fifteen-plus years. Many, including Gabe Sapolsky and Lenny Leonard, have pointed out the company as the pinnacle of innovation. With the 2022 Unit Shuffle underway, and the big events of Dragongate’s January 12 and January 13 Korakuen shows, we decided it’d be a good time to put this together. Consider this a primer, a prospectus, a guide, or a love letter to Dragongate in 2022. We hope you enjoy it! – Case Lowe & Mike Spears

Revision History

1/25/2022 – Primer goes live

2/13/2022 – Updated with Z-Brats, end of R.E.D & Masquerade.

The Dragongate Roster

 

z-brats

Z-Brats

Z-Brats formed at the 2/4/2021 Korakuen show with the core of the former R.E.D and former Masquerade leader Shun Skywalker. Other than the obvious visual and audio changes, it follows the continuity of VeserK – ANTiAS – R.E.D with bright highlighter yellow and black as the keynote colors. Nominally KAI appears to be Z-Brats leader, but SB KENTO & HYO are the front line talkers. There hasn’t been any indication of what kind of heel unit it will be, but KAI has emphasized that his Dream Gate matches are to be without typical heel hijinks

KAI

The current Open the Dream Gate Champion. He was trained by Animal Hamaguchi, Keiji Mutoh, and Kaz Hayashi. Dragongate helped revitalize his career after an embarrassing exit from Wrestle-1. He debuted in Dragongate in August 2018, initially just working stops in Tokyo. He defeated Shingo Takagi in his first singles match in the company (and subsequently Takagi’s second-to-last) at Dangerous Gate 2018. He joined the roster on a full-time basis in 2019 after he was asked by YAMATO to join the Tribe Vanguard unit. Most of his time in this promotion is related to YAMATO in one way or another, as they were not only Open the Twin Gate Champions together, but in 2020, KAI turned on YAMATO and joined R.E.D. After a year-long feud, KAI won the Dream Gate belt from YAMATO in December 2021. Finishers: Meteor Impact, Meteor Impact KAI

BxB Hulk 

At one point in his career, BxB Hulk was a man known for his bright smile and his electric dance moves. Time has turned Hulk into a menacing presence on the roster, however. While his time as a unit leader is over, Hulk is still a formidable force on the roster who constantly finds himself in the Twin Gate picture. Since turning on YAMATO and joining R.E.D. at the end of 2019, Hulk held Twin Gate gold with both Kazma Sakamoto and KAI. He will turn 42 this year, making him one of the oldest roster members still “in the hunt”, so to speak. Finisher: First Flash  

HYO 

Dragongate’s “Black Panther” & The Great Brain for R.E.D. The momentum from being the mastermind of the Unit Disbands match from 2020 continued into 2021 as HYO held the Twin Gate with SB KENTo along with multiple Triangle Gate reigns with Eita and Kaito Ishida. Not the biggest cat or the most technically proficient, HYO achieved his career year off of being the smartest wrestler in the company with plans upon plans and looks towards leadership in an Eita-less R.E.D. in 2022. Class of 2016 member. Finishers: Sabre, Neko Tamashi, Panther Clutch

SB KENTo

There is no brighter prospect in all of wrestling than SB KENTo. The 21-year-old debuted at the end of 2019 and immediately imposed his will on the Dragongate roster. SBK, for an American comparison, is this promotion’s Adam Cole. His charisma is undeniable. His match-to-match psychology is remarkable. Barring catastrophe, SBK will surely become a Grand Slam Champion (he’s three-quarters of the way there after only two full years on the roster). When the history books are written, there’s a good chance that his name will be written alongside the likes of CIMA, Masato Yoshino, and Masaaki Mochizuki. If there is one name to know as a new Dragongate fan, it’s SB KENTo. Finishers: SB Shooter, Bridging German Suplex 

Shun Skywalker 

The most talked-about wrestler in Dragongate at the moment. Skywalker debuted in 2016 and by 2019, was one of the best wrestlers on the roster. After a series of defeats on big shows, Skywalker fled Japan and landed in Mexico for a learning excursion at the start of 2020. He returned home in November, challenging and subsequently defeating Eita for the Open the Dream Gate Championship. He held the title until YAMATO defeated him in August. Throughout his time in the company, Skywalker has been a noble fighter. That changed in December 2021, when he interjected himself into a feud between Dragon Dia and Dia Inferno (now Yuki Yoshioka) and set up a mascara contra mascara match between himself, the aforementioned Dia’s, and Diamante. In an effort to save his own mask, he shoved Dragon Dia into Diamante’s finishing maneuver. For a month, he gaslit the rest of his Masquerade members before finally turning on them after HYO offered him a spot in R.E.D. on January 12. He is, without question, one of the best wrestlers in the world and his psychopath character turn is receiving rave reviews from the wrestling world. Finishers: SSW, Skywalker Moonsault  

Diamante

Mexican Power! The most recent in the line of Dragon System gaijin, Diamante joined Dragongate after Kobe World 2019. He struggled to match DG pace and ability initially, but in both 2020 and 2021 became the most improved wrestler on the roster and should be the next big star coming back from Dragongate. Won both the masks of Bokutimo Dragon and Dragon Dia in 2021. Known as an incredible opponent for smaller roster members and high flyers. Diamante will be a global breakout star when promoters in the west pick up on him. Finisher: Vuelta Finale

Natural Vibes 

The second-generation Natural Vibes formed at the final show of 2020 after the Dragongate Generation disbanded. Original members Kzy, Susumu Yokosuka and Genki Horiguchi announced they’d have a try out to see if people could fit in/do the Party Anthem dance. The people who passed the audition were U-T and the former Taketo Kamei (original Vibes member Punch Tominaga was rejected, and told them they weren’t allowed to use his dad’s dance studio anymore.) Kamei became Funky Jacky Kamei and then Jacky Funky Kamei later on in the year. Big Boss Shimizu joined after losing his Bokutimo mask to Diamante. The story of NV matches is their teamwork: Kzy/Susumu/Horiguchi had the most defenses of the Triangle Gate ever, Susumu and Shimizu held the Twin Gates in 2021, and each time Kamei or U-T team with the elder members they shine. It’s the most stable and complete group in Dragongate right now. Maybe a member won’t win the Dream Gate during this iteration of Natural Vibes, but their teamwork currently is unmatched. That’s what happens when friends get together, dance, and have a great time.

Kzy 

Dragongate’s Mood Maker and B-Boy for Life. One of the most popular DG wrestlers internationally, Kzy’s story are the two eras of his career. With a 2006 debut, Kzy is a classmate of YAMATO, however Kzy spent his first decade either as a loss post or injured. Beginning in late 2016, Kzy started a career renaissance which led him all the way to winning King of Gate in 2021 and main eventing last year’s Kobe World show. With a never say die attitude and incredible crowd connection, the leader of Natural Vibes will always be an international favorite, if he ever wins that Dream Gate or not. Finishers: Running Elbow Smash, Impact, Skayde Schoolboy

Genki Horiguchi 

Genki Horiguchi is the heart and soul of Dragongate. No one outworks Horiguchi, from hawking merchandise to his pre-match dance routine to his Big Match Effort that comes out a few times every year, Horiguchi answers the question of “what if Dragongate was a person?” Over the past few years, he’s started slowing down, working a reduced schedule and competing in fewer and fewer big matches. Unfortunately for the rest of the roster, he’s still capable of catching his opponents by surprise and pinning them with his dreaded Backslide From Heaven. Finishers: Backslide From Heaven, Beach Break  

Susumu Yokosuka 

The Tim Duncan of professional wrestling. You might not know his name, but let me assure you, Yokosuka is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live. His resume of great matches over the last 25 years is as long as any big name in all of wrestling. He now finds himself in the bright and energetic Natural Vibes, a stark contrast to the poised and stoic demeanor that he possesses. You will notice that while everyone else is dancing their hearts out during a big Natural Vibes group entrance, Yokosuka is merely along for the ride. In the ring, he’s a beast who can bring anyone on the roster to the best match of their lives. He’s one of the four men in history, alongside Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, and Eita, to have held all four titles and win King of Gate. Even at this stage in his career, he’s always a threat to vie for a Dream Gate challenge. Finishers: Jumbo no Kachi, Yokosuka Cutter  

Big Boss Shimizu 

The former Ryotsu, Big R, Boku, Bokutimo, and KING Shimizu, now going under the Big Boss banner. He is Dragongate’s best power fighter as he’s been able to put numerous opponents away with both his dreaded Shot-Put Slam chokeslam and his Big Boss Press from the top rope. After spending parts of 2020 and 2021 as a comedy figure, he ended the year with a tremendous Twin Gate reign alongside Susumu Yokosuka and then continued his winning ways as the calendar turned to 2022. He will challenge for the Open the Dream Gate Championship on March 6, where he could very easily win the company’s top prize for the first time in his career. Finishers: Big Boss Press, Shot-Put Slam  

U-T 

The Passionate Braveheart of Natural Vibes. In many ways, U-T’s career imitates NV’s leader Kzy’s career. A part of Millennials, U-T debuted in Mexico in 2013 during Eita and & T-Hawk’s excursion and made his formal Dragongate debut in August of 2013. U-T’s sole title reign was during Millenials, but then he started to suffer several major injuries. In 2017, U-T started to climb back up the card and through tapping into his technical lucha libre (llave) training, he started to find success. Now U-T is perhaps the most technically gifted wrestler on the roster, a constant Brave challenger, and is ready to prove that he wasn’t a flash in the pan. Finishers: Bien Llave, Pasion

Jacky “Funky” Kamei

Natural Vibes’ Party Boy Pow! Pow! The end of 2019 classmate of SB KENTo, JFK’s career will forever be tied to the supernova. Kamei has been eager to prove that he is not just the other guy, and his 2021 would mark him as Most Improved if he weren’t in the same promotion as Diamante. His breakout performances against SB KENTo for the Brave Gate cemented him as someone everyone to keep their eyes on. Kamei’s position in Natural Vibes is an interesting one as he’s understudying Kzy and Genki Horiguchi, whose roles he’s likely to inherit after they retire. A little undersized, JFK’s a natural at getting crowd support even in the clap crowd era. Was gifted the Torbellino from Yoshino, which was one of his most important moves. Finishers: Jackyknife Pin, Torbellino Crucifix

HIGH-END

After the end of the Generation War, KAI still had his eyes set on YAMATO. He interrupted a match YAMATO had with Dragon Kid in January 2021, and pointed out that without the Dragongate Generation, he had no partners. Dragon Kid took offense to this and volunteered to team with YAMATO, and that started the road to HIGH-END. They officially announced they were forming an unit in February, Ben-K and Keisuke Okuda joined them, and in March they revealed themselves as HIGH-END. This coincided with Kagetora’s test runs with all the current units in Dragongate, and he elected to join HIGH-END in June, because he felt like everyone in HIGH-END was a bad talker so they needed help. Unlike the other units, there isn’t much of a concept with HIGH-END. Currently at five members, HIGH-END will likely try to pick up some new recruits in this unit shuffle.

YAMATO

The Almighty and All Knowing Ace of Dragongate, the Omnipotent and Omnipresent leader of HIGH-END. 2021 had YAMATO form HIGH-END with Dragon Kid, Ben-K and Keisuke Okuda and win his record-breaking fifth Dream Gate title. A member of the Big Six, YAMATO was inspired by Shingo Takagi and Akira Tozawa’s careers post-DG and went for one more big run as he turned 40. After further cementing his legacy as one of the cornerstones of the Dragon System, YAMATO hopes that 2022 will do the same for HIGH-END during the Unit Shuffle. Finishers: Galleria, Ragnarok, Frankensteiner of the Almighty

Dragon Kid 

One of the most recognizable faces in all of Dragongate, Dragon Kid is still flying around the ring better than nearly anyone else in wrestling, just as he was doing when Toryumon landed in Japan in 1999. Kid has accomplished everything there is to do in this company, outside of winning the Open the Dream Gate Championship. He’s still regarded as one of the best workers on this roster. In 2022, I expect him to once again be a threat to win the Twin or Triangle Gate belts at any time. Finishers: Bible, Ultra Hurricanrana

Ben-K 

Ben-K was earmarked for stardom immediately after debuting in 2016. He is an athletic freak who quickly took to the in-ring aspects of the industry and added to his pedigree, racking up big win after big win, before going undefeated in King of Gate 2019 en route to defeating PAC for the Open the Dream Gate Championship at Kobe World 2019, which made him the first man to pin PAC since he exited WWE. Ben-K has had trouble finding his groove since he lost the company’s top prize in December 2019. He’s firmly an upper midcarder who can float into the main event scene at any moment. Finishers: Spear, Ben-K Bomb, Sodegarami

Keisuke Okuda 

The real-life best friend of Ben-K, Okuda joined Dragongate’s ranks in 2019 and immediately went on a quest to find out if anyone on the roster was tougher than him. Through nearly three years on the roster, few have been able to go blow-for-blow with the former amatuer wrestling standout. Okuda’s style is very distinct from the rest of DG. Okuda has “his style” of match and very rarely does he change up what he does. It helps him stand out, but it could deter him from moving into the main event scene. Perhaps this year, we will finally see him and Ben-K have a prolonged run as a tag team. Finishers: Choke sleeper, Lights Out GTS 

Kagetora

With one of the most unique movesets in all of wrestling, Kagetora is always a threat to have the best match on the show. He is the only man on the roster remaining from the ill-fated Toryumon X class, which also featured names like Taiji Ishimori, Naoki Tanizaki, and SUGI. He fits in fine as the weakest member of HIGH-END, but with multiple runs as Brave, Twin, and Triangle Gate Champion, he is still someone who will wind up in a handful of big matches throughout the year. Finishers: Gurumakakari, Ikkitousen, Bitenhassō

Unnamed Naruki Doi Unit

A big topic of 2021 was what Naruki Doi would do after Masato Yoshino retired. At Speed Star Final, Doi stated that he wasn’t going to give up on DoiYoshi so he was going to team with Takashi Yoshida. Originally this was taken as a joke and pun on Yoshida’s last name, but it ended up that he would team with the former Cyber Kong and became Twin Gate champions with him. Closing out the year, he announced that the eagerly awaited next Doi unit will be formed, with a focus in having young handsome wrestlers in it to attempt to return Dragongate’s fanbase to 90% women, as it was in Toryumon. His first hot boy target was Kota Minoura, who demurred that he was trying to figure out what was up with Masquerade first. Yoshida assumed he was going to be a member of this unit as a famous YouTuber, but on February 4, Minoura and Ishida formed the unit with Doi and Yoshida was flatly told his services weren’t required. This unit will formally debut with their name at the March 3 Korakuen. 

Kota Minoura

Kota Minoura will be an Open the Dream Gate Champion and it will probably happen sooner rather than later. Minoura just turned 23 and has already racked up wins over the likes of BxB Hulk, Diamante, Eita, Masaaki Mochizuki, and YAMATO. Since his debut in July 2018, Minoura has been a master of technique. He’s often able to catch his opponents in his Bevel Gear flash pin. His finishing move, the Gang, has become one of the most feared moves in the promotion as well. Despite being so young, Minoura carries himself like a stoic champion. He continues to up his game every time out. Finishers: Gang, Bevel Gear, Engranaje

Naruki Doi

The Rampaging Muscle and one of the all-time best tag team wrestlers, Naruki Doi finds himself in an interesting spot in 2022. He spent the first half of 2021 recovering from elbow surgery then as support for Masato Yoshino during his retirement tour. At Speedstar Final, Doi joked that he’d have to start a new DoiYoshi so he’s teaming with Takashi Yoshida. This came off like a joke at the time, but that’s how it played out with the new DoiYoshi ending up as Twin Gate champions. Later in the year, the long awaited next Doi unit was announced and Naruki Doi is looking to lead a bunch of young handsome men in attempts to convert the Dragongate crowd back to 90% women. On February 4th, his new unit was launched with Kota Minoura and Kaito Ishida as handsome cornerstones. Doi remains a subtle wrestling genius at the age of 41 and everyone waits on baited breath to see if Naruki Doi is going to have one last heel run. Finishers: Bakatare Sliding Kick, Muscular Bomb, V9 Clutch

Kaito Ishida 

“Just a Kick Boy” Kaito Ishdia debuted in 2015 as an energetic, hyperactive young boy. Injuries derailed his initial progress as Takehiro Yamamura, the other half of the class of 2015, soared past Ishida and up the Dragongate ranks. When Ishida got healthy, he joined up with legends Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi in the MaxiMuM unit and began making strides immediately. During his time in that unit, Ishida developed a high-impact, kick-heavy style that brought him his first taste of success. In 2019, mere weeks after winning the Open the Brave Gate Championship, Ishida turned heel on MaxiMuM. He spent 2020 having arguably the feud of the year against Keisuke Okuda for the Brave Gate belt. The two participated in a number of fast-paced, G1-style sprint matches in 2020 with Okuda finally winning the Brave Gate belt in November. 2021 saw Ishida step up to the main event scene as he challenged Shun Skywalker for the Open the Dream Gate Championship at Champion Gate in Osaka 2021. He was ousted from R.E.D. on January 12, and joined Naruki Doi and Kota Minoura to form a new unit on February 4. Finishers: Ankle Lock, Bridging Tiger Suplex 

Unnamed Dia/Yoshioka Team

The year plus Dragon Dia and Dia Inferno feud came to a close in the most shocking lucha de apuesta result in Dragon System history with Shun turning on his Masquerade teammate Dragon Dia, losing the match for Dia in the process, and Dia Inferno confirming the worst kept secret that he was Yuki Yoshioka. The former Dias disappeared from shows after this result, until Dia’s startling unmasked return on January 12 defeating SB KENTo for the Brave Gate with Yoshioka’s help. The next night, Dia and Yoshioka beat SB KENTo again, along with HYO, for the Twin Gate. The new Twin Gate champions have since made it clear that they are only affiliated with each other, and were seeking a tag team name for the former Dias.

Dragon Dia

The Infinite Carat Diamond. Dia’s 2020 of trials and tribulations ended with being the first Dragon since Darkness Dragon to lose their mask after Shun Skywalker’s betrayal. He began 2021 returning with a skateboard and new best friend Yuki Yoshioka (the former Dia Inferno, we still don’t know why they are on such good terms already after their blood feud). Dia quickly made a mark on his return, becoming a double Brave and Twin Gate champion within less than 24 hours. One of the most outstanding flyers in the world, it will be fascinating to see if he can become the first Dragon to win the Dream Gate. Finishers: Reptilian Kai, DDDDT, Phoenix Splash

Yuki Yoshioka

The Former Dia Inferno. The worst kept secret in Dragongate was finally revealed in December as Dia Inferno willingly unmasked as Yuki Yoshioka. The middle member of the Class of 2016, Yoshioka’s pre-excursion career was full of promise and I (Mike) gave him the Susumu Yokosuka comp. Yoshioka has it all, he’s nails in the ring, he’s got a great look and isn’t a bad talker. As Inferno, he played the character as well as anyone could in a full body suit and heavy rubber mask, but we will see his greatness in 2021. Finishers: Frog Splash, Groza, Darkness Buster  

Unaffiliated

Ultimo Dragon 

The founder of Toryumon and head trainer of names like Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, Susumu Yokosuka, and Genki Horiguchi. In 2004, the decision was made for Ultimo’s students to split off from Ultimo and form Dragongate. For 15 years, his name was only ever mentioned in hushed tones. As a part of 20th-anniversary festivities in 2019, Masato Yoshino led the charge to convince Ultimo to wrestle in a Dragongate ring. Yoshino’s pleas worked, and after debuting in July 2019, Ultimo signed on as a senior advisor in September of that year. He largely finds himself away from heated feuds, choosing to work lively multi-man matches on the undercard. He is referred to as Dragongate’s “principal”. Finishers: La Magistral, Asai DDT

Eita

El Numero Uno and the youngest Dragongate Grand Slam winner in history. Debuting in 2011, he was best known as the King of Chop, a bizarre shoot tournament Dragongate did for several years where people just hauled off and chopped people as hard as possible. For winning King of Chop, he asked for an excursion to Mexico. Joining him in Mexico later on were T-Hawk and U-T, and in August of 2013 returned as Millennials. Millennials was an early peak for Eita, winning the Twin Gate with T-Hawk three times and the Triangle Gate twice. After Millennials was a wilderness wandering phase with Eita in Over Generation until he capitalized on his potential in 2016, entering the Super J-Cup and having a standout performance against Jushin Liger and winning his first Brave Gate title. Then more backsliding, joining VerserK, leading the failed Antias, then at Dangerous Gate 2018, launching R.E.D. where his career finally changed for good. Eita became The Guy in a post-CIMA Dragongate. In 2020, Eita won the King of Gate and the Dream Gate. His vicious style and machinations paid off. Since then, the Eita-led R.E.D. disbanded the Toryumon Generation, and spent 2021 more in the background. His issues with HYO led to the mutiny that expelled him and Kaito Ishida on January 12th. Finishers: Imperial Uno, El Numero Uno.

Yosuke Santa Maria 

Dragongate’s resident “exotico” wrestler. Throughout her career, Maria has been in a number of important matches for the Millennials and Tribe Vanguard, but she’s fallen down the pecking order ever since suffering an ankle injury in November 2018. Since then, Maria has stuck to comedy undercard matches, but that could change as after Eita was removed from R.E.D., she reminded everyone of her undying love for him. It would appear that Maria is going to save Eita from his evil ways. Finisher: Neraluchi

Jason Lee 

Jason Lee reminds many of what Roderick Strong was for so many years in wrestling. He might not be the first name you think of when you’re tasked with naming the best wrestlers in the world, but at the end of the day, few people are better at what they do inside of a wrestling ring than them. Lee is a Hong Kong native who participated in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic before joining the Dragongate ranks and immediately finding success in 2017. He is a master of technique and a valuable member of the roster who can get beaten while still remaining credible. In 2021, One of the best junior heavyweight in Japan. Finishers: MaxiMuM Driver, Hong Kong Tornado

La Estrella 

Masquerade’s sole-remaining masked man debuted at the end of 2020 and was thrust into the spotlight immediately. When Estrella is on, he’s a thrilling high-flyer who moves around the ring like very few in wrestling do. Unfortunately, his high-risk offense doesn’t always pan out. In his first full year on the roster, Estrella struggled with the execution of some of his big moves, a huge issue in this company specifically. His future will all depend on whether or not he can wrestle clean matches. I’m afraid he’ll be sent to opening match purgatory if he can’t find the consistency that is needed to hang on this roster. Finisher: Jupiter 450  

Takashi Yoshida 

The artist formerly known as Cyber Kong. Yoshida has spent most of his career as Dragongate’s top heel muscle, but after being ousted from R.E.D. in early 2021, he has attempt to right his wrongs, first under the guidance of Masaaki Mochizuki, and now alongside Naruki Doi in their lighthearted “DoiYoshi 2.0” team, a play off of the greatest tag team in Dragongate history, Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi. Rarely does Yoshida have great matches, but he’s often in the mix, thus he’s a name that you should know. Finishers: Cyber Bomb, Pineapple Bomber 

Shuji Kondo 

Originally a graduate of the T2P class along with names like Masato Yoshino and Milano Collection A.T, Kondo was fired (or quit, depending on who you ask) from Dragongate at the end of 2004. He wouldn’t be seen again until Dragongate kicked off their 20th Anniversary Celebration in January 2019 when he defeated Masaaki Mochizuki in a singles match. After the closure of Wrestle-1, Kondo began competing in Dragongate full-time. Despite numerous injuries and the fact that he’s quickly approaching 45, Kondo’s power is second to none. He still remains a threat to anyone on the roster. Finishers: Gorilla Clutch, King Kong Lariat 

Strong Machine J

The son of Super Strong Machine and the 2019 Tokyo Sports Rookie of the Year. Strong Machine J debuted in April 2019 to much fanfare. Dragongate made his own version of the Strong Machine Army, brought in his father’s original manager Shogun KY Wakamatsu, and booked him as strong as any rookie before him. He set a record as the quickest rookie to a title, winning the Triangle Gate at Kobe World 2009. Since then, SMJ has been hampered by continual shoulder issues and a feeling of being stuck in this gimmick. Strong Machine J is strong enough of a wrestler to not need his dad’s gimmick, but time will tell if they ever move him away from it. Finisher: Devil Windmill/Machine Suplex.

Ryo Saito

Named general manager and match maker on August 2, 2021. SaiRyo still wrestles occasionally on Korakuens and big shows, but his primary role nowadays is being a flustered matchmaker who has the FUTURE kids at his beck and call whenever he needs someone removed from ringside. Before becoming GM, Saito spent most of the year either in Team Boku or just filling out teams in undercard tags. Don’t expect that to change much in 2022. Finishers: SaiRyo Rocket, Double Cross

Yasushi Kanda 

One of the Dragon System’s original bad boys, Kanda played a pivotal role in the M2K stable during the early years of Toryumon. With the help of Susumu Yokosuka and Masaaki Mochziuki, they wreaked havoc over the entire roster. In 2001, Kanda suffered a neck injury that forced him to suddenly retire. He pivoted to refereeing, a position that he stayed in through 2006 when he resumed in-ring competition. Kanda isn’t the flashiest name, but he’s been involved with M2K, The Jimmyz, and R.E.D, three of the most important units in the history of the company. Recently, he’s joined the brigade of angry veterans with Don Fujii, Masaaki Mochizuki, and Shuji Kondo, and has taken great solace in pummeling the Class of 2021. Finishers: Gekokujoh Elbow, Ryu’s 

Masaaki Mochizuki 

Widely respected as one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time by those in the know. Mochizuki just celebrated his 52nd birthday, but he still moves around the ring with the agility and ferocity of a 25-year-old. There’s nothing this man hasn’t done in the context of Dragongate. He’s a four-time Dream Gate Champion, tying him with Masato Yoshino and Shingo Takagi for the second most reigns in history. He’s been an amazing heel, a valiant babyface, and an undeniable positive force in this promotion since its inception. When he’s not competing in Dragongate, he’s now an active part of Pro Wrestling NOAH, having held the GHC National Championship in 2021. He is the true iron man of pro wrestling. Finishers: Twister, Saikyou High Kick 

Don Fujii 

The Demon Drill Sergeant in His Fifties. Don Fujii is not a complicated man. He loves drinking, watching Sumo (he’s a former one), and beating up people. Especially rookies. Sometimes YAMATO. Whenever you see Fujii line up against a rookie, you know the rookie’s in for a bad night and probably a very painful morning. The Toryumon original’s headlining days are far behind him, but he can always turn it up in a rookies versus veterans match, and his team with Masaaki Mochizuki is still one of the most enduring partnerships in the history of the promotion. Finishers: Nice German, HIMEI, Gedo Clutch

Hip Hop Kikuta 

Debuting as Madoka Kikuta in an empty arena setting in 2020, Kikuta turned heel six months into his career and was renamed Hip Hop Kikuta, not due to his love of the music genre, but because of his large, or rather, “thicc” hips. Kikuta has a mean hip attack and a meaner rolling lariat, dubbed The Hand of God Lariat by Open the Voice Gate. Kikuta suffered a serious shoulder injury in his first Open the Dream Gate Championship match against Shun Skywalker in May 2021. He has been out of action ever since. Finishers: Discuss Lariat, Snap Piledriver 

Punch Tominaga 

In 2014, then-Chihiro Tominaga had a career that was going nowhere. He was goaded into a Punch Perm contra Punch Perm match against Kotoka, with the loser being forced to adopt a similar hairstyle to Don Fujii’s. Tominaga lost, got his haircut, changed his name, and subsequently went insane. Let the record books show that Punch Tominaga defeated CIMA in a singles match in August 2014. Unfortunately for Tominaga, the gimmick quickly flamed out and he has spent his time ever since being an awkward undercard wrestler. His most heated feud is now with Dragongate’s English announcer, Dragongate Jae, who routinely calls out Tominaga for his receding hairline. Finishers: PT Kick, Punch Clutch 

Gamma 

Originally a Michinoku Pro dojo graduate, Gamma jumped to Osaka Pro and El Dorado before finally landing in Dragongate. At one point Gamma was a top heel in the company, causing the legendary Blood Generation unit to split up and turn against CIMA. He spent most of the 2010’s as a lovable babyface who is rarely placed in important matches. He is a former King of Gate winner who has won every title but the Dream Gate belt, but unless hell freezes over, he won’t be joining that illustrious club anytime soon. Finisher: Skytwister Press

Problem Dragon 

Often considered to be the weakest wrestler on the roster. His theme song was once all of Dragongate’s veterans booing him on a loop. He was known as “the salty dog” of the promotion for his salt-in-the-eyes attacks that he would execute as a heel, but Dragon now finds himself as a babyface who is largely uninvolved in storylines. He’s there to take pinfalls. Finisher: Shooting Star Press 

Kenichiro Arai

A Toryumon original who spent years working Tokyo micro-indies found his way back into the company in 2019. Araken will only show up at Tokyo area shows and the larger shows. One of the most underrated wrestlers on the roster from 2007-2013, he really hasn’t been much since he got ejected from Deep Drunkers. It’s always fun to get his monthly appearance and to see what random indie championships he will bring to ring (that Ho Ho Lun will immediately identify without prompting or research). Finishers: Firebird Splash, Hanshin Tigers Suplex

K-Ness

The former Darkness Dragon will retire on April 7. Although he was one of the most talented wrestlers in the history of the System, and part of two of the System’s biggest feuds with Dragon Kid and Masato Yoshino, the story of his career is how his body couldn’t keep up. In 2003, K-ness suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury that became intermittent for the remaining 18 years of his career. He would have stints of good health, most notably 2015-2017 with Mad Blankey and Jimmyz, but things would crop up that would sideline him. Finishers: Hikari No Wa, Darkness Buster

Super Shisa 

Taco enthusiast, chain wrestling master, and proud cat-dad, Super Shisa rarely pops up on Dragongate shows anymore, but he makes his presence felt whenever he gets in the ring. Shisa began his career training in Mexico with Ray Mendoza before joining Ultimo Dragon’s Gym and becoming one of his first students. In the early years of Toryumon, he wrestled unmasked as SAITO. In November 2001, he donned the mask and became known as Super Shisa. While he’ll likely never be involved in an important match, it’s always great seeing Shisa show face. Finisher: Yoshitanic 

Konomama Ichikawa

The weakest wrestler in the world, and one of the all-time greatest comedy wrestlers. Somehow for almost 25 years, the former “Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa has innovated ways to be pro wrestling’s worst. The big thing for Ichikawa last year was his dominance in the monthly Royal Sambo battle royales to the extent that we openly questioned “Who Can Stop the Ichikawa.” Stalker is somewhat part-time at this point, but still has the connection and power to get the crowd to buy into his Ina Bauer German Suplex. Finishers: Getting pinned, arguing for rematches, Ina Bauer German Suplex

Shachihoko BOY 

On March 1, 2015, Shachihoko BOY and his best friend Masato Yoshino shocked the world when they won the Open the Twin Gate Championships. Before that, Shachi had spent time bouncing from comedy gimmick to comedy gimmick, never having any true success to show for himself. He would spend the next year as a thorn in Shingo Takagi’s side, even scoring a pinfall over him in an elimination match in Korakuen Hall. Once Monster Express, the unit that he was recruited into by Masato Yoshino, disbanded in the fall of 2016, Shachi went back to the sidelines and has rarely competed in anything notable since. Finishers: M-9, Orion

Ho Ho Lun 

Dragongate’s lovable sidekick at the English commentary table. Much like Jason Lee, Ho Ho is a Hong Kong import who spent time in the WWE years ago. He has since found a home in Dragongate, often questioning the complexity of certain match types and calling out R.E.D. for their cheating ways. On Dragongate’s big shows, he will often go straight from the ring to the commentary table, joining matches in progress and out of breath. He also has an obsession with toilet cleaning products. He’s truly the best. Finisher: Ho Ho Roll 

Dragongate Future

Dragongate’s rookies in the Class of 2021 come from the Dragongate FUTURE project. Because of COVID restrictions, Dragongate stopped running their smaller Kobe Lapis Hall house show where the rookies and younger roster members got more ring time. To accommodate for this, DG started running the FUTURE project, where the rookies would have five-minute exhibitions before their larger monthly shows. FUTURE started to debut in September with the Iihashis at Dangerous Gate through mid-November. It’s notable that this is the largest influx of rookie talent in the Dragon System since the Toryumon days: six trainees entered the dojo at the same time during COVID, and all six became pro wrestlers. The Class of 2022 had their first FUTURE matches on February 13, 2022

Ishin Iihashi 

If Riki is the heartthrob of the Iihashi clan, then Ishin is the rampaging bull. A former nurse, Ishin joined the Dragongate dojo at the same time as his older brother. He’s often the one yelling out the most in any future match, has a really solid missile dropkick, and the size to be FUTURE’s power fighter. Where Riki takes after their father, Ishinriki Koji with sumo affectations, Ishin takes after their mother, the former Juliana Hozumi, with a pink feather boa and fan in his entrance.

Riki Iihashi 

As a child, Riki was recruited off the streets to be an actor. When that didn’t pan out, he joined Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. That led him to the Dragongate dojo where he and his younger brother Ishin became Japan’s first thoroughbreds, as their mom and dad were also pro wrestlers. Riki has developed a mean knife edge chop and undeniable charisma within his first three months as a pro. He and his brother are still looking for their first win, which could now come at any time. Finisher: Alcatraz 

Takumi Hayakawa 

Standing at 156cm (roughly 5’1”), Hayakawa is the smallest man on the roster. He debuted in October 2021 as a last minute replacement for an injured Keisuke Okuda. Despite his size, Hayakawa has become a ferocious competitor, nearly scoring a number of wins with his headlock takeover flash pin. Hayakawa technically defeated Open the Dream Gate Champion KAI in December, but that was after KAI hit his finisher on Hayakawa and then, for some reason, had the rookie cover him. Realistically, Hayakawa is still searching for his first victory. 

Takuma Fujiwara

The youngest member of the FUTURE class, Fujiwara will turn 20 in February. Where everyone else in his class has some sort of hook, Fujiwara debuted at Gate of Origin and was a blank canvas. Someone who dreamed of being a wrestler since childhood, Fujiwara opted to train with Michinoku Pro and Dragon System member Taro Nohashi for middle school career day. What Fujiwara has shown over his two months in the ring is outstanding. He already has the look and is crisp beyond his years with his offense. He’s a bit lanky, when he fills out as he gets older, we are talking about future Dream Gate champion if not more.

Shoya Sato 

Dragongate has become known for the unrelenting flow of youth that has trickled into this promotion throughout the last decade, but Sato is a different story. He debuted at the age of 29 in his hometown where he was a former high school teacher and judo instructor. He is one of the most accomplished judo players to ever enter pro wrestling. He has taken umbrage with Don Fujii, who torments him and the rest of the FUTURE class on a regular basis. Expect Sato to be given a lot of coverage in 2022. Because of his age, he will likely be the first one pushed hard from the FUTURE class. 

Ryu Fuda 

An accomplished kickboxer, Fuda became interested in Dragongate after seeing Masaaki Mochizuki’s success and after meeting Keisuke Okuda at a show. He was viciously choked out by Okuda at Korakuen Hall on January 12, which could act as a motivator for Fuda to find his footing and move up the card quickly. He’s a natural standout in this promotion, given his kick-first offense. Few guys can match his striking game. 

Past Units as of 2022

R.E.D. (Real Extreme Difusion) (9/24/2018 – 2/4/2022)

Eita formed R.E.D. at Dangerous Gate 2018 as a rebrand of VerserK and ANTiAS in the lead up to Shingo Takagi’s departure from the company. ANTiAS was supposed to be the young generation moving towards the forefront but the OWE split and the looming specter killed the unit before it had a chance to thrive, so R.E.D. set the company back on good footing. By the end of 2018 they had held every championship in the company, and they have looked strong ever since. Multiple different Open the Dream Gate Champions, several Brave Gates, and a bunch of Twin Gate and Triangle Gate runs pale in comparison to R.E.D.’s crowning achievement: Winning the 2020 Generation War and forcing the Toryumon Generation to disband in Dragongate’s best match in years. What made it more remarkable was that each fall won on the rudo side was scored by SB KENTo or Hiphop Kikuta, two rookies under the age of 20. In 2021, R.E.D. found itself in a war with Masquerade. R.E.D. vs Masquerade was a war on multiple fronts, as the Dia vs Inferno feud and Shun vs R.E.D. in Dream Gate matches became storylines in their own right. This would conclude rather indecisively as Masquerade’s own internal issues led to Kota Minoura turning on Shun Skywalker during January 12, 2022’s Triangle Gate match, Shun joining R.E.D., and R.E.D’s ejection of Eita and his second in command Kaito Ishida. Things fell into place rather quickly, and on February 4 Korakuen the former core of R.E.D. and Shun Skywalker formed Z-Brats as the next heel unit.

Leader: Eita (9/24/2018 – 01/12/2022)

Members: Eita, Kaito Ishida, BXB Hulk, Shun Skywalker, PAC, KAI, Kazma Sakamoto, Yasushi Kanda, Diamante, SB KENTo, HYO, Hiphop Kikuta, Daga

Masquerade (12/2/2020 – 2/4/2022)

When Shun Skywalker returned from Mexico and won the Dream Gate in his first match back, he was completely unaffiliated with what was happening in the Generation War and decided to form a unit looking towards 2021. Poaching Dragon Dia, Kota Minoura, and Jason Lee from the Dragongate Generation, which drew the ire of the remaining DG Army members as betraying their generation. This was no matter, Masquerade was formally announced in December 2020 with debuting La Estrella as the final member. 2021’s big feud was Masquerade vs R.E.D, a war on several fronts with Shun Skywalker defending the Dream Gate against constant R.E.D. challengers and Dragon Dia’s blood feud with Dia Inferno. The feud reached its final phase as Dia and Inferno went for each other’s masks and Skywalker and Diamante were mask ripping as well. GM Ryo Saito announced a tag team Loser Must Unmask match for the first December Korakuen, where in the final moments Dragon Dia tried to protect Shun Skywalker, which led to Skywalker intentionally shoving Dia into Diamante’s Vuelta Finale to the lose the mask. Without any hyperbole, it was the most stunning apuestas result in Dragon System history. This act by Skywalker formed a fissure that Masquerade couldn’t heal from, as Minoura, Lee and Estrella stopped wanting anything to with Skywalker, and Dia disappeared. Skywalker forced them into a Triangle Gate match Lee and Minoura wanted no part of and they somehow became the most dysfunctional champions ever. Minoura attempted to expel Skywalker at Final Gate 2021, but Skywalker unmasked himself as the referee was distracted and threw the mask in Minoura’s hands. This all came to a head on January 12, as Skywalker, Minoura and Lee lost the Triangle Gate to R.E.D’s Eita, Kaito Ishida and HYO when Minoura fully turned on Skywalker with a box attack. He refused to apologize to him, and Skywalker snapped and joined R.E.D at his classmate HYO’s bequest. Over the next month, the remaining members teamed together occasionally, but Masquerade formally ended at the February 4 Korakuen when Kota Minoura accepted Naruki Doi’s offer to form a unit, and Jason Lee shook his hand and left the ring.

Leader: Shun Skywalker (12/2/2020 – 1/12/2022)

Members: Shun Skywalker, Kota Minoura, Dragon Dia, Jason Lee, La Estrella

So how does Dragongate operate differently from other Japanese promotions?

Dragongate is a part of the Lucharesu style that began with Gran Hamada’s Universal Lucha Libre of the early 90s. Because of that, they use the Lucha Libre tag system where physical tags aren’t needed. Nearly every match will have the competitors’ unit mates act as seconds, and they sometimes get involved in matches (more heavily if the matches involve R.E.D. or heels). This usually isn’t a disqualification. In fact, Dragongate refs are willing to let matches play out until there is a fall of some sort and DQs are more rare than one would expect if someone comes in from watching other wrestling. But it’s not a hardcore or no DQ promotion. The things that will guaranteed get someone disqualified in DG are unmasking someone, attacking the referee, or if the interference is so overwhelming that there’s no way for the match to reach a conclusion.

Championships and Tournaments

Dragongate has four championships, two singles and two team belts. Challenges most often happen when a challenger gets a direct fall on the champion or an outright challenge.

  • The Open the Dream Gate championship is DG’s top singles belt. Formed after the Toryumon split, the first champion was CIMA, the last Ultimo Dragon Gym champion. Dragongate takes this belt incredibly seriously and will do full national anthems before a title match. The belt itself has a “gate” where the champion nameplate is behind it. A Dream Key denotes the challenger. If they win, they “unlock” the gate and put their own name plate on the belt. A successful defense means the champion takes the Dream Key and puts it on the title belt. YAMATO has held the Dream Gate the most at six reigns, CIMA had both the longest reign (574 days) and most defenses in one (15). The current Open the Dream Gate champion is KAI.
  • The Open The Brave Gate championship is DG’s secondary singles belt. It has a mostly legitimate weight limit of 83 kilograms (183 pounds). It’s seen as the heir to the British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight championship in Toryumon. The strap of the belt is white as each champion’s reign “colors” the belt. Naruki Doi was the first Brave Gate champion. Masato Yoshino was seen as the king of the Brave Gate division with eight title reigns and PAC held the belt the longest at 447 days. The current Open the Brave Gate champion is Dragon Dia.
  • The Open The Triangle Gate championship is DG’s Trios title. The unit that holds the Triangle Gate at any time is considered the current strongest one in Dragongate. It’s the replacement for the UWA Trios belts from Toryumon and the first champion team was the Italian Connection team of Milano Collection AT, YOSSINO, and Anthony W Mori. The belt was founded with the tenets of Body, Technique, and Mind, and the best Triangle teams would embody this. As of the time of writing this, the Open the Triangle Gate championships is vacant.
  • The Open the Twin Gate championship is Dragongate’s tag team belt. It’s the newest championship as it was founded by Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi after winning the first Summer Adventure Tag League in 2007. Eita and T-Hawk held the belts the most as a team with four reigns jointly, and CIMA and Dragon Kid as CK-1 had the longest reign at 397 days. Dragon Dia and Yuki Yoshioka are the current Open The Twin Gate champions

Dragongate will have several tournaments through a given year, but the only annual one right now is King of Gate. King of Gate takes place after Dead or Alive in May and goes into June. It’s the replacement for Toryumon’s El Numero Uno tournament and the format has changed several times between an elimination bracket or a round robin league. The 2021 King of Gate was Kzy.

The Dragongate Schedule

The Dragongate monthly schedule varies, but what appears on the Network remains somewhat stable. Every month these live shows will happen. Unless noted they will air live with a hard camera and no commentary (they will return to the Network a few months later with full production/editing as an episode of Infinity):

  • One Tokyo Korakuen Hall show, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday. This the only monthly show that it’s guaranteed to have full production and English commentary. In December and January, there are two Korakuens. This should be considered the biggest monthly show and a fan’s biggest priority. Will have title matches throughout the year.
  • One or Two Kobe Sambo Hall shows. Kobe is Dragongate’s hometown so they will always have a monthly show around Kobe. In recent years, they started doing Royal Sambos (dual entry Royal Rumble style battle royals). If Korakuen is the “A” show, Sambo Hall is a “B+” show. Occasionally will have a title match.
  • At least one Kyoto KBS Hall show. The building with stained glass. Kyoto’s in the same region as Kobe or Osaka so it’s a major priority. There is a saying with Dragongate that “You never know what will happen in Kyoto.” Rarely has title matches.

Although not monthly, these stops are considered a part of the TV Loop:

  • Osaka Edion 2. Home of Champion Gate. Will have the most title matches in a year outside of Korakuen. DG’s typical schedule has them skip Edion 2 in April after Champion Gate and skip December after Gate of Destiny
  • Acros Fukuoka is Dragongate’s Hakata area replacement for Hakata Star Lanes. It is run bimonthly, and due to the size difference between Acros and Star Lanes, they run either doubleheaders or back-to-back nights. It’s not treated as importantly as Star Lanes was treated, but it will have a considerable amount of title matches as well as final stages in King of Gate historically.
  • Sapporo ii-one Stadium. Run twice a year in May, for King of Gate, and December for three straight days. As the greater Sapporo area is the home to Kzy and BXB Hulk, the Sapporo trips sometimes end up being concentrated about them.

Dragongate has eight big events each year. The five biggest shows (called no surprise the Big Five), will always have English commentary and full production, the other three varies on circumstances/GAORA’s (DG’s TV network) live schedule.

The Big Five

  • Dead or Alive is Dragongate’s first Big Five show of the year. It’s always in Nagoya and around Golden Week (typically May 4th through 7th). Dead or Alive is known for Dragongate’s crazy cage apuestas match that you’ve undoubtedly seen gifs of.
  • Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival is colloquially called Kobe World and is the biggest event in Dragongate’s year. They are the direct successor to Toryumon’s Anniversario shows and take place at Kobe World Kinen Hall at the end of July. DG pulls out all of the stops at Kobe World each year. In 2021 they ran a second night at World Kinen Hall for Masato Yoshino’s retirement, Speed Star Final. 
  • Dangerous Gate from Tokyo Ota City Ward Gymnasium is Dragongate’s biggest Tokyo-area of the year. It’s usually in very late August to mid September The company tends to lean heavy into the “Dangerous” part of the name and there’s often a lot of plunder in one of the matches. Naruki Doi is nicknamed “Mr. Ota-ku” for having many big moments at Dangerous Gate.
  • Gate of Destiny is Dragongate’s Edion Arena Osaka big show of the year. It’s in the start of November, around when New Japan runs Power Struggle from the same arena. Personally (Mike), this is usually my favorite Big Five show of the year as it often has some of the more historically great matches in Dragon System history.
  • The Final Gate is from Fukuoka around Christmas time each year. Final Gate is arguably the number two show of Dragongate’s year as they end the year strong and reset to look ahead.

The other big shows are:

  • Champion Gate is back-to-back shows from Osaka Edion 2 at the end of February or beginning of March. It’s often seen as the true “start” of Dragongate’s calendar year. All titles are typically defended with two defenses one night and the others the next.
  • Memorial Gate from Wakayama is one of the newer big shows. Originally a “bought” show by the MBS TV network, it would have a title defense or two, but nothing extremely important. In fact, only with the Network has it been easily accessible without buying the DVD. It’s around the same time as Champion Gate (this year it’s before it), and the home of the Wakayama Tornado Winning Rules Match.
  • Gate of Origin comes to us from Sendai, and it is usually between mid September and October. The newest of Dragongate’s big shows. As the company has recruited heavily from Sendai’s region, and it’s the same region as YAMATO is from, its importance has been elevated year over year.

Outside this, Dragongate runs one of the busiest schedules in the world. Just not a lot of it gets taped because it’s mostly smaller houseshows, wrestler homecomings, or bought sponsored shows. Each year, the Dragongate Network streams one or two wrestler homecomings (usually Naruki Doi’s and someone else’s). As well, the Network and their YouTube will post important matches soon after they happen. Sometimes they are in full production but sometimes it’s single camera.

Essential Viewing on the Dragongate Network 

The main event of the first Toryumon show. Ultimo Dragon’s students packed the house and put on an incredible elimination, 45-minute main event.  

The #2 babyface vs. the #2 heel at this time in the promotion. They’ve been rivals since the beginning of the promotion and this is the blowoff. SUWA puts his hair on the line and Dragon Kid puts his mask on the line. This is David vs. Goliath wrestling done right. 

The first televised three-team trios match in Toryumon. This is what this promotion does best. By this point, CIMA, Mochizuki, and Dragon Kid are total pros. The other six can certainly pull their weight. No other promotion can even attempt to replicate this. 

The Toryumon 2000 Project lands in Japan and you’ve never seen a show like this before. 

Mochizuki contra Mochizuki. Masaaki had turned face and his former pals in M2K were not happy about it. He and Susumu wrestle for the right to keep the Mochizuki name. 

The biggest names on the biggest show of the year. 

This is a winning formula, as you can see. 

A match that truly embodies the Dragongate style. You have YOSSINO’s unmatched speed against K-Ness’ unmatched technique. The Kobe World crowd responds very favorably to them. 

The best Blood Generation vs. Do FIXER match. They do a million things and it all looks flawless. Ryo Saito had spent all of 2005 neck-and-neck with CIMA, Naruki Doi had made it his mission to destroy Dragon Kid, and Don Fujii and Genki Horiguchi always bring it in the big matches. This is as good as it gets. 

One of the first great matches that doesn’t feature anyone from the original class. One of the early “Shingo might be the best wrestler in the world” matches. A bad finish removes its status as one of the best DG matches ever. 

The last time we saw Hulk and Shingo, they were teaming up and ushering in Dragongate’s new generation. Things changed. They hate each other’s guts now. They headlined this show two years ago and neither were truly “ready” for that stage. Now, they’re in the semi-main in a hair vs. hair match. Widely regarded as one of the best matches of either man’s career. 

CIMA and his foreign protege against Dragon Kid and his foreign protege. This is one of the wildest matches ever. They go all-out on the biggest show of the year. 

Flamita’s career was made by this match. Susumu was the perfect base for all of Flamita’s mind-shattering offense. 

Arguably the best match to ever take place in Dragongate. Takagi won the Dream Gate belt in August and began buzz sawing through DG’s elder statesmen. This is the best work that either man has done – and that’s really saying something. 

In May 2016, Shingo and his VerserK unit turned on YAMATO. What transpired over the next few months was a picture-perfect face turn that culminated in the main event of the biggest show of the year. Long before he landed in NJPW, Takagi was capable of having world-class matches on huge stages. 

Kzy is now a respected main eventer who is always lurking around the Dream Gate scene. This match, however, was his first Dream Gate challenge, and Kzy was anything but established as a serious player at this time. Mochizuki decided to welcome him to the main event scene by working his stomach~! and torturing him in every brutal way imaginable. 

It’s February and Kzy is back in the Dream Gate scene again. This time he’s squaring off against PAC and they’re tasked with closing out Dragongate’s final show in the legendary Hakata Star Lanes venue. If for some reason you haven’t seen this, you need to change that immediately. 

PAC was unbeaten at this point since leaving WWE. Ben-K went undefeated in King of Gate en route to earning this title match. This was the main event of the first DG show with English commentary and it felt like a real Moment. 

This match was so good that it couldn’t be hampered by unfortunate COVID crowd restrictions. It’s a No DQ, Losing Unit Disbands match that sees a number of men under the age of 25 taking out the biggest legends in the history of Dragongate. In the pantheon of the best matches this company has ever produced. 

Skywalker has always been known for flying around the ring. Ishida is at his best when he’s targeting a body part and kicking the life out of it. Ishida had the right idea going into this match by targeting Shun’s knee and making it impossible for him to do his signature offense. 

Open the Voice Gate Podcast

Open the Voice Gate is dedicated to bringing you non-stop coverage of everything Dragongate, including show reviews & previews as well as discussion of Dragongate’s rich history.

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