KING OF GATE
JUNE 2, 2022
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN
Watch: Dragon Gate Network
KING OF GATE 2022 SECOND CHANCE 28 ENTRANT DRAGON SCRAMBLE BATTLE ROYAL
KOTA MINOURA WINS THE 28 MAN BATTLE ROYAL
This match took place to fill Jason Lee’s spot in the semi-finals as Lee suffered a concussion in his match on May 29 against BxB Hulk. The contestants were everyone who had previously been eliminated from King of Gate.
The rules are actually quite simple, you see. 28 men entered in intervals of 4. Once your feet hit the floor, whether that was over the top rope or otherwise, you were eliminated. This should’ve been an absolute cluster, but it was such an effective battle royal that accomplished numerous things. Of course, Kota Minoura was given a platform to prove why he’s one of the best guys in the company. His pairing with Minorita is brilliant as they continue to change their tone from when Gold Class first debuted. It seemed like this was going to be a lovable Batman & Robin-like pairing, but as Gold Class has progressed, Minorita has aided his senior by using underhanded tactics. In this match, he sacrificed himself to hold Kzy and Strong Machine J in position on the apron, which gave Minoura a chance to eliminate all three and win the match. Minoura looked credible despite at times working with a 2-on-1 advantage.
There was also some great stuff with Strong Machine J and all of High-End, who requested J join them at last month’s Korakuen Hall show. J told them that he’d wait until after King of Gate to give them a response. After seeing him work so well alongside U-T, Kagetora tried to pull off double team moves with J, but they backfired and led to Kagetora’s elimination.
It’s easy to look at the name of this match and throw it out as some sort of gimmick, but there was plenty of substance in this match. It was paced beautifully and executed in a way that felt true to the stories currently taking place in Dragongate. You would have no idea Jason Lee was injured watching this, because it all made sense and didn’t feel pieced together at the last moment.
With his win, Minoura earned the right to wrestle Shuji Kondo in the semi-finals. ***1/4
KING OF GATE 2022 SEMI-FINALS MATCH
YUKI YOSHIOKA DEF. SHUN SKYWALKER
These two have been attached at the hip for over six months now. When the feud between Dragon Dia and Dia Inferno was reaching its end, Skywalker swore that since he went to Mexico with Yuki Yoshioka in 2020, he could not be as malicious as the man under the Inferno mask. Skywalker was wrong. However, once Inferno unmasked, Yuki Yoshioka returned to his former joyous self while Shun Skywalker began dabbling in darkness. We now sit here, at the beginning of June, with Yoshioka as one-half of a fun-loving, babyface tag team that feels like the future of Dragongate, and Skywalker, who is simply the best wrestler in the world right now doing the best character work of his career as a deranged, unhinged heel who fully embraced cheating in his quarter-finals match to get here.
Outside of an extended sleeper hold which I thought grounded this match to a halt, this had the intensity and aggression that you’d hope for from a feud that has been simmering for this long.
This was a rare instance in which Skywalker was outshined by his opponent. Yoshioka, after his matches with YAMATO, U-T, and Diamante, was the clear frontrunner for MVP of King of Gate and this match only added fuel to that fire. He was tremendous at fighting back against the sheer force of Skywalker. He narrowly escaped SSW attempts, the second of which he nearly won with a headlock takeover pin, then to turn the tide after getting beat down for most of the match, countered Skywalker’s patented running big boot with a clubbing lariat. This was the best spot of the match. Skywalker fully committed to this boot and Yoshioka swatted him out of the air like a Dikembe Mutombo blocked shot.
Yoshioka used that momentum to land the Inferno, a middle rope lungblower, then his signature Frog Splash for the win. This started hot, lagged in the middle, then ended super hot. Yoshioka looked like a beast and they seemingly left room for a rematch down the road. ***1/2
GENKI HORIGUCHI, KENICHIRO ARAI, SUSUMU MOCHIZUKI, & YASUSHI KANDA DEF. MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI, PUNCH TOMINAGA, ULTIMO DRAGON, & YOSUKE SANTA MARIA
Jae called Punch Tominaga the James Bond of Dragongate because last month he had 0 pins, 0 submissions, and 7 losses. 007. I died.
This match was built around getting the M2K guys, Mochizuki, Mochizuki, & Kanda, back into the fold. Kanda and (Susumu) Mochizuki beat on (Masaaki) Mochizuki early and for the finish, Susumu connected with the Kamikaze on Tominaga before Kanda landed his Gekokujoh Elbow for the win. I enjoyed Ultimo Dragon’s hot tag more than anything else in the match. This was very much a Fine Display of Pro Wrestling. **1/2
KING OF GATE 2022 SEMI-FINALS MATCH
KOTA MINOURA WITH MINORITA DEF. SHUJI KONDO
Minoura seemed to exert very little effort in the opening battle royal, but came into this match selling wear and tear like he had just been involved in a grueling, hour-long world championship match. This was a rare miss for Minoura. He sold and sold and sold, trying to buy time with the referee while Minorita toyed with Kondo on the floor. I just don’t like the way they went about this at all. It wasn’t clear to me if Minoura was actually selling injuries from the battle royal or if this was a con, which it turned out to be. I would’ve rather him get bested by Kondo early and need Minorita to save him in the end. Having Minoura enter the match in seemingly such a weakened state was very confusing to me.
Kondo began rolling on offense and was gearing up for a King Kong Lariat when Minorita grabbed his foot, giving Minoura the chance to pin the big man with a schoolboy. The finish came across great, but the four minutes it took to get there were a pain. **1/4
BXB HULK, DIAMANTE, HYO, KAI, & SB KENTO DEF. EITA, ISHIN IIHASHI, LA ESTRELLA, PROBLEM DRAGON, & STRONG MACHINE J
I told you all to buy stock in Strong Machine J. At this time last year, I questioned whether or not he had a place in Dragongate at all. Currently, I”m as bullish on him as I am anyone not named SB KENTo or Takuma Fujiwara. Strong Machine J is finding himself as a performer and while he is far from a finished product, his growth is constant and it is noticeable. This was a short, fiery affair that was highlighted by J and Diamante crushing it with their high-intensity interactions. J is moving around the ring better than ever before and he has finally shaken off his robotic anti-charisma that plagued him post-Strong Machines. He wrestles like a human being now and shocker, it does wonders for him.
I enjoyed this for what it was. Like most matches on this show, this was super quick and super painless. HYO caught Ishin with an Inside Cradle to steal the victory. ***
KAITO ISHIDA, MINORITA, & NARUKI DOI DEF. BIG BOSS SHIMIZU, TAKASHI YOSHIDA, & TAKUMA FUJIWARA
It is a fact at this point that Big Boss Shimizu is not the smartest man on the Dragongate roster. Throughout the years, various stories of him getting into trouble, or merely being a dumb guy doing a dumb thing, have been rumored, but nothing has ever or will ever define Shimizu and his lack of brain power than Takashi Yoshida, arms folded in the middle of the ring, refusing to chase after Minorita, only for Shimizu to blow past Yoshida and give chase to the miniature man. Shimizu is coming off of a leg injury, by the way. This was so beautiful, so futile, and so, so stupid. It was Shimizu summed up perfectly.
Takuma Fujiwara continues to be really entertaining as he continues to lose. His chemistry with Naruki Doi is top notch and once again he nearly pinned the two-time Dream Gate Champion with his tabletop flash pin, but Doi managed to kick out and then defeat the youngster with a Bakatare Sliding Kick. This clocked in at just over 5 minutes and was entertaining the entire time. ***1/4
BIG BOSS = BAD GUY pic.twitter.com/PVRHxaPJSK
— Dan (@GolazoDan) June 2, 2022
After the match, Doi let it be known that he was going to be wrestling as his baseball character, Second Doi, on the June 3 Toryumon Reunion show. He said that because of this, he needed to draft a team full of baseball players to team with him. His first pick was Big Boss Shimizu, who wears a baseball jersey to the ring and is so stocky that he must be a reliable first baseman. He will wrestle as First Shimizu on the show. Doi then turned his focus to the rookie. He badly wanted Takuma Fujiwara to join his team, but Fujiwara claimed that despite being a baseball player in his younger years, he dislocated his shoulder and claimed that he can’t throw a baseball anymore. Doi tried to make it clear that he would not be throwing, merely wrestling, but Fujiwara wasn’t having it. He questioned Minorita about joining Doi’s Boys, but Minoirta only had experience playing second base and that wouldn’t work with Second Doi. That left, unfortunately, Takashi Yoshida. Yoshida was SO FUCKING GOOD at realizing he was the last man available and that it meant Doi was going to have to pick him. Doi reluctantly agreed and Catcher Yoshida was born. This was gold.
JUST GIVE HIM A CHANCE COACH pic.twitter.com/kWp8JasJDj
— Dan (@GolazoDan) June 2, 2022
After the baseball draft concluded, Dragon Dia came out for his match but was attacked by a man in a pink Dragongate sweatshirt and a ski mask. The man, who looked like the type that would enjoy trains, sumo, alcohol, robbed Dia of his skateboard and attempted to push away to the backstage area.
Some skateboarding wrestlers don’t have the legit skills for the gimmick. The Cora Jade conundrum. Delighted to say that this thief doesn’t have that problem. pic.twitter.com/Wc735UFHAl
— Dan (@GolazoDan) June 2, 2022
KAGETORA & KEISUKE OKUDA DEF. DRAGON DIA & MADOKA KIKUTA
This was just shy of two minutes because the masked man that attacked Dia before the match returned to the ringside and distracted Dia, giving Kagetora the chance to pin Dia. NR
The masked man, of course, turned out to be Don Fujii, who has a history of stealing things from Ryo Saito’s bicycle to Genki Horiguchi’s surfboard to Milano Collection AT’s invisible dog. He claimed that he would give Dragon Dia back his skateboard if he beat him in a match, but Dia would also have to put his hair on the line. GM Ryo Saito confirmed a match, but it is unclear to me if Dia is actually putting his hair on the line or not. Either way, this was a hilarious segment that is more essential than any single match on this show.
JACKY “FUNKY” KAMEI, KZY, & U-T DEF. BEN-K, DRAGON KID, & YAMATO
All in all, there was hardly an hour’s worth of wrestling on this show. Everything outside of the opening match and the main event clocked in at under 10 minutes. This was just another multi-man match on a show that had a lot of multi-man matches. The match itself was largely irrelevant. What does matter, however, is that before the match started, Strong Machine J came out and danced his little heart out for Natural Vibes. His dancing is the best I’ve ever seen from anyone in Vibes. This was just unbelievably great.
High-End couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They had pleaded with SMJ to join them, but according to his account, he approached Vibes about joining their ranks. I’m so glad he did. On paper, SMJ and Natural Vibes don’t seem like a good fit, but he looked incredible in his debut.
Kzy flattened Ben-K with a Running Uppercut for the win. ***1/4
Strong Machine J, the son of Super Strong Machine, has found his own path by embracing his INSANE breakdancing skills. Junji raised his boy right. pic.twitter.com/F1P04g89FU
— Dan (@GolazoDan) June 2, 2022
KING OF GATE 2022 FINALS MATCH
YUKI YOSHIOKA DEF. KOTA MINOURA
For the second year in a row, Kota Minoura has come up short in the King of Gate Finals. Minoura will have his time. This match, however, was all about Yuki Yoshioka.
The clear MVP of King of Gate 2022 is stepping into the spotlight for the first time in his career. Debuting fourth out of five trainees in the class of 2016, Yoshioka has always been struggling to steal the spotlight away from Ben-K and Shun Skywalker. As this class has matured and grown, we’ve seen Ben-K and Shun Skywalker become Open the Dream Gate Champions and HYO, another one of his contemporaries, carve out a niche as a big-brained, big-mouth heel. Yoshioka is like a Fugees song, he’s killed his opponents softly while staying in his own lane and doing his own thing for the first five years of his career.
Yoshioka’s closest comparison to anyone on the active roster is Susumu Yokosuka, who I’ve often referred to as Dragongate’s Tim Duncan. Neither are as boisterous as their contemporaries, but in the ring they are as talented as anyone in the world. Yoshioka was already fighting for shine and that was compounded by the fact that as an entity, Yoshioka went away for 2 years. Unhappy with his spot in the company, in storyline, Yoshioka jetted to Mexico in March 2020 for an excursion. I don’t know if you guys follow the news at all, but some weird stuff went down in March 2020. Yoshioka found sporadic bookings throughout the summer and in the fall of 2020, returned to Japan under the Dia Inferno character. Inferno was a character that had ups and downs. When the mask came off and Yuki Yoshioka finally returned after a 2 year absence, he immediately reestablished himself as one of Dragongate’s brightest prospects in a company full of bright prospects.
His win, which came after an Inferno and a huge Frog Splash halfway across the ring, marks another bold booking decision for Dragongate. Look at the King of Gate lineup three years ago compared to the one day. The names are roughly the same, but the youth in 2019 is undoubtedly stronger today than they were then. While many companies have their 30-and-under talent running on an endless hamster wheel, Dragongate continues to pump out success story after success story. Yoshioka can now add his name to the list. This was the biggest match of his career up to this point and if history is any indication, he will soon be faced with much bigger opportunities. ***3/4
Your new King Of The Gate Yuki Yoshioka [Dia Inferno] hits a EPIC FROG SPLASH at today’s Dragon Gate King Of The Gate Finals Match (06.02.2022)pic.twitter.com/4pjfYMXDyf
— Puroresu Flowsion (@PuroresuFlow) June 2, 2022
In an era where so many wrestling companies are doing so much wrong, Dragongate continues to do so much right. Breakdancing, skateboard theft, and an emerging main eventer highlight a breezy show that felt much like a golden era Toryumon show than a Dragongate show of yesteryear. Thumbs up for the King of Gate finale.
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