DRAGONGATE
THE GATE OF VICTORY
OCTOBER 6, 2023
KORAKUEN HALL, TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: Dragon Gate Network

MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI & MOCHIZUKI JUNIOR VS. DON FUJII & YOSHIKI KATO 

Only a day removed from teaming with a pair of his classmates on his father’s Produce show, Mochizuki Junior once again established himself as the top dog among the current class of FUTURE prospects in Dragongate. 

At only 165 matches clocked on Cagematch, he wrestles like someone who should have a “1” in front of that number. Yes, he’s a second-generation wrestler, and specifically, he is second-generation to one of the single greatest wrestlers to ever live, but the prowess that Junior shows in matches like this is simply something to behold. I continue to wait for the larger wrestling media to take notice of something that is so obviously there. Junior is not just talented for someone who is still considered a rookie by his own company, Junior is excelling at a rate that is far greater than the overwhelming majority of wrestlers under 30. Before we know it, he won’t just be the best rookie, he’ll be one of the best wrestlers in the world. 

The 21-year-old has a secret weapon at his disposal and that is his constantly bloody nose. No one bleeds from their face more than Junior, and just like how blood can escalate a violent Bryan Danielson match, it does the same for Junior. Seeing Don Fujii lay in punches to an already bloody Junior was a sight to behold. 

This is not to slight Kato, who yet again showcased his primal, animalistic instincts that are a fresh addition to the Dragongate roster. He was excellent down the finishing stretch, throwing his high-impact moves at the father-son duo. 

In the end, neither the brute force of Fujii and Kato nor the well-rounded attack of the Mochizuki’s was enough to score the victory. With Mochizuki choking Fujii and Kato choking Junior, the 15-minute time limit expired. ***3/4 

Yoshiki Kato pleaded with GM Ryo Saito after the show for a five match trial series. Saito agreed to his terms.

KAGETORA & PROBLEM DRAGON DEF. DAIKI YANAGIUCHI & HO HO LUN 

The plucky, underdog team of Daiki Yanagiuchi and Ho Ho Lun put forth a strong effort, but ultimately they were no match for the hard-hitting nature of Kagetora. He forced Yanagiuchi to tap to a Camel Clutch in six minutes. **1/2 

25TH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL MATCH
GENKI HORIGUCHI DEF. YASUSHI KANDA 

In a rematch of the first-ever match in Toryumon history, Horiguchi got revenge on the man that kicked off his career in Japan with a loss. In what can only be described as a quick, painless affair, Horiguchi got revenge on their January 1999 affair. He countered a John Woo with the Backslide From Heaven and sent us all into a spell of nostalgia. 

For more on the illustrious career of Genki Horiguchi, you can read my retrospective piece on him that features quotes from the man himself. **3/4 

25TH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL MATCH
SUSUMU MOCHIZUKI DEF. KENICHIRO ARAI 

In another rematch from Toryumon’s Japan landing, Susumu Mochizuki got revenge on the man who defeated him on the very first Toryumon show. This was a swanky battle between two aging grapplers who can still put forth an entertaining effort. In the case of Araken, it was a rare display of him doing something that wasn’t absurdly grimey in a Dragongate ring; oddly enough, these sort of performances from him are usually reserved for his appearances in places like Tenryu Project. For Susumu, it was a good reminder of how scarily consistent he’s been for the last 25 years. It destroyed my mind to learn that he was wearing the same gear he debuted in. How do you have a piece of clothing that fit 25 years ago? That’s simply insane. 

Susumu won with a Yokosuka Cutter, followed by a Jumbo no Kachi. *** 

BIG BOSS SHIMIZU & STRONG MACHINE J DEF. EITA & SHUJI KONDO 

The next time Dragongate puts on a show in Korakuen Hall, there’s a chance that Big Boss Shimizu will be the Open the Dream Gate Champion. He’s spent the last six months raging war with the Reiwa Generation, a collection of six wrestlers who debuted when Shimizu was already a veteran presence within the company. He ripped through all six Reiwa standouts, including Dream Gate Champion Madoka Kikuta, who he knocked off in the King of Gate semi-finals. Shimizu feels hot and now more than any other point in his career, he would exit Gate of Destiny, which takes place in his hometown, with the Open the Dream Gate Championship. 

I say all that to illuminate why I was so shocked that this match revolved around Eita brutalizing Strong Machine J. This is not a bad thing, mind you. Eita actually broke a sweat this month. I just assumed Shimizu would yet again be the focus, but even though he got the pinfall via a Shot-Put Slam on Eita, this was not about him at all. 

The good news is that Eita brought out the best in J. It’s almost like when Eita tries, he’s still really valuable to the promotion that could get far more out of him than what Pro Wrestling NOAH offers. I really enjoyed seeing Eita try to rip the mask of J off. He would ultimately fail, but he still looked vicious. 

Shimizu still feels hot as he heads into the biggest match of his life in early November. ***1/4  

HYO, ISHIN, KAI, & SHUN SKYWALKER DEF. JACKY “FUNKY” KAMEI, JASON LEE, KZY, & U-T

It’s amazing what happens when Shun Skywalker comes back from dicking around in America. 

After six weeks of boorish Z-Brats six-mans, Skywalker returned to aid his all-caps friends and all of a sudden, Dragongate’s heel unit found life again. Few pairs of units have had better chemistry in Dragongate history than that of Z-Brats and Natural Vibes and this was yet another fantastic entry into their catalog of epic and unique multi-man matches. 

Skywalker was the star of this match. He was everywhere. He had great chemistry with everyone. He was a lightning rod both in terms of his charisma. Everyone he tangled with in this match was better off as a result. In particular, he and Kamei looked like world-beaters. They were given the spotlight after a wild flurry of moves between the two units. The dust settled and they demonstrated an elite level display of wrestling with Kamei surviving being steamrolled by a bicycle kick, only to eat a Rock Bottom and a Double-Knee Moonsault and still kick out. That sent Korakuen into a frenzy. 

The two-time Dream Gate Champion then went to put Kamei away with a moonsault from the top, but Kzy launched him off the top rope and into the first row of chairs. This sent Kzy and ISHIN into the ring, which quickly became ISHIN and U-T after a Kzy dive to HYO and KAI. 

U-T, as he’s prone to do, put up a good fight, but he was no match for the brute for ISHIN. The second-generation standout put U-T away easily with the Jinchū. 

Go out of your way to see this. ****1/4 

OPEN THE TRIANGLE GATE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
DRAGON KID, PUNCH TOMINAGA & YAMATO DEF. BEN-K, KOTA MINOURA, & NARUKI DOI, DRAGON DIA MADOKA KIKKUTA, & YUKI YOSHIOKA 

Dragon Kid, Punch Tominaga, & YAMATO became the 88th Open the Triangle Gate Champions of all-time, winning the previously vacant belts. This marks the eighth reign for Dragon Kid, the sixth reign for YAMATO, and the first reign for Punch Tominaga. 

Only Dragongate can load up a match with eight of their best wrestlers and in the end, everyone is talking about how great Punch Tominaga was in that match. Last month, Tominaga celebrated his 12th year in wrestling and I listed every single great match he’s ever had. I can now safely add this match to that list. He was not exactly Dean Malenko in this three-way nine-man affair. No one is going to marvel at how crisp his wrestling was. He was, however, magical. He went toe-to-toe with not only the Dream Gate Champion, but some of the best wrestlers in the history of Dragongate, and for one night, he was on their level. 

Gold Class, who were champions when the belts were vacated six weeks ago due to Minorita’s injury, were the first to go. A vicious Ben-K headbutt did not phase YAMATO, who soon after caught Ben-K with his dreaded Frankensteiner of the Almighty to eliminate the Gold Class trio. 

Down to D’Courage and the hodgepodge High-End team, we saw Kikuta have possibly his best outing since winning the Dream Gate belt back in May. He went nose-to-nose with the most accomplished Dream Gate Champion of all-time, YAMATO, in an epic chop battle, then continued the momentum from said battle into an offensive onslaught against Tominaga. 

Yet, Tominaga survived. 

Yoshioka took over the duties of abusing Tominaga. He blasted him with a forearm and a brainbuster, but that wasn’t enough to put the weakest member of the roster away. 

Out of nowhere, Yoshioka, a former Dream Gate Champion, was caught in the Punch Clutch and pinned in the middle of the ring. Tominaga not only survived, but led his team to victory, giving him his first Triangle Gate reign of his career.

Oftentimes when I say “no other promotion could do what Dragongate just did”, I’m talking about unmatched athleticism and pacing. This time, however, only Dragongate could make a career loser feel like a giant deal when the company, as a whole, needs a win. After unrelenting bad news and injuries in September, Dragongate, by way of Punch Tominaga, let out a giant sigh of relief in this match. ****1/2 

Diamante, now known as Luis Mante, returned after the match and confronted Z-Brats.

Final Thoughts

September couldn’t have been worse for Dragongate. Punch Tominaga, of all people, reminded us that things are going to be okay. For that alone, you have to give this show a thumbs up. 

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