Well, I guess it’s time to give Dragon Gate another chance.
As you’re aware, after covering the King of Gate Tournament with Andrew, it left a sour taste in our mouths due to the bad booking and their network service not showing all of the shows and giving us not a lot to work with. But since I pay for the damn thing still, think it’s time to see how this show does and before I cover it, I’m going to do a quick recap of what has happened from the last time I covered them.
Over Generation is officially disbanded, Eita defeated Dragon Kid for the Open the Brave Gate Championship, BxB Hulk and YAMATO won the Open the Twin Gate Championships, both Big R Shimizu and Ben-K betrayed MaxiMuM to join ANTIAS, and Shingo Takagi officially announced that he will leave Dragon Gate to become a Freelancer on October 7th and that’s when he’ll wrestle his final show.
Now that we’re all covered up, time to see if this show can win me over, so let us…dive right in.
Six Man Tag Team Match
Gamma, Mondai Ryu & Brother YASSHI vs. Hyo Watanabe, Shun Skywalker & Willie Mack
Review: Looks like Brother YASSHI isn’t booked in anything Natural Vibes related due to his fellow members being involved in title matches as he teams up with Gamma and Mondai Ryu to take on Shun Skywalker as he teams up with Hyo Watanabe and Lucha Underground star Willie Mack in what looks to be a packed six-man bout. Which team comes out on top?
The match started off a little bit clunky but it did pick up after the halfway point and it was as standard as you can get in a Dragon Gate opening contest, not that there’s anything wrong with that or anything. The more I see Shun Skywalker perform, the more I get impressed with him and think he could do amazing things in the upcoming years and can definitely see him as a future Open the Brave Gate Champion if he does stick around with them since the guy is underrated. I don’t see much of Willie Mack due to me not being a big fan of Lucha Underground and don’t follow too much independent wrestling but he didn’t do so bad either and did fit in pretty well with the others in here. Shun would do a move I can’t really describe to Mondai Ryu to get him down on the mat as Mack does a Frog Splash to pick up the win for his team.
Rating: Tony Schiavone and a half
Tag Team Match
Cassandra Miyagi & Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Meiko Satomura & Stalker Ichikawa
Review: We don’t get to see much of this but it appears as if we have a mixed tag match here with Dragon Gate and some Sendai Girls competitors as former Open the Dream Gate Champion, Masaaki Mochizuki teams up with one half of the Sendai Girls Tag Champion Cassandra Miyagi as they take on current KO-D Openweight Champion and Sendai Girls owner, Meiko Satomura and her partner is Stalker Ichikawa who is mostly known for his comedic style of wrestling. Which team comes out the victor?
Mochizuki and Stalker start the match off and soon as the bell rings, Mochizuki ran up to him to hit a high kick and pins Ichikawa for the win and the match is over…well shit. Soon as Mochizuki and Cassandra start to leave the ring, Ichikawa said that he wasn’t ready and wants the match to restart and they agree to let it happen thankfully because that would’ve been a bit of a buzzkill.
Meiko and Mochizuki start the match off this time and much better this time around as they delivered some stiff kicks to each other with Mochizuki not holding back when he kicked her harder. The match had a good amount of comedy which was expected when Ichikawa was involved in the match and decent wrestling to go with it. Ichikawa and Mekio were holding Mochizuki and Cassandra’s hand as they walked around the ropes looking like they were going to do the Old School but they walked around the ropes until they were face to face and then they would eventually get pushed off. They also did a…Thousand Years of Death..just look up the move in Naruto if you don’t know what it is because I really don’t wanna explain it. After the referee was knocked out, Meiko hits the Scorpion Rising on Mochizuki and Ichikawa does the La Magistral to go for the pin and the referee was counting too slow after regaining consciousness and Ichikawa had enough as he tells the referee to count faster, and he even shows him how fast he wanted to count during the next pinfall and he understood as Cassandra rolled Ichikawa from behind and the referee counted very fast like he wanted as Cassandra and Mochizuki got the win.
Rating: Eric Bischoff
Eight Man Tag Team Match
ANTIAS (Ben-K, Big R Shimizu, Shingo Takagi & Yasushi Kanda) vs. MaxiMuM (Dragon Kid, Jason Lee, Kaito Ishida & Naruki Doi)
Review: Last month, Big R left MaxiMuM to join ANTIAS and on the September 6th show, Ben-K also betrayed his original unit and would join ANTIAS as well and guess it makes sense due to his members leaving for OWE and needing some new members, but both turned on them and now MaxiMuM wanted this match for payback against ANTIAS and their former unit members, even Dragon Kid found a new home with them after Over Generation being disbanded. Can MaxiMuM get revenge over ANTIAS or will they win another one over them?
I’m gonna talk about Big R and Ben-K mostly for this review since this is mostly about them and their progression as heels in their new home, and they even sported new looks to go with their new change as Big R dyed his hair blonde and looks like a mini Bam Bam Bigelow with the flames in his outfit while Ben-K is just now wearing black and red short, I just hope it leads to bigger things for Ben-K because he’s been on fire this year. All eight of them played their part in this match with ANTIAS showing more of their dominance with their new changes to their unit while MaxiMuM fighting them off as best as they good with their agility, especially Jason Lee who has been the highlight of the match with how far he’s come during his time in Dragon Gate and it made me interested to see a match with him and Shingo when I saw them have their little sequences together. This match had fast-paced action, it had intensity, and it told a story to make people wanna buy it and see where it takes you next. It looked like MaxiMuM was about to win the match when they all were able to take Big R down until he kicked out of it. Kaito would run over to Big R only to get thrown into the air and caught a spear from Ben-K which was a very nice combo and Ben tops it off with the Ben-K Bomb to win it for ANTIAS.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half
Open The Triangle Gate Title Match
Natural Vibes (Genki Horiguchi, Kzy & Susumu Yokosuka) (c) vs. Tribe Vanguard (Kagetora, U-T & Yosuke Santa Maria)
Review: This was the unit that I really missed watching when I took a break from Dragon Gate and I’m glad to see that they’re still the Triangle Gate Champions since I expected them to drop them in a short reign and I’m glad that’s not the case. Natural Vibes are set to defend their titles against Tribe Vanguard members, U-T, Yosuke Santa Maria, and Kagetora. I don’t know how they got this title opportunity and I think they defeated Natural Vibes in a non-title match to get this but I could be wrong and Yosuke in a title match is fine by me. Can Natural Vibes retain once again or will we have new champions?
These are the types of matches that I missed seeing in Dragon Gate and this match definitely delivered. Natural Vibes have gotten so much better as a unit and them being champions for this long has shown how good of a team they’ve been during these past few months together and I’m glad that’s the case for them instead of being a failed experiment. They’re unique, creative tag team offense, and charismatic, I hope they stick around for a while. Let’s not forget about their opponents, Tribe Vanguard as they also brought their A-game here as well, especially U-T who was the highlight of this entire match, I don’t get to see too much of him but he delivered big time in this match with his crazy offense and great selling to go with it. Kagetora and Yosuke are of course always great with Yosuke living up his gimmick and improving constantly in the ring as well. The match was fun, creative, and just a treat to see with how well both of these teams have done. I loved the little combo Vanguard did to Kzy with throwing him up in the air and doing a Codebreaker. U-T would hit a Canadian Destroyer to Kzy and once he kicked out of it, U-T applied the Rings of Saturn and would even roll him into the center of the ring a few times to make us believe he would actually tap out of the hold, but Kzy was able to roll him into a pin but kicked out of it. Kzy would hit his Running Elbow Smash and U-T was somehow able to kick out of it, but Kzy quickly picks him up for the Impact and he picks up the victory to retain the titles for Natural Vibes!
Rating: Bruce Prichard
Open The Brave Gate Title Match
Eita (c) vs. Punch Tominaga
Review: After Over Generation has disbanded thanks to Eita defeating Dragon Kid, he would fight him sometime again after for the Open the Brave Gate Championship and he would also take the title away from Kid to add more insult to injury. Eita is set to defend his title against…Punch Tominaga of all people. I’m afraid to ask how he got this title opportunity, but I guess Eita needed an easy defense or so we think. Punch was able to get the surprise title victory over Kanda a few months ago, so he might be able to pull it off again. Can Eita have his first successful title defense or will Punch ruin it?
I don’t know what it is about Punch Tominaga but there’s that little charm about him that makes me not dislike him as much as I should. Sure, he’s not a great wrestler by any means, but he’s pretty funny, and does his part when he wants to. ANTIAS is pretty much how I felt with Suzuki Gun when they were in NOAH, incredibly annoying at this point and just the constant run-in’s and heel tactics and I understand wanting to get heat due to being a heel and want that, but it can get to a point that if you do it in almost every match on nearly every show then it becomes a nuisance.
Besides that little hiccup with ANTIAS, it served its purpose with Punch being the underdog in the story while getting some impressive offense in there when he would get the chance and even gave us a few close calls to make us believe he would take the belt off him. Punch did almost get the win when he did a Roundhouse Kick and was about to get the pin, but Big R pulled the referee out of the ring to make him stop the count as we get more heel tactics with Eita using the chair to hit him and making a pile so he could do a Superplex onto the pile of chairs. The match would come to an end when Eita would spray something into Punch’s eyes when he wasn’t looking, hits him with a chair, and tops it off with a Superkick as he goes down for the three count as Eita retains the title. After the match, ANTIAS would get in the ring and beat down Punch until Natural Vibes came in to chase them away, but it looks like it’s not over as the two units would fight each other in the ring. Think I got a feeling when the next Unit disbanding match will involve.
Rating: Eric Bischoff
Open The Twin Gate Title Match
Tribe Vanguard (BxB Hulk & YAMATO) (c) vs. Don Fujii & Ryo Saito
Review: Hulk and YAMATO won the titles a little over a month ago from Big R and Ben-K after YAMATO failed to win the King of Gate tournament and they have surprisingly been a good pairing and I can’t really complain about it. Their first title defense was a bit of a bust due to a No Contest when they defended against Big R Shimizu and Naruki Doi. However, they now have a second defense set in sight as they defend the titles against Don Fujii and Roy Saito, which I am okay with since I love the both of them together, plus Saito is a treat to see. Will they be able to have a proper defense or will something happen again?
Oh hey, Saito is wearing his old attire again while his hair grew back out, good for him. Saito being serious in this match? Well, this is a new thing to see and I honestly love it since he’s still himself but not joking around like he normally would with how he wrestles as we really see him strengths right here.
The match was slowly paced in the beginning until they started to fight outside and even went out the door so they could both fight on top of the balcony for a minute, but they would have to stop once the referee was doing the count as Saito and Hulk made ran into the ring just in time while YAMATO and Don are still fighting outside…somewhere. Seeing Don and Saito teaming up here made me want them to keep tagging together because their chemistry in the ring is great even though they’re not considered the most technically sound wrestlers, not that there’s anything wrong with that whatsoever, but just how they work together makes them a great team. YAMATO and Hulk aren’t too bad of a tag team either since Hulk is growing on me and YAMATO is usually great, so them teaming up here and being the champions is working rather nicely here as well.
Don missed a knee drop and hurt his knee as YAMATO uses this advantage to apply the Figure Four and it looked like he was about to tap out for a minute there until Saito Splashed on top of YAMATO to break the hold and almost got the pin as Hulk broke it up. We get a lot of close calls between both of these teams with Saito doing his roll-up’s whenever he can get the chance and even coming close at certain points, also Don hitting his German Suplex at one point but they still keep kicking out. I was really hoping Don and Saito would get the win here in this match since I felt like it would’ve been a great story, but that had to come to an end when YAMATO has Saito up while Hulk kicks them down so YAMATO can hit the Gallaria so they could retain the titles in a great tag match.
Rating: Bruce Prichard and a half
Open The Dream Gate Title Match
Masato Yoshino (c) vs. Takashi Yoshida
Review: How did Takashi Yoshida of all people get a chance to go for the Open the Dream Gate Championship? Probably the worst one on the roster in my opinion and is somehow getting a shot at their biggest title, I guess Masato Yoshino needed some title defenses. Plus, this is technically a rematch since they did fight at the King of Gate Tournament during the semi-finals with Yoshino coming out as the victor. Yoshino was only able to defend the title once when he defeated Shingo Takagi and now has his second defense here against Takashi. Apparently, there is a stipulation here for Yoshino since he cannot use a type of flash pin to win here like he has in his last few matches, meaning he would have to either make him tap out or use an actual move to defeat him. Can Yoshino do that or will he drop his title?
If you’re looking for something moderately fast-paced or higher, then this match really isn’t for you since it had a slow build-up during the majority of the match and it’s not bad or anything like that since the match was honestly pretty solid, but just don’t expect a lucha type or any high spots. The match was more of a mix of a ground-based style of wrestling with a little bit of power and the only time you see a little bit of quickness is with Yoshino due to some of his moves like the Torbellino. Takashi didn’t do terrible here and I will give credit when credit is due despite not doing many moves, but it was enough to get himself over with his strikes mostly and using power moves during times that he would need them and it works out well for him here. Yoshino though, right now I’m not too sold on his title reign compared to the one Mochizuki had previously, but this is his only second defense for this run and I’ll wait till he gets a few more in his belt, however, nothing really to write home about or say it’s fantastic at this time sadly and I hope that changes too or it’ll be a lackluster reign, which is a shame since Yoshino is actually a really good wrestler.
There was a time where Yoshino would Sunset Flip over Takashi during a Powerbomb to try and get the pin but wasn’t able to due to the rules of the match where he wouldn’t be able to do those type of pins to win the match meaning he had to break it up. When the referee wasn’t looking, Takashi would spray green mist into Yoshino’s eyes and hits a Lariat thinking this could be it but Yoshino was somehow able to kick out of it! Takashi picked him up to go for his Running Powerbomb and goes for the pin one more time and another kick out! Yoshino would be able to hit another Torbellino to get him down and applies the Sol Naciente and has it locked in tight here to look for the submission victory, but it looked like Takashi was going to break out of it and he falls over instead as he’s not passed out, meaning Yoshino was able to retain the title. After the match, Naruki Doi would come out and said even though they’re apart of MaxiMuM, he would still want a shot for the Open the Dream Gate Championship and it’ll be official for the September 24th show.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half
Overall: So, was Dragon Gate able to win me over? I think they did a good enough job to make me wanna watch them more again while not a perfect show, it was still solid enough to keep me interested in seeing what happens next. Both tag title matches were the best part of the show and definitely worth checking out if you can find them. Can’t wait to see the next show.
Favorite Match: YAMATO & BxB Hulk vs. Don Fujii & Ryo Saito
Least Favorite Match: Gamma, Mondai Ryu & brother YASSHI vs. Hyo Watanabe, Shun Skywalker & Willie Mack