wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Dragon Gate’s Final Gate 2011 Review

January 1, 2012 | Posted by TJ Hawke

Most of my Dragon Gate knowledge comes from DGUSA (except for the occasional DG PPV) so forgive me if I screw anything up on the specifics of the product’s characters or history. Feel free to correct me on anything I get wrong in the comments section.

December 25, 2011

All of Blood Warriors are out to start the show, and Akira Tozawa cuts a promo. Presumably he put Blood Warriors over as the best and Junction-3 as the worst.

Yasushi Kanda, Tomahawk T.T., & Uhaa Nation vs. Don Fujii, Kotoka, & Super Shenlong
Nation is making his first trip to Japan after impressing DG officials in his DGUSA appearances in the last 4 months.

Nation no sells all of the tecnicos’ offense early and then hits a somersault plancha on Kotoka and Shenlong. Fuji and Kanda brawl all around the building, while the rest of the wrestlers continue the match. Fuji and Kanda finally made their way back to the ring and Blood Warriors worked over Kotoka briefly before Fuji just went in and cleared housed (including hitting a powerslam on Nation, which got a big pop). Nation eventually destroyed Kotoka and hit a standing moonsault and standing shooting star in succession: 1…2…3

This match was mostly just an excuse to put over Uhaa Nation as a monster, and in that, it was very successful. I remember thinking Kotoka had some charisma at the last PPV, but it wasn’t on display as much here.
Match Rating: **

CIMA and the rest of Blood Warriors cut a promo, presumably running down Junction-3. So, Junction-3 came out and Masaaki Mochizuki cut a promo, presumably running down Blood Warriors. Naruki Doi and Gamma cut a back and forth promo, and Doi eventually brought out some prop that I didn’t understand. I have no idea what was going on, but Gamma seemed offended. Doi apparently asked for a child volunteer, because they cut to the crowd where a bunch of children were raising their hands. Everyone in the crowd is wearing winter jackets, so apparently this building doesn’t have heat. Ok, as I half expected, the prop that Doi brought out was the Doi Darts’ DART BOARD! The kid threw a dart, but I didn’t understand what happened after that. Eventually, CIMA and Mochizuki went back to cutting promos on each other, presumably to hype the main event of the show.

Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora vs. Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi
Susumu and Kagetora are being forced to put Jimmy in front of their names because of a stipulation. It’s meant to be a form of degradation.

Blood Warriors quickly jumped the Jimmies and worked over Kagetora. Kagetora finally got some offense in and tagged in Susumu who ran wild on the Blood Warrirors. Saito cut him off with some rolling fisherman suplexes. Susumu recovered and hit a super exploder suplex on Genki. Saito then hit a big German on Kagetora. The two teams started trading nearfalls after that. Finally, Susumu hit three lariats in a row on Saito: 1…2…3! The Jimmys Win!

This was a fun match, and it was one of the better undercard matches that I have seen on a DG PPV, which usually features forgettable undercard matches. It’s also important in my view that the Jimmies get some wins while they are forced to be called Jimmy.
Match Rating: ***

Cyber Kong vs. Kensuke Sasaki
Kong was just removed from Blood Warriors because of a stipulation match. I have no idea why Kensuke was brought in, but I find it hysterically awesome.

Kensuke took him down quickly with a lariat and then hit a piledriver. Kensuke hit some more strikes, but Kong came back with strikes of his own. Kong even got a nearfall with a top rope elbow. Kong hit a big lariat and both men went down. Kong tried multiple times to take him down with another lariat, but Kensuke no-sold them and hit a series of lariats of his own. Kensuke followed that up with a Michinoku Driver variation: 1…2…3!

That was only about 6 minutes but it was a fun 6 minutes. I don’t really know what the point of having Kensuke defeat Kong so decisively was, but it was fun. I guess that idea was that Kong would be more over just by being selected to face Kensuke.
Match Rating: **1/2

Open the Triangle Gate: Naruki Doi, Naoki Tanizaki, & Kzy© vs. Rich Swann, Gamma, & Dragon Kid
If this match gets enough time, it has a chance to be the sleeper match of the night. I’m not positive, but it looks like Swann is wearing one of the Triangle Gate belts and Kzy is wearing Swann’s Owarai (Comedy) Gate belt. So, that is probably a storyline.

Swann hit an incredible somersault corkscrew plancha early (although it looked like he barely touched Kzy on the way down. Oh, well). Blood Warriors isolated Dragon Kid early in the match and worked him over to get the heat. Kid eventually reversed a super powerbomb from Doi and tagged in Gamma who ran wild on Blood Warriors. Gamma hit an asai moonsault on Doi (there may have been three stereo Asai Moonsaults but the camera only showed Gamma’s). They all took turns hitting big moves. Swann hit a series of moves on Doi, but Doi cut him off and hit a super neckbreaker. Swann got trapped in the ring alone, and Kzy hit a frog splash for a nearfall. Gamma went to the top rope and put Naoki on his shoulders and Kid hit a super hurricanranna. The Darts tripled teamed Kid after that though. Doi hit Kid with a Doi-5 and a Bakutari sliding kick but Gamma made the save. Naoki tried to use powder on Kid, but he hit Kzy by mistake. Tornado DDT by Kid, Schweign by Gamma, and 450 Splash by Swann: 1…2…NAOKI MAKES THE SAVE! Great nearfall. Kid hit a Dragonranna on Doi, but Naoki made the save again. This match is so much fun. Swann hit a pair of brutal superkicks on Naoki, but Naoki came right back with a tombstone on Swann: 1…2…NO! NAOKI KILLS SWANN WITH A JIG ‘N’ TONIC: 1…2…3!

This match ruled and everyone in it looked like a thousand bucks. Rich Swann has improved so much in the last year. He looks so crisp and fits in perfectly with the rest of the Dragon Gate roster.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Open the Brave Gate: Ricochet© vs. Masato Yoshino
Ricochet recently won the Brave Gate title from PAC in what was the third different title he won in DG since debuting there. That is very impressive. These two had a good match in DGUSA back in June. DGUSA provided that match for free, and it is available here at my blog .

Yoshino was in control of the match early, as Ricochet could barely get any offense in. Finally, Ricochet sent Yoshino to the outside and hit an over the top rope no-handed corkscrew moonsault plancha. Ricochet brought Yoshino back in the ring and started to get the heat on the speedster. Yoshino trapped Ricochet in the ropes, and then ran as far as way as he could so that he could get a big running start on a dropkick. Yoshino locked in From Jungle, and then transitioned it into a sunset flip pin for a nearfall. Ricochet came right back with an ace crusher and a standing moonsault for a nearfall. Yoshino hit a big tornado DDT: 1…2…NO! Standing Shooting Star from Ricochet: 1…2…NO! Ricochet followed that with a second rope corkscrew moonsault: 1…2…NO! Ricochet went for a top rope shooting star, but Yoshino got his knees up. Top rope dropkick from Yoshino: 1…2…NO! Ricochet came back with a combination of moves and a 630 senton: 1…2…NO! Ricochet went to finish him with another top rope move, but Yoshino caught him and hit a super Sling Blade and then a Lightening Spiral: 1…2…NO! Both men to the top rope: ONE MAN SPANISH FLY FROM RICOCHET: 1…2…NO! Ricochet can’t believe it, so he goes to the top rope and hits his DOUBLE ROTATION MOONSAULT: 1…2…3!

Heck of a match here, and I am really glad that Yoshino put over Ricochet clean. They didn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but they kept the crowd invested in the many nearfalls, and most importantly, the match was fun. Ricochet’s success in his first full year in Dragon Gate is unprecedented. He has won the Triangle Gate, Twin Gate, and Brave Gate Titles, and technically, he never lost those first two belts (he and CIMA vacated both of them for different reasons). I am often critical of the booking of DGUSA, but Ricochet is an unquestioned success story from the promotion. The kid has worked his ass off and earned everything that he has gotten.
Match Rating: ***3/4

Intermission: Dragon Gate aired a clipped 2004 match between the participants of this main event: CIMA and Masaaki Mochizuki. I’m not going to provide a full recap or review of this match, but because I had never seen it before, I did decide to watch it. They showed the start and an early (corkscrew!) dive from CIMA and then cut to the finishing sequence. It was bizarre watching CIMA at this stage of his career where he wrestled like a youngster. The earliest match I had seen of his was his 2005 ROH match with A.J. Styles. Mochizuki won this match and even he didn’t look nearly as good as he does today.

Open the Twin Gate: Akira Tozawa & BxB Hulk© vs. YAMATO & Shingo Takagi
CIMA and Ricochet vacated the titles so they could both pursue singles titles. Tozawa and Hulk won the vacated titles shortly thereafter. Not the greatest booking ever, but it was certainly better than the Finger Poke of Doom. Yamato recently lost his hair at the Gate of Destiny PPV in the 6 man cage match. Yamato saving Shingo probably cost him his hair, so it was quite the emotional moment. Plus, Yamato doesn’t look nearly as cool as he did with his long flowing hair. All 4 of these men are at the top of their game right now, so this match has a high probability of awesome.

Shingo and Yamato were in control early, as they overpowered the two Blood Warriors members. Tozawa came back though with a suicide dive on each of his opponents. Tozawa then threw a chair at Yamato, as Hulk worked over Yamato on the outside of the ring. The rudos rolled Yamato back in the ring and worked him over to get the heat, including using a chair behind the referee’s back. The rudos beat on Yamato forever, and they pretty much freely double teamed him in front of the referee. I don’t really know why that was allowed. Hulk gave Yamato a BRUTAL axe kick to the top of his head. Like much more brutal than any chair shot people were up in arms about at Final Battle. Yamato finally speared Tozawa and made a hot tag to Shingo who made a fucking awesome comeback, as expected. Shingo gave Hulk a brutal backdrop driver and then clotheslined him out of the ring. Tozawa jumped Shingo from behind, but Yamato recovered and faced off with Tozawa. Shingo gave Tozawa a big powerbomb, but Hulk made the save. Tozawa gave Shingo a superplex, as Hulk gave Yamato a super powerslam for a nearfall. Hulk and Tozawa gave Yamato a series of big moves, but Shingo saved him. Hulk gave Yamato another brutal axe kick and then slapped Shingo so hard. Shingo responded with brutally stiff forearms and a MADE IN JAPAN: 1…2…NO! Yamato gave Hulk a brainbuster, but Hulk kicked out. GALLERIA! 1…2…TOZAWA MAKES THE SAVE! Great nearfall. A Blood Warriors member on the outside distracted Shingo who then ate some wine and the wine bottle from Hulk, but Yamato saved him. Tozawa then gave Shingo an amazing German but he kicked out. ARM TRAP GERMAN SUPLEX ON SHINGO: 1…2…YAMATO MAKES THE SAVE! Tozawa then MURDERED Yamato with a German suplex on the ring apron. Meanwhile, Hulk survived another Made in Japan and gave Shingo a brutal kneeling superkick. MADE IN JAPAN FROM HULK! A DOZEN KICKS TO THE HEAD: 1…2…SHINGO KICKS OUT! Finally, Hulk gave Shingo an EVO for the victory.

This tag match was great. These four had the crowd the entire way, and rewarded them with stiff, fast paced action that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Some of the shots to the head were ill-advised, but they certainly added a lot of drama. Shingo is up there with El Generico as my pick for the current best wrestler in the world, and I really want DGUSA to bring him back as soon as possible. It’s really inexcusable at this point.
Match Rating: ****1/4

Open the Dream Gate: Masaaki Mochizuki© vs. CIMA
Mochizuki has had incredible title reign, especially when you account for his age. His defense against Yamato is largely considered a MOTYC, and I personally preferred his match with BxB Hulk at Kobe World Festival. He also reportedly had a great Infinity defense against Tozawa, but I have yet to see that match.

Both men were tentative at the start. Mochi kicked CIMA to the outside and hit a no-hands, running plancha on CIMA and some other Blood Warriors members. Mochi followed that up with a shin-breaker on the ring apron. Mochi went to work on that injured leg after that. I have seen way too many DG main events where match-long legwork ended up meaning jack shit, so I hope that doesn’t happen here. Mochi got a leglock, but CIMA rolled to the ropes to stay alive. CIMA kicked out Mochi’s leg and then went to work on Mochi’s injured leg. The Blood Warriors distracted the ref and CIMA used a chair to further damage Mochie’s injured leg. CIMA worked over Mochi some more, but Mochi gave him a high kick to get back in the match. Mochi followed that with a superplex and some more stiff kicks but CIMA survived. CIMA hit a Schweign out of nowhere to stop Mochi’s momentum. CIMA followed that with a METEORA: 1…2…NO! CIMA then gave Mochi a pair of Venus slaps and an Iconoclasm, Mochi avoided a frog splash but ate a kip up kick and rolled to the outside. CIMA THEN HITS A NO-HANDS CORKSCREW SENTON ON MOCHI! BUT MOCHI COMES BACK WITH A SERIES OF HIGH KICKS! Mochi goes for the run up the ropes enzugiri, but CIMA CATHCES HIM AND GIVES HIM AN ELECTRIC CHAIR SUPLEX: 1…2…NO! 4 KICKS TO THE HEAD FROM MOCHI: 1…2…NO! RUN UP THE ROPES ENZUGIRI: 1…2…NO! CIMA came back with a super DDT and another METEORA: 1…2…NO! CIMA CAN’T BELIEVE IT! ANOTHER METEORA! 1…2…3!!!! CIMA IS THE DREAM GATE CHAMPION FOR THE THIRD TIME!

Another great, heated main event from Dragon Gate this year. As feared, the leg work done by both men didn’t really mean anything but the drama was so good that it didn’t end up affecting my enjoyment of the match. CIMA really stepped up here and had the best singles match I have seen from him since his match with Johnny Gargano over the Wrestlemania 2011 weekend. Mochizuki had a great reign, and he deserves all of the Wrestler of the Year praise that people have been giving him.
Match Rating: ****1/4

Blood Warriors gets in the ring, as CIMA cuts a promo. Blood Warriors place all of their belts on the mat, and they show off that they have all of the active DG belts.

The 411: Blood Warriors have spent the year gradually getting the heat on the whole promotion, and they finally seemed to have reach the peak of their powers at this show. Blood Warriors walked into this show in possession of all the main DG belts except the Dream Gate title, and now they finally have that belt too (I almost wonder if someone in Blood Warriors would have won the belt sooner if not for the great creative success of Mochizuki’s reign). The next step in the story is now clearly (because this is not the nWo and WCW) Junction-3 making their comeback and getting back the belts. I hope Dragon Gate uses this as an opportunity to push someone new to join the Cima/Doi/Yoshino/Shingo/Mochizuki main event level. As a DG novice, I’m probably not the best person to predict what will happen, but I shall try anyway. Cyber Kong seems to be a prime candidate since he was recently removed from Blood Warriors, and he seems to have a strong following. The other possibility is of course someone in Blood Warriors turning on them (possibly Tozawa since he has proven that he can be an excellent babyface). Whatever happens, I have full confidence in Dragon Gate making it work.

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At my blog, I did an overview of the last four months in pro wrestling . I talk about all the promotions that I am following, and I give out various “awards” for the best performances over the last four months.

Be sure to check out some of my past 411 Interviews

Kevin Steen Part 1 & Part 2
Eddie Edwards
Johnny Gargano
Mike Quackenbush
Nigel McGuinness
Lance Hoyt/Vance Archer/Lance Archer
Adam Cole
Gran Akuma

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TJ Hawke

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