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Jack Reviews Dragon Gate: Glorious Gate 03.08.17

April 29, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack Reviews Dragon Gate: Glorious Gate 03.08.17  

A return to wrestling mecca Korakuen Hall for Dragon Gate. The venue often plays host to some of the company’s biggest non PPV matches, and this show is no exception, with a main event so bloody massive and exciting it makes me weak at the knees. Over Generation ally with Naruki Doi to take on VerserK in a ten man tag match, with the winning team getting to steal a member from the losers. Ooft. The undercard looks fairly quiet, but as long as that headline act delivers we are in for a good time. Let’s get to it! But not before we, as always, shout out iheartdg for the promo translations and for being the best English language Dragon Gate resource!

1- Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi, Jimmy K-Ness & Jimmy Kanda) & Syachihoko Boy vs. Yosuke Santa Maria, Draztik Boy, Yuki Yoshioka & Katsumi Takashima
Such a fun opening match! The Jimmyz are experts in breezy, high flying openers, and their opponents made for an impressive team despite being rather thrown together. This was Katsumi Takashima’s Dragon Gate debut and like all the young talent that the promotion churns out, he immediately looked right at home in the style, as if he’d been wrestling for ten years. It’s so impressive how these newcomers to a man appear instantly at home on the main roster. Mexican up and comer Draztik Boy continued to look a promising addition to the very select band of imports Dragon Gate bring in. In fact, it was the most accomplished member of that team, Yosuke Santa Maria, that ultimately fell to defeat, whirled around by Jimmy K-Ness’ Hikari No Wa (rolling sit-out pin) and disoriented long enough for the three count at 6:08. *** 1/2. I could watch matches like this all day, where guys just zip in and out of the ring and exchange pretty flippy moves for ten minutes. There’s no overwhelming near fall sequences or lengthy middle portions where people are methodically worn down for storytelling purposes, and it’s the perfect way to ease yourself into a Dragon Gate show.

2- Stalker Ichikawa vs Don Fujii
Fujii demolished Ichikawa with a shoulder block and elbow drop and won in about half a minute. As so often happens though, Ichikawa demanded an immediate rematch. This time, Dragon Gate officials were not obliging and attempted to move on to the Ben-K vs. Jimmy Kagetora match, but in the end he got his way. This time, Ichikawa lasted a little bit longer and even managed to hit about three offensive moves! He lost the match when he successfully landed a German suplex, only for Fujiii to land on him and cover for the three at 2:59. Repetitive though it is, Ichikawa’s schtick always coaxes a smile out of me! **.

3- Ben-K vs. Jimmy Kagetora
Kagetora is one of my favourites on the Dragon Gate roster and Ben-K is having a magnificent 2017 considering his age, but this wasn’t one of their stronger efforts. It felt rushed, with a stretch of near falls beginning weirdly abruptly after a Ben-K control segment that the crowd sat on their hands for. There were glimmers of a really interesting match, with Kagetora using his speed and delightfully agile striking to deal with the raw power of his rookie opponent, but that story didn’t get the time to assert itself. It wasn’t an actively bad match, more just strangely uncertain and ineffectual. Kagetora dropped Ben-K with the Genkonitteki to secure the win at 9:39. ** 1/4.

4- Tribe Vanguard (Kzy & Flamita) vs. Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu, Ryo Jimmy Saito)
This was merely OK for a fair while, as they ran through the normal tag formula in watchable but uninspiring fashion. The mere presence of Flamita, though, gave the action a huge boost, because that guy seems incapable of having a flat sequence. He pulls off every move with such grace, gets such height on his dives, and is just an utter joy to watch. He’s the sort of wrestler who could probably have forged a first rate career in ballet but instead decided to engage in weird, violent performance art, and we should all be grateful he made that decision. The finishing stretch was also very strong, and with a minute or two remaining reached that tipping point you get in Dragon Gate tag matches where the action becomes so frenzied that no company in the world could come close to it. An inconsistent match on the whole, then, but the good bits were very lovely indeed. Kzy dumped Saito with Impact to win the match at 13:32. *** 1/4.

Post match, Kzy acknowledged his recent failed attempts to win the Open the Twin Gate Championship, but insisted he wouldn’t give up, and would continue to create his own opportunities. He noted the crop of youngsters who are also creating their own opportunities, the likes of Katsumi Takashima, Yuki Yoshioka and Ben-K. Kzy thought they deserved more chances, perhaps at the expense of the Jimmyz, who he suspected have got too comfortable in their role as gatekeepers. Takashima and Yoshioka made their way out to concur. The Jimmyz were not thrilled at this suggestion, with Saito pointing out that they’d only lost the Triangle Gate championships to VerserK a few days prior, and were due a rematch before Naruki Doi’s team jumped the queue. Saito challenged the winner of that VerserK-Doi & Friends bout to a title match against him, Jimmy Susumu and Genki Horiguchi at the April Korakuen show, and perhaps on the same card, Jimmy Kagetora, Jimmy Kanda and Jimmy K-Ness would teach a lesson to Kzy, Takashima and Yoshioka! Both suggested matches would end up signed for Korakuen on 7th April.

5- Big R Shimizu & Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Tribe Vanguard (YAMATO, BxB Hulk)
Another solid tag match. It was fairly chaotic from the get go with everyone rotating their dance partners frequently and no face in peril segment to speak of. This ensured the pace was enjoyably peppy throughout, although it never approached that next level in the way the previous match did. Masaaki Mochizuki looked really ace in this as always, so smooth and fluid with his striking. I always think this is worth mentioning because the fellow is 47 and has spent over two decades wrestling a physically demanding style, and still looks like he’s in his prime. YAMATO and Hulk didn’t bring much, but Shimizu offered some cool power spots as usual. The better team lost, as Hulk laid out Shimizu with the First Flash superkick for the pinfall at 13:16. *** 1/4.

6- Headhunting Match- Over Generation (CIMA, Dragon Kid, Eita & Takehiro Yamamura) & Naruki Doi vs. VerserK (Shingo Takagi, T-Hawk, El Lindaman, Brother YASSHI & Punch Tominaga)
Goodness. Oh, let’s begin with- this is outstanding and a leading Match of the Year candidate. I don’t think there has been a hotter match in Dragon Gate all year. The stakes for this, with the winning team getting to steal a member from the losers, felt genuinely massive, especially because VerserK had indicated they would take Over Generation’s break-out star of 2017, Takehiro Yamamura, and force him under the tutelage of dickhead in chief Shingo. Wisely, they played up this prospect in the match with several high profile exchanges between Shingo and Yamamura, and every one was just terrific and so dramatic. Yamamura has, on the down low, been one of the best wrestlers of 2017 so far, but is still at a stage in his career where every main event victory feels absolutely seismic for him. Shingo might not be the Open the Dream Gate Champion, but he is Dragon Gate’s biggest deal and carries himself as such. So, as you can see, both guys are brilliant, they compliment each other perfectly, and every time Yamamura even knocks Shingo off his feet it just makes you want to sing with joy. And of course, there was much more to the match than just those two being great, so much more. T-Hawk had a tremendous display, he is a total fucker and if Shingo were to retire tomorrow, he could make a decent fist of stepping into his boots. Such a bright future for that young man. Watching all the different storylines of the past few months intertwine was compelling, not just Shingo-Yamamura but Eita-Lindaman and Eita-T-Hawk and Doi-Shingo and Tominaga-the whole of Over Generation. And, obviously, it all built to the usual absolute delight of a finishing stretch, at the kind of pace that pins you back in your chair. My one complaint is, surprisingly, it could have gone longer. You will almost never hear me say that about a 28 minute match but I was so utterly absorbed in the emotion and atmosphere, and there have actually been other Dragon Gate matches this year with better, crazier, more transcendent near fall sequences, so there was still another level this could have reached. But, the level it did reach was a truly remarkable one, and I strongly suspect I will be writing about this one again come January 2018. Yamamura won it with the Stardust Press on Tominaga at 27:51. **** 1/2.

The action didn’t stop at the bell, as Yamamura and T-Hawk continued brawling and had to be separated. Then, the headhunting could begin! Victorious Over Generation captain CIMA ran through the VerserK members he could steal. Shingo- too grumpy. Cyber Kong- injured. T-Hawk- not a good idea considering he and Yamamura had just had to be pulled apart. Brother YASSHI- never teamed with CIMA in all their years in the ring, and both men were happy to keep it that way. That left the runt of the VerserK litter, Mondai Ryu, who wasn’t even in the match. CIMA wanted him of all people to be the newest Over Generation member! Ryu protested vehemently, but could be seen grinning underneath his mask. The ever charming T-Hawk announced that Ryu’s departure was probably a gain overall for VerserK, and then moved on to other issues. He and Yamamura exchanged some insults, and confirmed a one on one match between them for the April Korakuen show. El Lindaman then stepped up to challenge CIMA, claiming he was a horrible role model and that Punch Tominaga and Lindaman himself were flourishing away from his leadership, having quit Over Generation for VerserK. Meanwhile, Punch Tominaga was determined to pick a fight with injured OG member Gamma. Although Gamma’s left arm wasn’t fully healed from his surgery, it was still announced that CIMA and Gamma would face El Lindaman and Punch Tominaga at Korakuen in April, with Gamma insisting he’d only need one arm to beat them both.

Naruki Doi tried to sneak away at this point, with none of this concerning him, but CIMA called him back to thank him for standing with Over Generation in such a huge match. He also enquired about Kotoka, who had been keen on forming a trio with Naruki Doi and, when he returned from injury, Masato Yoshino. Doi once again dismissed the idea, stating he was only interested in teaming with Yoshino. He then bade farewell to Over Generation. His work there was done.

Finally, CIMA addressed Mondai Ryu, to explain why he selected him to join Over Generation. Both of them had suffered similar neck injuries in their career, with Ryu still not cleared to compete. Ryu confessed he had been on the brink of retirement, but a few days ago, his sister had given birth to a baby. Whenever he looked at the child, he saw someone who might one day be genuinely excited to see him compete. So, he’d resolved to return to the ring. CIMA found this whole story quite touching, and said there will be a spot in Over Generation waiting for Ryu upon his return…

The final score: review Good
The 411
OK, I was not a fan of that post match angle at all. Mondai Ryu has spent his entire Dragon Gate career being a conniving little fucker and getting his arse kicked- there has not been a single full year since his 2006 debut where he's lost less than 60% of his matches. I understand that any VerserK member joining Over Generation would have been problematic, but Ryu being selected stretched the boundaries of credibility and was a huge letdown, even with the anecdote about his injury and his nephew/niece at the end to tug at the heartstrings. It didn't detract from the match that went before it, because the drama in that was for me mostly about the possibility of Yamamura being corrupted by Shingo, and Yamamura winning the match for Over Generation and saving himself from VerserK's clutches was a very satisfying ending to that little story. But, wow, they didn't capitalize on the momentum of that match at all.

Having said all that, and in spite of the often underwhelming undercard as well, this show still gets a solid recommendation from me, because oh man that Over Generation-VerserK match was good. So good. So addictive and thrilling and absorbing. You've got to see it! There's nothing outright bad on the rest of the card either, and the opener's a lot of fun, but it's all fairly skippable until that Headhunter match. If you've even a passing interest in Dragon Gate, it's compulsory to get your eyeballs on it.