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Jack Reviews Dragon Gate The Gate of Passion 04.01.2017

May 16, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack Reviews Dragon Gate The Gate of Passion 04.01.2017  

Way behind with the Dragon Gate, as I am with basically every other promotion in the world because there is TOO MUCH GREAT WRESTLING to try and watch. Anyway, there were some major developments at the non televised Memorial Gate in Wakayama show on the 26th March, by which I mean, two title changes! Jimmy Kagetora won the tournament for the vacant Open the Brave Gate Championship, which is great news because Kagetora is great. Then, in the main event, Naruki Doi, Ben-K and Big R Shimizu overcame the VerserK trio of Shingo Takagi, T-Hawk and YASSHI to pick up the Open the Triangle Gate belts! So, the Dragon Gate landscape is very different to the way it was at the last televised show. The final huge piece of news from Wakayama was YAMATO challenging Shingo Takagi, BxB Hulk, Naruki Doi and Cyber Kong to join him for the traditional Steel Cage match at Dead or Alive in May. The rules of that match usually involve the champion putting his title on the line, and everyone else their hair or mask, so everyone has something to gain if they win, or lose if they’re the one that loses the match. Lots to digest then as we head into Kobe!

1- Jimmyz (Jimmy K-Ness JKS, Jimmy Kagetora, Jimmy Kanda) vs. Over Generation (CIMA, Dragon Kid, Takehiro Yamamura)
To be honest this was a kind of flat face vs. face match for a decent chunk of its runtime. It was all a bit too polite and restrained and felt like a standard house show opener. Happily, you almost always get a fun finishing stretch in a Dragon Gate six man, and there was no exception here. Plenty of smooth, high flying action as you’d want. Yamamura caught Kagetora with a Prawn Hold pinning combination for the three at 13:18, which seems to imply we might get the two of them in singles action for the Brave Gate championship in the future? Yes! Yes please! ** 3/4.

Alas, Yamamura immediately announced that he didn’t feel ready for a Brave Gate championship match, and plans to continue honing his skills before he accepts such a challenge. Rats. Kagetora expressed his hope that he will still be the champion when Yamamura does take a title shot, a hope I very much share. CIMA then offers a tag title shot to Jimmy K-Ness and Jimmy Kanda for some reason, which the Jimmyz obviously gobble right up.

2- Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Yuki Yoshioka
I had mixed feelings on this. It was much slower than your usual Dragon Gate match, and I don’t usually advocate such a change of pace since I watch this promotion for all the high flying craziness and fun. Almost from the bell Masaaki and Yuki launched into an extended leglock sequence, which I had no love for, especially since the leg work barely factored into the match from then on. Having said that, I did enjoy the level of intensity across the whole bout. It’s not something you get all the time in Dragon Gate since the focus is more on pretty, elaborate moves that require co-operation to pull off successfully. When Mochizuki takes on these young up and comers it’s really like he feels it’s his duty to give them a baptism of fire (kick them really bloody hard). And for any DG youngster, beating a grizzled veteran like Mochi would be a huge scalp, so there’s always this feel of genuine competition about these sort of matches. There was something to be said for the finishing sequence as well, in which Mochizuki kicked the fuck out of Yoshioka and Yoshioka just kept asking for more until eventually Mochi changed track, slapped the taste out of his mouth, and then floored him with another hard kick for the three count at 9:29. Ultimately, this was nowhere near as good as the Mochizuki-Yamamura match from a couple of months back, but then, Yoshioka is nowhere near as far along in his development as Yamamura, and still offered a decent performance and contributed to a bout that had a certain charm to it. ** 3/4. Yoshioka tried to attack after the bell, but Mochizuki just slammed him and stormed to the back.

3- Drastik Boy & Eita vs. Tribe Vanguard (Flamita, Yosuke Santa Maria)
This got off to a similarly uninspired start to the opening six man, but the finishing stretch was really frantic and exciting and tipped this into becoming an actively good match. Drastik Boy and especially Flamita are fantastic, they both clearly want to impress every time they’re out there and have just lovely chemistry together, but Eita and Santa Maria also had a great sequence, Eita spinning out of the Neraiuchi and triggering a series of blink and you’ll miss them roll-ups and reversals. Eventually, Eita tapped Santa Maria with the Apocalypse for the win at 11:20. Good stuff in the end, and as a bonus Santa Maria’s usual schtick wasn’t toooo obnoxious on this occasion. ***.

4- Don Fujii & Genki Horiguchi HAGeeMee vs. VerserK (T-Hawk, El Lindaman)
A lot of the matches on this card have felt rather half hearted. Two thirds of this one were really dull, especially by Dragon Gate standards, and then it picked up a bit towards the finishing stretch and seemed to be redeeming itself and then it just kind of ended? I mean, it wasn’t actively bad, it was all competent and just about diverting, but equally a disproportionate amount of the match was just people stomping on each other. It’s a shame because there was a small segment early on where El Lindaman was dominating the burly, grizzled veteran Don Fujii, and it was quite intriguing to see Fujii in such a vulnerable position, especially at the hands of a comparative rookie. It didn’t develop anywhere in the end, though. El Lindaman kept Genki down for three with the Tiger Suplex at 12:26. ** 1/4.

5- Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu, Ryo Jimmy Saito) vs. VerserK (Shingo Takagi, Cyber Kong)
It feels like every match on this gosh darn show has featured a sluggish opening two thirds. On this occasion, it was so stiflingly slow and dull that I even struggled to get into the finishing sequence, which usually imbues every Dragon Gate match I watch with at least a little bit of pure joy. It was just hard to care having sat glumly through 10+ minutes of very little happening. I have no idea why this card was televised, and only slightly more of an idea (obsessive compulsive disorder) as to why I’m reviewing it. Shingo aimed a swing of the VerserK crate at Susumu, but ended up clocking Cyber Kong instead. Susumu then followed up with a lariat for the three count at 16:56. * 1/2.

Kong announced his suspicions that Shingo might have hit him with the crate on purpose. He reminded Shingo that they’d be trapped in a cage together on May 5th, and he should take care that there’s no more ‘accidents’ between now and then.

6- Naruki Doi, Big R Shimizu & Ben-K vs. Tribe Vanguard (YAMATO, BxB Hulk, Kzy)
Hooray! Hooray for this thing! It’s not going to go down as one of the best Dragon Gate matches of the year or anything, but it is a good deal better than everything else on the show. Of course, the early stages were still a wee bit too methodical for my tastes, but even then they had more about them than the other matches because Doi, Shimizu and Ben-K have really great chemistry together, they’re a fresh and exciting trio, and it was kind of neat just to watch them control. The finishing stretch, too, was the strongest on the show, pushing further and further forward into the sort of territory only Dragon Gate lucharesu occupies, with all these invigorating, gorgeous sequences strung together in seamless fashion. A nice range of styles in this as well, with powerhouses and strikers and all rounders and underdogs all mingling together. Perhaps most welcome though was the genuine sense of urgency, with Tribe Vanguard looking to catapult themselves into title contention with a non title win, which would also continue Kzy’s obsessive pursuit of tag glory. And indeed it was Kzy that got the win for his team, tying Ben-K up with a Huracanrana pinning combination at 20:31! Like I say, this was not close to Dragon Gate’s absolute best and will not linger long in the memory, but it was undeniably good fun and a welcome closer to a largely lacklustre show. *** 1/2.

Despite their victory, YAMATO and Hulk get a bit antsy with each other after the bell, with the looming spectre of the Dead or Alive cage match ramping up tensions…

The final score: review Poor
The 411
I really have no idea why this show made tape but the momentous Memorial Gate in Wakayama card didn't; it's so strange that I assume there must have been extenuating circumstances I'm unaware of. Regardless, this was a deeply underwhelming and frustratingly repetitive card of wrestling, Dragon Gate style at something resembling its worst. The main event is good fun but everything else can be safely skipped if you want to make it to Dead or Alive quicker than I have.