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Jack’s Dragon Gate The Gate of Passion 04.07.17 Review

May 23, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack’s Dragon Gate The Gate of Passion 04.07.17 Review  

After a lacklustre outing in Kobe, Dragon Gate returned to lovely Korakuen Hall for the penultimate show before their first PPV of the year, Dead or Alive. The card wasn’t quite as strong as it has been for their other Korakuen outings this year, but who could say no to Takehiro Yamamura vs. T-Hawk, two of the best young wrestlers in the world one on one?

Usual shout-out to iheartdg for being the absolute best.

1- Over Generation (Dragon Kid, Eita), Don Fujii & Drastik Boy vs. Tribe Vanguard (BxB Hulk, Flamita), Masaaki Mochizuki & Syachihoko BOY
After the death via half hearted tag match that befell the last Dragon Gate show, it was nice to be reminded how this company does tag team wrestling so well! This was an absolute breeze of an opener, which is an adjective I think I’ve used multiple times this year to describe these matches. They just absolutely zoom by, with everyone zipping in and out the ring doing pretty high flying without a care in the world. The presence of Drastik Boy and Flamita as usual was a significant enhancement, both are so familiar with each other and thus can pull off the most delightful and elaborate sequences with such ease. Of course, this wasn’t the sort of bout that will change your life, or even one you’ll remember in a month’s time, but it was real fun while it lasted. Flamita dumped Drastik Boy with a standing Spanish Fly for the win at 11:28. *** 1/4.

2- Jimmyz (Jimmy Kagetora, Jimmy K-Ness JKS, Jimmy Kanda) vs. Kzy, Yuki Yoshioka & Katsumi Takashima
This was another good outing. It had a temporary structural flaw in that the Jimmyz had the control segment of the match, and two thirds of their trio (Kanda and K-Ness) are not the most interesting guys in the company to watch. I could have enjoyed Kagetora suppressing the young boys with his slick striking, but he only made a brief cameo in this portion of the bout. Happily, said portion wasn’t especially long, and the finishing stretch turned out to be really good and heated. I was a bit surprised at how genuinely intense the whole thing felt actually, considering this was quite a thrown together rivalry, but I guess the story of angry young upstarts trying to knock complacent veterans off their perch almost always works. In the end, the veterans retained control of their pedestals for another day, as Kagetora KOed Yoshioka with a single strike to pick up the pinfall at 11:18. ***.

3- Osaka06 (CIMA & Gamma) vs. VerserK (El Lindaman, Punch Tominaga)
On paper, this looked the weakest match on the show, but happily it overdelivered a little. El Lindaman and Punch Tominaga have their merits but are not the most thrilling tag team within VerserK, let alone the full Dragon Gate roster. Lindaman is young and not quite there yet, while Tominaga is much more enjoyable as a furious, unhinged veteran than he was as a harmless unhinged comedy character, but still one of the more limited wrestlers in the company. Thus, a bout which those two had 50% of obviously had its limitations. But Korakuen Hall has a way of bringing out the best in people and the finishing stretch here was similarly fun to the first two matches, especially with the cathartic ending. Pre match Over Generation’s newest member Mondai Ryu was cruelly unmasked by his old VerserK stablemates, forcing him to hurry to the back. He triumphantly returned at the match’s apex to throw powder in the face of Punch Tominaga, blinding him for long enough for Gamma to flatten him with a Lariat and an Air Raid Crash, and then tap him out with the Boston Crab at 15:15. ***.

4- Takehiro Yamamura vs. T-Hawk
Hmmmm. I’d had really high hopes for this- Yamamura has had such a startlingly great 2017 that he could put together a credible case for Wrestler of the Year thus far, and T-Hawk is pretty bloody great as well. What’s more, with Yamamura being such a naturally sympathetic yet fiery fan favourite and T-Hawk a gleefully dickish heel, they made for an ideal match on paper. I was all ready to bust out plenty of stars, but surprisingly I never felt like this got off the ground. The crowd were weirdly lifeless for it considering how this match span out of an epic ten man tag at the last Korakuen show that they were absolutely rabid for, and that really discoloured the opening stages, which came off as slow and hesitant. From there, the bout became basically a methodical striking battle, both men just trying to flatten the other. Down the finishing stretch there was genuine drama to this, but 15-20 minutes of it was waaaay too much. It was a change of pace from the rest of the show, which I did appreciate, but in its own right it became repetitive and frustrating, I just wanted them to cut loose and start trying to slaughter each other. I can see people liking this a lot more than I did, but unfortunately this wasn’t really my cup of tea, though as I’ve mentioned, I did appreciate the escalation of drama towards the end and the attempt to do something different from everyone else. T-Hawk put Yamamura away with the Night Ride for the win at 17:23. ** 1/4.

5- Tribe Vanguard (YAMATO, Yosuke Santa Maria) vs. VerserK (Shingo Takagi, Cyber Kong)
The strongest portions of this saw Shingo and Cyber Kong bullying Yosuke Santa Maria around the ring. Both Shingo and Kong are terrific, authentic, hulking jack-asses, and Santa Maria can so effortlessly generate sympathy when she wants to, so it really was a perfect fit. Frustratingly though, it was all building to a finishing stretch that never quite came together. Possibly this was because YAMATO had been designated as Maria’s knight in shining armour, but for months now he’s been a deeply uninspirational presence, and so this didn’t really feel like a satisfying resolution to the match. The best bits of the finishing stretch were definitely the moments when Santa Maria roared back and took it to her foes, yet by and large the focus was on anyone but her, especially with Shingo and Cyber Kong continuing to tease dissension ahead of the Dead or Alive cage match. It was still a good concluding segment for the bout, as most are in Dragon Gate, but at the same time it didn’t quite reach the heights of fluidity that many others do. So, a decent bout on the whole, but one with a fair few notable misfires as well. Shingo picked up the win over YAMATO with a really nice, quick Crucifix roll-up at 17:58. ** 3/4.

6- Open the Triangle Gate Championship- Naruki Doi, Big R Shimizu & Ben-K vs. Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu, Ryo Jimmy Saito, Genki Horiguchi HAGeeMee)
One of the weaker Korakuen main events in a while, though it still had its moments. The Jimmyz had been owed a Triangle Gate title rematch for a while, and often the problem with these obligatory title bouts is that the challengers have no real chance of winning and there’s precious little drama to them. On this occasion, though, it wasn’t so much the Jimmyz had absolutely no chance of regaining the belts as much as the prospect of them doing so was so very underwhelming. Susumu, Ryo and Genki still have plenty to offer but their Triangle Gate title run had seen the championships sink into a midcard funk, whilst the trio of Naruki Doi, Ben-K and Big R Shimizu had done much in a short space of time to make them feel seriously important again. There was an odd feeling of apathy surrounding a lot of this as a result; it’s not as if you go into the bout thinking it will be unimportant, it’s more that you’re sort of hoping it will be. That’s obviously a fault of the booking and not the wrestlers themselves, but at the same time I don’t think the match came close to overcoming the problems it had going into it. The early stages were slow and cautious, and I could have accepted this if it was building to a really thrilling and dramatic and all out finishing stretch. And said finishing stretch was very good while it lasted, with a couple of excellent near falls (particularly liked Saito’s Dragon Suplex on Ben-K for 2.99999), but it ended very abruptly and dissatisfactorily with Doi flooring Horiguchi with a Sliding Bakatare Kick for the win at 21:00. In bigger matches, that move has just been a small component in bigger, grander stretches of action, so it was telling that it was enough to end this one, as laudable as it is to try and make your secondary finishers carry a genuine threat. This has been a super negative paragraph, but that’s more a reflection of the extremely high standards that Korakuen Hall Dragon Gate main events have set, rather than this match being actively bad, because it wasn’t. The first two thirds of it were fine and the final thirds had glimmers of the sort of action that makes the company my favourite in the world. Any match that even has hints of the best wrestling in the world about it probably deserves at least ***, but on this occasion it won’t get much more from me, because it just really struggled to feel significant and worthwhile beyond tying up a loose plot strand. *** 1/4.

Doi was very pleased to retain the Triangle Gate titles, and promised that the next time he was in Tokyo, he’d be Open the Dream Gate Champion as well. That looked like it for the show, but suddenly Masato Yoshino’s music hit! He was there to confirm that he’d be RETURNING TO THE RING on the 8th May Korakuen show, which is genuinely remarkable considering how severe his injury appeared to be. The Dragon Gate guys are not normal human beings. Doi, Yoshino, Shimizu and Ben-K then confirmed that they had formed a new stable, with more details to come soon. Cool!

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
While a marginal improvement on the Kobe show, this was still a distinctly sub-par effort from Dragon Gate. There was at least one piece of major angle advancement with Masato Yoshino returning and forming a new stable, and there were a few decent tag matches. Other viewers with more patience with methodical wrestling may also enjoy Yamamura-T-Hawk much more than me. Still, this was another skippable stop on the road to Dead or Alive.