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Jack’s Dragon Gate: The Gate of Passion 04.23.17 Review

May 24, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack’s Dragon Gate: The Gate of Passion 04.23.17 Review  

The final Dragon Gate show before Dead or Alive! The last two have been rather underwhelming, but something tells me this one will be closer to the usual high standard, and that something is ‘I am writing this introduction retrospectively having already watched the show and written the review.’ Customary shout-out to the delicious iheartdg for translating the promos and being the best source of Dragon Gate news on the web.

1- Over Generation (Eita, Gamma, Takehiro Yamamura) vs. Don Fujii, Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Kagetora
I have reviewed many many Dragon Gate opening matches this year and 90% of the time you could just copy and paste my thoughts from the previous review. I don’t mean that as a criticism- Dragon Gate opening matches never set the world alight, but they’re always fun, fast paced, full of cool moves, and leave you in a great mood for the rest of the show without overshadowing it. Little things I liked about this one in particular were the noticeably short heat segment on Yamamura, enough to add a bit of structure to the match, but certainly not in danger of slowing the pace down unnecessarily. There were also a couple of neat exchanges between Yamamura and Kagetora, and they were paid off at the end Yamamura pinned Kagetora for the second time in recent weeks with the Stardust Press at 10:35! *** 1/4.

Post match, Kagetora pointed out that Yamamura had now pinned him twice, and again offered him a Brave Gate Championship match at Dead or Alive. Again, Yamamura was hesitant, but this time accepted. GOOD! That should be absolutely terrific.

2- Ryo Jimmy Saito vs. Yosuke Santa Maria
This was a Yosuke Santa Maria comedy match. If you like that sort of thing you’ll like this, but I’m sorry to inform you that your opinion is objectively wrong. Lots of tediously offensive, gross, hyper sexualised spots with Maria trying to kiss Saito and rubbing her crotch and butt in his face. Nope nope nope. I hope one day Maria realises she’s a fucking fantastic underdog when she’s not doing shit like this. Saito got the win with after sitting down on a sunset flip in a similarly sexual way at 9:23. 0.

3- Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi HAGeeMee, Jimmy Susumu) & Drastik Boy vs. Tribe Vanguard (YAMATO, Flamita, Kzy)
Ah. Much better. There was a lot of comedy in the early stages of this one as well, but it was all harmless fun, largely focused on Jimmy Susumu’s attempts to redistribute some of Kzy’s thick mop of hair to those in need, like Genki Horiguchi and the referee. We got a really nice finishing stretch as well, with typically excellent cameos from Flamita and Drastik Boy. I’ve seen them do the same basic sequences several times on this tour and I never tire of them because they’re so graceful and crisp. A fun, lively midcard six man on the whole. Flamita put Drastik Boy down with a standing Spanish Fly for the win at 15:03. *** 1/4.

4- Ben-K & Big R Shimizu vs. VerserK (T-Hawk, El Lindaman)
I didn’t love this. Everyone in this match has an upside and they often make great contributions to six/eight/ten man tags, but they’re still kind of inexperienced (especially Ben-K) and wouldn’t be my first choices for a tag match like this where the action entirely revolves around them. T-Hawk is the best of the four, largely because of his gleeful, effortless dickishness, but he didn’t display a lot of that here. The finishing stretch was good stuff when it came, and felt different to a lot of Dragon Gate matches because of the sheer raw power of Shimizu and Ben-K, but they took too long to get to the fireworks factory and my interest wasn’t entirely with them as a result. The actual final sequence was ace though, with T-Hawk and Lindaman bouncing the VerserK crate off Ben-K’s head, only for Ben to kick out of the Urajigoku (sort of a back suplex into a facebuster) from Hawk in a great near fall. El Lindaman then immediately dumped him with the Tiger Suplex for the win at 13:06. ** 1/2.

Punch Tominaga belittled Ben-K and Shimizu, claiming no one wanted to see them wrestle, they all wanted Punch Tominaga instead. He issued an open challenge, and Masato Yoshino answered! He had confirmed he’d been returning to the ring soon, but never said when. Well, the time is now!

5- Masato Yoshino vs. Punch Tominaga
This was just a quick way for Masato Yoshino to remind us all that he’s back and still the fuckin’ man. Tominaga landed a couple of offensive moves but mostly served as a furious punching bag, which is a role he’s genuinely great at. Yoshino submitted him with Sol Naciente at 2:08.The crowd were absolutely hyped for all of this. N/R.

6- Open the Twin Gate Championship- Over Generation (CIMA, Dragon Kid) vs. Jimmyz (Jimmy K-Ness JKS, Jimmy Kanda)
Oh fuck! I did NOT expect this to be as great as it was, though maybe I should have considering the high quality of CIMA and Dragon Kid’s Twin Gate Championship run so far. They seem to have resolved to try and use their stint as champions to put as many people over as humanly possible while still clinging onto their belts, and their selflessness often makes for super little matches. Jimmy K-Ness and Jimmy Kanda are veteran midcarders on the B-team of Dragon Gate’s least important stable, and the way they got a title shot was by CIMA and Dragon Kid beating them in a six man tag, then deciding to let them challenge for the belts just because. If this had been a lifeless ten minute affair no one could have complained, but it ended up obliterating expectations. I quite liked the slow build of tension in the early part of the match- usually I have no time for slow, methodical wrestling for any reason, but I enjoyed CIMA’s selection of twisty submission holds, and then the Jimmyz taking over with slightly more high impact offense; it made both control segments feel distinct and worthwhile, which is a problem a lot of these midcard Dragon Gate tags often struggle with. And then the finishing stretch was fantastic. It would fit my narrative if I could give all the credit to CIMA and Dragon Kid, and they sure deserve a lot of it, but Kanda and K-Ness stepped up to the plate here big time. For a finishing stretch to be as delightfully smooth and fluid and spontaneous and unpredictable as this one was, everyone needs to be firing on all cylinders. My one regret with it was that the champs weren’t being rattled by a couple of youngsters, because it felt like this underdog story and the genuine scares inflicted on CIMA and Dragon Kid were a bit wasted on Kanda and K-Ness, who won’t get the chance to do anything with this rub. Of course, there was never any real doubt as to whom the winners would be, but it was not completely impossible to suspend your disbelief at times, and that’s a heck of an achievement from all four men. Really terrific bout. Dragon Kid won it at 17:57 after CIMA dropkicked Kanda into the Bible. ****.

El Lindaman and T-Hawk attacked the champions after the match, announcing themselves as the Twin Gate challengers for Dead or Alive.

6- BxB Hulk & Naruki Doi vs. VerserK (Shingo Takagi, Cyber Kong)
This was another really satisfying, rewarding tag match, though perhaps a shade below the Twin Gate bout because the stakes were so much lower. It was all four of YAMATO’s challengers in the Cage match at Dead or Alive, paired off in tag team action, and clearly the main point of the match was to warm us up for the PPV and keep the Shingo/Cyber Kong dissension storyline fresh in our minds. Happily, they were able to do that while also providing a great bout which steadily escalated into a really frenzied and intense finishing stretch. I also liked the crowd brawl that so often features in VerserK matches being deployed in the middle of the bout, rather than at the start as it usually is; it provided an effective bridge between the early part of the match, which was the typical cautious, tension building part of the match, and the latter part, which was mayhem. Kong and Takagi crashed into each other (accidentally?) a couple of times, and in the end it was Doi and Hulk that got the win, despite being from different factions. Naruki pinned Shingo with the Sliding Bakatare kick at 21:53, though only after throwing his own partner out to the floor to ensure he’d be the one to apply the finishing touch. *** 3/4.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A welcome return to form for Dragon Gate, and perhaps an unexpected one since the card looked a bit house show-y in advance. But the top two tag matches delivered big time and there was some fun action on the undercard as well. Worth a watch.