Dragon Gate Open The New Year Gate 16/1/18 Review

Kzy wants that belt. Credit: Dragon Gate

As we dive into the second Dragon Gate show of the year, I’m starting to get a handle on their roster, and I’m even beginning to pick up some of the storylines. In theory, that should mean the reviews improve. Please don’t take it upon yourself to tell me I’m wrong about that. Let’s dish out some stars.

Kaito Ishida defeated Yuki Yoshioka

I’m not going go in-depth on this one because it was what it was. A perfectly acceptable bout from two young wrestlers. No-one is going to remember it in a week or at the end of either of their careers, but they put on a decent show.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

MaxiMuM (Ben-K, Jason Lee and Kotoka) and Genki Horiguchi defeated K-Ness, Kagetora, Mondai Ryu and Shun Skywalker

MaxiMuM got on the mic beforehand. I don’t know why I bother pointing this out every time. I’m never going to understand what they’re saying. Unless I learn Japanese. I probably won’t learn Japanese. Although according to Duolingo I’m around 50% fluent in Spanish. I am not 50% fluent in Spanish.

That had nothing to do with wrestling.

Earl on, Genki Horiguchi tucked an elastic bland under Mondai Ryu’s chin before stretching it half-way across the arena. Unfortunately for him, Ryu lifted his chin and, well, it backfired.

This is what I am beginning to recognise as the standard Dragon Gate multi-man tag formula. A combination of fast action and comedy spots. I’m not sure if Shun Skywalker’s gear is meant to be part of that comedy because fuck me it’s awful.

Despite that, this was a fun match. I enjoy the style, I don’t want to see a card of it, but when it’s done well and kept short, it’s a guaranteed three stars. Which is precisely what this was.

Verdict: Three Stars

Afterwards, ANTIAS came out to confront MaxiMuM. Sadly, they chose not to speak Spanish. Not that it would have helped.

ANTIAS (Takashi Yoshida and Yasushi Kanda) defeated Tribe Vanguard (BXB Hulk and U-T)

The promos bled straight into the next match as Tribe Vanguard chose to walk into a ring packed with ANTIAS members. It perhaps wasn’t BXB and U-T’s smartest move.

The ref did manage to restore order, but the damage was done, and ANTIAS controlled the early portions of this. Takashi Yoshida was the standout as they worked over U-T. That little bit of muscle on a generally high-flying card makes all the difference.

This was an extended squash. Tribe Vanguard had their moments, and BXB Hulk was protected by not being involved too much. However, this was a dominant win for ANTIAS.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Shingo Takagi defeated Punch Tominaga by DQ

Punch Tominaga came flying out of the gate bursting with piss and vinegar. Although I hope he didn’t need a piss. Wrestling with a full bladder must be awful.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much you hit someone; if those punches aren’t hurting them, it ain’t helping you. Shingo shrugged off the initial flurry and proceeded to beat the crap out of Tominaga. He broke two chairs on him before taking him into the ring and beating on him a bit more.

That beating perhaps went a bit too far because Punch lost it towards the end. Dodging a chair shot from Shingo, he snatched the weapon for himself and went to town. Even turning on the ref when he called for the DQ. It was a surprising end to what seemed to be set up as a pretty straightforward squash. I liked it. It was clear that Shingo could have won, but Punch looks good for refusing to take his beating without some sort of retaliation.

Verdict: Three Stars

After the bell, Tominaga said a few words and then went back to attempting to beat Shingo up. The emphasis being on the attempting.

Yosuke Santa Maria, Hyosuke Santa Maria (Hyo Watanabe) and Ryosuke Santa Maria (Ryo Saito) defeated Over Generation (CIMA and Gamma) and Don Fuiji

Hm, what to say about this. Yosuke Santa Maria was joined by Hyosuke Santa Maria (Hyo Watanabe) and Ryosuke Santa Maria (Ryo Saito). Yea, I don’t know what to say.

Over-Generation and Don Fuiji weren’t exactly taking this seriously themselves. They came to the ring draped in tinsel, armed with whips and sporting somewhat unique glasses.

Before the match, CIMA repeated his actions from the previous show by getting some children into the ring. I’m willing to bet the poor bairns were fucking terrified.

Look, I was just hoping we’d get out of this with nothing horrifically offensive happening, and it was a mixed bag. There was a shitload of stereotyping as Watanabe and Saito puttered around the ring dishing out ineffectual strikes. It was the kind of childish humour you’d generally find in playgrounds.

At best this was silly, at worst it was a bit uncomfortable to watch. Just skip it.

Verdict: One Star

Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz defeated Bandido and Flamita

This was a showcase. A chance for four wrestlers to show off all the cool shit they can do.

On the previous show, I wasn’t blown away by Bandido, but I thought he looked better here. He pulled off a lot of cool flips and was Luchaing it up. His main issue was that he was teamed with Flamita. It made the occasional clumsiness of his moves stand out. He would stumble after a flip or take a second to compose himself, and Flamita just doesn’t do that. He’s one of the smoothest high-flyers in the game.

For Wentz and Xavier, this was another big performance and they got handed the win. Wentz hit an absolutely insane looking cutter after getting some dangerous height, while Xavier would get the pinfall off an impressive Final Flash. Judging by what I’ve seen over these two shows, I imagine I’ll be seeing even more of these two in the future.

This was easily the best match on the show so far. While it wasn’t outstanding, it was damn entertaining, and that was more than enough.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Tribe Vanguard (Kzy and YAMATO) defeated Masaaki Mochizuki and Susumu Yokosuka

To begin with, this was a relatively innocuous tag-team match. There was a bit of dancing, and everyone seemed to be taking it easy.

Then, a switch was flicked, and they all began attempting to knock each other out. Moments like YAMATO dealing out a sequence of lariats to Yokusuka only to be decapitated by one in return became the norm. Suddenly the kicks, the slaps and the forearms were flying. It was great.

And it was all done to set up Kzy getting the victory over Mochizuki so he could challenge for the Open The Dream Gate Title. It was very nicely done too, Kzy took a beating and it looked like Mochizuki would have him. Kzy wasn’t having it, though He refused to back down and somehow he made it out of there with the win after a Candian Destroyer, running elbow combo.

This show has suddenly come to life. After a decent enough start, we’ve had two great matches in a row. Let’s see if they nail the landing.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

ANTIAS (T-Hawk, El Lindaman and Eita) defeated MaxiMuM (Big R Shimizu, Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi)

Guess what? ANTIAS attacked before the bell! Am I going to have to get my Suzuki-gun multi-man tag match review template out? (I don’t actually have one of those).

Unfortunately, that set the theme for this match. ANTIAS took a shenanigan whenever they were presented with a ref distraction. We got brawls in the crowd, ropes being pulled away and some pretty violent chair shots. They’re setting up ANTIAS as the big bads of Dragon Gate (it’s possible they’ve been doing this for a while). We’re being shown that while they can wrestle, they prefer to cheat. Again, Suzuki-gun comparisons are hard to ignore.

It is also the kind of storytelling that ruins matches. There might well be a good payoff somewhere down the road but at the moment we have to watch all of it, and it’s dull. Which means that while this had some good moments, it was dominated by sections that I’d have happily cut out.

In the end, ANTIAS’s cheating paid off. They clocked Big R with a brutal chair shot and went to town on him. The ref seemed wholly unbothered by this, so I guess it was fine. This was a slightly disappointing main event after the two great matches that preceded it.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Overall Show

I was a bit worried coming into this one. It felt even more like a house show than the previous date, and that wasn’t great. Thankfully, they stepped-up. There were two strong tag matches and a few entertaining undercard bouts. It had its missteps – I’m unsure about their comedy and the ANTIAS stuff has the potential to grate – but overall, this one gets the thumbs up from me.

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