Dragon Gate Kotoka Road To Final 7/2/18 Review

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The contract for our main event. Credit: Dragon Gate

There was a bit of buzz heading into this Dragon Gate show. Kzy challenging for the Open The Dream Gate title got everyone excited. As a Dragon Gate noob, I can’t pretend I was feeling the same. However, I love a bit of wrestling, so I got excited anyway. Did it live up to expectations? Let’s dish out some stars.

Over Generation (Kaito Ishida and Mondai Ryu) defeated Hyo Watanabe and Yuki Yoshioka

Exactly what you’d expect it to be. A straightforward win for Over Generation and a runout for the rookies. Watanabe showed some impressive athleticism, but Yoshioka looked like the better worker. On the other side of the ring, Ishida and Ryu looked decent. If you’re in a rush, you’ll miss nothing skipping it.

Verdict: Two Stars

Susumu Yokosuka, Genki Horiguchi and Jason Lee defeated Kagetora, Bandido and Zachary Wentz

I can’t figure out why Wentz is here and not Xavier? Can anyone clue me in?

Anyway, this was a fun six-man with Bandido impressing. I was a bit dismissive of him on the January shows, and yet with each outing, he’s got better. His work was a lot smoother, and it seems my initial assessment was wrong.

Wentz also looked good, getting a laugh when he couldn’t figure out what to do in response to Jason Lee’s praying spot and showing off some impressive bumping. Enjoyable undercard action.

Verdict: Three Stars

Takashi Yoshida defeated Big R Shimizu

A slight contrast in styles from the previous match as two big boys go at it.

This one plodded at the beginning, with the action juddering along rather than taking off. We also saw the ref look like a total idiot as he spent a few minutes staring out of the ring because Yoshida pointed at a Young Boy.

Thankfully, the closing stretch made up for that. They suddenly went from first gear to at the very least fourth. It saw the crowd wake up as the two heavyweights begun throwing themselves at each other to see who would go down.

With the ongoing ANTIAS storyline, the result made sense and apparently Shimizu is on a losing streak that goes back past my multiple weeks of Dragon Gate knowledge. We’ll see if that leads anywhere.

Verdict: Three Stars

Tribe Vanguard (U-T and Yosuke Santa Maria) and Don Fuji defeated Kotoka, Gamma and K-Ness

Kotoka has announced he’ll be retiring soon and he got on the mic to talk to the crowd pre-match before – along with the rest of his team – bringing a kid into the ring. I’ve discovered that iHeartDG is a great place to go for translations so click the link if you want to see what he said.

The crowd made this one, they were into the various antics and gave Kotoka a lot of respect. It elevated what was a mid-card comedy outing, although I can’t imagine Kotoka’s chest found Don Fuji’s chops particularly amusing.

The wrestlers were having fun, and it was hard not to have fun with them.

Verdict: Three Stars

Ryo Saito and Punch Tominaga defeated ANTIAS (Shingo Takagi and Yashushi Kanda)

There was a lot of story work involved here, and I’ll point you towards iHeartDG again for the full translation of what went down. The short version of it was that with their win Punch picked up a shot at the Brave Gate Championship and Saito forced Shingo into challenging for the Owarai Gate Championship.

That storyline heavily influenced the action. Shingo accepted the match not knowing what Saito and Tominaga’s demands were going to be if they won because he never thought they’d win. ANTIAS were playing the bullies, coming out fast and expecting to put their opponents away quickly.

Sadly for them, Saito and Tominaga had a different idea. They took their beating and came back for more, using their unorthodox offence to unsettle ANTIAS. It would eventually work so well that they got the win.

I enjoyed this. It was a self-contained story that set up two future title shots. I haven’t seen enough of any of the wrestlers involved to know whether those are likely to be good (and the Owari Gate Championship is a strange one) but it achieved what it set out to do.

Verdict: Three Stars

ANTIAS (El Lindaman, T-Hawk and Eita) defeated MaxiMuM (Ben-K, Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi) and Tribe Vanguard (BxB Hulk, Flamita and YAMATO) in an Elimination Match

As someone still trying to get a grip on the Dragon Gate roster these multi-man clusterfucks are hard to keep up with. I’ll try my best, though.

The early stages were all about ANTIAS as Tribe Vanguard and MaxiMuM worked together to take them out. They seemed to take great pleasure in beating on Lindeman. It was working for a while, but ANTIAS always seemed to have an answer to their questions. They were able to use DG’s ref’s stupidity to get an inch, and they took that inch all the way to the victory.

I still leave Dragon Gates multi-man matches with the feeling that I’ve probably missed loads of important stuff. Being unable to put interactions in the context of their broader history makes it hard to grasp exactly what is going on. What I can do, though, is appreciate the final ten minutes for the fantastic wrestling on display. It suddenly flipped a switch, and everything took off as they hit full speed. When you’ve got wrestlers like Flamita in there, you’re always going to be capable of that, and the closing stretch turned this from a decent match into a very good one.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Masaaki Mochizuki defeated Kzy to retain the Open The Dream Gate Championship

While I lacked context in the last match, I can thank Voice of Wrestling and Milo Martinez for helping me out in that regard for the main event. The article he wrote on Kzy is great, and you should give it a read.

Although, I might have picked all that up by myself because this was a fantastic match. In the early goings, it was clear Mochizuki saw Kzy as below him. He wanted it over and done with quickly and was going to bully Kzy into defeat. Kicking him around the ring and generally treating him with disdain.

However, as time went on Kzy began to hit back. His frantic offence presenting openings for him to go after the champ. He was never in control, yet he was getting chances, and the crowd were thoroughly behind him as he did so. Suddenly, it felt like there was a chance that he could win.

And he was so close too. The Skyade Schoolboy almost worked for him on multiple occasions, getting him within milliseconds of the belt. However, it wasn’t to be. Mochizuki managed to roll through it and steal a flash pin of his own.

Even as someone new to DG this felt like a coming out moment. Kzy lost with a question mark rather than an exclamation. On another day, he’s the one getting his hand raised not Mochizuki. It elevated him to the next level, and you can’t ask for more than that. Wonderful wrestling.

Verdict: Four And A Half Stars

Post-match Mochizuki paid tribute to Kzy before leaving the ring. Kzy then cut a heartbroken promo where he quit Tribe Vanguard. His partners tried to convince him to stay but eventually accepted the decision and left him in the ring.

That brought out ANTIAS who wanted to recruit Kzy. He emphatically said no and looked like he was set for a beating before Horiguchi and Susumu made the save.

That’s the shortened version of all of that. You can probably guess by this point where I’m going to point you for the longer translation. Click the link, and it will take you right there.

Overall Show

A good event from Dragon Gate. The main event was a step above everything else although the undercard shot by despite that. I feel like I’m beginning to get a handle on DG. I still don’t have the historical knowledge for a lot of what is going on, but I’m starting to pick up the threads which considering I’ve watched a handful of shows at best has to be in the promotions credit.

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