Dragon Gate Kotoka Road To Final 11/2/18

Fancy tour poster. Credit: Dragon Gate

I’ve started looking forward to Dragon Gate shows. There are times when I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but on the whole, the wrestling is excellent while the characters are defined enough that I feel like I’m catching up. It’s an easy promotion to watch, and that’s half the battle won already. Their February 11th show was headlined by an Open The Triangle Gate Title match and ended up having a few interesting wrinkles along the way. Let’s dish out some stars.

K-Ness defeated Hyo Watanabe

Standard Young Boy fare. Watanabe got a couple of chances to impress, doing some cool flips and hitting a split-legged moonsault. However, K-Ness was always heading towards a win. A decent contest although not one you desperately need to see.

Verdict: Two Stars

Kagetora and Punch Tominaga defeated Big R Shimizu and Zachary Wentz

The big man little man team of Wentz and Big R was a lot of fun. Even with a few language issues they put together some nice sequences and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Wentz is getting over with the Dragon Gate crowd, and you can see him making a home there.

Interestingly, it would be Big R who would take the pin off a Kagetora roll up. He’s been on a losing streak and having him take the fall over the relatively new gaijin suggests that it is all part of the plan.

I really enjoyed this. It was nothing special, but you had four wrestlers getting a chance to show off a bit. A smidge of Shimizu’s power, Wentz’s speed, Tominaga’s comedy and Kagetora’s brains. As undercard matches go, it gave me everything I wanted.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Yosuke Santa Maria defeated Don Fuji

The Santa Maria character makes me uncomfortable. I understand that exoticos have a long cultural tradition in Mexico and that there are ways to do that which are not offensive. However, I see her as an excuse to laugh at gay and transgender stereotypes. I have no idea if the person behind the gimmick identifies that way and I don’t know whether it is a positive representation or not. So, until I can figure it out, I am going to refrain from reviewing her singles matches. If anyone more knowledgeable wants to point out why I should be doing so (or to confirm why I shouldn’t), please do. I am looking to be educated.

Verdict: NA

Kzy and Susumu Yokosuka defeated Flamita and El Bandido

They took a while to get going which was a surprise considering who was involved and when you include the wrinkle of Kzy going up against Flamita just a few days removed from him leaving Tribe Vanguard. The start was slow and slightly plodding which are not words you’d associate with any of these men.

Thankfully, a Kzy and Flamita encounter seemed to provide the spark they needed to take off, and from there it all got much better. These are guys at their best when they’re throwing themselves across the ring, taking risks and having fun. As the pace quickened, so did my enjoyment of the match.

The final few minutes were a perfect example of this as a wild Flamita dive took he and Susumu out of the action and left Kzy and Bandido to have a frantic sequence that ended when Kzy got the win with a running uppercut. The early portion hurt it a bit, but by the end, it had gotten up to speed.

Verdict: Three Stars

ANTIAS (T-Hawk, Eita and El Lindaman) defeated Kotoka, Genki Horiguchi and Oji Shiiba

ANTIAS shocked the world with a sneak attack. Then, amazingly, that led to them vanishing into the crowd for a bit.

Poor Shiiba, he must have known coming into this that he wasn’t in for a good time. ANTIAS bullied him. T-Hawk, in particular, took delight in chopping the shit out of him before punching him repeatedly in the side of the head. There was even a sequence (which I would have bet money on being the finish) where they seemed intent on murdering him. He took a dropkick to the face, a German, was slammed onto his face by T-Hawk and then got another German for his troubles. Poor wee bugger.

His story wasn’t the one being told, though. Kotoka is the man of the hour, and he got to be involved in the finish, even if it was to eat a pin. T-Hawk was presented as the big bad, very rarely selling and on the whole dominating the action. He and Kotoka had some great sequences that seemed to come to an end with a knee to the back of the head followed by a sit-out crucifix bomb from T-Hawk. Kotoka had it in him to kick out one last time, however, before eating another knee for the defeat.

Another fun match. Kotoka got to look strong on his final tour by taking a beating and kicking out while at the same time ate the pin and gave the rub. Elsewhere, Shiiba will have learnt what it’s like to get beat-up and some more heat was put on ANTIAS. Good stuff all-around.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Ben-K defeated Masaaki Mochizuki

Wow, that was interesting booking. Ben-K just ran through the Open The Dream Gate champ like he was a Young Boy. There’s not really anything to rate, it’s more a case of what the fuck is going on?

Thankfully, iHeartDG did translate Ben-K’s promo. Ben-K put Mochizuki down for looking tired and getting beat by someone who hasn’t wrestled much in the last two years. He followed up by challenging the champion to a match. Mochizuki responded that he was caught off-guard and that it won’t happen next time. Find a more detailed transcript here.

As I said, there isn’t really anything to be rated. It’s an angle. Whether it’s a good one or not will depend on where we go now.

Verdict: NA

Over Generation (CIMA, Dragon Kid and Gamma) defeated Tribe Vanguard (BxB Hulk and YAMATO) and Ryo Saito

Before we got started, Over Generation did their thing and invited a kid into the ring. Even when I don’t have a clue what they’re saying, these segments are sweet. CIMA comes across as a lovely man. Now I’ve said that someone will inevitably point out that he’s actually horrible.

The in-ring was pretty standard six-man action. Which isn’t to say it was terrible, far from it, just that you shouldn’t go in expecting to see something new. They went out there and had an enjoyable outing with everyone playing their part.

I will take a second to say that I do not get Dragon Gate fans’ hatred of Dragon Kid and CIMA. Judging from the tiny bit I’ve seen before and then this, they’re a good tag team with some innovative double team moves. Maybe all will become clear to me over the months, but so far I’m on board.

Verdict: Three Stars

MaxiMum (Jason Lee, Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi) defeated ANTIAS (Shingo Takagi, Takashi Yoshida and Yasushi Kanda) to retain the Open The Triangle Gate Titles

A match built around whether MaxiMuM could survive ANTIAS’s constant cheating. They and the small army of men they had at ringside (might not have actually been army sized) leapt at every chance they could get to engage in the kind of shenanigans that they do best. It was slightly tedious and more than a bit frustrating.

Because underneath all that crap, there was a good match. The final portion saw the trickery dry up and these two teams got down to exchanging big moves. When that was going down, I was having a lovely old time. We’ve got six men who can go and damn it I want to watch them go.

In the end, big Yoshida was gearing up for a massive lariat when he was caught in a flash pin. Cut away all the crap, and this might have been great. As things stand, there was too much stuff in the way to make that the case. They’ll have to settle for it just being very good.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

While there wasn’t anything on this show that I’d point to as being a match of the year contender, I think it’s my favourite Dragon Gate show so far. From top to bottom it delivered with the only misstep being Santa Maria, and I’m not even sure if that is a misstep or just me. It was a hell of a lot of fun and if wrestling gives me that I’m usually happy.

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