Dragon Gate moves onto their Champion Gate tour with the first event headlined by a brace of titles matches. I’m feeling more at home in Dragon Gate with every show, and they’re becoming one of my favourite promotions. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case.
Also, rather than put in numerous links to the same article, I’m going to say once that if you want in-depth translations for promos, you can get them at iHeartDG by clicking here. Let’s dish out some stars.
Shun Skywalker defeated Oji Shiiba
Shun Skywalker’s gear is awful. I have a feeling I’ve made that observation before, but it is worth repeating. He looks like something out of The Mighty Boosh.
He’s not an atrocious wrestler either, although there is very little to say about this as he squashed Shiiba. It’s just impossible to take the guy seriously. He looks like your mates have decided to make a horror film and designed the monster themselves.
Verdict: Two Stars
Dragon Kid and Kagetora defeated Zachary Wentz and Bandido
A slight alteration to the tag they had on the last show as Gamma is replaced by Kagetora.
It will come as no surprise that this was quite good. That’s what happens when you’ve got four incredibly talented wrestlers working together. There was smooth sequence after smooth sequence; all worked at pace. Watching these men gliding around the ring is entertainment in itself.
Wentz continues to be the standout. His athleticism is incredible. Every outing sees the Dragon Gate fans being won over by him a little bit more. He and Bandido make a nice team, as they pulled off a few flashy double team moves. At one point Bandido got Dragon Kid up in a surfboard and Wentz came flying in with a double stomp.
For a match that didn’t mean much in the wider scheme of things (apart from the continued integration of Wentz and Bandido into the roster), this was great.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Ryo Saito defeated Don Fuji
Don Fuji was in a grump. He started things off by throwing the Owari Gate Title to the outside, much to Saito’s dismay.
Unfortunately, that quickly became the least of Saito’s worries. He couldn’t resist mucking around and the more he mucked around, the more Fuji wanted to hurt him. These matches are nothing special, but Fuji does deserve some credit. In his attempts to avoid comedy he only enhances it. He’s an excellent straight man for the likes of Saito. Plus, he connected to his mischevious side a bit by having a couple of women from the crowd aid him in crotching Ryo on the turnbuckle.
None of which prevented him chokeslamming Saito after taking the defeat. I never said he was a good loser.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
ANTIAS (El Lindaman and Shingo Takagi) defeated CIMA and Kotoka
ANTIAS attacked CIMA as he was shaking hands with the small girl who they’d invited into the ring and given the role of ringing the bell. That’s a dastardly heel move if ever I’ve seen one.
Once we got past that they had a fairly standard tag. Shingo and Lindaman were shown to be the more coherent team, working together better to isolate CIMA and Kotoka. While the faces would have brief flurries of hope as they fought from underneath, ultimately ANTIAS were too well-drilled.
In the end, they did let Kotoka kick out of the German, Lariat and Powerbomb combo but it was only a brief reprieve. A few seconds later he was put away with a second German Suplex. Afterwards, Shingo kept CIMA on the outside while Lindaman continued to beat on Kotoka. This brought out Oji Shiiba of all people for the save. I did not know until that moment that they were brothers.
Lindaman got on the mic and threatened Shiiba, telling him he’d make a mistake squaring up a veteran like him before he and Shingo made their way to the back. That left Kotoka to cut another retirement speech.
A good match.
Verdict: Three Stars
MaxiMuM (Ben-K and Big R Shimizu) defeated Masaaki Mochizuki and Gamma
There was a couple of stories here. On the last show, Ben-K gave Big R a lecture after beating him. Telling him that it was time to start running through people and end his losing streak. On the show before that, Ben-K had made short work of Mochizuki and earned himself a title shot.
Both of those played into the action. We saw Big R find his inner monster against Gamma. No-selling a bunch of offence (including some kendo stick shots) before putting him away with a chokeslam. It was a proper big boy performance and seemed to suggest he’s refound his mojo.
He was able to do that because Ben-K had wiped out Mochizuki with a spear. Something he was very quick to point out in his post-match promo. He’s playing on the idea that he thinks Mochi is too old for this stuff, something which the champ firmly denied. Yet, their in-ring clashes so far suggest Ben-K has a point.
This was a well-worked match. The two storylines interweaved nicely with the action. Gamma isn’t my favourite, but he did an excellent job of selling his surprise at Big R shrugging off his attacks while I’m really looking forward to Mochizuki vs Ben-K. Good stuff all around.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Genki Horiguchi, Kzy and Susumu Yokosuka defeated ANTIAS (T-Hawk, Eita and Takashi Yoshida)
Guess what? ANTIAS attacked before the bell.
These ANTIAS’ six-mans are reaching Suzuki-gun levels of putting me off. It’s the same every time, and quite frankly it’s a bit tedious. They bend every rule in the book to isolate an opponent while the ref looks like an idiot for failing to hear/see the weapon shots, choking and general shenanigans going on. Maybe it will eventually lead to a payoff that I’ll be happy with, but that doesn’t change the fact I find it all excruciating to watch.
And it’s all the more frustrating because in Kzy, Horiguchi and Susumu they had thrilling opponents. You get touches of that with their hope spots, and there was a decent section where Susumu and T-Hawk were left in the ring to go at it. There’s nothing to prevent these being great. Dragon Gate has fallen back on the old cliche of the heel faction who can’t get it done without cheating. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a heel faction who were as good as they claimed to be and rubbed it in your face?
Even worse, they didn’t actually win the damn thing. All the cheating in the world still saw Horiguchi outsmart them and get the win with a backslide. Doesn’t make them look great, does it?
Afterwards, ANTIAS said they had no intention of letting Horiguchi and Susumu winning the Twin Gate Title. The two of them then responded with poetry, so that’s a thing.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Punch Tominaga defeated Yasushi Kanda to win the Open The Brave Gate Title
Punch came flying out of the gate, throwing everything he had at Kanda. Except, that wasn’t to last. After getting over his initial confusion, the champion was able to come back into things and quickly took control. Shrugging off a lot of Tominaga’s attacks as they failed to even make him flinch.
Punch’s advantage came from his unusual offence. He wasn’t able to outfight Kanda, so he had to outthink him, ducking under attacks and charging around the ring. Using his pace to keep the ANTIAS’ man off-guard.
A tactic which obviously had ANTIAS worried. As time went on and it looked like Punch was causing issues they started to get involved. Grabbing his legs and sneaking into the ring to attack. It seemed to signal the end for Tominaga as his dreams of being champ faded away.
Until the very thing that spelt his downfall provided his victory. A box introduced by ANTIAS ended up being bonked off Kanda’s noggin instead, and suddenly Punch was champion.
Unsurprisingly, ANTIAS weren’t too happy about this and Kanda demanded the result be voided and blamed Takagi for it. Takagi pointed out that if you can’t beat Punch, you don’t deserve to be champ. Increasingly desperate, Kanda ended up challenging Tominaga to a rematch which he accepted. Punch then went on to give a speech, thanking Takagi for his help and talking about how he wants to prove himself a worthy champion.
I get the impression that some Dragon Gate diehards might be a bit annoyed by the result. However, as a new viewer, I like Punch Tominaga, and I enjoyed the short story of him overcoming the odds. It’s the kind of payoff for ANTIAS’s antics that I was talking about in my review of the last match and it was a nice story.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
MaxiMuM (Jason Lee, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino) defeated Tribe Vanguard (Flamita, YAMATO and Yosuke Santa Maria)
Flamita and Jason Lee did a spot (involving Lee’s praying shtick) early on that was identical to one they did in the eight-man tag they had on the last show. I know wrestlers repeat spots all the time, yet with talent as smooth as these two it was frightening how similar it was. I was momentarily worried I had the wrong show on.
This continued to tell the story of Santa Maria’s growth. While I’m unsure of her character, she’s winning me over as a worker. There were fewer antics here as she had her game face on. Going out there and trading blows with Yoshino. They did a good job of having her look strong, even when she was taking a beating. She kept coming back for more and that felt like the most important thing.
The rest of it wasn’t bad either. Flamita is a star who is a joy to watch in the ring. He and Doi had a stunning sequence, building up as they worked through a series of counters. They almost made it look too easy as they hit the climax.
The final few minutes were particularly fantastic. Move after move with people flying in and out of the ring as both teams tried desperately to pick up the win. I could have used less of Santa Maria kissing everyone, but that’s to be expected at this point. The smooching proved not to be enough as Lee caught her with a German rolled through and hit the second one for the win.
Afterwards, Yoshino praised Maria and said that she proved what she was made of today. Santa Maria then went on to assert that despite the defeat she was still looking to reach the top and carry Tribe Vanguard now that Kzy was gone.
A wonderful main event, packed to the brim with action. If you took your eyes off it for a second, you would miss something. On top of that, they continue to build Yosuke Santa Maria. I do worry that her underdog role is a bit too similar to the likes of Kzy and Punch. Hopefully, her character is different enough to keep it separate. Lovely stuff.
Verdict: Four Stars
A better showing than the last one from Dragon Gate. Wentz and Bandido continue to light up the undercard while the main event was all kinds of fun. The ANTIAS stuff is testing my patience, but it’s a small price to pay for some incredibly entertaining wrestling.