Dragon Gate Champion Gate In Osaka 4/3/18 Review

 

Big main event. Credit: NJPW

The second night of Champion Gate saw the big belt on the line as Ben-K attempted to follow up on his two-minute victory over the champ. Elsewhere, the more eccentric members of the Dragon Gate roster continue to annoy ANTIAS as Susumu and Horiguchi challenge for the Twin Gate title. All sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

As usual, the full translations for the various promos throughout the show can be found on iHeartDG by clicking this link. Let’s dish out some stars.

U-T defeated Yuki Yoshioka

U-T got a straightforward win over the Young Boy. At the start, I thought this was going to be notable only for its lack of note. However, towards the end, it picked up a bit. The two of them exchanged roll-up attempts with Yoshioka easily keeping up with the ‘veteran’ who is only a year older than him. It turned into a decent enough showing from both men. While Dragon Gate’s crop of rookies doesn’t quite match-up to New Japan’s, they are showing some potential.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Over-Generation (CIMA and Gamma) defeated Don Fuji and K-Ness

Gamma is over, and I have yet to see anything to indicate why. Although, he is forty-four, so it’s possible he was great. If anyone thinks he was and has some match recommendations, then throw them my way.

I can’t imagine anyone will suggest this one. It was some of the older members of the DG roster going through the motions. Although considering they’re all younger than one half of tonight’s main event they’re unlikely to keel over yet. They knew this was an unimportant spot on the card and treated it as such.

All of which is fine because the fans in attendance had fun. Sometimes you need to deliver for those in the building, even if it ultimately doesn’t mean very much.

Verdict: Two Stars

Takashi Yoshida defeated Kaito Ishida

Kaito Ishida is only twenty-two, and as he bounced off the imposing bulk of Yoshida, he looked it.

Despite his tender years, he tried really hard to neutralise the big man’s threat. He was dishing out kicks as he danced around him, but Yoshida had some of ANTIAS’s trolls at ringside, and the odds were stacked against Ishida. He was like a dog running on a wooden floor, anytime he looked like he was going to gain traction another foot would slip out from underneath him. Whether it was Yoshida’s strength or his goons, the conclusion was the same, Ishida’s heart wasn’t enough.

I’m a sucker for a well-worked underdog story, and this was that. While it’s nothing you’ll ever go back to, it aided both men. Yoshida looked dominant and Ishida showed courage by not giving up.

Verdict: Three Stars

YAMATO, Punch Tominaga and Ryo Saito defeated ANTIAS (El Lindaman, Shingo Takagi and Yasushi Kanda)

Why do teams still get caught off-guard by ANTIAS attacking before the bell? They do it every single time.

Once that nonsense was out of the way, ANTIAS set about punishing Punch Tominaga for having the temerity to win the Open The Brave Gate title. A significant portion of the match saw him taking a beating until he was finally able to escape and get a tag to YAMATO.

From there everything broke down, and we got a few minutes of craziness with the action swinging from side to side. Then came the big moment as for the second night in a row miscommunication led to an ANTIAS defeat. Kanda accidentally caught Shingo with a John Woo only to be bundled up a few seconds later by YAMATO for a babyface win.

Except, after the bell, Shingo wasn’t so sure whether it was an accident or whether it was revenge for the previous day’s missteps. He and Kanda came close to blows until Lindaman stepped in and called for cooler heads, not a call you’d expect from the big lad in the face paint. YAMATO stirred the pot a bit more before Saito continued to poke Takagi into being funny

The story is clear, cracks are beginning to appear in ANTIAS particularly between Kanda and Takagi. Whether this will lead to a splinter or not remains to be seen, but it’s certainly interesting.

Verdict: Three Stars

MaxiMuM (Big R Shimizu, Jason Lee, Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi) defeated Tribe Vanguard (Flamita and Yosuke Santa Maria), Bandido and Zachary Wentz

Kagetora turned up before we started decked out in MaxiMuM gear much to the bemusement of the actual members of MaxiMuM. Afterwards, they took time to point out that he is not a member of the gang.

We’ve got a few storylines converging, and we started off with a couple of them in the ring. Big R is finding his Big side again while Santa Maria is growing in confidence. We got glimpses of both those things when they were in their together. Maria tried to bring it to Shimizu, dishing out some hard elbows. However, Big R just shrugged them off chopping her into next week in return.

Elsewhere, Bandido and Wentz continue to be awesome. In fact, 99% of this was awesome. These matches are a joy to watch. You’ve got talent pouring out of every sequence. All you can do is sit back and enjoy it. These are the kind of wrestlers that don’t need complex stories, they can wow you with action alone. When you throw in the continued Vanguard vs MaxiMuM friendly feud, it just adds that little bit of sparkle.

The final sequence was particularly impressive as Big R came in and laid waste to Bandido and Wentz. That big man can move, and they’ve firmly reestablished him post losing streak.

Verdict: Four Stars

Kzy and Dragon Kid defeated Kotoka and Oji Shiiba

A genuinely touching moment as Kotoka gets to team with his brother on one of his final shows. I also imagine it was a big deal for Shiiba who usually works as an opener and had the fans chanting his name.

He might not have been twitching the curtain, but Shiiba spent most of the match selling anyway as Kid and Kzy worked him over. At one point, Kotoka even had a go. Coming in to break up a submission and adding a stamp to his younger brother in an attempt to inspire a comeback. It worked too as Shiiba caught Dragon Kid with a dropkick and tagged in big bro.

That family connection wasn’t to be enough, though. We were left with Kotoka and Kzy in the ring, and after an enjoyable sequence, the ever-evolving Kzy got the pin. Despite that, the story was Shiiba stepping up and the continuation of Kotoka’s incredibly stylish exit from wrestling.

Afterwards, Kotoka cut what seemed to be a very emotional promo, talking about how he had been worried when his brother decided to follow his footsteps as a wrestler but after today he knows everything will be just fine. You didn’t have to speak Japanese to get the emotion in that one.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

ANTIAS (T-Hawk and Eita) defeated Genki Horiguchi and Susumu Yokosuka to retain the Open The Twin Gate Title

Another show another semi-main revolving around ANTIAS’s cheating and their opponents’ attempts to overcome it. If I haven’t made it clear, I am fed up with that shit. We got chair shots, far too much spitting and finally that stupid box (which looks like it’s made of cardboard) being bounced off someone’s head to set up the win. It’s not fun anymore.

And as usual, it’s annoying because the rest of it was solid. Horiguchi and Susumu are fun wrestlers, and when Eita and T-Hawk were in the ring going toe to toe with them, the action was great. Susumu even did a decent job of fighting against the odds, battling back against ANTIAS’s antics and striving for victory. It’s just that we’ve seen those odds so many times now that I’m bored of them.

Kzy apparently is too as he had a go at Eita post-match, asking whether they were satisfied with their tainted victory and pointing out that despite all their big talk they rely on cheating to win. He wants to personally teach them respect for their titles and is teaming up with Horiguchi to take them on. A challenge that ANTIAS accepted. Hopefully, they find a way to keep the antics out of that one.

I wanted to like this more than I did. It wasn’t awful, it was just clogged up with a story that I don’t love. I’ve still got my fingers crossed the payoff will be good, but we better get there soon.

Verdict: Three Stars

Masaaki Mochizuki defeated Ben-K to retain the Open The Dream Gate title

Mochizuki was out to teach this young pup a lesson. Ben-K had been suggesting the old bugger was past it and in the opening of the match he got taught not to disrespect your elders.

There is a reason Ben-K has been racking up wins, he’s no slouch. When he got an opportunity, he grabbed it and was able to dominate Mochizuki. These men are a similar height, but Ben-K is noticeably broader, and that added power gave him his route to glory. If Mochizuki’s not on his feet, there isn’t much he can do.

Yet, it doesn’t matter how good you are at suplexing someone, if they can smack you in the face really hard, then you’re in trouble. As Mochizuki struggled, he went back to his kicks and elbows. Hitting Ben-K with everything he had. It was a tactic which worked. Suddenly, the champ was back in control and each kick to the chest took a bit more out of Ben.

And that was the story of the match, we swung between them, Mochizuki with his strikes and Ben-K with his suplexes. It was a question of who could do the most damage first. There were moments where Ben-K looked like he had it won, particularly when he hit the spear he’d already used to down the champ. However, Mochizuki is the man, and on the big stage, he wasn’t going to go down that easy.

It was the very experience which Ben had mocked in the build-up that proved decisive. Kicking out of a German suplex Mochi didn’t hesitate. He fought through the pain and grabbed an arm, slapping on the armbar. The young challenger fought valiantly, for a second looking like he was going to escape, but it was too much, and the ref called for the bell.

Afterwards, Mochizuki paid tribute to Ben-K saying that while he didn’t win today, if he kept going someday he would. Then Big R got in the ring and issued a challenge, pointing to Ben’s inspiration in getting him over his losing streak. Mochizuki accepted and they will go head to head in three weeks.

This was a fantastically wrestled match. They interweaved the story of a clash of styles and clash of experience levels. Ben-K was all brute strength, trying to bash his way to the title. Masaaki Mochizuki was more refined, striking when the opportunity was there and using that experience to finally get the win. It was beautiful and I’d happily watch these two go again.

Verdict: Four And A Half Stars

Overall Show

Another brilliant Dragon Gate show. The ANTIAS stuff is still winding me up and it served to turn two potentially great matches into good ones. Thankfully, we had an outstanding main event and a fantastically fun eight-man tag to make up for it. You can’t really complain about that.

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