It’s impossible to point to one match that has influenced the way American indie wrestling has gone in the 21st century, but, if you had to, you could do a lot worse than wag that finger in the direction of this one. For a large percentage of the audience, this was the first time they’d been introduced to a Dragon Gate style tag as that blend of lucha and puro was brought to the USA. Christ, there is a reason Dragon Gate USA became a thing while the last Meltzer’s Classic I did happened ten years after this, and if you can’t see the links, you ain’t looking. It changed a lot of stuff, and yet, this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. So, the question is, does it hold up to modern eyes?
The simple answer to that is yes. This match is a shitload of fun, worked at a million miles per hour in a style that is ridiculously smooth. It takes the fans a bit to get into it, but by the end, when people are flying in and out of the ring making the incredible look simple, they are rabid, in love with what they’ve seen. I struggle to imagine watching it and not getting caught up in what they’re doing.
However, it’s also a match that I’ve seen a million times. Christ, Dragon Gate could dish up a handful of these a month if they fancied it. They probably go a bit harder, inspired by working in front of a new crowd and attempting to impress, but this isn’t that far removed from the kind of thing you’d see on any Dragon Gate show. Love it or hate it, you have to acknowledge that DG’s wrestlers are the masters of this style and fourteen years on from this, that’s still the case.
And it’s worth saying that if 2006 Stuart has seen this, it would have blown his mind. 2006 Stuart was 14, and his wrestling world was based entirely around WWE where Rey Mysterio was one of my favourites. If you’d put this in front of me, I would have exploded in that delightful teenage blend of cum and sweat, and I doubt I’m alone in that. It’s easy to forget that back then, watching Dragon Gate would require a shitload of effort. There were no streaming services or YouTube channel’s full of matches. It was all tapes and hearsay.
So, that leaves us with a really good match, which is elevated by context. Nowadays, I’m pretty sure this would still go over huge on an ROH card (it’s not like they’re delivering great matches every week), but would Meltzer be throwing stars at it and declaring it one of the best? I doubt it. It represents a moment, and while that moment can’t be taken away, it also can’t be recaptured.