Dragon Gate Open the New Year Gate
January 16 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This is my first full DG show in quite some considerable time. I saw a lot of one-off recommended matches last year but my last full show was probably 2016 and not late 2016 either. I have no idea who all the factions are and who’s where and it might take some time to learn all that. I’m hoping to pick up on some new talents and have myself a bit of a laugh. It was this or yet another NOAH show. 2018 is all about diversity.
Yuki Yoshioka vs. Kaito Ishida
I don’t remember either of these guys. Yoshioka has been around a little over a year. Ishida since 2015. One of the constants of Dragon Gate is the constant stream of new talent their school produces. It often takes the lads a while to find their place in the company but many reinvent themselves in a huge way when they do. Both these chaps appear to be relatively gimimickless right now. They go nuts on the near falls sequences, which I’m a fan of, with Ishida eventually scoring the fall. This was solid but you can see how inexperienced they are collectively.
Final Rating: **1/2
Genki Horiguchi & MaxiMuM (Kotoka, Jason Lee & Ben K) vs. K-ness, Kagetora, Mondai Ryu & Shun Skywalker
Former Zero1 wrestler, and first round Cruiserweight Classic loser, Jason Lee is here. I’m not familiar with Ben K and Shun Skywalker, although I’ve heard the names. Kagetora is the only dude on his team that’s not masked. DG keeping those lucha links strong.
The stills from this show are going to be pretty lame because it’s a single camera setup. Don’t expect a visual feast! Pleased to see Genki is still doing the elastic spot.
He gets halfway up the top deck before it backfires. There’s a lot happening with frequent changes of in-ring personnel. Kagetora ends up getting isolated and submitting to Ben K, which is now what I expected at the start of the match. It’s clear Ben K is a big deal for Dragon Gate. He has a lot of ‘top talent’ attributes.
Final Rating: **3/4
Post Match: ANTIAS take exception to MaxiMuM and we have a stand-off. ANTIAS are clearly the bad guys because Shingo Takagi is in the group. He’s a handy sign of who the heels are in Dragon Gate. He’s a wrong un.
Takashi Yoshida & Yasushi Kanda vs. BxB Hulk & U-T
The first two are both members of the dastardly ANTIAS. Hulk & U-T represent Tribe Vanguard. Tribe Vanguard has a lot of the Millennials in it. U-T has radically different hair to the last time I saw him. He’s grown an enormous red mohawk. It is quite sensational. I feel like I should be handing him an award for it. Yoshida is the former Cyber Kong. He lost his mask to YAMATO last year. No wonder he’s so mad. He’s turned into a right mouthy bald fucker. Kanda used to be one of the Jimmyz but the dissolution of that group has clearly caused him some mental issues. BxB Hulk has always been one of my least favourite Dragon Gate guys and that’s demonstrated ably here as he does a bunch of shit looking offence while Yoshida stands around waiting to get hit. When I don’t find someone convincing in the ring it’s always hard for me to get back onboard. Hulk has never done it for me. By comparison U-T does a fine job of fighting from underneath until Yoshida kills him off.
Final Rating: **1/4
Shingo Takagi vs. Punch Tominaga
Since VerserK went tits up last year Punch has been stableless. So he’s taking on Shingo on his own. I appreciate Punch’s dedication to his lazy asshole gimmick but doing missile dropkicks with his hands in his pockets. Shingo doesn’t appreciate being sassed in such a manner, as you’d expect.
Shingo barely registers Punch’s opposition and makes a point of belittling him at every turn. Shingo bring s a chair in but Punch uses it, gets caught and Shingo wins on DQ. Punch going nuts and kicking the ref over is good stuff. Yoshida kicking him in the spine for it is fun too. Punch goes after Shingo after the match and gets fucked up again in the aisle!
Final Rating: **
Yosuke Santa Maria, Ryosuke Santa Maria & Hyosuke Santa Maria vs. CIMA, Gamma & Don Fujii
The Santa Maria’s are Ryo Saito and Hyo Watanabe. I would provide you with a lovely group shot of the three lovelies but the prudish cameraman cannot handle that level of sexual cuteness and zooms out as hard as he can until it’s three specks in the ring. Cute specks mind you. The other team are all wearing tinsel, bodystockings and sunglasses and carrying cat o’ nine tails’ so we’re clearly in for some family friendly antics.
CIMA you kinky bastard.
This is definitely up at the weird end of the Dragon Gate scale. Don Fujii isn’t in on the gag, it seems.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) January 16, 2018
CIMA on the other hand goes ALL IN on it. It’s a very weird, sexy match that so rarely happen in the West. There’s all manner of molestation. It’s like the match was laid out by a dirty old man. Oh hey, Don Fujii. This is going to be one of those matches I can’t rate isn’t it? Interesting to note Don Fujii takes a whipping off all three crossdressers at the same time. He usually pays double for that kind of action! This is certainly one of the most bizarre matches you’ll see all year. It ends with a triple pin and the ref has no idea who’s legal so he awards it to the Santa Maria’s because they had two of the three pins.
Final Rating: This did not exist in the world of a star rating scale
Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz vs. Flamita & Bandido
Bandido is new to DG. Having him tag with an established DG luchadore like Flamita is sound strategy. As is pitting them against another hungry new team to DG in Scarlet & Graves. This is the first match on the show that means business and they go balls to the wall in it. It’s a fast-paced hybrid match and they gel well together. It could easily get Scarlet & Graves a gig in Mexico, just on this offering. The reactions are big and the performances are suitably awesome. There are lots of flips. Every now and again it feels a little set up. Like Flamita adjusting his tights waiting to take a spot. That said everything else is cool as fuck. It’s breakneck pacing and mass of wacky spots makes this an immediate stand-out on the show. Wentz doing his assisted backflip gets a big reaction. It’s a cool spot and it gets over immediately, which is a good sign. The crowd aren’t particularly invested in who wins but they do dig the action, which is a big win for the guys involved. It helps that they do fucking ridiculous stuff like Flamita hitting a senton off Bandido’s shoulders.
Xavier takes the win with a flippydo on Bandido and both teams looked hugely impressive here. I dig when lucha mixes with other styles, especially when it does it so successfully. This was near perfect. Big recommendation.
Final Rating: ****
Masaaki Mochizuki & Susumu Yokosuka vs. YAMATO & Kzy
Mochi is the champ right now, which I approve of. Kzy is next in line to challenge, which is as bizarre as his hair. Susumu is no longer a Jimmy, which makes me sad.
They try and do dance moves on Mochizuki and that does end well for the Kzy and YAMATO. Kicks are involved. Kzy’s fun loving antics will clash quite nicely with Mochizuki’s stern champion mentality. Especially as Mochi is so vicious. His assaults on Kzy are a thing of beauty. I’m actually excited for a Dragon Gate singles match. Imagine that? There’s some delicious banter between Susumu and YAMATO too with YAMATO missing a dropkick save and falling on his arse. Susumu responding with a mocking bump of his own. The focal point of the match is Mochizuki just unloading on Kzy. It’s tremendously violent. Almost everything about this match is good. All the characters work. The action is slick and it’s not just colourful spots but extreme violence too. I’m a big fan of Mochizuki bringing the traditional strong style into DG’s big events. Kzy actually pins him here with a Canadian Destroyer and a running elbow/cradle to follow. It hypes up the Mochizuki-Kzy match that’s forthcoming and in general was an excellent bout.
Final Rating: ****
MaxiMum (Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu) vs. ANTIAS (T-Hawk, El Lindaman & Eita)
T-Hawk used to be such a wholesome lad. His turn to the dark side has also allowed Eita to go evil. I don’t know what I make of evil Eita. He was such a good underdog babyface. This match is one of those typical DG matches with lots of action everywhere and a suitably fast pace. It’s jolly good fun.
Also, maybe balcony death? The ANTIAS dickery is a little too much to deal with after two highly competitive matches beforehand. It feels very ‘big heel group’ specific and I’m not keen on that dynamic. It’s preferable when Yoshino increases the pace and Big R is doing silly power spots. I suppose these are amplified by the heels running multi-man spots and outside interference all match but it’s just Mad Blankey all over again. Shingo chair shots Big R square in the face, busting him wide open, and the poor bastard gets triple teamed for the pin.
Please never let Shingo Takagi do chair shots again. pic.twitter.com/rpBfQvr6C1
— milo (マイロ) 👽 (@mvybien) January 16, 2018
Final Rating: ***1/4
It’s been a while Dragon Gate. I felt myself becoming more familiar and comfortable with my surrounding as the show progressed. The feel of the main event was exactly as I remember it. I very much enjoyed the two tag bouts prior to the main. One for being a crazy spotfest, the other for bringing a lot of storyline and intensity. Both are early DG recommendations on the year. My intention is to check in on DG when I have time but this show reminded me they can do shows that can be largely enjoyable. Maybe I should make time for them. Considering this was one of their lesser shows, rather than a PPV, it was perhaps easier to digest.