Dragon Gate Truth Gate N5
February 10 2019
I very rarely watch Dragon Gate but the main on this show has heavy, heavy hype so I’m here for some antics. I’ve not seen the undercard on this show in forever so I’ll have no idea who’s in what stable. Also skip ahead to 22 minutes into the video because nothing happens before that. This show comes from Hakata Star Lanes, which gives me a different view to the standard inside of Korakuen Hall where 90% of all the wrestling I watch happens.
Gamma, K-ness, Mondai Ryu & YASSHI vs. Dragon Dia, Jason Lee, Kaito Ishida & Shachihoko BOY
Jason Lee is the same Jason Lee who wrestled for Zero1. I wondered where he’d gone. Gamma and YASSHI bring a lot of character and personality, which is something you really need in Dragon Gate because the style up and down the card is so samey. It’s a match with a lot of high speed lucharesu and several impressive turns. I dig the double Asai moonsault from opposite sides for a stunning visual and Ishida is good throughout. K-ness busts out the rolling cradle for the pin and the transition into it is so smooth I find myself fully invested for the only time in the match.
Final Rating: **3/4
Don Fujii vs. Stalker Ishikawa
Stalker is one of the Dragon Gate guys I really appreciate showing up on a card because he’s completely different in every possible way. Ishikawa decides to bring an enormous ladder with him for reasons best known to himself. Ishikawa gets counted out but apparently the rules allow for 30 seconds on the floor rather than the standard 20 count. Don Fujii is beside himself. Apoplectic with rage over this bizarre change in the rules. Ishikawa is great here. He gets all fired up and pulls his shirt off and gets nowhere. His matches are always art. The failed German suplex that leads to the finish is wonderful. Your mileage may vary but I love comedy matches and Ishikawa is always gold. Fujii goes to carry Ishikawa to the back but then hurls him on the floor after a few paces. What an asshole!
Final Rating: ***
Kagetora vs. Yasushi Kanda vs. Shun Skywalker
This is a tidy little match with two veterans and the trustful, spritely youngster Shun. Kanda, playing heel, makes some bizarre decisions. He rips one turnbuckle pad off, goes to smash Shun into another one, realises he’s not exposed it and briefly stops to pull that one off too. Shun has an incredible vertical leap, which allows him to jump to the buckles while running across the ring and he does it effortlessly. It’s so hard! They have some nice sequences in this. I’m particularly found of the John Woo missing, hitting Kagetora instead and then Shun hitting a moonsault knees with Kanda already in position. Nicely done. Shun picks up the win here and I really enjoyed this.
Final Rating: ***1/4
R.E.D. (Eita, KAZMA SAKAMOTO & Takashi Yoshida) vs. Mochizuki Dojo (Hyo Watanabe, Yuki Yoshioka & Kota Minoura)
R.E.D. is one of the few DG stables I know because PAC joined it. Mochizuki Dojo appears to be a collection of younger wrestlers that he’s presumably mentoring. A quick check on the ages of those involved rather confirms it. Yoshioka is 24 and he’s the elder statesman of the team. The last time I was regularly watching DG Yoshida was called Cyber Kong and had drawn on abs. I miss those abs. This match feels deeply entrenched in the midcard. The opening three bouts had decent variety for a DG show but this match feels very Dragon Gatey. The planning gets better towards the end with Eita controlling everything. His superkick finishes. This was fine but didn’t do much for me.
Final Rating: **1/2
KAI & U-T vs. Big Ben (Big R Shimizu & Ben K)
Big Ben are in R.E.D. and KAI & U-T are in Tribe Vanguard. That’s the stable headed up by YAMATO and BxB Hulk. It’s been around for nearly three years, which is a long time in Dragon Gate! I’m surprised to learn that KAI has actually wrestled more in DG this year than AJPW. KAI is a big lad for DG where everyone else is pretty small. So he practically bullies Big R. Because R.E.D. are the heels they have to isolate the smaller U-T. The poor bastard gets whipped into the chairs at the mercy of Big R. But Big R has no mercy! KAI is looking like a whole different wrestler already this year and the way he dominates this match is a reflection of that. He clobbers BIg R every time they go head to head and it’s the smaller Ben K who has to step up by doing different things. The match is at its best when Ben K faces U-T. The plucky underdog going against a powerhouse middleweight with devastating power spots. The spear at speed is nothing short of incredible. R.E.D. miscue from the floor though and U-T pins Ben K after an errant chair shot. When this was good it was blowaway but it drifted in and out of that.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Dragon Kid, Masato Yoshino, Genki Horiguchi & YAMATO vs. Masaaki Mochizuki, Naruki Doi, Ryo Saito & Susumu Yokosuka
This is the kind of wacky multi-man match that DG usually do a bang up job of. Nobody is in their units here as it’s a bunch of guys celebrating their history in Hakata Star Lanes, which is closing. A lot of the references are lost on me as I tend to drop into DG for mains and not much else. So this is twenty minutes of stuff thats easy to watch but not necessarily with the emotional heft that a regular DG viewer would have with it. I’ve said this about DG before but they run way too many shows. But then, so do New Japan. It’s certainly a fun match, even if it’s nowhere near as crisp as DG big matches when they’re firing on all cylinders. The match does have a pleasant escalation rate. So it starts off slow and jokey and get more and more intense. At times the procession of spots is mind-blowing. Such is the joy of these wacky DG matches. Backslide from Heaven finishes for Genki and this was a very easy watch.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Open the Dream Gate Championship
PAC (c) vs. Kzy
Here’s why I picked this show. This match was getting rave reviews. PAC hasn’t exactly set the Indies on fire since returning from WWE but Kzy has a habit of turning up in a big way when he’s put in main events. I like how Kzy glances across at PAC during the British anthem after he attacked during it last time. A tidy piece of storytelling. PAC has been very deliberate and story driven as a wrestler since returning. That’s in evidence here but he also switches up the moves. The superplex looks incredible because of the height on it and Kzy forces the pace whenever he can. It definitely feels more energised than any other PAC match on the Indies this year (perhaps apart from the Ospreay match in Rev Pro). I love the interaction between PAC and Kzy’s unit, resulting in him backdropping Kzy out of the ring and onto his mates. PAC also delivers some slick offence. The Red Arrow to the floor! That Backslide Driver! I’m also a big fan of how powerful the Ligerbomb looks. All impact stuff. Poor Kzy gets mashed over and over again. Not that Kzy is without offence. He hits an incredible double underhook version of the Canadian Destroyer. I’m making this sound like it’s all high spots but it’s really not. They build to that over time. It’s just that the high spots are incredible and worth mentioning. Like the SSP onto Kzy stooped in the ring. The high spots are amidst a sea of running strikes and cheeky pins that fill out the contest. It’s a really cool match. I dig PAC being forced into more and more ridiculous spots by Kzy’s persistence and capability to counter. The culmination of this being the Tombstone off the ropes. which is landed vertically and looks frightening. PAC heads back up and the Red Arrow finishes. Great match that built nicely and punctuated all the big spots with clever transitions. PAC’s best contest since returning to the Indies.
Final Rating: ****1/2
I find Dragon Gate hard to watch in one go because it’s a promotion with a lot of similar wrestlers doing similar matches. This took me four days to get through! The rewards were there though. I need to stop overlooking DG to the degree that I am. Especially if PAC decides to do his best work in that promotion.