Wrestle Gate Pro: Enter the Dragons (3.16.19) review

Wrestle Gate Pro: Enter the Dragons (3.16.19) review

Wrestle Gate Pro: Enter the Dragons

 

March 16 2019

 

We’re in Nottingham at the Rushcliffe Arena. This is the second show from WGP. Initially I had a lot of trepidation about WrestleGate as they were bringing in a lot of big name outside talent and it was hard to see where the money was coming from. So the cynicism was real until the shows starting running and everything was fine. Now I’m interested to see what happens because Gary Ward has pretty good taste in wrestlers. This is the show with the Dragon Gate wrestlers on it and Konosuke Takeshita from DDT.

 

First impressions: it’s a nice set up. Everything looks professional. The building is dressed well. Somewhere between a better low level Indie and your wXw’s of the world that have spent big.

WGP1ring

It looks unique. They have a colour scheme that spills over from logo to the ropes and apron. They clearly need to shift a few more tickets in a bigger building to justify the imports but the basics are in place.

 

Jody Fleisch vs. Ricky Knight Jr

Jody is a BritWres legend. Knight is from Paige’s wrestling family from Norwich.

WGPRKJ

Fleisch is looking incredible at the moment. His dedication to being a body guy is admirable. He doesn’t look 38 years old. RDJ is inexperienced but comes from a family of wrestlers so that’s not a major issue. He doesn’t look bad here. Just has a few issues that need work. In particular a wonky kip up and some painfully obvious thigh slaps. He is only 19 to be fair.

They head out into the crowd and both to the Fleisch kick-flip off the wall.

And then this! Aaah! I’m screaming! Knight Jr cannot live up to Fleisch at all here and Jody has to jump into a couple of his spots but Knight is good enough to carry his end, which is fine as a teenager. At times they get a bit over-ambitious and the standing Spanish Fly looks pretty scary but it’s the same ambition that results on those spots off the wall. RKJ picks up the win here and I’m sure he’ll be thrilled with getting a pin on Jody but he’s got some way to go before he’s on Fleisch’s level.

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Lucas Steel vs. Callum Newman

Steel is a big lad. He’s a heel rookie. Newman is a Frontline rookie. He’s 16 years old. Newman staggers me with his movement around the ring. He’s been inspired by Will Ospreay, which is the start of the next generation of guys trying to mimic a higher degree of athleticism. This is essentially a squash with Steel overpowering Newman and planting him with his Steelbomb finish but it’s Newman who impressed me. This kid has a big future.

Final Rating: **1/2

 

NIWA vs. Ben-K

WGP1BenK

NIWA comes out to Rage Against the Machine so I’m immediately a fan because it’s not an obvious choice but Bulls on Parade. Ben-K looks very tanned here. Like this guy hangs around on a beach all day long. Ben-K is part of a heel stable in Japan so he feels the urge to work heel here and that’s a thing. At least he’s keeping inter-promotional continuity.

Other than this one faux pas Ben-K’s execution is pretty good. Dragon Gate guys are generally very sharp in the ring. The main issues stem from a lack of familiarity and NIWA, despite being a solid hand, can’t live with the standard Dragon Gate speeds. NIWA batters Ben-K with a big clothesline and a powerbomb finishes. Good news: more Bulls on Parade. Bad news; they never really clicked here.

Final Rating: **3/4

 

Sadie Gibbs vs. Gisele Shaw vs. Shax vs. Jamie Hayter

Gibbs just got signed by AEW on the strength of GIF’s of her Sasuke Special from Stardom earlier this year. Gisele was born in Cebu City, in the Philippines, but grew up in Canada. Shax is from the Norwich school under Saraya Knight but has developed a personality that I’m very into. She also five feet nothing.

WGP1Shax

Hayter, former Rev Pro champion, is probably the biggest name in this. She’s been working in Oedo Tai in Stardom too. Generally you throw a lot of inexperienced workers together in a match and it is asking for trouble. However Hayter is wise beyond her years, Shax has been wrestling for ages in Norwich and Gisele is four years in so we’re ok. Gibbs is clearly the star of the match. Both taking big spots and delivering them. She is a highlight reel performer. I like the variety we get here with Gisele using the ropes, Hayter throwing suplexes, Shax bashing people and Sadie doing lucha.

After this Gisele hits a corkscrew plancha so they’re blowing the crowd away with the big old high spots. Sadie finds herself caught out by Shax while she’s spending too long on the ropes and the Lungblower puts her out. Spanish Fly from Gisele gets rid of Jamie. It’s almost like Sadie got eliminated so Gisele Shaw could stand out more in the later stages.

WGP1GiseleShaw

Shax drills Gisele with a DDT and picks up the win in a thrilling four-way. Great match. Everything that was hard was well executed and this isn’t a ‘it was good…for a women’s match’ kinda match it was just flat out good.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Sean Kustom vs. Eita

Eita clearly hates everyone in this building and acts like a complete asshole before we’ve even started. Ben-K worked heel but this is on another level. His implication that Nottingham stinks in particular but also him casually waffling a ring side young boy with a chair.

WGP1Kustom

It’s a much better dynamic than the Ben-K match from the get go but they do spent an inordinate amount of time out on the floor. It’s a shame for Kustom, who’s more than capable of living up to Eita’s skill in the ring. They lean on the heel/face dynamic a little too much and Eita himself is keen to just take bumps and let Kustom look like the star. They get a little more creative towards the end with Eita doing the forward roll right into a palm strike from Kustom in a combination of CIMA spots. Low blow and a superkick finish for Eita. This was fine but relied on formula, which I’m not keen on.

Final Rating: ***

 

Adam Maxted was due to wrestle at this point but got injured wrestling for NGW and is off the show.

 

Terry Isit vs. Robert Sharpe

Sharpe is Frontline’s European Openweight champion. They do a lot of confusing things before they even start. Isit cuts a heel promo but Sharpe brings out a second in his corner. Isit continues to work heel, which makes him the hated one but his offence is routinely showier, which is weird. Sharpe Ending, the Riddle style jumping Tombstone, finishes. This was ok and kept relatively short.

Final Rating: *3/4

 

M&M vs. Addicted 2 Adrenaline

A2A are Harrison Bourne and Joe Lando. M&M are known for working in Progress and elsewhere so far so you probably know Connor Mills and Maverick Mayhew. They look quite big here because the other kids are even younger. Connor looks like a giant. It’s basic but fluid and pretty to begin with. It’s a wee bit rough around the edges but when they nail a sequence it’s very well done.

I’m impressed at how composed M&M look in this environment, having to assume the role of seasoned veterans. Some of the timing is disappointing. The ‘too tired to tag’ tag spot is awful. You made a mistake, just go ahead and tag out and force us back into place. Lying there looking at your opponent isn’t a solution. From that they go into a bunch of wacky fucking spots though so the crowd almost immediately forget about it. Connor in particular has to get a little forceful with the A2A boys looking a bit lost at sea.

After this they start busting out the top rope moves in a big way. There’s a Shooting Star Elbow Drop that I love.

WGP1Mav

“You’re dead. We killed you” – Robocop (1987). That isn’t the finish. Millshot puts Lando away while Bourne, killed above, lies on the floor thinking about his choices in life. This was insane. There were some pretty major flaws, especially building up to the big spots but all the crowd will remember is one child being murdered.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Post Match: Nathan Cruz sends a recorded message and sends Lucas Steel down here to kill everyone. Well, Harrison Bourne is already dead so the powerbomb from Steel is overkill.

 

Chris Ridgeway vs. Konosuke Takeshita

This is Takeshita’s first time over to Europe. I’m amazed he just came in and did this one show. He’s never wrestled outside of Japan so this is a huge coup for Wrestle Gate Pro.

WGP1Ridgeway

Ridgeway seems to be the go-to guy for indies to put against fly-ins because he’s not contracted but he’s one of the better available guys. They go into the crowd for a brawl here and the camera is rooted to ringside. Plus it’s underneath the hard-cam so they can’t use that, which is unfortunate. Riddy clearly wants to fight Takeshita like we’re in Japan and it takes Takeshita a while to come around to that. A lot of Japanese guys come to the UK and work quite soft because they don’t think Brits want to get hammered and would rather get the character stuff. So Takeshita is there juggling his pecs and doing Hulk Hogan spots and Ridgeway wants to strike duel. Takeshita isn’t so keen on the striking but will happily launch into a dropkick or a Blue Thunder.

WGP1Takeshita

The size of the ring often limits Takeshita because he’s a big rangey guy and he wants to build speed to hit spots and it’s not easy.

But not impossible! Takeshita ends up sneaking out a win on a roll up but it was a very competitive contest so it could have gone either way.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Robbie X vs. Ilja Dragunov

I was a bit surprised when Ilja ended up working Robbie X here but Robbie has been doing some quality work of late. He just doesn’t look anywhere near as intimidating. Although the alternative is probably Ilja vs. Riddy and Breed booked that.

WGP1Ilja

Robbie sets out his stall here to impress with gymnastic ability so Ilja belts him a few times. Dragunov has made a living getting beaten up by bigger guys and coming back to win. Here he has to be the bully because he hits really hard. Robbie X delivers a fine performance. You can look at him and not see much. When I saw him at a show in Germany he looked like a backpacker. He’s small, doesn’t have a great body, he’s got a rough beard, dodgy skin and receding hairline and yet, in spite of all appearances suggesting to the contrary, his in-ring work is incredible. They do a grand job of making me rate them equally in spite of Ilja’s clear cut physical advantages. I like that Ilja stays away from some of his goofier moves that drift in and out of his work.

WGP1Dragunov

He’s all business here. Streamlined, keeping it basic and doing everything extremely well while also allowing Robbie to be the showy one. Ilja is legitimately terrific here and showcases a side to his work that I’d rather he’d consistently demonstrate. The meat and potatoes stuff. Although he does use the 619 fake out thing, which I hate, at least he does it to switch directions and surprise Robbie. Robbie has a career best outing here for me. He nails everything and he’s doing difficult moves. Especially the stuff off the ropes. He uses kicks to knock Ilja off balance and finishes with the Lethal Injection in a surprise upset.

WGP1RobbieX

Final Rating: ****

 

Summary:

Hard to believe this is only Wrestle Gate’s second show. Three fly-in’s from Japan featured and the main event was excellent. I have no idea how long this is sustainable for but sign me up. I’m all in here. The presentation is good, the production is acceptable (being unable to cover a crowd brawl was a little unfortunate in such a small building) and the talent is willing. The lack of titles aside, it feels like a promotion that’s been in business for a lot longer than two shows. Go and see them! It looks like a cracking night out.

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