Written By: McXal
Dragon Gate USA – Open The Untouchable Gate – 6th September 2009
If anything, this second show from Dragon Gate USA looks even stronger than their commendable first effort. Gone are the likes of Scorpio, Kenn Doane and the majority of the good but not great Chikara talent who produced the majority of the low points from that event (in my opinion). Tonight we’ve got a mass of debuts for the company and they all look like terrific signings. In from Dragon Gate Japan come Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi. Arguably the two best wrestlers on the 2009 independent scene in Bryan Danielson and Davey Richards, along with Brian Kendrick, appear for the first time tonight too. Joining them are essentially all the bright points from show one. Dragon Kid and Masato Yoshino rematch their exciting clash from Open The Historic Gate. The impressive YAMATO rekindles his intriguing union with Gran Akuma to take on the proud Chikara representatives Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw. Shingo and Naruki Doi, immediately positioned as DGUSA’s top Japanese talents with their main event showing last time out, are the two lined up to oppose Dragon and Davey in HUGE bouts. And the main event sees the Young Bucks, who stole the show last time, oppose two more top guys from Dragon Gate Japan. Change of commentary this time as Lenny Leonard (who was superb last time) is now joined by Phil Colvin. We’re in Chicago, IL in a fantastic little venue.
First thing you’ll notice. Dawn Marie is gone as ring announcer and replaced by Kevin Harvey, who seems infinitely more competent. The sound and VQ seem far worse in this building, with the hard camera set so low that when the crowd on that side stand up they obscure the ring.
Masato Yoshino vs Dragon Kid
This is the rematch from Open The Historic Gate. These long time rivals impressed everyone with their ultra-fluid, incredibly rapid wrestling style in Philadelphia. But it was obvious at the end of the bout that Yoshino wasn’t happy about losing…luckily 2 Cold Scorpio was on hand to negotiate a rematch.
Of course, both men fly out of the blocks and look very evenly matched at the outset. Kid sends Yoshino out of the ring with a headscissors and does a 619 fake out on a dive to draw a nice pop from the enthusiastic crowd. It’s the cue for DK to take the upper hand in this match, planting Yoshino in the corner for a big basement dropkick. Yoshino wisely looks to kill the pace of his masked adversary by dropping him with a backbreaker. Kicks to the spine and a half crab follow that, as World 1’s Masato Yoshino looks to cement his position in the contest by inflicting a significant injury on Dragon. Despite that damage, Kid still recovers to score with the Déjà Vu Headscissors. SLINGSHOT RANA TO THE FLOOR! Yoshino ended up eating guardrail with that impressive move. Slingshot into a springboard blockbuster gets 2 for Kid. Yoshino gets his own nearfall moment later with the running neckbreaker. Cristo on Yoshino who bravely doesn’t drop from the vertical base and manages to walk into the ropes. He goes for a counter into a headscissors he tried in the first match, but this time Yoshino manages to scout that and counter the counter by dropping DK on his face. Top rope rana blocked and Yoshino scores with the HANGTIME missile dropkick for 2. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD Arabian press by DK. They both stand on the ropes…TOP ROPE FRANKENSTEINER! Still Yoshino kicks out. DK to the outside. ULTRA HURRICANRANA! Yoshino kicks out of the move that beat him in Philadelphia. Yoshino evades the Dragonrana and NAILS the Lightning Spiral for 2. Torbelino nailed next, but DK comes back up to hit the Déjà Vu into a crucifix pin for the victory at 14:12.
Rating – *** – Frantic and exciting way to start the show and introduce a new product to a new market. I have to be honest and say I thought the Philly match was MILES better, but this one definitely had it’s moments. My main problem was that the opening 5ish minutes of this one were noticeably slower and more methodical…without either man really establishing a reason for doing so, other than they were wrestling longer this time so had more time to kill. In the end none of that segment (including decent couple of minutes of back-focused offence from Yoshino) was really relevant as they eventually gave up on the methodical stuff to go through fast-paced high spots. In the end they basically busted out all the cool stuff they did last time, but tacked a worse finish on the end and slotted in a slower beginning…hence my lower rating. We do need one more match though.
Yoshino still refuses to give Dragon Kid the handshake he wants for having beaten him twice in consecutive DGUSA shows.
YAMATO/Gran Akuma vs Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw
Nice to see an immediate pay-off from the angle they ran at the ECW Arena. There Lightning Mike praised the new union of Dragon Gate and Chikara, whilst backing his Chikara roster to be able to hang with anyone from Japan. YAMATO then came out to disrespect Quack (and his mentor Jorge Rivera). YAMATO ended up fighting with Quack and Jigsaw, before another Chikara graduate Gran Akuma arrived…to turn on his own company and align himself with YAMATO.
Akuma and Yamato jump Quack and Jig during their ring entrance which isn’t overly sporting. Double backbreaker on Mike before Akuma boots Jig into a spear from Yamato for 2. Yamato starts to work Jig’s leg…and Akuma gets 2 with a snapmare rolled into a seated heel kick. Kudos to Jigsaw, he sells the leg really well as he rolls Akuma into a desperation pin. Yamato goes for an STF but gets too distracted by taunting Quackenbush and probably does get as much out of that potentially beneficial situation as he could’ve done. Leg bar locked in…finally drawing Quack in to illegally break the hold. Jigsaw tries to step off Yamato’s back into a pretty botched headscissors on Akuma. At least that worked in context of the match as the heel team have worked a leg. Quack gets 2 on Akuma with the BTS. Mike comes up with an awesome counter to a basic Irish whip before elbow smashing his opponent in the face. All four men stumble around the ring looking a bit silly until Jig lays Yamato out with a superkick. TOMBSTONE LUNGBLOWER from Akuma for 2, before Yamato lays Mike out with a brainbuster. That’s succeeded by a crossface as Yamato starts to look for victory. He puts the Anklelock on Quackenbush, then floats back to the Crossface…until Jigsaw saves. Michinoku Driver nailed, leaving Yamato in position for a SENTON ATOMICO! Akuma saves the match for his team. CROSS-ARM HERO’S WELCOME! Jigsaw stops Akuma hitting the tarantula exploder superplex , then rolls quickly to escape Akuma’s moonsault attempt. DOOMSDAY DOUBLE KNEE STRIKE! Yamato breaks the fall there. HEAD DROP SLEEPER SUPLEX ON JIGSAW! Yamato inadvertently spears Akuma then gets thrown out of the ring. QUACKENDRIVER II! Quack wins at 14:17
Rating – *** – A few fairly obvious botches aside, this was an entertaining match. They walked the fine line between conveying dislike for each other’s team WITHOUT turning it into a pantomime ‘yay’ ‘boo’ atmosphere. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Quack and YAMATO were much better than their respective partners. Not that Akuma or Jig did bad jobs, but there are very few people in Quack’s league when it comes to pure wrestling, whilst YAMATO looks like another outstanding Japanese prospect. Everything from his facial expressions to his physical demeanour to his wrestling style scream future star. It’s good to see DGUSA opting to feature him heavily.
Furious at losing, YAMATO puts a sleeper hold on Quackenbush and refuses to break until Hallowicked runs in to save his mentor. The YAMATO/Akuma vs Chikara issue continues.
The Young Bucks are out next to cut an in-ring promo. They reiterate the statement that, after defeating CIMA and Yokosuka at Open The Historic Gate, they have gone from being the ‘tag team of the future’ to the ‘tag team of the present’. They want to prove that tonight against the Dragon Gate Open The Twin Gate champions Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi…and wonder why they won’t defend those belts tonight. Jimmy Jacobs, seconded by someone called Mustafa Ali (who appears to be the classic pro-wrestling, turban-wearing Muslim stereotype), and sporting a horrific bleach blonde haircut interrupts them. He’s here in Dragon Gate to ‘start something big’ and wants to recruit new talent. As the cliché goes, the Bucks are either ‘with him or against him’. The Bucks decline the offer and take the inevitable beatdown from Jacobs and Ali. The Bucks fight them off to a big pop, only to be attacked from behind by Saito and Horiguchi. Personally I thought that was a pretty weak segment, and Jacobs deserved a better debut angle. Should be interesting to see where his new group leads though…
Bryan Danielson vs Naruki Doi
This match is billed as ‘Independent Ace vs Dragon Gate Ace’ and you could make a convincing argument that this is the biggest DGUSA match thus far. Bryan Danielson is a former ROH World Champion, and has also held titles in Japan. By this stage most people were acknowledging him as being one of the very best wrestlers in the world and with the ink still drying on his WWE deal. Gabe realised he wasn’t going to get much time with American Dragon, so putting him in there in a money match with the Open The Dream Gate Champion is a wise choice. Doi is the man that won the first ever DGUSA main event, defeating rival Shingo in a top notch bout. Tonight Shingo and Doi face singles bouts with two of the top independent wrestlers in north America. Who will fare better?
No ‘Final Countdown’ entrance for Danielson, but he does get a mass of streamers for his DGUSA debut and a strange attempt by the Chicago fans to sing it. They work the mat to start, but Doi struggles to even get close to the levels of dominance that Danielson can bring. He knees Doi in the head, before Naruki finally finds himself an opening to mount some significant offence – speeding into a basement dropkick to the leg. He starts working the leg, with the Chicago crowd again routing Dragon on by mimicking the memorable keyboard lead from ‘Final Countdown’. Doi drives both knees into the side of Bryan’s legs but goes to the well for a second time. That’s never a good idea with Danielson, who grabs the arm and attacks it within seconds. He stomps on the elbow in extremely graphic fashion, and draws audible, sickened gasps from the crowd as he VICIOUSLY twists Naruki’s arm. Into the cross armbreaker and Doi has a real fight on his hands to find a rope. He hangs Dragon in the ropes and rocks him with a big dropkick, then a somersault senton from the second rope. Danielson to the top to score with a Yoshino-like missile dropkick…but his leg is still bothering him. Doi 555 countered to a anklelock, but still Naruki is too fresh and battles to a rope.
He attacks the injured leg again with a dragon screw into Figure 4 Leglock. Dragon persistently kicks Doi away, and it gets to the stage that both are so desperate for a win they start trading nearfalls. Doi sits out to escape a dragon suplex, but tries the same counter seconds later and gets punted in the back. Cattle Mutilation applied briefly but Doi is basically in the ropes already. 15 minutes gone now. Doi starts slapping him in the face…but the Baketori Sliding Kick is COUNTERED to the anklelock again. CRADLE GERMAN SUPLEX! LEG GRAPEVINE ANKLELOCK! Doi shunts Danielson away to hit the cannonball senton. DOI 555 GETS 222! Dragon blocks the Muscular Bomb so Naruki seamlessly floats into a tiger suplex instead. But he takes way too long positioning himself for a moonsault, getting himself crotched in the corner and lined up for Danielson’s back superplex. Cattle Mutilation again…middle of the ring this time. No submission so you know what’s going to happen. MMA ELBOWS! FOR 2! ROARING ELBOW! Palm strikes and a wild kick to the save lay the Open The Dream Gate Champion out, but he takes his turn to pursue Dragon up the ropes. AVALANCHE DOI 555 COUNTERED TO TOP ROPE MMA ELBOWS! AVALANCHE DOI 555! DRAGON KICKS OUT! BAKETORI SLIDING KICK FOR 2! MUSCULAR BOMB! Doi wins it at 22:25.
Rating – **** – Awesome technical battle, as you’ve come to expect from Bryan Danielson. Even if it was only a fleeting visit (at this point) during his farewell to the indies tour before heading to the WWE, he’s a guy that tended to miss out on working the Dragon Gate talent when they passed through ROH, so I liked getting to see it here. I’m not going to pretend it’s the best Danielson match ever because it really isn’t. If you were being hyper-critical you could say that Doi was a little wooden and uncharismatic as Dragon’s opponent before coming alive when he got to hit all his high spots at the end. And Dragon too seemed to be working with a hint less intensity than he does when he’s at his very best. Luckily he’s so talented he could probably dial it down to 32% and still work a better match than most. Doi is now 2-0 in DGUSA and has strung two impressive wins together.
Lots of mutual respect between the two opponents. Doi then leaves for Danielson to deliver his ‘thanks a lot, support the indies’ speech he cut during this late summer ’09 farewell to the independents dates. Danielson takes a deliberate time out to challenge Davey Richards to be the guy that replaces him as the ‘best in the world’.
CIMA vs Brian Kendrick
I get the feeling that CIMA is working a similar role in Dragon Gate USA to that which Danielson worked in ROH after dropping the World Title at the end of 2006 – i.e. being the top star and one of the most over talents, but tucking himself away in the midcard to deliver crowd pleasing undercard bouts whilst occasionally emerging to make a star of someone else (which CIMA did at the first event with the Jacksons). Kendrick is another DGUSA debutant tonight. He’s fresh off another WWE release, which I remember as being sort of surprising as his ‘THE’ Brian Kendrick gimmick was getting over. He came back to the indies seemingly pretty annoyed and disillusioned depending on which dirt sheets you read. Lets see what he has left in the tank…
Tentative opening couple of minutes with both guys drawing major support. Spanky goes for a Fujiwara armbar but can’t hold CIMA in it for any significant period of time. CIMA kicks him in the face and watches Kendrick slide backwards into the ropes as he looks for a dropkick. Kendrick jumps in to an assault on the Dragon Gate star as he turns to face the crowd. Once again Spanky crawls into the ropes after being rocked backwards after a big kick. He pitches CIMA out of the ring and uses the unforgiving environment of the ringside area to inflict further punishment. CIMA fires back with a somersault into a lungblower. Ass punches then the SHOTGUN ASS DROPKICK in the corner. Spanky kicks him in the head then goes to the ropes. Bad move…and he eats the Venus Strike and Iconoclasm. Mad Splash into Kendrick’s knees…but CIMA is soon back on his feet. SCHWEIN! METEORA KNEE DROP! CIMA wins at 10:21
Rating – *** – This just about managed to sneak into 3* territory in my opinion as I liked Kendrick’s very deliberate but at least someway subtle heel work, and thought it contrasted well with the undeniably crowd pleasing nature of the majority of CIMA’s offence. I still think this match will/has gone down as Open The Untouchable Gate’s 2 Cold Scorpio vs Kenn Doane…but nevertheless. I preferred this one. If Kendrick is motivated he’s too talented not to bring back…
Davey Richards vs Shingo
This is the other have of the independent star vs Dragon Gate star combo of matches on this show. Richards is another guy debuting tonight. Unlike Danielson who was leaving for the WWE and was only ever going to be a one-time deal, Richards was being brought in to be a major force in DGUSA. By 2009 he had emerged as arguably THE top guy on the indies. As Danielson said earlier, even when he was on the card, it was guys like Richards that have been stealing the show rather than him. With the gauntlet laid down by Bryan Danielson to become the new ace of the independent scene, Davey Richards will be looking for a strong debut showing here…whilst Shingo will be looking to chalk up his first DGUSA win. In a promotion where Susumu Yokosuka and BxB Hulk weren’t booked for this show after losing in Philadelphia, Shingo will know he can’t afford to succumb to too many more high profile defeats if he wants to keep his spot.
Shingo now sports a buzz cut, and gets a comedy ‘where’s your mullet?’ chant. He throws a chop at Davey, but misses then has to react quickly and duck the first kick thrown by Richards. He tries to pose in Davey’s face and gets PUNCHED in the mouth. Awesome aggression from Davey, who follows that with a flurry of kicks. Shingo dragon screws his leg in the ropes which should immediately reduce the effectiveness of those kicks. Fist drops and knee drops to the leg, then a tendon hold as he continues to work that leg. Davey tries a couple of kicks and immediately starts to limp. BACK SUPLEX DROPS HIM TO THE FLOOR! And he landed knees-first doing yet more damage to that injured leg. Sidenote, Mike Quackenbush is a really f*cking boring commentator. How does he get so much praise? Shingo boots Richards’ leg against the guardrail. Davey evades a shinbreaker…to deliver an arm wrench down onto the apron. And in a brilliant returning the favour moment, Richards props Shingo’s arm in the guardrails then backs off to deliver a LIMPING BOOT TO THE ARM! Back inside the American hits kicks (with noticeably weaker strikes coming from the injured leg now) into an armbar. Hammerlock with Texas cloverleaf submission applied next. BENOIT HEADBUTT TO THE SHOULDER gets 2!
And from the cover he floats into a cross armbreaker to inflict yet more punishment. NECK DROP GERMAN SUPLEX out of nothing from Shingo leaves both men down. Shingo Lariato blocked but Takagi still lifts Richards into a DVD. BACK DROP DRIVER by Richards! TOPE CON HILO OF TOTAL AND UTTER INSANITY! Davey glanced off Shingo’s body and ended up in about row 9. Back inside he hammers Shingo with kicks from the good leg, then nails the handspring enzi for 2. Shingo powers to the ropes to force a break, but grabs it with his bad arm and leaves it exposed for Richards to deliver another kick. Blood Fall COUNTERED INTO A KICK OF DEATH FOR 2! Davey is caught on the top but starts elbowing the arm again to protect himself. SUPER RANA out of the corner! Bridging German suplex gets 2. Shingo blocks the DR Driver only to be dragged down into another cross armbreaker, then a triangle choke. HE DEADLIFTS RICHARDS TO THE CORNER! SECOND ROPE DEATH VALLEY DRIVER FOR 2! Richards tries the handspring enzi again. COUNTERED TO BLOOD FALL! SHINGO LARIATOOOOOO! FOR 2! Alarm Clock from Davey. DR DRIVER GETS 2! Kawada kicks, but Shingo pulls Richards down into the LAST FALCONRY! RICHARDS KICKS OUT! They battle in the turnbuckles until Davey drives Shingo shoulder-first to the ringpost. SHOOTING STAR PRESS! KIMURA LOCKED IN! SHINGO TAPS! It’s over at 25:43!
Rating – ****1/2 – This one got a lot of love at the time and it’s easy to see why. It’s not perfect by any means. There are selling issues from both guys and, to an extent, they both abandon lots of the good work they’d done in the body of the match to hit the wild false finishes in the final few minutes. BUT, you cannot deny that they made this feel like an epic, main event calibre match. Everything these guys did, from the intensity of their ring entrances through to the very conclusion, oozed big match aura. Regardless of the issues, these two had you believing you were watching something really special here. Giving Richards this huge victory here is a real statement of intent for the plans DGUSA had for him around this time. Unfortunately they got into a petty and largely pointless squabble with ROH over booking Richards which led to him leaving Dragon Gate USA early in 2010.
Standing ovation for that match. Davey grabs a mic to put Shingo over, then calls out Bryan Danielson. After Dragon challenged him to be the new ‘best in the world’ earlier, he wants to know what Dragon thought. Danielson puts Richards…who then lays him out. He says he doesn’t need endorsements from anyone then marches out…AWESOME heel moment.
Young Bucks vs Ryo Saito/Genki Horiguchi
As we found out earlier, despite the fact that Saito and Genki are Open The Twin Gate Champions, their championship is not on the line this evening. After defeating CIMA and Yokosuka in a show-stealing bout at Open The Historic Gate, the Young Bucks declared themselves the tag team ‘of the present’, marked DGUSA as ‘their turf’ and challenged any team in the world to come and prove that they are superior. Dragon Gate wasted no time in sending over their current top team. After missing the first show of the US expansion, they will be looking to make a major impact this time around.
Saito and Horiguchi look absolutely bizarre by the way. I know Genki’s look is normally pretty out there, but the mask he wears during his entrance is totally odd. He and Matt Jackson start with some basics and are clearly very evenly matched. Saito tags and spits in Nick’s face. Nick sends Ryo out of the ring with a nice rana. Backflip into a double basement dropkick on Horiguchi for 2 but Saito gives his team control again by dragging Nick into their corner by the hair. The Bucks work Saito’s arm with rapid-fire tags and axehandles to the exposed limb. This time Genki drags Nick into his corner by the hair. Matt Jackson’s response is to double stomp Genki’s HAIR for 2. Gutbuster/flipping neckbreaker combo gets another nearfall…but before the Jacksons are able to string too much tandem offence together Horiguchi low blows Matt with Saito distracting the referee. The fight spills to the floor with Genki launching Nick over the railing then suplexing him into a pile of chairs. That leaves Matt to go it alone with the Open The Twin Gate Champions as we approach 10 minutes. TREE OF WOE FACE SPIT by Saito…as Horiguchi throws Nick back to the floor seconds after he wearily managed to get back onto the apron. Double axehandle to Matt’s hair as Horiguchi gets some retribution for earlier. Is Saito using nunchucks to choke Matt behind the referee’s back? Irrespective of their nefarious tactics, you can’t deny that Saito and Horiguchi’s approach has really thrown a spanner in the Young Bucks plans. Standing Sliced Bread #2 from Matt finally allows him to make a tag. HANDSPRING STANDING MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR FROM NICK! TUMBLING PLANCHA OVER MATT TO THE FLOOR AGAIN! Falcon arrow from Matt to Genki gets 2. He powerbombs Horiguchi into Nick’s knees, then the Bucks hit a Swanton/Leg drop combo for another nearfall. Saito hits German suplexes on both Bucks then a flying body splash on Matt. He then hides behind for the referee to leave him in the path of a Nick Jackson superkick. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! But there’s no referee! Horiguchi blows mist into Matt’s eyes, then hands him to Saito to hit the Double Cross to win the match for the OTTG Champions at 17:03.
Rating – *** – The last few minutes of this were really hot, and I don’t have a problem with the shady finish since it helps protect the Young Bucks who are obviously set for a big push in DGUSA, when they are booked against DG Japan champions who are obviously not going to be jobbed out unnecessarily. My main gripe about this one is that, for the early going, it very much felt like a house show bout. The best part about Open The Historic Gate is that everyone was working it like it was a MAJOR show. Here, in the main event of show 2, it felt like everyone was holding back. It’s a fun match, third best on the show in fact. But after the phenomenal intensity of Richards/Shingo, this one felt a tad lacklustre.
Tape Rating – *** – This is a tough one to rate. On the surface of it, this is a more consistent show than Open The Historic Gate, and no match drops below the 3* threshold. However, the pacing of the show here isn’t as good (the pattern of match-sweaty post match promo-match-sweaty post match promo got old), I think the Jimmy Jacobs debut was disappointingly low key and after seeing two superb bouts on the undercard, the main event was a little underwhelming. Throw in DK/Yoshino being better first time out, a decent but sloppy Chikara tag and the fine but forgettable CIMA/Kendrick bout and you can see where this show falls down. The big positive to come from the night is obviously Davey Richards. He was all set to be the American face of DGUSA you feel. His debut match was an epic, and he ended the show having made a massive statement by beating down the departing American Dragon. Speaking of Danielson, his match with Naruki Doi was a clinic too. Overall this is still a splendid show, and well worth picking up for the two singles bouts on the undercard. However, the supporting cast to those top two must-see matches isn’t as strong as it was at Open The Historic Gate
Top 3 Matches
3) Ryo Saito/Genki Horiguchi vs Young Bucks (***)
2) Naruki Doi vs Bryan Danielson (****)
1) Davey Richards vs Shingo (****1/2)