Written By: McXal
Dragon Gate USA – Fearless – 23rd January 2010
The fourth show from Dragon Gate USA, and the first from the promotion in 2010, provides another interesting line-up combining a mountain of high quality athletes flown in from Japan coupled with a mish-mash of American athletes looking to prove they can hang with them. The main event sees BxB Hulk make the first American defence of the Open The Freedom Gate Championship against Dragon Kid. Three duos vie for tag team superiority in DGUSA with a triangle elimination tag bout, and we also have in-ring debuts for Jimmy Jacobs, TJ Perkins and Masaaki Mochizuki. An extreme legend, fresh from his WWE release, is rumoured to be in attendance as well. This is the second event taped in Chicago, IL. Hosts are Lenny Leonard and Phil Colvin.
Jon Moxley storms into the ring with Brian Kendrick to interrupt the start of the pay-per-view. He has some strong words for Tommy Dreamer. Brian tries to talk Moxley out of caring about Dreamer since he’s a sell-out. They leave with no sign of the Innovator Of Violence…
TJP vs Gran Akuma
It’s a debut for TJ Perkins tonight, and he’s got a decent opportunity to make a name for himself against a man who made it all the way to final of the Open The Freedom Gate tournament on the last show. Stylistically these two are evenly matched, but you’d probably give the experience edge to TJP since he is a massively travelled wrestler, having worked Europe, all the US territories, Japan and Mexico. Therefore he’s a formidable opponent for Akuma to rebound against following the disappointment of not becoming the first Open The Freedom Gate Champion.
Perkins is the quicker of the two men from the bell, headstanding into a headscissors on Akuma. Elbow suicida nailed as Akuma tries to take a powder on the floor. He goes for a nice version of the cloverleaf but Akuma scurries to the bottom rope. TJP hangs in the ropes, then tries to set up for a springboard move to the floor. Akuma blocks that by dragging him into the apron. Snapmare boot gets Gran Akuma his first significant nearfall of the match. Both men take a fall over the ropes as TJ looks for a crossbody block. They come back in to trade kicks, ending with TJP getting 2 with a neckbreaker. Tombstone gutbuster gets a revenge nearfall for Akuma. Ugly kick exchange with both men swinging for the fences, missing with as many as they land. TJP sunset flips out of the corner into that Figure 4 Cloverleaf again. Akuma taps to give Perkins a big debut win at 08:56
Rating – * – Not a fan of this one I’m afraid. Nothing personal against either man, it just felt like a load of spots strung together for no apparent reason. Perkins is an exciting athlete and is definitely someone DGUSA should look to bring back, but hopefully they’ll find some opponents he’ll mesh better with. Akuma continues to look completely unable to take the opportunity he’s lucked into in DGUSA thanks to his close association with Mike Quackenbush.
Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw vs CIMA/Super Crazy
One of the themes throughout 2009 in Dragon Gate USA was Mike Quackenbush’s pride in Chikara, and his insistence that his group of pupils were good enough to hang with the stars of Dragon Gate. He felt disrespected when YAMATO belittled both Chikara and himself at Open The Historic Gate, and has continued to escalate to the point that, after the ‘Salute to Skayde’ at Open The Freedom Gate, he and CIMA, the face of Dragon Gate, got into a shoving contest. Now he teams with Chikara pupil Jigsaw against CIMA and another ‘Salute To Skayde’ participant – the returning Super Crazy. Quack has beef with both opponents as to how they treaded Jorge Rivera in that match too – with Crazy viciously attacking his knee, and CIMA then capitalising on it to beat him.
I believe this match was the one chosen to open the ppv broadcast of this show. CIMA has reportedly been badmouthing Quack and Chikara in his blog. Crazy (wrestling in a t-shirt to give you an example of his condition) gets a hero’s welcome from the vocal crowd. CIMA tags into the match for the first time and matches straight past Jigsaw to argue with Quack in the corner. Even when trapped in a surfboard by Jig, CIMA is still aiming kicks in Mike’s direction rather than trying to escape. He runs through Jigsaw with a shoulder tackle, then shoves Quackenbush off the apron…but finally his bating of Quack comes back to haunt him as the Chikara trainer takes a cheap shot at him then enters the ring to double team him with Jigsaw. He launches Jig into a headscissors on Crazy, then backbreakers CIMA into position for a leg drop from his partner for 2. Crazy gets his own back with DRAGON GATE NOVELTY THUNDER STICKS TO THE HEAD of Jigsaw! Nothing better than the sight of a fat man wailing away on a scrawny guy in a mask with inflatable kids toys. CIMA spits in Quack’s face, and we’re given a stark example of who the fans are here to see as they actually cheer and chant for CIMA after that. It’s all Crazy and CIMA now, with Jig totally isolated from his teacher. Crazy shows some agility to hit a standing corkscrew elbow drop for 2. CIMA the elevates him in the ropes for a FATTY LEAPFROG HILO from Crazy. I love how hilariously deep CIMA had to tuck his head to make sure he didn’t get caught by Super’s ample backside. Jigsaw eventually gets the hot tag after a double DDT to both opponents. The Chikara team nail double dropkicks into STEREO TOPE ATOMICOS! Super rana from Quack into a guillotine leg drop from Jig gets a close nearfall on CIMA. Stereo powerbombs by CIMA and Crazy…then a SURFBOARD DOUBLE STOMP ON QUACK! Crazy dropkicks Jig in the corner for the VAN CIMA-NATOR! SCHWEIN! QUACK SAVES! Crazy drops him with a backbreaker then a Ligerbomb down onto his surgically repaired back. CIMA inadvertently superkicks Crazy though…and Mike capitalises by rolling him up to win at 17:49
Rating – *** – Great little opening tag bout there. I’m glad they gave it some time, and the four men rewarded that decision with a fun mix of decent Lucha Libre styled wrestling, sensible build on the Chikara vs Dragon Gate (lead by CIMA) issue and some entertaining comedy thrown into the mix too. Crazy isn’t in the best shape but if they can find a regular partner for him, he could be of use to the promotion as he’s still athletic and experienced enough to contribute – when he’s got time on the apron to catch his breath periodically. Had the start been a little more purposeful (all four guys were essentially treading water outside of CIMA’s taunting of Quack) this would have been looking at higher ratings.
CIMA takes a couple of cheap shots at the Chikara team after the match before leaving in a sulk.
Jimmy Jacobs vs Brian Kendrick
This would be the in-ring debut of Jimmy Jacobs in DGUSA. He was dumped from the ROH roster in the summer of 2009 and emerged in Dragon Gate at Open The Untouchable Gate in September by promising major plans for his career here. However, those plans remain shrouded in secrecy, mostly seeing as he wasn’t at the Open The Freedom Gate show so hasn’t been seen since that last event in Chicago. Here he’s signed up for an intriguing battle with Brian Kendrick. Much like Jimmy, Kendrick has come to DGUSA following an unceremonious departure from his previous company and comes in under a veil of uncertainty. He is currently 0-2 on DGUSA ppv, and following his loss to BxB Hulk in the Open The Freedom Gate tournament, he had to be dragged from the ring as he ranted about wrestling as an artist…before forming some kind of alliance with Jon Moxley. As I said, there’s a lot of uncertainty around the career direction of both of these two.
Kendrick says that he and Jimmy Jacobs have a lot in common. And just like Jimmy, he likes to play mind games. To that end he brings out LACEY to be in his corner for the evening. That enrages Jimmy who spears Spanky then tries to get in Lacey’s face. Kendrick puts Jacobs in a crossface, as Leonard makes several thinly veiled references to the Jacobs/Aries/Lacey history in ROH to flesh out the backstory. I like that Jon Moxley is being put over as an anarchic bad influence on Spanky too. He works a cobra clutch next as Jimmy continues to struggle to establish himself in the match with a ghost of his past confronting him at ringside. He misses a pescado and is brought back inside for Kendrick to score with a second rope superplex. Sliced Bread #2 blocked and Jacobs finally hits some significant offence in the form of a springboard back elbow. Contra Code blocked now, but he locks in the End Time instead! Lacey gets into the ring and distracts Jimmy…kissing him to distract him for Kendrick to score with Sliced Bread #2. Spanky gets his first DGUSA win at 06:44
Rating – ** – As a match it was pretty mundane…but the angle is really interesting. You’ve got Jimmy Jacobs coming into DGUSA looking for a fresh start after the crazy run he had with the Age Of The Fall in ROH. Then you’ve got Kendrick who has a totally different personality from the last time he worked the indies being a giant dick by dragging Jacobs’ past into this new promotion. And in the background there’s the mysterious x-factor Jon Moxley too. You really feel like you have NO IDEA what is going on…
Jon Moxley arrives to celebrate with Kendrick…as Jimmy gets on the mic to threaten Brian’s wife. Kendrick’s response…TO MAKE JIMMY WATCH WHILST MOXLEY ATTACKS LACEY! Sensational swerve angle there. And now here comes Tommy Dreamer to answer Moxley’s challenge from earlier. As Kendrick and Jacobs brawl to the back Dreamer and Moxley head out into the crowd. Mox gets the upper hand by repeatedly biting Tommy in the face. In an awesome moment, he tries to hit Raven’s Evenflow DDT on Tommy Dreamer…before Dreamer counters into the Dreamer DDT instead. ‘Dragon Gate USA just got extreme’ – Lenny Leonard. I love that you can just about hear ‘Man In The Box’ before we cut the next segment.
Masaaki Mochizuki vs Davey Richards – FIP Heavyweight Title Match
I believe this is the last time (to date) that Davey has appeared in DGUSA. He was the FIP Champion before that promotion went on hiatus (sometime around the Gabe/ROH split I think), but lost the belt to Mochizuki in December 2009 in Japan (that match is included as a bonus feature). Since DGUSA have Sal Hamoui they clearly got FIP in the Gabe/ROH divorce…so here is Davey’s rematch. With FIP promising to relaunch later in 2010, he’d love to be the face of the promotion when that happens. This is the first time Mochizuki has appeared in Dragon Gate USA.
You may see Davey Richards’ protégé Kyle O’Reilly working his corner in this one. It’s clear that both men want to dish out some kicks in the early going, so it starts to resemble a kick boxing bout early on. Mochizuki, a 16 year pro now, enjoys some early success until Richards starts kicking him in the arm. Much as we saw in both his prior DGUSA bouts, Davey is extremely proficient at attacking an arm and it’s a focus he clearly wants to adopt here too. Mochi gets some respite by kicking Richards off the apron. He draws him there again where he ducks a kick, meaning Davey KICKS THE RINGPOST! Big moment in the match there with Richards visibly injured by that one…and Mochizuki capitalises immediately with a Figure 4. Shinbreaker into the tendon hold next, really forcing Davey to work hard to find a rope. Then he foolishly strays from his grounded approach, going for a springboard move and being met with a jumping enzi from Richards. Repeated kicks with the good leg, then the handspring enzi for 2 with the bad leg. I wish Davey would sell the leg injury more when he does that move. Northern lights suplex rolled into the Kimura…but he hasn’t do enough damage to Masaaki’s arm to score the victory at this stage. RUNNING KICK to the exposed leg of Davey puts the champion back on the offensive, and he catches Richards boot to turn him into an anklelock. Davey finds the ropes but now everyone is wondering how much he has left to give. Duelling kick segment ended when Mochi hits a cradle suplex then a running kick to the torso for 2. Davey tricks him into tumbling out of the ring. TOPE CON HILO OF TOTAL DEATH! Davey ploughs through Mochizuki then about three rows of fans on that move. Back inside Mochi lands on his feet from a German suplex and delivers a bridging German of his own. But that’s COUNTERED to the Kimura. Perhaps Davey’s injured leg (which cradles the neck in this hold) prevents him from scoring the victory there. Gorgeous kick flurry from the champion for 2. REPEATED KICKS TO THE HEAD draw another nearfall with Davey now seemingly unable to get up past his knees. He manages to hobble into the corner for a ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX! Back to the top ropes…SHOOTING STAR PRESS NAILED! KIMURA! DR DRIVER BLOCKED…CROSS ARMBREAKER! COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! Davey fights free…DR DRIVER! MOCHI KICKS OUT! KIMURA! MOCHI ROLLS OUT! CROSS ARMBREAKER! TRIANGLE CHOKE! MOCHI TAPS! Richards regains the title at 19:08
Rating – **** – Once again Davey Richards brings the goods and delivers a show-stealing performance on a DGUSA show. The promotion will really miss the ability to throw him into a classic on their undercards when he pulls out of the promotion later in the year. I didn’t have this quite on the level of Richards/Shingo or Richards/YAMATO purely because I felt the selling, which was patchy in both of those, degenerated further into inconsistency here, with both men only working respective body parts to seemingly progress the match and add heat to their respective finishing holds…and had no interest in selling them when it came to hitting big moves down the stretch. The last few minutes of counter wrestling was absolutely spectacular and a joy to behold, but it slightly took away from the fierce battle that had gone before. This was still hugely enjoyable though.
In the back Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw announce that they’re coming for Gran Akuma and YAMATO, and declare themselves the top tag team in Dragon Gate USA.
Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs Young Bucks vs Shingo/YAMATO
This is an elimination match and will go a long way towards determining the pecking order of tag teams in DGUSA. The Young Bucks have frequently reiterated that they believe they’re the best, but after an impressive victory at Open The Historic Gate are winless ever since. Doi and Yoshino come in hot after a terrific victory over rivals Shingo and Dragon Kid at Open The Freedom Gate, whilst Shingo now teams with the breakout star of 2009 YAMATO (a regular team in Japan) to continue his feud with Doi tonight. Who leaves Chicago with the bragging rights?
This is a triangle bout meaning three men are in at a time. Shingo, Matt and Yoshino trade waistlocks and wristlocks in rapid fashion during the opening minutes. Yoshino clears the ring of his two opponents, and it’s all change so now we have Doi/Yamato/Nick in. Hilariously Yamato bounces around behind the other two, watching them wrestle and picking his spot before eventually getting involved. Doi and Nick attempt a traditional Young Bucks basement dropkick double team but don’t time it overly well. A leapfrog dropkick combo on Yamato works better…but the Doi/Jackson alliance doesn’t last too long. FIVE WAY grounded headscissors spot, with a touch of comedy thrown in as Shingo almost puts a headscissors on his own partner. Instead he goes to the other end to lock in a FIVE MAN SHARPSHOOTER! Yamato is the man that grabs the ropes, which apparently forces a de facto break even though the hold was applied to one of the Jacksons. Yamato and Shingo battle the Bucks for a double suplex spot…until Yoshino comes in and decides to help the Bucks complete a triple suplex. Yoshino’s reward is the gutbuster/neckbreaker combo from Nick and Matt. The pace finally slows as Shingo and Yamato isolate Nick for the first sustained period of offence by any team in the match. That fight spills to the outside where Shingo winds up dropping Matt throat-first over the railings. Matt recovers with a back flip rana on Doi then the standing Sliced Bread on Yoshino for 2. Nick drops Shingo and Yamato with a slingshot into a double Worst Case Scenario for 2. Shingo Lariato ducked and Nick gets 2 with an Ace crusher. Double stomp/inverted DDT combo, then the HARDY BOYZ FROG SPLASH/LEG DROP COMBO for 2. All six men pile in the ring for a flurry of spots at breakneck speed. Yamato wins out with an exploder suplex on Doi, but the Bucks come back with MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! Shingo inexplicably breaks the fall to German suplex Matt. HANGTIME MISSILE DROPKICK SENTON from Yoshino to the Jackons. DOI 555 INTO THE LIGHTNING SPIRAL! Yoshino eliminates the Bucks at 15:01. DOOMSDAY SLINGBLADE FOR 2! Shingo powers Yoshino into a BIG BOOT/DVD for another nearfall. NEVER ENDING STORY ELBOW SMASHES FROM DOI! SHINGO WON’T GO DOWN! But he accidentally clobbers Yamato and gets dropped straight into the Lightning Spiral. Doi gets 2 with the Baketori Sliding Kick. Torbelino into the SOL NACIENTE! Shingo tries to power his way free, but finally aps out…leaving Doi and Yoshino as victors at 18:58. Yoshino scored both falls in this one.
Rating – **** – This match featured enough comedy and cutting edge tag team wrestling to sneak into 4* territory. There were some moments of sloppiness (mostly from the Young Bucks, who looked like they were having an off night) and Shingo’s idiotic breaking of a pinfall aside, this was really what Dragon Gate is known for. This was a big night for Masato Yoshino, who after losing on the first two shows, has now rebounded strong with a flurry of decisive falls at Freedom Gate and now tonight.
BxB Hulk vs Dragon Kid – Open The Freedom Gate Title Match
Kid was awarded the US first shot at the belt after he won both his matches at the first two DGUSA shows, but then declined a spot in the Open The Freedom Gate tournament to get his hands on Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino in a tag team match on that night instead. He did show his intention to be an honourable challenger on that night in Philadelphia though, as he helped an exhausted Hulk fight off an assault from YAMATO and Davey Richards.
CIMA is in Dragon Kid’s corner tonight, Kid having joined his faction in Japan since the last show, whilst Hulk is once again flanked by the dancing girls. Although they’re hilariously awful. I mean seriously the worst dancers you could ever imagine. Kid lands a basement dropkick in the corner to put Hulk on the back foot. MutaLock applied next, with DK’s lack of height really adding to the angle with which he pulls back on BxB’s neck. Hulk comes back by working Kid’s neck with chinlocks and strikes to that area. A short axe kick to the back of the head next, then a grounded abdominal stretch whilst pushing down on the neck. It’s a sensible strategy, but DK once again shows his tremendous speed by exploding off the canvas into a spinning heel kick. Hulk negates that by trapping him on the canvas again with a high angle cloverleaf. Dragon retreats to the floor for some respite but that backfires as he gets whipped into the guardrails. But his athleticism comes into play again as he comes from the top into a flying headscissors then an apron 619. BERMUDA TRIANGLE MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! Jawbreaker gets 2 as Hulk is now struggling to contain the fast-paced and agile offensive flurries from the challenger. Springboard spinning heel kick does score for 2 though. BxB STAR PRESS for 2! Cristo from DK, only for Hulk to power free with a spinning sidewalk slam. But it’s just not in BxB’s best interests to trade the high impact stuff with Kid, who tilta-whirls into a DDT moments later. Hulk Bottom nailed, followed by the BxB Smash for 2. Kid hits a tornado Ace crusher out of the corner. ULTRA HURRICANRANA GETS 2! He thinks about the Dragonrana but is cut off in the corner. SECOND ROPE EVO! But Hulk is slow to cover and only gets 2. PUMPHANDLE EVO! But DK kicks out again and hits the suplex jawbreaker. CRADLE EVO! STILL JUST 2! EVO-P NAILED! Hulk finally does retain at 17:16.
Rating – *** – I wanted to like this match way more than I actually did. I rate both competitors highly, and I liked where they were taking the match in the early going, with BxB working a methodical style to negate the aerial prowess and speed of Dragon Kid. But it just wasn’t the match the crowd wanted to see (I sense they were expecting something more akin to the DK/Yoshino series) and they lost a lot of energy in the early going. As such there just wasn’t anywhere near the drama at the end, with no real expectation that Kid was a legitimate threat to the title. Don’t get me wrong, it does a hell of a job putting him over in that Hulk had to modify his entire wrestling approach, then unload all of his finishing moves to eventually beat Kid…but the match felt like overly slow build then total overkill on the finish. Definitely not a bad match, but I’d say it fell short of my expectations.
Hulk’s celebrations are cut short with an attack from YAMATO, Davey Richards and Gran Akuma. That trio take out CIMA, DK, Hulk and generally wreak havoc until Shingo comes out to reprimand his partner YAMATO. Shingo then double crosses his friend Dragon Kid to join the heel team. The new alliance of Shingo, YAMATO, Richards and Akuma continue to beat on the Open The Freedom Gate champion until Mike Quackenbush leads the Chikara faction from the locker room to brawl with them. CIMA clears the ring by hitting anything that moves with a broom.
He then cuts one of his lovable broken English promos to hype the Wrestlemania weekend shows in Phoenix (including the debut of his ‘best partner’ GAMMA) and thank the Chicago fans.
Tape Rating – *** – Had we seen a better main event this one would have been the second DGUSA show into 4* territory. From a booking standpoint, this was easily the best Dragon Gate USA has served up thus far. I’ll discount the Akuma/TJP match since that wasn’t part of the main ppv…but from there it was really first rate stuff. We got an entertaining opening match which furthered Quack’s beef with CIMA and pro-Chikara angle. The Kendrick/Jacobs/Moxley/Dreamer/Lacey segment channelled the unpredictable spirit of ECW which everyone loved so much. The Triangle Elimination bout provided more cutting edge tag team wrestling that everyone loves from Dragon Gate, whilst the FIP Title match brought a third show stealing bout from Davey Richards. Even a disappointing main event was saved by that crazy brawl at the end which saw the formation of the heel group with YAMATO, Shingo, Akuma and Richards…and their immediate issues with Quack’s Chikara army. And in the midst of that CIMA doesn’t appear to like Chikara OR the new heel group, and remains probably the most over guy in the promotion despite doing nothing but go out of his way to put other people over thus far in DGUSA. Underrated show, and a good start to 2010 for the promotion ahead of their hotly anticipated WrestleMania weekend in Phoenix, where they’ll need to be at their best to capitalise on the mass of potential new fans in town for the big show…and steal fans from ROH with whom they run head to head on those dates.
Top 3 Matches
3) Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw vs CIMA/Super Crazy (***)
2) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs Shingo/YAMATO vs Young Bucks (****)
1) Masaaki Mochizuki vs Davey Richards (****)
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.