Written By: McXal
Dragon Gate USA – Open The Northern Gate – 7th May 2010
This is DGUSA’s second house show, and marks the first time the promotion ventures into Canada. I was fairly critical of Open The Ultimate Gate – DGUSA’s maiden house show DVD taping. I’m interested to see if they improve on that effort this time around. The line-up seems a bit of a mixed bag. There’s a lot of debuting wrestlers on the card tonight – significant names in Akira Tozawa and Pac, as well a host of enhancement talent which, on any other show, would surely find themselves relegated to the bonus DVD. That said, the line-up is surprisingly strong. The main event sees Open The Freedom Gate Champion BxB Hulk team with World-1 colleague and DGUSA debutant Pac to take on Shingo and Open The Dream Gate Champion YAMATO. We also have Masaaki Mochizuki back to oppose Naruki Doi, Jon Moxley defending the FIP Title, CIMA facing Jimmy Jacobs, and perennial rivals Masato Yoshino and Dragon Kid looking to settle their feud in a 2/3 Falls Match. Leonard Chikarason rejoins Lenny Leonard for commentary, which is almost disappointing after the strong, Joey Styles-esque performance Lenny put in during the Phoenix double-shot. We’re in Windsor, ONT.
Speaking of Lenny Leonard, he opens the show interviewing Jimmy Jacobs. Lenny points out that lots of Dragon Gate stables are looking to add US representatives, whilst Moxley, Shingo, YAMATO, Akuma and so on have now formed the Kamikaze USA faction. He wants to know if Jimmy Jacobs is going to be recruited. He says that, for the first time in his career, he’ll be flying solo in DGUSA.
And it becomes borderline Lenny Leonard overkill when it turns out he’s ring announcing tonight as well. I believe this show had adverse weather, poor ticket sales and the like counting against it, and winding up having an attendance of circa 200 people. Which is really poor considering the money it must cost to run a DGUSA show. After what looked like an average (but no better) attendance for both nights of the WrestleMania weekend, you start to wonder what the drawing power is of this promotion outside of staple independent markets like the North Eastern strongholds, Chicago etc. Anyway, the crowd is noticeably miniscule.
Gran Akuma/Akira Tozawa vs Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw
This is a Dragon Gate USA debut for Akira Tozawa, who has immediately aligned himself with the Kamikaze USA faction. Ever since YAMATO disrespected Mike Quackenbush all the way back at Open The Historic Gate, he and Gran Akuma have had issues with the Chikara representatives (now known as the Chikara Sekigun) in DGUSA. That continues tonight as the Kamikaze USA team face Quack and his partner Jigsaw. They have been on a hot streak on recent DGUSA shows, and earned the right to call themselves the best American team on the roster after beating the Young Bucks in their last DGUSA match at Mercury Rising.
Tozawa starts with Quackenbush, and quickly struggles to cope with Quack’s phenomenal mat wrestling skills. Akuma comes in from behind to help his partner and together they double team Mike. And just when Quack looks like he’s got the better of Akuma, it’s Tozawa jumping him from behind. STEREO SOMERSAULT PLANCHAS from Quack and Jigsaw as they at last find a way to establish themselves in the match. Jig uses quickness and lucha skills to throw Akira around for a time, but he gets the tag to Gran Akuma who takes control of his masked former Chikara colleague. Apparently Tozawa’s nickname is Mr Intensity, which I love. INTENSE ASS ATTACK from Mr Intensity gets an intense nearfall. The Kamikaze team dominate Jig for several minutes until he forces them out of the ring. RUNNING SPRINGBOARD SENTON BOMB TO THE FLOOR FROM QUACKENBUSH! He hits the BTS on Akira for 2. Jigsaw then drops Akuma on his head with a borderline scary brainbuster. Tozawa gets 2 on Quack with a Saito suplex then brings him to the corner for Akuma to hit the tarantula exploder. Moonsault from Gran Akuma for 2. TOMBSTONE LUNGBLOWER/BRIDGING GERMAN COMBO BY KAMIKAZE! Jigsaw saves with a well-timed double stomp. Jig blocks Akuma’s Yoshi-Tonic attempt and hits JIG’N’TONIC! Chikara Sekigun win in 12:25.
Rating – *** – That was a fun start to the show. There were noticeable moments of sloppiness and miscommunication, which is only natural when you’ve got a first time match, people struggling with different languages and so on. I’m not sure exactly what Akira Tozawa added to the match, although apparently he’s very young so I imagine he’ll improve with each booking. Quack and Jigsaw are a really fun team. I basically slated Jigsaw EVERY time he was booked in ROH towards the end as I was totally bored of watching him wrestle the same jobber match every time out. Watching him as the speed to back up Quack’s experience and wrestling prowess is a completely different experience. Had ROH been able to book Quack more and team them regularly, I imagine his Ring Of Honor career could have gone very differently.
Shingo and YAMATO run in to conduct a Kamikaze USA beatdown on Quackenbush and Jigsaw. FIP Champion Jon Moxley arrives. He is apparently the man that put the Kamikaze USA group together, which obviously stems from his growing gimmick as an anarchic trouble maker on the DGUSA landscape. The group make a statement at the expense of the Chikara guys.
Jon Moxley vs Phil Atlas – FIP Heavyweight Title Match
I’ve got a confession to make here. My access to the internet is down, and I’ve done no research ahead of this review, meaning I have no idea how the FIP belt got from Davey Richards (who we saw defeat Masaaki Mochizuki for it at Fearless) to Jon Moxley. I also have absolutely no clue about Phil Atlas’ background, so I don’t know if he’s a Canadian local, a regular in FIP or what. Still, sometimes it’s good to have a completely fresh perspective on a match. Moxley is hot property in DGUSA at the moment. He has formed the Kamikaze USA group with Shingo and YAMATO, two of the top names in Dragon Gate, has ongoing issues with Jimmy Jacobs after he meddled in his issue with Brian Kendrick, and he comes into this show after getting a win over the Innovator Of Violence Tommy Dreamer at Mercury Rising. At this point you’d have to consider him one of the top American talents in Dragon Gate USA – and as such perhaps a legitimate future contender to the Freedom Gate.
Moxley struggles initially to deal with the speed of Atlas who sends the champion out of the ring and into position for a somersault plancha. Jon shoves the random broad he brought to ringside with him into Phil’s path, then uses the distraction to suplex his challenger on the hard floor. He hits the ropes and clubs Atlas over with a strong clothesline for 2. A potential comeback from Atlas is thwarted by grabbing his hair and using it to hurl him to the canvas. Mox attacks the arm, hitting a nice double-knee armbreaker into Fujiwara armbar combo. Release suplex follows next (with the offending arm cradled on the way) for 2. Atlas scores with a unique neckbreaker (Career Killer #3 apparently) but can’t quite put the champion away. YAMATO and Shingo appear at ringside and haul Phil out of the ring to beat on him whilst Mox distracts the official. Moxley wins in 07:41 with a Crossface Chickenwing.
Rating – ** – Solid enough for a squash, with the added bonus of continuing to establish Kamikaze USA as a dangerous force in Dragon Gate. Gabe Sapolsky has compared Jon Moxley to CM Punk when he was getting his start on the indies – and it’s always dangerous to give a young talent that kind of reputation to live up to. You can see the resemblance though – like Punk he may not be the best worker on the roster, but he has a superb promo and wonderful grasp of his unique character. There’s certainly an x-factor about him that makes him an asset to DGUSA. He hasn’t had too many great matches as yet (although I did really like the Moxley/Dreamer match), but every time he’s been in the ring something memorable has happened. To a company looking to shift DVD’s, that’s a viable and precious commodity to have at your disposal.
Jimmy Jacobs vs CIMA
It’s still a strange sight to see Jimmy Jacobs playing a babyface again. As we saw at the top of the show, he’s not interested in any of the factions in DGUSA…he’s here for himself and wants to become a top singles competitor. To that end, going after the poster boy of Dragon Gate in CIMA is probably a good way to establish himself. At the last show we saw him eliminate Brian Kendrick from DGUSA.
It’s a tentative start between two experienced professionals. Jacobs gets the first nearfall from the multi-revolution satellite headscissors. Double stomp trampoline into an elbow drop gets the American another 2-count. Pescado scores and, five minutes into the match, CIMA has struggled to put any kind of offence together. He double stomps Jimmy’s face to counter a sunset flip attempt, but immediately drops to his knees as he looks to catch his breath and gather his thoughts. For the next few minutes it’s all CIMA as he methodically works over his opponent. Jimmy hits back with a neckbreaker for 2. Contra Code blocked though, allowing CIMA to hit the lungblower then the Perfect Driver. In turn, Jacobs evades the Schwein and runs into a Spear. Schwein…COUNTERED TO END TIME! Amazing counter by Jacobs, and CIMA barely makes the ropes. Venus Strike misses, and Jimmy clings to CIMA as he looks for the Iconoclasm and turns it into the CONTRA CODE FOR 2! But he takes too long climbing the turnbuckles for the Senton Bomb and is caught by CIMA. PERFECT DRIVER SUPLEX GETS 2! SCHWEIN! Jacobs kicks out…METEORA KNEE DROP! CIMA wins at 15:17
Rating – *** – The hot final few minutes saved this one. Before that it had been predictable, and even a little boring if I’m being totally honest. But as I said during my play-by-play, these two are well-travelled and enormously experienced wrestlers. They will be used to wrestling house show matches in front of small crowds, and know how to work safe and within themselves, without losing the energy from a live crowd. They never even left third gear here, but some of the cool countering and false finishes at the end were really neat.
Jimmy Jacobs is frustrated in defeat and declines a handshake from CIMA on the way out.
Before the next match can begin, Johnny Gargano comes to the ring for a chat with both competitors. His Doug Funnie ‘Quail-Man’ T-shirt is obscenely awesome though. He asks for a spot in either World-1 or Mochizuki’s faction the Veterans, and even brings some gifts to sweeten the deal. Mochi is offered VHS copies of ‘D2: The Mighty Ducks’, ‘Angels In The Outfield’ and ‘Dunston Checks In’ but declines. Naruki Doi is offered a stuffed toy, but throws it into the crowd and tells him to ‘go home’.
Masaaki Mochizuki vs Naruki Doi
The last time we saw Mochi in DGUSA, he dropped the FIP Championship to Davey Richards. A high profile loss like that ensured he was not booked for the WrestleMania shows in Phoenix, but returns tonight and will be looking to pick up his first victory against former Open The Dream Gate Champion Naruki Doi, who himself will be looking to rebound after missing out on BxB Hulk’s Freedom Gate Championship at Open The Ultimate Gate.
Doi eats a flurry of early kicks from the hard-hitting Mochizuki, but as the fight spills to the floor manages to duck under another kick attempt and watches Mochi’s shin collide with the ringpost. The former Dream Gate Champion sensibly attacks that injury without hesitation. Mochizuki kicks him off the apron, using the distance to shake out the leg. Eventually he does give chase and drills Doi into the apron, before applying a half crab right there on the floor. Back in the ring another half crab gives Doi a real struggle to make the ropes. As soon as he does so Mochi delivers a backbreaker then goes to the half crab for a third time. Naruki escapes again and dropkicks the knees out from under Mochizuki. Cannonball senton nailed, but of course that’s all impact on the back and it takes Doi a while to recover. He blocks a rebound kick form the turnbuckles and traps Mochi in an anklelock. Figure 4 blocked with a cheeky punt to the jaw. Repeated kicks from Mochizuki…but Doi shakes them off to deliver a Saito suplex that leaves both men reeling. Kick flurry from Mochi for 2. He looks for the Twister but Doi counters with a dragon screw into a Figure 4 leglock. Shotgun dropkick with Mochizuki in the ropes nailed, and followed with the second rope somersault senton. Baketori Sliding Kick gets 2. Doi 555 countered to a BUZZSAW KICK! RUNNING KNEE TO THE STOMACH! RUNNING BOOT TO THE STOMACH! TWISTER! DOI KICKS OUT! DOI 555! Sliding Kick misses…BAKETORI SLIDING KICK TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! KICKS BY MOCHI! AXE KICK FLOORS DOI! MOCHI WINS! 13:41 is your time.
Rating – **** – That was much shorter than I would have liked, but the workrate on display in that one was phenomenal. It was like the DG heavyweight version of Yoshino/Dragon Kid from Open The Historic Gate in that they worked an absolutely relentless pace from the opening bell and took it to each other right to the last. Sure the selling was patchy from both men. In a sub-15 minute sprint I wasn’t really looking for perfect selling – what mattered was that these two delivered a high octane, high impact clash which, quite frankly, deserved to be seen by more people than the sparse crowd in Windsor tonight. I’m sure they must have wrestled on other Dragon Gate shows before, and after seeing this I’m definitely going to try to track some of their matches down.
In the back Jigsaw and Mike Quackenbush are still seething about their attack at the hands of Kamikaze USA at the start of the show.
Bolen/Tyson Dux vs Xtremo/Brad Martin
This is an exhibition match for MPW – a local Canadian fed. I know Dux has had a degree of exposure having impressed on various Ring Of Honor events, but this is the first I’ve really seen of the other talents. Dux looks like a younger Billy Gunn (with an even worse haircut), whilst Bolen looks like a real powerhouse. Will anyone earn future DGUSA bookings with a strong display here\/
Dux and Bolen look like they are the heels here. Tyson starts with Xtremo (which is a lousy name), who lays in the kicks after taking a slap to the face. Crisp hurricanrana comes next, then a retaliatory slap to the face before bringing in Martin and Bolen. Martin adopts a stick and move approach with his powerful opponent, but finally does get caught and hammered by the big man. Martin and X force their opponents to take a time out to discuss strategy…which of course leads to a fourway brawl around ringside. Bolen chops the legs out from under Xtremo, causing him to crash down onto the apron. Such is the power of Bolen that a simple shoulder tackle from him launches Xtremo in the air and across the ring. The heel team isolate X in the ring, well out of the reach of his partner. Eventually hits a tilta-whirl DDT and makes the hot tag to Martin, who brawls to the floor with Dux. TOPE SUICIDAS from Xtremo before Martin puts Bolen in an STF. MutaLock from X to Tyson too but there’s not a tap out in sight. Xtremo to the top rope now, but he misses a 450 splash. TURNBUCKLE DVD BY DUX! Laughably, Dux appears to BOTCH putting his feet on the ropes to score a cheap win over Brad Martin in a time of 11:22.
Rating – ** – Solid but completely unspectacular. It’s a nice tip of the hat to a local promotion, but if you’re realistic, if this was a ppv taping, this match would have been on the bonus disc and I don’t feel like I’d be missing anything. Bolen and Dux both look WWE-ready in that they’re well built, blonde but incredibly bland in the ring. Martin looked like a million other indy guys with an average physique hidden by a cheap singlet. Of these four Xtremo looked the best of the bunch, purely on the basis of being well built, having a bit of pace and athleticism about him…and hitting some very clean and precise spots. Can’t say I’ll be begging to see any of them back though.
Masato Yoshino vs Dragon Kid – 2/3 Falls Match
These two were long-time rivals in Japan, so it seemed an obvious choice to pair them up together at Open The Historic Gate – DGUSA’s debut show. But nobody could have predicted how this issue would have escalated. DK won the first matches, but neither man could agree upon a handshake at the end of them. Since then Yoshino has been on an incredible tear, using the Sol Naciente to defeat all comers. He submitted Dragon Kid in a tag match at Open The Freedom Gate, won both falls in a triangle elimination tag bout against Kamikaze USA and the Young Bucks at Fearless then enjoyed an incredible Phoenix weekend by defeating Shingo in singles action, then winning the traditional Dragon Gate WrestleMania trios tag – forcing GAMMA to tap out after nearly 30 minutes of furious action – once again with the Sol Naciente. Can Dragon Kid end his incredible run of wins?
Lenny Leonard is hyping this as the final singles match between the two. Kid snaps off a gorgeous satellite headscissors which leaves Yoshino on his ass in the corner. Since he’s down there, DK capitalises with a basement dropkick to the face. MutaLock applied as Dragon continues to be the pace setter in the early going. Keen for some respite, Yoshino voluntarily slows the pace with a chinlock then a grounded headscissors. That brings him some success, but DK succeeds in quickening the pace again with the Déjà Vu then BERMUDA TRIANGLE TO THE FLOOR! Yoshino shoves Kid as he thinks about an Ultra Hurricanrana before catching him in a swinging facebuster for 2. Now it’s Kid’s turn to block a trademark move, shoving the legs out from under Yoshino as he lines up the missile dropkick. Yoshino blocks the super rana and hits the HANGTIME dropkick from the second. LIGHTNING SPIRAL NAILED! Yoshino goes 1-0 up at 08:52. With DK on the defensive and one fall in the bag, now it’s Yoshino’s turn to amp up the offensive, charging into the Slingblade for 2. Kid with the Cristo but he’s unlucky when Yoshino stumbles backwards into the ropes. SECOND ROPE SLINGBLADE BY YOSHINO! Kid kicks out at 2. DÉJÀ VU DRIVER! Kid makes it 1-1 at 13:37. Yoshino ducks the 619 and powerbombs DK for 2. It looks like both men are becoming increasingly desperate now. Kid stops Yoshino hitting the missile dropkick again…STANDING SUPER RANA! Again Yoshino kicks out with fractions of a second remaining. Ultra Rana ducked once, but Kid goes back to the outside. ULTRA HURRICANRANA GETS 2! Kid thinks about his big match finish the Dragonrana, but Yoshino ducks it. Lightning Spiral blocked once…RUNNING LIGHTNING SPIRAL INSTEAD! TORBELINO! SOL NACIENTE! YOSHINO WINS! The feud is over at 19:12
Rating – **** – Terrific bout to conclude what has been a fun undercard feud on the early DGUSA shows. In many ways I thought this was the strongest of their three singles bouts, although it perhaps lacked some of the obvious excitement and crowd energy of the Open The Historic Gate bout. I loved the psychology on display in this one. There were so many familiarity counters it was a joy to watch. I loved how Yoshino, full of confidence after his amazing winning streak, was happy to step out of his comfort zone and work a slower pace to win the first fall. But from there the combination of his over-confidence and Kid’s ability to score falls out of nowhere brought it back to 1-1…and the final fall brought the feud back to where we started in Philadelphia with two astoundingly quick athletes trading nearfalls and stunning spots. Yoshino challenges Hulk for the Freedom Gate belt tomorrow night with perhaps the best win/loss record in DGUSA.
At last we do get the handshake between the two rivals to seal the end of a terrific rivalry.
Shingo/YAMATO vs BxB Hulk/Pac
This is Kamikaze USA vs World-1 and an interesting match as it pits the Open The Dream Gate Champion against the Open The Freedom Gate Champion. It’s also Pac’s DGUSA debut, although his impressive aerial performances have already earned him spots on a number of tours of Japan and I’m sure he’ll be flown in as often as DGUSA schedule it and afford his airfare from now on. As ever, a pinfall victory over Hulk would ensure the victor moves to the front of the queue for future title shots.
Pac starts with Shingo and does a good job hanging with a more powerful opponent. He actually back flips off Shingo at one point, using his quickness to land a dropkick which forces Shingo to the floor for a rest. Yamato and BxB in next, stepping in the ring together for the first time since Hulk defeated Yamato in the finals of the Open The Freedom Gate tournament. Five minutes into the match it’s the World-1 team who appear to have the advantage. Pac NAILS a standing corkscrew moonsault on Shingo for 2. Hulk fires off some kicks, only for Takagi to drop him with a single chop. BxB hits a yakuza kick in the corner on Yamato, then holds him up for a sidewalk slam/guillotine leg drop combo with his partner. Much as we saw with Tozawa and Akuma in the opening match, the Kamikaze USA team aren’t afraid to break the rules and sneak into the ring to jump an opponent from behind. Shingo comes in from behind to level Pac…and the whole thing breaks down into a big fight on the floor. With Akira Tozawa distracting the official Yamato blasts BxB with his own Freedom Gate belt, whilst Shingo drops Pac face-first over the apron. Yamato continues to dish out the abuse to Hulk on the floor, throwing him into the guardrails repeatedly as Shingo bring Pac into the ring to apply an abdominal stretch.
Pac almost does the splits to make the ropes on that one but he still spends the next portion of the match isolated from his partner and taking a beating from Kamikaze USA. Yamato puts him in the CBV, with Shingo mauling BxB as he looks to intervene and come to the aid of his partner. Finally Pac lands a springboard dropkick and makes his way over for the hot tag to BxB. RUNNING MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR from Pac. Hulk Bottom on Shingo gets 2. He goes for a standing moonsault but flips into Shingo’s knees. Yamato sneak attacks Hulk from behind but is wiped out by a springboard crossbody from Pac. Yamato goes after his leg to stop all the high flying, but ends up taking multiple kicks to the head as he can’t get close enough to Pac to do any serious damage. Shingo blocks a handspring elbow…BLOOD FALL COUNTERED WITH A KICK TO THE HEAD! BxB STAR PRESS! STANDING CORKSCREW SSP FROM PAC! GETS 2! Pac gets another nearfall from a springboard 450 splash. ALLEY-OOP from Shingo to Hulk, and he keeps the momentum going with a pop-up DVD on Pac. Yamato goes for Galleria on Hulk but it’s blocked. BACK DROP DRIVER INSTEAD! Backflip kick by BxB into the EVO! Yamato kicks out of that and gets his own nearfall with a brainbuster. Choke Sleeper locked in…HEAD DROP SLEEPER SUPLEX! BxB kicks out. GALLERIAAAAA! Yamato wins in 23:37.
Rating – **** – Show stealing main event, which is saying something considering the high quality of Mochizuki/Doi and Yoshino/Dragon Kid. Shingo and YAMATO were awesome as the villains in this one. The American experience, particularly of Shingo, shone through as they worked a very Americanised tag style for long periods, generating heat with nefarious tactics, and even carrying that over into the usual Dragon Gate spotfest that most of these tags turn into. I’m surprised we didn’t see more of Pac since that guy can do some incredible things. He’s also put on some muscle and gotten into incredible shape since the last time I saw him compete. Hopefully he’ll cut loose at the ppv taping tomorrow night instead. I’m also disappointed we’re putting the Dream Gate Champion over the Freedom Gate Champion. I have no problem with YAMATO going over – he’s perhaps my favourite guy in DGUSA, and I’m not the biggest BxB fan – but I don’t see why Pac couldn’t have stared at the lights for him. Minor quibbles on what was a feisty and enjoyable main event.
In the back Jimmy Jacobs refuses Masato Yoshino’s request to help World-1 with Kamikaze USA, and pays the price just seconds later when he is attacked by Jon Moxley to end the show.
Tape Rating – *** – As a B-show effort, this was a VAST improvement on Open The Ultimate Gate. It won’t be winning any ‘Show Of The Year’ awards like Open The Historic Gate did, but it pretty much met expectations. Looking at the card, all the matches you’d expect to be very good…ARE very good. All the matches you expect to be decent…ARE decent. All the matches you expect to be forgettable filler…ARE forgettable filler. You see where I’m going with this? This isn’t a show that will blow you away or vastly exceed expectations, and it is a little tough watching a show taking place in front of a crowd which, due to it’s size, may as well not be there. But it’s a solid card, and it’s a DVD which marks DGUSA’s increased focus on storylines and character progression with the introduction of Kamikaze USA, Chikara Sekigun, the Japanese stables looking for American recruits, Jimmy Jacobs declining to get involved in them, Johnny Gargano DESPERATE to get involved in them etc. Certainly not an essential purchase, but the DGUSA completists will certainly enjoy this one so it’s worth splashing out if you can spare the cash.
Top 3 Matches
3) Masaaki Mochizuki vs Naruki Doi (****)
2) Masato Yoshino vs Dragon Kid (****)
1) Shingo/YAMATO vs BxB Hulk/Pac (****)