Written By: McXal
Dragon Gate USA – Uprising – 8th May 2010
Dragon Gate USA’s Canadian debut weekend continues with a pay-per-view taping in the Toronto area. Headlining is the much anticipated Open The Freedom Gate Title bout between champion BxB Hulk and challenger Masato Yoshino. There’s also a couple of tag matches to illustrate the increasing importance of factions on the DGUSA landscape as it starts to more closely resemble the format of it’s Japanese father company – we have a Warriors vs Kamikaze USA tag, with a World-1 vs Chikara Sekigun match earlier in the show too. Jimmy Jacobs looks to settle the score with Jon Moxley in a match which could get a little crazy too. Lets join Lenny Leonard and Leonard Chikarason at the ‘International Centre’ in Mississauga, ONT.
Johnny Gargano opens the show in a crazy-awesome Rugrats t-shirt. He sets the stage by pointing out that the Kamikaze USA stable has prompted all of Dragon Gate’s factions to be on the lookout for American representation. He’s going to watch the show tonight and decide who he wants to join…
Akira Tozawa vs Masaaki Mochizuki
This is technically Warriors vs Kamikaze USA as, Mochi’s group, the Veterans, has allegiances to the Warriors faction in Japan. Tozawa is another young prospect coming up through Dragon Gate with a bright future ahead of him. He debuted last night as part of Jon Moxley’s new group in a losing effort, teaming with Gran Akuma against Quack and Jigsaw. Tonight we’ll see whether youth and enthusiasm can trump age and experience.
Everyone in the building appears to have been kitted out with Dragon Gate thunder sticks which makes for a cool visual to start the ppv. Mr Intensity refuses to give Mochi a clean break, instead opting for an open hand chop to the chest. Mochizuki fires back with a variety of kicks. Credit to Tozawa though, he absorbs that and dropkicks Mochi out of the ring to hit a tope suicida. On the outside Mochizuki looks for a knee strike but misses and collides with the ring post. Naturally the leg then becomes an offensive focus for Tozawa. It doesn’t stop Mochizuki punting him off the apron though. He brings the fight back to the apron to hit a shinbreaker there, leaving the youngster clutching his own leg in pain. He goes for an enziguri only for Mochizuki catch the leg and drag him down into an anklelock. Intense Ass Attack from Akira as he looks to buy himself some recovery time. Rope run headbutt misses…standing headbutt misses…standing headbutt into Mochi’s knees…BACK SENTON NAILED! That was an entertaining sequence. Twister blocked by Tozawa so Mochizuki runs off the ropes into an enzi kick. HIGH ANGLE bridging German gets Mr Intensity a super intense 2-count. He goes for another suplex only for Mochi to land on his feet and take his head off with a kick. HANGING KNEE TO THE STOMACH! RUNNING BOOT TO THE STOMACH! Tozawa kicks out at 2 and tries to fight back again with palm strikes. KICK TO THE HEAD! Tozawa goes down and Mochi wins at 09:45.
Rating – *** – Hot start to the show and a fine match to cap off a good weekend for both men. Tozawa has impressed people during his DGUSA debut shows, whilst Mochizuki has had a breakout weekend of sorts, putting on two short, sharp and hugely entertaining undercard bouts to prove to the American fans whilst he is one of the top guys in Dragon Gate Japan. I’d go so far as to say that this is the best opener to DGUSA ppv we’ve had since YAMATO/Hulk at Historic Gate.
In the back Lenny Leonard and Chikarason hype the double main event coming up later tonight.
Gran Akuma vs Tyson Dux
Kamikaze USA are represented in this match by Gran Akuma, who laid the foundations of the group on the very first show when he and YAMATO joined forces to disrespect the Chikara guys. Tonight he faces Tyson Dux, who has clearly earned another showing based on his appearance in a tag bout at Open The Northern Gate. Personally I’d rather have seen Xtremo get his spot, but a glance at the back of the DVD makes me a little happier as I see that Xtremo did get booked in a dark match tonight.
Jon Moxley is in Akuma’s corner. Dux, who worked heel last night, is obviously going to flip that on it’s head and go babyface tonight. The pace is pretty slow at first, both men trading some basics and jostling for the early advantage. Skullf*ck from Tyson, and he then sensibly ducks the Cheetah Swipe snapmare kick that Akuma hits in every match. Akuma does land a dropkick to the leg which floors Dux, then capitalises with a half crab. He peppers that leg with kicks, only for Dux to strike out of nowhere with a NECK DROP BACK SUPLEX! The level of violence in that suplex took me by total surprise there. Dux blocks Akuma’s Brainbuster and counters to a DDT off one knee for 2. Akuma gets a nearfall in response with Daizee Haze’s Mind Trip. Superplex by Dux, but he tries to roll that to another suplex and is nearly surprised by a flash pin from Gran Akuma. After a flurry of nearfalls Akuma clings onto Dux’s tights to steal a cheap win. Time is 08:31
Rating – ** – Much better showing from Tyson Dux tonight, unfortunately his job was to play enhancement talent to Gran Akuma, who if you’re being honest, has been one of the more underwhelming members of the DGUSA roster thus far. Still, they had a competitive back and forth match and kept the crowd lively. I believe this was a dark match anyway so I’m not sure there’s much more you could ask from them.
Jon Moxley vs Jimmy Jacobs – No DQ Match
No doubt that Jacobs will be delighted to have eliminated Brian Kendrick from DGUSA competition at the last pay-per-view event, however, he still has the charismatic trouble maker Jon Moxley to deal with. Moxley sided with Kendrick in that feud, and attacked Jimmy’s former girlfriend Lacey at Fearless in Chicago when Jacobs made his in-ring debut for the promotion. They were involved in another brawl at Open The Ultimate Gate but meet for the first time in a singles bout tonight with the rules thrown out of the window. Obviously Jimmy is vastly experienced working these kind of matches, but Mox won’t exactly be short on confidence after beating a former ECW World Champion at Mercury Rising.
Moxley continues his gimmick of bringing a random girl to the ring and borderline abusing her during his entrance. He throws her at Jacobs to distract him and allow him to get the jump on Jacobs before the bell even rings. Jimmy stomps him down in the corner then topples Moxley out of the ring. Out there it’s Jon that assumes control, holding Jacobs across the ringpost and encouraring Random Broad #3 to bite him. Garbage can to the head of Moxley puts a stop to that, but again Mox comes right back by drilling Jacobs’ head into the ringpost. Chair to the face by Jacobs…TOPE SUICIDA INTO THE END TIME ON THE OUTSIDE! Awesome spot, but Mox counters by crotching him on the guardrail. Random Broad #3 hammers on Jimmy with a thunder stick, only for Jimmy to use the ensuing spill into the crowd to his advantage by springboarding off a chair, over the guardrail and into a clothesline on Moxley. He brings a wrench into play but it’s Mox that winds up using it to choke his opponent. Jacobs snatches it from his grasp and drives it between the eyes for a 2-count. End Time locked in again, but Mox COUNTERS to the release suplex. STF applied, then a Dreamer DDT. Jacobs gives that the 1 count of disrespect treatment. Contra Code blocked so Jacobs hits a springboard Ace Crusher instead. Spear avoided and Mox delivers a Black Hole Slam for 2. Hook And Ladder blocked…END TIME AGAIN! Broad #3 breaks it, then gets shoved into the path of a Jacobs’ spear. Crossface Chickenwing COUNTERED TO CONTRA CODE! Shingo and YAMATO are here, and drop Jimmy with a big boot/DVD combo. Moxley covers at 10:45 to pick up another cheap win for Kamikaze USA.
Rating – ** – Marginally disappointing in that some of the action seemed a little aimless. I really enjoyed Moxley’s brawl with Tommy Dreamer as I felt everything they did was purposeful, focused and recreated the wild, intimate nature of an ECW-style fight. Here they seemed to be bouncing from spot to spot with very little to connect them. Some of the spots were actually very good, but transitioning between them was pretty weak. You can’t deny that Moxley has a real charisma about him, but you can’t see him having the best match on the show any time soon.
BxB Hulk comes to the ring to save Jimmy Jacobs, which is obviously significant since it was Jimmy that refused to listen to Masato Yoshino and join World-1 last night. Hulk tries to hand Jacobs a World-1 t-shirt here…but again Jimmy declines the offer and leaves by himself.
Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw vs Naruki Doi/Pac
This is Chikara Sekigun vs World-1. Quack and Jigsaw are on a real tear in DGUSA at the moment. Having successfully proven themselves to be the top American team in the promotion, they now have their eyes set on becoming the top team period. A win over Doi and Pac, both of whom have held Tag Championships across the globe, would obviously help to cement that reputation.
Quack starts with Pac and comprehensively out-wrestles him. But as soon as the pace quickens it’s Pac that comes to life by hitting a headscissors then a dropkick. Mike throws Jigsaw into a satellite headscissors to take Pac out, and the Chikara Sekigun combine seconds later for a boot/backbreaker combo on Doi. Slingshot leg drop from Pac to Jigsaw brings World-1 back into things. Headscissors and Figure 4 combo hold applied by Doi and Pac whilst Quackenbush remonstrates with the official. Corkscrew press off Doi’s back scores Pac a nearfall. But that hold sends Jig out of the ring which allows Quack to come in and stomp off Naruki’s chest into a facebuster on Pac. Gory special/senton combo gets the Chikara team a 2. They start to work Pac’s arm most noticeably with Jigsaw coming from the top rope to double stomp it. Extravagant double flip escape gets Pac to his corner to make a hot tag to his partner. Doi positions both opponents in the corner for a DOUBLE cannonball senton. They go the outside which is a big mistake. SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW MOONSAULT FROM PAC! Doi puts Quackenbush in the ropes for the shotgun dropkick/second rope senton combo. Doi 555 countered, but so is the BTS from Quack and Doi gets 2 with a Rydien Bomb. Pac in with a standing corkscrew SSP, then a slingshot neckbreaker on Jigsaw for 2. The masked man fires back with a torture rack powerbomb. E HONDA STRIKES FROM DOI TO QUACK! Jigsaw saves his mentor with a brainbuster. He hits a bridging German…BROKEN BY A SHOOTING STAR PRESS BY PAC! Shotei from Quack to Pac…QUACKENDRIVER III! DOI SAVES! SHOOTING STAR DROPKICK ON JIG! DOI 555! BAKETORI SLIDING KICK! World-1 win it at 14:03
Rating – **** – What a rush that tag team encounter was. One of the most enjoyable things about the DGUSA shows thus far has been the Quack/Jigsaw team. During Jig’s ROH tenure I basically ran him down on every show but in DGUSA, being booked far better and having a far more talented partner than Jack Evans or Ruckus, he’s really shining. In this match they were terrific grounded foils for the high-flying antics of Pac. I said during my review of Open The Northern Gate that I felt Pac had been a little restrained. It’s his debut weekend so I was surprised to see a relatively low key performance from him in Windsor yesterday. But on his ppv debut he really stepped it up a gear and broke out a number of his electrifying high spots. Between his aerial ability and Doi’s vast experience holding matches like this together, this match ended up being a free-flowing, fluid and exciting midcard bout.
The victors leave the ring whilst Quackenbush gets on the stick to pay respect to them. He then calls out YAMATO. He challenges YAMATO to a tag bout on a future show. The smiling Dream Gate champion watches as Gran Akuma and Akira Tozawa attack Quack and Jig from behind.
INTERMISSION – Jimmy Jacobs shouts in the parking lot that he doesn’t want any team-mates to fight Jon Moxley and Kamikaze USA.
Lenny Leonard is in the ring again to start the second half by announcing that DGUSA are going to give an opportunity to two guys who impressed during a training seminar held earlier in the day. It’s Rip Impact (who looks like a scrawny indy journyman) is set to face Johnny Wave who looks like Paramore are his favourite band. Before the match even starts Brodie Lee makes his DGUSA debut to beat the hell out everyone in the ring. He is MASSIVE, and vows to take on all comers in Dragon Gate.
Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw are hanging out in the toilets. That’s not homo. They reiterate their challenge for a Chikara Sekigun vs Kamikaze USA tag.
Shingo/YAMATO vs CIMA/Dragon Kid
This match brings together four of Dragon Gate’s top names so it should be a hell of a match. It’s the first time Shingo and Dragon Kid have been in the ring together since Shingo turned on Kid at Fearless. I don’t imagine CIMA and Kid, representing the Warriors faction, like Kamikaze USA anymore than anyone else on the DGUSA roster.
Yamato starts with Dragon Kid, with the expected speed vs power battle ensuing. Kid sends Yamato to the floor with a headscissors before we get tags all round to bring in CIMA and his former protégé Shingo. CIMA quickly runs into a dropkick as Shingo lines up his trademark lariat. He then rips off half of the weird skirt thing that Yamato wrestles in and uses it to choke at the Dream Gate Champion. Kid with the 619 off CIMA’s back before the Warriors deliver a nice senton combo. CIMA looks for a cloverleaf on Yamato, but foolishly turns his back on Shingo who gleefully continues the Kamikaze USA trend of sneaking in when an adversary’s back is turned. They go to the floor where Kid holds Shingo over the guardrail. DOUBLE STOMP OFF THE RAILS by CIMA. Shingo tags Yamato who immediately slows the pace down to control Kid. He then distracts the ref whilst Shingo drop DK throat-first into the apron. Military press slam demonstrates the impressive power of Shingo as Kamikaze continue to dominate. Kid hits a second rope headscissors and gets the hot tag to CIMA. 619/double boot combo on Yamato…then the BERMUDA TRIANGLE TO THE FLOOR! Yamato evades CIMA’s face double stomp but gets kicked in the back instead.
Lungblower into the Perfect Driver gets 2. Yamato looks for his Choke Sleeper out of desperation, and is dropped on his head with a BACK DROP DRIVER! Schwein countered back to the Choke Sleeper, and this time Kid has to save. Cristo on Shingo, who stands up out of it and drops the smaller man with a sidewalk slam. CIMA with a BACKWARDS springboard double stomp on Yamato, but the Dream Gate Champion gets his own back by avoiding the Van CIMA-Nator. Alley-Oop from Shingo, then a BRAINBUSTER from Yamato nearly puts CIMA away. But Shingo steps out of character in trying to go to the top rope, and that’s a mistake. Venus strike from CIMA, who then puts Shingo on his shoulders for the MEGA SUPER HURRICANRANA! SHINGO LARIATOOOOOOOOO! DK fires back to his feet and nearly wins it with a superkick/crucifix driver combo. Shingo drops him on his head again with a DVD. Yamato runs through CIMA with a spear, but the DG icon blocks Galleria. Constant reversals between CIMA and Yamato…SHINGO DOESN’T KNOW WHO TO HIT! ULTRA RANA BY KID FOR 2! Shingo escapes the Dragonrana and hits MADE IN JAPAN for 2. DK looks like looks like he’s done. SECOND ROPE DVD! Shingo gets the win. 22:25 is your time.
Rating – **** – It seems like DGUSA are putting on a high quality, main event level tag team bout on every show they run at this point. This was another awesome battle between four opponents who are obviously very familiar with each other’s work. I’m really enjoying the Americanised heel take Shingo and YAMATO bring to the traditional Dragon Gate style. It adds so much more depth and character to the usual marathon of spotty violence.
In the back Johnny Gargano is still agonising over which Dragon Gate faction he should join and ‘lead to greatness’…
BxB Hulk vs Masato Yoshino – Open The Freedom Gate Title Match
Many may come to this one holding the opinion that Masato Yoshino is actually the favourite here. He’s undefeated since losing to Dragon Kid at Open The Untouchable Gate and has been picking up high profile victories all over the place. On the last ppv it was him picking up the victory in the annual Dragon Gate 6-man tag, whilst yesterday in Windsor he ended his rivalry with Dragon Kid by besting him in a 2/3 Falls Match. Will this incredible streak lead him to the Freedom Gate? In my opinion BxB is still waiting for his breakout match as champion. The finals of the Freedom Gate Tournament, along with subsequent defences against Dragon Kid and Naruki Doi were marginally underwhelming. Is tonight the night that he puts on his definitive bout as Open The Freedom Gate Champion?
Is that Jade Chung in BxB Hulk’s corner tonight? Hulk lands the first significant moves by landing armdrags and a dropkick, doing a great job in matching speed with the rapid challenger in the opening minute. BxB gets the first 2-count as well coming from a standing somersault senton. Yoshino strikes back with the hanging stranglehold in the ropes then paces the floor looking to gather himself. Surprisingly, it’s now Yoshino who wants to slow the pace and work a body part. He starts to target Hulk’s arm – sensible strategy as it will impact BxB’s ability to hit his numerous EVO variants. He tries to use the ropes to drag himself to his feet, only for Masato to hurl himself from the top into a SPRINGBOARD DOUBLE STOMP to the exposed arm. Hulk returns fire with a springboard dropkick but then has to spend some time nursing his arm. Standing corkscrew senton finally nailed for 2. Slingblade from Yoshino, grabbing the bad arm on the way through. Hangtime dropkick misses but Yoshino is on fire at this point, turning on a sixpence and locking in the From Jungle stretch. BxB Star Press almost out of desperation nearly wins it for the champion. He misses a moonsault though, allowing Masato to wrench the arm and hit the Ude Yoshino DDT for 2. HANGTIME MISSILE DROPKICK NAILED! Hulk busts out an amazing BACK FLIP counter to the Lightning Spiral. PALM STRIKES FROM HULK! PALM STRIKES FROM YOSHINO! LIGHTNING SPIRAL FOR 2! TORBELINO SCORES…SOL NACIENTE COUNTERED TO A JACKNIFE PIN FOR 2! FTX EVO GETS 2! Amazing minute of action right there. They battle on the turnbuckles now, with BxB grabbing Yoshino for a SECOND ROPE EMERALD FUSION! Backflip kick from Hulk…BASEMENT SUPERKICK gets another nearfall. EVO-P! Hulk retains at 15:05
Rating – **** – The strongest defence of the belt thus far for BxB Hulk, although I felt much of the credit should go to Masato Yoshino because he was excellent. I liked how they tore up the script you might have expected with Hulk actually managing to get the better of Yoshino in the initial fast-paced exchanges, before Yoshino winded up slowing the pace down and working a body part to gain control. Of course that arm work was ultimately just superficial stuff to kill time before the inevitable false finish flurry at the end, but it was still a nice alteration on the formula many people would have predicted. In the end, the final five minutes of this were wonderful to watch. Even if psychologically it was flawed, watching two men move and such speed and hitting moves with such precision is always good. I’ve still got my doubts about BxB as champion as I’m still not convinced by his abilities as a singles competitor, but this was a pronounced step in the right direction.
BxB gets no time to celebrate though as Jon Moxley immediately marches the ring and announces that Kamikaze USA are coming for the Freedom Gate Championship. It’s ANOTHER sneak attack by Kamikaze as Shingo and YAMATO jump Hulk from behind. Jimmy Jacobs runs in to fight off Moxley, and CIMA is here with a dirty mop to fight off Shingo and YAMATO. Then we get yet another sneak attack as Gran Akuma and Akira Tozawa arrive to beat down CIMA (and Dragon Kid). CIMA and Kid eventually fight off Kamikaze so CIMA can cut another fun promo and send Toronto home happy.
Tape Rating – **** – I’m possibly over-rating this one a little, but I wanted a rating to reflect the fact that DGUSA are really hitting their stride now. No longer are they just a promotion for dream matches, they are starting to get serious storylines and a driving focus behind their shows as well. There is a purpose to every match on the show, with multiple factions jostling for position, all the unaligned wrestlers looking to be scouted (as Johnny Gargano showed). Gabe could quite easily take the easy route and continue throwing out random assortment of Dragon Gate guys doing what they do best, but he’s really getting into a groove, booking smart, snappy, entertaining shows which are a breeze to sit through. There are established heels and faces, reasons to care about ALL wrestlers from the bottom to the top of the card. Great promo guys like Moxley and Jacobs, impressive high flyers, tremendous mat wrestlers, Brodie Lee debuting as the token big man and so on. This show had a top notch opener, three main event quality bouts, and even the slightly underwhelming Akuma/Dux and Moxley/Jacobs matches had real momentum behind them as they carried on the intention to make Kamikaze USA the centrepiece of the shows at the moment. This promotion is really fun to follow at the moment and this show is another easy one to recommend if you’re a fan of the Dragon Gate style.
Top 3 Matches
3) BxB Hulk vs Masato Yoshino (****)
2) Naruki Doi/Pac vs Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw (****)
1) Shingo/YAMATO vs CIMA/Dragon Kid (****)
Top 5 Open The Northern Gate/Uprising Weekend Matches
5) Masaaki Mochizuki vs Naruki Doi (**** – Open The Northern Gate)
4) Masato Yoshino vs Dragon Kid (**** – Open The Northern Gate)
3) Shingo/YAMATO vs BxB Hulk/Pac (**** – Open The Northern Gate)
2) Naruki Doi/Pac vs Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw (**** – Uprising)
1) Shingo/YAMATO vs CIMA/Dragon Kid (**** – Uprising)
SIDENOTE – This show concludes the first year of Dragon Gate USA shows, and will be my last DGUSA review for a while. I’ve got the next few shows (starting with the First Anniversary Show featuring the return of Bryan Danielson) in the mail, but for the next couple of months I’ll be turning my focus back to ROH reviews. I can’t stress enough how highly I’ve enjoyed following the DGUSA product though. It’s amazing to see these phenomenal Japanese talents willing to take time out of their lives, fly halfway around the world and compete at the highest level, looking to spread the notoriety of their outstanding style of pro-wrestling to a new audience in the US. Every show thus far has had a ‘sit up and take notice’ good match, in many cases there have been several matches on each show falling into that category. If you can spare the cash, I truly suggest you get in on the ground floor, capitalise on the superb sales DGUSA.tv is always running and pick up the whole set. If you are a fan of their style of wrestling I promise you’ll be getting outstanding value for money.
When I return to DGUSA, the one thing I’d like to see them improve on is elevating the American talent to the level of the Dragon Gate imports. I know they were hurt as a promotion when Davey Richards left, and of course, that was followed by losing the Young Bucks and Brian Kendrick to TNA. But outside of Quack and Jigsaw, we really haven’t seen anyone else break out and join the DG guys on their level. Jimmy Jacobs and Jon Moxley are great guys to have, but look very much promo guys rather than someone that is going to go out there and put on a sensational match with a CIMA, a Mochizuki, a Doi or a Yokosuka etc. Bryan Danielson is back next show and that will help in the short term. But you’re looking at a guy like Moxley, or Gargano, or someone elsewhere on the indies, to come in and make an impact to prove they can hang with the Japanese talent. The biggest shortcoming on DGUSA releases now is the massive gulf in quality between the American matches and those featuring Japanese talent. In Year 2 of the Dragon Gate USA project, that’s something I’d like to see addressed.