Written by: McXal
Dragon Gate USA – Way Of The Ronin – 26th September 2010
Last night’s Chicago show was the ppv taping for this weekend, which makes this event technically a house show. But it’s a debut in another new market (and in an absolutely gorgeous, intimate little venue) so I’d imagine everyone will be looking to impress. I like the look of the card in that we’ve got a huge double header of main events (Danielson/Moxley and some trademark DG trios action) but below that, everyone has something to prove. Chuck Taylor, superb on the last two shows, faces Dragon Gate icon CIMA, new Warriors recruit Ricochet squares off with Kamikaze USA’s Gran Akuma, Arik Cannon has a huge opportunity as he works Dragon Kid plus much more with six American talents in a ‘Six Way Freestyle’ bout. Even if this isn’t likely to be the best DGUSA show to date, it’s really nice to see a card with a clear purpose from top to bottom. This is Dragon Gate USA’s debut in Milwaukee, WI…lets join Lenny Leonard and Leonard Chikarason.
Since this is a one-DVD release, I checked out the bonus match once again. It was, in essence, business exposing flippidy flop antics, however, I really liked the Aeroform team of Louis Lyndon and Flip Kendrick. Spotty for sure but Lyndon has a fun martial arts gimmick whilst Kendrick has a crazy 450 SSP finish. They need to get on a main card down the line…
CIMA opens the show in jovial spirits. He announces that if Chuck Taylor impresses in their match, he could follow Ricochet and become another new member of Warriors International
CIMA vs Chuck Taylor
Dragon Gate icon CIMA just did my job in setting the scene for this match. He let it be known that his Warriors group was looking for American representation. Ricochet was formally inducted after defeating Naruki Doi in an athletic tag team match in Chicago. Now Taylor, who comes into this on the back of winning consecutive Four Way Freestyle matches with the Awful Waffle, has the chance to tread a similar path if he can secure a victory in this one.
Clean break early on from the Kentucky Gentleman as Chucky looks intent on a good clean fight. CIMA goes after his leg and demonstrates that he’s not so keen on the sportsmanship by biting Taylor’s foot…making himself ill in the process. Surfboard stretches next, into hard kicks to the chest and spine as CIMA continues to dominate. Shotgun Asskick in the corner at 5 minutes. Taylor lands a missile dropkick out of the corner, then heads to the apron to hit a springboard variant of the same move for 2. FACE DOUBLE STOMP lays Taylor out again, into a REBOUND DOUBLE STOMP for 2. Perfect Driver countered to Sole Food then a folding powerbomb to get a nearfall for Chuck. ROLLING VENUS STRIKES…ICONOCOLASM! PERFECT DRIVER NAILED! Taylor manages to kick out at the last second after that offensive flurry. Half Crab by Taylor that drives CIMA to the ropes, favouring the leg shortly afterwards. SCWEIN! GETS 2! METEORA! CIMA wins at 11:07
Rating – *** – Great way to start the show – combining a decent mix of comedy and wrestling to ensure a lively crowd for the night ahead. Being harsh, you’d have to say that this was somewhat one-sided, with the majority of the good stuff being contributed by CIMA. However, Taylor definitely held his own in there and proved he can deliver respectably in singles bouts as well as multi-man offensive splurges. If you’re looking for a comparison, I thought CIMA/Gargano was a tad better…
Speaking of Johnny Gargano, he arrives to make another play to be recruited by Warriors International. Unfortunately for him, Drake Younger interrupts him so their match starts now…
Johnny Gargano vs Drake Younger
This is billed as a grudge match since Johnny has left Drake bloodied and battered at the last two shows. Gargano still hasn’t been recruited by a Dragon Gate faction, whilst Younger still hasn’t secured his long term future, so there’s all to play for.
The fight quickly spills to the outside where Younger nails a somersault senton off the stage. Gargano fires back with a modified flatliner into the ring apron but is taken down again by a suplex onto the floor. Slingshot spear through the ropes by Johnny who then dropkicks the legs out from under Younger and nails a sliding Ace crusher for 2. Leonard points out that Gargano has started working on the back which he injured by throwing Younger into the railings at Untouchable last night. Lawn Dart is countered to a NECK DROP half nelson suplex by Drake. RUNNING TURNBUCKLE DVD! Gargano kicks out of that absolutely crazy move. Gargano makes this basic again by using a Boston crab to target Younger’s back again. Drake’s escape route is a DVD ON THE APRON! Gargano counters Drake’s Landing with a faceplant…TURNBUCKLE LAWN DART! FULL NELSON FACEPLANT! ONE COUNT OF DISRESPECT! HURTZ DONUT AGAIN! Johnny wins in 09:57
Rating – *** – I so wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. I enjoy Gargano, and he’s been EXCELLENT as an undercard comedy goof trying to suck up to the Dragon Gate guys, but it turned out he also proved to be a perfect foil for the no-thrills approach of Drake Younger. I think if DGUSA wants to make Younger a viable commodity for this promotion they need to play up his ‘ultra violent’ past. I know he wants to make his reputation as a worker, and he’s clearly got some sound basics. But the reality is he’s nowhere near as good as lots of the roster already in Dragon Gate. HOWEVER, there aren’t a lot of heavily scarred hardcore guys in the locker room. If DGUSA pushes Drake as their ‘Necro Butcher’ equivalent (as they did here in that they really played up the ‘Gargano shouldn’t have pissed Younger off’ style of match) he becomes a unique part of the roster and contributes something.
SIDENOTE – A few comments made by Leonard and Chikarason during the last match made me remember that this was the show that nearly didn’t take place. For some reason DGUSA managed to rock up in Milwaukee without their ring…with the squared circle not actually turning up until over an hour after the scheduled bell time. In the end fans, officials and the stars of Dragon Gate all had to pitch in to set the arena up in record time to ensure we got any kind of show at all.
Bryan Danielson says he’s going to beat some respect into Jon Moxley in their match tonight. He also thanks BxB Hulk for welcoming him into World-1 and promises to make a call to someone and ensure that World-1 will still have back-up against Kamikaze USA even after Dragon has left.
Rich Swann vs Kyle O’Reilly vs Mike Quackenbush vs Silas Young vs Brodie Lee vs Jimmy Jacobs
This is an odd mix of guys to throw into a ‘Six Way Freestyle’. You’ve got established DGUSA hands in Jacobs and Quack, the mysterious and dominant new force of Brodie Lee, Rich Swann looking to solidify his spot after some decent outings thus far…with Young and O’Reilly making their main show debuts. It’s tough to pick a winner too…
Jacobs banishes any thoughts of an Age Of The Fall reunion with Brodie by throwing his jacket at the big trucker and pissing him off before the match even starts. Quack and Swann start, with Mike apparently carrying an elbow injury after his match the previous night. He basically has his way with Rich but is finally send to the floor after a Swann rana. O’Reilly and Young in next to work a much harder-hitting, physical style. They have an AWESOME little exchange, which is ended when Lee comes in and obliterates both of them. Jacobs tries to put the End Time on him, but sees it countered into a sit-out powerbomb. Everyone to the floor but Kyle dives in to stop Swann scoring with a dive. ROLLING BUTTERFLY SUPLEXES! DOUBLE UNDERHOOK DDT! This kid is awesome! Silas plants Swann with a fisherman buster for 2. BIG BOOT by Lee but Brodie gets flung to the floor with another End Time attempt by Jimmy. Quackenbush picks the battered Swann up for a STANDING LION TAMER! Finally Swann SPRINGBOARDS OFF O’REILLY INTO AN SSP ON YOUNG FOR 2! SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW SENTON TO THE FLOOR! Black Tornado Slam from Quack to Jimmy gets 2. SPINNING MICHINOKU DRIVER BY SWANN! Headstand Arabian Press by Silas. TRUCK STOP ON O’REILLY BY BRODIE! MATRIX DUCKING BACKBREAKER BY YOUNG! More awesome exchanges between Kyle and Silas. Swann gets powerbombed by O’Reilly, straight into a half crab. He hits a HEAD DROP satellite headscissors to escape that, and gets up straight into the BIG BOOT by Brodie. The big man scores a big win at 11:22
Rating – *** – Crazy amounts of action, hit with incredible precision considering the amount of guys they had in there and how little time they had to play with. Swann did a great job as the whipping boy of the match, and took a hell of a beating before the inevitable win for Brodie Lee, who Dragon Gate are clearly very keen on pushing right now. Jacobs and Lee had some neat little exchanges, but the best duo on display here were Young and O’Reilly, who delivered some amazingly crisp sequences. Untouchable 2010 and Way Of The Ronin are the first two shows on which I’ve seen O’Reilly, and I was very impressed. I certainly understand why ROH wasted no time in signing the-Davey Richards’ protégé to a contract. Definitely not a match for your purists, but these ‘freestyle’ bouts are rapidly evolving into a great way for the American talent on DGUSA cards to earn their stripes and start to build a reputation with the fans whilst delivering some frenetic, spot-orientated mayhem.
Jon Moxley cuts a fun promo about being offered money by John Cena to break Danielson’s arm.
Arik Cannon vs Dragon Kid
He’s only getting this match because Quack picked up an injury last night that kept him from working a singles contest, but it’s a nice reward for Cannon who was great in the freestyle match at Enter The Dragon 2010, and was then really unlucky to be working a dark match at the next ppv. It’s safe to say that he won’t be working too many more dark matches in future if he can seize this chance and defeat Dragon Kid tonight.
Just like last night Dragon Kid does some random Jack Evans dancing at the start of the match. What’s that about by the way? Cannon busts out THE WORM…which totally serves DK who gets pissy and dropkicks him in the mouth. More strutting and goofy dance moves from Kid before he plants another basement dropkick. Arik squashes him with a tilta-whirl faceplant and viciously boots him in the back of the neck for 2. Stalling suplex then a swinging neckbreaker get the Anarchist another nearfall. Headscissors from Kid, who isn’t dancing now, into a satellite DDT for 2. TOTAL ANARCHY GETS 2! Cristo by DK…but it’s countered into a sidewalk slam by Cannon. Both men fight in the corner, culminating with a vicious second rope hurricanrana from Dragon Kid. Ultra Rana misses but Kid counters another brainbuster attempt into the stunner. Front Choke…COUNTERED back to the brainbuster for 2. CRUCIFIX DRIVER! Flash pin wins it for Dragon Kid at 09:42
Rating – *** – Total DGUSA coming out party for Arik Cannon here. Around 2005/6 I was a big fan of the guy and was really enjoying his work, but he sort of plateau’d after a few injuries and never really seemed to take it to that next level like other breakout guys from that era like Roderick Strong, Nigel McGuinness, Claudio Castagnoli etc. However, judging from this (and his entertaining dark match with Kyle O’Reilly last night) he’s still got lots to offer if he’s motivated. I loved the simple story of Dragon Kid coming in dancing, joking around and not taking things that seriously…and paying the price by taking a wicked beating focused on his neck and head from Cannon. In the end Kid’s speed was enough to snatch a victory, but Arik had already made his point. Bring the Anarchist back for more shows please…
Gran Akuma vs Ricochet
As we saw during the Kamikaze USA promo that closed the Untouchable 2010 show last night – Kamikaze don’t think much of Ricochet and certainly aren’t sweating him as the newest member of Warriors International. As such, they’re sending Akuma rather than one of their ‘big guns’ like Moxley, Shingo or YAMATO to cut the legs out from under his DGUSA run. Ricochet picked up the biggest win of his career when he beat Naruki Doi on ppv yesterday. He’ll come in full of confidence and will want to prove his worth to Warriors by putting Akuma down.
CIMA, who is apparently Ricochet’s biggest fan now, cheerfully accompanies him to ringside. Akuma wisely tries to work quite a slow pace, but can’t help but fall victim to the athletic armdrags and headscissors of Ricochet. One high-flying move too many on his part though, as he lines up a handspring dive to the floor and doesn’t spot Akuma jump to the apron and belt him with a punt to the spine. Cloverleaf surfboard slows the pace right down again. Ricochet hits the Backslide Driver from nowhere to leave both men down. Ricochet is up first…HANDSPRING MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! Dirty quebrada press goes wrong for Ricochet, but he recovers quickly with a tornado DDT into a standing SSP for 2. Tombstone Lungblower gets Akuma his own nearfall and works that midsection once again. Rubix Cube blocked into another ugly segment in the corner…leading to the Spider Exploder into the Akuma Moonsault…which almost misses Ricochet and still gets 2. VENUS STRIKE by Ricochet…ugly super rana takes Akuma out of the corner again. 630 SENTON! Ricochet picks up a popular win in 07:23
Rating – * – Some moments of excitement, marred by countless botches, communication errors and general business-exposing moments of weakness. Gran Akuma is easily the most over-rated guy on the DGUSA roster and it’s only the relationship with Chikara which saw him secure his cushty spot in Kamikaze USA. Hopefully this bowling shoe ugly performance will mark the start of him being phased out, and also ensure Ricochet is given the proper protection and not made to work too many singles matches before he’s ready to do so, since he wasn’t much better.
Jimmy Jacobs vents on Jon Moxley…pointing out that he took the best Moxley could dish out at him last night, but has turned up for work today. He doesn’t think Jon has what it takes to end it with him.
Jon Moxley vs Bryan Danielson
This is the culmination of American Dragon’s 3-match mini-series with Kamikaze USA. He antagonised them, interjected himself into their pursuit of BxB Hulk and defeated Shingo in an epic encounter at Enter The Dragon 2010…Last night in Chicago he was attacked by Moxley, once again paired up with BxB Hulk to fight off an illicit Kamikaze attack…and defeated YAMATO in another classic main event. Now the WWE US Champion signs out of DGUSA with a match with the enigmatic, antagonistic frontman of Kamikaze USA – Jon Moxley. Except neither man is classifying this as a match – they want it to be a fight.
No entrance music for Dragon – he marches straight to the ring and right into the CATTLE MUTILATION! MMA ELBOWS! Moxley leaves the ring to escape the onslaught…so Danielson flies at him with the TOPE SUICIDAAAAAA! Jon starts throwing Dragon into the ringpost to buy himself some time, making the WWE Superstar bleed in the process. Jeez…is Bryan TRYING to get fired again? Mox targets the lacerated forehead with right hands and repeated knee strikes, then a curbstomp into the turnbuckles. And with Dragon struggling to find his bearings, Jon is now able to WRESTLE him and starts working over his arm. To the floor again where Danielson hits a suplex in the cramped aisle then starts assaulting Moxley against the back wall of the building. Repeated kicks to the chest get Danielson a 2. Duelling forearm smashes in the corner, then simultaneous strikes mid-ring sees them both drop to the floor at 8 minutes. Armbreaker into a Fujiwara Armbar by the Kamikaze member – sensible wrestling from him after struggling to get the better of a strike exchange with the MMA-trained American Dragon. But speaking of his MMA training, Danielson shows it off with a GORGEOUS counter into the Triangle Choke. Moxley escapes with headbutts to the bloody forehead only to be floored by Danielson’s missile dropkick. ACE CRUSHER kills Dragon’s momentum though…CROSSFACE CHICKENWING! It’s a hold that works the arm and blood pouring from his head, but Danielson fights it. Moxley tries a sleeper…COUNTERED TO MMA ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! Crazy Jon Moxley starts ASKING Danielson to hit him with uppercuts, then absolutely FLOORS him with a big lariat for 2. He continues to absorb every strike Danielson can throw at him. KNOCKOUT KICK! KICK YOUR F’N HEAD IN FACE STOMPS! LEBELL LOCK! MOXLEY TAPS! Danielson wins at 14:56
Rating – **** – Absolutely huge match for Jon Moxley here. This was as much a star-making night for him as it was for Ricochet in Chicago yesterday, and he absolutely delivered. He brawled on the same level as Danielson, he got his character and gimmick over in the midst of a heated battle with the ‘Best In The World’, he carried his share of the workload and never once looked out of his depth. In short, he DELIVERED here. Admittedly Bryan was taking the lead and helping him every step of the way but this certainly wasn’t a one-sided carry job. I’ve been watching Danielson since early 2002 and have seen him carry his fair share of average workers to great matches. That was NOT what this was. I’m pleased for Moxley because, up until now, he’s struggled to ally his incredible charisma with some in-ring performances to match. His feud with Jimmy Jacobs has been patchy, his memorable brawl with Tommy Dreamer was months ago, and he needed something fresh. Here he produced an energetic heel performance that completely reinvigorates his DGUSA career. As a result of this, even in defeat, he goes from mouthy upstart to dangerous fighter in a single evening. Superb way to use Bryan Danielson on his last show with the company. Massive thumbs up for this…
Bryan Danielson tries to shake Moxley’s hand but gets jumped by Gran Akuma…allowing Mox to choke him out with the Crossface Chickenwing. Jimmy Jacobs turns up to save. He then tries to take a seat for Dragon’s farewell promo and falls over (‘I think that’s the story of your entire career’ – Dragon). Danielson winds up using his goodbye speech to put Jimmy Jacobs over which is really humble and generous of him.
Shingo/YAMATO/Akira Tozawa vs BxB Hulk/Masato Yoshino/Naruki Doi
No real need for an introduction here. It’s Kamikaze USA vs World-1 in trademark Dragon Gate trios tag action. Of course there’s history, with Dream Gate titles changing hands between the likes of Shingo, longest reigning Dream Gate Champion ever Naruki Doi, the man that dethroned him YAMATO, and of course, the man that just beat YAMATO – Masato Yoshino. There’s also the small matter of BxB Hulk’s promise to mow down anyone from Kamikaze USA who thinks they’re good enough to take him out. If Shingo (who shaved BxB’s head in Japan), YAMATO or Tozawa fancy a Freedom Gate Title shot down the line then pinning Hulk here would be a good idea. Fasten your seatbelts…
Doi and Yamato kick off with a pretty intense exchange. And the intensity cranks up when MR HIGH TENSION Akira Tozawa comes in with Yoshino. Tozawa shows some sense by tripping Yoshino as he tries his usual crazy speed runs. Shingo tries to use his power to bully Hulk but winds up being unable to cope with the Freedom Gate Champion’s agility and takes a dropkick to the mush. It’s advantage World-1 as they isolate Shingo from his partners and start to target his legs. Tozawa tries to come in and help his friend, only to take a dropkick combo from Speed Muscle. Shingo then take down Doi and Yoshino in one move and gets a much-needed tag to Yamato. He disrespectfully pulls at what’s left of Hulk’s hair before dragging him into the Kamikaze corner for some illegal intervention from the remainder of his team. Tozawa tags to PUNCH HULK IN THE FACE! That was awesome! But it’s Tozawa’s inexperience that sees him trapped into the World-1 corner, allowing them to take turns in striking at his arm. Double gutbuster into stereo dropkicks from Speed Muscle for 2 before Doi cranks onto a sick angle Fujiwara armbar on the stricken Tozawa. BxB Star Press gets 2, but finally Akira manages to lay Hulk out with a running knee strike to make the hot tag to Yamato. SPEAR ON HULK! Doi gets CAUGHT BY SHINGO! EXPLOIDAAAAA! BxB saves his partner from Made In Japan and ensures Naruki is able to hit the Shotgun Dropkick in the ropes.
Cannonball senton from the second rope gets 2. Slingblade from Yoshino to Tozawa as the pace starts to quicken as we move past 15 minutes. Tozawa counters the crazy hangtime missile dropkick…ROPE RUN DIVING HEADBUTT MISSES! STANDING SENTON INSTEAD! Hulk and Yamato steam into the ring totally hammering each other with strikes. KUNG FU KICKS BY HULK! Into a standing corkscrew moonsault. EVO countered…Galleria blocked…Pele kick by BxB. Yoshino goes for From Jungle on Shingo only to be easily lifted into a backbreaker instead. Doomsday Crossbody misses for Kamikaze USA, with Doi capitalising for a DOUBLE DAI BOSOU! BIG BOOT DOI 555 COMBO FOR 2! HANGTIME DROPKICK SENTON ON SHINGO AND TOZAWA GETS 2! Akira is flattened with the Torbelino into the BAKETORI SLIDING KICK! YAMATO SAVES! DOUBLE KNEE SMASH TO THE FACE by Tozawa who at last makes at tag. Hulk with more wild kick flurries to Shingo and Yamato, ending when those two hit a big boot/spinebuster combo. Gallon Throw. DEAD LIFT GERMAN SUPLEX BY TOZAWA…GETS 2! Doi lays him out with the Rydien Bomb. HUNDRED HAND SLAPS ON SHINGO! NO SOLD! UDE YOSHINO ON SHINGO! NECK DROP SLEEPER SUPLEX BY YAMATO! SUPERKICK BY HULK! ALL SIX MEN GO DOWN! Shingo and Hulk are the first two up…SHINGO LARIATO NO SOLD! MADE IN JAPAN! HULK KICKS OUT! AVALANCHE DVD! SHINGO PINS HULK! He beats the Freedom Gate Champion at 26:29
Rating – ****1/2 – People were quick to jump all over this and call it an MOTYC, and they’re probably right. Much as with every classic DGUSA 6-man that’s taken place in the US, it doesn’t quite make it to 5* because it’s impossible to replicate the cultural impact that the Supercard Of Honor Dragon Gate trios tag had in 2006. That match was a game-changer which will be talked about for years to come. Every time they’ve done it since then, whilst there have been some amazing encounters (the subsequent Supercard Of Honor reprises, through to WrestleMania weekend in Phoenix this year…and now this), none quite had that awe-inspiring resonance with a viewer that the very first one did. Having said that, I think there’s a real argument for this being the best one since 2006. Certainly I preferred this to the Warriors vs World-1 at Mercury Rising this year (just). I liked that they managed to layer in so many feuds and back-stories, without muddying the waters and taking the focus from the insane acrobatics and non-stop action these sort of bouts are known for. It’s a must-see match that should ensure this DVD sells by the bundle.
Having pinned the champion Shingo postures with the Freedom Gate Title…whilst YAMATO chokes out Masato Yoshino as a measure of vengeance for taking the Dream Gate from him.
Once they leave, World-1 cut a promo which is just far too cheerful for a group that just lost and got beaten down by their arch rivals. It sends the fans home happy though…
Tape Rating – **** – Taking the horrible Ricochet/Akuma match out of the equation (and lets face it, it’s pretty short anyway), this was a flat-out awesome show. The undercard is packed with action-packed, purposeful, energetic little matches. Nothing goes too long, every wrestler worked in an incredibly motivated fashion and looked like they had a point to prove. From Chuck Taylor standing up to CIMA in the opener, Johnny Gargano surviving the physical onslaught of Drake Younger, multiple talents getting their chances to shine in the spot-tastic Six Way Freestyle to Arik Cannon and Dragon Kid having a surprisingly awesome little bout…everything on that undercard is packed full of quality. And that’s before you get to the two main events which are resounding successes. Bryan Danielson, even in victory, leaves DGUSA having transformed Jon Moxley into a legit force. Forget the Dreamer match or the feud with Jimmy Jacobs, having a FIGHT of that quality with someone with the reputation of Bryan Danielson basically ensures the DGUSA crowd will see Moxley as an impact player now. And the main event continues the storied Dragon Gate six-man tradition in a match which is EVERY BIT as good as the hype it’s been getting from around the internet. Once again, DGUSA hit a superb standard with this, another cracking little DVD release. It’s not one of their MAJOR shows so you’re not necessarily getting any historically defining moments for the promotion, but it’s a terrific night of athletic and hard-hitting pro-wrestling which I can’t recommend strongly enough.
Top 3 Matches
3) Dragon Kid vs Arik Cannon (***)
2) Bryan Danielson vs Jon Moxley (****)
1) Shingo/YAMATO/Akira Tozawa vs BxB Hulk/Masato Yoshino/Naruki Doi (****1/2)
Top 5 Untouchable 2010/Way Of The Ronin DVD Matches
5) Shingo vs Dragon Kid (**** – Untouchable 2010)
4) CIMA/Ricochet vs Masato Yoshino/Naruki Doi (**** – Untouchable 2010)
3) Bryan Danielson vs YAMATO (**** – Untouchable 2010)
2) Bryan Danielson vs Jon Moxley (**** – Way Of The Ronin)
1) Kamikaze USA vs World-1 (****1/2 – Way Of The Ronin)
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.