Warning! This Review may contain SPOILERS!
The annual anniversary show, and the first time under the Dragon Gate banner. Last year’s event was my pick for Puroresu Show of the Year. Can they impress me enough to do it again? First thing you’ll notice is how much the arena is set up to look like the WWE Monday Night RAW set, only the audience seats aren’t so compressed together, and much like last year, there are a lot of female fans in the audience.Post Hearts (BxB Hulk, Super Shisa & Anthony W. Mori) VS Final M2K (Kenichiro Arai, K-ness & Susumu Yokosuka)
Is it just me, or is there something really wrong about seeing someone like Super Shisa doing a dancing intro like Post Hearts uses? Pretty obvious Hulk has a big future planned for him in Dragon Gate since he’s the focal point of the group eventhough Athony is the leader. Hulk got the statutory youngster treatment of getting beat down throughout the match with the small bursts of offense to pop the crowd. But when things got down to it, the kid showed that he definitely had some eye-popping skillz! Unfortunately he’s also still at the stage where he has signature moves, but they don’t do jack against his senior opponents no matter how impressive they look.
I like Anthony, I’ve always thought the guy had a good look to him and has some decent skills. But he still doesn’t look like a main event guy or even someone who should be leading a group. Super Shisa is a great speed worker, but like I said earlier, he looks out of place with a group like Post Hearts.
You gotta feel bad for a guy like Susumu Yokosuka, a guy who has all the talent in the world, yet stuck in a pointless match like this. Either way, he brought a lot of intensity to his team, and like Hulk did for the Post Hearts team, Susumu stood out here as the star of the team.
It’s been said before that one makes a great team truly great is tandem offense. And we got a lot of that in the FM2K team! Since they’ve been teaming together for about a year now, they all know how to work smoothly with each other, and they did some awesome double and triple-team moves here. I particularly enjoyed the sequence where Susumu and K-ness did a series of tandem moves leading to a double Darkness Buster and chained again into a double Blue Light submission hold!
Overall, this was a really strong match to kick off the show.Match Rating: ***
Highlight video of the next match shows how the Florida Brothers abused referee Yagi, who is also the masked Johnson Florida. Johnson finally stands up for himself only to get beat down by the original Floridas. Than the mysterious masked man came to Johnson’s rescue and laid out Michael and Daniel, before departing with Johnson. Still down on the mat, Michael asked Daniel “Who was that masked man?” to which Daniel answered “Johnson!” And were off to our next match!Florida Express (Johnson & Jackson) VS Florida Brothers (Michael & Daniel)
Funny start to this as Michael & Daniel refer to Johnson & Jackson as not the usual “bishonen” (pretty boy) team they are used to dealing with. They then proceed to sneak attack the Express team, but that doesn’t work out, so they call for back up before running back up the ramp way and disappearing behind the entrance curtain. We than hear a very badly done karaoke version of Mil Mascaras’ theme and out come the Floridas in masks! If you think hearing them speak with an English slang is weird, you ain’t heard nothing till they do it with a Spanish slang! After a few words with the ring announcer, we get a LAST MINUTE CARD CHANGE! Leading to….Florida Express (Johnson & Jackson) VS Los Tagos De Calbatos (?) (El Hijo De Iwasanto & Michi Mascaras)
Everyone has been saying that the Florida’s act is getting stale, myself included, so I was really glad that they switched things up here BIG TIME. Either that, or I haven’t watched enough recent Dragon Gate to tell the difference. Either way, this match was loads of fun and just pure comedy, so don’t look for it to have innovative high-flying or technical moves, but instead innovative comedy spots from both teams!
Daniel actually did an impressive power display as he held Michael on his shoulders for a good period of time while they did hilarious “giant” spot with Jackson. Another fun bit was Michael and Johnson switching masks and Johnson bringing in loads of French bread to pile up on Los Tagos and set up the Clubhouse Sandwich Splash!
Overall, this was really hilarious stuff.Match Rating: *Entertainment Value:
Stalker Ishikawa charges his way to the ring only to get ignored by the Floridas, who leave tossing the leftover bread out to the crowd!Super-X & Yuji Hino (K-Dojo) VS Shingo Takagi & Masato Yoshino
I’m not really sure what Yuji Hino’s credentials in K-Dojo are, but he looked a little green here and actually messed up two spots. Might be because he wasn’t used to working with the DG guys here? Either way, it’s no excuse for him to be missing his moves leading to them having to redo the spot again. Even worse when he sells a shot that was a clear miss cause he forgot he was supposed to duck and counter. He did do a really impressive delayed German suplex though. Super-X was just sorta there for me and really didn’t do much to stand out.
Of all the new guys Dragon Gate have debuted in the past year, Shingo Takagi is the one that impresses me the most and still continues to. Since he was the biggest guy in the match, he got to show off his power a bit, and worked well with Yoshino. Speaking of Yoshino, he did a really bizarre looking new finisher that I guess is best described as an inverted Olympic Slam where flips inward into a neck-breaker type move that looked really cool, but low on impact and I wouldn’t buy it as a finisher.
The overall match was ok, but nothing really special.Match Rating: *1/2
Naoki Tanisaki VS Magnitude Kishiwada
Tanisaki got out of some really close near falls, and had some quick bursts of offense towards the end, but a squash is a squash no matter how you look at it. I really hope Tanisaki doesn’t end up getting lost in the DG shuffle (despite being built up scoring some wins over Shingo Takagi) cause the kid has a lot of potential and the fans (especially the females) love him. This is a kid they should be pushing along side Naruki Doi and BxB Hulk.Match Rating: *
Magnum TOKYO & Genichiro Tenryu VS Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima
This match was a lot of fun, and it was interesting to see Magnum in the underdog role here, even against Nakajima! Magnum also had a fun kick exchange with Nakajima, which reminded me of Magnum in his younger days. Magnum and Tenryu (who spun a pink umbrella for a short while with a smile on his face during Magnum’s dance intro!) also showed some good team work. I like seeing Tenryu in the mentor role like this, showing tough love by not tagging in and telling Magnum to continue.
Sasaki and Nakajima continue to impress as a tag team, and really liked the Sasaki/Magnum exchanges as well as the chop battle between Tenryu & Sasaki. Nakajima also showed a lot of fire as at one point he even brawled with Tenryu, tossing a chair at each other! Good fun match overall, and having Tenryu, Sasaki and Nakajima on more shows in the future can only do good for Dragon Gate’s business.
Funny thing about this match though, despite the commentary going on, you could clearly hear another commentary team in the background of the match as this guy was shouting and calling the moves in the match so loud that it was picked up by the ring mics, and I’m pretty sure the a lot of fans could hear him clearly too.Match Rating: **1/2
Intermission time and were treated to a look back at the history between TAKA & Mochi. We see a classic six man tag between TAKA, Sho Funaki & Mochi VS Nobunaga Shima (CIMA!), Sumo (Don) Fuji & TARU which took place in Michonoku Pro I think from 6/12/99. Mochi drops the fall to Shima, and TAKA argues with him about it.
Fast forward to 6/13/99 and they rivalry heats up in a tag match between TAKA & Funaki VS Mochi & Gran Naniwa, with Mochi getting the pin on TAKA.
We now go back to earlier in the evening with highlights of the dark match between Kenichiro Arai and Tozawa, in match 10 of Tozawa’s single match trial series. The kid shaved his head from when last I saw him. Skinny kid, but showed some potential by not tapping out to the single leg crab of rookie doom and had to take Arai’s tiger suplex finisher to put him out.
President Okamura comes out tossing t-shirts to the crowd than gives the annual “thank the fans for their support” speech, especially since it’s the official first anniversary under the Dragon Gate banner. He introduces the president of AAA, Antonio Pena to announce the working relationship of the two companies and Pena says a few words before the two shake hands to make things official. I wonder why no one from Dragon Gate took part in any of the AAA Invading Japan shows earlier in the year?Open the Triangle Gate Titles: Do Fixer (Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi & Dragon Kid) VS Blood Generation (CIMA, Don Fujii & Naruki Doi)
I really liked the highlight video that built up this match as it showed Do Fixer as the underdog team defying the odds despite the fact they are the champions in their titles defenses. It also looks so good seeing Genki with a title belt around his waist.
Good Gawd this was a fantastic match, and what I really expect to see from a six-man Dragon Gate match! From bell to bell, nothing but high impact, fast paced action from both teams! Everybody in this match was given time to shine (even if Fuji & Doi still suck to a degree) even though I wasn’t big on the final outcome of the match. Good thing about watching some of these shows a few months late is you tend to forget the results, which is a good thing cause it adds emotion and excitement to the match which this one easily had a lot of. Match of the Night!Match Rating: ****1/4
Great highlight video building up the main event. From Mochi’s title wins and defenses to TAKA coming out and challenging Mochi for the Dream Gate to add to his collection. Mochi tosses him the key, but Susumu grabs it out of mid air and challenges TAKA to go through him first, which leads to TAKA beating Susumu some time later with the Dick Killer, then TAKA giving Mochi a Michinoku Driver II to get the point across that he’s a threat.Open the Dream Gate: Masaaki Mochizuki VS TAKA Michinoku
He might be the champion, but how corny is Mochi’s ‘70s style hero entrance theme? They bring up the fact TAKA is the first WWF/E light-heavyweight champion and has performed at Wrestle Mania before.
Focus of the match was TAKA attacking Mochi’s leg so he couldn’t use the Shin Saikyo High Kick and Mochi attacking TAKA’s arm so he couldn’t use the Just Facelock or Dick Killer. Pity both of them forgot about selling them later in the match, and again, the Shin Saikyo High Kick is a lame-ass finisher to begin with. Interesting seeing TAKA use a grapevine ankle-lock and Bret Hart’s corner post figure four, where as Mochi borrowed Susumu’s Yokosuka Cutter and Jumbo No Kachi lariat.
Both men worked hard and had a solid match, but I saw a lot of repetition (dozens of superkicks by TAKA and corner flip kicks by Mochi), and I felt they could have done better.Match Rating: ***
Show ends with Mochi giving a brief thank you speech before leaving. It wasn’t as emotional as last year when the whole DG roster was in the ring together as it was the last show under the Toryumon banner.Overall:
A very strong show overall, but going into it, I knew from the card alone there was no way it was going to match up to last year’s show which really had that “special” feel to the card from top to bottom. Still, it’s the Wrestle Mania of Dragon Gate, and they more than delivered with some great performances.
Labels: Dragon Gate