Recently I had a chance to watch Dragon Gate’s November 2007 PPV, “The Gate Of Destiny”. It’s the first full Dragon Gate programme I’ve seen. I’d seen some of their earlier incarnation as Toryumon, and matches here and there on video hosting sites, but this was the first full event I’d seen.
1. Super Shisa, Anthony W. Mori, PAC beat YAMATO, BxB Hulk, El Generico
This was the first I’d seen of PAC, Yamato, BxB Hulk and El Generico, so I was looking forward to seeing this.
Dragon Gate, and Toryumon before it, is built around warring stables. Here we have what is a Typhoon (sorta) vs. New Hazard Match. Typhoon are the top face stable, of which Mori is a member and the British wrestler PAC teams with them when he’s on a DG tour. Shisa is sort of a fill in face who makes up the numbers. Mori has had the gimmick of being a fake Englishman AND a fake Italian in the past.
YAMATO and BxB Hulk are part of New Hazard, a stable made up of the first generation of DG-only (non-Toryumon) wrestlers. Canada’s favourite fake Mexican, El Generico teams with them on his DG tours. New Hazard come across as a tweener stable of sorts, here they get a kinda-heel reception compared to Mori’s team, but they don’t really wrestle as heels. It’s a bit odd, and there are other inconsistencies we’ll get to later.
This was a fun match. The gangly, pale Generico looks great in at DG match as looks unique next to the DG wrestlers pretty boy looks. And he has great body language that seems to get over the language gulf. BxB Hulk has a similar dancing entrance to Magnum TOKYO and Milano Collection AT had when they were in DG/Toryumon. But he really can’t dance as well as Magnum could.
2. Genki Horiguchi, Arik Cannon beat Akira Tozawa, Keni’chiro Arai
And here’s the other two stables.
Genki and Arik Cannon represent Muscle Outlawz, the heel faction in DG. Arik Cannon is a US wrestler who teams with MO on DG tours, and he is no good. Tozawa and Arai are part of Tozawajuku, a faction based on the manga Sakigake! Otokojuku (and it’s parody manga Sakigake! Cromartie High School). Despite being the nominal leader of the faction, Tozawa is the jobber of the group. Arai is a longtime wrestler with the group, with a head butt orientated offence. The faction is now more a vehicle for the team of Arai and the former Florida Brother, Taku Iwasa. The appeared to be an angle where Muscle Outlawz had been stealing Tozawajuku’s ring gear, as they came to the ring with Tozawajuku school uniforms and Arai was missing his uniform. When Tozawa was inevitably pinned, Genki and Cannon debagged him.
3. Magnitude Kishiwada beat Cyber Kong
This is a Muscle Outlawz (Kishiwada) vs. New Hazard (Kong) match. Both are the “big men” workers of the company, Kishiwada being a part time independant worker who plies his trade in various promotions and Kong a DG born wrestler. Kishwada is a high flying, power wrestler in the mold of Big Van Vader. Kong is more of a straight power wrestler with a weightlifting physique rather than a jacked up body builder build. His outfit is a strange mix of Tarzan and futuristic masked wrestler (hence his name). I’d not seen either before and it was fun. Kishiwada can do some nice high flying for a man his size. The story was about who was the strongest of the pair, which proved to be Kishiwada in the end (although actually looking at the pair lifting one another, Kong looks to be the legit stronger wrestler).
I’ll pause here to mention the three person commentary team which included a young lady who seemed to be there soley to declare things amazing or scary.
4. Open the Triangle Gate: Masaaki Mochizuki, K-ness, Don Fujii beat Yasushi Kanda, Gamma, NOSAWA Rongai
This was for the Triangle Gate belts (the six man tag belts) and featured Muscle Outlawz against the holders Mochizuki, K-NESS and Don Fuji. These three are the veterans of DG (I believe K-NESS is the booker nowadays), and are unaligned to the four factions. All of them had been major heels in the past, but their pure longevity has placed them firmly as babyfaces nowadays.
NOSAWA is an All-Japan wrestler brought in by Gamma to help Muscle Outlawz win the belts.
This was the first time I’d seen any of the three members of the Muscle Outlawz team. Gamma is a great heel. His offense doesn’t look that strong, but that actually helped the story. He came across as the sort of heel leader entirely reliant on foreign objects and outside help to stand any chance of victory. The match for a great deal of time was Don Fuji against all three of the MO team. Fuji is great for this role, he’s old, short, homely and slighty dumpy, a world of difference from the look of most of DG’s roster. He just has a really sympathetic look to him. The heels worked him over again and again, each time he made a comeback he’d get cut off again. Eventually he got the hot tag, everyone unleashed a mass of fast moving highspots, K-NESS joined the list of people you should never try to powerbomb, and in a great finish Fuji found himself in the ring with Kanda and hit the NICE GERMAN onto the BLUE BOX* for the pin.
*the BLUE BOX is a blue plastic tray (the sort you get rolls delivered in to supermarkets) and the foreign object of choice for Dragon Gate and Toryumon before it.
5. Dragon Kid beat Kenzo Suzuki
I didn’t watch this because I really don’t want to see Kenzo Suzuki wrestle. Unsurprisingly the inept Suzuki is now GONE.
6. Open the Twin Gate Unified Tag Titles: Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino beat Ryo Saito, Susumu Yokosuka
At this time Doi and Yoshino, the Muscle Outlawz team of “SpeedMuscle) had unified the DG tag title (The Twin Gate) and Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Jnr Heavyweight tag titles.
I’d seen all four wrestlers here before, although in different roles. In fact I think the roles were pretty much reversed as it came to Heel and Face alignments. Saito and Yokosuka are part of Typhoon. This match was really, really good. It built slowly, before entering the final stage when SpeedMuscle really began to heel it up and finisher after finisher after wacky lucha-submission after finisher were hit. One thing about DG is that the older wrestlers have amassed a variety of finishers and submissions, and so you can get these nice final minutes sequences, where you can never be sure where the finish is going to come.
Also, Masato Yoshino is still really fucking fast.
This was the first match on the card where the crowd began to really sound like a Toryumon crowd of old. Which is to say female voices screaming the names of their favourite wrestlers. The crowds I’d seen on Toryumon footage was heavily female, the crowd here looked more of a mix.
7. Open the Dream Gate: CIMA beat Shingo Takagi
The Dream Gate is the top belt in the company, held by Toryumon and DG veteran CIMA, who is easily their top star. Shingo Takagi is the leader of the New Hazard faction. Now as good as this match is, and it is great, there is some strange stuff here.
CIMA clearly is the face in the match from the response of the crowd, and his faction is pretty much the face faction (it has Mori and Dragon Kid in it for starters), but the way he wrestles is pretty much as a heel wrestler. He goes for outside brawling and foreign objects early as he works over Shingo’s hand. And that tactic works for the story they are telling in the ring, Shingo is stronger and younger than CIMA and therefore CIMA needs to use every trick he knows to beat him. It’s just really odd to see this guy cheat and attempt to break someone’s hand and hear his name loudly cheered in appreciation as he does it.
The finish is great, as a battered CIMA tries desperately to get a variety of quick pins in different moves and one finally pays off. It leaves Takagi as clearly on CIMA’s level and paves the way for a future rematch (or even better to Gamma getting the belt from CIMA, then a Takagi/Gamma feud, which would hopefully get Takagi the babyface reactions he deserves.).