I've gotten to known a lot of Dragon Gate wrestlers through watching Dragon Gate USA, but I've never really watched a Dragon Gate show, in full, until this past summer, when I watched Dragon Gate's biggest show of the year. Let's see how it went!
Dragon Gate 15th Anniversary Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival 2014
Kobe, Japan 7/20/14
1.) Millenials (U-T & Yosuke Santa Maria) vs. We Are Team Veteran (K-ness & Super Shisa): *1/2
There really isn't much to say about this one. It was your basic pre-show match. Yosuke Santa Maria got to get in some comedy, and The Millenials pick up the win.
I should note that at some point during the show, both YAMATO & BxB Hulk came out to cut promos on each other, in a preview of their Main Event Title Match.
1.) Six-Man Tag Team Match - We Are Team Veteran (Don Fujii, Gamma & Masaaki Mochizuki) vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Stalker Ichikawa & Uhaa Nation: **1/2
The show starts off with a Six-Man Tag. The team of Liger, Ichikawa & Uhaa Nation is certainly an interesting one. The original match was actually only 8 seconds long, as Ichikawa got pinned almost immediately after a kick from Mochizuki. The veterans celebrate their victory, but Liger & Ichikawa request a rematch, which we get! The actual match was pretty decent. Not really much to speak of. Despite the rematch, the result is the same, as We Are Team Veteran pick up the win.
2.) The Jimmyz (Jimmy Kagetora & Jimmy Kanada) vs. Mad Blankey (Mondai Ryu & Punch Tominaga): *
From what I can gather, Tominaga recently turned heel and has developed somewhat of a psycho character. He looks pretty creepy. This wasn't that good of a match, though. Mad Blankey dominates most of the match, which ends in a DQ finish. Other than seeing Punch Tominaga's character, there really wasn't much to this.
3.) Open The Brave Gate Title - Flamita vs. Dragon Kid: ***1/4
I'm familiar with Dragon Kid, after seeing some of his work in Dragon Gate USA, though this is my first time seeing Flamita. He's someone who I've heard a good deal about in this past year as a star on the rise. He is the champion going into this match, and it was a pretty good one. It really never reached that next level, but it was still pretty good. Flamita retained the Open The Brave Gate Title, and I've quickly become a fan of his.
4.) Open The Triangle Gate Titles - Mad Blankey (Cyber Kong, Kzy & Naruki Doi) vs. The Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi HAGeeMee, Jimmy Susumu & Mr. Kyu Kyu Naoki Tanizaki Toyonaka Dolphin): ***1/2
A unique part of Dragon Gate is the Open The Triangle Gate Titles, which are (as one would guess) essentially a championship for trios. Here, Mad Blankey is defending their titles against The Jimmyz (who have some really unique and long names). This was a pretty good match which was fun to watch. We saw some good wrestling as well a brawling on the outside. Mad Blankey eventually retained in an entertaining match.
5.) Monster Express (Masato Yoshino & Ricochet) vs. CIMA & Matt Sydal: ***3/4
Up next is a match which probably drew a lot of international attention to this show. This is the first match that Matt Sydal has had since his WWE Release around a month or so prior. He had also been out of action (in general) since 2012 for various regions (injuries and other things). Sydal spent some time in Dragon Gate before he was signed by WWE, and a video package welcoming Sydal back plays before the match. Here he's teaming up with CIMA against Ricochet & Masato Yoshino of Monster Express. This was a pretty good match. Sydal did have a couple of rough spots here and there, but that's expected for a guy who's been out of action for as long as he has. Of course, with guys like CIMA, Ricochet, and Yoshino in here, there was no way this wasn't going to be good. Eventually, Yoshino is able to get CIMA to tap out to win the match for his team.
6.) Open The Twin Gate Titles - Monster Express (Akira Tozawa & Shingo Takagi) vs. Millenials (Eita & T-Hawk): ****1/4
Tozawa & Shingo walk into this match as the defending champions, while Eita & T-Hawk are a team on the rise. The story here (from what I can gather) is that Tozawa was considered to be the "weak link" of the team, having been bested by the Millenials on multiple occasions. This match was fantastic! Easily the match of the night. They were able to tell a great story, with everyone playing their roles well. Tozawa especially can play a great babyface. To go along with that, we got a lot of great action throughout this match. We all know how good Shingo & Tozawa are, and we got glimpses at the potential of Eita & T-Hawk during their stints in Dragon Gate USA. After a long, hard fought match, Eita & T-Hawk were finally able to put Tozawa & Shingo away to win the Open The Twin Gate Titles! Just incredible stuff in this one.
7.) Open The Dream Gate Title - YAMATO vs. BxB Hulk: ***1/2
YAMATO has grown most of his hair back since I last saw him on a Dragon Gate USA Show in 2012. For BxB Hulk, this has been a long road for him, as he's back to being a face after spending a few years as a heel. They went on to have a Main Event that was pretty solid, but it wasn't great either. Lots of good action, but again, it wasn't anything spectacular. One negative that I know will annoy a lot of people is BxB Hulk's selling, or lack there of, when it came to leg. In the end, BxB Hulk would overcome YAMATO to win the Open The Dream Gate Title. Again, the match was good, but BxB Hulk's selling hurt it a fair deal as well.
After the match, BxB Hulk celebrates, while Naruki Doi shoves YAMATO, proclaiming that he's taking control of Mad Blankey and will be the next Open The Dream Gate Champion. Doi then laid out BxB Hulk before Masaaki Mochizuki makes the save to close the show.
Like I said in the opening of this post, this was my first taste of Dragon Gate, outside of seeing some of their stars in Dragon Gate USA. I thought that, while not a great show, this show was still a solid one. You had a fantastic match for the Open The Twin Gate Titles, as well as as the return of Matt Sydal, in a great tag team match with CIMA against Monster Express. You also had some other solid matches, like the Main Event (despite BxB Hulk's lack of selling), and the Open The Triangle Gate Title Match, with the rest of the undercard ranging from good to average to bad. A good outing from Dragon Gate, but not a great one.