Friday, 07 January 2011 08:44
by Dave Meltzer
Dragon Gate's Freedom Fight PPV debuts tonight on inDemand and the Dish Network in the United States. It's the usual product. Every match is good, although there are no matches of the year on this show. In some ways the highlights are the improvement in work and persona of the newer American stars they are pushing like Jon Moxley, Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor, although of the Americans ont he show, the one who handled himself the most like a star was Jimmy Jacobs in the opener and his promo.
There was also a negative evident right away, which was the arena in Rahway, NJ, and the crowd. While the crowd was not dead, and seemed knowledgeable to a degree to the Dragon Gate stars, it did come across with an indie feel instead of a major league feel. The building looked terrible on TV, and in some shots, with only a few rows of people on the side, it was an atmosphere that no matter what anyone did, they weren't coming across as stars doing it.
You got good fast-paced wrestling. Everyone on the show is crisp and the product has a basic booking direction.
1. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Arik Cannon: Jacobs was working as face playing to the crowd. Cannon lacks a big-time look but is a solid worker who can be and already is starting to be an indei cult guy. Cannon head-butted Jacobs, opening up a cut, and Jacobs was also selling his knee. It wound up with Jacobs bleeding a lot. Jacobs worked around his guillotine finisher. Cannon got out. Cannon used a superkick but Jacobs escaped the brainbuster. Cannon used a spinning brainbuster for a near fall. Cannon with a brainbuster and low enzuigiri for a ear fall. Jacobs won spinning into a guillotine off the ropes and got the tap out in. Jacobs is very good worker and overall personality. If not for his size, he'd be a star in a major promotion. 11:35 ***1/4
2. Homicide & BxB Hulk vs. Akira Tozawa & Jon Moxley: This was like two matches. Hulk vs. Tozawa did some great stuff when in with each other. Moxley vs. Homicide didn't have the wrestling at that level, but was good brawling. Moxley at one point superplexed Homicide off the top rope. Homicide did a flip dive off the paron onto Moxley. Late, Hulk and Tozawa were trading punches and then Hulk started using fast slaps. Hulk pinned Tozawa after a superkick and the FTX, a move similar to the emerald frosien. 13:28. ***1/4
After the match, Moxley challenged Homicide to continue. Yamato came out and laid out Hulk with a belt shot. Homicide got back in the ring and they went at it. Crowd was deathly quiet for this and they brawled for far too long with the crowd just sitting there. The idea behind it was sound, with Moxley winning the brawl and thus the idea was that they would work a program and Moxley is elevated to Homicide's level. I'm not even saying it didn't work, but between how long the brawl went and the crowd just sitting there took away a lot of its impact. They brawled in the crowd. Homicide did a Foley style elbow drop off the bottom row of bleachers onto the floor. They were throwing chairs and using rubber garbage cans on each other. The crowd wasn't even reacting when Moxley put Homicide's arm in a hammerlock position and hit it with two chair shots, and then therw Homicide into the barricades, knocking the barricades over, which isn't a good idea when the front row fans are so close to the barricades and it fell right on them. Moxley then hit the shoudler four or five more times with chair shots. He coninued to hit the shoudler
and arm with chair shots.
Shingo vs. Cima
Cima used a guillotine but Shingo powered him into a fisherman supelx. Shingo was working on Cima’s lower back for a long period of time including using the torture rack. Cima with a spinning heel kick. Black hole slam into backbreaker by Shingo but Cima then used a back stabber immediately. Double knees into the corner like Pope by Cima, who then used a missile dropkick and falcon arrow for near falls. Cima did the missile dropkick three-quarters of the way across the ring, like a coast-to-coast dropkick. Superplex by Cima, but he then missed a double kneedrop (meteora) off the top. Buring hammer by Shingo and running lariat for a near fall. Shingo used the Made in Japan and Cima kicked out. Cima with emerald frosien for near fall. Cima slipped off the rope when he went to do a somersault legdrop. Cima came back to win with the double kneedrop off the top (meteora) for the pin. Crowd gave both a big ovation when it was over, with many if not most standing and a “Dragon Gate” chant. Cima thanked everyone for their support, and cut a promo for the tag team title tournament later this month. 17:08. ***1/2
Jimmy Jacobs did a promo saying most people don’t see him as a contender for the Open the Freedom Gate title, but that he’s making a comeback and he’s going to win his first major singles title. Good short interview. Poised and focused.
Ronin of Rich Swann & Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano vs. Genki Horiguchi & Austin Aries &
Ronin has good chemistry as a group here in beating down Horiguchi. Spear moonsault and frog splash combo on Aries. Ricochet hot tagged in doing a lot of flying moves. Ricochet here came across like a green version of John Morrison in that you can see he's athletic, but comes across like an athlete doing wrestling moves rather than a guy in a fight. Five-way submission sequence until Swann broke it up. Space flying Tiger drop by Ricochet tore down the house. Sick superkick by Gargano on Ricochet. Lawn dart by Gargano on Ricochet, followed by a kick to the face by Swann. Gargano and Taylor held Ricochet in the air and Swann came off the top with a double foot stomp to the back. Gargano pinned Ricochet after a forward full nelson slam. 21:14 ***½
Jon Moxley promo said he'd heard about Homicide for years and always figured one day their paths would cross, but now that they have, he's disappointed because Homicide really isn't that tough, noting he took him out the first time they crossed paths.
Yamato vs. Masato Yoshino
Yamato working on the right leg. Hard chops back and forth. Yamoto with dragon screw and figure four. Yoshino started coming back at 11:50. Yoshino ran on the floor and dropkicked Yamato, who was on the paron. Yoshino missed a double foot stomp but wasn't selling the knee he landed on that Yamato worked on for several minutes. Yamato came back. Yoshino back with an awesome missile dropkick where he got tremedous height. Yoshino on the top for another, but Yamato kicked the ropes making him lose balance. Yamato with a top rope superplex. Choke suplex by Yamato, followed by a brainbuster, but Yoshino kicked out. Yoshino with a crucifix for a near fall. Yoshino with La Magistral for a near fall. Tombstone piledriver by Yamato for a near fall. Sol Naciente but Yamoto reversed for near fall. Yoshino went back to Sol Naciente, a triangle like leg sleeper submission. Yoshino’s shoulder were on the mat as he did the hold, but the ref didn't count. Yamato went out from the move. 23:40 ***3/4