I just finished watching the ROH show from today, I had watched parts of it earlier and had caught most of Elgin vs Richards but just watched it beginning to end and it is easily the match of the year for me. I've seen criticism online of a lack of working a body-part and it being an example of multiple near-falls like people complain about in ROH matches. I think that's pretty unfair and while there were some multiple near-falls toward the ned it did not go over the top like in some other matches. It was a complete star-making performance for Elgin and while the Kevin Steen push is a hot angle for ROh it felt like Elgin was made into an old-school ROH main eventer with this performance.
As far as the rest of the weekend goes, the technical issues witht the ROH shows were annoying but aside from missing the Cole vs O'Reilly match, the event is more than worth people going out of their way to see. I also really liked Adam Cole vs Adam Pearce from night one as well as the three-way Strong vs Richards vs Edwards match and the Briscoes vs Mikey Nichols and Shane Haste.
Out of the four shows I would say that DGUSA Night 1 was the weakest but I did like Low-ki vs Pac. Night 2 was much stronger and the presentation of the show was much better. Callihan vs Sabu was good as was the multiple man match introducing El Generico. The six-man main event was the second best match so far this weekend.
I watched a lot of internet PPV action these past two days. Plenty of good stuff from ROH, but unfortunately most of it wasn't live due to terrible technical issues beyond my control and me getting fed up with them (GoFightDead). Over on the competing side in this indie war, Dragon Gate USA and WWNLive pitched the proverbial perfect game in terms of both their shows and their live feeds. Good bang for my buck as well, considering the ridiculously low price for Friday's show, so in the end it was $17 for their two shows compared to ROH's $20 price for two shows, except the streaming for DGUSA went off without a hitch. The crowds on both nights for DGUSA sounded fantastic as well.
Friday was very good stuff, with Akira Tozawa vs. Masaaki Mochizuki being my favorite match there, but tonight was perhaps even better. The six-man main event was excellent, with Low Ki, Tozawa, and BxB Hulk defeating Mochizuki, Ricochet, and PAC (taking the place of CIMA). The replacement allowed for Low Ki and PAC to face off again and do more high impact moves that they didn't do in their singles match on Friday (not to say that match wasn't good, because it was, plus the bigger spots here meant more). Tozawa finished it off with the straitjacket German suplex on Mochizuki (so they trade falls), Low Ki puts over his opponents afterward, and the match lived up to expectations. Johnny Gargano retained the Open The Freedom Gate Title over Masato Yoshino in a very good match with a lot of slick mat wrestling, and El Generico made a surprise appearance after competing in ROH the past two days. Definitely felt like a big deal, and he won a very fun six-way over CIMA (working in a limited capacity), Chuck Taylor (doing good heel work all night), Rich Swann, Samuray Del Sol, and Lince Dorado. Sabu offered what you might expect these days, shedding a little blood and defeating Sami Callihan in a street fight with help from AR Fox.
Very satisfied with DGUSA's efforts this weekend overall. Thumbs up on both shows. I'd say they're three for three in their shows this year so far, and WWNLive definitely came through when their competition did not, so I would hope more people heard about these shows and give these guys more of a shot. I still enjoy ROH, but it's been bugging me in spots for years (some dumb decisions here, some old antiquated booking there), where as I prefer my wrestling to be a little more modern or post-modern these days.
You said you didn't get much feedback from last night's dragon gate show. I bought it specifically because of the price. I give it a thumbs up. My favorite match was the Tozawa - mochizuki match. The tag match with sabu was worst, but not terrible, just dragged. First dragon gate show ive seen all the way through and I would likely buy another sometime. Not tonight with final four on.
Hey Dave -
Long time reader, first time writer - I did buy the Dragon Gate show last night, and I felt strongly enough about it to write.
First off, just so its clear, I'm absolutely what you'd call a lapsed fan; I'm far more into MMA now and I really only follow pro wrestling now through the Observer. I don't watch WWE and haven't watched TNA, Lucha, or Japan for years; I was an avid viewer of Ring of Honor but lost patience with them in 2009. I think I've watched one Dragon Gate show before this (though I experienced many Dragon Gate matches in ROH). However, since I was housebound last night and it was only $1.99, I thought "What the heck? Might be fun for old time's sake..."
On a technical level, there were no real problems...it looked kind of fuzzy on my big screen and there were a few times the screen froze but it lapsed back quickly enough. Where I think it failed, though, was that this was absolutely not the kind of show you put on for an audience of new viewers (if there even were any...)
It's not that the wrestling, such as it was, was necessarily bad (some of it really, really was...but some of it was quite good). It's that Dragon's Gate never bothered to introduce any of these characters as the show went on, or made clear who they were, what there goals are, whether they were good guys or bad guys or whatever. It worked under the assumption that I was supposed to know exactly who these characters were and what was going on in the promotion. Now if I suddenly dropped in on a random show on my own, I could - almost - accept that...but given that this was ostensibly supposed to be an introduction to Dragon Gate, it made me feel frustrated, and sometimes even annoyed.
For instance, the first match was AR Fox vs Rich Swann; I wasn't familiar with either wrestler, and the company didn't help me out in that regard. The action in the match was creative and both guys have talent, but I wasn't sure who to root for or who not to root for. After it was over I was impressed with the athletics, but I wasn't invested in the match. Afterward, they had the segment with CIMA and Ricochet, here the audio was really quite poor; I got the gist of it, but again, I didn't know who were the good guys, who were the bad guys, or who these characters relationships were. Kudos to Chuck Taylor for at least telling the audience that he was, indeed, Chuck Taylor, and he actually acted like a heel and his partner Gargano as a face.
The next match with The Scene against Dreamer and Bobby Fish was terrible, but at least The Scene got their heel act across. Unfortunately, between the Scene's downright nasty entrance and Dreamer's postmatch misogynistic bull___, the entire match came across as unpleasantly crass. I'm no prude, mind you, but this was beyond what I would ever want to watch in a wrestling product. Also, for whatever reason Gabe Sapolsky has always had some kind of problem with people who go out and have themselves a good time: there was Special K in ROH, the YRR in FIP, and The Scene now in Dragon Gate. I don't have any real problem with it as a standalone heel gimmick, but after so many years it only enforces the stereotype that this type of product is for that forty-year old virgin crowd who doesn't go out and should only resent people who have a good time. Thankfully for me, I'm not that crowd. Fish has talent, but again, I learned nothing about him or was given a reason to care about him.
Callihan and BxB Hulk was good action, but again, I knew nothing about either character, and they seemed so similar in attitude and gimmick that I really didn't get why they were fighting. Also, again, the D.U.F. name is just crass; I kind of thought it obvious that if Dragon Gate really wanted to successfully market itself as high-flying wrestling with colorful characters they might want to make the show a little more family friendly (there's a reason why Rey Mysterio makes WWE a fortune). Still, in the end, I just wanted to know who was who and why I was supposed to care; and instead they just threw action at me. They had some angle involving a valet, but again, I didn't know who she was or why I was supposed to care. For a new viewer, you really need to get that across.
That led into a terrible match with Sabu and Jon Davis against Arik Cannon and Pinky Sanchez. I've always thought Davis had real potential, but he's started to let himself go. I've honestly never been a fan of Sabu; his matches, for all their violence, are never believable and are horribly disjointed, and now that he's older it's even worse. This basically just kept going until, mercifully, it stopped. Callihan again came out afterward and cut another crass promo, but again, at least he was getting his character over; he should have done it before his own match, though, so a new viewer like me would have known what to think of him.
Next was Mochizuki vs Akira Tozawa, and it was good stuff; Mochizuki was clearly the babyface and Tozawa was clearly the heel, even if the match didn't always push that dynamic itself. After the intermission of commercials and a very good Johnny Gargano video package (which made me wish that the show had more of them for the other wrestlers), we had Low-ki and Pac. Again, as a ROH watcher I knew Low-Ki very well but was less familiar with Pac, and Lenny Leonard on commentary didn't help me to become familiar with him. The match was athletically sound, but never really got going nor really had any kind of flow or story outside of Low-Ki restraining himself from being too brutal with Pac. Arik Cannon joined the commentary for this point, and he was sporadically funny, but he was a terrible choice to help call this match. Clearly both men were babyfaces, but again, some backstory, description, SOMETHING to get me into the match. Back in ROH if there was a new wrestler Dave Prazak would introduce his backstory and get across his finishing maneuvers; I could have personally used that kind of approach with Pac and many of the other wrestlers on the show.
The final match was the Gargano & Taylor vs Ricochet & Yoshino match for the Tag Team titles; again, I knew nothing about any of the wrestlers and there weren't really any strong character dynamics at play here save for Taylor being heelish with his own partner, and as a first time watcher it gave me no interest in wanting to see Gargano vs Yoshino tonight. As a match, it was very good and I liked Taylor's turn at the end, but again, it just wasn't a good introduction to Dragon Gate's main event scene and its character dynamics.
Just to be clear, for two dollars, this show was hardly a bad buy; there was plenty of good wrestling and good action. But I was frankly flabbergasted that for what was supposed to be an introductory show, this didn't bother to introduce me, the viewer, to much of anything. This seemed less like a way of drawing in new viewers than giving the niche-of-a-niche audience that already watches it a discounted show. Was I impressed by some of the wrestling? Yes. But I wasn't compelled by any of it. Wrestling is a character-based storytelling medium as much as an action based medium, and if you really want to get a product across to a new audience, you have to help them get involved in it. When I watched this, I was just lost and felt I was dropped into some ongoing storylines without any frames of reference or reasons to care. Simply put, whether this was a good show or not was really irrelevant; a hardcore Dragon's Gate fan might even love it. But this was a terrible introductory show, and just not the way you want to introduce a product to new fans for the first time. Pretty much the definition of a wasted opportunity.
Hey, Dave, heard you wanted some feedback from the DGUSA $1.99 iPPV.
Best match: Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Akira Tozawa
Worst (or least best) match: Sabu & Jon Davis vs. Arik Cannon & Pinkie Sanchez
I give the show a thumbs up, especially for the price.
This was my first DGUSA show. I thought all the matches served their respective purposes. PAC vs. Low Ki was really good but not the Match of the Year Candidate it could've been. It went at a much slower pace than one might expect, and PAC dominated a large portion, with Low Ki essentially winning with one move. Arik Cannon was very funny on commentary during the last two matches, and I think Lenny Leonard could benefit from working color commentators on a regular basis. I would've liked the main event to have gone at a faster pace towards the finish. Mochizuki vs. Tozawa had the best pace in my eyes (as you can tell, I was expecting a lot regarding the pacing of the matches on this show).
My main complaint is that there was little to no heel vs. face dynamic going on until after the main event ended. Every match except the short Samuray del Sol showcase was split in regards to crowd support, and nobody did anything to try and rile up the fans and make them take sides. I don't know if this is a common DGUSA thing, but I suppose it could be an attempt at mimicking the Japanese fan style. Also, the show could really have used replays. It looks more professional, and it benefits those of us who happen to look away to watch baseball or something.
Reed BensonROH Showdown in the Sun (Day 2, 3/31/12)
THUMBS Ridiculously UP (despite GFL, because Main Event greatness like that doesn't come around often)
Best Match: ***** Main Event
Worst Match: O'Reilly/Cole, for it did not exist
That main event was so classic, it was worth every technical glitch leading up to it. Not that anything was bad, most of it was rather good. Charlie Haas is the best heel in wrestling right now. I wasn't sure if anything would top Mochizuki/Tozawa in terms of match quality this weekend. While that was a damn fine match, this World Title match was from a distant planet. Announcers losing their voices, and the crowd wasn't just standing, they were jumping. As were we. A classic.
- "Mad Dog" Joe DeCurso
ROH Showdown In The Sun Night 2
Best Match: Richards Vs Elgin
Worst Match: Ciampa Vs Alexander
I bought both shows and after the dissapointment of last nights stream I felt today more than made up for it. External issues can't be prevented for a company like ROH and those last four matches were well worth the $19.99 as there was no transmission problems just good wrestling. If ROH had any iPPV viewers left after the problems of yesterday and early today they have done everything in their power to make them come back by putting on a very good second half. The tag title match, Steen/ Edwards were both very enjoyable, Lethal/ Strong lost the crowd abit but still had a good match and Elgin/ Richards had a fantastic main event well worth the money.
Showdown in the Sun Day 2:
Best Match: Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin
Worst Match: Cedric Alexander vs. Tomasso Chiampa
Calamity struck ROH again today as the stream was cut off for a long length of time. Everyone watching missed out on Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly and the All Night Express/Young Bucks street fight. But those who stuck with it witnessed a surprise TV title change and one of the best matches ever with Davey Richards and Michael Elgin. Unlike most Richards matches this one didn't seem to go too long. Elgin was put over as a major main event player with this match. The entire arena was standing up. The match was even better with Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness putting everything over and actually showing emotion on commentary which WWE and TNA lack. This may have knocked off Okada/Naito for match of the year and might be close to a 5 star match.
Thumbs way up
Best Match: Akira Tozawa vs. Masaaki Mochizuki
Worst Match: The Scene vs. Bobby Fish and Tommy Dreamer
A great show considering the $1.99 price tag. Tozawa/Mochi and the main event tag were worth more than that alone, I give both in the **** 1/2 range. The PAC/Low Ki match was really good, between *** 1/2 and **** for me, even if some wished they had done more highspots. So right there you had three excellent matches for $1.99. That's a helluva steal, really. Even the Rich Swann vs. AR Fox opener was great, a *** to *** 1/2 match. I had no steamming problems and most of the matches were of strong quality (outside of the Fish/Dreamer vs. Scene match, which was nowhere near special).
Open the Ultimate Gate 2012
Best Match: Akira Tozawa vs. Masaaki Mochizuki
Worst Match: The Scene vs. Bobby Fish and Tommy Dreamer
The show was lots of fun. Tozawa vs. Mochizuki, AR Fox vs. Rich Swann, Low Ki vs. Pac and the tag team main event were all lots of fun and made it more than worth the $1.99 The stream quality was good throughout and I didn't have any problems. They also did a decent job of promoting the Saturday night show.