Thursday, 07 April 2011 08:03
Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling USA
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
If I had to name one current promotion that, from top to bottom, is putting forth a form of professional wrestling both worthy of the great history of the sport, and also trying its best to forge new legends, it’s would be Dragon Gate.
There’s a strong sense of introducing new wrestlers, and among a roster where the most experienced talent is usually from the Japanese homeland, that’s a challenge.
But with Untouchable 2010, several names are being presented as rising up the roster.
Among them are Jon Moxley, Jimmy Jacobs and Ricochet, as well as Brodie Lee.
The payoffs of these pushes should come due down the road, and the most important thing is whether Dragon Gate continues to allow other stars to emerge, and to play out these pushes. Yet with Untouchable, there’s a very strong sense of building the promotion. The theme of establishing American faces to Japanese factions persists, and now we’re starting to see choices being made.
Either with talented youngsters like Ricochet being picked, or cynical youngsters like Johnny Gargano being dissed, there’s a sense of ongoing storylines and not just matches being thrown together. Of course, with DG USA, just throwing together names in the ring can be fun to watch, but we all know that great talent in the ring becomes meaningless without the stories unfolding at the same time.
The only story that escapes me, looking back at an event that played out in the Congress Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on September 25th, and aired on PPV on November 12th, is the deal with Bryan Danielson. His whirlwind tour across the indy scene is wrapping up around this time, and of course he’s now wrapped up his run with the United States Championship of WWE infamy now. While I loved that Danielson was truly touting his indy work and trying to get more mainstream eyeballs on various promotions, there’s also a sense now of the worth of him beating all these guys on main events.
Yeah, the bar is raised and the Dragon must be chased, but it does seem debatable now, in terms of wins and losses and who got the wins and who got the losses.
Yet the matchup between one of the best heels in the indy scene: Yamato, and one of the most acclaimed wrestlers of the indy scene of the past decade: Danielson, is nothing to miss.
Danielson blends the hard hitting MMA approach with his unique wrestling abilities and a strong sense of building a match. Yamato is a guy who takes being a heel seriously, in terms of not succumbing to the ‘tweener’ role that has utterly destroyed the concepts of babyfaces and villains.
And factional warfare is at its best when heels and faces collide or conspire or do their run-ins at the right time, not just every time.
Feuds are also important in DG USA, and two feuds are at the forefront, in different stages.
Shingo and Dragon Kid were an awesome Tag Team until Shingo turned on the Kid. This DVD has the first singles matchup between them since that moment. It’s the classic Dragon Gate style with the powerhouse Shingo and the lightning fast Dragon Kid, both doing their signature moves, and otherwise highlighting their creativity as well as Shingo’s strength.
There are several impressive spots that take the “Strong Man” role up to modern days, and that’s quite the feat of strength … and creativity.
While the feud is dynamic, it’s not exactly heated in the ring, but more of a backdrop for having the Dragon Gate style on display, which is by no means a bad thing.
What’s great about DG USA and booker extraordinaire Gabe Sapolosky is that this isn’t all about the recurring themes and same finishes and lazy booking. Jon Moxley vs Jimmy Jacobs is a red hot feud, but isn’t more of the same. While this match had a bit more of the American Indy feel, it did play out to establish the characters.
Well, what established Jimmy immensely was the Bonus footage and three-part interview with him, explaining his road from ROH to DG USA. Jacobs busts out an older version of himself, plays into his various incarnations and merges back into DG USA’s Jacobs in a dedication to detail that just doesn’t get done anywhere else.
The match wasn’t exactly hard-core violence, but it did establish the two. Moxley is Jacobs back when he didn’t care. Now, Jacobs is in a time of reflection, but uncertain.
I’m very interested in seeing how the feud plays out. Jacobs as the thorn in Moxley’s side is interesting, but Jacobs as the lone wolf fighting Moxley’s Kamikaze USA faction isn’t likely to go far. Which means something will happen, I’m sure if it.
There’s something about Moxley that’s disturbing, but something about him that’s very much unformed. How he develops as a wrestler and as a character over the next year could be very interesting.
About the most interesting thing with Untouchable 2010 is the spotlight on Ricochet.
He amazed with moves last DVD, and this one, the eyes of the roster and fans are upon him. There’s nothing as cool as CIMA calling him out to be his partner, and then seeing the veteran/rookie tag team in action, and topped off with Ricochet doing a double moonsault as the finisher, set up by CIMA.
CIMA’s broken English is priceless. There’s nothing so spectacular as cross-cultural sarcasm and cynicism, wrapped around giving tremendous props to a fantastic athlete. To paraphrase: “How many times did you turn? A million?!?”
That was as funny as it was cool.
But it shouldn’t overshadow the tag team match against Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi. That’s four stellar athletes in the ring at a fast pace with exceptional skills.
DG USA is known for its multiple man matches, and the three way and the four way are top notch.
Akira Tozawa gets a bit of a push with a surprising match, and in the ring with BxB Hulk and Mike Quackenbush, that’s great company.
The four way was a key one, though. Especially with four different body types and highlighting the different styles of the promotion. Rich Swann is certainly in the mold of Ricochet, and there is enough similarity with Johnny Gargano & Chuck Taylor (FIST!), but Drake Younger as ultra-hardcore gone wrestling based talent is even more solid than the Necro Butcher.
What DG USA is doing is establishing itself as the promotion where the future of the sport is emerging. (I’d say evolving, but why confuse Gabe’s other venture.) Fast paced action, developing feuds and characters and creating future matchups.
That’s a lot of good things.
And a final note about Brodie Lee. I love the build up of the big man, and a big man looks even bigger in a roster with relatively sized guys. But destroying Da Soul Touchaz!
Ok, I can’t be too hypocritical, because that’s the only way to build someone up.
But Da Touchaz are headed for bigger and better things.