Dragon Gate USA
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
*** $15 Spring Cleaning sale until May 18th!!!
Masaaki Mochizuki vs Akira Tozawa
Imagine being in the crowd of 500 fans in Mississauga, Ontario (just outside of Toronto) and expecting to see the high-flying action of Dragon Gate USA. Instead, you get to see veteran Masaaki Mochizuki taking on youngster Akira Tozawa in the opener.
It’s not exactly high flying, high speed action.
But it is Dragon Gate wrestling at its finest, and a stiff style with Akira Tozawa doing everything he can to upset the older, stronger Mochizuki. It is a lot of very stiff kicks and exchanges. It is a match that builds and begins to get you involved despite your initial resistance and your initial wondering about who these guys are.
Maybe the style being different wows you, maybe the fire and spirit of Tozawa inspires you, or maybe it’s the story of the match and how it unfolds that gets you into the match and fired up for the rest of the night, but this time, when you join into the “This is awesome!” chant, it’s not because you are playing along or mocking the sentiment or doing what you are ‘supposed to do’ but you really mean it.
Regardless, it’s kinda interesting to see such a great opener, so different from expectations, to overcome any initial resistance and win the crowd over. Will you stand up for the ovation at home?
Gran Akuma vs. Tyson Dux
My initial thought was, Gran Akuma against a newcomer? What’s going on here?
Tyson Dux (as in ‘dukes’) is a local Toronto worker. Akuma is that silent heel partner that rounds out the faction. Akuma can be like an Arn Anderson in the ring, but unfortunately he isn’t known for overachieving on the mic. Gran Akuma’s the guy who puts on a solid effort, but usually is there to put the other guy over.
Imagine my surprise when the result wasn’t what I expected, but it’s a great performance by both men in the ring, with the local babyface giving it all against the stalwart heel.
I like what DG USA is putting on with this card already, and we haven’t hit the ‘name’ wrestlers yet….. yet.
Jimmy Jacobs vs Jon Moxley (No DQ)
Put yourself in Jon Moxley’s shoes in this match.
You are soon to be signed to FCW and headed to the WWE. You have established yourself as a man who several indy promotions are building around, and while you may not have hit a level of experience to be fully comfortable in the ring, you know you have that certain something, and your mind is working overdrive to keep your character evolving.
Throwing another chick around, you have that extra something to put you over as a heel. Sure, you’re connecting to that whole Tommy Dreamer thing, but a decade plus later, and with an additional malevolence, and you’re hoping it’s taking you to another level.
Which is what the battles with Jimmy Jacobs is all about.
The promos, the videos and the ongoing skits have already established the mood. You’ve tortured Jacobs mentally, emotionally and verbally over the months, and this is Jacob’s last chance. He’s a soloist while you’ve assumed command of Kamikaze USA. But he has a reputation for violence, and you can only hope to capture some part of it, and move on to bigger and better things.
In the end, you win, but it isn’t easy. There’s a chair shot, and Jacobs and that wrench. But with Shingo and YAMATO on your side, how could the outcome be in doubt?
The only chance Jacobs has is to join another faction, but he turns down World-1.
And all you can do is laugh….. and establish yourself as a man to watch.
Naruki Doi & PAC vs Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw
What if you were Bryce Remsburg in this match?
Sure, you’ve seen Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw at work in CHIKARA, and all over the place, on a regular basis. You know the speed, athleticism and tag team excellence at their command. You know that they compliment the DG USA style without hesitation. You know every match with them starts at great and only gets better.
And then there’s Naruki Doi & PAC on the other side of the ring.
PAC, the “man that gravity forgot” as Lenny Leonard and Leonard Chikarason will tout during the match. Doi, one of the exponentially great Dragon Gate workers, one of those who must be seen to be believed.
The CHIKARA Sekigun are your homeboys, but this is a match with honor, a match between respectable wrestlers, the always babyface Quack & Jigsaw, and the pure athleticism of World-1’s Doi & PAC.
The action is almost too fast to follow, and the temptation to sit back and enjoy the action is even more difficult.
Especially after the first spinning, twisting press that PAC delivers. Especially after he ups himself again and raises the bar of high flying to astronomical levels.
And even after the match ends, and handshakes ensue, the entertainment isn’t over. The battle between good and bad ensues, and maybe Quack bites off more than he can chew in calling out not just YAMATO, but Kamikaze USA, and should have realized the consequences.
But watching the match on DVD is all anyone would want to think about after being in the middle of it all.
Rip Impact vs Johnny Wave
Putting on matches just to transition from one big match to the next, that sort of intermission match put there to change things up, to give the concessions a boost, to let emotions die down a bit: that’s something that most cards require.
So in the spirit of things, what better time for Brodie Lee to make his presence known?
The match is on the card, but the result will never be legitimate for the record books. Lee towers over the Dragon Gate roster, and he’s made it known that he’s an equal opportunity destroyer. These two guys, promised a try-out by Lenny Leonard & company, don’t have a chance.
If Brodie Lee can do this to two men at once, and has no qualms about beating down a woman or a fan, what hope is there for any DG USA Champion, let alone worker?
CIMA & Dragon Kid vs. YAMATO & Shingo
Once more to the well of babyface versus heel, once more to the well of excellence in tag team action, once more to the subtleties and details that should create an uprising in the world of professional wrestling, both back to the days where every match was meaningful, and forward to a generation that looks forward to technical, high-speed action in the ring…. And out of it.
The Dragon Kid is everything his counterparts in other promotions are, and then some, because he’s not just the token small guy with incredible talent, he’s a worker who is faster than most, more creative than anyone, and has mastered a style that few can compete in.
CIMA? Well, CIMA is what Dragon Gate is, and that’s an evolution of professional wrestling without denying its past. And only CIMA can enter a tag match among the best of DG USA, and raise it to a completely new level, because CIMA interacts with the crowd on levels that were lost several generations ago.
The heels aren’t slouches, either.
YAMATO is the epitome of a new style of heel, unconsciously annoying, unmistakably bad, indifferent to the modern attraction of being a tweener and thus disrupting the heel/face dynamics irretrievably. YAMATO plays the Dragon Gate heel without peer, and with promise of greater things to come.
Shingo turned on Dragon Kid and they meet up in the ring, and that dynamic – Strong Man versus blinding speed, is taken to a new level, with an essence of their enmity on display.
The laughter here is vicious. The action is relentless and the creativity – from tearing off of YAMATO’s ring gear, to ongoing submission and escapes of both Shingo & Dragon Kid, it all added up.
Thirty minutes of pure Dragon Gate action. What more could you want?
BxB Hulk vs. Masato Yoshino (Open the Freedom Gate Title Match)
What follows thirty minutes of excellent tag team action? Twenty minutes of a superlative Championship defense.
How many Champions have the look, the athleticism and the track record of BxB Hulk?
Very few outside of Mercedes Martinez, I’d suggest.
Masato Yoshino is the true counterpart of Dragon Kid, just as fast, just as creative, and just as relentless. The Hulk here has size and a Champion’s level of ability to counter, and he is taken to task throughout.
You may not know the FTX from the E.V.O.P. at this point, and you still don’t get the full impact of BxB Hulk’s ring entrance from this DVD, but you will get to learn what a sling blade looks like, and what a Championship match in Dragon Gate USA means to both sides of the equation.
And, to follow that up, we see what happens when talent is guided by storyline and the focus is on keeping the fans involved, entranced and looking for more.
How difficult is it to treat the fans with respect?
DG USA makes it look so easy.