Last year, I reviewed Dragon Gate in a bulk post which can be found here. We left 2015 with the VerserK stable/unit on top of DG with leader Shingo Takagi as the Open the Dream Gate Champion and Naruk Doi & YAMATO holding the Twin Gate titles. Here, in my first show review of 2016, it's picking up right where we left off as the show begins with an in-ring promo from the top group in the promotion.
Everything is in Japanese, so, I obviously can't understand exactly what they're saying, but body language, commentary, and reaction helps me get the jist of it. Akira Tozawa interrupts them and charges down to the ring with Monster Express for the babyface pop. Next thing you know, Dia.Hearts emerges from the back and BAH GAWD BxB Hulk comes down and this thing breaks down into a hype ass verbal exchange. The talent of these guys really shows here because even though it's another language the expressions and attitudes portrayed came across in strides and got me hyped up for what was to come. Tonight, we have a Losing Unit Disbands match between Monster Express & Dia.Hearts and by the sounds of this promo, they've talked VerSerk into putting themselves on the line as well so the stakes are SUPER high.
1) CIMA, Eita, & Takehiro Yamamura (Over Generation) vs. Jimmy Kanda, Jimmy Kness, & U-T (Jimmyz)
Good opening trios match. CIMA and his team in particular popped me multiple times with some sick and extremely fluent double/triple team moves. The triple dive seen in the gif above sent this match into overdrive. A hot final few moments with CIMA, Eita, & Yamamura running roughshod on the Jimmy's. This ends with EITA tapping out Kness for the win.
Match rating - **3/4
2) El Lindaman vs. Kenichiro Arai
Lindaman is quite young, but uber talented as seen here in this veteran/newcomer dynamic of a match up. Arai threw all kinds of shit at Lindaman including some strong style signature headbutts however he couldn't keep up with the youngin and he got put down with a pair of bridging germans. Good fucking night!
Match rating - **1/2
3) Gamma & Punch Tominaga (Over Generation) vs. Mondai Ryu & Naoki Tanizaki (VerserK)
Ryu & Tanizaki jump Gamma & Punch before the bell because they're VerserK and they're dickheads. It didn't do them much good, though because old man Gamma don't take no shit and he blasted Ryu in a chop/strike battle in the opening moments of the contest. This was interesting in that there was a lot of extra stuff involved as far as foreign objects go. VerserK pulled out all the stops to try to sneak a win, even using a kendo stick, but Gamma & Punch came out with the win when all was said and done. Some nice false finishes in the final minute or two, though. Fun match.
Match rating - **3/4
4) Don Fuji & Yosuke Santa Maria vs. Cyber Kong & Kotoka (VerserK)
This was a lot of fun because, I mean, it's Don Fuji. It's Yosuke Santa Maria. It pretty much can't not be. The finishing sequence was pretty fiery between Santa Maria & Kotoka and ended with the latter tapping out the former. VerserK is having a rough night.
Match rating - ***
5) Shingo Takagi, Naruki Doi, & YAMATO (VerserK) vs. Jimmy Susumu, Ryo Jimmy Saito, & Genki Horiguchi (Jimmy's)
The trio of champions representing VerserK against the incomparable Jimmys. This was great on a couple of different levels. On paper it's a wonderful pairing when it comes to both ability and storyline appropriation. But the way they delivered it was even better with the sequences between Susumu & Shingo in particular being awesome which foreshadowed the finish that set up a future match between the two as Susumu picked up a huge win over the Dream Gate champion and VerserK leader. Good six man tag that was just a prelude to the killer match that was to follow it.
Match rating - ***1/2
6) (MONSTER EXPRESS) Masato Yoshino, Akira Tozawa, T-Hawk, Shachihoko BOY vs. (Dia.HEARTS) Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Kzy, Big R Shimizu vs. Shingo Takagi, YAMATO, Naruki Doi, Kotoka (VerserK) - Losing Unit Disbands 12 Man Three Way Elimination Tag Team Match
These multi-man matches with high stakes never disappoint. The focal point of Dragon Gate is it's units/stables so the amount of storytelling that takes place in matches like this is astounding and this was no different. Every person played their role to a tee from the first elimination to the final one. Yoshino was the sole survivor for Monster Express whilst the top tag team in DG and possibly, the world, Naruki Doi & YAMATO put away Kzy to effectively put Dia.Hearts to an end. The disappointment and sadness on the face of the other Dia.Hearts members as Kzy's shoulders were pinned to the mat for three told the whole story. The entire final run was thrilling and had the crowd going nuts. This is the kind of match that showcases DG at it's finest. VerserK recovers from an otherwise disappointing night with a huge victory here.
Match rating - ****1/4