Well, let's get to it then.
DRAGON GATE USA: ENTER THE DRAGON 2010
JULY 24TH 2010
THE ARENA, PHILADELPHIA, PA
Your hosts are Chikara-san and Lenny Leonard
The show starts off with CIMA coming out to a great reaction from the Philly crowd and cutting a promo in (remarkably) coherent English to basically pump the crowd up, asking them repeatedly "Are you ready?" like the long-lost Japanese member of DX. Johnny Gargano, who recently inked a multi-year deal with Dragon Gate USA, comes out and asks CIMA if he can be the newest member of the Warriors-5 stable, which CIMA is the leader of. Eager to prove himself, he slaps CIMA and challenges him to a match right there on the spot.
CIMA vs. Johnny Gargano
Gargano is a guy that seems in line to get a big push in Dragon Gate USA from the looks of his recent contract signing, but he's a guy I'm not very familiar with outside of a few appearances, which haven't particularly impressed me. They start off hot and heavy with some stiff chops before taking the match out to the floor, where Gargano says "How do you do?" with a beautiful tope . We're about 20 seconds into the match and Gargano has already impressed me more than he has in his last 4 or 5. These two have nice chemistry together, with the basic story of the match being Gargano trying to prove his worth to CIMA to impress him, trying to step his game up more and more with each maneuver, but eventually the veteran and Dragon Gate legend CIMA is simply too much for Gargano to handle, as CIMA busts out some of his trademark maneuvers including the Perfect Driver, Egoist Shwein and finally the Meteora (a diving double kneedrop) to finish Gargano at 11:47. Great opening contest here as Gargano looked great even in the loss and CIMA cements his place as one of the elite wrestlers of Dragon Gate. Lots of fast-paced, hard-hitting action that got the crowd right fired up just like any good opener should. ***
After the match CIMA offers Gargano his hand seemingly in a sign of respect, before pulling his hand away at the last minute and doing his trademark "HOO!" chant which was downright hilarious.
Chuck Taylor vs. Ricochet vs. Arik Cannon vs. Adam Cole
This would be the Dragon Gate USA debut for all four men, which has the crowd eager in anticipation. Taylor gets a huge reaction, as does Ricochet. As many may or may not know I'm a huge fan of Chuck Taylor as he simply can work a crowd better than just about anyone I've seen on the entire independent scene, if not the business. Nobody puts more into their efforts to make the crowd like and/or dislike him like Taylor does. Ricochet also wrestles in Chikara as Helios, and is a damn fine performer in his own right and a crazy high flyer as his name would suggest. This match quickly breaks down as all four man just start going at it, trying to gauge what each other wrestler is thinking and with each man trying to use some of their signature stuff without anyone gaining a real advantage, leading to each man giving us some great spots as these guys kind of just threw logic out the window and began hitting one crazy spot after another, and while that can be a valid complaint sometimes, in these Cruiserweight-esque four ways you've just got to go with the flow and enjoy yourself, as all four men deliver just nonstop action from bell to bell here before Ricochet misses a 630 splash which gives Taylor the chance to give him his trademark Awful Waffle (a leg-hook belly to back suplex turned into a piledriver) for the win at 9:41. Really just a flat-out fun match here as all four guys delivered some creative and painful spots at a great pace for the entire match. This was mainly to showcase Taylor and Ricochet, and in that effort the match was a rousing success as the crowd ate up everything they did. All around fun stuff. ***
Backstage Kamikaze-USA (Jon Moxley, YAMATO, Gran Akuma, and Shingo) cut a promo on Mike Quackenbush and Chikara in general. YAMATO, as always, looks fucking insane like he's been on a 20 day speed binge without sleep. He probably has, awesome bastard.
Naruki Doi vs. Drake Younger
Drake is one of the few deathmatch wrestlers who can actually wrestle inside a ring, and he's a damn good wrestler too as he's proven before and as he tries to prove here against the ace of Dragon Gate, Naruki Doi. Match starts off with each man feeling each other out with basic holds and chain wrestling before taking the match to the outside where Drake misses with a nasty senton. Outside Doi begins working on Drake's leg, smashing it into the guardrail and against the ring. Back inside Drake hits Doi with a nasty hesitation german suplex and Doi lands right on his neck. Drake goes for a double-underhook piledriver but his leg gives out (psychology!) which gives Doi the chance to reverse the move into a reverse pedigree. Doi hands out some (weak) slaps before finishing with the Bakatare sliding kick at 9:35. Another fast paced match here, but a bit too one-sided and short for my taste. Both men looked good though. **½
Scott Reed vs. Rich Swann
No clue who either of these two are, apparently they were the two standouts from a wrestling seminar/tryout earlier so I suppose I can give this a chance, it could be decent. Lock up to start off as Reed is much larger than Swann and begins reversing Reed's high risk moves into powerslams and other power moves. Nasty release german suplex from Reed only gets two. Swann quickly takes the advantage back though and hits Reed with a standing 420 splash for the win at 2:04. Just a quick squash here for Swann as he was clearly the standout of these two. Mildly entertaining squash match I suppose. *
After the match Brodie Lee comes out and destroys both Reed and Swann before grabbing the mic and threatening every man, woman, and child in the building and promising that next time he's in DGUSA, he's coming after a Japanese man. Well that's a bit racist, now don't you think Brodie? Why so hateful man?
Backstage Jimmy Jacobs talks about how he has the night off, but that he's still coming after Moxley.
Jon Moxley/YAMATO/Akira Tozawa/Gran Akuma vs. Masato Yoshino/Mike Quackenbush/Hallowicked/Jigsaw (Elimination)
This is the battle of the stables Kamikaze-USA (Moxley & company) and Chikara Sekigun (Quackenbush & company).Masato Yoshino's first match in the US with his recently won Enter the Dream Gate title, which is just a badass belt design. This is under elimination rules, so you can expect pretty much non-stop chaos with this 8 men from start to finish. And as soona sI type that, they do exactly that with everyone wildly brawling to the outside while YAMATO and Quackenbush exchange forearms inside. It continues to break down as Quack hits an absolutely picture perfect moonsault from the top to the outside. The match regains a semblance of order with all men taking their positions on the apron and the real match begins. Everyone gangs up on Hallowicked and YAMATO finishes him with a version of the Michinoku driver at 8:56. From there Moxley hits a nasty chickenwing suplex on Jigsaw, but he can't get the three so he gives him a nasty lariat, but again Jigsaw kicks out, which only frustrates Moxley so he goes to the outside and grabs a chair and begins laying out Quack and Jigsaw, which gets him DQed at 10:33. Jimmy Jacobs jumps into the ring though out of nowhere and hits Moxley with a spear and then brawls with him all the way to the back. All the while YAMATO hits the galleria on Jigsaw at 11:07. Quackenbush sneaks up for the rollup, but only gets 2 before being taken to the outside by Tozawa. Back in the ring Tozawa and Yoshino go at it until they simply slide out of the ring as Akuma and Quack enter the ring. Didn't realize this match was following lucha tag rules, they probably should have mentioned that. Akuma and Quack work perfectly together, which they should considering Quack trained Akuma. Because of this Quack takes the advantage and eliminates Akuma with an Alabama Slam turned into a sitout powerbomb at 13:20. IIt's down to Quack and Yoshino versus YAMATO and Tozawa. Yoshino and YAMATO go at it, quickly showing their amazing chemistry together from their many battles in the original Dragon Gate, in fact Yoshino defeated YAMATO for that very Dream Gate belt he came out with only a few weeks before at the big annual Kobe Wrestling festival in Japan. Tozawa and YAMATO deal out stiff suplexes to Quack but Yoshino again breaks the count up. YAMATO hits the galleria on Yoshino but again he kicks out! Both Quack and Yoshino put painful and creative submissions that I couldn't begin to decipher on their opponents, and both men give up at 19:35. Solid 8 man encounter here, but it was a bit too unorganized and chaotic at times. Still a solid contest however and worth a look. ***
Open the Freedom Gate Championship
BxB Hulk vs. Masaaki Mochizuki
Hulk is like a modern day Magnum Tokyo with his elaborate entrances involving choreographed dance moves and his own troupe of dancers while shiny Japanese electro-pop plays as his theme. Definitely one of the best entrances in wrestling today. Mochizuki is a grizzled veteran at this point and has been slowly working his way up the midcard in DGUSA with good matches against Davey Richards and Tozawa earlier in the year. Here he gets a shot at Hulk's Open the Freedom Gate title, which is the main title in Dragon Gate USA for those wondering. Hulk's head is shaved clean as the result of a great Hair vs. Hair match that he lost to Shingo back in Japan a few weeks prior, which just looks strange. This again quickly goes to the outside where Mochizuki's leg just gets smashed into the turnbuckle in a sickening fashion. Back in the ring Hulk works on the same knee, twisting and contorting his leg in some disgusting looking angles before Mochizuki is able to get to the ropes. Both men go for a springboard but Mochizuki takes him out with a great kick. Hulk looks like a Japanese lesbian with his new haircut, it's kind of creepy. Back in the ring Mochizuki works a figure four on Hulk which gives the crowd a chance to rally behind Hulk as Mochizuki just tightens the figure four. Finally Hulk gets to the ropes. Strangely enough Mochizuki begins working Hulk's leg now, seemingly switching the legwork Hulk had on Masaaki earlier in the match. Hulk goes for an enziguri but Mochizuki puts on a great-looking ankle lock! He falls to the mat and grapevines the leg Kurt Angle-style, as things are looking very dire for the champion here. The crowd continues to rally behind Hulk, seemingly giving him the energy to get to the ropes for another break. Things are starting to pick up here, but Hulk is running and jumping around too much for my taste considering all the work on his leg Mochizuki just put in. Hulk hits a moonsault to the floor on Mochizuki, which looks great. Back inside both men go all out and begin throwing everything they have at each other, with incredibly stiff kicks and various hard-hitting suplexes. Mochizuki hits an absolutely SICKENING looking kick to Hulk's head which puts him out. That looked really, really painful. Mochizuki continues to bring the fire to Hulk and this only further gets the crowd behind Hulk, chanting his name again to try and help him rally, which he eventually does. The Arena crowd starts up the old "This is Wrestling!" chant, which I've never liked. Of course it's wrestling, we have eyes, we can see this. Both men exchange sick boots until Hulk takes Mochizuki off the top rope with the EVO (variation of a sidewalk slam), but it only gets two. Hulk can't believe this and goes to the top and delivers a phoenix splash but he STILL won't stay down for three! Finally Hulk gets some steam behind a wicked boot to the face on an already wounded Mochizuki which is finally enough for Hulk to get the 3 count and retain his title at 21:50. Very good match here between these two as Hulk underestimated the veteran Mochizuki and because of this he took alot of punishment. This was probably Hulk's toughest challenge to date for his title, as it took every move out of Hulk's arsenal to finally put away Mochizuki. Borderline-great stuff here from these two and Mochizuki came off looking great even in the loss. ***¾
The Bottom Line: Dragon Gate USA delivers another great show as almost every single match up on this PPV hit the three star mark and there wasn't a wasted moment in the entire two hour broadcast (well aside from a few highlights packages). While nothing here was a match of the year candidate or anything, nearly every match was worth watching and the main event was a very good match, much better than Hulk's defense against Yoshino at the last PPV. This is another great 2 hours of wrestling action from Dragon Gate USA for only $20 bucks on-demand, which makes it likely the best deal in wrestling today. Thumbs up from me yet again for the Dragon Gate guys.