Sorry for not having anything up yesterday as I fell asleep watching football. Here you are.
Enter the Dragon
Date: September 4, 2009
Location: The Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Lenny Leonard, Chikarason, Mike Quackenbush
Ok, so a lot of you likely don’t know what this is. In short, this is my latest attempt to shut X up. He’s raved about this Dragon Gate USA company for months now and it’s been the hottest thing on the indy scene for like 8 months or something so I figured I’d pop in the first PPV and see if it’s worth anything. I should note that I have no idea who most of these people are so don’t expect an incredibly in depth analysis. Also it’s less than two hours long so I can’t review much since there isn’t much to review. Let’s get to this.
Dawn Marie is the hostess/ring announcer. Well at least it’s nice to look at. We go straight to the first match.
BxB Hulk vs. YAMATO
Now Hulk is the main guy from this promotion it seems as he won the title at the next PPV. He has thunder sticks and fairly hot dancing girls. Ok then. Apparently the x is silent or something. Makes no sense but whatever. The production values are pretty good actually which is a nice surprise. Yamato (Not doing the stupid capitalization thing. It’s pronounced the same) looks pretty clearly to be the heel here.
Nice technical sequence to start us out which is nice. The whole lack of lights does little to give me confidence in the attendance, but for a debut show I can understand that. This is definitely a smart promotion as they list off a ton of Japanese stables that we’re just expected to recognize. Yamato goes for the leg so maybe that’ll gives us something in the area of psychology. Hey let’s brawl on the floor a bit. No one has ever seen that before!
Hulk gets caught in a leg lock and the BB HULK chants are rapidly getting annoying. So he can’t run across the ring on his bad leg but he can do all kinds of kicks and flips. Got it. Yeah all the knee work is just gone now with no apparent question about it. In a nice cover, Yamato hooks the legs so that after the kickout he can go straight to a cloverleaf. And now he PISSES ME OFF by using a crossface because it’s his finisher.
Pay no attention to the total lack of back or neck work. It’s his finisher so instead of using all the leg stuff, let’s go for the finisher that isn’t softened up at all. That my friends is what gets on my nerves about a lack of psychology. If he’s going to use the crossface that’s fine but WHY WORK ON THE LEG IF YOU’RE GOING FOR A NECK SUBMISSION? Oh and his leg is fine all of a sudden again.
EVO, which is an Emerald Flosion, gets a 4 or so as this referee has a weird style of counting. His foot was on the rope though so it’s not like it matters. A big flip splash misses but it would have missed by AT LEAST five feet. He was in the corner and the splash landed in the middle of the ring. That looked awful. Plus Jimmy Wang can do a much better looking one of those.
Hulk gets a big spin kick to the back of his head. Naturally Yamato just shakes it off and puts on a sleeper. The lack of selling is pissing me off. A reverse sitout piledriver (How Owen broke Austin’s neck) with a different kind of lift gets the pin for Yamato.
Rating: D+. This was a spotfest and not a very good one. Was it exciting? Yes it was. Was it back and forth? Yes it was. Did it make much sense? Nope. Was it overrated as hel;? Yes it was.
We go to the back to see one of the main event guys. We get some mini bios on the two guys. THIS is what is needed here. This is the debut PPV. We more than likely don’t know who most of these people are, so short bios of who they are and their history is NICE. Short version: Naruki Doi is a young kid that has taken the company by storm and Shingo is the top star over there.
Doi took Shingo’s title and tonight is a non-title rematch for respect more or less. FINE. That right there is all I need. I know their names, I know a little bit about each guy, and I know why these two are fighting and why they’re in the main event. WHY IS THIS SO COMPLICATED???
2 Cold Scorpio and Ken Doane had a dark match at this point. Yes, the Kenny Dykstra that so many people want back in WWF is in a dark match at the debut of an indy PPV. That’s just amusing.
Soldier Ant/Fire Ant/Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw vs. Icarus/Gran Akuma/Amasis/Hallowicked
This is all CHIKARA here which is a promotion that appeals to me as it’s so over the top and insane that it stops trying to be real wrestling which makes it awesome. I have no idea who most of these people are, so I’m really not going to try to keep track of who is who. I know the main storyline in CHIKARA that came after this and it involves mind control with a mystical object so there you are.
Quackenbush is more or less God in that company so he’ll be the focus of the match. I kind of like Dawn Marie’s style. She just says the names. Simple yet effective I suppose. This is the home promotion for this arena so these guys are very familiar. All four of the faces, the first team listed, get chants. For example, two of these people are insects and one of the heels dances a lot.
Mike trained all of them so that’s fun. CHIKARA seems like a show that is pure fun. Looks like lucha rules as when you hit the floor your partner can come in. This is more acrobatic stuff, meaning not a lot of actual pain but rather high spots. Or as Lawler called it, psychological damage. Scratch that as Soldier Ant takes a massive powerbomb. That works. Soldier Ant is taking a freaking beating.
Mike gets the hot tag and we crank it up a bit. Jigsaw and Icarus do some solid stuff which is nice looking indeed. In the words of a wrestler more famous than all 8 of these guys, this is the part where we crank it up, let’s crank it up. High spots a go-go begins and the fans are way into it all of a sudden. After about a dozen near falls (likely too few), the faces just go insane with dives and flips before Jigsaw hits the same kind of piledriver that Kazarian uses to get the pin. He calls it the Jig and Tonic. Clever.
Rating: B+. This wasn’t technically sound, it wasn’t coherent, it wasn’t logical. What it was though was FUN. What you had here was 8 guys just going out there and having a blast. They weren’t trying to have a traditional match, they weren’t trying to be the best wrestlers in the world or have some big deep storyline. They were having fun and giving the crowd something to cheer for. THIS is what TNA needs if it wants to be competitive. Not everything has to be so serious and of epic proportions. I’d watch this again.
Quackenbush gets on the mic and says that CHIKARA and DGUSA works really well together, but we should really thank Jorge Rivera, who trained everyone here tonight. Cool. He issues an open challenge: anyone from Dragon Gate vs. any guy from CHIKARA. Again, this is something that there needs to be more of.
Yamato, the guy from earlier comes out. He says something in Japanese (apparently more or less saying screw Rivera, it’s our time) and kicks Mike in the balls. Jigsaw and Akuma make the save but Akuma helps Yamato and it’s a big beat down. Faces come out to make the save. Naturally there was a tag match at the next PPV.
Dragon Kid vs. Masato Yoshino
Ok then. Yoshino is popular. Very popular actually. Both have people with them. Ok then. Oh the guy with Dragon Kid is Shingo. Got it. Apparently this is a big rivalry and has been for a few years. Dragon Kid is on a three match losing streak and broke Yoshino’s neck in the last match. See what a little exposition gives you? That information took 8 seconds to say and I’m perfectly satisfied with it.
Oh and the other guy in the corner is Shingo’s opponent tonight. This is another fast paced one. If nothing else I like that they don’t try to make things about themselves as they regularly use common names for moves such as the 619. Everyone else is going to call it that so why over complicate things? Apparently these are the two most exciting guys in Dragon Gate. Good to know. Let them prove it. Yoshino goes for Kid’s arm. Better than the leg if nothing else. Kid hits a 619.
Remember kids: this is NEVER BEFORE SEEN STUFF. It’s so never before seen we already have names for the stuff! Apparently Dragon Kid has a move called Jesus. Nothing tricky there or anything. It’s just called Jesus. That’s either very stupid or awesome and I’m not sure which.
The difference here with the first match though is that while we had arm work earlier, Dragon Kid is having trouble with his offense because HIS ARM HURTS. See? Is that too much to ask for? Seriously? They hit a ton of high spots and we get an arm bar. I think it was on Dragon Kid but I’m not sure. Kid hits an Ultra Hurricanrana (West Coast Pop with a front flip) for the pin. Yeah he used a 619 and a modified West Coast Pop for the pin. Yeah he’s really innovative.
Rating: B-. Not bad but not the classic they tried to make it seem like. It’s far better than the first match if nothing else. If nothing else the arm injury stayed around this time which is one of my biggest issues with most wrestling, either indy or mainstream. This was fine for what it was though.
Young Bucks vs. CIMA/Susumu Yokosuka
Heard of CIMA, not so much on the other guy. Young Bucks are more commonly known as Generation ME in TNA. CIMA gets in a fight with some streamers. That’s rather amusing. Four faces here it seems. Quackenbush is on commentary now. THANKFULLY Quackenbush says it’s not about him and it’s about the four guys in the ring. Wow that’s nice to hear. The Bucks go insane with tags. They’re just fun to watch.
The non-Americans are in control at the moment. Matt gets the heck beaten out of him for a good while. He tries to Hulk Up but gets kicked down. That was nice. They bust out some of the stuff you would see Generation ME do at Destination X. Nice to see them adapt it. After a few tons of near falls, More Bang For Your Buck (450 followed immediately by a moonsault) ends it.
Rating: B+. Another match that was just about getting people excited. There’s no flow or structure to it and there wasn’t supposed to be. There were some great double team moves in there. It’s very entertaining. It’s not great wrestling at all, but it’s great entertainment which is what this was supposed to be so I’ll give it that.
We go to the main event guys’ dressing rooms. The title isn’t on the line. Is there a reason that it’s not?
Naruki Doi vs. Shingo
I still don’t get the whole lack of title on the line here, but I’m sure it has something to do with some overly complicated system of earning a title shot and tradition or something like that. Shingo is strong. Good to know. Long feeling out process which is fine as they have a lot of time to play with. I like Shingo to an extent I think.
Doi works over the knee and we get a Figure Four. In a nice move after getting out of the hold he grabs a fast powerbomb and immediately falls with his knee. It was fast enough to buy I guess, but it was a bit shaky as far as psychology goes. They chop the living heck out of each other and they might be the loudest sequence of them I’ve ever heard. Great ones indeed. Shingo shakes his leg a bit to sell the injury. Nicely done.
In a cool moment, he hooks a British Bulldog suplex and the fans count the seconds he holds him for, which winds up at 30. According to Mike, the chops that are quiet that hurt worst. Why should I listen to that? Because Quackenbush is a wrestler. Lawler and Taz need to let us know that more often. We’re into the segment of let’s do big moves over and over again until we get to a pin.
Shingo kills him with a lariat but it just gets two. Doi hits his finisher, a running boot to the face when the guy is on one knee. It’s better than it sounds. Another one sets up a Tiger Suplex for two. Shingo starts no selling kicks to the FACE. How is that possible? The Muscular Bomb, which is like a wheelbarrow slam into a rollup where the guy lands on his head, ends this. Solid ending. Oh Doi got the win. Might be important information.
Rating: B. This was a different kind of match but it worked all the same. There was far more of a slow build here and that made things work much better for me. The ending was great with Doi just beating the heck out of Shingo until he finally went down. Solid match, although I have no clue why it was non-title if Doi was going to win.
Overall Rating: B. First match aside, this was fun. See what happens when you explain what’s going on in Puro to fans like me? It gets a lot better. Now this isn’t something I’d want to see weekly, but once in awhile would be fine. This came off pretty well I think though and they did a good job of introducing things to the audience. I liked it and it could work well for an every other month thing. Not bad at all.