(This episode featured matches from the 3/25/07 Memorial Gate show from the Tsu City Gym in Mie, Japan.)
Dragon Gate is its own unique niche, something this exists in a world by itself, like the krump dancers in Rize, this company doesn't have a proper placement in everyday society, it is the definition of alternative. Wrestling is at its best when it can make you dispend belief, to truly believe that what you're seeing is an authentic contest, people locked in combat, the stakes high, with ego and money on the line. But Dragon Gate take a decidedly different approach, with dance numbers, blatant homoerotic suggestions, colorful masks and costumes, etc., however, this is balanced with lighting quick acrobatics and one of the world's most exciting crop of new wrestlers. A note, every match on this show was clipped to some extent, which will always affect the ratings.
1. Yuki Ono, Taku Iwasa, Kenichiro Arai, and Akira Tozawa vs. Atsushi Aoki, BxB Hulk, Anthony W. Mori, and Dragon Kid - 4
The heel team poses for a group photo pre-match and looks like the '94 mall goth collective. BxB Hulk does this elaborate in-ring dance sequence with five insultingly sexy girls, it's ridiciously playful and silly and part of the show's charm. It made me want to play DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution 7thMix on a pint of Sharkelberry Fin Kool-Aid and PCP. The wrestling is uniformly good, this is the prototypical Dragon Gate showoff match, being fast-paced and exciting throughout, and a good opener to boot. Presumably, all of the build was lost during the clipping of this, as we're privy to mostly a highspot orgy. Dragon Kid gets his team the victory with a West Coast Pop that made me so excited I tried it on a pillow in my living room and nearly broke my neck.
2. Kengo Takai and Magnitude Kishiwada vs. Yasushi Kanda and Kintaro Kanemura - 3
It's funny seeing former hardcore slob Kanemura doing a goofy dance on the entrance ramp to The Offspring. This match started as a clichéd hardcore brawl, a style I wasn't accustomed to seeing in Dragon Gate, and later, changed directions, including a nice forearm exchange sequence. Magnitude Kishiwada was a chubby guy in denim shorts, a black tee, and a mask too tight for his large head. He kept adjusting the nose hole randomly instead of working any psychology; he also reminded me a lot of Hawk of the Road Warriors, in a bad way, because he blatantly didn't sell a handful of stuff. Kintaro gets his team the victory with a back senton from the top.
3. Genki Horiguchi vs. Matt Sydal - 5
This match is for the Open the Brave Gate title, but before I could start it, I had to proclaim the Open the Piss Gate championship for myself. Genki looks like a Static-X loyalist, with dyed purple hair, spooky contact lenses, etc. This starts with the familial armdrag showcase. Then, from that opening section, it jumps around a bit, with one of the next shots being Sydal taking a nasty suplex on a pile of chairs on the floor. Sydal hit a springboard bulldog, a move I don't recall seeing before, and I thought it was simple yet great. You also have to love Sydal's kip-up-into-hurricanrana spot. This match had the best storytelling thus far, with a clear face/heel structure, and being singles and for a title, it had a bigger feel. Horiguchi pulled out the win, though, using dastardly means, as he spit red mist in Matt's face then executed a sickening doomsday piledriver.
4. Jun Akiyama vs. Stalker Ichikawa Z - 2
Stalker is a unique character, words won't suffice, so do yourself a favor and look him up. He's a skinny kid in a black jumpsuit, with some sort of monkey/alien head, complete with giant ears and antennas, plus lots of black eye makeup. I've been watching him since the early Toryumon days, and now, he has an entire entourage of other Stalkers. From what I gather, this is the first in a series of ten matches, where I assume he's taking on great challengers. Here, we're treated by the presence of NOAH luminary Jun Akiyama. This is pure comedy, but knowing the context, it is entertaining. It's reminiscent of the Samoa Joe versus Jack Evans matches in ROH, but with the meanness quotient knocked down a few notches. They do a parody of the classic Akiyama versus Kobashi fued, as Stalker gingerly puts Jun in the corner and tries to do Kobashi's patented machine gun chops but eventually quits because it hurts his hand. Some chick throws in a the towel before Jun can kill Ichikawa with an exploder suplex. Post-match, Akiyama shakes his weird opponent's hand, then dumps him on his head anyway.
5. Cyber Kong vs. Masaaki Mochizuki - 4
The showed some highlights building this match up. Kong looks like the Japanese equivalent of Warlord, but thankfully, doesn't wrestle like him. This match is built mostly on Mochizuki's kicks, which are plentiful and deliciously stiff. It's actually a nice change of pace, as this is just a solid, physical battle--Masaaki will not give up until he sleighs the bigger man. Finally, Mochizuki gets the win with a barrage of strikes
6. Gamma, Naruki Doi, and Masato Yoshino vs. CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka, and Ryo Saito - 5
On this show, this is the best example of Dragon Gate personified. You've got a team of young, punk heels, versus a group of young, fresh-faced kids ready to vanquish the villainy. Their story is told through the awe-inspiring acrobatics, patented double-team maneuvers, and energy that's the epitome of this company. This was partially clipped, but still, there was so much going on that mere textual description won't serve it justice. One minor gripe, this is at least the third match on the show where a heel will accidentally hit his own partner, be it with a foreign weapon or strike, because they were outsmarted by their opponent. It's a cheesy '80's device, but is still used, generally by bumbling heels, but to do it excessively on the same show draws attention to how unbelievable it actually is. The faces get the victory with a lariat.
7. Jushin Liger vs. Don Fujii - 4
Liger is chunkier, dressed in black, and playing heel, but is still a joy to watch. This match is built exclusively around two things, the first being Fujii having a hurt leg, the second, that Jushin is a giant dick. Don Fujii sells a brainbuster on the floor like children's board game Don't Wake Daddy. I get the nagging feeling that this isn't delivering the main event feel I'd anticipated, it comes off more like a '99 AJPW Minase Village Tokoton Yama Camp show mid-card match. After beating Don down, Liger scores the pinfall victory after a brainbuster.