9/4 Dragon Gate USA "Enter The Dragon" PPV: A full recap of the show that debuts today on pay-per-view featuring Naurki Doi vs. Shingo, CIMA and Susumu Yokosuka vs. The Young Bucks, former WWE Diva Dawn Marie
Dragon Gate USA "Enter The Dragon"
Taped July 25 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Debuted on pay-per-view on September 4
The show opened with Dawn Marie introducing the show briefly in the ring. She quickly called for the first match. Two dancing girls emerged from the entrance area and then BxB Hulk came out and performed his entrance routine...
Powell's POV: One of the dancing girls appeared to be ROH regular Daizee Haze.
Lenny Leonard and Chikarason checked in on commentary.
Powell's POV: The audio mix was about as rough as a standard ROH pay-per-view. The lighting was good in the ring, but it was dark everywhere else to the point that it was difficult to see beyond the front row. Fortunately, the crowd was really hot right from the start so you knew there was a good crowd there even if you couldn't see them.
1. YAMATO pinned BxB Hulk in 12:25. Yamato worked over Hulk's knee throughout the match. The crow chanted for Hulk several times, but they clapped appreciatively for the moves of both wrestlers. At 10:00, Yamato caught Hulk in the Sharpshooter, which led to a loud "Please don't tap" chant from the crowd.
Hulk had a nice run of offense, but he missed a top rope move and landed on the knee that Yamato had been working on throughout the match. Yamato hit a brainbuster and scored a good near fall. Yamato came back a short time later with a wicked inverted piledriver and scored the clean pin. A great video package recapped the bigger moves in the match...
Powell's POV: Great opening match. Hulk was over like crazy, yet YAMATO came away looking like a big deal for beating his opponent and by displaying charisma.
A shot aired of Naruki Doi sitting backstage as the narrator ran through some basic information regarding his career. They went to Shingo's locker room and ran through some basic information.
Powell's POV: I wish someone would explain what things like the "Open The Gate" Title means, but I liked the backstage clips and the basic information provided. By the way, Dawn Marie is struggling. She doesn't sound confident in calling out the names of the wrestlers.
2. Jigsaw, Mike Quackenbush, Fire Ant, and Fire Soldier defeated Gran Akuma, Icarus, Hallowicked, and Amasis in 17:25. The announcers stated that Quackenbush was the trainer of all seven men. Well, at least I think they did. It really is hard to make out what they're saying because the crowd and ring mic seem louder.
Great action throughout the match. Amasis mixed in some comedy dancing a couple times during the match. At 15:00, Quckenbush nailed Amasis with a great clothesline and then played to the camera. It was as if he was the only one who realized there was a camera to play to, which made him stand out. After the babyfaces hit a series of moves in and around the ring, Jigsaw hit a move Icarus and scored the pin...
Powell's POV: Very good action from bell to bell. The crowd was hot and the wrestlers gave them plenty of reasons to stay that way. From a presentation standpoint, it would have been nice to know more about the characters and what they're all about. I felt like I was late to the party in that whenever more than two guys were in the ring at the same time I forgot who was teaming with who. The crowd loved it, though. Quack and Amasis were the two guys who really stood out from a personality standpoint. Amasis's dance routines were funny and made his character memorable.
After the babyfaces celebrated their win, Quackenbush took the mic and stated that Dragon Gate and Chikara made a splendid combination. He said they were all from the same family because of the training they received from the under appreciated Jorge Rivera. He set up a video package on Rivera that concluded with a "thank you" graphic. Back in the ring, Quack said there seemed to be a sibling rivalry developing backstage. He said he'd like to see how Dragon Gate wrestlers would do against Chikara wrestlers.
Yamato came out with a smile on his face. He took the mic and spoke in Japanese. Suddenly, he Quackenbush below the belt. Jigsaw ran out and saved Quack. Akuma joined him. in the ring, but then attacked Jigsaw from behind. The announcers were surprised that Akuma and Yamato were working together. A few Chikara wrestlers came out and ran off the heels...
Powell's POV: I'm sure this is great stuff for fans who follow Dragon Gate and Chikara closely. They're catering to a niche audience, which is fine, but what about the newcomers who ordered this show thinking they were getting in on the ground floor of something special? Again, I feel late to the party and it just shouldn't be like that on a debut pay-per-view. That said, Yamato stood out in the opener and again here as something special. Why not use subtitles when the wrestlers speak in Japanese?
3. Dragon Kid (w/Shingo) defeated Masato Yoshino (w/Naruki Doi) in 13:30. The crowd died down a little for the start of this match, but they were still vocal and into the action. It would have been impossible for them to maintain the energy they had throughout the entire show. The match was filled with some amazingly innovative offense. Kid is spectacular high flyer, and a basic move-by-move description of this (and the rest of the show) would take me hours to describe.
At 11:00, Yoshino hit the best missile dropkick I've ever seen. Rather than make it look like a standard dropkick, it looked like he was coming down onto Kid with a double foot stomp. Later, Kid hit an amazing huracanrana off the ropes and scored the pin. Another highlight package recapped the great moves...
After the match, Kid offered his hand to Yoshino. However, Yoshino shoved him to the mat. Shingo and Doi then stood face to face to tease their match for later in the show...
Powell's POV: Another gem of a match. I wish they would have done a better job of making me feel like I should be behind Kid as the babyface while giving me a reason to root against Yoshino, but the basic post-match angle helped establish that for future shows. Watching Kid is like traveling back in time and watching a young Rey Mysterio. He's sensational.
An ad aired for the Dragon Gate USA website...
Powell's POV: Ring announcing just isn't Dawn Marie's thing. I'm sure she can improve because she's always been good on the mic, but she just didn't seem confident when it came to her knowledge of the talent, which shined through in her ring announcing.
4. The Young Bucks (Mike Jackson and Nick Jackson) defeated CIMA and Susumo Yokosuka in 17:30. The two teams shook hands before the match, which drew a nice round of applause from the fans. Mike Quackenbush sat in on commentary. The match started slowly and the pace built nicely as the match went on. Once they kicked it into high gear they never slowed down. Both teams hit some innovative tag team moves that you won't see anywhere else.
Both teams hit some strong near falls. The Japanese team scored the bulk of the offense and the Bucks kept kicking out while mixing in their own spurts of offense. Late in the match, CIMA accidentally kicked Yokosuka. The Bucks hit a series of wild moves including a 450 splash by one brother followed by a moonsault by the other for the pin. After the highlight package aired, the two teams stood in the ring with their arms raised...
Powell's POV: Awesome match. I hate to continue with the "reminds me of a young WWE performer" comparison, but I must say that the Bucks brought back some Hardy Boys memories. It wouldn't help DGUSA or Ring of Honor, but TNA should swoop in and sign this duo immediately. Sure, they could use more seasoning on the indy scene, but I really believe they could have a spectacular program with Beer Money immediately. It's hard to find a pretty boy tag team that the fans will respond to in 2009, but the live crowd loved them.
Separate shots aired of the two main event wrestlers in the locker room as the narrator told us that we were only moments away from the main event...
5. Naruki Doi defeated SHINGO in a non-title match in 20:45. Doi worked over Shingo's knee early and he sold it throughout the match. The live crowd seemed split, yet seemed to just enjoy the match more than anything. Shingo did a great job of selling for the champion throughout the match, yet looked like a warrior for hanging in there and continuing to fight. After 20 minutes of great action, Doi finally finished him off with a muscular bomb. The fans popped big and gave both wrestlers a standing ovation. The announcers wrapped up the broadcast as the fans were chanting the promotion's name, and replays aired of the big moments from the match.
Powell's POV: Another fantastic match. I'd definitely pay to see a rematch between these two.
Final Thoughts: Spectacular wrestling throughout the show. Fans who are looking for a fantastic in-ring product will absolutely love this show. It's geared toward the niche audience who are familiar with the wrestlers via Ring of Honor and Chikara, but there's enough great wrestling on the show that anyone can enjoy it. Still, I still wish they would have done a better job of catering to the new viewers.
The announcing was solid, yet difficult to hear. As knowledgeable as both men are,they also added to the "late to the party" vibe I felt throughout the night. The announcers are very knowledgeable when it comes to the names of the moves and the backgrounds of the wrestlers. I commend them for doing their homework, yet I also question whether the fact that they know the name of every move makes the moves seem less spectacular to new viewers. After all, if the announcers know the names, then it's obvious that it's not the first time these seemingly innovative moves have been performed.
It became an overused catchphrase, but an occasional "Oh My God" or something along those lines can go a long way toward making a viewer feel like the announcer is just as blown away by the action as they are. Don't get me wrong, the announcers were passionate and put over the action nicely, but they unintentionally make you feel like they've seen it all before. It's a tough balancing act because they would risk upsetting the hardcore fans if they dumbed it down to some extent.
Despite my concerns about catering to a niche audience, I strongly recommend this pay-per-view for the tremendous in-ring performances. You'll absolutely love the show if you've had prior exposure to these wrestlers or if you're a fan of great wrestling. Those who are only familiar with the two major national promotions will be amazed by the in-ring performances. It's impossible not to compare this product to the ROH pay-per-view events, and this show was better than anything I've seen from ROH since Gabe Sapolsky was fired. The live crowd was hot, the wrestling was great, and it just felt like a bigger deal than some of the stale ROH shows I've seen recently.
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