Dragon Gate “DEAD OR ALIVE” PPV on 5/5/09
review by Alan Counihan
This was Dragon Gate's second major show of the year following on from a successful debut at Sumo Hall in March.
The opener was an action packed match with the Young Buck$ and RYOMA facing off against Akira Tozawa, Kenshin Chikano and Anthony W. Mori. This was a great way to start a PPV, the Jacksons got to showcase their jaw dropping offence, Tozawa brought tons of charisma, Mori was the vet guiding things and the two rookies continued to look like future stars. RYOMA just needs to learn to not die on every suplex he takes….. man some of those bumps he takes are BRUTAL. He was the one that did the honours, losing to a Tozawa Bridging German.
The token comedy match followed and it featured Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa vs. Syachihoko Machine vs. Jackson Florida. Usual hilarious spots from these guys and we saw the debut of quite the awesome character in PRINCE TERMINATOR who seconded Stalker only to kick his ass later. Next out were Masaaki Mochizuki and Don Fuji, taking on the always awesome Naoki Tanizaki and his partner for the night Super Shenlong (in perhaps his biggest match ever). The big shock of this match was Shenlong going crazy over the beating he was taking from the veterans and ripping off his mask voluntarily ala Tiger Mask 2/Misawa. The crowd were pretty shocked and got behind the youngster. Of course Mochi pinned him after a brutal series of strikes, but the former Shenlong didn’t go down without a major fight.
Next up was the match I was most anticipating, a 4-Way pitting Shingo Takagi vs. Masato Yoshino vs. KAGETORA vs. Cyber Kong. Shingo debuted an awwwwesome new entrance jacket, as if he needed to look more like a star. The early stages were built around Kong being a hoss and tossing folks around. He’s got such great presence. KAGETORA got to hit some of his big combos and such before he was eliminated by a Yoshino Lightning Spiral. Kong was next out, eliminated by Yoshino again, this time with a slick cradle. With that we were down to Yoshino and Shingo. They tore the house down for about 7 or 8 minutes. Shingo was killing him with huge moves for nearfalls that got closer and closer each time. His arm that he hurt earlier in the match was starting to slow him down and Yoshino mounted a comeback, getting some big nearfalls of his own. Eventually he locked in the Sol Naciente. Shingo resisted tapping, but when Yoshi turned it into the Sol Naciente Kai it was too much and Takagi said uncle. Excellent match. ****1/4
The question going into the next bout was whether YAMATO be facing BxB Hulk or Darkside Hulk (his Great Muta-esque alter ego). It turned out to be the latter, which was bad news for all who wanted a good faced pace match. Much like Great Muta or Kishin Liger, Darkside Hulk is slow, plodding and more about appearance and character than match quality. The match wasn’t awful or anything, but it just wasn’t what you’d get with regular BxB. The finish came when Hulk knocked out Yamato with a series of kicks and stomps.
I wasn’t so much looking forward to the 3-Way tag for the Twin Gate which saw Susumu Yokosuka & Gamma defend against Kenichiro Arai & Yasushi Kanda and Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi.. However it turned out to absolutely exceed expectations. It was actually on the level of the 4-Way from earlier. The star of the show was Susumu who got so much sympathy selling and then brought the big action down the stretch with Ryo. Arai and Kanda were first out after Susumu nailed a Yokosuka Liner. Great action as mentioned towards the end and it culminated in Ryo hitting a Double Cross on his ex-partner for the 1-2-3 to win the titles. ****1/4
CIMA and Dragon Kid had a very good match for the Brave Gate title next. It wasn’t quite as good as the two multi-man matches but it was ***3/4 to **** level. Lots of legwork early, and lots of big moves towards the end. CIMA didn’t look quite as impressive as he did at the last PPV, but he more than held his own. Finish was a top rope Schwein followed by the Meteora (double knees from the top to seated opponent). They teased CIMA vs. Tozawa post match (which will be interesting because they aren’t the best of friends in real life).
With that we were onto the main event, perhaps the strangest in DG history – Naruki Doi vs. Akebono. The size difference was absurd, but man Doi actually managed to get an enjoyable, EXCITING match out of the former Sumo champion. Akebono did the clean job after a series of top rope elbows and then FIVE Bakatare Sliding Kicks. The crowd loved it. Really fun way to end the show. Doi gets more over as the number one guy with each show. He’s having a great title reign.
Overall a really great show. You got a handful of great matches supported by plenty of good stuff up and down the card. Dragon Gate’s on a roll heading into the summer.