The opening match saw TJP take on Brad Allen, and I've said many times before that I think they're both great, and I was glad to see both of them get an opportunity to have a match on a show that only has a limited number of spots for guys who aren't Japanese. Solid opener, TJ's pretty well known in that part of the country and the crowd was solidly behind him and didn't seem that familiar with Allen. Good big man/little man match where TJ used his speed and technique to maneuver around Allen, and while you would expect that Allen would use his size to his advantage against a guy like TJ, he actually relied quite a bit on high flying moves, such as a top rope bodypress and a springboard corkscrew senton. The finish came down to a pinfall reversal sequence that ended with TJ catching Allen in the figure four deathlock and forcing Allen to tap.
From there we went to tag team action as the Young Bucks faced Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw. Another solid match that, like last night, saw the Bucks work hard to have a good match with Quack & Jigsaw when they were in a position where they really didn't have to. Quack & Jigsaw worked well with them, and although I think they tend to fall back on the lucha stuff a bit too much and would have expected more of that kind of a match with them against the Bucks, they were able to keep it to a pretty straight tag match. It really picked up at the end after Jigsaw made the hot tag to Quack, at which point they started to break out all the high impact stuff, and after a swift superkick exchange, the CHIKARA guys hit a double stomp/Jig & Tonic to pick up the win. The Bucks cut a postmatch promo putting Quack & Jigsaw over as great wrestlers and told them that they've taken their spots and are the new team to beat in DGUSA.
We move on to our first match of the night between Dragon Gate stars from Japan, as Genki Horiguchi took on SHINGO. Horiguchi is a really unique character with a distinct look, and is probably one of the more recognizable guys on the Japanese roster, and I think that if he decided to come to the USA for an extended stay, he would be one of the more easily marketable guys Dragon Gate has. SHINGO is coming off of several consecutive losses and is in desperate need of a win here, but fortunately for him that doesn't seem to be much of an issue since he dominated Horiguchi for most of the match. Horiguchi did get a few things in, but SHINGO mostly no-sold everything he did and put him away with Made In Japan, which is basically the same as Matt Sydal's Here It Is Driver.
We're back to the Americans for the next match, as Jimmy Jacobs & Jack Evans took on Brian Kendrick & Paul London, and it was originally supposed to be Evans & Teddy Hart teaming up here, but Teddy hurt himself by being a self serving idiot and moonsaulting off the highest object he could find in the building the night before, so he comes out before the match and cuts one of his pandering promos where he puts over how awesome he is, how WWE just doesn't realize how awesome he is, and what a nice guy he is, and then (and I swear I am not making any of this up) he says he wants to pass the torch to Jimmy Jacobs, a guy who works about 1000000% harder than Teddy, complains 10000000% less than Teddy does, and has managed not to be ostracized by everyone he knows for having a big mouth like Teddy does. Not to mention the fact that Jimmy has a much better mind for the business than Teddy, has better matches, and works his ass off to get everyone else over, unlike Teddy Hart, who only knows how to get one guy over. In fact, the idea of Teddy Hart, who has blown so many opportunities and burned so many bridges that the only place he can even find work anymore is in Mexico, actually trying to come off like he is Jimmy's superior in any possible way, is completely laughable, and if Teddy never shows his face in DGUSA, ROH, WWE, TNA, AAA, or any other wrestling company that draws more than seven fans a show ever again, the wrestling world will be a better place for it.
But having gotten that off my chest, we move on to the match which has an added stipulation: the guy who loses the fall will leave DGUSA forever. Another solid match, Jimmy got worked over for most of the match and then made the hot tag to Jack, who came in and did what Jack does. Can you tell I'm not a fan? Big cluster breaks out, and it comes down to Kendrick and Jacobs alone in the ring, and Kendrick hits Sliced Bread #2 but Jacobs kicks out, then catches Kendrick in the End Time. London tries to come in for the save but Evans cuts him off, and Kendrick is left with no choice but to tap out, and he is gone from DGUSA. It's too bad, I could get behind the idea of London & Kendrick, together again, working as this disenfranchised team that had been eaten up and spit out by the WWE machine, and wanted to take it all out on the business that ruined them. But I guess that won't happen now. Teddy Hart, being the unabashed, self promoting glory hound that he is, comes back out after the match, lowblows London, and gives him a piledriver. Whatever. Get lost, Teddy.
Moving right along, the next match saw Tommy Dreamer take on Jon Moxley in a Hardcore Match that was awesome on many levels. Tommy starts by coming out and cutting a promo putting over the fans (sounding a lot more genuine than Teddy Hart in doing so), then says that he went to the promoter of DGUSA and demanded that this be a Hardcore Match. So that's what we got, and it was a total old school ECW style brawl, going all the way around ringside, with Tommy taking weapons from the fans to use against Moxley. These two beat the CRAP out of each other, including some really sick head shots from a trash can that made very loud crashing noises when they connected with Moxley and Dreamer's skulls. Moxley had an unnamed female valet with him at ringside and, in a direct homage to old school ECW, she slapped Tommy, so Tommy went to piledrive her but the referee stopped him from doing so. No problem, Tommy knocks out the referee, picks up the girl for the piledriver, turns in all four directions for old time's sake, then drops her on her hear. Suddenly, YAMATO and SHINGO (members of Kamikaze), run in and attack Dreamer, setting up Moxley to give Dreamer a DDT on a chair (another move Dreamer got very used to taking in the old ECW) and score the win. Moxley left with YAMATO and SHINGO, and this would be the official beginning of Kamikaze USA. Awesome match, and all the credit in the world to Tommy Dreamer for coming in and having a match like this, doing a bladejob and everything, knowing that he was probably only going to be in for a couple of shots before heading to TNA. This was easily my favorite match involving American guys on the entire show.
We got a historic moment in our next match, as the Open The Dream Gate Title was defended for the first time ever in the United States, as new champion YAMATO, less than a week after winning the title from Naruki Doi, defended against former champion Susumu Yokosuka. Interesting bit of psychology in this match, as Yokosuka nailed YAMATO with a stiff lariat early on, but hurt himself in doing so, and then YAMATO attacked the arm like a shark from that point on. Yokosuka was able to mount a comeback and hit his lariat several more times, but each time he did more damage to the arm, and eventually YAMATO was able to put Yokosuka away with his version of the Snowplow. I really enjoy YAMATO's matches because the guy is full of intensity and his matches always come down to he and his opponent just destroying each other with big move after big move until one of them just can't take it anymore.
Finally, we come to the main event of the evening and the entire weekend, as we have the second of two Dragon Gate six man tags with Warriors (CIMA, GAMMA & Dragon Kid) taking on Open The Freedom Gate Champion BxB Hulk, Masato Yoshino, and Naruki Doi. As I said in the Open The Ultimate Gate review, the Wrestlemania weekend six man tag was the match that Dragon Gate built its reputation on in the United States and has become a fixture of Wrestlemania weekend each year, with this year being the first that Dragon Gate has presented the match under its own auspices. Once again, great match that started off with a fast exchange between Yoshino and Dragon Kid, then it settled down into a middle segment that was slower than the beginning, but featured some terrific double and triple team moves. Finally it picked back up at the end and became the furious, all out battle that past Dragon Gate six mans have become known for. The amount of action going on in the closing minutes of this match was just insane, and Yoshino choked GAMMA out to win the match for his team and pick up yet another win. After the match he challenged his teammate Hulk to a match for the Open The Freedom Gate Title when DGUSA went to Toronto in a couple of months.
Once again, great effort from the Dragon Gate USA crew. I thought that there was a terrific balance between the American and Japanese talent on this show, because usually it's pretty slanted in favor of the Japanese, but there were equal emphasis on both groups this time around and I think it made for a much more balanced show. I thought that Brian Kendrick, the Young Bucks, and Tommy Dreamer were both used very well in light of the fact that they were all on their way out of the company, and did a great job of giving guys like Quackenbush, Jigsaw, and Moxley a rub on their way out. We also saw more storyline progression with the final push to the formation of Kamikaze USA, as well as Yoshino coming back from two straight losses to Dragon Kid to score several big wins in a row and then finally use that momentum to challenge BxB Hulk to a title shot. I thought this was the stronger of the two Wrestlemania weekend events, so if you are in a position where you want to buy them but can only get one, pick this one.
And now, we move on to the bonus disc which, as usual, is chock full of extras. After starting out with the PPV promo video, the first match on the disc was an eight man tag with the Prophet, Derrick Niekirk & Irish Airborne against Chimera, Malachi Jackson & The Cutler Brothers. So basically, most of the guys from the Fray the previous evening. This was not a good match. There are spotfests that work because the guys in the match can make it flow seamlessly so it's just nonstop action (such as in the Dragon Gate six man), but this match was just eight guys coming in and doing spots for the sake of doing spots, it was disjointed, and just did not work well at all. So it was spot-spot-spot-spot-spot until the Cutlers hit a double team on one of the Irish Airborne and Malachi pinned him to get the win.
Match #2 was from way back in FIP in 2006, as Homicide took on SHINGO. Decent match, solid if nothing to write home about, but I think the point here was to show a Dragon Gate guy going up against (and beating) a known ROH guy. I'm still waiting for Sal to start producing some more FIP DVDs, he's got a bunch of shows from 2009-2010 that haven't seen a release and it seems kind of silly to not take advantage of the exposure your company gets on DVDs like this, because you may not get rich, but there's money to be made. Standard match, SHINGO beats Homicide up, Homicide comes back, but BJ Whitmer (when's the last time you heard that name?) interferes and allows SHINGO to nail a lariat and get the win.
We head to Japan for our next match, as we have a three way, elimination style tag match featuring wrestlers from probably the top three indy companies going today, with CIMA & BxB Hulk (Dragon Gate) taking on Austin Aries & Matt Sydal (ROH) and Chris Bosh & B-Boy (PWG). This was a solid and fast paced match, but to me the more interesting thing was that it illustrated some of the differences between American and Japanese crowds in terms of what gets a reaction and what doesn't, such as when Chris Bosh (who is entertaining to watch but not exactly a workrate machine) hit his kneeling punch to the groin on Matt Sydal. That is one of his big spots that always gets a pop in PWG, but he got zero reaction for it in Japan. I really enjoyed this one, and while it got be be a bit of a cluster at times, it goes back to what I was saying before in the eight man that opened the bonus disc where you have multi-man matches that work, and others that are just spotfests. This was an example of a match that made it work, and it featured a lot of spots and saves on near falls that didn't come off as contrived. Bosh's punch to the groin led to B-Boy rolling Sydal up to eliminate him, and then the match continued for several more minutes until GAMMA tried throwing powder in CIMA's gace from the outside, but missed and hit Bosh. Don Fuji then got into the ring and killed Bosh with a lariat, setting up CIMA to beat Bosh and get the win for the Dragon Gate team.
The final match on the bonus disc came from the Summer Adventure Tag League III from Japan, as BxB Hulk & Masato Yoshino took on SHINGO & YAMATO. I may be in the minority on this, but I'd like to see an indy company in the US try a round robin tournament, I think it'd be a lot of fun. Yes, I know the Field Of Honor flopped badly, but you only had one or two tournament matches per show and the whole thing stretched out over six months, and I think that if you took maybe three or four shows and dedicated them entirely to the tournament it wouldn't lose the fans like the Field Of Honor did. But as for the match itself, really hard fought match as both teams were only on their second match of the tournament and were furiously trying to get the win to earn some points for themselves. The closing minute or two saw SHINGO just killing Hulk with big move after big move, but Hulk wouldn't go down, and then finally they hit the time limit, so each team scored one point for themselves in the tournament.
Finally, we close the bonus disc with a highlight package recapping the events of the main show, and then we're out.
* * *
Another strong DVD set from Dragon Gate USA, and of the two Wrestlemania weekend events, I thought this one had the stronger main show, but by far the weaker bonus disc. But the main show is what you're really buying the DVD set for, so if you have to make a choice, pick this one. This was a notable event for DGUSA, both because it was their first time running Wrestlemania weekend on their own, and also because several wrestlers who had been a major part of DGUSA such as the Young Bucks, Brian Kendrick, and Tommy Dreamer, left the company after this event, necessitating that some wrestlers and storylines be sent in new directions going forward. Even though the focus has always been on the Japanese stars, these guys and also and especially Davey Richards were all meant to be big parts of the company on the American side, and the fact that they've managed to not only hold things together but continue to produce shows that, pound for pound, continue to beat the crap out of most shows that any other company in North America are doing is a major victory for Dragon Gate USA. Thumbs way up for this one, get it and enjoy.
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