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DRAGON GATE USA MERCURY RISING DVD REVIEW: ARIES CHALLENGES YAMATO AND TOZAWA CHALLENGES PAC IN TWO EXCELLENT TITLE MATCHES, THE RONIN-BLOOD WARRIORS FEUD CONTINUES, AND MUCH MORE

By Stuart Carapola on 2011-10-03 10:51:04
DGUSA continued with the second leg of their Wrestlemania weekend triple shot, as they presented Mercury Rising 2011 from the Presidential Ballroom in Atlanta. Dragon Gate had originally made their name in the United States during Wrestlemania weekend, but beyond that, this was also the first event they presented from their new, in-house internet streaming system at WWN Live. I watched the iPPV from home and was immediately impressed with the quality of the presentation, featuring a nearly flawless stream with clear video and sound throughout, as well as a series of excellent matches that included Austin Aries challenging YAMATO for the Open The Freedom Gate Title, as well as the next stage in the Ronin-Blood Warriors feud as they faced off in the show's six man main event.

DGUSA Mercury Rising 2011: 4/2/2011 in Atlanta, Georgia

The show kicked off with Arik Cannon taking on Jon Moxley, who had Valerie Malone and adult cinema star Trina Michaels in his corner. Cannon had just graduated from "random indy guy in Fray matches" to a more featured spot on the card, winning the Breakout Challenge the night before and then facing one of the top stars in the company just one night later. Solid opener where Cannon was given a good run at Moxley before Valerie Malone's distractions allowed Moxley to kick Cannon low and small package him for the win. Reby Sky, who had been going back and forth in a war of words (and occasional physical violence) with Moxley, ran in and laid Malone out, but was waylaid from behind by Michaels, with Lenny Leonard getting off a great line: "Just like Trina Michaels, always doing it from behind!" Lenny truly has usurped Joey Styles' spot as the announcer with the best lines in the business. Moxley proceeded to lay Trina down and make out with her in the middle of the ring, but they left before it turned into something Trina would want to film and distribute outside the auspices of Dragon Gate USA.

Next is a six man elimination match between Brodie Lee, Jimmy Jacobs, Silas Young, AR Fox, Jon Davis, and Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa, who I have no idea what to make of except that the live crowd seemed to know who he was and gave him a great reaction, and he looks like a Japanese gimmick comedy wrestler with huge fake Vulcan ears, antennae coming out the top of his head, and a pitchfork. His entire time in the match was a comedy routine that ended abruptly when Davis ripped his head off with a clothesline and pinned him, then Davis and Brodie renewed their rivalry from the night before. Both guys are such talented big men, and Brodie has an extra dash of surprise agility, hitting a flying headscissors on Davis and then wiping him out with a suicide dive through the ropes. Jacobs hit a double Contra Code (Sliced Bread #4?) on Fox and Young and then pinned Fox, but Young had the presence of mind to get his foot on the ropes and Davis killed Jacobs with the Pounce. Jacobs got the End Time on Brodie, Young came over and broke it so Jacobs got the End Time on him, and Young tapped out. Davis grabbed Jacobs and hoisted him up into a fireman's carry, but Brodie booted Davis in the face and JAcobs rolled him into a crucifix and pinned him. Now it's down to Brodie and his former leader Jimmy Jacobs, and they wound up out on the floor where Jacobs hit Brodie with Contra Code and appeared to hurt Brodie's shoulder. Brodie got up and skee balled Jacobs back into the ring, but Jacobs hit another Contra Code for 2, then went up to the top rope and Brodie hit a top rope butterfly suplex, a running big boot, and the Truckstop for the win. Jacobs got a good run here, but Brodie looked like a monster as he steamrolled over everyone in his path en route to victory. I enjoyed this more than most of the multi-way matches in DGUSA because it's fun to watch guys just go nuts with dives and stuff, but this match featured a nice variety of different styles that gave it a little more depth than usual.

Now we go to an interesting match between Open The Dream Gate Champion Masato Yoshino and Sami Callihan, who has spent all of 2011 trying to get noticed by DGUSA and given a shot to do something higher up the card. He's had some great matches all year, but has struggled to get ahead in terms of wins and losses, so he specifically challenged the guy at the top of the mountain to prove what he's made of. This never turned into the frantic war I expected it to, but it was still solid and Callihan looked good before Yoshino hit the Lightning Spiral and then forced Callihan to submit to the Sol Naciente. Callihan got a microphone and told the fans that he's done...um, "screwing" around, then throws the mic down and stalks off to the back.

Now for the match I was most looking forward to on this show, as PAC defends the Open The Brave Gate Title against Akira Tozawa. I love both guys to death, I think PAC is an amazing worker who can do it all, and Tozawa's stunning, career making weekend at the United events made him my personal MVP of that weekend, and also made him in Dragon Gate USA. I have to admit to getting a little marky in this one, because as much as I like PAC, I was really pulling for Tozawa to win the gold and cement the spot he had earned over United Weekend. They went back and forth for the first ten minutes until Tozawa took the advantage, wiping PAC out with three consecuritve dives to the floor and then turning him inside out with a backdrop suplex back in the ring. They had a furious exchange of forearms and kicks in the middle of the ring that Tozawa came out on top of, getting the crowd on their feet with a "this is awesome" chant. Tozawa continued destroying PAC with kicks and a German suplex that dumped PAC right on top of his head, then hit a second with a bridge, but only got two. Tozawa furiously tried for a third German suplex, but PAC hit a switch and hit a German suplex of his own and got the win. AWESOME match, easily the best thing on the show up to this point, and despite me feeling deep down like Tozawa should have won, this was excellent and both men got to show again what amazing talents they are. The entire Blood Warriors group ran out after Tozawa left, and laid out both PAC and Yoshino and promised that they would take the Open The United Gate Title the following evening.

We kick off the second half with a tag match featuring four guys who impressed DGUSA officials on the preshow seminar, as Danny Steel & Charade take on the Sin City Saints. Well, that was the plan at least. What ended up happening was Sami Callihan came in and laid them out, then got a microphone and told the crowd how piseed off he was. Arik Cannon came out and told him that he is pissed off too and nobody cares about Sami whining like a Mitch, then he turns around and lays out the preshow guys again, and he and Sami brawl all the way to the back. This ends up leading somewhere pretty cool, but I'll hold off on saying what to keep you in some kind of suspense.

Moving on, it's now time for the Open The Freedom Gate Title match, as YAMATO defends against Austin Aries, who said that he would leave DGUSA if he didn't win the title here. Aries hit the brainbuster and 450 splash within the first 90 seconds or so and the crowd went nuts thinking they were about to see the most shocking title change imaginable, but YAMATO survived and they went out and brawled on the floor. Aries kept up the assault for several minutes, but YAMATO turned the tide and began working over the knee of Aries for several minutes until Aries started his comeback, hitting a heat seeking missile to the outside and then a hanging DDT back on the inside. YAMATO launched Aries out to the floor with a backdrop, but Aries returned the favor with a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron. Aries hit a pair of IEDs and a brainbuster, but missed the 450 and YAMATO went for a brainbuster but Aries blocked and hit another of his own, then YAMATO hit a brainbuster and he only got 2. YAMATO hit the Galleria and Aries kicked out, so he hit a second Galleria and finally put Aries away. This was probably the best Austin Aries match I've seen in a long time, and this beat out PAC-Tozawa and is my current standing match of the night.

Now it's main event time, as Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann take on CIMA, Naruki Doi, and Ricochet. The heat between these two teams goes back to the end of 2010 when Ronin laid CIMA out and announced their formation, then went on to beat both Blood Warriors teams en route to the finals of the Open The United Gate Title tournament. Blood Warriors came back strong as they beat Ronin 4-0 in the Stable Shootout the night before, and have an opportunity to continue that momentum in this match. Blood Warriors jumped Ronin before the bell, and the annual Wrestlemania weekend six man tag commenced. This was the first time a team of Americans participated in the match, but Ronin didn't get off to a great start as they got beaten down by Blood Warriors with a series of smooth double and triple team combos. One of the things I like about these Dragon Gate six mans is the innovation shown in these matches where guys chain moves together to the point where it becomes a work of art. Lenny Leonard gave a history of the Dragon Gate six man going back to its debut in 2006 and how it got here as a part of DGUSA in 2011 as Blood Warriors continued to work Rich Swann over for several minutes.

Swann finally made the hot tag, and it turned into the Dragon Gate Six Man. They moved so fast and threw so much stuff at each other that there is now way I could possibly recap it all, but there is no doubt that it was a sight to see. Combos, double teams, triple teams, finishers, they threw it all out there. CIMA finally hit the Schwein and a top rope double kneedrop, then Doi hit the Muscular Bomb to get the win and put Blood Warriors over Ronin 5-0 for the weekend. Masato Yoshino & PAC ran in afterward and got into a brawl, but they ended up in a standoff and CIMA said that Blood Warriors will take the Open The United Gate Title.

* * *

DGUSA kicked off their in-house iPPV era with a really strong show. It had the Dragon Gate six man, but I actually have to say that it was the third best match on the show because Aries-YAMATO and PAC-Tozawa were both so strong that I just couldn't vote against them. The message to take away from that is that this show featured three top notch matches, which pretty much makes this show an automatic thumbs up.

For more information on Dragon Gate USA, ordering DVDs, or anything else DGUSA related, head on over to Dragon Gate USA's website.