In terms of firsts, Open The Ultimate Gate would feature Masato Yoshino & PAC's first defense of the Open The United Gate Title, as they defend against the Blood Warriors duo of CIMA & Naruki Doi. Also, Akira Tozawa would get his first main event in DGUSA as he faces Open The Freedom Gate Champion YAMATO in a non-title match.
The show kicked off with Johnny Gargano taking on Jimmy Rave in what was definitely not wrestled as an opening match, and DEFINTELY wasn't presented as "hey, here's this guy Jimmy Rave you might remember who's going to show up and do a six minute job to the guy that matters" either. Both guys worked their asses off and went probably 15-20 minutes, and this saw Rave being presented as an equal to one of the top Americans in the company as he controlled a good portion of the match and was able to continually the Gargano Escape and Hurts Donut. Gargano finally hit Hurts Donut after several attempts, but Rave kicked out (one of the first people I remember doing so), so Gargano went right into the Gargano eScape and Rave finally tapped.
I loved this match, it presented Rave as a real threat even though we haven't seen him in a while and that made Gargano look so much better when he beat a main event level player. Rave also looked amazing, he's in great shape and is such a good worker, and this definitely didn't come off like a one time appearance just to put Gargano over. The crowd gave him a terrific reaction and he worked his ass off to have a good match, so if this does get him a regular spot on the roster, he earned it.
We move on to a six way Freestyle that includes Sami Callihan, Rich Swann, Lince Dorado, Silas Young, Arik Cannon, and AR Fox. This is different from a Fray like the one from the night before because it's one fall instead of elimination, and was all about Sami and Cannon going at it. These two had run afoul of each other last night and this was their first time face to face since then. They had a great segment toward the end of the match where they went toe to toe and the other guys in the match would keep trying to get in on the action, but then they'd work together and beat the intruders down before going back to fighting each other. After finally clearing out everyone else in the match, they had a staredown and then walked out together. So I guess it's now a four way Freestyle, Swann hits the triple jump 450 on Dorado for the win and then does RONIN (BABY) with the crowd.
The next match was a complete squash, as Brodie Lee annihilated Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa in about three minutes. Blood Warriors came out before the match and CIMA called Ichikawa a cockroach and a joke, and Brodie steamrolled over him and hit the Truckstop for the win. Ronin came out after that and Brodie told Swann to shut the (expletive) up in the middle of his ring intro, and challenged Taylor to get in the ring and fight him.
Ronin had lost every single match they had faced Blood Warriors in all weekend, but were now 2-0 on the evening against other opponents and wanted to at least get one win against Blood Warriors here. Taylor and Brodie had a solid match where Brodie overwhelmed him and beat him down, but Taylor tried to use his speed to outmaneuver Brodie. At one point Taylor lured Brodie into chopping the ringpost, an injury he struggled with for the rest of the match, but he hit the Truckstop and Taylor kicked out, so he followed up with a sitout powerbomb and that was enough to get the win and put Blood Warriors at an astounding 6-0 over Ronin for the weekend.
I'm not bothered by the fact that Ronin came up empty against Blood Warriors and I don't see it as a sign that they're being buried or put in their place or anything like that, because the truth is that they had a great showing against Blood Warriors in January and CIMA tapped out clean to Johnny Gargano, and good luck finding video of him doing jobs to any other Americans, much less tapping out. To me, United Weekend was Ronin's Star Wars, and this weekend was the Empire Strikes Back where everything went to hell, and they now have to regroup and come back strong whenever Return of the Jedi happens.
Since they're all out in the ring already, CIMA and Naruki Doi call out Masato Yoshino and PAC for their Open The United Gate Title match. PAC got to play Englishman-in-peril for most of the match as CIMA and Doi took the opportunity to show off every innovative double team and submission holds they could think of, but finally Doi got a little too cute with slapping PAC around and PAC managed to make the hot tag to Yoshino. Yoshino went to town and did one awesome spot where he slumped Doi over the bottom rope, then went all the way to the top of the entryway and hit a big running kneestrike to Doi's skull. From there, they went into the Dragon Gate blitzkreig where all hell breaks loose and everyone in the match goes nuts with crazy move after crazy move. PAC kicked out of the Schwein, Yoshino kicked out of the Bakatare Sliding Kick and then trapped Doi in Sol Naciente. CIMA frantically tried to get into the ring to make the save, but PAC managed to hold him at bay while Doi held on for as long as he possibly could before finally giving up the ghost.
Ronin came out after the match to mock Blood Warriors and Gargano told CIMA that it sucks they lost, but he realized that CIMA abbreviates his name, and it's actually short for she-male. He leads the crowd in a chant of she-male, prompting CIMA to loosen his tights and check the validity of Gargano's claim, but thankfully he didn't share the results with the rest of us. I guess to go back to my earlier analogy, this would be the scene at the end of Empire when Luke gets his prosthetic hand attached and they watch Lando and Chewie leave in the Millenium Falcon to search for Han Solo, and we knew everything would be all right in the end.
Lenny Leonard comes out to the ring to start the second half and introduces the Dark City Fight Club, who says they came here to face the best teams in professional wrestling. Sami Callihan and Arik Cannon come out and say that it's appropriate that they call themselves the Dark City Fight Club, because they came out here for a fight. Callihan and Cannon jump the DCFC and we now have an impromptu tag match between the DCFC and Callihan/Cannon. To say this match was stiff would be a gross, gross understatement because these two teams, to put it bluntly, beat the absolute shit out of each other. If you ever saw way back in FIP when the DCFC made their name by completely destroying Black Market, who had been the badass team in FIP for a long time, this is the same thing except now the DCFC was on the wrong side of the feud and Callihan & Cannon were the breakouts. Just a total battle where Kory Chavis side suplexed Callihan onto the ring apron, then Callihan wiped Jon Davis out with a diving clothesline, then Davis nearly launched Callihan into the third row withthe Pounce, then they went outside where Callihan backdropped Davis into the ropes so Cannon could superkick him in the face, then Callihan hit a nasty backdrop suplex on Chavis and Cannon followed up with the Glimmering Warlock for the win.
Callihan grabbed a microphone after the match and said that he realized that if he wasn't going to get any recognition from Dragon Gate USA, he'd find another nasty guy who wasn't getting a shot. He doesn't care about the other teams, he doesn't care about DGUSA, and he doesn't even care what they call them, and they can call them the Dirty Ugly F***s for all he cares. The fans start chanting "Dirty Ugly F***s", so Cannon takes the microphone and says if that's what they want to call them, then they'll be known from now on as the Dirty Ugly F***s. Great promo from a new team that I have a feeling I'm really going to like. These two are hard hitting monsters who had one of the stiffest matches I've ever seen at EVOLVE 4, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do as a team in DGUSA.
Now it's time for Austin Aries making his final appearance in Dragon Gate USA, as he faces a man he knows very well: Jimmy Jacobs. I loved this match, it reminded me a lot of CM Punk's final match in ROH against Colt Cabana as it was less about putting on a killer match than it was just having a feel good match to send Aries off into the sunset on a high note. Jacobs got Aries in a headscissors early in the match and Aries popped his head out with a big smile on his face and said "You're really going to put me in a headscissors?" Jacobs put him back in the headscissors so Aries could do his favorite spot one final time, and sure enough, Aries popped out and dropkicked Jacobs in the face. Next, Jacobs went for his spinning headscissors and Aries caught his ankles coming in, but let Jacobs do the move anyway for old time's sake. Things got a little heated after that as the patting on the back turned to shoves and eventually slaps to the face and they brawled on the outside before heading back in for more fun, as Aries caught Jacobs in the Tree of Woe, but yelled to the fans "Tree of WOO!" and chopped at Jacobs. Aries kicked out of the Contra Code, then got the knees up when Jacobs went for the top rope senton. Aries hit a brainbuster and went up for the 450, Jacobs moved and hit the spear, but Aries rolled right through into the Last Chancery. Jacobs got out and caught Aries in the End Time, but Aries powered to his feet and escaped, hitting the kick to the head and going for the brainbuster, but JAcobs rolled him into a small package and got the win.
The crowd completely turned on the finish of that match and started a "what the f***" chant, then started chanting Aries' name before chanting "thank you Austin" at the departing star. Aries and Jacobs shared a hug and Jimmy Rave also came out to give Aries a hug as the fans chanted Aries' name and asked for a speech. Aries gave a really nice speech about how he had no expectations when he got into the business, but it's allowed him to see the world and he appreciated the fans and the guys in the back for giving him the fuel he needed to give the best performances he had in him night after night. He says these moments are often "passing the torch" moments, and he wants to pass the torch right now and calls Ronin out to the ring. He puts them all over and says that they can be the future of this business if they want it, but then Blood Warriors comes out and Aries says he doesn't appreciate them coming out here because they're everything Ronin is not and they think respect should just be handed to them. He challenges them to come into the ring and earn their respect, and Blood Warriors teases coming into the ring before leaving. Aries says since they don't want to earn respect, that means he's finally found his purpose...and he lays Gargano and Swann out with the microphone. Blood Warriors floods into the ring and they beat Ronin down 4-on-3 in truly brutal fashion.
Well, I don't remember a scene where the Empire attacked Luke, Lando, Leia and company at the end of Empire Strikes Back so I guess my analogy falls apart at this point, but I really enjoyed this because it had all the appearances of a true final appearance by Aries before they went in an entirely different, unexpected direction. Vince Russo can watch this and learn the right way to do a swerve, because I don't think anybody saw this coming, and I mean that in a good way. Great match and great postmatch angle.
Now Akira Tozawa comes out for his scheduled main event against Open The Freedom Gate Champion YAMATO, but Jon Moxley comes to the ring with YAMATO and says that Tozawa's match with YAMATO can become a title match if he can beat Moxley first in a No DQ match. Moxley jumped Tozawa to start the match and proceeded to lay a beating on him, and even Trina Michaels got in on the action as Lenny got to lay out all kinds of lines about Trina going low on Tozawa and mounting him. Moxley set up a couple of chairs to dump Tozawa on, but Tozawa German suplexed Moxley onto the chairs and then hit a second German suplex for the win. Trina attacked Tozawa again, and Reby Sky ran in to lay her out and take her out of the equation for...
Akira Tozawa challenging YAMATO for the Open The Freedom Gate Title. The crowd is going nuts for Tozawa at this point as YAMATO again sends Moxley to the back so he can face Tozawa one-on-one. Tozawa gets the advantage early on, but gets into an ill-advised slugfest with YAMATO and ends up getting the short end of that exchange. YAMATO proceeds to take Tozawa apart by attacking the back and legs as well as wearing him down with hard strikes, but Tozawa mounts a comeback by dumping YAMATO to the floor and hitting the triple dives to the outside. Tozawa started killing YAMATO with suplexes, but YAMATO caught him in a single leg crab that did more damage to the legs. They went nuts at this point, destroying each other with stiff kicks until Tozawa hit another backdrop suplex, more kicks, and another German suplex, YAMATO caught him out of nowhere with a kick to the head and brainbuster, but Tozawa survived and wiped him out with a Shining Wizard. The crowd is going nuts for Tozawa at this point as he hits two German suplexes but can't beat YAMATO. YAMATO blocks a third and gets the sleeper suplex, kick to the head, and brainbuster for 2. YAMATO immediately follows up with Galleria, but Tozawa kicks out at 1 so YAMATO destroys him with a flurry of hard forearm shots and hits another Galleria to finally put Tozawa down for 3.
YAMATO gets the microphone after the match and tells Tozawa that he respects him, then leads the crowd in a round of applause for Tozawa. YAMATO and Tozawa shake hands and hug as the crowd chants Tozawa's name, and he heads to the back as YAMATO thanks the crowd for coming. Much like Ronin, Tozawa lost some matches this weekend,but came out looking better than he did going in because he lost to PAC, but it was close enough that it could have gone either way, and then he just barely lost to YAMATO and kicked out of his finisher at 1, but he had already been through a No DQ match with Jon Moxley before even getting in the ring with YAMATO, and would certainly be a believable challenger if he ever got another shot at either guy.
* * *
This DVD was absolutely amazing. Easily the best of the three DGUSA events that weekend, and you just had this nonstop barrage of awesome starting at the opener as Gargano and Rave tore it up, through Brodie Lee's unstoppable path of rage, the absolute war of the Open The United Gate Title match, the debut of the DUFs and the way they tore the Dark City Fight Club apart, Austin Aries' false retirement match and subsequent angle where he joined Blood Warriors, and the two Akira Tozawa matches where he beat Jon Moxley and nearly beat YAMATO.
This show kicked ass, and I have to give DGUSA credit for being the only company crazy enough to run a show the SAME DAY as Wrestlemania, and totally blowing away everything on it with the exception of Undertaker-Triple H. Akira Tozawa continued to look awesome, the DUFs got elevated, Jimmy Rave showed he can bring it at a main event level, and Brodie Lee tore through everyone in his path yet again as he remains the only unstoppable monster in the company.
I cannot recommend this show highly enough, and you can find information on ordering the DVD and everything else Dragon Gate USA-related at DGUSA's website.
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