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By Stuart Carapola on 2012-12-12 08:19:38
Dragon Gate USA headed out west to California to kick off 2012 with Open The Golden Gate, an event that took place as part of WrestleReunion weekend. DGUSA came to Los Angeles with a loaded card that did not include Open The Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano, who was on the shelf with a back injury, and I think it speaks to the strength of the DGUSA roster that they can put together a lineup like this even with their champion out of action. Let's see how it worked out in practice.

BxB Hulk opened the show against Low Ki, who had debuted in EVOLVE at the last Arena event and now comes to DGUSA. I'm a bit surprised that this was used as an opener because I think this is the kind of match you could main event a show with given their name value and talent. I'm not sure I would have put Low Ki over Hulk at this stage since Hulk headlined the company for over a year, but Hulk's been bumped pretty well down the card lately and isn't presented as being on the same level he was when he was champion. Low Ki hit the Ki Krusher and then came off the top rope with a double stomp for the win, then had a staredown with Tozawa as he and Hulk left the ring.

The Young Bucks returned to DGUSA after a nearly two year absence to face Chuck Taylor and Scorpio Sky, who was brought in as a last minute replacement for Rich Swann. You could tell Sky was really working his ass off here to make a good impression in front of his hometown, and I thought he stood out as the star of the show even though Taylor and the Bucks were the ones with the name status in DGUSA. The Bucks at one point hit a devastating looking double Tombstone that probably should have ended the match, but they continued until the Bucks hit More Bang For Your Buck on Sky for the win.

Masato Yoshino took on Naruki Doi in a match between former longtime tag partners who had been driven apart by their desires to be the Open The Dream Gate Champion. Lenny Leonard went into great detail on their long history, discussing their start in Toryumon and eventual friendship that lasted until Doi lost the Open The Dream Gate Title to YAMATO, who then in turn lost it to Yoshino. Doi couldn't accept being shown up by his partner, leading to the end of their team and eventually this match. Doi and Yoshino obviously know each other well and had counters to all of the other's best moves, including Doi becoming I think only the second or third person I've ever seen escape Sol Naciente. Yoshino got it a second time and grapevined the leg, leaving a trapped Doi no choice but to concede the match. I liked how this match was presented, as Lenny's commentary gave it a feeling of importance given their history.

The AR Fox-Sami Callihan feud continued in a Tables Match that Fox requested after Callihan brutalized his mentor Sabu at the final ECW Arena show. Fox continues to impress in hardcore matches with his ability to capture the emotion of his blood feud with Callihan, while also showing a willingness to take punishment like one insane bump where Callihan backdropped him onto a piece of guardrail that had been bridged between the ring apron and the barricade. Callihan later gave him a running Awesome Bomb over the top rope onto that same piece of guardrail, then came out to the floor and gave Fox another Awesome Bomb through a table for the win. Short but violent match that turned the momentum of the feud back in Callihan's favor.

Jon Davis faced Caleb Konley of the Scene in a match that was more competitive than the squash I expected going in, as Konley did a good job of using heel tactics to wear the big man down while Larry Dallas and the girls at ringside served as distractions. Davis still got the win after hitting Three Seconds Around The World, but I thought this was the best singles match Konley has had since coming to DGUSA/EVOLVE.

I thought Akira Tozawa vs PAC was the best thing on the show. They had faced each other before, but Tozawa was only beginning to rise up the card at the time and lost the first encounter. Tozawa continued to improve and, by this time, had usurped leadership of Blood Warriors and became a bonafide top star in Dragon Gate. PAC had also continued to improve and had not only developed one of the best physiques in the business, but had become one of the best high flyers in the business as well with his rare ability to hit insanely complex moves with 100% accuracy. I'd have to watch the first match again to say which was better, but this was easily my favorite match on the show and was yet another "can he do it?" milestone match for Tozawa. Tozawa avenged his previous loss to PAC by getting his knees up as PAC went for a Spiral Tap, then destroyed him with a bicycle kick and multiple German suplexes to earn yet another huge win.

We wrap it up with CIMA & Ricochet defending the Open The United Gate Title against Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Susumu, the former Susumu Yokosuka who changed his name because Jimmy is the Japanese word for boring and he decided to embrace his newfound status as the Japanese Lance Storm. This was your standard DGUSA main event tag match where one side gets heat on the other, then the momentum switches, and then everyone comes in and does spot after spot after spot after spot after spot until one guy hits a spot and his partner can't make the save. I don't mean to make it sound like these matches are bad because they're not, I'm continually astounded by the kinds of things these guys do, but it sometimes gets difficult to find anything to set these matches apart from one another because they're so similar. It's like when Nigel McGuinness was the ROH World Champion and the big knock against him was that he used 37,000 lariats in every match to the point where all his matches started to look the same, and I think DGUSA main events could stand a little more variety. CIMA hit several finishers on Susumu for the win, then Hulk and Tozawa ran in and attacked everyone in the ring except Ricochet. Low Ki runs in and chases Hulk and Tozawa off, then cuts a promo putting over the level of competition in DGUSA and all the participants in the main event.

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Open The Golden Gate featured a ton of great wrestling, and even though nothing important happened from a storyline standpoint, almost every match on here was very good to blowaway amazing. I do think it's time to start changing up the main events because, for as athletic as they are, the DGUSA tag team main event style has gotten extremely repetitive, while the undercard matches like Fox vs Callihan and Low Ki vs Hulk are what stand out to me and become what I rate the shows on. thumbs up from me, and you can find ordering information for this DVD and other Dragon Gate USA merch at

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