It’s time for Dragon Gate’s last hurrah; Final Gate 2015! Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the card, it has many elements that affect not only the future of the company, but all of the roster headed into the new year. It’s VerserK vs. the DG world, and VerserK’s care-free leader vs. the veteran that has the best chance of taking the Dream Gate back ‘home’ for the rest of the roster. All titles are up for capture: Eita looks to finally capture the Brave Gate, as he takes on “BLEHHHHHHH” Kotoka, Gamma & Punch look to show YamaDoi that the vets can not only capture the main title, but take off the grip of the stranglehold on the Twin Gates that the best team in the world have had on for nearly 200 days, the Triangle Gate will be defended in a battlefield four-way triangles tag with all stables clashing sans Over Generation, and as aforementioned; the main event pits Dragon Gate veteran and legend CIMA vs. Shingo Takagi. As always the show does indeed have potential even if the whole card isn’t personally aesthetically pleasing. Let’s get to the matches.
Dragon Gate Final Gate
December 27, 2015
Fukuoka Kokusai Center
A plain and simple opener. It was real cool to see Fujii, Yosuke & God damn NOSAWA out of all people tag together. I thought Lindaman held the tag together well when he was in the ring, as he was the person that match revolved around minus Fujii, in the sense that he’d always guide O.G.’s young boys to false senses of hope like outsmarting Fujji a few times. In terms of Ishida & Yamamura, they were solid as per usual and of course couldn’t get in tons of offense or showmanship. The dynamic of former Millennials member Lindaman vs. former Millenials member Yosuke was intriguing to see none the less, and that’s how the finish ended up. Lindaman hit his combo suplexes, topped off with the Locomotive Tiger Hold suplex he’s building up as a nice looking be-all-end-all finish for the win.
This was a nice little fun match — slightly a step above the opener for reasons you’d assume. U-T was worked over for a good portion of the match which built to the DG tag sprint we all know and love. There was your dose of Kzy comedy in here as well, with him making J.K.S. leave the ring at the start of the match due to respect (outsmarting him to make him breakdance pose). Also, Kzy woke up a dazed, worked over U-T to do a stereo tope to the outside. After a sequence where Kanda was taken out and Kzy/U-T thought they had the match won, the momentum flipped and Kanda pinned U-T with his massive diving elbow drop. Solid stuff for what it was. Didn’t need to be anything else.
Coliseum 2015 – Unlimited 10 Minute Round Rules
X (“Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa) vs. Masakatsu Funaki
Bah gawd! Ichikawa was X all along dammit. What a crazy hybrid match this’ll be. Dana White wish he could. Oh wait, it’s over. Stalker tapped right away in Round 1. Of course we get a rematch. This time it’s open fingers. There was more hope this time around for poor Stalker, but even with Mochi’s assistance via holding down Funaki for a missed dive — you can tell it didn’t come to fruition. A glorious ref bump occurs but he’s down for the kick/pin combo from Funaki. Stalker smiles in an amazing moment. The ref fast counted for Stalker’s roll-up but it still wasn’t enough! Funaki, on the other side of the ring, convinced Stalker that he could crossbody across the ring. That didn’t happen. A brainbuster, and a helluva lot of kicks finally put the eternal jobber away. Not in the way you think however as a towel was thrown in. I loved the booking of this, and honestly, Funaki looks the most motivated he’s been in a while. He thoroughly was enjoying himself. Fun wild graps~!
A very good, well-rounded title defense for Kotoka. He’s improved leaps and bounds in such a short time, incorporating better offense into his persona. Eita went straight after Kotoka’s right leg, and Kotoka replied back many times during the match; countering by going after that same body part. Eita is tremendous to watch, and works well in the face in peril scenario vs. a Kotoka who used VerserK to gain the advantage and start the brawling type of offense mid-match. There were lots of nice back and forth sequences, and tons of unique moments as we really got the best of both worlds in brawling and technicality plus the late-Christmas gift of Kotoka playing his character to a tee WITH the offense. Eventually, Eita got Kotoka in the stretch with the right leg incorporated. However, Cyber Kong brought a chair in and SMASHED it over Eita’s head. Kotoka hit the top rope splash but Eita still kicked out. He hit the meteora for the win, as the ref hesitated to count to 3, then really lightly hitting the mat; causing mass confusion but the call stood. What’s also funny is the fact that literally none of O.G. helped Eita fight the war. Lindaman stared VerserK down once and that was it for the ‘help’.
I may have to accept the fact that the best tag team in the world are about to lose their titles. Annnnndddd…they’re still champs! Thank goodness. However, this was about as good of a match you’ll get out of Gamma & Punch, and about as successful you could get at getting me to believe that they may be dethroned this match. YAMADoi working over someone feels so natural, and that’s what helped build to the elongated, you kick out I kick out type of finish. You betcha there were tons and tons of hope kickouts spots from (mostly Punch) and Gamma. Punch really carried this team and worked from under beautifully. Gamma was fine…but Gamma. This match went through phases I didn’t think it would. From work over to goofiness to the dramatic sequences to the end all be all finale; this was as good as you could get in these circumstances. Punch survived both of the Bakatare Sliding Kick AND the Galleria. But, with YAMADoi finally together in unison for the finish, with Gamma finally out of the picture; both provided their blitz of offense which was capped off by a YAMATO try-it-again Galleria that finally put Punch down for good. This solidifies YAMATO & Doi as Tag Team of the Year for me, as they just got a ***3/4-**** match out of one of the worst possible tag team combinations in Dragon Gate (literally, and to work with). This found its own identity and did not feel out of place like it did on paper prior to the show.
My word. I knew this was going to be hectic, but I was still impressed with everything here. These guys literally went all out and full DG mode for this tag. It touched every subject matter of course: violent yet light hearted in many ways. There is no possible way I could even recollect half of what went down, but there were tons of highlights regarding the absolute show put on by these four teams. Mondai Ryu comes to mind first, as the man was a rag doll for everything/everyone in the match. He took the string to the face along with Tanizaki, which was an excellent light hearted approach to break things down after the faces get in on the action. Tozawa had an excellent outing as usual, oozing charisma and being the star of the show anytime he was in the ring. The three Monster Express members continued to show me why they’re meant to be placed together, as they have chemistry backed up with the right look. Mochi proved that he was the man once again. The man even hit a dive! I will not ramble on like a grandpa half awake right now, but I feel the urge to as I recollect the more I type. Some other bright spots were the massive amounts of hoss battles in the tag, with Big R/T-Hawk/Cyber Kong being placed in predicaments vs. each other, as well as comedy when they shared a Fatal 4-Way with Saito. Susumu remains underrated, being the overlooked participant in the tag, doing lots of good with kickout spots both on offense and defense, and overall outputting a great performance. Dragon Kid was meant for this match, and there is so much more to say but I’m cutting it off. This was the Dragon Gate pace at its finest, with wacky spots all over the place, as well as a mixture of dynamics and insane kickouts like no other place in a squared circle. Big R was eliminated via a Susumu lariat and Dia.Hearts were out first. Mondai Ryu, after taking two corner ‘trains’ of violence was put out with a Saito hop splash. There goes VerserK’s hopes of capturing all the gold. Tozawa won the match for Monster Express to retain with a package German on Saito.
It took three Last Falconry’s to put CIMA away. The struggle to get there was not perfect, but it was indeed captivating along the way. Being awake at 3 A.M. watching may as well be considered a disadvantage, but the end goal got me hooked as if I was fully awake. The match started off as something ideal with fire from both sides and limbs targeted. They even made their way to the stage to pull off some magic. However, the finale on the stage was a Takagi Tombstone on CIMA (that did not nearly look as good as it could of, with CIMA bumping on his hands). From then on, it felt as if the match dipped down; but eventually it popped back up for the build to the finish. CIMA pulled out every move of his arsenal. Not even two meteora’s were enough to put Shingo away. Not even two Last Falconry’s were enough to put CIMA away. These men fought through close-call near falls that finally got Fukuoka on its feet cheering for the O.G. leader. I’m hearing there were tons of callback spots, but it’s a shame I’m such a limited consumer of the product; as this is where a match could be taken to an even higher level for someone with a vast knowledge of past happenings and matches. The match was still fantastic, with twists and turns branching off of every near fall, the weaker CIMA got, and the louder the fans got. This main event delivered, and the booking of Shingo as the monster unstoppable heel to end the year continues to the satisfaction of just about every stateside fan.
SWERVE ALERT: In a completely unexpected move, Jimmy Susumu attacked Shingo Takagi post-match. This is unreal, as Susumu is the most underrated Jimmy to me, and is one of the most underappreciated performers in Japan in general. Jimmy Susumu challenges Shingo Takagi for the Dream Gate Championship on February 14 at Hakata Star Lanes. What a fantastic matchup, and something that was completely surprising to end the year.
Final Gate 2015 was simply a good show, and I can’t ask for more from arguably the most consistent wrestling company on the planet. The undercard wasn’t much and flew by, with Funaki/Stalker being more fun than you actually thought, all four title matches were great with the main being the best, Twin Gate second, triangle a close third, and lastly, the Brave Gate last; yet at ***1/2 still solid as can be. With Shingo still champ, yet a new generation arising at the forefront to save Dragon Gate, 2016 is shaping up to be a helluva year in all aspects.