Dragon Gate Kobe World Festival
July 24, 2016
Watch: RealHero Puroresu Drive
Kobe Sambo Hall – Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Over Generation (Gamma, Kaito Ishida & Takehiro Yamamura) vs. VerserK (Cyber Kong, Mondai Ryu & Naoki Tanizaki)
This was your run of the mill opener. Nothing much of note happened but I really enjoyed the 2 vs. 1 banter with Cyber Kong getting in the way of Ishida and Yamamura, preventing their offense, but they both escaped Kong’s counters at times. There were some cool spots such as a double stacked on knee, knee drop from the top. We got the vintage Dragon Gate train of offense but Over Generation stayed in for a little bit more. Ishida kicked out of the lariat but the Cyber Bomb put him over. VerserK get bragging rights from the jump.
Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi HAGeeMee, Jimmy K-ness JKS, Futa Nakamura & Ryo Jimmy Saito) vs. Monster Express (Big R Shimizu & Syachihoko BOY), Stalker Ichikawa & U-T
Fun match for second on the card. Let’s get straight to the point. FUTA NAKAMURA IS SHINGO TAKAGI JR. This dude was insanely impressive on first exposure to me. They spotlighted him and Shimizu (who has been awesome this year) in hoss segments. The best part being Futa deadlift wrenching Shimizu out of a cover to lay him to waste. We also got HAGeeMee attempting the rubber band spot but it backfiring on him. Stalker’s involvement in the match was comedic in itself cause he did nothing but break up a pin and get slapped by JKS. JKS and BOY rolled around and had a hoot of a sequence. This led to a Shotput Slam and a pin for JKS. Shimizu gets the win for his team. Good stuff.
El Lindaman vs. Jimmy Kanda
This was shorter than expected but was a fun showcase match for Lindaman. I expected more, I mean that’s all I can say. This was like 5 minutes. Lindaman squashed Kanda. He even was on the offensive for most of the time. I can’t comment all that much on a match that literally passed me by with the blink of an eye. It’s amazing how great Lindaman has gotten. The pairing with Yosuke is fantastic. Kanda is always solid to watch. They produced a solid squash where Lindaman comes out looking better than ever. Lindaman pinned Kanda after the locomotive suplex. Go Tribe Vanguard! Woot woot.
Don Fujii & Masakatsu Funaki vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
What a damn time to be alive. I never in a million years expected this exact match to be on KOBE WORLD. Three of my favorite veterans (with my absolute favorite being Fujiwara) and you add in Masakatsu f’n Funaki into the mix and you got a shoot. A perfect weird addition to the card. This match started off as a hoot and stayed that way. Seeing Fujiwara not only walk down a 2016 Dragon Gate ramp, but brawl throughout the arena with Fujii was wild. Poor Fujiwara was nearly thrown off an elevated staircase! Funaki and Mochizuki were stood on the apron just going “WTF?” It was so glorious. When they made their way back to the ring we got hoots and shoots. Fujiwara ended up getting the hot tag and locking in the Fujiwara arm bar. That didn’t tap anyone out just yet. Funaki with stiff kicks as per usual and some more dad banter. Who cares anyway though because Fujiwara locked in the damn arm bar and tapped out Don Fujii. The in match feud came to an end just like that. God bless this company and this match. YER DA’S HAD A PURO BAR FIGHT!
(Open the Brave Gate Championship) Yosuke Santa Mania (c) vs. Eita
What. A. Match. If there was any way to balance the legitimately of Santa Maria as champ and her not wanting to drop it and Eita overall being a freaking badass and capturing it no matter what – guess what? It was this match. This had a slow build for Dragon Gate standards but picked RIGHT back up into the ridiculous 2015 Tozawa match like pace with ridiculous sequences and amazing storytelling. The storytelling was the action like a lot of time in Dragon Gate. We got insanely stiff knees and strikes, and moves seemed to have just *that* much more impact in the Brave Gate dynamic here. These two tore it up and it was an absolute pleasure watching two of my favorites in the company having a 4+ star match. The finishing sequence was incredible. After 2.99999 (literally) kickouts and me popping off my seat, Eita locked in Numero Uno and made the reign of Yosuke come to an end. Sad face for that, but I’m so happy Eita won the title he failed to capture last year in a fantastic match.
(Open the Twin Gate Championship) Jimmyz (Jimmy Kagetora & Jimmy Susumu) (c) vs. VerserK (Naruki Doi & YASSHI)
This title defense was solid for the sole reason that it eventually became at least good. It didn’t help that I was tired as all hell when this match took place, but Kagetora put on a hell of a performance. From getting part of his facial hair cut off to blossoming in the air or in the match in general, he was unreal here. Susumu being good too. Doi absolutely carried YASSHI and there’s no way around that. YASSHI did a few cool things like bump out of the ring doing a tope to himself, but he didn’t contribute anything to the match at all. When the match did pick up it got real good for the time being. Vintage Dragon Gate tag team things such as exceptional near falls and wonderful double team/in and out offense saved this. Mondai Ryu threw the powder in Doi’s face of course, which led do a dazed and confused Doi almost garnering a title win for VerserK even if blinded. Susumu was in Doi’s predicament against Shingo for the title. Susumu pinned Doi after a Jumbo no Kaichi. Nothing to rave over though. Very rough first half and a fun second half plus me being tired made it still mostly skippable.
(Open the Triangle Gate Championship) Monster Express (Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino & T-Hawk) (c) vs. Over Generation (CIMA & Dragon Kid) & Peter Kaasa vs. Tribe Vanguard (BxB Hulk, Flamita & Kzy)
What a freaking match on paper! Holy shit. So many combinations and dynamics. Over Generation did a triangle handstand to pyro. You can’t get much cooler than that. This was a MOTYC. Writing this at 2:20 AM PT, going into it tired as hell, it gave me just the type of surge a nap of the same timeframe would – and made me realize why I continue to love professional wrestling. Nobody does the multi-man match better than Dragon Gate. This is another prime example why. This is another Dragon Gate multi-man on my MOTY list. Everything about this clicked. Peter Kaasa had arguably my favorite performance in a multi-man this year anywhere. He did so many flips throughout the match and did so many power moves as well. This man is the future of pro wrestling. He’s maybe even my favorite wrestler right now. The non flippy/as spotty guys served as perfect foil. Everybody worked together to piece together a near perfection classic. This ended up being elimination. Kaasa pinned Kzy with a Red Arrow and Tozawa pinned Dragon Kid with a German suplex to retain the Triangle Gate championship. Those asking for a star rating can get it here. ****1/2
Quentin takes over for the main event.
(Open The Dream Gate Championship) Shingo Takagi (c) vs YAMATO
Coming in to this match I was very conflicted.
On one hand I loved the story and build to this main event. YAMATO on a crusade to end the tyranny of evil ex-stablemate Shingo. YAMATO went from amazing heel to a babyface that we could rally with. Shingo was his awesome prick self. The match sold itself on the story and characters alone.
On the other hand, Dream Gate title matches are very hit and miss with me. I was scared that this match would drag on. I even started to doubt whether or not Shingo and YAMATO could keep me compelled all the way through.
I was a fool to ever doubt these men on this big a stage with the lights on bright. This match was incredible. This match had more of an edge than typical Dream Gate title matches do. There was an intensity, an animosity, a drive for each man to get rid of the thorn in their side. There’s no meandering mat work here, these guys are all business. Early on YAMATO’s gameplan was to work on Shingo’s arm. It worked…for a little bit. Shingo took control and this portion of the match is where both guys started to shine. Shingo worked over and bullied YAMATO in a way only he can. Even on Dragon Gate’s biggest show of the year, Shingo still has the gull to taunt and talk shit to the crowd and YAMATO. Despite saying how much Shingo shined as a heel, YAMATO was somehow even better as a babyface. YAMATO is the king of facial expressions and the way he exemplified struggle and pain throughout was brilliant. We all praised him for his work as an overconfident heel, but YAMATO perfectly fits the “people’s champion” role. When YAMATO is struggling to his feet, you’re struggling with him. I could talk all day about the character work from these two, but when they kicked this baby in to high gear, this entered another atmosphere.
The counters, strike exchanges, and nearfalls had me screaming and jumping out of my seat. The sequences they pulled off were breathtaking. Shingo’s selling probably won’t get as much credit as it deserves, but he was amazing selling his arm down the stretch. When all was said and done and the dust from this epic encounter finally settled, YAMATO emerged victorious after hitting Shingo with all he had and finished with a Galleria. A match of the year candidate in my eyes, the best Dream Gate match since Shingo vs. Mochizuki from 2015, and a perfect way to cap off Kobe World. This main event over delivered, even considering the men involved. It didn’t feel nearly as long as it actually was, which is a great feat knowing Dragon Gate’s reputation in longer matches. Fantastic, compelling storytelling and mind blowing action. I can’t find a single thing to complain about in that match. Everyone needs to seek this out. I honestly can’t say which guy was better because they both gave off the charts performances. I am disappointed that that Shingo lost the belt. His reign was spectacular, but YAMATO’s performance gave me hope that we won’t see a lull period with the title.
Quentin: I enjoyed this show a lot. Outside of the first 2/3 of the Twin Gate title match, this was time well spent with 3 matches that are worth going out of your way to see and two that depending on who you ask are match of the year contenders. Dragon Gate feels fresh coming out of Kobe World and I’m beyond excited to see what happens with the two new singles champs.
Trask: Kobe World is a Top 5 show of 2016. The undercard was quick, an easy breezy watch with fun implemented everywhere. The championship matches sans the okay Twin Gate match ranged from great-MOTYC. Hint: two were MOTYC and one was simply great. Go out of your way to watch the whole show, and if time condensed, the three aforementioned championship matches.