I usually try to watch the fullest version of a show possible, but I don’t own the DVD version of this show and can’t find it for a reasonable price (I am NOT spending $30 for a used DVD on eBay in 2020), so I will have to settle for the version the of most of the live show but without the bonus material (one dark match and some bonus matches from other places) that is in the Club WWN DGUSA channel.
TJP vs. BRAD ALLEN - 5.5/10
A solid little nine-minute opener, but nothing to write home about.
THE YOUNG BUCKS vs. CHIKARA SEKIGUN (Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw) - 8/10
An awesome tag team encounter, capping of a great weekend for both teams (well… in terms of work-rate, anyway. The Bucks were 0-2 on the weekend and Quacken-Saw were 1-1).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Very good. Matt Jackson gave what amounted to a farewell speech (I guess they were going full-time with TNA after this weekend), putting Quacken-Saw over as two of the best in the world and praising them for being able to “take our spot.”
SHINGO TAKAGI vs. GENKI HORIGUCHI (w/WARRIORS) - 6/10
I guess Moxley’s comments last night really got to Shingo, but because he was quite focused here. Shingo’s knee and neck both got worked over a little but, but he made a comeback and won cleanly.
JIMMY JACOBS, TEDDY HART, PAUL LONDON, & BRIAN KENDRICK SEGMENT - Strange, but it worked. Jimmy comes out for what is scheduled to be a three-way dance. Instead of his opponents, Teddy Hart comes out and asks Jimmy to take his place as Jack Evans’ tag team partner tonight because he’s injured for (supposedly) the first time in his career. He puts Jimmy over HUGE, to the point where it felt over the top, but it worked coming out of Teddy’s mouth, and by the end of this segment the reason for that became clear to me.
First, though, Brian Kendrick and Paul London came out and Kendrick cut a promo pointing out that he is 2-0 against Jimmy Jacobs so there is no reason for Jimmy to be sticking his nose in their match later and he doesn’t agree to Jimmy being allowed to do so. Jimmy took the mic and offered to make things interesting: Whoever losers the fall must leave DGUSA. After all, if Kendrick is so confident about his ability to beat Jimmy then surely he’ll have no problem agreeing to this stipulation and beating Jimmy again. Kendrick agreed to this, telling Jimmy (by the end of the night, I’ll be 3-0 against you and you’ll be unemployed.”
So, we’ve got our change to the card and our new stipulation and our big go-home line, sot the segment is over, right? WRONG. Because even though the segment felt like it naturally should have ended, Teddy Hart grabs the mic and starts talking.
Even though they assaulted him last night and injured him, he starts putting Kendrick and London over as great guys and phenomenal talents and starts talking about even though he’s a Hart, Shawn Michaels is his all-time favorite wrestler and Shawn trained London & Kendrick, and he putting everyone over and so on and so forth, and about how he knows that they didn’t meant to hurt him last night… at which point my jaw dropped. DIDN’T MEANT TO HURT YOU?! THEY JUMPED YOU AND BEAT YOU UP, TEDDY! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK THEY MEANT TO DO!
And that’s when it clicked with me: Teddy Hart’s gimmick in DGUSA is “Teddy Hart trying to be on his best behavior.” And in Teddy’s mind that means that he goes out of his way to be polite and put people over, and even though to everyone else in the world it feels like he’s overdoing it, he’s Teddy Hart and has absolutely no perception of such things, so he goes over the top with it. Similarly, he knows he has a reputation, so even though these guys attacked him, he just doesn’t want any trouble with the office, so he’s trying to make peace because he thinks that will show the office that he’s mature.
And Kendrick jumped on his. He tells Teddy, “of course we didn’t mean to hurt you.” We’d never injure someone intentionally” and that Teddy thinks that his newfound maturity is working and he follows their invitation out of the ring and he and Kendrick have a big hug and then he and London have a big hug… and then Kendrick hits him in the balls from behind.
They put the boots to Teddy on the outside. Jimmy Jacobs slides out to try to make the save but gets overwhelmed and beaten down until Jack Evans runs out to save Jimmy (including an AWESOME cartwheel over the ramp into a headscissors), leading us into…
LOSER OF THE FALL MUST LEAVE DGUSA:
Jimmy Jacobs & Jack Evans vs. Paul London & Brian Kendrick - 6.75/10
This was a very good eleven-minute match, but with such a big stipulation, eleven minutes feels pretty anti-climactic. The finish saw Kendrick get over confident and taunt Jimmy when he should have been trying to put him away, allowing Jimmy to catch him in the End Times and force him to leave DGUSA. This was probably another one fueled by him working for TNA full-time, but I’d be interested to see what Gabe had planned, as this feels like something that was hastily-done and not what original plan was. That being said, it does free Jimmy up to face Moxley in gimmick matches now without them having to explain why Kendrick wouldn’t interfere.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine, I guess. London attacked Jacobs but a one-armed Teddy Hart ran out to make the save with a low blow, followed by a piledriver. I don’t know if Teddy’s injury was a work or not (my guess is that it was, but I don’t know), but if it wasn’t, London is an extremely brave man for agree to take a piledriver from a one-armed Teddy Hart.
TOMMY DREAMER PROMO - He puts the crowd over for supporting independent wrestling. He then tells the crowd that he wrestled Taijiri last night in Japan and is wrestling tonight on zero sleep. He also tells us that because he is pals with the promoter, he got his match changed to a hardcore match. That’s kind of a heelish thing to do without consulting the opponent, isn’t it?
Tommy Dreamer vs. Jon Moxley (w/Christina Von Eerie) - 2.75/10
CVE wasn’t named on the graphic, but she came out with Moxley. This was despite him taking her hostage last night to use as a human shield to stop Shingo from going after him. I guess she took his creepy “you smell nice” as a genuine complement and decided to hang out with him. Lenny Leonard acted like he had no idea who she was, but we clearly saw her in the locker room yesterday, so this just makes Lenny look ignorant for not having any idea who this coworker of his is, despite her rather memorable appearance.
They did a spot or two in the ring, then went to the outside to brawl. Early on in their brawl they put me in a bad mood by doing my most-hated spot of all time, the “put the ring bell on someone’s groin and ring it” spot, which shouldn’t hurt at all. If anything, it’d give a brief vibrating feeling. They continued to annoy me by doing other of my least favorite spots, such as “pull your opponent to the top of the stairs just to punch him a few times, then take him right back down the stairs.” Why not just punch the opponent where you were standing? This would both save energy on your part as well as not give the opponent extra time to recover. This spot was only made worse by the fact that the lighting at the top of the stairs terrible, so you could barely see the wrestlers when they went up there.
When they got pack into the ring, things drastically improved building up to their weapons spots well. Eventually Dreamer yanked Moxley’s head down across an open chair, which had to hurt like hell. He went for the pin, but CVE broke it up. Dreamer then went to piledrive her to make sure she couldn’t do so again, but the referee stopped him. WHY? She just interfered in the match. Tommy taking her out is self-defense. If she attacked him once, she’ll surely do it again.
Dreamer punched out this idiot referee. CVE then slapped him so Dreamer gave her a piledrive that didn’t look very good because he seemed to be trying to protect her mohawk so it looked like he came down on top of him rather than looking like he drove her head into the mat like it’s supposed to. Before doing that, of course, he kissed her. This paragraph will also serve as your reminder that 2010 was a very different time from today. In addition to Dreamer’s totally unnecessary sexual harassment of CVE before hitting her with a move, we got Lenny Leonard almost always referring to her as a “girl,” while also joking that she might not actually be female because… women aren’t supposed to have mohawks, I guess?
Anyway, after CVE was taken out, YAMATO ran out to attack Dreamer but got disposed of. Then Shingo ran out and hit Dreamer with a Death Valley Driver. Moxley went for the pin but Dreamer kicked out. Despite having show a willingness to get involved in the match, Shingo (we’ll give YAMATO the benefit of the doubt and assume he was down, selling), didn’t just run back in the ring and attack Dreamer some more. He didn’t even try to break up a pin that Dreamer had on Moxley. Moxley countered a few more moves, then hit a DDT on the chair for the win. The few good bits in here did not come close to outweighing the bad or the dull. On the bright side, the crowd was very hot for Dreamer and was furious when the heel Moxley won.
OPEN THE DREAM GATE TITLE MATCH:
YAMATO (c) vs. Susumu Yokozuka - 7/10
Yokozuka’s arm got worked over, and he mostly did a good job of selling it. The most noteworthy part of this match to me, however, was YAMATO no-selling. I DESPISED YAMATO taking a Death Valley Driver off the top and then just getting up. Sh*t like this is the reason I stayed away from Dragon Gate and its affiliates for so long. Because every time I would watch it, someone would do something ridiculous like this because no-selling. After a few shows here I had hoped that maybe they weren’t going to do that sh*t here (and they’ve shown an ability to not do it in the past, like in the famous six-man tag match at Supercard of Honor, but here it is.
So yeah. The match was barely acceptable for a world title match, and certainly not what you want out of the first-ever defense of the parent company’s world title in DGUSA (and possibly in the USA as a whole).
WARRIORS (CIMA, Gamma, & Dragon Kid) vs. WORLD-1 (BxB Hulk, Masato Yoshino, & Naruki Doi) - 8/10
Apparently I was wrong in my review of last night’s show. This was apparently the real “return of the WrestleMania weekend Dragon Gate six-man tag.” I jumped the gun by a night. Sorry. In my defense, it was a six-man tag involving a bunch of Dragon Gate guys in a promotion with Dragon Gate in its name.
Anyway, this match was a spotfest and I’m not going to say that it wasn’t impressive or entertaining or deny that 99.9999% of the things that happened made sense (the only one that didn’t was the cane shot in front of the referee not being a DQ), but this was yet another match that really served as a reminder to me of why I stopped watching Dragon Gate after initially discovering it via ROH.
That sounds like a weird thing to say about a match that I gave such a high rating to, but the truth is that this was one of those matches where I said to myself “I just can’t give it any higher than “ X/10 (in this case X=8). The reason for that was that there were just too many moments where it felt like they were working together to have a great match rather than that they were having a real fight. The spottiness wasn’t the issue. I rarely feel that way about, say the Young Bucks, and I’d point to their match against Quacken-Saw earlier tonight as an example of a match that was athletic and mostly spotty, but worked a lot better for me. It’s rarely any one moment, but just a little building thing over the course of the match, with the way-too-synchronized triple-team sequences, the big moves that just feel a step too complicated and as a result feel like something out of a video game, the whole cane sequence with Yoshino and Dragon Kid where Yoshino faked Dragon Kid out about eight times in a row, all feeling like a perfectly-choreographed comedy spot. It all just builds up and pervades the whole match, and makes not feel like a match, but rather like their ballet recital. They worked hard and put a lot of effort into it, but it felt like they were going through pre-planned motions rather than reacting to each other in real time.
The cane shot to the nuts. This happened behind the referee’s back and there was no real heated hostility preceding it. This sort of spot should have led to an escalation of the intensity of the match, but instead it was one team getting their weapon spot in, then the other team getting the weapon and getting some revenge (the aforementioned Dragon Kid/Masato Yoshino spot), and then they just went back to doing their spots at the same pace and intensity as they had been doing them before the weapon was introduced.
Things happened in a logical order, but there was no real feeling of escalation or a progressing story. I guess you technically had the story of “both sides are trying to win,” but when the match feels like a performance than a competitive athletic sporting event, the “both sides are trying to win” story doesn’t work particularly well because it feels so obvious that they’re not. If you just want to see cool spots in a logical order, you’ll like this a lot more than I did, but I need a little passion or story in my wrestling, and as good as the physical action was in this match, those aspect were lacking.
This was a pretty disappointing show from Dragon Gate USA. A lot of stuff on the undercard just didn’t feel like it delivered to the level that it could have, the top matches just didn’t do it for me, each other their own reasons which I explained above. I’m trying not to let my view of the show as a whole be colored by my feelings towards the last two matches, but “oh yeah, this is why I stopped watching this kind of stuff” is a hard feeling to put aside. I’m still interested in the journeys of some of the characters (Jimmy Jacobs in particular, but also Moxley, Shingo, Teddy Hart, and CHIKARA Sekigun… and whichever groups CHIKARA Sekigun have been feuding with, I guess), but it’s hard to get excited for the next show when you’re wondering how you’re going to bring yourself to care about half of the card.