July 25, 2009 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is Dragon Gate USA’s debut show. The concept is essentially Dragon Gate wrestlers coming to the states to compete against each other and some American indy talent. To date none of the Dragon Gate titles have been defended at a Dragon Gate USA show, but the Open the Freedom Gate Championship will be fought over in a tournament at the company’s third show in the states. This show is basically a getting to know you type of thing, with the Americans kept to only two matches. The company has a working relationship with CHIKARA, and some sort of arrangement with a couple other indy companies as well, including AAW, who will supply them with equipment when they run in Chicago. OK, show time.

Dawn Marie is the ring announcer for the evening. Her thick Jersey accent sort of gives the promotion a bush league feel. The default accent for TV is Mid-West guys, specifically Nebraska. My understanding is that she’s already gone and that the AAW announcer replaced her on the second show.

BxB Hulk is the first to wrestler in DGUSA history to come to the ring. Hulk’s dancers are American (Daizee Haze and I’m told ROH wrestler Bobby Dempsey’s sister). They don’t really dance in concert and Haze almost gets wiped out by Hulk’s pre-match moonsault because she doesn’t know where to stand. Hilarious stuff. Last complaint about Marie, her inflection when introducing the wrestlers is completely unenthused.

BxB Hulk {W1} vs. YAMATO {K}
They trade holds to start. Hulk takes over with kicks. YAMATO grabs a heel hook but Hulk gets to the ropes. He dropkicks Hulk’s knee against the ropes. He goes back to work on the leg on the mat. Hulk hits a roundhouse kick. YAMATO dropkicks the leg. He puts on the sleeper hold and then floats to another leglock. Hulk gets to the ropes. YAMATO tries to whip him across the ring but Hulk’s leg gives out. Hulk hits a springboard dropkick, no longer selling the leg at all. He hits the Mouse and a lariat. He hits a senton for 2. YAMATO chops him down for 2. He hits a spear and sets Hulk up for a cloverleaf, pinning him for 2, and then uses the momentum from Hulk kicking out to sink in the submission. Hulk gets to the ropes. YAMATO puts on a crossface but Hulk gets to the ropes. They block each other’s finishers. Hulk hits a leg lariat and an avalanche powerslam. He hits an axe kick and a punt to the face. He hits a thrust kick and the EVO for 2. He misses a phoenix splash and YAMATO hits a brainbuster for 2. He puts on the sleeper hold and then hits a sleeper suplex for 2. That really should have been the finish. He hits the Galleria for the win at 15:22. I definitely don’t care for the way Hulk decided at an arbitrary point not to sell anymore, after he was so hurt he was unable to even run the ropes. That aside, the match was still a solid back-and-forth bout, and a decent enough first impression for American fans.
Rating: ***¼

Ken Doane vs. Too Cold Scorpio
This match did not air on PPV, presumably because it was no good (and also because of time constraints). Let’s find out. They lock up and force each other to the corner to start. Doane hits a cheap shot. He puts on a headlock and holds on through a back suplex. Scorpio hits a dropkick and Doane bails. Back in the ring Doane hits a dropkick. Scorpio comes back with another of his own. He chops Doane from corner to corner. He goes for a crossbody but Doane puts up his knees, sort of. Doane gets a roll up for 2. Scorpio’s pants sag and his thong underwear are revealed. Jesus Christ, I think the scariest part is that Scorpio obviously didn’t mean for us to see those, so there’s nothing comic about it. Doane hits a slingshot elbowdrop for 2. Scorpio gets fired up but runs into an overhead suplex. Doane hits a German suplex for 2. He puts on a chinlock. Scorpio gets fired up again but Doane won’t release the hold. Scorpio hits a stunner to escape. Doane puts on a sleeper hold. Scorpio escapes and they trade shots. Scorpio hits the Arabian press for 2. Doane misses a legdrop off the top and Scorpio kicks his face. Scorpio goes for a moonsault but Doane blocks it with his knees and gets 2. Scorpio hits a Koppo Kick and a back suplex. He hits a back flip legdrop for the win at 15:34. This had “we’re a regular indie company” written all over it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t up to the style or standard to which the company was trying to hold itself. Honestly, it was probably the best match you could ask from these two, so I feel kind of weird knocking it. Neither guy was invited back to Dragon Gate after this match, and both were removed from the roster page.
Rating: ***

In the back a voiceover describing Naruki Doi plays over a video of him preparing for his match. The same is done for Shingo. It kills me that even in DGUSA he is robbed of his last name.

Mike Quackenbush {CH}, Jigsaw {CH}, Fire Ant {C} & Soldier Ant {C} vs. Icarus {TF}, Gran Akuma {TF}, Amasis {O} & Hallowicked {I}
For those who don’t know all these guys are CHIKARA wrestlers. I really like Amasis, Akuma and the Ants. The rest I could take or leave (yes that includes Quackenbush). The crowd is really into Hallowicked, since he’s a babyface on the heel team substituting for Amasis’s usual partner, the injured Ophidian. They also love everyone on the babyface side. I’m not going to do play-by-play for this match because I can only type the word “armdrag” so many times before I start to go crazy. At any rate everyone is on their game, and this is about as good as a showcase CHIKARA match (with no emotional motivation) could possibly be. I imagine more Dragon Gate matches would be this action-packed with hot American crowds and less Real Hazard annoying interference. The only way I could see this being better would be if within the context of the match they created a couple sub-plots. As it is you get a fantastic spot-fest. The match ends when Jigsaw nails Icarus with the Jig N’ Tonic at 17:27.
Rating: ****

After the match Quackenbush puts over the relationship between Dragon Gate and Chikara. He puts over Jorge Rivera too, and a brief video dedicated to the old man (who had a hand in training Quackenbush and CIMA) plays. Quackenbush then puts out an open challenge, asking any Dragon Gate wrestler to challenge any Chikara wrestler. YAMATO comes out and tells Quackenbush that he doesn’t know who Jorge Rivera is and that Quackenbush doesn’t belong in a Dragon Gate ring. I don’t think those subtitles were on the PPV broadcast. Then he gives Quackenbush a low blow. Jigsaw makes the save and stomps YAMATO down in the corner. Akuma comes out to help Quackenbush to the back, and then gives Jigsaw a low blow. That was great. Akuma and YAMATO beat the crap out of Jigsaw and Quackenbush until the Chikara babyfaces run out and chase them away. Looks like Dragon Gate babyface/heel status won’t apply so much in DGUSA.

Masato Yoshino {W1} vs. Dragon Kid {K}
They trade holds to start. Lenny Leonard shockingly recounts an accurate history of this rivalry on commentary. Kid hits a hurricanrana. Yoshino hits a facebuster. He hits a bodyslam and a few armbreakers. He stays on the arm a while, in rather brutal fashion. Kid comes back with the Déjà Vu. He hits the Bermuda Triangle. Back in the ring he hits a springboard dropkick for 2. Yoshino hits the Sling Blade for 2. Kid blocks a sunset bomb and hits a hurricanrana and the 619. Yoshino hits a powerbomb. Kid puts on the Christo. Yoshino blocks the Jesus with his knees. He hits the shotgun dropkick for 2. Kid comes back with a DDT. He hits the super hurricanrana for 2. Yoshino hits Another Space. He hits the Torbellino and puts on the Sol Naciente. Kid escapes and hits a stunner. He hits the Ultra Hurricanrana for the win at 13:26. Very cookie-cutter version of their typical match, though I do want to give it up to Leonard for knowing the match history and properly calling all the move’s names. Hopefully the rematch on the next show will get more time to develop.
Rating: ***¼

After the match Yoshino acts sore about the loss. Shingo defends Kid and Doi defends Yoshino, leading to a stare down between the two main eventers.

CIMA {W5} & Susumu Yokosuka {W5} vs. Nick Jackson {W5} & Matt Jackson {W5}
WARRIORS-5 EXPLODE!!! Sort of!!! The Young Bucks are technically affiliated with the WARRIORS, so I’m going with the exclamation. Yokosuka and Matt start. Matt goes for a cross armbreaker but Yokosuka rolls him over for 2. Yokosuka stomps on Matt’s hand. I LOVE that the American fans know the WARRIORS’ pose. Nick and CIMA tag into the match. Nick hits a hurricanrana. Matt helps hit a double dropkick. They hit a tandem neckbreaker for 2. CIMA hits a senton for 2. The Young Bucks start working over Yokosuka’s arm. CIMA tags in and eats a dropkick. Yokosuka helps him hit a double suplex for 2. He hits a knee to the gut for 2. He puts on the body scissors. He lifts Matt to help CIMA hit an inverted Superdrol for 2. CIMA hits his big double stomp over the barricade. He kicks Matt’s chest for 2. Matt comes back with the Shiranui for 2 on Yokosuka. He hits a neckbreaker on CIMA. Nick tags in and hits a big dive on both opponents. He double stomps CIMA’s arm. Matt hits a spear and a moonsault while Nick hits a springboard splash for 2. CIMA comes backw tih a double stomp. He hits the Superdrol on both Jacksons, stacked in the corner. He hits another big double stomp and a suicide dive. Yokosuka hits Matt with an avalanche exploder for 2. Matt comes off the top with a stunner. CIMA rushes in to hit the Venus and Iconoclasm. Matt blocks the Mad Splash with his knees and Nick hits a stunner. They hit the Worst Case Scenario (an elevated facebuster) for 2. Yokosuka hits matt with the Jumbo no Kachi and CIMA hits the Perfect Driver for 2. CIMA hits the Tokarev. He and Yokosuka dust off the double-team Mugen for 2. CIMA superkicks Yokosuka by mistake. The Jacksons hit More Bang for Your Buck on Yokosuka for the absolutely unexpected win at 17:02. All four of these guys busted out offense I’ve never seen from them before and it was fantastic to watch. Between their hard work and the victory, the Young Bucks are established as level players with the Dragon Gate wrestlers. The way this crowd is lighting fires under everyone’s ass is just unreal. Sure, it was a spot-fest, but a very different feeling one than the Chikara match. Also, I might as well note now that as much as dueling chants annoy me, it’s pretty impressive that every single wrestler presented as a babyface is getting a huge chant from this crowd, despite the fact that most of these wrestlers are foreign.
Rating: ****

They show another backstage video of Shingo and Doi with a voiceover. I find it very telling that they’re selling this main event as the top two Dragon Gate stars fighting to show America who is the best, while CIMA lost in a tag team match. I wonder if the actual Dragon Gate office thinks Shingo and Doi are the top two guys in the company.

Naruki Doi {W1} vs. Shingo {K}
I didn’t realize until just now that this show was essentially a World-1 vs. Kamikaze series. Kamikaze won both previous matches, so Doi has more than just his own reputation riding on this. Doi beat Shingo for the Open the Dream Gate title the December before this, and this is their first singles match since. They trade holds to start. Shingo hits a shoulder tackle. He hits a TKO and a fistdrop. He hits a bodyslam but misses a kneedrop. Doi hits a dragon screw. He puts on a leglock. He dropkicks the leg and hits a shinbreaker. He puts on the figure 4 leglock. Shingo gets to the ropes. He catches Doi going for the Dai Bosou and hits a powerbomb. They trade chops until Shingo puts Doi down. He hits a clothesline. He hits a delayed vertical suplex for 2. He hits a powerslam for 2. He puts on the Manriki. Doi kicks his knee to regain control. He hits a dropkick in the ropes. He hits his big senton. He dropkicks the knee. Shingo hits an exploder. He hits another fistdrop and nails the kneedrop for 2. He avoids the Bakatare Sliding Kick and hits the Complete Shot and the Blood Fall for 2. Doi hits a spinebuster for 2. They fight in the corner until Doi hits a nasty slap, a Tree of Woe Dai Bosou and a back superplex for 2. Shingo hits a DVD after blocking the Muscular Bomb. He hits the Pumping Bomber for 2. He elbows Doi’s face off and hits MADE IN JAPAN for 2. Doi hits the Doi 555 and the Bakatare Sliding Kick for 2. Shingo blocks the Muscular Bomb and hits MADE IN JAPAN again. Another insanely stiff exchange ends with Doi hitting the Bakatare Sliding Kick and a tiger suplex for 2. He hits the kick twice more for 2. He hits the Muscular Bomb for the win at 22:34. This was a streamlined version of their match from PPV, making it much more enjoyable. They really beat the living hell out of each other in the second half. Quite different from the last match, but just as good.
Rating: ****

DVD Extras

BxB Hulk {NH}, YAMATO {NH} & Jack Evans {NH} VS. Delirious, Hallowicked & Jigsaw [FIP Cage of Pain II – 9/27/07]
I guess if you’re going to put bonus matches on DVDs they might as well be totally awesome ones. FIP lists this as a Dragon Gate VS. FIP match but its really more of a Dragon Gate (or New Hazard) VS. CHIKARA match. Hulk and Delirious start. They fight over a wristlock. Delirious gets a takedown. He hits an armdrag for 2. Hulk returns the favor. He hits a dropkick. YAMATO and Jigsaw tag into the match and trade headlocks. They trade armdrags. Evans and Hallowicked tag into the match and dance battle. Hallowicked hits a head scissors takedown. He hits an armdrag. Evans hits a back flip kick. Hallowicked hits the Kubinage off the top. He puts on the Mark Nulty Special. YAMATO puts it on Hallowicked. Everyone gets involved in that circus shit. Hulk and YAMATO double team Jigsaw for 2. Hulk hits a back elbow and a standing corkscrew senton. Evans tags in and puts on a chinlock. He hits a dropkick to the face. He and YAMATO hit a double back elbow. YAMATO helps Evans hit a standing phoenix splash for 2. YAMATO stands on Jigsaw’s throat. He hits a forearm and a butterfly suplex for 2. Evans tags in and hits a bodyslam. He hits a double stomp and a standing moonsault for 2. Jigsaw hits an enziguiri. Delirious tags in and cleans house. He hits a leaping clothesline on YAMATO. He sets Evans up top and hits Hulk with a hurricanrana. He headbutts Evans’s gut and hits Hulk with the Panic Attack. He hits the Sydal Driver on Evans for 2. Hallowicked hits YAMATO with a suicide dive. Hulk hits Delirious with the Mouse. He moonsaults onto everyone on the floor. Jigsaw follows suit. Evans dives as well. In the ring Hallowicked hits Evans with a big boot. YAMATO hits Jigsaw with a powerslam. Delirious hits YAMATO with the uranage. Evans hits Skipping a Generation for 2. Hulk hits a standing shooting star press for 2. YAMATO hits a DVD for 2. Jigsaw hits a double stomp on YAMATO. Delirious hits the Shadows for 2. YAMATO comes back with the Galleria for 2. Hulk hits Jigsaw with a dropkick. Hallowicked hits him with a big boot. Evans hits him with a knee kick. He climbs the ropes and hits a 630 legdrop over Hulk’s knee for the win at 18:25. My play by play might be long but the action moved so fast I missed a lot of it. I don’t see how FIP can sell the New Hazard match from the night before as the fastest in FIP history when this was longer but felt shorter because of how much faster it was. This was at least as good as some of the best stuff Dragon Gate wrestlers have done in ROH. All six of them celebrate their accomplishment after the match.
Rating: ****¼

BxB Hulk {BH}, Jack Evans {BG}, Matt Sydal {BG} & Jushin Liger {CTU} vs. Naruki Doi {MO}, Masato Yoshino {MO}, Magnitude Kishiwada {MO} & Kevin Steen {MO} [Crown Gate - 11/23/06]
I guess it’s also smart if you’re going to have bonus matches to show that American talent the fans are familiar with have competed in Dragon Gate before. This was from Dragon Gate’s final Battle Junction PPV. Battle Junctions were monthly PPVs, but Dragon Gate moved to the much more sporadic PPV schedule they now have. Yoshino was the Brave Gate champ and a Triangle Gate champ with Doi and Gamma. Dave Prazak joins Lenny Leonard for commentary on the match.

Everyone brawls to start. Once in the ring everyone pairs up and for the most part it’s New Hazard’s speed vs. the Muscle Outlaw’z strength. That is until Yoshino tags in and picks up amazing speed before hitting Sydal with a dropkick. Liger and Kishiwada trade shoulder tackles until Liger hits the mat. The Outlaw’z gang up on Liger in the corner, left to their own devices by the biased, blue-clad referee. Hulk and Evans double-team Yoshino for 2. Yoshino comes back with a low blow on Hulk. Doi hits the Dai Bosou. He, Yoshino and Steen hit a triple dropkick for 2. Kishiwada hits an avalanche and a standing moonsault for 2. He hits a senton for 2. Steen hits a back suplex and the somersault legdrop for 2. Doi hits his big senton for 2. Hulk comes back with a vertical suplex and tags to Liger. Liger cleans house. Steen proves troublesome so the other three hit a triple dropkick. Evans hits an insane dive on Steen. Sydal follows suit. Liger tries but the crooked referee stops him. Doi exposes a turnbuckle but ends up getting whipped into it. Liger hits a frog splash for 2. Yoshino nails him with the shotgun dropkick. Sydal hits a hurricanrana. Steen hits the pumphandle neckbreaker. Evans hits a roundhouse kick. Kishiwada hits a lariat. Hulk hits a leg lariat. He hits Doi with the Mouse and a clothesline. He takes on Doi and Kishiwada by himself. He hits Steen with a bodyslam for 2. Sydal and Evans hit Skipping a Generation on Steen. Someone knocks Evans off the turnbuckle with a chair. Hulk rolls Kishiwada up for 2. Kishiwada hits a German suplex for 2. He hits a splash off the top for 2. He hits the Last Ride. Doi hits the Bakatare Sliding Kick for 2. He hits the Doi 555. Evans trips Doi and his team gangs up on him in the corner. Evans hits a sick double stomp. Liger hits the Ligerbomb for 2. Kishiwada clotheslines Doi by mistake. Sydal hits the Slice and Evans hits the 630 senton for 2. Steen and Kishiwada hit the Doomsday Device on Evans for 2. Steen hits a moonsault for 2. He hits the Package Piledriver for 2. Yoshino hits Sydal with the Torbellino. Doi powders Yoshino by mistake. Liger hits a brainbuster and Sydal hits the shooting star press for the win at 17:56. See how the Outlaw’z cheated creatively, without ridiculous amounts of interference? Real Hazard is a shadow of what the Outlaw’z were. This was another fantastic spotfest, though I recommend you watch it in a different viewing than the main PPV of this show, because it wasn’t unlike the Chikara match.
Rating: ****

Andy Harner vs. Aaron Arbo vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Louis Lyndon vs. Chris Jones vs. Cheech vs. Cloudy vs. Lince Dorado [FRAY!]
This is a staggered entrance elimination match, and eliminations can occur by pin, submission or DQ, just not count out. The match was shown to Golden Ticket holders only in sort of pre-show. So I guess if you pay more for a ticket you get in early and can watch a bunch of jobbers muck around.

Arbo and Harner start with a bunch of armdrags. Harner hits a standing moonsault for 2. Arbo hits a springboard dropkick. Gargano is out next and tries to pin both guys. They hit him with a double flapjack. Gargano eliminates Harner with a roll up and Arbo with a dragon suplex. He takes a rest by jawing with the fans. Lyndon comes out next and flips around the ring. I had a sort of Last Dragon kind of gimmick. Gargano takes control with cheap tactics. Lyndon blocks the dragon suplex just long enough for Jones to make his entrance and distract Gargano. Jones forces Gargano to the floor and trades holds with Lyndon. The three of them go through a very choreographed segment. Cheech is out next. He dominates until Jones hits him with a hurricanrana. Gargano hits Lyndon with a superkick and his full nelson finisher to eliminate him. Dorado comes out next. Everyone gets tied up in a mess of a submission chain. Cloudy comes out last. He and Cheech double-team Dorado. They do the same to Gargano. They dive onto everyone on the floor. They hit Jones with a knee kick/backbreaker combo to eliminate him. Dorado gets a sunset flip on Cloudy to eliminate him. Gargano hits his full nelson finisher on Cheech out of nowhere to eliminate him. So it’s down to Dorado and Gargano, who fight it out until Dorado hits a couple of suplexes and the shooting star press for the win at 23:43. Everyone performed fine, but the structure of the match was strange. Gargano was the only guy who really established himself in any way. It seems silly to give the guy with the most exposure the win here.
Rating: **¾

Also included is a six minute highlight package of the event and a twelve minute PPV preview for Enter the Dragon hosted by Lenny Leonard and Mike Quackenbush.

I’m very glad I waited for the DVD release to watch this show for a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy seeing an entire show much more that part of it, and the PPV was missing some matches and I’m pretty sure most of the matches shown on PPV had at least a minute clipped off of them for time. Second it gave me time to recover from the excited sentiment that people got caught up in when the show occurred and the PPV aired, and I think has allowed me to be a big more objective. That said this was an excellent show to be sure, with three excellent matches. The worst match on the PPV’s only real fault was that it was a stripped down template of an always reliable pairing, and the bonus material was largely made up of great spot-fests from the company’s past. DGUSA is off to a good start.