Looking back at DGUSA: Open The Ultimate Gate 2011
This is the third part of my WrestleMania weekend 2011 retrospective. You can read part one (DGUSA: Open The Southern Gate) HERE, and part two (DGUSA: Mercury Rising) HERE. Today, I’ll be looking at Dragon Gate USA: Open The Ultimate Gate, which took place in Atlanta on April the 3rd, just hours before WrestleMania 27.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
This show was headlined by the third “match of the year” candidate of the weekend, as YAMATO and Akira Tozawa absolutely went to war. The match was originally supposed to be non-title, but Tozawa beat Jon Moxley in a no DQ brawl to earn the title shot. That impromptu match turned out to be Moxley’s last in DGUSA, as he was signed to WWE and rechristened “Dean Ambrose” soon after. After he lost to Tozawa, his pornstar valet Trina Michaels brawled with his rival Reby Sky. That was their last appearance in DGUSA too.
Anyway, YAMATO vs Tozawa kicked off immediately after the aforementioned Michaels/Sky brawl, and it totally ruled. YAMATO just couldn’t put his foe away, and they beat the hell out of each other for over twenty minutes, with it really looking like the most over babyface in the company was going to emerge the new champion at times. A thrilling closing sequence saw Tozawa shockingly kick out of YAMATO’s deadly Galleria at one, before YAMATO immediately dropped him on his head again for the three count.
This was awesome, and it helped solidify YAMATO as a top face, as he and his former Kamikaze buddy put their differences aside and hugged afterwards, before the champion gave his first show closing speech. This face turn turned out to be a very good move, as unfortunately for DGUSA, their top face Tozawa turned heel in Japan soon after (well, after the next set of DGUSA shows, but Akira was only on two of those three). Fortunately for DGUSA, Tozawa’s new badass heel persona was awesome too, and he continues to be the MVP of the promotion.
Prior to the Tozawa vs Kamikaze bouts, Austin Aries took on Jimmy Jacobs in what was billed as the last match of his (Aries) career, as a result of his loss to YAMATO in their career vs title match the previous night. Aries again came up short, as Jacobs pinned him with a surprise roll up about fifteen minutes in. This was a very entertaining match, and would have been a fine way for Aries to close his time in DGUSA, but that wasn’t what went down; Aries turned heel as he, with Blood Warriors, attacked Ronin, during his apparent retirement speech. Aries announced that he had put his career on the line because he had lost his purpose but now he had a new one; the destruction of Ronin, alongside the Blood Warriors.
Aries went on to have some great matches as a Blood Warrior at the Enter The Dragon weekend, before moving on to TNA (not before doing wonders for the career of Johnny Gargano though, but that’s a story for another day).
This may not have been Aries’s last DGUSA show as advertised, but it did turn out to be the last show for Moxley, Sky, Michaels, and most ironically of all, Aries’s opponent Jimmy Jacobs! Jacobs had been floundering in the mid card since his feud with Moxley in 2010, so his return to Ring Of Honor wasn’t much of a surprise.
The other big match on the show was PAC and Masato Yoshino’s first defence of the Open The United Gate titles, against CIMA and Naruki Doi. Doi was filling in for Ricochet, who was injured the previous evening. This was a great match full of rapid action, that continued to showcase the quality of the DGUSA tag team division. The champions were successful in their first defence, as Yoshino choked out Doi with the Sol Naciente.
Elsewhere on the card, Jimmy Rave (who was filling in for Naruki Doi) submitted to Johnny Gargano’s Gargano Escape in a solid opener, Brodie Lee destroyed Stalker Ichikawa in a comedy match, Brodie Lee then beat Chuck Taylor in a not-so-comedy but still not-that-serious bout, Rich Swann won a six way that I don’t remember too well, while Sami Callihan and Arik Cannon (who walked out of the six man and officially formed their tag team earlier in the night) defeated the Dark City Fight Club (Jon Davis & Kory Chavis), in a match that I don’t remember too clearly either.
Overall, this was a solid show with an excellent main event, gripping story developments and twists, a great tag title match, and some other strong matches, most notably Aries vs Jacobs and Gargano vs Rave. The Aries heel turn went a long way to set up the next set of shows, as did the YAMATO face turn.
And so ends my DGUSA WrestleMania weekend retrospective. I hope you’ve enjoyed looking back at this great weekend of wrestling with me, and I urge you to check out one or two of these shows if you get the chance. Mercury Rising was the overall best of the three, but you could argue that the main event of Ultimate Gate was the best match of the weekend, or even the year.
This series isn’t quite over though, as there was one other pay per view I ordered that weekend…the final article will be up in a couple of days, as I look back at WWE WrestleMania 27!
Want to discuss Open The Ultimate Gate, or anything else about WrestleMania weekend, or wrestling in general? Feel to talk to me on Twitter @IWEnews.
Thanks for reading!
Looking back at DGUSA WrestleMania weekend 2011
- By Lee
Since WrestleMania weekend 2012 is almost upon us, I thought it would be a good time to look back at (WrestleMania weekend) 2011. The first in this series will be focusing on the first of three Dragon Gate USA shows that took place; Open The Southern Gate.
I wrote a review of this show last year, but this article will be a little different, as I’ll be talking about what happened, what I thought about what happened, and what effects the show had in the long run.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The show took place on April the first, in Burlington (North Carolina). The headlining bout was another chapter in the rivalries between PAC/Ricochet and Ronin/Blood Warriors, while it also served to set up the PAC/Tozawa Brave Gate title match. Yeah, that sounds complicated, but it worked really well. It was a “dream partner” tag team match, in which Ricochet (of Blood Warriors) and Chuck Taylor (of Ronin) had to pick partners who weren’t from their own stable. Babyface Taylor picked the unaffiliated Akira Tozawa, who had rocketed top of DGUSA, usurping BxB Hulk as the top face, at the “United” weekend in January of that year. Heel Ricochet chose his arch rival PAC (of World 1).
Ricochet and PAC weren’t exactly a fluid team, they attempted to outdo each other throughout this wild match. Despite their differences, they ultimately emerged victorious, after a Ricochet 630 senton and a PAC 360 shooting star press to Taylor. The victory wasn’t without a cost though, as a vicious Tozawa headbutt busted PAC open the hard way (mid way through the match), a wound that would reopen in their title bout the following night.
It was a great match, that delivered mindblowing action while also managing to further three storylines at once. It was an important part of the PAC/Ricochet rivalry that raged in both America and Japan all the way through 2011.
The semi main event was also great, as Johnny Gargano (of Ronin) and CIMA (of Blood Warriors) went at it for the second time. The future Open The Freedom Gate champion Gargano came up short again, in a match that he cited as his favourite of his career when I interviewed him last year. This was a vital chapter in the ascension of Gargano, as this loss, along with the loss to Austin Aries three months later, set up his emergence as the top American (in DGUSA) at Enter The Dragon 2011, when he fought and ultimately forced them both into submission alone after his teammates had been eliminated.
Those two matches aside, the card suffered from a lack of star power. It was the only show of the weekend that Open The Freedom Gate champion YAMATO, number one contender Austin Aries, Open The Dream Gate champion Masato Yoshino and Jimmy Jacobs didn’t appear on, and the undercard did look a bit thin as a result.
Three matches were dedicated to the “breakout challenge”, featuring lower card Americans and various indy guys that hadn’t appeared for DGUSA before. The second of the two four way matches was pretty good, but the final, which saw Arik Cannon defeat Jimmy Rave, was underwhelming. Rave made up for it with a strong performance against Gargano two days later.
The main event was part of a larger “stable shootout” between Ronin and Blood Warriors. Two other stable shootout matches took place in the first half, Rich Swann of Ronin vs Sami Callihan (Blood picked his opponent), while Naruki Doi of Blood Warriors faced Jon Moxley of Kamikaze USA (Ronin picked his opponent). Both matches were good. Callihan decimated Swann, looking impressive partly because he’s very good at beating people up, and partly because Swann is very good at getting beat up.
Doi vs Moxley was particularly interesting, since a Blood Warriors pre-match attack made Mox the babyface by default. He played the role well, but resumed his heel antics later in the night. Little did we know that this night would be one of his last in this company…
Ironically, the last match I’ll write about was the first; Brodie Lee of Blood Warriors vs Jon Davis. It was decent. I think they would have a better match now that Davis has settled into DGUSA and EVOLVE.
Overall, it was a solid show that featured two great matches, the only problem being a little bit too much indy and not enough Dragon Gate, due to the absence of certain wrestlers and the three match breakout challenge. The headlining bouts were important in the long run, Gargano vs CIMA especially, as that’s where he first saw Gargano have a main event quality singles match.
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of my WrestleMania weekend series. The next edition will be about Mercury Rising, the show that is widely regarded as DGUSA’s best of 2011.
Want to discuss Open The Southern Gate, or anything about WrestleMania weekend, or wrestling in general? Feel to talk to me on Twitter @IWEnews.
Also, be sure to check out @CallingSpots’s great article on the ten most anticipated matches in WrestleMania history:
Thanks for reading!
The future is Moxley
By Lee Goodfellow
Dean Ambrose, formerly known as Jon Moxley, is the next big thing in American wrestling. I’m going to tell you why.
Ambrose, who will hereby be referred to as Moxley, is one of the best talkers in American wrestling today. In fact, he may well be the best (the only other contender I can think of is Kevin Steen). You have to go no further than the Dragon Gate USA Youtube channel to witness some of his superb mic skills. He is so convincing, it’s difficult to believe that he isn’t a straight up bad person after listening to his promos.
The gritty, grungy, despicable heel he plays is perfect for modern wrestling. His character is realistic without being bland, larger than life without being cartoonish. He also doesn’t have to resort to kayfabe destroying worked shoot stuff to tell a good story.
He backs his mouth up with his wrestling ability. While his main purpose in DGUSA was to talk for his Japanese stablemates who didn’t speak English (YAMATO, Shingo Takagi and Akira Tozawa), he had some great feuds of his own, the most notable of which was with Jimmy Jacobs. His biggest matches (in DGUSA and CZW) were of the hardcore variety, but he has proven himself in great bouts held under regular rules, most recently against Seth “Tyler Black” Rollins and WWE champion CM Punk (in FCW).
As you may or may not know, the former indy star is now signed to WWE. He has been wrestling in FCW, the WWE developmental territory, for several months now. He made his debut on the WWE house show circuit sometime in the past week, where he has had matches with Daniel “Bryan Danielson” Bryan. Since Bryan is not booked for tonight’s WWE “TLC” pay per view, I wouldn’t be surprised if Moxley faced him again in the pre-show dark match.
While there is an excellent independent wrestling scene in the USA, the top company, WWE, is a somewhat stale product at the moment. They have failed to make many new stars in recent years, and the quality of their shows is suffering because of it. Moxley’s personality and in-ring ability is far beyond most other WWE “superstars”, and I believe he may be the man to set the company alight again. The fact that WWE sent one of their top stars (CM Punk) down to Florida to wrestle Moxley a while back indicates to me that the powers-that-be see more in him than they do in the average FCW would-be-superstar.
Keep an eye out for the man that is now known as Dean Ambrose. He may well be the next big thing.
* Image credit: http://prorasslin.com
Tyler Black vs Jon Moxley (video)
Want to see former the ROH champion take on the hottest heel to come out of Dragon Gate USA? Seth Rollins (formerly known as Tyler Black) and Dean Ambrose (formerly Jon Moxley) met in singles competition on the most recent episode of FCW. You can watch the show over at PWPonderings by clicking the following link:
For those that don’t know, FCW is a developmental territory for WWE. Both Rollins and Ambrose will compete there until they are called up to the main WWE roster.
Thoughts: I’m hoping to watch the show later tonight. Thanks to Chris from PWPonderings for sending me the link!
IWE Rundown - All the news from the past week
Pretty much what it says in the title.
* Dragon Gate USA uploaded April’s Open The Ultimate Gate 2011 to wwnlive as an on-demand online pay per view. You can purchase it (for $15) at this link: http://www.wwnlive.com/signup.php?id=456
* Episode 3 of Colt Cabana’s Creative Has Nothing For You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEtnhcDwhdo&feature=channel_video_title
* Jersey Shore Championship Wrestling announced their debut show. Entry will be free, and it will take place on the 6th of August at the Jersey Shore.
* CIMA was announced for Pro Wrestling Guerilla: Eight. He will team up with Kevin Steen to take on the Young Bucks (Generation Me).
* We debuted PuroMania, our new weekly feature on Japanese wrestling. You can read the first edition at this link: http://indywrestling.tumblr.com/post/7354077104/puromania1
* Adam Pearce returned to NWA: Hollywood and turned face. Scorpio Sky defeated Peter Avalon in a great TV main event to advance in the Television Title tournament.
*Colt Cabana, El Generico, Johnny Kidd and British wrestling legend Johnny Saint were announced for the Chikara shows at the end of the month. Click http://tumblr.com/xk33e1sal2 for more details.
* Ring Of Honor held two shows this past weekend. Friday’s show was main evented by Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas retaining the tag titles against El Generico and Colt Cabana. Saturday’s show was closed by El Generico defeating Roderick Strong in a Steel Cage match. The seeds were also planted for an Eddie Edwards heel turn. Check out http://indywrestling.tumblr.com/roh for full results.
* Jon Moxley, now known as Dean Ambrose, made his TV debut for FCW in an interview. He cut an awesome promo: http://tumblr.com/xk33fdm42d
* Former ROH, DGUSA and every other indy company star Austin Aries won a match atTNA: Destination X, with the stipulation that the winner would receive a TNA contract. This will be his second run in TNA. We wish him great success.
* Pro Wrestling NOAH held a pay per view last night. Check out this week’s edition of PuroMania for all of the details! It will be online tomorrow.
Jon Moxley FCW debut interview (video)
Thoughts: What a promo.His mic skills are way beyond those of most WWE superstars. I have a feeling he’s gonna be huge there. He challenged Seth Rollins (Tyler Black) straight away, much to the delight of many of us.
Also, to quote Youtube user keez2010, “Regal was marking out bro”. William Regal indeed appeared to be marking out when the camera cut to him at the announce table, he was very impressed with Moxley/Ambrose’s promo.