WrestleMania weekend line ups
That glorious time of year, WrestleMania weekend, is almost upon us! There’s going to be a hell of a lot of wrestling this weekend, even more than what I have covered here, so be sure to let me know of any other shows (via Twitter, Facebook or Email) and I’ll add them to this post.
If you are reading this on your Tumblr feed or on the IWE homepage, click “read more” for the full line ups! If not, you will be able to see them beneath already.
Looking back at DGUSA: Mercury Rising 2011
This is the second part of my WrestleMania weekend 2011 retrospective. You can read part one (DGUSA: Open The Southern Gate) HERE. Today, I’ll be looking at Dragon Gate USA: Mercury Rising, which took place in Atlanta on April the 2nd.
You may have heard people cite this as the best Dragon Gate USA show of 2011. Those people are right. In fact, this was one of the best shows I saw from any promotion all year.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Arik Cannon, fresh from his victory in the “Breakout Challenge” at Southern Gate (the previous night), suffered defeat in a forgettable, but ok opening bout with Kamikaze USA mouthpiece Jon Moxley. What was less forgettable was the brawl between Reby Sky and Moxley’s ladies (Trina Michaels and Valerie Malone) that ensued afterwards. Crazy stuff.
Next, Brodie Lee dominated an high octane six man elimination match, before Sami Callihan received a huge opportunity; a non title match with the Open The Dream Gate champion Masato Yoshino. Sami had only recently became a regular on DGUSA shows, so this was massive. He held is own in a good match, before ultimately submitting to the Sol Naciente.
This was an important part of the rise of Sami Callihan. He went on to feud with the next Dream Gate champion, Masaaki Mochizuki, at the third DGUSA weekend of 2011, before his match of the year candidate with Finlay at Evolve 9 really put him on the map.
The first three matches were a nice warm up, but the show really kicked into gear when PAC stepped in the ring with Akira Tozawa. Tozawa’s red hot United weekend, in which he scored three straight victories (over Sami Callihan, Austin Aries and former Open The Freedom Gate champion BxB Hulk), had earned him a shot at the Englishman’s Open The Brave Gate championship (the second tier belt in DG Japan).
Some flashy wrestling opened the contest, it built up nicely, before a series of Tozawa suicide dives took it into another dimension. The red hot crowd were fans of PAC, but it was clear that Tozawa was their favourite, as he came closer and closer to taking the title from his bloody foe (PAC’s head wound from Southern Gate had reopened) with near fall after near fall. PAC narrowly survived several german suplexes, before nailing Akira with one of his own, in an absolutely breathtaking sequence. The champion got the three count, then laid his belt on the mat as a sign of respect for his worthy adversary.
This was excellent, I can’t adequately describe the atmosphere, the excitement that was created in this match of the year candidate. Both men went on to challenge for the top prize in DGUSA, the Open The Freedom Gate. Tozawa went after it the very next day…
The second half began with Sami Callihan and Arik Cannon swearing and attacking some local wrestlers who were attempting to have a match. They (Callihan and Cannon) then proceeded to brawl with each other, all the way to the back. This led to the formation of D.U.F the following day, somehow.
After that mess, it was time for another big match; Open The Freedom Gate champion YAMATO vs Austin Aries, title vs career. The challenger had offered to put his career on the line himself, he wanted to be the champion, or he didn’t want to be there at all. YAMATO had a lot to prove, after a less than stellar inaugural weekend as champion (in January), which saw his title victory over BxB Hulk lost in the mid card of United: NYC, before he made progress with a clever victory over Brodie Lee in Philly, which was undone by his participation in an eight man tag match the following day, in which he got about three offensive moves in, while being beat up the rest of the time.
They went at it, and the results were phenomenal. From the electric opening minutes, in which Aries almost put YAMATO away with his famous brainbuster/450 combo, all the way to the second Galleria that supposedly ended the career of the former ROH champion, this was fantastic. Any critics of YAMATO were silenced, there was no doubt he was the new ace of DGUSA at this point. He was also in the middle of a face turn, banishing Moxley from ringside before the match, then showing respect to Aries afterwards. Aries left the ring without a word, his supposed retirement speech was to take place at Open The Ultimate Gate.
Throughout 2011, I cited PAC/Tozawa as the best DGUSA match of the year. However, upon recently re-watching the show, I think YAMATO/Aries may have actually been superior. It’s a tough call. I can think of a few other bouts that could be declared DGUSA’s best of 2011, but that’s a debate for another day.
The main event had to follow back to back match of the year candidates. A tough task, you’d think? Well, the Dragon Gate traditional six man tag certainly rose to the challenge, as CIMA, Ricochet and Naruki Doi of the heel Blood Warriors took on the all American trio Ronin; Johnny Gargano, Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann. This feud had been building for months, and really took off at the United weekend (January) when Gargano and Taylor defeated Blood Warriors teams two nights running.
This spectacular grudge match saw the Blood Warriors emerge victorious, as Doi ended Swann with the Muscular Bomb. It wasn’t without a price for the Warriors though, as Ricochet sustained an injury in the closing sequence, so Doi had to replace him as CIMA’s partner in the United Gate title match the following day.
This was excellent, and again, one of the best matches I saw anywhere all year. It was an important chapter in Blood Warriors vs Ronin, the Empire Strikes Back before the Return Of the Jedi, if you will, as the war reached its conclusion at the next DGUSA weekend…
I hope you enjoyed the second instalment of my WrestleMania weekend series. The next edition will be about DGUSA: Open The Ultimate Gate 2011.
Want to discuss Mercury Rising, or anything else about WrestleMania weekend, or wrestling in general? Feel to talk to me on Twitter @IWEnews.
Thanks for reading!
Full card for Dragon Gate USA/CZW SuperShow
The first of three Dragon Gate USA WrestleMania weekend shows will be a supershow with CZW, on Thursday the 29th of March, at the German American Society Clubhouse in Hollywood, Florida. The full card has been announced:
CZW Deathmatch: D.J Hyde vs Drake Younger
CZW Deathmatch: Danny Havoc vs Lucky Thurteen
Three way trios match: Akira Tozawa, BxB Hulk & Uhaa Nation of Mad Blankey vs Johnny Gargano, Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann of Ronin vs Sami Callihan, Arik Cannon & Pinkie Sanchez of D.U.F
PAC vs AR Fox
Low Ki vs. Bobby Fish
Breakout Chance Match #1:
CIMA & Masaaki Mochizuki vs. The Scene (Scott Reed & Caleb Konley)
Breakout Chance Match #2:
Masato Yoshino vs. New Mystery Luchador
Breakout Chance Match #3:
Ricochet vs. Mike Cruz
This is the only DGUSA show of the weekend that will not be broadcast on IPPV.
Thoughts: That looks like a pretty cool show. Huge opportunities for Mike Cruz and The Scene. Low Ki vs Fish and the three way trios match look like the “must see” matches to me.
If you attend this show, feel free to send a review to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share it here.
In the next week at IWE…
I’ll be writing parts two, three and four of my WrestleMania weekend 2011 retrospective (DGUSA Mercury Rising, Open The Ultimate Gate and WrestleMania 27) over the next week, then we will have live coverage of DGUSA Open The Ultimate Gate next Friday. Hopefully we’ll have live coverage of DGUSA Mercury Rising and maybe one of the ROH shows too, but I can’t confirm any of that. We will definitely have a review of Mercury Rising, but it may be the day after.
We’ll have all the latest Japanese wrestling news on Sunday, all the WrestleMania weekend results next week and all the latest news from all over the indy scene every day as usual.
I just thought I should let you know since I’m about to go and play gig and won’t be heard from for about a day, and I didn’t want anyone thinking I’d vanished from the face of the earth.
You can read part one of my WrestleMania weekend 2011 retrospective here:
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!
DGUSA: Low Ki confronts Team CIMA (video)
Dragon Gate USA have released footage from their most recent show, Open The Golden Gate, in which Low Ki confronted CIMA, Ricochet and Masaaki Mochizuki, after the main event. It has since been decided that Ki will team with Akira Tozawa and BxB Hulk of Mad Blankey (formerly Blood Warriors) to take on CIMA and his allies at Mercury Rising.
You will notice that although Ki is issuing challenges to babyfaces here, he is very much a face himself. Will his alignment with the heels for this match lead to a turn for him?
Thoughts: Splicing the action shots into this footage was a nice touch. I think we’re going to see Low Ki turn heel at WrestleMania weekend, I’m not sure how they’ll get to it though.
Lee’s latest column at Cheap Heat
I’ve just finished my latest indy wrestling column over at Cheap Heat. I wrote about all the latest news, happenings and upcoming stuff from Ring Of Honor, Dragon Gate USA, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, giving my thoughts as well as the facts. You can read it here:
More Dragon Gate USA matches announced
More matches have been announced for the upcoming Dragon Gate USA triple shot in March:
Dragon Gate USA/CZW Super Show
Thursday 29th of March 2012
The German American Society Clubhouse, Hollywood, Florida
Just announced - Three way trios match:
Akira Tozawa, BxB Hulk & Uhaa Nation of Blood Warriors vs Johnny Gargano, Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann of Ronin vs Sami Callihan, Arik Cannon & Pinkie Sanchez of D.U.F
Just announced: PAC vs AR Fox
Thoughts: The trios match will be crazy. Cyber Kong recently became third in command of Blood Warriors over in Japan, so it looks like Uhaa will be fulfilling that role in the US. I’m pleased to see Gargano is expected to be back in action.
PAC vs Fox should be great too. Those are the kind of matches I like to see Fox in, not the hardcore stuff he’s often bogged down with.
Dragon Gate USA: Open The Ultimate Gate 2012
Friday 30th of March
Deauville Resort Hotel, Miami
(Online Pay Per View - bargain, once in a lifetime price of $2!)
Low Ki vs PAC
Just announced: Akira Tozawa vs Masaaki Mochizuki
Stable Shootout Match #1 - Street Fight: Sabu & Jon Davis vs Arik Cannon & Pinkie Sanchez
Stable Shootout Match #2 - Fox Picks Callihan’s Opponent: Sami Callihan vs BxB Hulk
Stable Shootout Match #3 - Callihan Picks Fox’s Opponent: AR Fox vs Uhaa Nation
Thoughts: I marked out so much at that announcement. This will be the second bout in DGUSA between Tozawa and Mochizuki (the first took place at Uprising 2010), but the only singles match I’ve seen between the two was their Open The Dream Gate title match in Japan last year, which was one of my favourite matches of 2011. I’ve seen them go at it in various tag matches (in Japan) since, they have increasingly great chemistry together.
With two potentially great headline matches, and two potentially great undercard matches, I have high expectations for this show.
Dragon Gate USA: Mercury Rising 2012
Saturday 31st of March
Deauville Resort Hotel, Miami
(Online PPV - $15)
Just announced: CIMA, ? & ? vs Akira Tozawa, ? & ?
No rules: Sabu vs Sami Callihan
Thoughts: Tozawa’s teammates will be from his Blood Warriors stable. BxB Hulk is Tozawa’s tag partner and second in command, so it’s safe to say he will be on the team. This was originally announced as a match that will feature the core Dragon Gate roster from Japan, so I’m guessing Naruki Doi will be the third Blood Warrior rather than Uhaa, unless he leaves or is ejected from the stable before this show.
As for Team CIMA, it’s unlikely that his allies in Japan, Don Fujii and Stalker Ichikawa, will be coming to America, but the start of an alliance between he and Mochizuki has been hinted at, and he’s still half of the DGUSA tag champions with Ricochet, so I’m guessing they will be his partners.
These shows are shaping up very well. It’s going to be a hell of a weekend for Dragon Gate USA. WrestleMania weekend is like Christmas for wrestling fans.