Osaka Bodymaker Coliseum (Osaka, Japan)
2 Count & 3 Rope Escape Match
Dragon Gate ran another 2 count & 3 Rope Escape match in Osaka as part of the build to their Dead or Alive PPV in May. This one is a little different than some of the others from the past six months. There is no CIMA, for one. Dragon Kid – and to a lesser extent T-Haw & Eita – bring a different (more high impact) style to the match well. All of that makes for a different type of 2 count & 3 rope escape match than the kind that CIMA and Super Shisa would have versus one another. However, this match does provide further support for the notion that the gimmick is an effective one that can be used with wrestlers of differing styles (not just for mat work/submission focused matches).
A good gimmick match is one that slightly alters the rules to create unique and/or expanded possibilities, while still retaining the fundamental elements of a pro wrestling match. A standard cage match can be a good gimmick match because the match alteration is the cage around the ring that prevents interference and otherwise all of the fundamental elements of a wrestling match are left in place. An escape-the-cage match is a bit trickier because the gimmick alters one of the fundamental elements of a pro wrestling match. Instead of trying to defeat your opponent, you are trying to escape from your opponent. It is a major alteration. That is not to say that all gimmick matches of that ilk are inherently bad. A ladder match replaces pins/submissions with climbing which is certainly a major alteration, but ladder matches can still be executed well. They are just more difficult to pull off, I think.
The beauty of the 2 Count & 3 Rope Break gimmick match is that while it alters the traditional match rules and elements, it does not do so at the detriment of the fundamental components of a pro wrestling match. Basically they take a normal match and just remove some of the room for error by tightening the rules. These matches can and often do play out like normal matches, only with altered rules that open a world of cool possibilities.
For example, CIMA and Super Shisa have worked their singles matches under these rules as mat based submission-heavy bouts. The rules favor the wrestler that has forced his opponent to use his rope breaks so submissions become a very handy tool. Once the rope breaks are gone, submissions become a great finishing weapon because the only escape is to physically break the hold. They use the rules to create a match that makes sense, is unique, and yet still sticks to those fundamental elements.
In this match, submissions are used but are not necessarily the focal point they are in the CIMA vs. Super Shisa bouts. Instead, a greater focus is given to two areas: (1) pinning combinations and (2) saves. With only a 2 count needed for victory, a quick roll up or cradle is suddenly a much more valuable weapon. There are some cool flash pin attempts in this match from all of the wrestlers that create legit near falls throughout the match on moves that would otherwise get little or no reaction.
There is also a strong focus on breaking up pins. Dragon Kid, T-Hawk, and Eita use much of their “normal” offense throughout the match and particularly late in the match, moves are landed that we would expect to get at least a two count. Since that would end the match, tag partners are diving in to the ring for saves early and often which creates a cool, frantic feel. I think that utilizing high impact moves in a singles match with these rules would become problematic because kicking out of so many big moves after a one count flies in the face of established wrestling logic. In a tag environment where saves are utilized big time, it works well. There was only one time in this match – after a Dragon Kid spinning tornado DDT – where there was a one count kick out that seemed to be pushing the envelope a bit.
The submissions in here are also cool. Super Shisa goes for a bunch and as we have seen in the CIMA matches, he has a nice arsenal of them. The Millennial duo bring a few to the table as well – including a couple of ones that involve neat looking transitions and set ups. T-Hawk and Eita eventually seize control of the match by forcing two rope breaks (one right after the other) on each of their opponents to leave them without any. Eita rather quickly capitalizes on the situation by forcing Super Shisa to submit to the Numero Uno (arm bar).
This was not the best of the 2 Count & 3 Rope Break matches but it did do the gimmick justice. I don’t think I’d want to see a full card of these rules on a regular basis or even see the gimmick used on a regular basis. Like any gimmick match, it is best served in moderation. However, I am convinced it is a gimmick that should be used elsewhere because there are certainly some creative wrestlers currently who could utilize this gimmick match effectively and interestingly.
2 Count, 3 Rope Escapes| Worthwhile | Quality & Gimmick Match