Kobe Sambo Hall (Kobe, Hyoko, Japan)
King of Gate 2014 Tournament Final
In terms of historical importance throughout the years, nobody is going to confuse Dragon Gate’s King of Gate tournament with the G-1 Climax or Champions Carnival. The 16-person, single-elimination came off the heels of the promotion’s big Dead or Alive show and as such, felt more like a gimmick for a normal tour than a big anticipated event. It is still 15 singles matches over a week and a half a period which is a lot for a promotion like Dragon Gate that leans heavily on tags and trios matches in its normal course of business booking.
T-Hawk’s offense – in general as well as in this match – is built around a hard knife edge chop. In this match they demonstrated just one of the many ways you can get a lot out of such a simple signature move. A few minutes into the match – after a fine feeling-out start – they spill to the outside. Susumu ends up with his back against the ring spot and T-Hawk instinctively moves in for the chop. Jimmy moves and Hawk smacks nothing but steel, which is always a great looking spot. That one move sets in place the rest of the work for the match.
T-Hawk sells the wrist and fore arm the remainder of the match with Jimmy focusing on it at points. Despite having the bum hand, T-Hawk continues to utilize the chops. He is not going to drop his main weapon just because his hand and wrist are stinging. It is hurting him – he makes that abundantly clear – but it is a pain he is going to choose to fight through rather than letting it define his strategy. Later on when T-Hawk gains control of the match he goes right for Susumu’s hand/arm. I loved the notion that the youngster T-Hawk remained calm and stoically sought his revenge by going all an eye an eye on Susumu.
T-Hawk’s arm revenge led us to the closing minutes of the 20-minute match where both guys were left exhausted and fighting with injured arms. The ending wasn’t a barn burner like Dragon Gate often pulls out (for better or for worse) so I could see it leaving some people cold. It wasn’t an ending that I thought was great, but it was perfectly effective. Susumu has a taped up elbow which has been aggravated by the arm attack. However, after surviving a few near falls he goes for broke by pulling off the elbow pad and landing a pair of lariats – the second of which wins him the tournament.
The knife edge chop match as always been a favorite of mine – the first 15-minutes of the “Summer of Punk” Roderick Strong vs. CM Punk ROH match is near all-time classic stuff in my book – so I liked this a bunch. It is hard to go wrong when you a focus a match around a simple but logical premise like this one had. It was maybe lacking a memorable ending to keep it from that next level, but I will take a match with a good body and decent ending nine times out ten. Aside from a couple Ricochet matches and CIMA vs. Super Shisa, this is my favorite DG singles match of the year over other hyped matches like Yoshino vs. Mochizuki and Susumu vs. Flamita.
Junior Singles | Worthwhile | Quality & Tournament Final