Dia.HEARTS (Big R Shimizu, Dragon Kid, Kzy & Masaaki Mochizuki) vs. Monster Express (Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino, Syachihoko BOY & T-Hawk) vs. VerserK (Kotoka, Naruki Doi, Shingo Takagi & YAMATO)
February 4, 2016
The frenzied match pace often found in Dragon Gate works best in multi-man or multi-team match environments.
A match where there are a lot of bodies in and around the ring at one time lends itself to chaos more so than a straight singles or tag match. The ability to continually swap wrestlers in and out of the ring allows for non-stop action while not shortchanging other areas like transitions, selling, or near falls. For example, in a chaotically paced Dragon Gate singles match you might find the wrestlers running through a series of sequences with little to no transitions, capping it with a kick out of a big move, and then immediately moving on in order to maintain the hectic pace. In an environment such as this, the wrestlers might work one sequence, end it in a big near fall where teammates make the save, and use that save to transition into a new pairing while the first to wrestlers leave the ring. Chaos flows better when there are more wrestlers involved.
What this match did particularly well – and what separates it from other recent year multi-man/team Dragon Gate matches that I have watched – is how the match generally flowed well despite its nearly non-stop pace. After the match, certain spots and parts of the match stuck with me. It was not a case of all the action blending together into one indistinguishable mess which often happens in matches that attempt to pack so much in. The layout and rhythm allowed for certain moments to resonate in the midst of the frantic pace.
There was the first elimination, which went to Mochizuki when he pinned Kotuka about five minutes in and the near second quick elimination he almost scored before a last second save. Big R Shimizu’s wrecking ball routine that started even before he surprisingly made T-Hawk the second wrestler out around the 16 minute mark was a notable and well executed performance. The second – and more major – of the two dive sequences would not have been out of place in an above average cibernetico. Yoshino and Shimizu going all Misawa and Taue with the arm drag chokeslam reversal was my favorite spot of the entire match. Kzy being booked surprisingly strong and lasting until the end was a storyline that was easy to pick up on even if you are not a Dragon Gate devotee (which I am not). The hurried saves – particularly as the field thinned out – made for memorable near falls.
In the past I have been left head-scratching when I read a certain DG match had excellent crowd heat only to be underwhelmed by the crowd’s responses. This was not the case. Save for a small stretch in between the hot opening and before the eliminations ramped up – which not coincidentally was also the weakest and least engaging part of the match – the Korakuen fans were very much into the match. The match sustained its heat throughout and managed some big time near fall reactions.
The eliminations were well thought out and well timed. I think that was evident in the crowd reactions. Elimination matches should be roller coaster rides where each elimination and teased elimination adds to the overall drama. This was not a perfect elimination match in that regard – if such a match even exists – but the crowd reaction is proof that the layout was effective in building momentum and never ever halting it. There was never an elimination that deflated the crowd and there were several that got them stirring.
My issues with the match are the usual Dragon Gate-centric complaints – mainly involving the offense – so I won’t bother listing them all out. I’ll only say that the main difference for me between this match and a borderline MOTYC-type cibernetico is my personal preference is for more dives and less indie-inspired high impact offense. For a promotion so predicated on quickness and athletic spots, I almost always find myself disappointed by the quality of the spots in Dragon Gate matches. There were some good ones here (as mentioned, I love the arm dragon out of the chokeslam) but on the whole still not the kind of stuff I personally enjoy.
The match is easy to watch and worth giving a shot. It was never boring and the environment helped to reduce or nullify some of the more contentious elements of the Dragon Gate style.