Current Watch List:
- Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle (TNA)
- Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards (TNA)
- Low Ki vs. Austin Aries for the X-Division championship (TNA)
- Genki Horiguchi H.A.GeeMee!!, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy Kagetora vs. Super Shisa, Yuga Hayashi, “Mr. High Tension” Kotoka (DG)
- Jimmy Susumu vs. Kenichiro Arai (DG)
- YAMATO, Cyber Kong, K-ness, CIMA, Gamma vs. T-Hawk, Eita, U-T, Yosuke Santa Maria (DG)
- T-Hawk, Eita, U-T, Yosuke♡Santa Maria, Kotoka, Yuga Hayashi vs. YAMATO, Cyber Kong, K-ness, CIMA, Gamma, Dr. Muscle (DG)
- Jimmy Susumu vs. Big R Shimizu (DG)
- Goldust, Stardust & Fandango vs. Los Matedores & Justin Gabriel (WWE)
- Fuego vs. Hombre Sin Nombre in a lightning match (CMLL)
Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle
United States & Canada
The crowd lightning this week might be the worst I ever seen from a promotion with national television. ROH, WCW at times, and other promotions have lit the audience in such a way that it looks like there are less people in the crowd than there actually are. However, none of them made it look like there was one row of people on each side and nothing else. That’s what TNA did with this episode. It was pitch black save for some faces peaking out of the first row. They managed to make a bad situation look even worse.
Joe was fun here. He put on some different holds, his strikes looked good, and even though he is a shell of his former self, its hard not to think he couldn’t be doing something more worthwhile than this, but you can’t blame him for sticking around either. Angle was a nonentity. This wasn’t much of a match and the invisible crowd distracted from the action.
Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards
United States & Canada
Matt did a good job holding this match together. Even when his offense was a bit slow/off (the handspring double DDT) I appreciated the effort and idea. Jeff hit a neat rope-walking dive. It’s the kind of move he probably shouldn’t be doing on this show in front of this small of a crowd, but . . . well . . . this is Jeff Hardy we are talking about. He doesn’t think in those terms. I enjoyed Edwards overall. His chops were good and he has always been a strong bumper. The match was an okay, condensed tag but rather soulless overall.
Austin Aires (c) vs. Low Ki
United States & Canada
Continuing the theme of the evening, both guys in this match deserve a better fate. They worked snug and Ki can have a good match whenever he wants, but like the tag match, this was lacking any sort of intrigue. It’s two good wrestlers going through the motions so the match is going to end up okay, but nothing more. The title switch was typical TNA. There is absolutely zero value added by switching the title last week and switching it back this week. I would love to hear the explanation for it. I am guessing it would be along the lines of wanting title switches on the first overall Destination America show and one on the first Friday show, but that’s hardly a good explanation.
(#1) YAMATO, Cyber Kong, K-ness, CIMA, Gamma vs. T-Hawk, Eita, U-T, Yosuke Santa Maria / (#2) T-Hawk, Eita, U-T, Yosuke♡Santa Maria, Kotoka, Yuga Hayashi vs. YAMATO, Cyber Kong, K-ness, CIMA, Gamma, Dr. Muscle
Speaking only for myself, I don’t have an issue with current Dragon Gate because of an aversion to an all-out, sprint style of wrestling that is heavy on spots and ambivalent about selling. I could feast (and have feasted) on a steady diet of 1996/1997 M-Pro and come away more than satisfied. I will go to bat for the the Superbrawl 2001 six-man cruiserweight match if anyone speaks poorly of it. I love a good Cibernetico. All of those examples fit that style of wrestling described above. The distinction is in the quality of that style. Those are good matches in that style; matches like this are not.
There was little flow to these matches. Matches heavy on high spots can still have the familiar wrestling rhythm to them. Mid-90’s M-Pro matches were heavy on big moves – really, they were centered on that – but they also had easy to get heel/face dynamics and a build to the spots. These two multi-man matches did not have either of those elements going for them. I know who the faces and heels were (at least I think I do) but I would not have known by simply watching the matches. There was no progression to the moves or squences. It was just ten (and then twelve) guys running through their moves without building them up higher and higher until they peaked. Spots, quick action, and this type of selling are all fine if executed correctly which wasn’t the case here. These matches were like ordering an empty calorie desert that doesn’t even taste good.
On a positive note, I love the corner elbow train and it was used a bunch in these matches, so that was a positive. Unfortunately, the matches just didn’t do it for me.
Jimmy Susumu vs. Big R Shimizu
#1 Contenders Match
For a main event match at Korakuen Hall, this match had noticeably little heat early on. It was not a “that’s how Japanese fans” react deal either. There is a clear and obvious difference. The heat picked up late in the match but was still well below normal Korakuen levels and was helped out by the army of seconds that surround the ring in most Dragon Gate matches.
The work at the beginning was purposely deliberate and wasn’t bad, but it also lacked any sort of flow and build. It felt like time killing which probably explains some of the poor fan reaction. The match transitioned right from the measured beginnings of the match right into the stretch run. Shimizu shows potential as a power wrestler. He didn’t maximize the impact of his moves here. It seemed like he was randomly throwing out stuff with out trying to build off of anything. Susumu is solid but not much else. Some of the near falls got decent reactions but this in no way felt like a hot match. In some aspects, it felt like a current WWE match in that the work was okay but the layout, heat, and ending left the match with a meaningless and unimportant feeling to it.
Goldust, Stardust & Fandango vs. Los Matedores & Justin Gabriel
United States & Canada
This was similar to the tag match between the Dusts and Los Matedores from last week and was similarly fun. As I said about that one, Goldust is just as fine of a heel tag worker as he is a babyface one. While he and Cody would be far better off as a babyface team, they having something to offer as a heel team and I wish they had a higher profile. Quick tags all around and smooth work, leading to the usual moderately big Goldust/Stardust finishing sequence. Fun C-show trios.
Genki Horiguchi H.A.GeeMee!!, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy Kagetora vs. Super Shisa, Yuga Hayashi, “Mr. High Tension” Kotoka
Super Shisa is my favorite current Dragon Gate wrestler. I feel weird about that because I don’t like being the guy whose favorite is the non-pushed opening match wrestler, but Shisa’s style is more up my alley. He’s a ton of fun on the mat when he does there. He is far more well-rounded than most of Dragon Gate roster, too. He keeps things more toned back, but still has a strong presence. He was a lot of fun in this match working Genki and Kageotra. Overall, this was a better match than two big multi-man matches that came after it. Nothing special overall, but Shisa was fun as usual.
Fuego vs. Hombre Sin Nombre
The prototypical okay but forgettable CMLL lightning match (if there is such a thing). You could probably say the same (“okay but forgettable”) about Fuego and Hombre Sin Nombre as well. Hombre Sin Nombre bumps well. He takes that nice, steady lucha roll on almost all of his bumps. I like his Styles Clash, too, but otherwise he doesn’t do anything to stand out from the pack. Fuego is fun but his offense is rather bland. Throw mediocre ingredients into the pot and you are going to get back a mediocre meal. That’s what this was.