July 25, 2009 – Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
[ OPEN THE HISTORIC GATE ]
Reviewed by Brad Dykens
INTRODUCTION: How sweet it was, to open my mailbox today and find the recently released DVD of Dragon Gate USA ‘s first ever event, appropriately titled "Open the Historic Gate." The Gabe Sapolsky led DGUSA promotion filled the void left just when my beloved Ring of Honor began to disappoint.
OPENING SEGMENT: In a nice added touch, Philadelphia-favorite Dawn Marie (from www.wrestlerescue.org) was the special hostess and ring announcer for the night and welcomed everybody to Dragon Gate USA ! The announcers for the show were former ROH announcer Lenny Leonard and Chikara Pro star Mike Quackenbush..
BXB Hulk vs. YAMATO: I have read so much about BXB Hulk being an amazing entertainer, so I was anxious to check him out for the first time. Daizee Haze, and another girl who looks familiar, played the part of Nitro Girls – as they accompanied BXB Hulk to the ring during his energetic entrance routine. I love Daizee, but she was looking deathly skinny here. The other girl looked healthy and probably had a background in dance. The hype was spot on, and BXB Hulk was thoroughly entertaining for me! He did a blind back-flip off the top rope and came within inches of drilling the Haze! Viewers unfamiliar with Dragon Gate will quickly notice that this is the perfect blend of American and Japanese wrestling styles. YAMATO reminds me of a grown up Mowgli from "The Jungle Book," except he is one of the only true heels in the promotion. Meanwhile, the crowd was solidly behind BXB, who took quite a beating before "hulking up" and making his comeback! YAMATO squashed his efforts, and planted BXB with a sick-looking modified Pile-driver! YAMATO became the winner of the first match in Dragon Gate USA history.
Too Cold Scorpio vs. Kenn Doane: All of you Spirit Squad fans out there will be happy to know Kenny is alive and well, living the post-WWE nightmare of working the independent circuit. The former Kenny Dykstra found a home in Dragon Gate USA, and was lucky to be matched up with one of the greatest independent wrestlers of all-time – a Philadelphia legend – Mr. Too Cold Scorpio! Mike Quackenbush, who is a walking encyclopedia, noted that Scorpio has been wrestling longer than Kenny has been alive! The crowd was ribbing Doane aggressively, chanting "we want Ziggler!" in reference to Kenny’s former Spirit Squad partner Nicky currently wrestling as Dolph Ziggler in the WWE. This had considerably less Japanese influence than the previous match, and more of an American indy style, including a lot of heel stalling by Kenny at the start of the match. Late in the match, Kenny went for the top rope Leg-drop, but Scorpio moved. Then Scorpio went for the top rope moon-sault, and Kenny got his knees up for the block. Scorpio recovered like a professional, and "dropped the bomb" on Kenny with an impressive back-flip off the top rope landing a Leg-drop on Kenny in the middle of the ring for the win! Scorpio helped Kenny up after the match, to show respect to the young star. They shook hands in the middle of the ring, and since this isn’t TNA – nobody turned heel on the other.
SIX MAN TAG TEAM MATCH
Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw & Soldier Ant & Fire Ant vs. Gran Akuma & Icarus & Amasis & Hallowicked: These eight phenomenal wrestlers were representing the greatest independent promotion that nobody has ever seen. Chikara Pro is a group in Pennsylvania that is well-known for its masks and unique gimmicks. For someone like me to have never seen a Chikara show, much less an entire match, is saying something. Sure, I’ve read some incredible things about the events, and seen the wrestlers compete in other rings (like ROH & FIP), but I have never seen the Chikara product. I guess what I’m saying is they do a poor job taking advantage of people who can give them great exposure, despite delivering a consistently amazing show. Good to see Jigsaw back under a mask where he belongs (FIP made him wrestle without it for some reason). The first part of the match had me wondering what the hype was all about, but they really turned up the heat at the end for quite a spectacular finish. The crowd was totally pumped to see Mike Quackenbush and his trio of masked partners pick up the victory. After the match, Mike Quackenbush got on the microphone and said that Dragon Gate and Chikara make a splendid combination! Quackenbush then paid tribute to his trainer, before issuing an open challenge for anybody in Dragon Gate to face anybody from Chikara Pro. YAMATO answered the challenge, and told Quackenbush that he has no right to be in the ring. YAMATO kicked Quackenbush between the legs and attacked him until Jigsaw & Akuma made the save! Suddenly, Akuma turned on Jigsaw and joined YAMATO in beating up Quackenbush. Cheech & Cloudy hit the ring but they were dumped by YAMATO & Akuma. The Colony of Ants came out and YAMATO retreated with Akuma by his side.
Dragon Kid w/Shingo vs. Masato Yoshino w/Naruki Doi: Masato Yoshino looks like the villain from any Karate Kid movie. Dragon Kid was one of the more memorable characters from when Dragon Gate used to visit with Ring of Honor. Both men were accompanied by their stable-mates, who happen to be wrestling in the main event tonight! When they said that I was afraid the match would focus on the other guys instead of the guys in the ring, but that’s not the way business is done in Dragon Gate USA . It turned out to be another spectacular match with Dragon Kid hitting his famous finisher that had to be seen! Dragon Kid offered to shake hands after the match, but Masato Yoshino slapped it away. Suddenly, Naruki Doi and Shingo were nose to nose – but before they could get into trouble, Too Cold Scorpio was right there to stop them. Scorpio said he was in this building when Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko had their classic match (in ECW), as well as Rey Mysterio and Psicosis, and a match between himself and Sabu. Scorpio then convinced Dragon Kid and Masato Yoshino to agree to a rematch.
TAG TEAM MATCH
CIMA & Susumu Yokosuka vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson): Whenever Dragon Gate visited ROH, it was my opinion that CIMA was the biggest star and the clear audience favorite. I have heard a lot of good things about the Young Bucks, who pattern themselves after the Rockers and the Hardy Boyz. Despite their lack of size, they have gotten some good exposure all over the United States , as well as some experience in Japan . What can I say, except that the fans became unglued for the last part of this match, which featured the Young Bucks pulling out the greatest victory of their careers! Everybody watching this match had to have become an instant fan of these two up-and-coming wrestlers! I thought the fans were chanting "you’re the future!" but they were really saying " Yokosuka !" Everybody showed a lot of respect and appreciation after the match, as the Young Bucks put over their opponents. One of the Bucks said that everybody is calling them the "tag team of the future," but he disagreed with that statement. He said that after tonight, the Young Bucks deserve to be called the tag team of the present! The Young Bucks issued an open challenge for any team in Dragon Gate to step up and face the Young Bucks!
MAIN EVENT (NON-TITLE MATCH)
Naruka Doi (champion) vs. Shingo: It was time for the main event, which featured Dragon Gate’s top two wrestlers fighting, not for the championship, but for pride and bragging rights! The match was well booked, and built from beginning to end – and finally climaxed with an intense finish that had the fans out of their seats. Naruki Doi pulled out the victory over Shingo after planting him with the Muscular-bomb in the middle of the ring! A spectacular match to end a spectacular show!!
CONCLUSION: The show, which was originally taped for a PPV audience, was full of beautifully worked matches featuring the sorely missed booking of wrestling genius Gabe Sapolsky, who was blessed by the wrestling Gods with a newfound passion for the wrestling business. If you’re a fan of smart booking, then jump on the Sapolsky bandwagon and add some Dragon Gate USA to your DVD collection today.
BONUS DISC: The special bonus disc includes an Open the Historic Gate Highlight Reel, the Enter the Dragon PPV Preview, an FIP Bonus Match (BxB Hulk & Jack Evans & YAMATO vs. Delirious & Jigsaw & Hallowicked), plus a Dragon Gate Bonus Match from Japan (BxB Hulk & Jushin Liger & Jack Evans & Matt Sydal vs. Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Magnitibe Kishiwada & Kevin Steen), and a Fray between a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of which turned out to be a dynamite match.
If you would like to purchase this or any other Dragon Gate USA DVD, please check out DGUSA.tv
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