Monday, January 31, 2011

Dragon Gate USA Freedom Fight 2011

Dragon Gate USA Freedom Fight 2011
Taped October 30th, 2010
Rahway Recreation Center, Rahway, New Jersey
Attendance: ???

Your hosts are CHIKARA-san and Lenny Leonard.

So this was Dragon Gate USA's first PPV airing of 3 in January 2011, a show that was taped back in October. Lets get right to it.

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Arik Cannon

Jacobs opens with a wristlock on Cannon as they exchange holds and counters briefly in a feeling out process. Jimmy gets a northern lights suplex and works an armbar on the Anarchist Arik Cannon. Jacobs gets a near fall with a victory roll but Cannon counters with a spinebuster and then locks in a modified Indian deathlock on him. He leans back and puts a crossface on Jacobs in the Muta-lock briefly, but Jacobs gets to the ropes before any real damage can take place. They trade hiplocks and suplexes and go into a nice reversal and rollup sequence off the ropes with Cannon showing off his agility with a cartwheel. Cannon attempts a wheelbarrow suplex but gets a bulldog instead. Big boot sends Cannon out, and Jacobs follows only to eat a superkick. They trade chops for a bit and then Jacobs delivers a headscissors on the floor and follows it up with a quick tope. Very good pace here and the crowd is getting into it now as Jacobs works a modified Mexican surfboard submission on Cannon. Cannon takes advantage for a bit with targeted dropkicks. He attempts a superplex but Jimmy swings out of the corner as if to perform a tornado DDT, only to snap Cannon down with a suplex of his own. Very fluid movement there from Jimmy. A bulldog gets another two count for Jimmy as the crowd starts clapping, getting into the action and seemingly behind Jimmy Jacobs. Spear in the corner gets him another near fall but Cannon won't be put away so easily. Jacobs misses a back suplex and goes for a lariat but Cannon tosses him over his head and into the corner with the Exploder suplex! Jacobs seemingly tweaks his knee after that and he's favoring it as they both rise to their feet for an exchange of elbows and headbutts. And just like that, Jimmy's cut from a brutal match 24 hours ago with Jon Moxley is opened back up. The blood only pumps Jimmy up though and he attempts Sliced Bread #2, but hits an ace crusher instead and follows it up with a cannonball senton for two. Wow Jimmy's cut is REALLY busted, his face is a mess. He eats a superkick and then a moves out of a brainbuster, but gets the Total Anarchy (twisting brainbuster) from Cannon for only 2! He hits ANOTHER brainbuster on Jimmy and follows it up with a Shining Wizard, 1-2---NO! Jimmy kicks out. Jimmy locks in the guillotine choke shortly afterwards and Cannon has no choice but to tap and give Jacobs the win at 12:12. Great opening match here as both men got the crowd fired up, hit some nice spots and put alot of heart into the ten minutes they had. Just the kind of opener you want to get your crowd into the show. ***

After the match Cannon and Jacobs shake hands in a sign of sportmanship.

Backstage Johnny Gargano introduces himself, Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann as the new stable "Ronin". Realizing it's a promo Chuckie T livens up and cuts a funny little promo with Rich Swann. They say it doesn't matter if you're WORLD-1 or WARRIORS (the two major stables in both Dragon Gate and Dragon Gate USA), it only matters if you're Ronin. These are three very talented young wrestlers and I see nothing but great things in their future, especially in the case of the brilliant Chuck Taylor.

Homicide/BxB Hulk vs. Jon Moxley/Akira Tozawa

Hulk and Homicide are part of the DGUSA version of the World-1 stable (babyfaces), while Tozawa and Moxley are two prominent members of the KAMIKAZE stable of heels. No real build between these guys mostly, but the crowd is fired up for Homicide and BxB Hulk. Homicide starts off briefly with Moxley but the tag rules disappear in seconds apparently as all four men go at it in the ring for a bit. Hulk and Tozawa trade armdrags and reversals and the crowd begins a quick "BxB Hulk!" chant (pronounced Bee-Bee Hulk). Hulk lays into Tozawa with a multitude of kicks for a quick two count. Homicide tags in and starts laying in big right hands and choking Tozawa into the corner. Hulk tags back in and hits Akira with a nice back heel kick for another two count. Tozawa is really starting to get worn down and he eats more chops and right hands in the corner, selling with gusto. That's right I just used the word gusto, deal with it. Homicide tags back in and a snap suplex gets two. Finally Moxley tags in and immediately lays into Homicide in the corner. Tozawa and Moxley isolate Homicide for a bit in their corner, trading frequent tags. Tozawa goes crazy on Homicide, choking him in the corner and literally screaming like a raving lunatic (but he has a mouthpiece so it's muffled). Some classic heel tag work here as Moxley gets cheap shots on Homicide while Tozawa distracts the ref. Back in the ring Moxley tags in and just starts laying in stiff forearms to Homicide in the corner. Tozawa hits cheap shots on the outside and Moxley continues the isolation, locking in an STF to Homicide briefly until BxB Hulk comes in to break the hold. Hulk and Akira tumble outside as Homicide and Moxley do battle in the ring. Big shoulderblock from the second rope takes Moxley down but he grabs Homicide's leg in a grapevine and tags Akira back in. Backbreaker and a running kick only fire Homicide up who tries to almost Hulk up but gets quickly put back into the corner and dominated by the Moxley/Tozawa duo. Moxley gets a superplex but he doesn't go for the cover, as he just wants to hurt Homicide now. He taunts him to get up but Homicide gives him a quick ace crusher! Burning elbow attempt is blocked for a near fall and a Fujiwara armbar. Hulk gets the hot tag though and quickly lays a series of kicks into Moxley and Tozawa. Akira misses a series of diving headbutts and a senton and Hulk hits a scissor kickand a BxB star press for a quick two! Homicide somersaults off the apron onto Moxley outside while Hulk attempts a pump-handle slam. Tozawa counters out and they trade near falls as this match is too fast to call at this point. Hulk and Tozawa lay forearms and kicks into each other, topped off by a lariat by Hulk while Homicide gets thrown into the steel barricade outside the ring. Rollup for another near fall followed by a superkick and the FTX (modified piledriver/sidewalk slam) from Hulk for the 3 count at 13:31! Phew, hell of a little tag team match here as everyone was game and the last five minutes were literally too fast for me to even keep up with. Great little tag match. ***¼

After the match Moxley taunts Homicide's abilities, calling him a 12 year old and challenging him again. The fans want them to go at it and Homicide hits the ring for a brief exchange of elbows. Suddenly the crowd is completely dead. What the shit? They brawl outside for a bit while the crowd has strangely become so quiet you could hear crickets chirp. They brawl into the crowd and around the building in classic ECW style. Crowd is really quiet here and I don't get it, they were hot for the whole match and were begging for them to go at it again after the match, but when they did they just kind of died. What the hell is up with the fans in the Rahway center tonight? A suplex on concrete in the crowd gets them a bit more interested as the brawl continues but is eventually broken up by wrestlers coming from the backstage area after a chair gets involved. Obviously this means Moxley-Homicide in the future and I think they could have a fine match, but the crowd just died here and it really killed the heat of the brawl.

Shingo Takagi vs. CIMA

Here we go, now this should be solid as Shingo and CIMA are probably the two best all-around workers from the original Dragon Gate. No real build or reason for this match other than two great athletes wrestling for the sport of it. Feeling out process to start with lots of wristlocks and reversals. Both men are evenly matched and the crowd applauds a quick exchange of counters. Where were you for that big brawl moments ago Rahway? They trade armdrags and shoulderblocks which Shingo gets the better of and locks on a chinlock briefly before deciding to use his legs to grapevine around CIMA's neck for thesubmission. CIMA rolls into the corner and the hold is broken. Shingo keeps at it with forearms and back into the chinlock, followed by a yuranagi backbreaker that sends CIMA outside the ring. CIMA gets thrown into the barricades and Shingo grabs a steel chair and hammers CIMA on the back while he's at it! Great close-up of CIMA's grimacing face here. Back in the ring Shingo stomps away at CIMA's back on the mat and in the corner. Backbreaker and a senton gets two for Shingo, who slaps on a camel clutch afterwards, leaning back on CIMA's lower back section before CIMA gets the ropebreak. CIMA gets a sudden burst of adrenaline and hits a big double-stomp that buys him some time to recover from Shingo's backwork. Big dropkick in the corner seemingly knocks the wind out of Shingo and the crowd begins to rally behind CIMA, chanting his name. More stiff kicks to Shingo and a rolling senton gets another close two count. CIMA attempts the perfect driver but Shingo counters only for CIMA to wrap around him in a guillotine choke. More reversals but CIMA locks him back into the guillotine, only for Shingo to deliver a fisherman's brainbuster. Shingo goes for a backbreaker but CIMA hits a heel kick and a big back-stabber to lay both men out! Both men are hurt but CIMA hits a missle dropkick and the perfect driver for a close two count. Both men are selling their injuries quite well. CIMA springboards across the ring with a dropkick and follows it up with a superplex perfect driver! Damn that was cool. He misses a double knee stomp springboard however and Shingo counters with a running lariat. He carrys CIMA on his back on the top rope and hits the STAY DREAM for another two count as both men are pulling out their signature moves to try and put the other away. CIMA tries to leapfrog over Shingo but gets caught in a death valley driver and a lariat for another near fall. He gets a waistlock and hits the Made-in-Japan for two! Both guys are exhausted but Shingo won't give up and starts barking like a young Bruiser Brody. He eats a superkick but counters with a stiff right hand. CIMA hits the Schwein for only two to CIMA's disbelief. He signals for a 450 but all but misses a dropkick instead. He climbs to the top for the Meteora (double knee stomp) finally to put Shingo away at 17:10. Very good match here that saw both men pulling out every signature move they could to try and put the other away before CIMA finally got the 3 count in a match that could have gone either way. Damn good little match. ***½

After the match CIMA grabs the mic and thanks the crowd in broken English and he announces a big tag team tournament to take place in January to crown the inaugural Dragon Gate USA Tag Team champions.

Jimmy Jacobs cuts a quick promo saying he's ready for his first major singles championship and he wants it to be the Open the Dream Gate title.

Austin Aries/Ricochet/Genki Horiguchi vs. Chuck Taylor/Johnny Gargano/Rich Swann

This should be good as Dragon Gate is known for their six-man tag matches and this is one of Austin Aries' few appearances in DGUSA. Ricochet has really made a name for himself in 2010 with big performances in DGUSA, EVOLVE and PWG. Ricochet and Chuck Taylor start things off with some nice fast-paced armdrags and they trade wristlocks. Hurricanrana by Ricochet followed by a dropkick sends Taylor back to his corner for a breather with his partners. Johnny Gargano and Genki Horiguchi tag in Gargano eats a quick dropkick. Rich Swann tags in and does the old Ali shuffle which Genki counters with an incredibly lame cabbage patch dance attempt and a Rick Rude-esque body pose. Austin Aries tags in next as he faced Rich Swann at the previous show. Swann wants none of this and quickly bails, prompting Johnny Gargano to tag in. Aries forces Gargano to tag Swann back in and Aries quickly takes advantage with an amateur wrestling takedown. Swann kips up and taunts the crowd while Aries simply sits back, unamused by Swann's antics. Quick lockup and they trade wristlocks for a bit until Aries takes quick advantage and begins to drive his knees into Swann's left arm. Crowd is really behind Aries as he's arguably the "biggest" (in terms of exposure) wrestler on the show tonight. Swann and Aries go into a beautiful sequence of reversals and dropkicks for a bit until Horiguchi tags back in and starts driving in elbows and forarms on Swann. Chuckie T gets the tag from Swann back in Ronin's corner and Gargano & Swann take advantage of a distracted ref, choking Genki in the corner. Swann hits a suplex on Genki for a quick two count. Back into Ronin's corner he goes and Chuck Taylor tags back in, slapping on an armbar. Aries hits the ring and clears all of Ronin out, getting a near fall on Swann in the process before sending him to the outside. He goes for a tope but get's speared en route by Gargano, followed by a moonsault off the second rope onto Aries and then a big frog splash from Swann seconds later! Great teamwork from Ronin there, but it's only a two count. Swann toys with Aries for a bit, isolating him in Ronin's corner and exchanging quick tags with Gargano and Taylor. This goes on for several minutes until Ricochet gets the hot tag and catches Taylor, Gargano, and Swann all in headscissor takedowns. He hits another one on Taylor and then hits a standing moonsault on Gargano for a two count. Ricochet goes for a handspring back elbow but gets flapjacked by Taylor who rolls him up in a half Boston crab while Gargano applies the camel clutch. Aries and Horiguchi grab onto Taylor and Gargano though and apply abdominal stretches, creating a 5 man submission pyramid of sorts. Now there's an image you don't see every day, that's a play out of the lucha libre handbook. Swann breaks it up though and goes back to working on Aries for a bit before taking out Ricochet outside with a splash. Taylor goes for a baseball slide but get's racked on the bottom rope instead. Aries flies out with a tope to take out Swann and Gargano while Horiguchi hits Taylor with a missle dropkick in the ring! Chocolate Rain (flying knee) from Ricochet gets only two. Taylor gives Horiguchi a jawbreaker and all three members of Ronin dropkick Genki for another close near fall. Aries tries fighting off all of Ronin but eventually gets a spinebuster/shooter star press/Boston crab combo of moves for his troubles. Impressive teamwork from Ronin there. Swann gets dropkicked and put in a backslide for another close two and Horiguchi follows it up with a tornado DDT to Gargano. Aries takes out Taylor but gets met with a spinning enziguri from Swann. Ricochet goes for a rollup on Swann but hits a pele kick instead and then hits a corkscrew Space Flying Tiger Drop to lay out everyone outside and send the crowd wild! UNBELIEVABLE! Back in the ring Ricochet eats a superkick from Gargano and then gets a doublestomp/DDT combo from Ronin and Gargano covers him for the 3 count at 21:13. DAMN! Great match here as all six men went balls to the wall and bumped all over the place in the last 10 minutes or so after a strong formula beginning. Ricochet continues to impress everywhere he goes, file this match under just NEARLY a classic. ***¾

YAMATO vs. Masato Yoshino

Yoshino's Open the Dream Gate title is NOT on the line here for some reason, but this should be solid regardless. YAMATO has quickly risen up the ranks in Dragon Gate to become the top heel both in Japan and in the USA chapters of the company. This is all about revenge for YAMATO as Yoshino defeated him for that very same Open the Dream Gate title the night before in a very good match. Feeling out process to start us off with armbars and drop-toe holds being applied. Both men are cautious to start, which is nice to see after the high-risk six man tag match we just saw. Both men fly around the ring at lightning speed, exchanging headscissors and impressing the New Jersey crowd in the process. Yoshino slaps on a wristlock for a bit but YAMATO obviously won't submit that easily. Yoshino continues to work on YAMATO's arm, grapevining around his body on the mat and cranking back on YAMATO's arm. The action spills outside the ring shortly after and YAMATO starts laying in chops on Yoshino only to wince from the arm-work Yoshino has been putting on him all match long. Back in the ring he locks on a keylock briefly until Yoshino gets the ropes. YAMATO starts attacking the leg of Yoshino, laying in lefts and rights while Yoshino struggles to put pressue on the leg. Scoop slam gets a two count and YAMATO simply flips Yoshino over into an ankle lock. Yoshino gets the ropes again but the damage has clearly been done to his leg. They trade stiff chops for a bit, reddening each other's chests. Shinbreaker on Yoshino followed by a figure four and Masato Yoshino is in a world of pain. YAMATO sends him into the corner but eats a boot from Yoshino who then hits a big running dropkick up to the apron from the floor, seizing back some momentum from YAMATO. Yoshino comes off the top but misses a dropkick and eats and flying forearm. Crowd is a bit tired at this point from every match being so intense but they're starting to get into it now as Yoshino spins around YAMATO's body and locks on the From Jungle submission and then rolls him up for two. Stiff German suplex on Yoshino gets another two count and YAMATO is pissed now. He tries for a superplex but get's a Sling-Blade off the top for two! Yoshino tries the lightning spiral suplex but YAMATO flies into him off the ropes with a big spear. YAMATO is grinning now with nothing but evil thoughts in his head. He eats a boot from Yoshino for his scheming and then gets a doublestomp delivered to his forearm, the same one Yoshino had been working earlier. Both men jockey for an abdominal stretch until YAMATO locks it on tries a pumphandle slam to no avail. Yoshino hits a big time missle dropkick and hits the lightning spiral for only a two count as the crowd chants "This is awesome!", finally coming alive. YAMATO hits a superplex for another near fall and both men are spent physically. Back on their feet YAMATO applies a sleeper and then hits a lightning-fast sleeper-suplex and a brainbuster! 1-2---NOOO! No three count, YAMATO calls for his signature Galleria slam, but Yoshino counters into a crucifix for a two count. Yoshino gets spiked with a Michinoku driver but he's just barely able to kick out before the 3! Crowd is chanting for Yoshino here. YAMATO just can't put Yoshino away as he keeps coming back from every blow and big move YAMATO can pull out. Yoshino hits a torbellino and then finishes with the Sol Naciente armbar submission for the hard-fought victory at 23:41. Phew, great match here that started off with some very good leg and armwork and led to great action down the finish. The crowd was dead in the beginning but eventually they got them going and once they did there was no turning back. Very good match here. ***½

And that's the show!

Bottom Line: Freedom Fight 2011, much like all of Dragon Gate USA's shows, is well worth the $20 they charge. Every single match on the card is good, we get some angle progression with Jimmy Jacobs and Jon Moxley, and the Ronin stable establishes themselves big-time as serious players in the company in the best match of the night. No match of the year candidates or anything like that, just 2 full hours of great wrestling action from start to finish. Easy thumbs up for Dragon Gate USA's first PPV offering of 2011.

Score: 8/10

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