Dragon Gate USA Mercury Rising 2011 iPPV
April 2nd, 2011
The Presidential Ballroom, Atlanta, Georgia
April 2nd, 2011
The Presidential Ballroom, Atlanta, Georgia
Just when you thought there was no way to fit more wrestling into Wrestlemania weekend every year with the annual WWE/ROH/PWG events in town, here comes Dragon Gate USA hosting a pair of events as well somehow. Some of the big matches scheduled tonight include Akira Tozawa vs. PAC, the Blood Warriors (Naruki Doi/CIMA/Ricochet) vs. Ronin (Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann) and Austin Aries battling YAMATO for the Open the Freedom Gate title and putting his Dragon Gate career on the line in the process.
Your hosts are Lenny Leonard and CHIKARA-san
Jon Moxley vs. Arik Cannon
This is Moxley's last match in Dragon Gate USA, as apparently I wasn't the only one who was impressed by his promo-work and the WWE came calling to sign him to a developmental deal. Unfortunately WWN (the iPPV provider) was having problems in the beginning of the show with the broadcast, so the first several minutes of this contest is cut off and thus I can't fairly judge this match in it's entirety. What I did see was fairly good though, if a bit slower-paced than anything else you're bound to see on tonight's card. Not exactly an epic farewell for Moxley, but he does pick up the win by rolling Cannon up and pulling the tights at 7:31, about.4:17 of which was shown. What I saw was about ** probably. [N/R]
After the match Reby Sky gets beaten up by pornstar Trina Michaels as apparently Moxley is through with her. Well that was certainly random, is this a one time appearance or are they actually going to try and use Trina as a valet? Apparently she's actually valeted before.
Backstage Austin Aries cuts a nice promo about his match against YAMATO tonight for the Freedom Gate title, a match in which he has put his Dragon Gate USA career on the line for.
Six Way Elimination Match
Brodie Lee vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. AR Fox vs. Silas Young vs. Jon Davis vs. Stalker Ichikawa
Ichikawa if you've never seen him is quite the character, a comedy wrestler through and through from the Ultimo Dragon's dojo who's somehow become one of Dragon Gate's most beloved wrestlers, comparable to Santino Marella in the WWE. Lots of fun comedy stuff from Ichikawa to start as he lines up all six men and lectures them in broken English/Japanese, handing out weak slaps along the way. He botches half of the moves he attempts, which is his gimmick, before Jon Davis eliminates him quickly. Brodie Lee, I swear to God, hits a fucking spinning headscissors on Davis and then follows it with a tope suicida to the floor! Why is this the first time I'm seeing Lee's incredible agility?! No wonder Gabe is so high on him. AR Fox impresses next with an incredible running somersault plancha that wipes out everyone on the floor. Jimmy Jacobs brings Ichikawa back in the ring and Stalker tries a plancha of his own and completely misses everyone. Davis hits a nice spinning powerslam on Jacobs and then eats a bulldog from AR Fox. Fox hits a split-legged senton on Davis but then eats a huge superkick from Brodie Lee! Silas Young somehow gives Brodie Lee a German suplex, but only for two. Fox hits a crazy running moonsault off the apron on Lee and then follows it up with a lungblower on Young back in the ring. Jacobs hits a double Contra Code on Fox and Young and pins Fox, eliminating him next. He tries to pin Young too but he gets his hand on the rope. Jacobs locks in a guillotine choke on Brodie Lee but Young breaks it up only to be eliminated with the choke himself moments later. Davis is eliminated next by a crucifix from Jacobs and it's down to just Jimmy and Brodie. They fight out to the floor and Jacobs gives him a hurricanrana before delivering a Contra Code to Brodie right there on the concrete floor! Jacobs hits the Contra Code again back inside the ring, but Lee kicks out at two. Brodie hits a double-underhook superplex and then finishes Jacobs off with a big spinning sidewalk slam at 13:54 as I can't even remember the last time Jimmy Jacobs won a match in this company. This was a great choice for the PPV opener as you got some fun comedy from Ichikawa, some incredible aerial displays from AR Fox, and a hot finishing stretch with Jacobs and Lee that made everyone involved in this match look good. ***¼
Backstage after the match Arik Cannon cuts a scathing promo about being screwed over tonight by Jon Moxley.
Masato Yoshino vs. Sami Callihan
This is dubbed a "special attraction" match, and it's certainly an intriguing match-up. Yoshino is the Open the Dream Gate champion, but this is a non-title match. Both of these guys posses incredible speed and they show it off early with some lightning fast running of the ropes. Callahan is a guy who's just entertaining to watch for the sheer fact that he looks and acts batshit crazy most of the time. Sami dominates to start and hits a unique slingshot splash for a near fall. Yoshino uses his speed to keep escaping Callihan's advances however. Yoshino locks the Octopus stretch but Sami breaks it up quickly and counters with the face wash boot in the corner. Yoshino blocks the repeated lariat attempts from Callihan but eventually gets caught with one and nailed with a Michinoku driver for a close two count. Callihan runs right into the Lightning Spiral but Sami kicks out once again. Yoshino locks in the Sol Naciente and Callihan has no choice but to submit at 9:28. A nice little exhibition for both men's talents, but this ended right as it was about to get out of second gear. **¾
After the match Callihan gets on the mic and says he isn't "fucking around".
Backstage Jon Moxley claims to be a trendsetter and that Austin Aries is going to lose later tonight and be gone from Dragon Gate USA...FOREVER!
Open the Brave Gate Title Match
PAC © vs. Akira Tozawa
Tozawa has been picking up a ton of steam in 2011 and appears to be the next breakout Dragon Gate star (which makes his soon to be ending stint in the US indies all the more saddening). PAC is of course the well known indy British high-flyer and the current Open the Brave Gate champion. Lots of basic hold exchanges to start, wristlock, drop toe hold, headlock, etc. Am I the only one who thinks referee Bryce Remsburg looks alot like a young George Carlin? Tozawa overpowers PAC early with a snap suplex and a standing back senton gets two. Tozawa tries (and misses) his springboard diving headbutt, a move I don't think he's ever actually successfully utilized. Ultra-fast snap suplex and a standing shooting star press get PAC his first near-fall. PAC is busted open slightly now (presumably the hard way) as he tries a leg vicegrip around Tozawa's neck, but Akira fights it off quickly. PAC starts talking some trash, which is a bit uncharacteristic of him, but the crowd is so hot for Tozawa that it makes sense. Tozawa hits two lightning fast consecutive tope suicidas on PAC out on the floor and follows it up with a somersault senton off the apron and the crowd begins chanting his name again. Back inside PAC gets nailed with a high-angle Saito suplex for two. He tries to roll through a German suplex attempt but Tozawa nails him with another Saito suplex anyways, yet somehow PAC gets the shoulder up again. PAC hits a pair of springboard missile dropkicks, but he doesn't hook the leg and Tozawa kicks out at two. Springboard 450 splash from PAC but Tozawa kicks out again, but he's clearly favoring the ribs now. Back on their feet both men trade forearms and spin-kicks. PAC rolls through a hurricanrana but eats a Shining Wizard in one fluid motion. That pretty much sums up this match in one word: fluidity. Everything between these two men is so smooth and crisp. PAC gets nailed with a pair of running bicycle kicks and collapses to his knees. He tries to fight back with a German suplex but Tozawa no-sells it and drops PAC back on his head with a German of his own. That segment right there will probably anger some people, and I'm never a fan of no-selling, but considering the adrenaline level of Tozawa and the intensity he brings to his matches, it's believable. He eats a superkick and both men are totally spent and wind up nearly counted out by the ref. PAC hesitates and misses a Phoenix splash attempt and Tozawa rolls him up in what appears to be a three count to everyone in attendance, but somehow is only two. Everest German suplex from Tozawa gets another very close two count. Tozawa again tries for a German but PAC sees it coming this time and counters with a bridging German of his own to get the somewhat anti-climactic win at 19:39. This was pretty much everything to love and hate about indy wrestling in one match, as this followed your most basic indy big match formula of each men trading an escalating series of big moves and stiff strike exchanges before the somewhat surprising finish. Luckily when you have two men as talented as PAC and Tozawa, the formula works and this certainly delivered the kind of high-risk fun that a bout between these two would entail. ***¾
After the match Tozawa and PAC shake hands and embrace in a sign of good sportsmanship. Tozawa leaves and Brodie Lee and other members of the Blood Warriors hit the ring to beat down PAC. CIMA grabs the mic and laughs maniacally like an old kung-fu movie villain before muttering something utterly indecipherable in broken English.
Backstage Ronin talk about...something. Something involving Rich Swann playing the guitar. Unfortunately the audio on my stream went out at this point, so we don't get to hear Swann's song.
Intermission time. When we return four kids nobody's ever heard of come out for a tryout match, but Sami Callihan hits the ring before they can get started and destroys two of them with ease. He grabs a microphone once again and starts cursing some more talking about how he doesn't care anymore and Arik Cannon hits the ring and says "Fuck You". Cannon destroys the other two jobbers and then brawls with Callihan all the way to the back. Kind of a strange segment.
Open the Freedom Gate Title vs. Career Match
YAMATO © vs. Austin Aries
Aries has promised that if he doesn't win the title tonight, he'll leave Dragon Gate USA forever. About as simple of a big-match stipulation as you can make, but it works and already you've given the fans a reason to care about and invest emotionally in this match rather than just have them sit there popping for your moveset. Before the match starts YAMATO tells stablemate Jon Moxley to go to the back, and he begrudgingly obliges. Lenny Leonard really puts over Aries desire to be the face of this company and the fans in Atlanta are clearly behind him. Austin nearly steals it early with a brainbuster/450 Splash combo, which he used to win his first World title against Samoa Joe back in 2004, but YAMATO manages to kick out. They fight to the floor and YAMATO gets back dropped over the guard rail into the crowd. Back inside Aries continues to dominate YAMATO early. He gets a little cocky though and YAMATO sends him flying to the concrete floor off the top rope. He follows him out and grabs a broomstick at ringside and starts hammering away on Aries with it. Back inside the ring he works on Austin's knee with a creative combination of a Texas clover-leaf and an ankle lock. He locks in the Figure Four and blows a kiss to the camera while a chorus of "Woo!"s ring in. It's small stuff like that which makes YAMATO so awesome. Aries is able to hit the powerdrive elbow but he can't capitalize on it. Both men trade German suplexes and Aries clotheslines YAMATO to the floor before following him out with the heat-seeking missile. Aries delivers a nasty slingshot suplex but YAMATO blocks his next brainbuster attempt as Austin can't put much weight on the knee YAMATO was working over minutes ago. Sunset flip gets YAMATO a two count and he transitions right into a half Boston crab as the fans chant "Please don't tap!". YAMATO hits quite possibly the nastiest half-sleeper suplex I've ever seen in my life, but somehow Aries kicks out and manages to connect with a roaring elbow back on his feet. YAMATO will have none of this though and just gives him an exploder suplex right over the top rope and out of the ring! YAMATO calls for a brainbuster on the ring apron, but Aries counters with a sickening Death Valley Driver on the apron! He takes too long to get him back into the ring though and only gets two. Aries tries for the 450 again but YAMATO scouts it this time and counters with a superplex as both men's shoulders are on the mat and the ref does a double-pin count near fall. Aries hits a shinbreaker and then just dumps him over his head with a belly-to-back release suplex that makes me seriously consider that he's broken his neck for a moment. Aries tries the brainbuster/450 combo again but YAMATO blocks it. Both men trade brainbusters and the crowd is going crazy at this point, erupting for every near fall Aries gets. Aries tries for the brainbuster one too many times though and YAMATO counters into the Galleria but Aries somehow kicks out to everyone's surprise. YAMATO isn't fucking around though, and he gives him one more Galleria with is enough to retain and seemingly expel Aries from the company at 25:23. This was simply fantastic, as mentioned before the stipulation here got the fans (and myself) a hell of a lot more invested into the match and these two nearly killed each other for twenty five minutes. Some of the bumps in this one were downright sickening as well. The fans give Aries a standing ovation after the match. ****¼
Backstage Jimmy Jacobs cuts a promo about facing Aries tomorrow in Austin's last match and how this is going to be his first step on the road to the Freedom Gate title. To be honest this is something like the 5th or 6th time we've heard this same exact promo from Jacobs, and he just keeps on losing anyways. Jacobs needs a win more than any other wrestler in the company right now.
Ronin (Chuck Taylor/Johnny Gargano/Rich Swann) vs. Blood Warriors (Naruki Doi/CIMA/Ricochet)
Nice way to cap off the show here with a traditional Dragon Gate six-man tag match, which has become something of a tradition for Gabe to book every year on Wrestlemania weekend . If you've seen one of these you've pretty much seen them all, but they almost never cease to be entertaining. The Blood Warriors attack during the entrances and it's total chaos to start as the Warriors triple team Rich Swann. Swann shows off his athleticism early with a dazzling dropkick and nip-up before tagging Gargano in. Gargano hits a few big moves on CIMA until Ricochet and Chuck Taylor hit the ring and Ricochet delivers a nifty satellite headscissors. Remember, you don't need to tag in these matches, so trying to call the action here is a bit hopeless as guys are going in and out of the ring at a rapid pace, hitting a few impressive moves and moving along like some kind of well conditioned wrestling machine. Ricochet, Swann, and Taylor are worth noting for their excellent performances here, and Swann in particular is really starting to make a name for himself thanks to his role in Ronin. They do an extended beatdown on Swann hitting various complex triple-team combinations on him as Swann sells the beating in great fashion and plays the babyface in peril to great results. They even give Swann a nasty curb-stomp onto a chair behind the referee's back, and at this point the Warriors are clearly more interested in just beating down Swann than they are with winning the match. Swann manages to hit a desperate hurricanrana off the top and eventually get the hot tag and things totally break down again as Taylor leaps out of the ring with a great somersault senton to take out Doi and Ricochet. All three members of Ronin hit their own aerial maneuvers on CIMA and the crowd goes wild. A big Rydien bomb gets Doi a near fall on Taylor but Swann breaks it up. He nails CIMA with a guillotine leg drop off of CIMA's own back for a near fall of his own. A shooting star press off of Doi's back gets Ricochet another near fall on Swann so he tries for a quebrada only to eat a dropkick from Gargano and a unique jumping, twisting neckbreaker. Credit to all six men here as this crowd has seen a LOT of wrestling already but they're still totally into this match just as much if not more than any other on the card. Taylor gets dumped right on his head from a nasty reverse hurricanrana by Ricochet, but manages to kick out somehow and all six men are all in the ring at this point, exhausted from the non-stop action. Swann eats a pair of stereo springboard missile dropkicks right to the face while Ricochet delivers the sloppiest Sasuke special I've ever seen and the Schwein, Meteora, and Muscular Bomb in consecutive order is enough to fiinally put away Swann and give the Blood Warriors the win at 25:51! Good lord, that match just kept escalating and escalating in total chaos (the good kind). It's worth noting that Rich Swann came off like an iron man by being able to take so much punishment in this match. Sure, we've seen this kind of match a million times from the Dragon Gate crew, but it's their biggest trademark for a reason, and that's because they always wind up delivering a ridiculously fun contest. ****
After the match PAC and Masato Yoshino, the Open the United Gate champions, hit the ring and clear out the Blood Warriors. PAC gets on the mic and thanks the fans and then Yoshino does his usual thank you speech he does at pretty much every event to wrap up the show polling the crowd on if they liked the show.
Bottom Line: DGUSA's "in-house" internet PPV debut was a memorable one with a card that delivered and exceeded my expectations several times. You've got a fun six man opener, a great Open the Brave Gate title match, and one of the best Open the Freedom Gate title matches in company history between YAMATO and Austin Aries capped off with another excellent Dragon Gate six-man to end the show. There's nary a wasted moment on the near three hour broadcast and this is a show well worth checking out. Thumbs Up.