Dragon Gate USA is a relatively new wrestling promotion that is the American branch of a popular Japanese wrestling company. This is not a company with people pretending to be rising from the dead or that they are better “entertainer” than the other, it’s high flying and fast paced professional wrestling on its best. Last night they moved away from doing iPPV (Internet Pay-Per-View) with GoFightLive.TV and produced it in-house on a newly opened WWNLive.com. How was the show, and how was the quality of the PPV? Read on to find out.
Let me preface by saying that I am a huge fan of Dragon Gate USA. I have watched DVDs from Japan, ordered the cable PPVs, and even gone to a few live shows (including their very first live iPPV). I do my best to keep up with it and make myself familiar with all the wrestlers, but I make no claims to be an expert and know every little thing. I say this so that you know that I am familiar with the product but if I make a mistake or do not know something, I am only human… anyway, onto the show.
After ordering multiple iPPVs from GoFightLive.TV I was worried about how this would go in terms of glitches and other technical issues since those were always riddled with them. My concern was that they had issues with a company that did that as their business and had experience before, how well would they do doing it on their own for the first time. When 8 PM rolled around and nothing was on my screen I was worried and sure enough the show started late. It was almost 10 minutes before the show started right in the middle of the first match. With that said, after that little hiccup the rest of the experience was pretty smooth, I would dare say even better than the GoFightLive.TV shows.
The image was only 4×3 which is understandable since that is how even Ring of Honor still shoots their stuff, but I would like for a nice upgrade sometime in the near future. I know they aren’t working with the biggest budgets and it is expensive to get new equipment, but it is still kind of annoying that in 2011 we are still dealing with new 4×3 content and not widescreen. Those of you that know me know that I am not one of those to try and stretch the image or any of the other horrible ways people try to make 4×3 fit on their TV so it’s not a case of me feeling like my TV has “wasted space” but merely the fact that since it is a live event I know that there is more I could be seeing of the action going on. The picture quality was not great either but better than the 2 ROH iPPVs that were also on this weekend. It was below DVD quality, but definitely passable and better than something that would be found on Justin.TV or Ustream. The sound was what you would expect too, which is that it was usually hard to hear things being said and levels were constantly off, but this is typical of these iPPVs. Overall not an ideal experience, but I am aware they are working on a lower budget and I was still able to support them legally and see the event live when I was not able to make a trip to Atlanta. For the $14.95 price tag I will not complain considering Wrestlemania this weekend is $55. Another side note is that they actually had some videos during intermission. Whenever it was on GoFightLive.TV (even this weekend’s ROH shows) they just put up the GoFightLive logo during the 15 minute intermission without any indication of when it will be coming back so you just have to sit and wait. It was nice that Dragon Gate played some videos even if they were just the YouTube videos that they posted weeks ago.
NOTE: This is not from the iPPV but from something someone uploaded on YouTube
The first thing I noticed was that the place they had the show had a very low ceiling which reminded me of the NYC show I was at where it was the same issue. When you have a lot of wrestlers known for high flying it is a bit of a bummer to see that they are constantly touching the ceiling when on the top rope and checking their head making sure they are going to have enough clearance. The top rope moves were definitely kept at a minimum. I also noticed that the crowd was quiet at times but I am not sure if this was a technical issue or the crowd itself. It looked like the place was packed, but it was not a big place, maybe 200 people.
Jon Moxley vs. Arik Cannon – missed the beginning due to the technical issues of it starting. Not a fan of Moxley but Cannon can do some entertaining stuff when working with the right people. An ok opener, nothing special that stood out. Moxley won and then Reby Sky came out afterward and was laid out
Elimination match – Stalker vs. AR Fox vs. Silas Young vs. Jon Davis vs. Brodie Lee vs. Jimmie Jacobs. Stalker was the comedy gimmick wrestler of the match, he is dress like a devil/demon and had some comedy spots. When he was eliminated first the people booed. I love that this was elimination style since I am not a fan of triple threat, fatal four way, etc. matches that are first finish gets the win. It was your usual multi-person Dragon Gate match with some flashy moves and spots to keep you entertained but little in terms of psychology. I had never seen AR Fox either but everyone here commented that his jeans were WAY too tight and there were lots of talk of “male camel toe” which was something I was hoping I’d never hear. With that said, he did well in the match and with some ring gear change I may keep an eye on his future. In the end it was no surprise that Brodie Lee was the last one standing.
Sami Callihan vs. Masato Yoshino – I am a big fan of Yoshino’s but have never been a fan of Callihan since seeing him a couple years ago in ROH. Callihan got a lot of offense in during the match which I didn’t care about, but once Yoshino had the upper hand it was entertaining. This is not “oh he’s the bad guy I hate him” kind of dislike, but genuinely does not entertain me and I don’t even care about seeing him get beat up, it’s just Yoshino is great to watch. Luckily Yoshino got the win but that lead to Callihan getting on the mic and cursing afterwards which just was blah. It screamed desperation like since he was swearing that would get him noticed. On a related note there were promos throughout the show as well but I barely heard them since my friends and I were too busy talking to really hear, but we don’t watch Dragon Gate for promos, we watch for great in-ring action.
PAC vs. Akira Tozawa – This was one of the matches I was looking forward to the most. PAC has impressed me with what little I have seen of him and Tozawa was the same. I have only seen a handful of matches with each, but they both stuck out. At one DGUSA show I was at Tozawa was in a tag match and whenever he wasn’t wrestling he did a great job of jawing with the crowd that always got me to crack up. It was not as high flying as I expected from PAC but they also had the low ceiling to deal with. I noticed him do a move or two from the 2nd rope instead of the top, but that didn’t take away from the match at all. PAC ended up getting the win and I was entertained the whole time and highly recommend people at the very least checking this match out if they get a chance.
Danny Steel & Charade vs. Sin City Saints – This was a “who?” kind of match for me and I also wondered why guys billed from Boston were “Sin City” Saints, but whatever. It ended up not mattering as these guys were just fodder for Callihan (ugh) to come out again and suplex the Sin City Saints which lead to Arik Cannon coming out again and yelling at Callihan. He then suplexed the other team for whatever reason and they brawled into the back. This was deemed a no contest and was just a waste of time after coming back from intermission.
Yamato vs. Austin Aries – This was the other match I was really looking forward to since it was for the Open Freedom Gate Challenge and Aries has been a favorite since my first ROH show when he was champion the first time around (it was the show he defended against Colt Cabana) . The stipulation was that if Aries lost he would leave Dragon Gate USA and sadly I had a feeling that pretty much sealed the deal and I was right. He did not win but the two of them put on one hell of a match that did not disappoint me. It is sad to see Aries go especially after he just left ROH but hopefully he will pop up again somewhere else (although word is that he was one that tried out for Tough Enough and didn’t make it).
Ronin vs. Blood Warriors – Ronin formed at the first iPPV which I was at and they were big heels, but now they constantly play to the crowd and try to get them to yell “Ronin BABY!” as they come out. I only wonder if this was done since they are the only stable that doesn’t have a Japanese member. Either way, these are 3 young guys with lots of potential. They may not be “great” yet but they have plenty of time ahead of them to just get better and they are still entertaining. This was a great main event with plenty of great spots that showcased all those involved well. Ricochet seemed to have messed up his spot a bit at the end and I later read that he hurt his ankle and was pulled from the next night’s show, but it wasn’t anything too horrible to say it ruined the match or end.
4/5 Stars – This was a great show with the replay being highly recommended to order (or the eventual DVD release). While not the best DGUSA show I have seen, it was still very good and made to look even better after 2 disappointing ROH iPPVs that same weekend (one even being mere hours before). Check out WWNLive.com for more info and DGUSA.TV to find out when the other shows will be. If you want something different than the same old boring stuff in WWE and TNA, DGUSA is where I think you will find it.