DRAGON GATE INFINITY TV
Yamato Onodera . . . puts on a more compelling performance than the bulk of the roster.
Yasushi Kanda . . . gets beaten like a drum to the point of making me want to watch some of his classic M2K stuff from Toryumon.
BxB Hulk . . . looks wholly undeserving of being a champion, with a horrible showing in the tournament final.
A short video package explains that the Open the Triangle Gate Titles have been vacated due to Masato Yoshino and Magnitude Kishiwada turning on CIMA and joining up with the Muscle Outlawz. The new champions will be decided in a six-team league style tournament.
Open the Triangle Gate League: CIMA/BXB HULK/JACK EVANS vs. RYO SAITO/GENKI HORIGUCHI/DRAGON KID
The phrase ‘Hell on Wheels’ comes to mind when watching this. All six of them have a ton of stuff to do, but, very little of it is made to matter to any great degree. The only one who takes a big spot and puts it over in an appropriate way is Evans, when Genki does a Beach Break, and even then, CIMA ruins the moment by standing there and just waiting for the ref to count to two, before making a ‘dramatic’ save.
CIMA’s team hits a series of moves on DK, which seemingly has him in prime position for Evans to do the 630, but his partners intervene, and fifteen seconds later, DK gets up and gives Evans a reverse rana off the top. Hulk gets hit with a spikey German from Ryo, but is still able to block a DK rana so that he and CIMA can take over the match again. It’s rather obvious that they’re more concerned with working the style rather than doing anything to tell a story, and it’s not like they didn’t have a chance to do that, especially with Hulk right there. It’s certainly impressive that they can work at this sort of pace with such good execution, but, it’s too bad that they couldn’t put even half of that effort into telling some kind of story to make the work seem important.
Some clips are shown of the Muscle Outlawz squashing the Shisa team in the league. When they won’t stop their assault after the match, it leads to a three-on-four handicap match against Tozawajuku.
GAMMA/MASATO YOSHINO/MAGNITUDE KISHIWADA vs. TAKAYUKI MORI/TAKU IWASA/AKIRA TOZAWA/YUKI ONO
Here’s a perfect example of how easy it is tell a story within the match. The heels don’t really take the Tozawajuku team seriously, as evidenced by them doing comedy with Gamma’s water spitting routine. The underdogs to get fired up, and don’t look so much like underdogs anymore, including Iwasa dropping Mag with a big lariat. Unfortunately for Tozawa (and his taped up ribs), he winds up being on his own with the heels, who attack his midsection, before Yoshino chokes him out with the Sol Naciente.
Open the Triangle Gate League: MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI/DON FUJI/YASUSHI KANDA vs. SUSUMU YOKOSUKA/KENICHIRO ARAI/YAMATO ONODERA
The main focus of the match is showing Yamato’s growth, which is fitting, with Hulk being paired with CIMA and Shingo in ROH. He takes quite the beating early on, with mouth getting busted open, but then all three of his opponents let him shine, and he comes out of this looking like an absolute star. He surprises Fuji with a juji-gatame, and refuses to break, even with Kanda stomping on him, and when Susumu intercepts Kanda, the crowd goes crazy thinking that he might be about to get the upset on Fuji, until Kanda finally drops an elbow to break the hold. He gets a surprise cradle on Fuji for a hot near fall, and, it takes all three members of Masaaki’s team hitting their respective finishers to put the kid away. Aside from the Yamato story, there’s some early fun with the Fuji/Arai exchanges, and a funny moment when Masaaki hits Arai with a head kick that doesn’t hurt Arai, and causes Masaaki to hurt his leg. The work isn’t anything mind-blowing, but, it’s a little surprising that this has all the excitement and fast-paced action of the opener, and also manages to tell a story with a satisfying payoff.
Open the Triangle Gate League: KING SHISA/SUPER SHISA/SHISA BOY vs. RYO SAITO/GENKI HORIGUCHI/DRAGON KID
Matches like this are fun to watch, but, there isn’t anything about this that separates it from the rest of the pack. The work itself is perfectly acceptable, with the DK/Super Shisa exchanges being especially smooth, but there’s nothing as far any story being told, or anything from any of them to give the idea that they’re building to something. Just like the first match, there’s an easy story staring them right in the face, with three longtime Toryumon/DG vets being able to abuse a relative youngster that is trying to establish himself. The only notable thing here is the fact that Genki once again drops the fall, this time to King’s BT Bomb.
Open the Triangle Gate League: MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI/DON FUJI/YASUSHI KANDA vs. GAMMA/MASATO YOSHINO/MAGNITUDE KISHIWADA
The ‘Outlawz cheating makes this stand out, but, the work isn’t marginally different from any of the other matches. There are a few standout moments here, such as Kanda catching Yoshino with a dropkick before he can springboard in, and Gamma stealing Masaaki’s run up the corner move, just to whack him with cane. Between their cheating, and having their own referee in their pocket, the heel team is never in any great danger of losing. Even when the ref gets bumped by an accidental shot from Mag, another ref doesn’t take over, so the babyfaces never have a hope of winning. Kanda gets isolated and put through the ringer, and he survives a respectable onslaught before Gamma uses his own flying elbow to pin him.
Semifinal: MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI/DON FUJI/YASUSHI KANDA vs. RYO SAITO/GENKI HORIGUCHI/DRAGON KID
This is too clipped up to get any impression of them telling a story. The opening with Ryo and Kanda exchanging some chops seemed to indicate some intensity to things, but that’s about it. Masaaki’s team seemed to have issues staying on the same page, with Fuji accidentally hitting Kanda with a lariat and then Masaaki catching Fuji with is high kick, but, they don’t dwell on these mistakes and keep moving forward. The home stretch is a complete mess, with a lot of big spots and very little selling to them, right up to the finish with Genki blowing off Masaaki’s running high kick, and getting the upset (at least it’s an upset judging by his reaction) with his backslide to Kanda.
MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI/DON FUJII vs. GENICHIRO TENRYU/YASUSHI KANDA
Tenryu in Dragon Gate answers the question ‘Can something be more absurd than Arashi in Toryumon?’ And it also begs the question from me of who Kanda pissed off in order for this TV show to feature three matches in a row with him taking the loss. If nothing else, this has some semblance of story with Masaaki and Fujii working over Kanda, because they can’t get anything going with Tenryu. Even something simple like a double lariat spot ends with Tenryu ducking it and dropping both of them with lariats of his own. Fujii has always been the heavy hitter of whatever team he was on, but he’s no match for Tenryu. But, if nothing else, they’re pretty damn good at being jerks when working over their own teammate. I suppose it’s somewhat commendable that Tenryu isn’t a glory hog, and tries to help Kanda get the win by hitting his brainbuster and letting Kanda do his elbow drop. But, once Masaaki kicks out, it’s obvious exactly how it’s going to end.
CIMA/BXB HULK/JACK EVANS vs. RYO SAITO/GENKI HORIGUCHI/DRAGON KID (Tournament Final for the Open the Triangle Gate)
Other than having a smarter finish, this isn’t much different from the league match between these teams. CIMA works over Genki to start, and DK plants CIMA with crucifix bomb and the Do Fixer team seems to want to target CIMA’s neck, but that’s the only story aspect to the match, and it’s gone as soon as it’s there. The MO’z interference only seems to be here to give the crowd some fun, when Gamma misses a charge at CIMA in the corner and then every member of both teams gets to charge and hit Gamma. The match even repeats the sequence of Hulk blowing off the Beach Break and then blocking DK’s springboard rana. Hulk somehow manages to do something even more ludicrous when Ryo does a fisherman’s buster off the top and he just pops up to his feet. Ryo follows that up with a near fall from his Premium Bridge, but it’s hard to understand why that makes for a near fall, since a much bigger bump didn’t phase Hulk at all. Ryo is no prince either, as the simple act of Evans breaking up the pin on the Bridge is enough to take him out of the match completely.
Again, the finish is smart with CIMA thwarting DK from doing the Dragonrana (instead of just waiting for it, like he did with the Beach Break to Evans) and hitting a Schwein off the top, and then holding DK in place for Evan’s Phoenix 630 which gets the pin. Imagine that, finishing moves are being made to look effective. This team winning is clearly designed (at least in part) to help elevate Hulk, which makes it even more of a disappointment that he put on such a poor showing here.
Conclusion: Ugh, there’s just no reason for the best performance to come from Yamato, who was barely a month into his career at this point. This promotion can be a lot of fun to watch and follow, but, this month’s TV certainly isn’t an example of that.