Ah, the good old days of Toryumon. When men were men (such as SUWA) and when Crazy Max and M2K were trying to kill each other on a regular basis.
Arashi . . . doesn’t look like he has much of a future in Lucha Libre
Genki Horiguchi . . . puts on a surprising performance in pursuit of gold.
SUWA . . . beats the tar out of Dragon Kid in defense of his hair.
MASASHI AOYAGI vs. STOKER ICHIKAWA
Aside from TARU throwing in the towel for Stoker (before Aoyagi would have kicked him) there’s nothing notable here, unless one hasn’t seen Stoker’s shtick before. See Stoker. See Stoker bow. See Stoker do a karate kata. See Stoker sell simple strikes like absolute death.
CIMA/SUWA/SUMO DANDY FUJI vs. DRAGON KID/GENKI HORIGUCHI/SAITO
Like most Toryumon/Dragon Gate trios matches this is fun, but it isn’t anything groundbreaking. It’s fun to watch Crazy Max smack the babyfaces around, but there’s nothing as far as any real story goes beyond that. The best exchanges are between SUWA and Dragon Kid, which isn’t much surprise given how often they work together and the fact that DK working with SUWA looks better than DK working with just about anyone else. They all pair off and rattle off some great near falls, SAITO’s flash cradles of CIMA being the best of the bunch, before Fuji finally hits his lariat and keeps SAITO down. The lack of story keeps this from being more than just fun. There’s just no reason to really care about this unless you’re a diehard fan of any of these guys or you’ve got money riding on the outcome.
ARASHI vs. STOKER ICHIKAWA
If you think Stoker is funny then you need to seek out Luchador Arashi! Actually, this is mostly forgettable, aside from watching Arashi try to go along with Stoker’s armdrag and his La Magistral cradle. Arashi kills Stoker with a powerbomb and then tries some of his own comedy by gearing up for a big splash and then changing his mind and doing a simple elbow drop to finish him off.
CIMA/SUMO DANDY FUJI/TARU vs. MASAAKI MOCHIZUKI/YASUSHI KANDA/SUSUMU MOCHIZUKI
Now here’s a match that I can get behind. Crazy Max and M2K hate each other, and that’s all you need to know. M2K isn’t nearly as flashy as the Sekigun or Crazy Max trios from the trios match, but that’s not a bad thing because they’ve replaced the flashiness with some smart work and it culminated in a nice little stretch of moves that garnered some decent heat. It was disappointing to see C-Max regulated to defacto babyfaces, rather than getting to see both teams try to outdo one another as far as heeling things up. It looked like they were going that way early with TARU’s Axe kick to the junk and Kanda’s revenge shot, but that’s as close as it gets. Their selling was also disappointing, especially after Fuji rattled off a series of big spots on Kanda for a great near fall and Kanda was back on his feet a moment later helping Susumu with a double team. CIMA wasn’t much better, he went from looking like he was all but finished to being suddenly reinvigorated and nearly putting away Kanda. The double ring out finish itself isn’t too bad, but it’d have come off better had both teams been too busy trying to beat the piss out of each other to pay attention to the count, rather than M2K cutting off CIMA from getting in and forcing the decision.
KENICHRIO ARAI © vs. GENKI HORIGUCHI (NWA World Welterweight Title)
If you don’t mind the inconsistent selling regarding Genki’s back, then this is really good. The clip starts with Genki hitting the beach break but not being able to take advantage due to his back being hurt, suggesting that Arai had worn it down earlier in the match. Genki’s back never comes up again until the finish with Arai hitting the headbutt on the back to set up the 450. Aside from that, these two puts on a rather engaging match. The extended sequences of blocks, counters, rolling though, etc. shows that either of them could pull off the win. It looks like Arai has it in the bag with the first headbutt, but Genki gets up the knees at the last second to block it. Genki winds up diving into a jawbreaker which stuns him long enough for Arai to hit the headbutt to the back and finish him off to retain the title. If only they’d done a better job in telling the story of Genki’s back, then this could have really been special.
SUWA vs. DRAGON KID (Hair vs. Mask)
Between the restart after SUWA’s initial pin and the virtual resetting of the action after the Crazy Max/M2K brawl, this looks like a 2/3 falls match. It actually wouldn’t be a horrible idea for Toryumon/Dragon Gate to use that setting on a more regular basis, especially for big matches like this one. Sometimes less is more and sometimes less is less, this winds up being a case of the former. The match starts out with very little in the way of actual wrestling, but there’s no shortage of action. DK and SUWA take turns throwing each other into the crowd, there’s a mini brawl amongst the various seconds, some mask ripping, and a ref who can’t hope to control all of this. SUWA takes the easy way out and counters a rana into a powerbomb and uses the ropes for the pin.
Too bad for Crazy Max that Ultimo Dragon isn’t down with that sort of ending and orders a restart. It too bad for DK that SUWA takes over really quickly. He punts DK in the gut and takes a second to mock him before sends him flying with the John Woo. SUWA knows that he can’t take the easy way out this time, but he still doesn’t want to put in the whole effort, so he’s content to smack around DK all he can. SUWA pays the price when he attempts the Splash Mountain, and DK does the usual counter and suddenly it’s SUWA with his back to the wall. SUWA uses the ref as a shield and the rest of Crazy Max interferes and lays waste to DK with all their big spots. But, it’s M2K to the rescue! The Rudest of the Rude don’t care about saving DK’s mask, but they see a chance to get one up on Crazy Max and take advantage. Crazy Max and M2K brawl to the back and the match is back to a level playing field.
The greatness of the match lies in this final stretch, both SUWA and DK have chances to pull off the win, only for the other to make the improbable comeback and turn things around. The big spot in that regard is SUWA hitting the Sweeter bomb (which had beaten DK back in June) only for Kid to kick out and bring the crowd to their feet. DK winds up surprising SUWA with a stunner off the top and hits the dragon rana to keep his mask. The match shows exactly how limited DK is as far as offense go (ranas, stunners, and not much else), but SUWA and DK were good enough to overcome that with some excellent selling and each man showing how much his mask/hair meant. The match is over, but the fun continues when DK shaves SUWA’s head and SUWA feigns respect by shaking DK’s hand and embracing him, only to punt him in the grapefruits and then destroy a couple of ring boys just for kicks. This is the sort of epic feel that more Toryumon/Dragon Gate main events ought to have. ****
Conclusion: It’s hard to go wrong with this month’s TV. SUWA/DK is always a good pairing, and this may just be the best of the bunch. Add in a good title match and a pair of fun trios matches, and it’s quite the TV block.