Friday, 22 July 2011
Looking at Dragon Gate Infinity 212-215 With Shaun Nichols
Infinity is Dragon Gate's 1 hour TV show and these four shows cover April 2011. Due to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, Dragon Gate were forced to cancel their March PPV which is considered to be their second most important show of the year. As a result the card was split up and held over a couple of different cards in April. These TV shows cover basically the build up and the matches of the cancelled PPV.
Infinity 212 - This show features just two matches. In March, Masaaki Mochizuki and Gamma had a feud built on who was going to challenge Masato Yoshino at the Sumo Hall show. Although Mochizuki won the feud, Gamma is not one to let a thing like that go. Mochizuki is in possession of a plastic golden key which looks to have been taken from a Christmas cracker which signifies that he's the number challenger to Yoshino. The first match is Mochizuki & Kennichiro Arai vs Gamma & Dragon Kid, this is a pretty fun tag match with the emphasis being that Mochizuki is on a big roll and despite Gamma stealing the key and celebrating by doing a lap of honour round the building he is yet again thwarted by Mochizuki who gets the pinfall over Gamma yet again. The main event is Blood Warriors vs World 1 match where wrestlers are eliminated by either being pinned or thrown over the top rope. You can then be brought back into the match by having a member of your team eliminating an opponent and so on. This continues until all four members of one team are eliminated. Confused? Probably but it's easy to follow when your watching it. The rules also mean that it is very quick with plenty of eliminations as both teams take turns having the advantage. Blood Warriors (CIMA, Ricochet, Naruki Doi & Naoki Tanizaki) are still in their tweener phase while World 1 (Yoshino, PAC, BxB Hulk and Susumu Yokosuka) are clear babyfaces. What is clear in the booking of the match is that Dragon Gate know exactly what they want their fans to go away thinking. Ricochet continually goes after PAC and this match is merely a stepping stone in Ricochet quest to beat PAC who is the Brave Gate champion.
Tanazaki also repeatedly tries to convince his team-mates that he as things under control but continually comes up short until he sacrifices himself in what turns out to be the turning point. Yoshino as the Dream Gate champion is pushed as the main man, never looking like being eliminated while eliminating Blood Warriors over and over again. In the end though Blood Warriors finally get a 3 on 1 advantage over Yokosuka and CIMA gets the final pinfall. With Blood Warriors trying to eliminate all other factions they demand that if World 1 fail to win the Triangle Gate titles then they must split up. That match features on Infinity 215.
Infinity 213 - Out of the four shows, this is probably the most laidback show. Not that this doesn't feature some well booked action. We start with Don Fujii beating cult comedy wrestler Stalker Ichikawa, here we see Fujii hitting some of the weakest chops ever seen, Ichikawa walking the top rope all around the ring until he crotches himself on the last section. He also nearly breaks his neck when he messes up a handspring elbow type move. Fujii finally ends the fun by hitting a choke slam. Up next Mochizuki continues his run to the title defeating KAGETORA there was nothing wrong with this but the fans really did not react well to this and were very quiet. KAGETORA is in an angle where he feels that he's no longer valued by the Kamikaze faction so he's doing a fair amount of sulking. Our main event sees the build up for the Twin Gate defence. Ryo Saito (who holds the belts with Genki Horiguchi) teaming with fellow Blood Warrior Tanizaki against YAMATO & Cyber Kong. Here the story telling is simple that the Kamikaze team needs the win to continue their challenge for the tag titles. Even by losing Saito can argue saying that Kamikaze did not beat the champions so that they will still be favourites. Here Kong gets the win over Tanizaki which is the right result. YAMATO will be joined by Shingo in his attempt to bring the gold to the Kamikaze faction.
Infinity 214 - Founding Kamikaze member Taku Iwasa makes his long awaited return from injury to team up with Cyber Kong to face Don Fujii & Super Shisa. This is a pretty standard tag match and Iwasa is certainly a bit ring rusty but the fans seem happy enough with his return. It didn't stop him having to take the pinfall loss to Fujii though. Up next is Mochizuki teaming with special guest Shinjiro Ohtani against Gamma & Yasushi Kanda.
This show was a charity event and the fans were definitely here to have a good time. Ohtani especially took the opportunity to explore the use of comedy in the match. To very little surprise Mochizuki yet again gets the better of Gamma. This leaves us with our main event which is Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi defending the Twin Gate titles against YAMATO & Shingo which was built up from the previous show. This is a fantastic tag match which certainly benefits from having two established tag teams facing each other, in the end though it was perseverence that mattered most as Genki finally used his 'Backslide from Heaven' to put Shingo down for the loss at the third time of asking.
Infinity 215 - This could be seen as the most important Infinity show of 2011 as it features three matches that would have appeared on the Sumo Hall PPV. With that all the matches are edited down especially the main event although I would say that the editing is very well done. Opening up the how is YAMATO defending the Freedom Gate title (which is the DGUSA title) against Kanda, now with the fact that Kanda as so far not appeared on a DGUSA event and YAMATO is considered to be in the top five of Dragon Gate you wouldn't need to be an expert to work out that YAMATO was going to be victorious, however that doesn't stop the fact that Kanda is booked very strongly throughout the bout and dominates the majority of the match. A good example of how to try and elevate a wrestler up the card and this is something that continues for Kanda in May and June. Next we have Blood Warriors (CIMA, Dragon Kid & Ricochet) defending the Trianngle Gate titles against World 1 (PAC, Hulk & Yokosuka) which was set up on Infinity 212 show. This was very entertaining and would have been even better but we only get to see half of the match due to time constraints, a typical Dragon Gate 6 man tag and with the stipulation of World 1 having to disband if they lost than the fans were very much into this. In the end it was the Blood Warriors who again emerged victorious when CIMA pinned Yokosuka to force the end of World 1. This leaves us with Yoshino defending the Dream Gate title against Mochizuki, again we only see about half of the match. Yoshino as been pushed really strongly since beating YAMATO at the Kobe show in July 2010 and this is his 5th title defence. As we have seen Mochizuki as also been a strong roll scoring numerous wins to become the number one challenger.
That form continued here as Mochizuki finally captured his second Dream Gate title, his first reign started in December 2004 when he defeated CIMA to become the second man to win the title and he held the title until November 2005. Mochizuki noted that it might be a good idea if he affiliated himself with a faction. This is the set up to the formation of Junction III although nothing was arranged here. At the end of the show they set up three matches for their Dead or Alive 2011 PPV which were Mochizuki vs YAMATO (based on YAMATO defending the title against Mochizuki in his 2010 run and now Mochizuki is returning the favour), Saito & Horiguchi vs Hulk & Yokosuka with the champions mocking their opponents after World 1 had disbanded and finally Naruki Doi announced that he would beat PAC for the Brave Gate title.
Infinity is certainly not a TV show like Raw, Smack Down or IMPACT. Although Dragon Gate do obviously use angles and are big fans of faction warfare, their TV show is first and foremost a show that features a lot of really good wrestling. Matches are not interrupted by advertisements and as I mentioned earlier when the matches are not shown in full are skillfully edited. The fact that Dragon Gate only run 5 PPV events (and in 2011 it should only be 4 with the Sumo Hall show cancelled) it does mean that their TV cannot be used in the same way as WWE or TNA use theirs. I would encourage anyone to seek out Dragon Gate Infinities as I found all four shows to be very enjoyable.