The DVD starts with a video package from the 2010 event at St Ives (This was the UK Invasion 2 show), the video package works on two levels. One it's a great way to introduce the product to new fans especially as Dragon Gate style lends itself to producing exciting and fast paced action. Secondly after watching it, it seems quite likely that fans would be keen to buy it if they haven't already done so. I have that show and believe me it is a very good show and well worth seeing, still onto 2011.
Akira Tozawa vs Dragon Kid
I did have a concern that with Tozawa being a major heel in Japan but loved by fans internationally especially by those of us who have seen his great performances for PWG if he could get over as a heel rather than as a fan favourite. I need not have worried, Tozawa is one of the most charamastic wrestlers I've seen anywhere in the last 20 years and had no problem in telling the fans he did not want their cheers. Dragon Kid's style of amazing springboard dives, cool huracanranas etc also makes it very easy to support him against anyone. What I did notice is that DK likes to showboat and celebrate a lot after hitting a big move, instead of just getting on with things. This I found a little frustrating and was happier when Tozawa was on offence even if he left out his big dives to the floor, which I had no problem with as its a babyface spot anyway. They worked a perfectly acceptable match that took into account that they were the opening match and not the main event. Tozawa won with his packaged german suplex for the clean win. ***
Gamma vs Naoki Tanazaki
This was both guys first appearance in the UK, and the fans were a little bit quiet for Tanazaki which I don't think is surprising. Gamma being an incredible personality had no problems in getting the fans to chant his name at will. Gamma dominated the early stages, he spat water on Tanazaki, he moved completely out of the way when Tanazaki went for a running elbow. Basically he was having a lot of fun and so were the fans, the tide turned when they fought on the stage and Tozawa made an appearance to help his fellow Blood Warrior. Back in the ring, Tanazaki kept control through basic wrestling and blatant cheating with Tozawa running intereference. Gamma made his big comeback and won with the Gamma Special, this was probably the worst match on the show but still a lot of fun. **1/2
Marty Scurll, Lion Kid & Mark Haskins vs CIMA, Naruki Doi & BxB Hulk
It took 10 minutes to get through the ring entrances and introductions which is frankly ridiculous, I want to see some wrestling here. Fortunately the Blood Warriors team also had the same feeling and attacked before the bell. The great thing about CIMA and friends in this was they way they were always in the right place. They also seemed very keen to make the imaginatively named 'Team UK' look as good as possible. Fans were very partisan as you would expect, worst chant went to the typical 'Engerland' and the most creative probably went to the chant of 'Kill the emo' which was aimed at Hulk. Both Haskins and Scurll looked very good here and I thought that Scurll had one of his best nights and actually understood what his role was in this match and stuck to that. With that being said, Lion Kid was the weak link in this match and came across as someone who was out of his depth. The heels at one point tripled teamed with a number of elbow stomps and then 3 curb stomps but within a minute you'd never have known it. That's not to say he didn't do some nice things because he did but he did drag the match down a little bit. The Warriors looked to have it won when they had Haskins caught and Doi hit the sliding kick, however finally Scurll was able to get back in the ring and hit the Back Buster on CIMA for the win out of nowhere. Fun overall 6 man tag match. ***1/2
Masato Yoshino vs Susumu Yokosuka
This was the first 'Pick your Poison' match with the idea that Shingo had chosen Yoshino as Yokosuka's opponent to weaken him. Not sure I follow that logic but it gave us a very good match. Both guys were representing the Junction Three faction so this was face vs face. The nearest we got to any heel tactics was when Yoshino dropkicked Yokosuka when he was getting into the ring. Fans were a little more quiet watching this but I put this down to the fact that they were just taking everything in rather than they were bored. Fans were getting behind Yoshino, the selling in this match was excellent. They did a basic arm wringer spot on Yokosuka and you would have thought that he was about to have his arm pulled off it was just very good to see. Yokosuka did get a long period of control, which led to one fan to scream 'Come on Yoshino' which Yoshino responded to by saying OK as Yokosuka went off to ask the fan to be quiet. I laughed at that. In the closing minutes we got all the big moves, the slingblade, lightning spiral and numerous attempts at Soi Naciente from Yoshino while Yokosuka tried to clothesline Yoshino to hell. In the end though it was Yokosuka who prevailed with the Jumbo no Kachi!gatame for the win. While this wasn't spectacular it was very good. ****
PAC vs Shingo
This was the second 'Pick your Poison' match and also your main event. This was also another battle between Junction Three members but both guys were more interested in picking up the win then following the rules. If you haven't seen PAC for a while you'll be amazed at just not only how big he is but how he has improved as a worker in the last 2-3 years. He can still do all the insane dives but he's really stepped up the other elements of his game. Shingo is just a beast, and because of his size this actually helped PAC showcase some of his moves that he couldn't do against smaller opponents. This match had by far the most big moves but it was your main event so we got to see virtually everything that both guys could do, there were a couple of spots that didn't work out but the majority were done to perfection and the fans never got onto them about. PAC looked to have won it with British Airways but Shingo kicked out, a couple of minutes later Shingo got the win after hitting PAC with 2 of his Made in Japan finisher. Excellent main event. ****1/4
Overall this was a great start to the show, and everything was built up rigt which each match being better than the last. Both Yokosuka and Shingo picked up victories ahead of their grudge match the following night. I would easily recommend this show, you would not be disappointed.
The UK Dragon Gate shows are available to buy at http://dragongateuk.com and individual shows are priced at £15, they are currently offering a deal where you can buy 2 for £28 or if you want to buy all 3 shows from the 2011 tour then you can pick them up for £38 which works out to be a 15% discount.
Reviews of nights 2 & 3 of the 2011 Dragon Gate tour are coming soon.