:: 2010 DVD Reviews
DG:UK : SHINGO vs. Yokosuka II DVD, Review by Ben Corrigan
Friday September 10th 2010
Broxbourne Civic Hall, Hertford, UK
Purchase DVD : Trailer
A little over 10 months since their last excursion, the Japanese stars return for the next instalment of Dragon Gate UK. This was the first time the group ran from the Broxbourne Civic Hall, a venue that is a favourite of many (I must have seen over 20 shows in over the last 10 years or so) due to its perfect size and brilliant sight lines. The DVD packaging lives up to the high standard of that from the year before and the on-screen menus etc are much improved from the last release. In fact, “much improved” doesn’t really do them justice – they, and the graphics during the show itself, are awesome. Optional commentary (for some reason this time defaulted this time to ‘off’) is again provided by ‘Irish’ $tew Allen, this time without partner Dean Ayass.
To fill in since the last show and provide some context, the main factions at work are still World-1, KAMIKAZE and the re-named Warriors (no longer Warriors5, due to expanding their ranks). Real Hazard have disbanded, leaving KAMIKAZE to turn heel and fill the role of Dragon Gate’s chief bad guys.
The main feature starts with a nifty highlight package recapping the 2009 show, before getting underway with a battle of DGUK debutants: Lancashire’s Joey Hayes versus KAMIKAZE representative Cyber Kong, who smashes a pineapple during his ring walk. Such misplaced hatred for innocent tasty fruit. I remember there was a problem with the footage from this match, meaning unfortunately this entire match is only shown from the single hard camera angle. Hayes finds it difficult to deal with Kong’s power, who dominates the northerner with a deliberate display of clubbering and slammery. The crowd is quiet for the most part, aside from applause at some of King’s slams. Most of Hayes’ offence bounces off the masked man, though he does manage a sneaky 2-count off a cross-body from the top. Cyber damn near kills Joey with a huge lariat and a side-slam, but pulls Hayes up at 2. His confidence pays off, though, as he plants Hayes with a powerbomb for the win. A squash match, essentially, basic but effective to get things going; **1/4.
This is followed up by an all-English encounter, pitting Mark Haskins against The Lion Kid. Haskins is now a straight-laced, clean-living babyface after his near year long stay in Japan for Dragon Gate following the 2009 event. Again, there is no handheld ringside camera footage to start with, but that is rectified half way through. This is a rematch of their terrific November 2009 Cruiserweight title bout at IPW:UK’s ‘Brawl at the Hall’ (which you’ll recall was included as an extra on the last DGUK DVD). The crowd is still quiet, aside from a few divs heckling Kid. The first half is solid enough, just unremarkable and not particularly exciting. The closing stretch gets pretty good. They do some stuff, leading to a series of reversed 2-counts. Lion hits a quebrada for a nearfall, but Haskins fires back with a superkick and a gutbuster for a 2 of his own. Haskins tries some kind of silly fireman’s carry off the top rope, but is pushed off and eats a jumping DDT. By now, the fans are into what’s going on. Lion gets in a stomp from the top onto an upside-down Haskins, but then tastes a Diamond Cutter. More moves, and Kid misses a shooting star press. Haskins catches Lion with the Cradle-2-The-Grave, and that’s that. **3/4. Kid is booed by some at the end, indicating he hasn’t yet been accepted by this audience. Will that change? We’ll find out as my reviews continue...
The contest the show is named for, the SHINGO vs. Susumu Yokosuka rematch, actually signs off the first half of the card. Since Yokosuka’s victory in their first bout, he turned heel, left Warriors5, joined Real Hazard, turned face again, reformed his tag team with K-Ness, disbanded Real Hazard and now officially flies the flag for ‘K-NesSuka’. That’s some year. Someone should tell him to take a day off. SHINGO is accompanied to the ring by stablemate Cyber Kong, and it is the KAMIKAZE leader that controls the match in the early going. He hits a few slams etc, but keeps going back to a body-scissors to grind the strength out of his opponent. Much like their first UK match, the crowd is massively into everything they do right from the start, and there are plenty of little touches, little looks and subtle points to ensure they remain mesmerised throughout, even during the slow-burn opening stages. SHINGO with a Gutbuster-DDT-senton combo for a 2. The ringside Cyber craftily helps out by pulling the ropes away from Yokosuka prompting a chant of “GET KONG OUT!!”. The man himself turns into the camera with a befuddled look across his mug and asks “WHAT THEY SAY? I NO SPEAK ANY ENGLISH!” Well, I laughed. Yokosuka starts to come back as the pair exchange a series of Exploder suplexes. Duelling chants from the crowd now. A big lariat in the corner sets up Susumu rocking SHINGO with an Exploder off the top rope. A cringe-worthy chant of “THIS IS AWESOME (clap clap clapclapclap)!” is actually boo-ed down. Quite right, too. SHINGO comes back with a Death Valley-style slam off the top, before they start standing there throwing massive clotheslines at each other. Yokosuka tries throwing elbows, but he’s spent and there’s nothing behind them. SHINGO LAUGHS IN HIS FACE, knocking him down with vicious elbows of his own, but Yokosuka stands right back up, walking through them with the Zombie No-Sell, before unleashing a rapid barrage of clotheslines and elbows that has the audience losing their sh*t. SHINGO fights through to hit a Death Valley Driver out of nowhere, but his rival is right back up to smash him with two huge lariats for an awesome false finish. A Mugen by Susumu for another tremendous two. SHINGO tries with Made In Japan (a pumphandle-driver), but is reversed into a roll-up for another Yokosuka near-fall. A second Made In Japan attempt is completed, as is a stupendously big lariat, but both can only give SHINGO consecutive 2-counts. Crowd going mental at this point for the awesome action that is unfolding in front of them. Bringing all this craziness to an end, SHINGO hoists Yokosuka up for the Original Falconry (arm capture Olympic Slam) for the winning pinfall. Live in attendance that night, I didn’t think this match was as good as their one the year before. Watching them both back now, on back-to-back evenings, this is an easily equally exceptional a match as the first. ****1/2. Of course, with them now tied 1-1 in DGUK, the fans are immediately keen to see a decisive rubber match.
After an interval to bring the live fans down, KAMIKAZE and World-1 face off as YAMATO makes his UK debut against fan favourite Naruki Doi. Things get off to a weird start as the MC somehow forgets YAMATO’s name during the ring introductions, even with the huge video screen behind him, for which he is roundly chastised in the typically polite style wrestling fans are known for. Hey – it’s not like he couldn’t pronounce Takira Kozawa/Akira Zotawa/Takira Togawa/Akira Tozawa, now is it...... PCW??? Going back to my live recollections of the show, this match didn’t leave much of an impression on me for some reason, but **** me if it isn’t actually a right proper cracker. Doi gets the upper hand of the early going, using wrestling skill to outshine his opponent, but YAMATO takes over by crawling under the ring to attack Naruki from behind. From there, he goes to work on Doi’s leg with a figure-four , drop-kicks to the knee and an ankle-lock. A hobbling Doi manages to hit home with the ‘Bosou’ cannonball in the corner, then maintains the momentum with YAMATO in the ropes with the diving cannonball across the back. From here, they are both going for big signature manoeuvres, either hitting them or being reversed into a trademark technique of their opponent. It’s high octane stuff. Naruki goes for Doi555, but is reversed into YAMATO’s sleeper hold. In a sweet sequence, YAMATO goes for Galleria, Doi reverses into a Muscular Bomb attempt, YAMATO escapes, but Doi manages to complete a reverse DDT. Another Muscular Bomb effort is rolled through into a YAMATO STFU. Yeah, I said that, what you gonna do about it? A struggle on the corner ends in a Doi555 off the second rope. Doi follows up with a Bakatari Sliding Kick, a standard Doi555, then another Sliding Kick to finally put his opponent away. Damn, that was better than I remember. I’ve seen both in better singles matches, but this was a well-executed match that was thoroughly enjoyable, kept my attention fixed and provided plenty of excitement. ***3/4.
Back by popular demand from last year is the main event Dragon Gate trios match, again pitting the Warriors and World-1 factions against each other. This time, Warriors CIMA & Dragon Kid are joined by unaffiliated Masaaki Mochizuki to battle BxB Hulk, Masato Yoshino & Pac. As with ‘Invasion’ last year, if you’ve seen one of these matches before, you’ll know what to expect: a slow-start, with each side taking turns to have periods of extended control, using team-work and quick tags to stay on top before the other team comes back and gets a go. The match will usually build and build like this before peaking with a thrilling climatic all-out sprint. The crowd is with them the entire way; a big “OOOOO” moment coming when CIMA and Kid hold a spread-legged Pac upside down, allowing Mochi to score with a killer axe kick to the nads. Pac flies all over the place, including a standing shooting star press on CIMA, who continues to be cast as his DGUK rival in a recurring theme from last year, it seems as if CIMA is targetting the UK native. As expected, the pace gets quicker, the advantage switches become more frequent and the moves get bigger as things start getting wild. There’s no doubt that one of these matches in full flow is a pretty spectacular and special thing. Pac comes off Yoshino’s back with a corkscrew shooting star, then holds CIMA as Yoshino comes off the top with his high-impact missile dropkick, who turns the landing into a simultaneous senton on Mochizuki. The fans liked that one. Mochizuki turns the tide against World-1 by killing BxB Hulk with his kicks. He then lifts him on his shoulders while sat on the top rope, setting up Dragon Kid to come in with a skyscraper huricanrana and CIMA to land the Meteora when Hulk crashes to earth. Another key aspect of these DG multi-man tags is that the way they acknowledge, highlight and make a feature of ongoing and past rivalries. For example, Kid and Yoshino reprise their series, DK catching Masato with the ‘Bible’ before Yoshino responds with the Lightning Spiral and Torbellino. This leaves Dragon Kid isolated for Hulk to wipe him out with the EVO, before Pac puts a cherry on it with an INWARD-FACING 450 SPLASH (which was the first time I’d EVER seen someone do that move) to make it a World-1 win for the second consecutive year. With PAC taking the fall on Dragon Kid. Again, I originally felt that this 2010 six-man main wasn’t quite at the level of that in 2009 but, realistically, there is very little in it. Just a fabulous example of this type of wrestling being pulled off in excellent fashion; ****1/4. As with Oxford the year prior, victorious Pac is left to give the closing speech, thanking the audience, Dragon Gate and the event organisers.
Included on the DVD’s ‘Bonus’ menu is the All-Stars (Mikey Whiplash & Robbie Dynamite) defeating the LDRS (Zack Sabre Jr & Marty Scurll) to win the British Tag Team Titles in a typically very-good IPW:UK tag effort (***1/2). This was actually the ‘dark’ match before the main Dragon Gate show started.
As an entire event as a whole, this didn’t match up to the overall top-to-bottom standard of the 2009 show. That said, this was still a terrific show in its own right, and the SHINGO vs. Yokosuka and 6-man tag matches are individually of equal high quality to their counterparts the previous annum. Add the impressive Doi vs. YAMATO and LDRS vs. All-Stars as supporting material and you’ve got a seriously strong package. Of course, this wasn’t DGUK’s only offering in 2010. In fact, they were back the very next night in Cambridgeshire to present ‘Invasion II’...
DG:UK : Invasion II DVD, Review by Ben Corrigan
Saturday September 11th 2010
Burgess Civic Hall, St Ives, UK
Purchase DVD : Trailer
The second and final leg of DGUK’s 2010 run, which took place in St. Ives . No, not that St. Ives. I’m particularly interested to watch this event as it remains the only DGUK event I didn’t attend live. It’s also the only A-Merchandise card I wasn’t at, with the exception of the show they ran in Farringdon. No, not that Farringdon. Being from the same tour as ‘SHINGO vs. Yokosuka II’, this DVD shares the same exemplary presentation as that release. The venue itself comes over to me as a slightly bigger version of the Swallows Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne, which plays host to Revolution Pro. Looks a decent hall.
Much like in Broxbourne, the first match on offer sees KAMIKAZE member Cyber Kong taking on UK opposition, this time Cambridge's own 'Party' Marty Scurll. Marty sets things off by taking Kong’s trademark pineapple, taking a huge bite out of it, then spitting it back at one severely pissed off Cyber. Kong’s aggressive dominance takes over in the early going, though, including him running right through Scurll with a simply huge shoulder block that sends him for a backflip!. Marty does get to take down his opponent with a Silver King-like hilo dive to the floor, but then it’s back to more of Kong’s clubbing, powerful offence. Much of Scurll’s brief flurries of attack merely bounce off the Japanese with no effect, leaving Kong to finish off another squash over Team UK by using a jack-knife-style powerbomb for the win. **1/4.
Now 3 shows into DGUK’s existence, commentator ‘Irish’ $tew Allen starts to make more of the competitor’s emerging win-loss records, highlighting Cyber’s 2-0 record and also the fact that Scurll is now winless in 3 appearances.
The Lion Kid faces his first Japanese DGUK opponent next, squaring off with huge favourite Masato Yoshino who, at the time is the current Open the Dream Gate champion. The point I made in my last review regarding The Lion Kid not yet being accepted seriously by the audience is less relevant, but apparent here again, as fans try to amuse themselves during the opening moments with attempts at cat-based comedy and taking the mick out of referee ‘Welsh’ Chris Roberts. Things develop slowly but surely as the pair engage in technical wrestling exchanges and reversals with neither able to sustain the advantage. The Lion Kid misses an attempted springboard cross-body, but seconds later scores with an Asai moonsault to the outside. Again, though, he fails to take advantage as Yoshino fires back with a slingblade for a nearfall. As with Kid’s match with Mark Haskins the night before, an initially cold crowd has now come alive and is well into what they are seeing. As they start pulling out the big guns, Lion comes off the top with an impressive DDT, but the World-1 star takes over with a missile dropkick, the Torbellino (which is like La Mistica, except it ends in a face-plant rather than an armbar) and then the Sol Naciente for the tap-out win. Decent match, this. ***.
The format continues to mirror the previous evening as Match 3 is an all-Japanese affair, Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Susumu Yokosuka. As $tew alludes to on commentary, these two have massive history. They were teammates in the scooter-riding, shiny-coat wearing M2K faction back in Toryumon (when Yokosuka was even known as Susumu Mochizuki, his real name although they are not related), fell out and feuded over the rights to the Mochizuki name. Masaaki Mochizuki gains an early foothold with his stiff kicks, but Yokosuka takes over as the pair battle on the apron, dropping Mochi knees-first onto the edge of the ring. Much like his first UK match with Shingo Takagi, Yokosuka starts going to work on his opponent’s legs, but Mochizuki is able to play that game. He kicks the crap out of Susumu’s arm, and then targets it with various arm-scissors, arm-bars and more of those kicks (perhaps mindful of Yokosuka’s lariats?). A funny moment sees Yokosuka hide in an empty seat in the crowd, attempting to gain a respite from Mochizuki’s torture. The fans erupt at an intense exchange of kicks and forearms, which ends with Yokosuka flooring Mochi with a lariat. Yokosuka then drops his old rival knees-first on the mat again, going back to the legs with a figure-four. After Mochizuki escapes, it becomes a tremendously exciting battle of various arm-locks vs. various leg-holds, as each take in turns to reverse their opponent’s offence into near-submissions. “THIS IS AWESOME (clap clap clapclapclap)” chant some. Taking things further, Yokosuka blasts Mochizuki with an Exploder suplex off the top and follows with Jumbo No Kachi for a convincing 2-count. A little later, a Jumbo No Kachi-gatame results in an even closer near-fall, before it is the Mugen double-underhook slam which manages to finally earn Yokosuka the victory and a standing ovation. What a tremendous match. It should be noted this is Yokosuka's first ever victory over Mochizuki in a singles contest. A slight level below Susumu’s efforts with SHINGO, but still wonderfully captivating for the duration, full of subtle detail to fully engage your attention and well-built to an exciting end. ****.
The show ends with two back-to-back tag team encounters of mouth-watering potential. First, the World-1 duo of BxB Hulk and Naruki Doi face off against SHINGO and YAMATO of KAMIKAZE. That’s a lot of CAPITAL LETTERS. It’s somewhat of a grudge match, as both members of each team have had bad blood with each opposing member on an individual basis, as well as on a faction-basis. The hairless Hulk, courtesy of a loss to SHINGO on PPV and the Doi / YAMATO rivalry from the previous night is revisted here. The two pairs are accompanied by stablemates Masato Yoshino and Cyber Kong, who nearly get in on the action as the match starts, teasing turning it into a trios match. “WE WANT SIX-MAN (clap clap clapclapclap)” say the fans, only to follow with “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” when the cornermen step down. Doi and YAMATO start out with smooth wrestling, but it isn’t long before the rudo-like KAMIKAZE start to use double-teaming to take control, isolating Doi in the ring while keeping Hulk outside. Doi’s comeback ends with him hitting the Dai Basou cannonball into the corner on both members of the opposition, leading to a Hulk-in’ hot tag for his leg-sweep, back-flip senton combination. Things break down as BxB and YAMATO go back and forth, then SHINGO and Doi do the same as the pace quickens. Doi catches SHINGO with the somersault senton from the top, but SHINGO then catches both opponents in DDTs as KAMIKAZE take over. By now, it’s an all-out sprint in typically great Dragon Gate fashion. Doi555 sets up a series of Hulk kicks for a near-fall. YAMATO conks BxB with the Gallaria, but the subsequent cover is broken up by Doi. Doi then finds his own post-Bakatari Sliding Kick pinfall broken up by SHINGO, who lays him out with a killer Death Valley driver. Proper Radio Rental, this. A nutty Made In Japan RIGHT ON HULK’S HEAD only manages to gain SHINGO another 2-count. BxB gets 2s of his own on SHINGO coming off an EVO from the ropes and then an axe-kick, before a final, decisive EVO puts him down for the count and sees World-1 take the win. Terrific bout, show-casing the fast-paced, high-octane Dragon Gate tag style in full-effect. ****1/4.
The other tag bout, pitting CIMA and Dragon Kid of Warriors against the UK combo of Pac and Mark Haskins, is similar impressive fare. CIMA is still intent on doing damage to the UK natives and Dragon Kid looks to gain a measure of revenge on PAC's previous pinfall victory from last night. It should also be noted that shortly before the tour Dragon Kid was named the number 1 contender for PAC's Open the Brave Gate Title. The teams battle back-and-forth for control during the opening stages, with both sides getting an opportunity to shine. CIMA and Kid start to dominate with quick tags, isolating Haskins for the heat. CIMA again demonstrates heel leanings (it’s cool that his babyface persona is based on a certain degree of arrogance, which can be easily amplified and extended), as he has in all his DGUK appearances so far, keeping things interesting. A hot tag to Pac leads to the English lads hitting stereo dives to the outside, then inside it’s back to the signature Dragon Gate free-flowing, fast-moving switches, saves and big moves. The double-team combinations and chains displayed by both teams are particularly impressive. At one stage, CIMA sits on the top rope with Haskins held up on his shoulders, Kid hurricanranas Haskins off CIMA’s shoulders causing Haskins to land on partner Pac, then CIMA immediately follows up by landing the Meteora double-knees from the top on Haskins for a 2-count. A satellite DDT and Ultra-Hurricanrana on Pac yields a similar result for Kid. Haskins hits an inch-perfect shooting star press on Dragon, then follows that with a cradle tombstone piledriver that puts Kid down in perfect position for Pac’s ‘British Airways’ corkscrew shooting star. 1...2...3..! A big main event win for the British guys in another corking tag match, ***3/4.
Afterwards, there’s more tension between Pac and Dragon Kid as the masked man eyes the Geordie’s Open the Brave Gate Title belt. With their huge title match in the coming months on PPV, it seems as if PAC is clearly sending a message to DK with 2 victories on consecutive nights. This time, the duty of the show-closing speech of thanksTM falls to Haskins, as he promises they will be back, as the crowd stands in approval, chanting “DRAGON GATE! DRAGON GATE!” and joining in with the Warriors battle-cry: “UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHH!!”
So, onto the Bonus Features, which surprised me by throwing up a pleasing array of impressive content. First, there is the evening’s warm-up match, pitting ‘Xtreme’ Dean Allmark against ‘Heavyweight House of Pain’ Stixx (who makes his ring walk in his Lucha Britannia get-up). It’s a bout where the crowd begins by cracking-wise and not taking it seriously, but by the end has them gripped. Deano wins a good match with a Spanish Fly (***). Next up is a ‘fan-cam’-style presentation of a six-man from Dragon Gate in Japan: Naruki Doi, Pac and Mark Haskins vs. Super Shisa, Stalker Ichikawa and Takuya Tomakomai (who would go on to become Tomahawk TT and is currently the ‘fake’ Naoki Tanisaki). It’s a fun, worthwhile inclusion (**1/2). Finally, there is the Pac vs. Mark Haskins main event from IPW:UK’s ‘Sittingbourne Spectacular’ in May 2010. It’s spoiled by the fucking dreadful blue lighting effect IPW:UK insisted on using in Sittingbourne and by some baffling camera work, as well as by Dave Bradshaw’s commentary (which, unlike the excellent ‘Irish’ $tew Allen’s version on the main feature, you can’t switch off), but it’s undeniably a pretty great wrestling match. I actually enjoyed it more on this viewing than I remember doing sat in the second row at the time. Haskins gets his knees up to block Pac’s corkscrew shooting star, then plants him with the Cradle 2 The Grave for the win (***3/4).
Anyway, back to the main show. As an event as a whole, this is another very strong offering, with 3 excellent bouts (Yokosuka vs. Mochizuki, plus the two tags) and good support. One more jewel in the already glittering crown that is DGUK.
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