Powell's 3/5 Dragon Gate USA "Fearless" PPV review: BxB Hulk vs. Dragon Kid for the Open The Freedom Gate Title, Brian Kendrick unveils a surprise before his match with Jimmy Jacobs, Young Guns, Super Crazy, Davey Richards
Dragon Gate USA "Fearless" PPV
Taped January 23 in Chicago, Ill.
Debuted on PPV on March 5
The broadcast team of Lenny Leonard and Phil Colvin introduced the show as the introductions for the first match took place. Leonard hyped the Open The Freedom Gate Title match and previewed the main event...
Powell's POV: It's a shame that BxB Hulk didn't win the title in Milwaukee because they could have called it the Open The Beer Bottle Gate Title. I'm not a fan of the nerdy title name, but that's nothing new.
1. Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw defeated Super Crazy and CIMA in 17:30. The announcers recapped the rivalry between the Dragon Gate wrestlers and Chikara wrestlers. CIMA was more concerned with Quackenbush than legal man Jigsaw when he first entered the match, and they played up their rivalry nicely.
Crazy grabbed a pair of inflatable sticks and used them as a weapon at one point. The crowd applauded and the announcers spoke about how it was uncalled for. Good, dumb fun. Late in the match, Crazy put Quackenbush in the surfboard hold and then CIMA did a double stomp off the top rope while he was still in the hold. Cool spot. In the end, Quack caught Crazy with a unique roll up and scored the pin. The heels attacked the babyfaces after the match, but Quackenbush and Jigsaw cleared them from the ring...
Powell's POV: A quality opener. It looked a too choreographed at times and the match went longer than it needed to, everyone worked hard. Crazy kept it lighthearted with some of his comedy antics. Will we get Quackenbush vs. CIMA in a singles match next time?
Davey Richards cut a promo somewhere in the backstage area. He said they were in his building and he was calling the shots. He vowed to take his title back...
2. T.J. Perkins beat Gran Akuma in 9:00. The announcers continued to hype the main event match. After some quality back and forth action, Perkins applied a Sharp Shooter-like hold and Akuma tapped out quickly.
Powell's POV: I like the way the announcers continue to hype the main event because it feels like the show is building toward something special. The match was solid. They didn't really give it a purpose, though, in the sense that it just felt like two guys wrestling with nothing really at stake, but maybe I missed something. I dig Akuma. Perkins is talented, but his gear is low budget.
A shot aired of Dragon Kid preparing for his match in the backstage area...
3. Brian Kendrick (w/Lacey) defeated Jimmy Jacobs in 6:00. Before the match, Kendrick took the mic and cut a promo on Jacobs. The usual minor league audio qualities were at play. It wasn't as bad as the last time Kendrick cut a promo on pay-per-view. He brought out Lacey to be in his corner. Leonard said that anyone who follows the U.S. wrestling scene knows of their past.
Jacobs wasn't pleased and he went right after Kendrick to start the match. Kendrick came back with a sleeper/body scissors combo, but Jacobs fought out of it. Later, Jacobs applied the guillotine choke. Lacey entered the ring and pleaded with Jacobs. He released the hold and then she kissed him. As she was kissing him, she motioned for Kendrick to attack Jacobs. Moments later, Kendrick hit Sliced Bread No. 2 and got the pin.
Afterward, Jon Moxley came to the ring and congratulated Kendrick. As the threesome were leaving the ring, Jacobs took the mic and said he knew that Kendrick's wife Taylor was at home. He said she might not be tough enough, but she's good enough for him. Kendrick said he could kill Jacobs, but he was going to break his heart. He teased kissing Lacey, only to move out of the way while Moxley clotheslined her to the mat...
Powell's POV: I enjoyed the Jacobs and Lacey drama in Ring of Honor, so this was a pleasant surprise. The match was nothing special. I didn't expect a spot-fest that kept up with the earlier matches, but nothing really stood out. The angle clicked with me, but there were fans chanting "thank you" to Moxley for clotheslining Lacey, so apparently I liked it more than some people in the building. It was odd to see Jacobs work as a babyface after his great heel run in ROH.
A shot aired of BxB Hulk preparing for the title match backstage...
4. Davey Richards defeated Masaaki Mochizuki to regain the FIP Title in 19:30. The announcers reminded viewers that Mochizuki recently defeated Richards for the FIP Title in Japan. Mochizuki locked in a leg submission early. Richards teased tapping and did a great job with his facials of making the move seem painful.
At 16:40, Richards caught Mochizuki on the top rope and hit a great German suplex. He went for the same move on the mat fora near fall. He followed up with a great Shooting Star Press and then applied a kimura for the third time in the match. Richards applied the cross arm breaker. His opponent escaped. Later, Richards applied the triangle choke and got the submission win...
Powell's POV: Wait, there's still an FIP TItle? Really? I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I just haven't heard anything about FIP in quite a while, so I had no clue there was still an FIP belt out there. Nevertheless, this was the best match on the show thus far. Too bad it will probably be the last time we see Richards in Dragon Gate.
Backstage, Quackenbush and Jigsaw said they aren't just the best American tag team in Dragon Gate USA, they're the best tag team in the company...
Powell's POV: I guess this means we probably won't get the Quackenbush vs. CIMA singles match I was hoping for.
5. Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino defeated Shingo & Yamato and The Young Bucks in a three-way elimination match. Three wrestlers were allowed in the ring at the same time. They did some silly spots early with three and then six wrestlers. The live crowd seemed to get a kick out of the big train Sharp Shooter spot.
There were plenty of rapid fire, multi-person moves while the three teams were involved. The crowd seemed to become numb to some of it, but they fired up when Nick Jackson encouraged them to clap. The Bucks hit More Bang For Your Buck, but Shingo pulled Matt Jackson from a cover and suplexed him. A short time later, Yoshino pinned one of the Jacksons to eliminate the Bucks from the match around 15:00.
Doi tagged Shingo with repeated forearms to the chops around 17:30 for a nice applause from the crowd. Yoshino hit a powerbomb for a nice near fall less than a minute later. Yoshino used a wild rolling arm submission hold on Shingo and got the submission win for his team. Leonard noted that Yoshino won both falls for his team...
Powell's POV: I expected more from this match. The three-way element didn't seem to help as much as I thought it would. All three teams worked hard, but we've seen much better performances from all of them. Maybe we're just getting to that point of the show where I'm becoming numb to the nonstop wrestling. Then again, the live crowd didn't seem blown away by the match either. It was good, but it wasn't great. My expectations were admittedly high.
6. BxB Hulk defeated Dragon Kid (w/CIMA) to retain the Open The Freedom Gate Title in 17:30. Hulk was accompanied to the ring by a couple of dancers that no one really needed to see wearing cutoff t-shirts. They both got lost while trying to perform his dance routine with him. Leonard explained that CIMA was in Kid's corner due to something that caused them to align in Japan.
Kid controlled the bulk of the early offense. The announcers noted later that frustration was starting to set in because he couldn't put the champion away. The crowd applauded the action at various times and popped for the bigger moves such as Kid locking in a fun submission hold that Hulk slammed his way free from. Kid came back with a wild DDT. "This should be it," Leonard said even though the live crowd didn't share in his enthusiasm. No one was surprised when Hulk kicked out.
At 15:00, Dragon hit the Ultra Huracanrana. This time, the live crowd seemed to buy into the quality near fall as much as they could, although it seemed like most people assumed the new champion wasn't going to lose in his first title defense on American soil. Hulk came back and got a near fall of his own. Later, Hulk hit a superkick and followed up with EVOP for the clean pin.
After the match, Davey Richards, Yamato, and Gran Akuma hit the ring and put the boots to both wrestlers. CIMA tried to help Dragon, but he was also beaten down. SHINGO ran out teased tension with Yamato before smiling and then decking Kid with a shot. The heels roughed up Hulk.
Security ran out and were kicked off the ring apron. Some of the wrestlers who worked the pre-PPV matches hit the ring, including Arik Cannon. They were quickly disposed of. Finally, a large group of wrestlers hit the ring, including Mike Quackenbush, who went right after Yamato. CIMA ran in with a broom. The heels eventually fled as CIMA stood in the ring with a broom in hand to close the show.
Powell's POV: A strong pay-per-view main event. Not a match of the year candidate like we're used to getting from Dragon Gate, but still very good and my favorite match on the show. The post-match angle was a solid way to close the pay-per-view. The beatdowns were nothing special, but it was another quick reminder of some of the feuds that have been established.
Final Thoughts: It's no secret that Dragon Gate USA is all about the great in-ring action. The action on this show was good, but there wasn't anything particularly memorable about it. That said, with both major companies delivering talk-heavy television programming on their main shows, the wrestling-heavy product that Dragon Gate offers will be a refreshing change of pace for wrestling-starved viewers. Dragon Gate set the bar high on their past pay-per-views, so while there were no truly memorable matches, the show was still filled with strong in-ring work. In fact, viewers who haven't watched their previous shows would still come away very impressed by the wrestling action and the no nonsense approach.
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