1/22 Dragon Gate USA "Freedom Fight" PPV review: A tournament determines the first DGUSA "Open The Freedom Gate" Champion, Brian Kendrick, BxB Hulk, Davey Richards, Young Bucks
Dragon Gate USA "Freedom Fight PPV
Taped Nov. 28, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pa. at The Arena
Debuted on pay-per-view on Jan. 22, 2010
The show opened with a shot of six wrestlers in the ring for the opening match while the crowd cheered. Ring announcer Kevin Harvey introduced the wrestlers and explained that the winner of the six-way match would advance in the tournament to determine the first champion...
Powell's POV: Poor audio from the ring announcers' mic, but the ring was well lit and the crowd was loud. The audio mix was well done once they got going, as the announcers came through loud and clear.
1. Gran Akuma defeated Hallowicked, Nick Jackson, Matt Jacson, Lince Dorado, and Johnny Gargano in a six-way tournament match in 10:00. Lenny Leonard and Chikarason checked in on commentary. One of the Jacksons hit the softest shoulder block in the history of wrestling during the opening minute, but there was a lot of action with all six wrestlers hitting flashy moves.
At 6:30, the Young Bucks (Jacksons) hit their finisher. One of the brothers went for a cover, but the other brother pulled him off. They traded punches and had an entertaining offensive exchange. The finish saw Gran Akuma hit a moonsault on Gargano for the 1-2-3...
Powell's POV: Would someone please slam the geeky gate shut? I've said it before and I'll keep saying it, there's nothing cool about referring to an announcer as Chikarason, and the "Open The Freedom Gate" Title is the sappiest name I've heard since the Western States Heritage Championship. Anyway, the match featured the usual good flying action and crowd pleasing high spots. A couple of the wrestlers should tighten up some of the lesser moves. They hit great high spots, but there were a couple of weak kicks (and the shoulder block) that looked really bad.
The announcers were shown talking briefly backstage. It was nice to see them and put faces with the names for a change. Nice move...
Powell's POV: By the way, the arena set is a big step above ROH and other indy groups. There's even a big screen set up in one of the corners.
2. BxB Hulk defeated Brian Kendrick in a tournament match in 12:35. Strong crowd reactions for both men. The announcers said Hulk didn't perform his usual dance routine because the tournament for the title was so important. Slower action than expected early. The action picked up when Hulk hit a flurry of offense around 8:15.
Kendrick came back with a Sliced Bread No. 2 attempt, but Hulk threw him over the top rope to the floor. Hulk wanted to go for a dive, but Kendrick hid behind the guardrail. Nice spot even though there were some groans from the live crowd. Hulk got a couple of near falls. He caught Kendrick with a kick to the head and then rolled him up for the win...
After the match, the ring announcer was talking with Kendrick, who was slumped down in the corner. Kendrick blew up on the announcer, who was apparently asking him to leave the ring. Kendrick cut a promo about having a neck injury or something. The audio with the ring mic was lousy. Kendrick was passionate and he seemed to have the crowd's interest. A referee came out and ordered him to leave. Kendrick yelled at him too. Jon Moxley came to the ring and referred to the fans as insects. He took a shot at one of the other wrestlers that came out with him.
Powell's POV: Solid early tournament match. It wasn't as flashy as one might expect from these two, but it was a quality match that didn't give the fans their fill of Hulk, nor did they try to steal the show. The mic work should not have aired on the pay-per-view. As much as I want to see more angles after the last wrestling-heavy pay-per-view, the sound quality was horrible. If it was so important that it needed to be on the show, then they should have apologized for the mic problems and added subtitles.
An ad aired for the Dragon Gate website...
3. CIMA defeated Mike Quackenbush, Jorge "Skayde" Rivera, and Super Crazy in a four-way tournament match in 10:05. Quack and CIMA bowed to the veteran Rivera, but Crazy did not. The story between the two is that Rivera took his mask in Mexico when he was 14. Crazy and Rivera went at it early and the crowd was into the action.
At 6:45, Rivera sold a knee injury, which Crazy worked over with kicks. Later, Rivera actually caught CIMA in a submission hold and CIMA briefly teased tapping before it was broken up. In the end, CIMA caught Rivera with a kick and rolled him into a pin. The referee counted even though Rivera's left shoulder was an inch off the mat, which wasn't part of the story. CIMA and Quackenbush led the crowd in cheering Rivera afterward. However, Quackenbush and CIMA ended up having a brief shoving match...
Powell's POV: This match could have used a video package or even another clip with the announcers talking backstage to set up the story with Crazy and Rivera. I liked the story with Rivera and Crazy, but it seems odd that they decided to tell that story during the title tournament. Maybe there's a reason I'm not aware of. Either way, an entertaining match and the live crowd was very respectful of Rivera even though they spent as much time cheering Crazy.
4. Yamato defeated Davey Richards in a tournament match in 21:30. Leonard noted that both men were 1-0 on DGUSA pay-per-view. He said they were considered among the favorites to win the tournament and one of them would be gone after this match. Yamato worked over Richards' knee throughout the match.
At 12:45, Richards hit a series of flashy kicks and got a near fall. He acted stunned that he didn't get the pin, but the live crowd didn't seem too surprised. Yamato continued to work the knee and ankle with a series of holds. Richards reached the ropes on back-to-back submission attempts.
Later, Richards hit a superplex, but Yamato stood right up. Richards hit him wiht a Lariat and hit a suplex, but Yamato kicked out and surprised the live crowd. Richards motioned for a top rope move. Yamato caught him on the ropes, but Richards pushed him down. Richards went for a shooting star press, but Yamato got his knees up.
Yamato locked in a sleeper in the middle of the ring. Richards fought out. They traded punches. The crowd cheered Richards and booed Yamato's punches. Yamato caught him a sleeper turned it into a suplex for a good near fall. He followed up with a brainbuster, but Richards kicked out again. Yamato came right back with a galleria for the clean pin...
Powell's POV: Richards made this match. As good as Yamato is, his facial expressions don't change much throughout the match, whereas Richards does an exceptional job with his facials. An excellent match. Easily the best match on the show so far. Richards was a star to the live crowd. Leonard adds a lot to the matches with his call. Chikarason doesn't do much for me.
A video showed Akuma, Hulk, and CIMA throwing shadow punches and kicks in different parts of the backstage area. Another shot showed Yamato lying on the ground and selling the effects of his match with Richards...
5. Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino defeated Shingo and Dragon Kid in 21:00. A wild match with incredible work from all four men. The fans spent a lot of the match standing and cheering. A move-by-move would require pages of text. Nonstop action with great near falls that the fans loved. The finish saw Yoshino lock Kid in a arm submission hold for the win. The fans gave the wrestlers a standing ovation afterward. Yoshino mockingly put his hand in Kid's face afterward. Shingo took offense and they traded shoves...
Powell's POV: Wow. I'm not sure if there was a storyline reason for not including those four in the singles tournament, but that was one hell of a tag match. Excellent back-to-back matches. I feel bad for the four guys in the main event because I don't think they can top the last two matches.
Outside the building, Jon Moxley cut a promo about how he doesn't sing, dance, or do tricks. He said no one pulls his string. He said he has talent that others can only dream of. He said when you're as good as he is, you don't have to listen to anyone. "Wrestlers like me are extinct," he said. He said he doesn't want to hurt anyone, he just wants what's his...
Powell's POV: Moxley is charismatic and comfortable in front of the camera.
6. BxB Hulk defeated CIMA, Yamato, and Gran Akuma in an elimination match to become the Open the Freedom Gate Champion in 16:00. Yamato and Akuma shook hands to show they were a unit in this match. Meanwhile, CIMA teased an alliance with Hulk, only to attack him. Yamato and Akuma went after CIMA. He took them both down and then motioned that the title belt would be around his waist. However, he was rolled up and pinned by Yamato a 5:15.
The announcers told the story that Hulk was in big trouble because he was going against two wrestlers. The fans picked up on it and chanted Hulk's name. One of the announcers said he wouldn't want to see Yamato or Akuma as the top representative of Dragon Gate USA.
Yamato and Akuma worked over Hulk, who worked in flashes of offense that pleased the crowd. He hit a nice dropkick on Yamato and then flipped onto Akuma, who was lying on the mat, in the same motion. After clearing Yamato from the ring, Hulk hit a reverse Frankensteiner on Akuma. A short time later, Hulk hit EVO on Akuma and pinned him to eliminate him from the match around 12:00.
The match came down to Hulk vs. Yamato, who did the "yeah" and "boo" punch routine with Hulk getting the cheers. The fans got even more behind Hulk as the match went on. He hit a side driver (not sure on the technical name) and scored the pin, which seemed to take the live crowd by surprise. They cheered his name as he celebrated with the title and the show went off the air...
Powell's POV: A good match. They didn't top the two previous matches, but it was still entertaining and the main event in now way felt like a letdown. Nice storytelling with the heels teaming up and Hulk having to overcome their double team attacks. CIMA bowing out early was a surprise. I didn't care for the way the show concluded just seconds after Hulk won the match. Although the crowd was chanting the new champion's name, I would have liked to have seen him celebrate more and help put over the new title. Overall, this was my favorite of the three Dragon Gate pay-per-views. It was better visually, the production was solid aside from the horrible ring mic, and there was a good pace to the show.
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