DGUSA made their West-Coast debut with an event named Open the Golden Gate emanating from Los Angeles. This iPPV was headlined by the Spiked Mohicans defending their United Gate titles against Jimmy Susumu and Masaaki Mochizuki in the main event, while PAC faced Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino battled Naruki Doi, Sami Callihan and AR Fox met in a tables match, plus Low Ki vs BxB Hulk, The Young Bucks vs Chuck Taylor & Scorpio Sky and Jon Davis vs Caleb Konley.
Low Ki vs BxB Hulk
Recap: Low Ki’s DGUSA career is off to a promising start, with the World Warrior knocking off former Open the Freedom Gate Champion BxB Hulk in his debut bout thanks to the devastating Warrior’s Way. As expected this was predominantly a battle of kicks, with both men picking their spots and trying to wear each other down. Hulk managed to control much of the bout, making effective use of a single leg crab to keep Low Ki down. Ki escaped the hold and unloaded with more kicks but was nearly defeated by a surprise spin kick from Hulk. Unfortunately for the former champion, he was too hurt to go for the pin and Low Ki was soon able to regroup, pouncing on a Hulk error and unloading with a John Woo dropkick, the Ki Krusher and the Warrior’s Way for the win. After the match Low Ki and Akira Tozawa – who accompanied Hulk to the ring before the match – exchanged intense stares but nothing came of it.
Review: These two didn’t really gel as effectively as you’d hope, with Hulk’s unfamiliarity with Ki’s offence fairly obvious at times, particularly when he barely reacted to not one but two running forearm smashes… unless that was intentional, in which case it was strange. Instead they essentially took turns kicking each other quite hard with Hulk applying a rest hold in the middle and Low Ki all but squashing the promotion’s first champion at the end. It’s funny how Hulk can’t maintain a push in Japan and the US simultaneously; he was slipping down the totem pole a little back home while DGUSA made him a champion, and then after he underwent a much needed character transformation and started being treated like a killer in Japan he began a bit of a losing streak in America. He didn’t really come across as much of a challenge for Low Ki, hitting none of his signature moves, and the match had no extended finishing sequence. I understand somebody needs to get fed to Ki so he can build momentum to his inevitable Freedom Gate title shot, but given recent developments, Hulk is basically the co-leader of Blood Warriors and you’d think he’d be treated a little more seriously.
Chuck Taylor & Scorpio Sky vs. The Young Bucks
Recap: With Rich Swann missing his flight to Los Angeles Chuck Taylor looked like he would be facing the Young Bucks alone until SoCal native Scorpio Sky made the save. Unfortunately the impromptu duo couldn’t compete with the teamwork – and underhanded tactics – of the Bucks. Though Taylor and Sky were individually effective and each almost managed a submission victory, the difference maker was the Bucks’ cohesion, both when it came to saving each other from perilous situations, and their effective double team moves, with More Bang For Your Buck finishing off Sky after Taylor was hit with a low blow to remove him from the match.
Review: I have a personal gripe. It probably wouldn’t bother most people like it bothers me, but I’m the one writing the review. Before I get to it I’ll say that despite the circumstances of the match being changed twice they actually made a pretty good go of it and I was thoroughly entertained by what all four men brought to the table and there was plenty of action. Sky taking the pin allows Taylor to remain looking strong as well as keeping a potential Ronin/Bucks feud alive as he seeks revenge with one of his regular partners. And now onto my gripe. I get that they needed someone to replace Rich Swann, and Scorpio Sky is a good wrestler, but was there really nobody who had worked in DGUSA before available? Or at least someone with a more storied rivalry with the Young Bucks? I just hate these kind of teams that are thrown together for no reason. Yes I know there was a “real-life” reason, but there has to be a story explanation for why Scorpio Sky would take particular issue with what the Bucks were doing to Chuck Taylor and choosing to intervene. If it were hypothetically Kevin Steen or El Generico or Paul London then the random pairing makes sense. But Sky doesn’t have a storied rivalry with the Young Bucks beyond he and Joey Ryan having a match against them in PWG last year. As I said, it’s probably just me and the important thing was this was a good match.
Naruki Doi vs. Masato Yoshino
Recap: In a battle of former Speed Muscle partners and now rivals, Masato Yoshino overcame Naruki Doi thanks to the Sol Naciente Kai. It was a very evenly fought contest with neither man really dominating the other, and each hitting several of their biggest attacks. In the end the standard offence was not enough, with Doi surviving two Lightning Spirals and the Sol Naciente, and thus Yoshino was forced to go to the modified version of his submission to get the win.
Review: First-off, Lenny Leonard did a really effective job of recounting the history of Doi and Yoshino as both partners and rivals, so effective in fact that I actually learned a couple of things. As for the actual contest, it was like every other match involving either man, give or take a few moves. If you haven’t seen either of them that much they probably blew your mind in this match like they used to blow mine. They’re both great performers and do some of the best moves in all of wrestling, but in my opinion neither man has really changed what they do in the ring for a long, long time and I’m starting to get tired of watching them. They’re very effective in multi-man matches where they can come in, hit their moves and then get back out again, but when they’re the only two in the ring it’s hard to get enthused about the exact same spots for the hundredth time. Cima and Yoshino had a great match a couple of months ago because they demonstrated how well they knew each other and thus had to adjust accordingly. Conversely, these two should know each other even better and yet they went with the same old stuff. Oh well, at least they went slightly deeper into their arsenals than normal. Oh, and Sol Naciente beats out Cattle Mutilation for least painful looking submission move that is treated like it’s deadly.
AR Fox vs Sami Callihan
Recap: Inspired by the table-related antics of his childhood hero Sabu, AR Fox challenged Sami Callihan to a Table Match instead of their advertised Anything Goes Match. This decision ultimately proved to be unwise as Callihan emerged victorious after once again beating Fox to a pulp, eventually putting the youngster out of his misery with a powerbomb through table propped against a guard rail on the outside. This was just the last in a string of extreme moments, as Callihan twice drove Fox down onto a suspended guard rail, first with a back body drop, and later with a powerbomb from inside the ring to the outside. From there it was academic and Callihan’s dominance of his nemesis continues.
Review: You can kind of copy and paste some of my comments from the No DQ match between the D.U.F. and Fox, Sabu and Davis; AR Fox has too much going for him to legitimately risk his life in the way he has been in these matches. Idolising Sabu is all well and good, but Sabu never had the look and athleticism that Fox possesses. Those two things alone will probably lead Fox to a great deal of money in this industry, but he’s not going to get there if he gets paralysed getting powerbombed out of the ring through a guard rail. That may seem a hypocritical thing to say given how much I enjoy watching Kevin Steen and El Generico attempt to murder each other, but in my opinion it’s a completely different situation and I’m sticking by it. What made this even more senseless was that it felt like nothing was really settled as it didn’t last all that long, ended abruptly and wasn’t actually even scheduled until Gargano was pulled from the card. It’s one thing to go all out to settle a grudge, but if it’s just one of a series of matches there’s really no need. It was entertaining in a car crash sense though.
Jon Davis vs. Caleb Konley
Recap: Jon Davis continued his rise through the ranks of DGUSA, knocking off The Scene’s Caleb Konley with little trouble, nailing him with a lariat, the Pounce and 3 Seconds Around the World in succession to get the victory after spending most of the match in strike exchanges with Konley.
Review: Jon Davis’ push continues, not much else to say. I think I’ve seen about a dozen or more of Konley’s matches now and I honestly have no idea what any of his signature moves are or what kind of wrestler he is. I don’t think he’s bad, he’s just pretty generic.
PAC vs. Akira Tozawa
Recap: In a rematch of their bout from ten months ago, Akira Tozawa avenged his loss by besting the world’s premiere high-flyer, PAC with the Package German Suplex. PAC’s speed gave him the early advantage, but Tozawa managed to take control after getting his knees up on a crossbody attempt and then spent several minutes beating the Brit down. PAC’s deceptive power allowed him to get back into the match as he caught Tozawa in mid-air during a suicide dive, and then hit a suplex on the floor. However PAC demonstrated why it’s called high-risk as he crashed into the guard rail and landed hard on the floor while executing an asai moonsault and soon the pair were trading big strikes and huge suplexes. Much like earlier in the match, Tozawa used his knees to counter an aerial attack, this time the 360 Shooting Star Press. These continued attacks to PAC’s core may have been what did him in, as he was able to survive a Dead-Lift German Suplex but could not kick out of the Package German Suplex that followed.
Review: Comfortably the match of the night. These two are just a cut above 90% of the wrestlers walking this planet. I know I’m stating the obvious but PAC is so damn smooth, and Tozawa has mastered controlling both the pace of a match and the crowd. There were impressive high spots, stiff strikes, slick counters and even some story telling. Both guys brought their A-Game and unlike Low Ki and BxB Hulk, they gelled extremely well and both came off looking like stars. Also unlike Hulk, Tozawa is enjoying a big push on two continents, elevating himself to the status of co-leader of Blood Warriors in Japan while beating everybody not named Rich Swann in DGUSA in recent months. Watch this match.
Open the United Gate Title Match
Cima & Ricochet vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Susumu
Recap: Despite coming into the match on uneasy ground due to recent events in Japan, the United Gate champions, Cima and Ricochet managed to retain their titles against Masaaki Mochizuki and Jimmy Susumu, with Cima pinning Susumu with the Meteora. The match started out even but the Spiked Mohicans took control for several minutes, demonstrating why they are the champions. Susumu managed to take Mochizuki and after a barrage of big kicks the challengers locked the champions into twin submission holds but they couldn’t force a tap out. Moments later they hit a Powerbomb/Sankakugeri combination and almost won the match. Battling back, Ricochet executed a 630 onto both of the challengers but Mochizuki narrowly managed to kick out at two. Cima and Susumu were left to fight it out in the ring alone for most of the rest of the way as their partners battled on the outside. Despite a trio of Jumbo no Kachi!’s, Cima survived and thanks to Ricochet managed to hit Schweinn, a huge Nakayubi (Impaler DDT) and Meteora to put down the man that will soon challenge him for his Dream Gate title.
Review: This got better as it went. I know pretty much every match does that, but at what I thought was near the end I was getting ready to say how this wasn’t much more than another Spiked Mohicans exhibition, with Mochizuki throwing in some kicks every so often. But then they turned the heat up and all four men were equally involved and dropping some big bombs on each other. I really liked the Powerbomb/Sankakugeri combo, and the Mohicans combined their moves as effectively as ever. Ricochet in particular looked pretty damn good, having gained some size but seemingly not losing a step of speed or agility. Good to see that he’s taking his status as Brave Gate champion seriously and continuing to up his game. While this match wasn’t as good as the PAC/Tozawa encounter that preceded it, it was still a great match, much better than the rest of the show, and despite Mochi and Jimmy not being DGUSA regulars they got their stuff in and enjoyed a lot of crowd support.
Recap: Hulk & Tozawa attacked everybody after the match, including Ricochet, though that seemed accidental as Lenny Leonard brushed it off and they seemed to ease off him after a moment, perhaps realising their error. Low Ki intervened, staring down the Blood Warriors and then making friendly challenges to Mochizuki and Ricochet. He then proposed a match between himself and Cima in Miami and the pair shook on it. Cima thanked everyone for coming.
Review: Low Ki probably did a little too much talking, but if all the matches he proposed come to fruition then I’m very much down for it. He didn’t make mention of Tozawa but given their two stare-downs you have to think that one’s happening too at some point. Low Ki turning up in DGUSA & Evolve came at precisely the right time with Gargano out injured for a while, and if he stays with the company for the rest of the year then they have a heck of an asset on their hands.
The last two matches saved this show from mediocrity and I absolutely recommend you check both of them out. I had some issues with almost all of the matches that came before, but most of them are either minor or personal and won’t apply to most people. This wasn’t as good as some of the other DGUSA iPPVs, but it was better than a lot of the ‘B-Shows’, benefiting from being a stand-alone event instead of one part of a double or triple shot. The biggest problem was the technical issues. Reports say that the feed cut out for a lot of people early in the live broadcast, though I didn’t experience this as I was watching on demand. What I did experience was the bad-out-loud camera work, particularly in the first match as the hard-camera couldn’t fit the entire ring into frame and thus there were points where we were looking at an empty ring while the wrestlers battled out of shot. I understand these things can happen and it was a new building for them, but I have to be tough to be fair here: they’ve been doing live iPPVs for over two years at this point and technical issues get less forgivable as more time passes.
Matt Waters became a wrestling fan through the 1990s WWF video games. He didn't know who on earth Austin was, but he knew playing as him was a very good thing. He got on board with the televised iteration of the pseudo-sport at age 10, watching WCW and later WWF. Becoming bored with the product around 2005, he turned to Ring of Honor and indie wrestling and... well... here we are. Occasionally he writes, mostly he hosts the Podcast of Honor.
We are a collection of fans who just decided to start a website. We all have our favorite INDY promotion, but we also want to bring more attention to those indies you may not have heard of and may enjoy.