Dragon Gate Challenge
On the 30th of March 2006, Ring of Honor presented its fourth show in the Milestone Series
, entitled Dragon Gate Challenge
. One can read Pulse Glazer’s
review of the second show in the Milestone series, Arena Warfare here
. One can also read my review of the third show in the Milestone Series, Best In The World here
. This is the first show in the first ever Tripleshot weekend
(3 shows over the span of 3 nights) for ROH.
6 top stars from the Dragon Gate promotion in Japan came over to ROH for this tripleshot weekend. Both promotions set up a one night challenge series (why this show was named “Dragon Gate ChallengeÃ¢â‚¬Â) pitting ROH talent vs Dragon Gate talent in some unique matches. Also on this show, the Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels rivalry comes to an end, as both men battle in a singles match to see who really is the better man.
: There is dissension in the Embassy
. This was caused by Alex Shelley and Jimmy Rave’s world title shots, which both men lost. Alex Shelley claims Rave cancelled a plane ticket of his for the February 11th show where Shelley was scheduled to have a world title shot at the end of the last show in the milestone Series, Best In The World
. Rave denied that, then Shelley insulted him about how he lost his world title match, being beaten to a pulp.
Claudio Castagnoli has become a part of the ROH vs CZW war, saving Adam Pearce from a beatdown by Chris Hero and Necro Butcher back at Best In The World. His Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbest friend’ from CZW, Chris Hero, asked him to join the CZW side, but Claudio refused, and gave Hero and Necro European Uppercuts!
The 7 month long Homicide vs Colt Cabana feud will be coming to an end this tripleshot weekend. Tonight, Colt and Cide will be having a Falls Count Anywhere match. 2 days after, in Chicago (Cabana’s hometown), the feud will end for good in a Chicago street fight.
Let’s get onto the show!
*The Embassy is backstage. Prince Nana tells Shelley and Rave to start getting on the same page and focusing on the ROH tag team titles, if they don’t Nana will start cutting cheques. In fear of their cheques being cut, Rave and Shelley reluctantly shake hands.
*Lacey is backstage with Jimmy Jacobs. She talks to him about his match tonight with BJ Whitmer. She doesn’t care if he wins of loses; she just wants Jimmy to hurt BJ. If he does…he might get a little reward
1. Homicide vs. Colt Cabana (Falls Count Anywhere Match): Colt cuts a pre match promo, saying he’s out here early Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcos this match can’t wait. Last time in Detroit, (In November 2005) Colt and Cide were taken out of their match due to both men being unable to continue, after a superplex off the bleachers through a table. Colt says tonight that won’t happen though, because it’s falls count anywhere.
Colt hits a butt-butt and a clothesline to start, and Cide bails. Cabana follows him out and hiptosses him into the crowd. Cide hits a vertical suplex onto a row of chairs. Back at ringside Colt gets a ladder and put it in the ring. In the ring, Colt hits a spinebuster and catapults Cide onto the ladder. Cide comes back with an Ace Crusher. Homicide throws the ladder onto Colt and then places his head between the two sides of the ladder. Homicide smacks the ladder with a chair, killing poor Colt. Cide covers Colt and gets the pin.
That was a short, fun little brawl that set up the blow-off to this feud (2 nights later) nicely. Most of the brawling in the crowd was in the dark and very hard to see, which was annoying.
*Backstage, members of the Do Fixer faction in Dragon Gate cut a short, broken-English promo, saying tonight they’re here to fight us.
*Chris Daniels is backstage with Allison Danger. He cuts a promo on Joe, saying that Joe’s always been more trouble than he’s worth. He says Joe’s always beaten him one on one in ROH, but that won’t happen tonight. That’s the gospel, according to the Fallen Angel.
2. Ricky Reyes vs. Chad Collyer: Collyer is having a big first blood match the night after this with Ace Steel. Collyer hits a pair of nice dropkicks early on. Reyes hits a sick DDT for 2. He follows it up with a bodyslam and a kneedrop for 2. Collyer hits a German suplex for 2. He hits a neckbreaker and another German suplex for 2. Lovely bridges on those German’s, by the way. Reyes hits a spin kick a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Collyer gets a cool rollup for 2.Ina neat spot, Collyer tries to bodyslam Reyes, but Reyes reverses it into a Triangle Choke!. He floats into a cross armbreaker but in another neat spot Collyer reverses it into a Texas Cloverleaf. Reyes reaches the ropes. Collyer gets a bridging roll up for 2 but gets caught in the dragon sleeper for Reyes! He eventually taps.
Winner: Ricky Reyes
That was a good little match. If you’re a fan of crisp wrestling, you’ll like this Ã¢â‚¬â€œ lots of cool moves and smooth transitions. Even though the match was only 7 minutes long, they managed to get the fans into it with some nice nearfalls and near-submissions.
*The Blood Generation faction of Dragon Gate are backstage. Their leader, CIMA cuts a short, broken-English promo, saying to him, the word “nextÃ¢â‚¬Â (as in Generation Next) means second. Blood Generation is number 1!
*Samoa Joe is backstage. He cuts a promo about his match with Chris Daniels tonight, saying Daniels has never even had a chance of beating Joe. Joe says when Daniels is lying choked out and broken down on the canvas, he will shake Joe’s hands, once and for all (Daniels goes against the code of honor, never shaking people’s hands).
3. BJ Whitmer vs. Jimmy Jacobs: During BJ’s entrance, clips are shown of him attacking Jacobs on the FOX morning show, and him turning on Jacobs (giving him a wrist clutch exploder) at Dissension. Jacobs hits a spinning head scissors takedown early on. Whitmer goes after Lacey on the outside, so Jacobs tries to dive out onto him but Whitmer catches him. He tries for some slam out there, but Jacobs escapes and lands on his feet. Whitmer viciously whips Jacobs into the guardrail, 3 times. Back in Whitmer hits a back elbow for 2. He hits a leg lariat, then a snap suplex for 2. Jacobs comes back with a hurricanrana into the turnbuckle. Jacobs hits a double stomp and dropkicks Whitmer’s head into the post from the floor for 2. Jacobs works over BJ some more. His senton hits knees and Whitmer makes a comeback with an exploder suplex.
Whitmer starts KILLING Jacobs with a series of sick suplexes. He tries for a powerbomb, but Jacobs gets a roll up for 2. BJ tries to suplex Jacob’s but he winds up suplexing himself and Jacobs out of the ring in a sick spot. Whitmer nastily powerbombs Jacobs into the guardrail. Back in, Whitmer grabs Jacobs BRAINBUSTER! 1 2 Jacobs kicks out! Whitmer hits a big boot to the side of Jimmy’s head, then goes up top. Jacobs joins him up there, as they fight up top. In what has to be the SICKEST spot I’ve ever seen, Whitmer goes for a super powerbomb, but as he gets Jacob’s up, he slips on the ropes. Both men fall to the ground and DIE. Jacobs head bounces off the ring ropes and apron, which honestly should have killed him. Whitmer landed on his legs badly too, as he limps around ringside for a bit. We get a few replays from different angles. Back in the ring BJ covers Jacobs. This has to be it. 1 2 NO! JACOBS KICKS OUT! Whitmer screams “WHAT THE F*CK!?Ã¢â‚¬Â. Somehow, Jacobs comes back and hits the Contra Code! He goes to cover BJ, but Lacey stops him, saying he needs to hurt BJ more. He puts BJ on a table, on the outside. He climbs the ropes as the fans chant “Please don’t die!Ã¢â‚¬Â. Jimmy gets distracted by Lacey, which gives BJ time to recover and join Jacobs up there. BJ has Jacobs up top SUPER BELLY TO ELLY SUPLEX! LARIAT! 1 2 3!
Winner: BJ Whitmer.
That was an awesome match. The story was your usual power vs speed deal with something else too. That something else was Jacobs fighting for Lacey – he wouldn’t die/refused to go down so he could satisfy Lacey. In the end BJ’s onslaught and big power moves was just too much to handle for the poor kid. There was a ton of big moves and not much selling here Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it made for a really fun match. The infamous botch was crazy, but this match is still really good without it. My favourite match of all time between these 2, and considering the amount of matches they’ve had together that’s saying something.
4. Jimmy Yang vs. Ryo Saito (Dragon Gate Challenge Series): Ryo Saito is the Open the Dream Gate champion in Dragon Gate, which is their equivalent of the ROH world champion. Yang takes Saito to the corner and slaps him across the face to start! Saito escapes a headlock and puts on a hammerlock, before slapping the back of Yang’s head. He hits a standing rana, a bulldog then a dropkick to Yang’s face. Yang hits a back heel kick, but runs into a belly to belly (sort of) into the turnbuckles. Saito works over Yang. Yang comes back, hitting a cool kick to Ryo’s head while he was crotched on the top rope. Yang starts working over Saito’s leg. He stomps on the leg then puts on a leglock. He then puts on an arm submission (???), but Saito reaches the ropes. Saito comes back, hitting three straight fisherman suplexes for a 2 count. Yang botches some leg lariat thingy off the ropes. He hits a brainbuster and climbs the ropes. He (kind of) hits Yang Time for 2. Saito hits a sick DDT, then a top rope splash for 2. He dodges a moonsault attempt, and hits a lovely looking arm hook Dragon Suplex (the Premium Bridge) for the 3 count. It’s now 1 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 0 to Dragon gate in this challenge series.
Winner: Ryo Saito.
Decent match there. The story was Saito countered Yang’s cockiness early on, which made Yang take his opponent (and the match) seriously. It worked quite well but I’m disappointed Saito didn’t get a better opponent Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Claudio or Shelley for example Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Yang kinda sucked here, Saito really outshined him. The match had a lot of awkward spots and sequences which really threw the crowd off, thus the match lacked crowd heat. Overall it was quite fun, but nothing special.
5. Alex Shelley & Jimmy Rave (The Embassy) vs. Bryan Danielson & Delirious: This is the end of Dragon’s feud with the Embassy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he picked the worst (kayfabe wise) partner he could find to show he could virtually beat Rave and Shelley on his own. Shelley and Delirious start. They do the usual feeling out process, where Delirious shows some good wrestling skill. He hits a leaping lariat and tags Danielson. Danielson out wrestles Shelley on the mat. Shelley goes to the eyes and tags Rave. Delirious tags in airplane spins Rave. Danielson comes in, gives Rave a looooong Airplane spin, then shouts “NOW THAT’S AN AIRPLANE SPIN!Ã¢â‚¬Â. He hits Shelley a slingshot suplex for 2. He puts a submission on, but Shelley pokes him in the eyes, to escape the predicament, again. Dragon puts on a bow and arrow lock but Rave breaks it up. Delirious and Danielson hit a double dropkick on Shelley and a double backdrop on Rave.
Danielson goes after Nana and gets dropkicked by Shelley. Shelley and Rave work over Dragon for a while. Danielson moonsaults out of the corner, dropkicks both Shelley and Rave and tags to Delirious. Delirious cleans house, hitting a nice cobra clutch backbreaker for 2 on Rave. He hits the Panic Attack (running knee in the corner) on Rave. He misses Shadows over Hell back-splash and gets hit with a superkick from Shelley. In an awesome spot, Dragon hits Shelley with a top rope Missile dropkick out of NOWHERE, then puts the Cattle Mutilation on Rave! Delirious grabs Shelley Cattle Mutilation on Shelley too! Rave bails to the outside, so Dragon follows him out with a tope! Shelley hits a dropkick to the top of Delirious’ head. The Haze and Nana distract the referee so Shelley goes low and hits Delirious with Sliced Bread #2! Danielson tries to make the save, but Rave cuts him off with a spear. Shelley gets the 3 on Delirious (off the Sliced Bread #2).
Winners: Alex Shelley & Jimmy Rave.
Very good match. The story was good Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Dragon knew how to beat Rave and Shelley (from his world title matches with them) and was always one step ahead of them, so they isolated Delirious and used their number’s game (Nana and the Haze) to get the win. The match wasn’t very fast paced, but that worked for it was reminiscent of Danielson’s world title matches with Embassy. The wrestling was also like those world title matches Ã¢â‚¬â€œ mat based and stiff with one helluva fun finishing sequence.
*It’s intermission, as Prazak is outside the building with Colt Cabana. He wants Homicide to know that he’s still there, and he’s not going anywhere. Cabana stops half way through and Prazak cuts off the interview out of concern. He says Colt needs to see a doctor, he could have a concussion.
6. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Shane Hagadorn: Claudio dominates the opening stages. Hagadorn cheats to gain an advantage, then works over Claudio. Claudio comes back, hitting a springboard back elbow and a few uppercuts. He hits a big uppercut then the Alpamare Waterslide (modified Angle Slam) for the win, 4 minutes in.
Winner: Claudio Castagnoli.
That was what it was. Decent popcorn match.
*Post match, Chris Hero and Necro Butcher make their way through the crowd, to the ring. Hero gets on the mic and talks about his relationship with Claudio, as a wrestler and as a friend. Hero offers Claudio to join him and the CZW side, but before CC can answer, BJ Whitmer comes down to the ring to get rid of Necro and Hero. They soon use their numbers advantage to gain control. Claudio teases stomping on Whitmer, but uppercuts Necro out of the ring. Hero bails, as he and Necro leave through the crowd, pissed off to say the least.
7. A.J. Styles & Matt Sydal vs. Dragon Kid & Genki Horiguchi (Do Fixer) (Dragon Gate Challenge Series): Genki and Sydal start. AJ comes in and they do the usual feeling out process and some cool armdrags. Dragon Kid comes in hits a head scissors takedown and Styles bails. Sydal comes in and gets caught with the Christo (headscissors into abdominal stretch). Genki simultaneously ties up AJ and pretends to surf on his back. Do Fixer work over AJ, with Kid hitting a dropkick and Genki hitting a double stomp. Sydal comes in and hits a clothesline, then a guillotine legdrop. Sydal and AJ work over Genki. Horiguchi tries to come back, hitting an enziguri but Sydal cuts off the tag. Genki hits a vertical suplex and makes the hot tag to Dragon Kid!
Kid hits a sweet missile dropkick to AJ. Dragon Kid goes for the DÃƒÂ©jÃƒÂ vu but him and AJ botch it, HORRIBLY. Kid tosses Styles to the floor and hits him with a springboard moonsault. Genki follows suit with the over the ropes flip dive. Back in the ring AJ catches Dragon Kid out of mid-air with a back suplex for 2. Genki hits AJ with a tornado DDT. AJ gets the knees up of a standing moonsault attempt, then Sydal hits a standing moonsault for 2. Dragon Kid hits Sydal with a beautiful double springboard moonsault. AJ kills Genki with a German suplex, then he hits a facebuster for 2. Kid gets AJ in position DRAGONRANA (the best one I’ve ever seen, too)! Genki covers 1 2 NO! Dragon Kid goes to the floor so Sydal follows him out with a moonsault over the ropes. Genki gets the Backslide from Heaven on AJ for 2. He goes for another roll up for Styles reverses it into the Styles Clash for the 3 count!
Winners: AJ Styles & Matt Sydal.
That match was good, not great though. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if a match is a very spotty match and the spots suck (ie. botches), the match sucks. Some moves here were badly botched, but some moves were F’N SWEET. Some stuff here (the Dragonrana for example) was so crisp I could watch it all day long. Apart from AJ’s major attitude problem during a few parts of the match, both teams gelled quite well together considering the language barrier and all. Overall, the match was a lot of fun but should have been better than it was.
8. Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, & Jack Evans vs. CIMA & Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino (Dragon Gate Challenge Series): CIMA and Strong start, and have an awesome feeling out process; trading strikes, mat holds and rollups. Evans and Doi come in. Jack hits a rana sending Doi to the outside, and then he follows him out with a springboard 450! Aries and Yoshino come in and do some crazy sh*t. Yoshino is the fastest pro wrestler I’ve ever seen. Yoshino gets Strong in the corner top rope double stomp to Strong chest! He tries it on Aries Aries reverses it and sitout powerbombs him! Nice spot. Generation Next then work over Yoshino. They hit all kinds of awesome double and triple teams. Yoshino hits Strong with a crazy spinning reverse DDT. He makes the tag to CIMA!
Evans goes for a springboard CIMA catches him out of midair with an Ace crusher! Blood Generation then work over Evans. They destroy him with all kids of sick double team and triple team moves. He gets dropkicked, stomped, cannonballed and double stomped on. Doi and Yoshino whip Evans off the ropes he spring boards off into a 450 moonsault! He makes the hot tag to Aries, and it is on! Aries grabs CIMA Finlay roll! Strong up top, elbow drop onto CIMA! Aries follows it up with a nice top rope frog splash. Blood Generation then do one of the coolest moves ever. They grab Evans and put him on his shoulders, then tie Austin Aries up in the turnbuckles. CIMA goes up top double stomps onto Jack’s ribs, rolls through, then lungblower’s Aries!
CIMA hits a crazy suicide dive. Strong gets Doi DRILLS him with a Tiger Driver! 1 2 NO! Doi catches Strong off the ropes Sky High powerbomb! Aries grabs Yoshino shinbreaker BACKDROP DRIVER! Corner dropkick! Doi grabs Evans DOI 555s! Yoshino and CIMA then KILL Jack with simultaneous VAN TERMINATORS! Yoshino hits a CRAZY spinning faceplant on Strong. He tries to crucifix Strong Strong catches him GORILLA PRESS GUTBUSTER! CIMA puts Jack up top Venus! CIMA turns around Strong BLASTS him with the big boot! Strong hits Doi with the half nelson backbreaker! He tries to superplex Evans onto Doi, but Doi moves. Immediately after, CIMA superkicks Jack! CIMA grabs Jack SCHWEIN! 1 2 3!
Winners: CIMA, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino.
Incredible match. Sure, it was a spotfest, but it has to be the best spotfest I’ve ever seen. The action never stopped (for 16 minutes these guys just went all out), the match was always interesting and it featured some of the coolest double/triple teams you’ll ever see. The Jack Evans workover period was a thing of beauty; he took a huge beating and made Blood Generation look like Kings. The finishing sequence was all out craziness (in a good way) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so many moves were hit, so many fast sequences in such a short span of time. Must see match, which is also one of my favourite ROH matches ever.
*A long video is shown, highlighting the Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels feud in ROH, with millions of clips from their matches together.
9. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe (Grudge Match) : The two brawl up on the ramp to start. In the ring Joe goes for the Muscle buster early but Daniels counters it with a head scissors variation taking Joe to the floor. Daniels nails him with an Arabian press on the floor. Back in Daniels works over Joe. He hits a headscissors and top rope forearm strike. Joe comes back with a facebuster and a trademark Joe strike combo. He works over Daniels. He takes him to the outside and hits a few Ole kicks.
Back in, Daniels busts out the Iconoclasm on Joe! He hits some forearms, grabs Joe BLUE THUNDER DRIVER! It gets 2! Daniels follows it up with an STO! 1, 2, Joe kicks out! Daniels blocks Joe’s standing senton by getting his knees up. Joe catches Daniels with his powerslam! It gets 2. He does the powerbomb into STF into crossface combo, but Daniels reaches the ropes. Daniels escapes the choke with a jawbreaker. He grabs Joe ANGEL’S WINGS! 1 2 NO! He then proceeds to hit THREE STARAIGHT BME’S! 1 2 3! Daniels finally beats Joe!
Winner: Christopher Daniels.
Really good match. The story here was Daniels’ desperation to win, to finally beat Joe in a singles match. He did everything he could to gain an advantage; going right after Joe, countering Joe’s moves and busting out moves he hasn’t used in years. In the end it worked for Daniels, as he manage to put all his big moves in one place, nailing Joe with Angels Wings and 3 straight BMEs, to get the win. The match itself was pretty good, but really lacked the big match feel, the blowoff to the feud feel – at times it just felt like another Joe vs Daniels match. It was pretty exciting though, the pace was pretty fast and the match was generally fun to watch. Add on some more points for the awesome finish as well.
*Post match, Chris Hero and Necro Butcher comes down to the ring again. Daniels wants to fight them, but Allison Danger persuades him not to, so he doesn’t. Joe tries to take them on, but gets outnumbered. BJ Whitmer comes down to the ring (to a huge pop) and gives Necro one of the hardest chair shots I’ve ever seen. Hero gets one for his troubles too. Joe then gets on the mic, and cuts an awesome, intense promo on the CZW guys. After the promo, it’s pretty clear that Joe has joined ROH’s side in the ROH vs CZW war.
*Lance Storm is backstage. He says the more of Bryan Danielson’s title defences he watches, the more he wants to be a part of Danielson’s title reign.
*Jim Cornette is backstage on a mobile/cell phone. He asks the person on the other line if they’re sure that that’s who knocked his teeth out (back at Tag Wars 2006 in January). No one’s names will be mentioned, but that SOB ain’t gonna be back in ROH, Cornette claims.
: Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, & Jack Evans vs. CIMA & Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino (Dragon Gate Challenge Series)
: Claudio Castagnoli vs Shane Hagadorn
Overall Show Thoughts: This was an excellent show. All the matches with the Dragon Gate competitors were good to great, one of which being a MOTYC. The undercard was solid, with a classic Whitmer/Jacobs match, and an overlooked Embassy vs Dragon & Delirious tag match. Regardless of the high match quality, this show is very fun and easy to watch; everything is enjoyable, and no matches are too long. This show is a must buy, whether you’re a diehard ROH fan or just someone who’s interested in the product. Very strong recommendation.
Overall Score: 9/10.
As always, check out rohwrestling.com if you’re interested in picking this show up.