DVD Review: DGUSA “Best of Wrestle JAM, Volume 1” (7.8-9.2006)

“Wrestle JAM” is a tour that has featured talent coming in from all of the world to wrestle for Dragon Gate for a good number of years now. Part of the event name in “JAM” actually stands for “Japan, America, and Mexico”, which backs up all of the gaijin talent that has been booked for these series of shows in the past, including Skayde, Jack Evans, Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne), Austin Aries, King Shisa, and Jimmy Rave among others.

This particular DVD features ten matches over the span of nights one and two of the first “Wrestle JAM” event in Japan, which took place over the course of mid-2006. English commentary has been dubbed over by CHIKARA‘s very own, “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush and Leonard F. Chikarason.

If you are interested in purchasing this DVD, it is currently available for purchase on the official website of Dragon Gate USA for twenty dollars. Aside from the ten quality matches featured on this compilation, a special Dragon Gate “Wrestle JAM” press conference is featured from the night before of the matches shown on the disc. It’s about fifteen minutes long in Japanese (no subtitles) with CIMA introducing the foreign talent and even a contract signing between Generation Next and Speed Muscle over a match for the ROH World Tag Team Championships. Very raw, but nevertheless, a special treat, indeed.

BxB Hulk, Magnum TOKYO, and Matt Sydal beat Gamma, Naoki Tanisaki, and Jimmy Rave via pinfall (shooting star press) – BxB Hulk and TOKYO did seperate dance routines, which is always a sight to see. When Jimmy Rave arrived in the ring, waves of toilet paper were thrown at him by the fans and the man sold it all perfectly. Not to mention, TOKYO wore a toilet paper cast to the ring to further aggravate Rave. A super fun match that ended after BxB Hulk planted Tanisaki with the EVO and Sydal followed it up with the shooting star press for the win. ***.

Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi, and King Shisa beat Susumu Yokosuka, Masaaki Mochizuki, and Azrieal via pinfall (Black Tiger Bomb) – Given the competitors in the match, I was hoping for yet another fast-paced contest. Unfortunately, all that came out of it was a mediocre match. Azrieal looked lost in the early bits, but managed to catch on with the Dragon Gate style as things continued. King Shisa is the only Mexican gaijin featured on the DVD and he wasn’t exactly superb in this bout, either. Shisa caught Azrieal with the Black Tiger Bomb to score the pinfall. Match really dragged from time to time, which was unfortunate. Honestly, I’m sure all of these guys could have put together something better on a different day. **½.

Austin Aries defeated Ryo Saito via pinfall (450 splash) – Aries and Saito broke out some excellent technical wrestling here with a bunch of beautiful and innovative counters to boot. Aries had Saito caught with the Horns of Aries on a few separate occassions, but Ryo refused to give up. After finally being able to nail the brainbuster on Saito, Aries was able to climb to the top and nail the 450 splash to pick up the victory. A handshake and hug afterwards puts this match in the books. Great stuff. ***½.

Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino, and B-Boy beat CIMA, Jack Evans, and Roderick Strong via pinfall (Delikado) – Although this may not be the main event of the DVD, it was live at the Honkawagoe Pepe Hall Atlas in Saitama. Out of all the wrestlers, I’d have to say that Jack Evans looked the best in this outing. It really makes me miss him competing in the United States these days. After close to twenty minutes of action, B-Boy put away Evans with the Delikado for the pinfall. Up this point, the best match of the entire DVD. Some faction warfare brawling went on afterwards with a preview of what to potentially see between Generation Next and Speed Muscle in Tokyo. CIMA also made his intentions to Gamma clear. ***¾.

Cameras are in the backstage area, as CIMA, Jack Evans, and Roderick Strong stand by. Evans is clearly in pain from the beating he took in the main event and CIMA calls the manuveur that B-Boy finished him off with the “most dangerous move ever seen in Dragon Gate”. A little fun fact, as years later, Naruki Doi would take B-Boy’s Delikado as his own finisher and rename it the “Muscular Bomb”. Strong directs a message towards Doi and Yoshino, telling them that they won’t be so lucky when he and Aries defend the ROH tag titles against them in Tokyo.

Ryo Saito, Dragon Kid, and Magnum TOKYO beat Naoki Tanisaki, B-Boy, and Chris Bosh via pinfall (Premium Bridge) – A superb opener for the fans of Tokyo that may have even topped the previous night’s. Chris Bosh looked a little lost in the early going, taking Dragon Kid’s Déjà Vu a little awkwardly. You can’t blame the guy, though, as this was his first appearance in a Dragon Gate ring. By the end, every wrestler in the match looked to be on the top of their game. Saito caught Bosh with the Premium Bridge in about fifteen minutes to secure the victory for his team. ***.

King Shisa defeated Takayuki Mori via submission (Llave) – Anthony W. Mori used to go by his real name, which is Takayuki Mori, earlier in his career. This match came off as being awfully boring even though the technical wrestling wasn’t all that bad. Quackenbush made the bout more interesting by putting over each of Shisa’s submissions as being especially dangerous. After evading several of Mori’s top rope moves, Shisa forced Mori to tap out to the Llave. Not a horrible bout by any means, but it certainly was slow-paced, given a lot of time, and didn’t capture what a Dragon Gate match typically does. **¾.

Ladder match: Jack Evans defeated Genki Horiguchi and Akira Tozawa (ladder-assissted corkscrew 630 legdrop) – It should be noted that a Japanese ladder match is much different than an America one, as all it means is that ladders are legal and available as weapons. Jack Evans was the one doing all of the crazy spots off of the ladders, which makes me believe that this match stipulation was primarily set up to showcase his skills. Quite a short exhibition given the competitors and weapons available in it, but nevertheless, a solid bout. Evans got the win after nailing Tozawa with a 630 corkscrew legdrop off of the ladder. ***¼.

Jack Evans cut a quick post-match promo backstage afterwards, stating how he is more than willing to do anything for Dragon Gate and professional wrestling, including putting his body on the line. Unfortunately, due to his injuries suffered over the tour, this would be Jack’s final “Wrestle JAM” appearance of 2006. Not surprising, as Evans took some absolutely crazy bumps in the two matches he was in.

Jimmy Rave defeated BxB Hulk via pinfall (Greetings From Ghana) – Once again, the Japanese fans are on par with the notorious toilet paper throwing, as Jimmy Rave got littered on as soon as he entered the ring. Rave showed a much quicker side of himself here than in his Ring of Honor matches, which possibly could be a personal way of his by having him be hated by the ROH fans. Jimmy Rave drives BxB Hulk down to the mat with the Greetings From Ghana to pick up the “w”. A pretty good match that I enjoyed quite a bit. ***.

Susumu Yokosuka, Masaaki Mochizuki, and Keni’chiro Arai beat CIMA, Matt Sydal, and Azrieal via pinfall (Mugan) – In my eyes, this is one of the top trios matches on the entire DVD. All six wrestlers were given an equal amount of time in the ring and proved to be giving it their all. Azrieal, who looked a little out of place the previous day, even showed significant signs of improvement here. After some super fast-paced wrestling, Yokosuka pinned Azrieal with the Mugan to get the three count for Final M2K. ***¼.

ROH World Tag Team Championships: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong beat Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino via pinfall (450 splash) to retain their belts – Competitive professional wrestling at its finest was displayed in this title bout that was in my eyes, the best match of the entire “Best of Wrestle JAM” DVD. Just thought I’d throw this out there, but a few years back, after searching Yoshino’s finisher on YouTube, I came up with him spiking Aries on his head with the Lightning Spiral in an absolutely disgusting spot. Turns out that that exact sequence was from this very match. In about twenty minutes of nonstop action, Aries got the pin on Yoshino with the 450 splash to add yet another title defense next to Generation Next’s name in the ROH history books. Terrific work by both teams. ****.

If you are new to the Dragon Gate product, then I see no reason why you shouldn’t spend twenty bucks on this DVD. As shown through the star ratings above, there are multiple great matches on the card. However, I should point out that if you already own “Best of Dragon Gate, Volume 1”, then it may be out of your best interest to pass on this one, as similar matches are essentially shown as far as match quality goes. Not to mention, several of the same wrestlers are featured on both videos, including gaijin, such as Matt Sydal and Jack Evans.

Production and editing definitely gets a major thumbs up. One of the big problems with one of DGUSA’s more recent DVDs, “Live in L.A.”, was that hardly any crowd interaction could be heard at all over the loud commentary. That has certainly been fixed. Not to mention, Mike Quackenbush and Leonard F. Chikarason at the commentation station equals many buys. No offense to Excalibur and Disco Machine. Those guys are great, too, but I think Quack and LFC are a better pair as far as covering Dragon Gate goes.

At the moment, I am expecting five more puroresu shows to arrive at my doorstep within the next week or so, including more stuff from Dragon Gate and even events from Pro Wrestling NOAH, Big Japan Pro Wrestling, and Dramatic Dream Team. I will most likely not review all of the tapes I receive, but I’ll pick and choose through the ones that I feel like sharing with you guys. With that out of the way, stay tuned for more DVD reviews from yours truly in the very near-future, readers.


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