The biggest weekend in the Wrestling Year is nearly upon us, and since we plan to focus on the Granddaddy of Them All next week, BG and I decided to shine the spotlight on our favorite Independent Promotion, Dragon Gate USA. They will present three shows, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday with a special noon bell time.
The weekend begins in Burlington, NC. â€œOpen the Southern Gateâ€ will be a Stable Shootout featuring Blood Warriors vs. Ronin. The Shootout will have the following matches:
1) 1-on-1 battle between one member of each stable.
2) A dream partner tag team match, but a participant cannot team with someone from his own stable.
3) This is actually two matches. Each stable will get to book a member of the opposing team against any available opponent.
So letâ€™s take a look at the card â€“
1. Dream Partner Tag Team Match â€“ PAC & Ricochet vs. Chuck Taylor & Akira Tozawa
2. Blood Warriors vs. Ronin One-On-One â€“ CIMA vs. Johnny Gargano
3. Ronin Picks Doiâ€™s Opponent â€“ Naruki Doi vs. Jon Moxley
4. Blood Warriors Pick Swannâ€™s Opponent â€“ Sami Callihan vs. Rich Swann
5. Four Wary Freestyle â€“ Breakout Challenge Match #1 â€“ Arik Cannon vs. AR Fox vs. FaÃ§ade vs. Shiima Xion
6. Four Way Freestyle â€“ Breakout Challenge Match #2 â€“ Jimmy Rave vs. Jon Davis vs. Kyle Matthews vs. Sugar Dunkerton
7. Breakout Challenge Match #1 winner vs. Breakout Challenge Match #2 winner
– Plus Brodie Lee and many others
– CWF Mid-Atlantic Card starting at 7:00 p.m. featuring Ric Converse vs. Shane Helms and more!
We move to Atlanta for night two, titled â€œMercury Rising 2011.â€ This one will be available on iPPV from WWN. Letâ€™s take a look at the card â€“
1. Open the Freedom Gate Title Match â€“ YAMATO vs. Austin Aries (Aries has stated he will leave DGUSA if he does not win the Championship)
2. Grudge Match â€“ The Six Man Tradition Returns â€“ Blood Warriors of CIMA, Naruki Doi & Ricochet vs. Ronin of Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann
3. Open the Brave Gate Title Match â€“ PAC vs. Akira Tozawa
4. Masato Yoshino vs. Sami Callihan
5. Elimination Match â€“ Jimmy Jacobs vs. Brodie Lee vs. Stalker Ichikawa vs. Silas Young vs. AR Fox vs. Jon Davis
6. Jon Moxley vs. Arik Cannon
– Rampage Pro Wrestling will present the bonus card, featuring J-Rod vs. Bull Buchanan and more
We conclude Sunday afternoon with â€œOpen the Ultimate Gate 2011.â€ Only a couple of matches have been announced, so we can assume that the events of Friday and Saturday will have some bearing on the final card. Hereâ€™s what we have so far â€“
1. Open the United Gate Title Match â€“ Masato Yoshino & PAC vs. CIMA & Ricochet
2. Grudge Match #1 â€“ YAMATO vs. Akira Tozawa
3. Grudge Match #2 â€“ Naruki Doi vs. Johnny Gargano
4. Six Way Freestyle â€“ Brodie Lee vs. Jimmy Rave vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Chuck Taylor vs. AR Fox
These are some seriously stacked cards, and booker Gabe Sapolsky has a history of pulling out all the stops on WrestleMania weekend so this year should be no different. I love the Stable Shootout concept for â€œSouthern Gate,â€ and think all four of those matches will be a lot of fun. I particularly am looking forward to PAC & Ricochet versus Taylor & Tozawa, as Tozawa has recently become one of my favorite guys to watch. Doi versus Moxley could also be quite good. â€œMercury Risingâ€ looks even better, with YAMATO versus Aries on top. Recent rumors have pointed to Aries being frustrated with the business and at least looking to take a break, so I feel like heâ€™s going to go balls to the wall and YAMATO is generally great so this could get amazing. I have no reason to believe that the six-man tag wonâ€™t be amazing, and PAC versus Tozawa should be great fun. Sundayâ€™s show still has some room to grow, but I like the main event, and YAMATO versus Tozawa should be outstanding. Doi versus Gargano sounds fun too.
Letâ€™s see what Dragon Gate expert and historian Brad Garoon thinks about these cards â€“
The WrestleMania season is my favorite time of the year. Not because WrestleMania will air (although I canâ€™t remember the last time I didnâ€™t watch and at least somewhat enjoy the Superbowl of Wrestling) but because even before DGUSA ran its first show this was the time of year when we could expect the stars of Dragon Gate to come to the USA and leave everything they had in the ring.
This year looks to be no different, as Dragon Gate USAâ€™s Open the Southern Gate, Mercury Rising 2011 and Open the Ultimate Gate 2011 looks amazing on paper.
The main theme running through the weekend is how the DGUSA roster is reacting to the formation and heel turn of the Blood Warriors. Everyone, including Kamikaze USA, World-1, Ronin, Akira Tozawa and Jimmy Jacobs are concerned with the growing power of this super-group and are taking steps this weekend to stop the threat before it comes too great. The stable shootout on Open the Southern Gate will allow Chuck Taylor, Tozawa, Jon Moxley and Johnny Gargano to all have a chance to put one of the Blood Warriors down, while PAC will have to team with his Blood Warrior arch rival Ricochet. Iâ€™m very, very eager to see how PAC and Ricochet interact with each other in that match given how well their feud has been built both in the States and in Japan.
Mercury Rising has a pair of title matches that both look fantastic. As Jake said, Aries will probably bust his ass to have a great match with YAMATO in will likely be his penultimate match in DGUSA for the foreseeable future. Tozawa also gets a shot at PACâ€™s Open the Brave Gate Championship, marking only the second time this title has been defended in the United States and giving us a match between two guys who are just unbelievably good and have rabid fan followings right now. This night also features the traditional WrestleMania weekend six-man tag, and with fresh blood in the form of Ronin filling this match Iâ€™m very excited. This show will air on iPPV and has to be considered a must-buy on paper.
Not much has been announced for Open the Ultimate Gate 2011 as of yet, but two of the announced matches have me geeked out of my mind for the eventual television PPV to air. In an almost-rematch from the best match of January triple-shot, CIMA replaces Naruki Doi to team with Ricochet and challenge for Masato Yoshino and PACâ€™s newly won Open the United Gate Championships. I loved the match with Doi, and think CIMA will bring it as Ricochetâ€™s partner. Also on the card is a non-title match between YAMATO and his former Kamikaze USA stable-mate Tozawa. Tozawa is on fire right now and a non-title win over the champion is probably in order here. There has been no indication as to how Shingo Takagi feels about Tozawa being kicked out of the group by Moxley and YAMATO because heâ€™s been injured and Tozawa has been absent from shows in Japan for almost a year now. Iâ€™m thinking this is where his DGUSA push kicks into overdrive.
Part of me is looking at these cards with some trepidation. This is mostly because of the ill-fated Compilation Gate 2011 show that was supposed to occur in Japan and was STACKED on paper, but had to be cancelled because of the tragic earthquake and typhoon that plagued our friends in the Far East. In life things often seem too good to be true, and sadly that was the case for this yearâ€™s installment of the Compilation Gate. Hereâ€™s hoping against hope everything goes down at WrestleMania weekend as planned.
Tags: Akira Tozawa, Austin Aries, DGUSA, Masato Yoshino, PAC, YAMATO