For the first year and a half of its existence, Dragon Gate USA focused on establishing their roster, an identity, and the top singles Championship, the Open the Freedom Gate Title. Finally, in January 2011, DGUSA introduced the Open the United Gate Titles, or Tag Team Titles, to be decided over a trio of shows in a four-team round robin style tournament. The four teams were Masato Yoshino & PAC (representing WORLD-1), Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano (representing Ronin), Naruki Doi & Ricochet (representing Blood WARRIORS), and CIMA & Dragon Kid (also representing Blood WARRIORS). Both Gargano & Taylor and Yoshino & PAC went 2-0 at United: NYC and United: Philly, setting up a final of WORLD-1 versus Ronin.
At United: Finale, on January 30, 2011, the WORLD-1 duo won a great match to become the first Champions. Their reign was a solid start to the new Championship, as they made successful defenses against CIMA & Naruki Doi, Dragon Kid & Ricochet (in Japan), and YAMATO & Akira Tozawa. They dropped the belts after 224 days to the Blood WARRIORS duo of CIMA & Ricochet at Way of the Ronin 2011 on September 11.
CIMA & Ricochet were only able to make two defenses, against Sami Callihan & Arik Cannon and Jimmy Susumu & Masaaki Mochizuki. Then the titles went through a rough patch, with two vacancies in the span of three months. CIMA was too injured to defend the titles on March 30, 2012 so the titles were vacated after a 201 day reign. That same night, Masato Yoshino & Ricochet defeated Johnny Gargano & Chuck Taylor at Open the Ultimate Gate 2012. Unfortunately, before the new Champs could make any defenses, it was learned that Yoshino would be unavailable to travel to the U.S. for the rest of the year. On June 21, 2012, the titles were once again vacated after 83 days. This time the duo of CIMA & AR Fox beat Ricochet & Rich Swann at Enter the Dragon 2012 on July 29 to win the belts and bring some semblance of stability back.
Fox & CIMA took the belts over to Japan for a pair of successful defenses again Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi, as well as Jimmy Susumu & Mr. Kyu Kyu Toyonaka Dolphin. Back in the United States they got by Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito, thus closing out 2012 as the Champions. They didn’t make their first defense of 2013 until April 6 at Open the Ultimate Gate 2013. After 251 days as Champions, CIMA & Fox dropped the titles to Nick & Matt Jackson, the Young Bucks. The brothers only made two defenses, but did cross the significant barrier of defending the titles for the first time at an EVOLVE show, against Eita & Tomahawk T.T. They also got by Ricochet & Rich Swann, before losing the titles after 224 days to the Bravado Brothers at Freedom Fight 2013 on November 16.
Brothers Lance and Harlem would go on to set a record with a 302 day reign, but the reviews on their reign are mixed at best. They also set a record for most defenses, with eight, defeating the likes of Dos Ben Dejos, The Gentleman’s Club, The Premier Athlete Brand, and The Colony. They also ventured down to FIP to defeat the makeshift duo of Caleb Konley & Rich Swann. They were finally defeated by Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley in a three-way match also involving AR Fox & Rich Swann at EVOLVE 35.
Although Nese and Konley won the titles together, the Freebird Rule was invoked to allow fellow PAB member Trent Baretta to defend the titles as well. This came in handy when WWNLive toured China from November 10-16, 2014, as the duo of Konley & Baretta defended the titles three times there, against the Bravado Brothers and the Colony, and then against both teams in a three way elimination match. Back in the states at EVOLVE 42 on April 18, 2015, Nese & Konley rejoined only to lose the titles to the Ronin duo of Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann, after a 216 day reign.
Gargano and Swann would go down as the last Champions, with only one defense during their 42 day tenure as Champs. After defeating Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams at EVOLVE 43 on May 30, 2015, Gargano stated that since Dragon Gate USA was no longer operating, the Open the United Gate Titles should no longer exist. He and Swann expressed a desire to see new EVOLVE Tag Team Titles be created, a request that as of this writing has not been granted.
Eight different teams and fourteen different wrestlers held the Open the United Gate Title at one time or another, with CIMA, Masato Yoshino, and Ricochet all winning twice with different partners. In total, CIMA spent the most time as Champion at 452 days.
While the history of the Open the United Gate Titles was brief and somewhat checkered, the pursuit of the titles still made for some of the best matches in DGUSA/EVOLVE history. Hopefully, with all the exciting things going in in EVOLVE, they will be able to reinstitute a tag team division and eclipse what was accomplished with the promotion’s first set of tag team titles.
You can read my reviews for many of these matches, and many other DGUSA and EVOLVE matches over at Ziegler Gate USA.
Tags: Cima, DGUSA, johnny gargano, Open the United Gate, Ricochet