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Dragon Gate ‘The Final Gate’ (12.15.19) Results & Review

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Dragon Gate holds its final major event of the year in front of 3,289 fans at the Fukuoka International Center for Final Gate. All four titles are on the line including a special appearance from Naomichi Marufuji as he takes on Stalker Ichikawa. Jason Lee challenges his former partner, and newest member of R.E.D., Kaito Ishida for the Brave Gate. BxB Hulk makes his first title challenge since his neck injury forced him to vacate the Twin Gate last December as he teams up once again with YAMATO. The main event sees Ben-K on his fourth defense of the Dream Gate as he’s challenged by the final pillar of the first generation, Naruki Doi. Let’s get started!

Keisuke Okuda & Yuki Yoshioka def. Kagetora & KAI @ 9:12 – ***1/2
Dragon Gate’s 2019 has revolved around putting over the younger talent up and down the card. Ben-K is on top with rhe Dream Gate, Eita & Big R have dominated the Twin Gate scene, Ishida is now the holder of the Brave Gate and they’ve begun heating up Dragon Dia. At Final Gate they put the Mochizuki Dojo boys over Kagetora and KAI. This was a great pairing for the young guys as they faced off with veterans who compliment their styles. A combination of hard-hitting along with the traditional fast paced style of Kagetora as he hits Yoshioka with the All or Nothing but it’s not enough to keep Yoshioka down. Kagetora looks to follow up with a Guramakakarikai that Yoshioka reverses into a pin to pick up the win. Yoshioka outsmarted Kagetora with better technique in order to walk off with the victory. Very cool way to kick off the show by giving us more hope for the future going forward.

10 Man Battle Royal
Kota Minoura def. Jimmy, K-ness, Mondai Ryu, Oji Shiiba, Punch Tominaga, Shachihoko BOY, Super Shisa, YASSHI, Yosuke Santa Maria @ 7:20 – **

More putting over of the young talent as another member of Mochizuki Dojo comes out with a win. This was the standard battle royal. Young talent like Shiiba and Jimmy come out looking like dorks after having taken a smooch from Maria and a self-elimination by Jimmy but ultimately we get Minoura coming out with the win so you take the good with the bad. He finishes Punch with a bridging German suplex which hopefully leads to the push we’re seeing Dragon Dia get after his battle royal win. I’m fine with the battle royals as long as the young talent is getting put over.

Dragon Dia def. KAZMA SAKAMOTO @ 4:06 – **1/2
After his battle royal win at Gate of Destiny, Dragon Dia is rewarded with a singles match at Final Gate. This would’ve been three for three for Mochizuki Dojo had Dia accepted the offer to join but he turned them down at the last Korakuen Hall and pledged his allegiance to Dragon Kid. KAZMA is the biggest man of the Dragon Gate roster which provided a good base for Dia to do his wacky lucha offense. They worked a very standard big man versus small man match complete with slingshot ranas to the floor up against powerbombs into ring post. KAZMA looked to have Dia grounded before Dia caught him into a roll up for the win. Very standard but Dia ends up going over as he should. All this youth going over is a nice opening to the show.

Hair vs Mask
Naomichi Marufuji def. Stalker Ichikawa @ 8:08 – ***1/2

Comedy match between the biggest losers of Dragon Gate and NOAH. Before the match, Stalker lays out the ground rules. The match will now be hair versus mask, Stalker only has to get a two count and can beat Marufuji via ring out at a five count. Marufuji says he’ll accept these terms if they take away submissions which Stalker accepts. Stalker is quick to catch Marufuji is a flurry of pins that Marufuji is forced to quickly kick out of. He then catches Marufuji in a headscissors, Marufuji bails to the floor, avoids Stalker’s top rope crossbody and rushes in before the five count. Stalker tweaked his leg on the landing but manages to get in at nineteen where Marufuji follows up with a figure four which Stalker can’t escape via tap out.

Stalker forces the rope break and challenges Marufuji to walk the ropes. Stalker pushes Marufuji off the ropes and sends him crashing to the floor before following up with a dive. Marufuji manages to break the ring out at four. Stalker tries for a Shiranui but Marufuji cuts him off before finishing him with a Ko-oh. The referee brings a chair into the ring and forces Stalker to get unmasked by Marufuji. Really fun comedy match and arguably the show stealer to this point. Marufuji improves his 2019 singles record to 7-9.

Dragon Kid, Masato Yoshino & Masaaki Mochizuki def. Ryo Saito, Ultimo Dragon & Yasushi Kanda @ 14:48 – **
Another Toryumon anniversary match like we got at Kobe World except there was nothing special about it this time around. Unless this leads to Kid turning on Ultimo after getting punked in this match, all this served was to get the veterans on the card. The match wasn’t bad but it went much longer than everything else to this point and had no purpose. Yoshino gets the win on Kanda, Ultimo shakes Genki’s hand on commentary and that was that.

Open the Brave Gate Championship
Kaito Ishida (c) def. Jason Lee @ 12:08 – ***1/2

After winning the Brave Gate off Susumu at Gate of Destiny, Ishida turned on MaxiMuM to join R.E.D. at the last Korakuen show. Jason Lee wasted no time rushing out to challenge his former partner. Ishida and Lee had recently teamed together to challenge R.E.D. for the Twin Gate during the summer so Lee took this betrayal harder than anyone else in MaxiMuM. Lee has been my favorite guy in Dragon Gate over the last year. He plays the underdog really well and receiving a title shot at Final Gate was a great surprise. He came out swinging, the two started off trading forearms, the match spilled to the outside where Ishida popped Lee up into the post.

They bring the match back inside where Lee begins his comeback with a Game of Death followed by a MaxiMuM Driver but Ishida kicks out. Lee climbs to the top looking for the Hong Kong Tornado but Ishida cuts him off and hooks Lee up for a German suplex off the top. Lee flips through, lands on his feet, KAZMA distracts the referee while the red demon throws powder into Lee’s face and Ishida picks up the win via a Tiger suplex. Both guys exceeded in their roles, Jason a great underdog and Ishida being a great prick under the R.E.D. banner.

Open the Triangle Gate Championship Three Way Elimination Match
H.Y.O, Takashi Yoshida & Diamante def. Genki Horiguchi, Kzy & Susumu Yokosuka and Strong Machine F, Strong Machine G & Strong Machine J (c) @ 16:33 – **

The story going into the match is that the crux of H.Y.O joining R.E.D. is that he was upset he wasn’t winning titles under Mochizuki Dojo. He failed to capture the titles alongside Minoura and Yoshioka over the summer but now aligned with R.E.D. he was able to secure his first championship. Natural Vibes were in the match because R.E.D. kept interfering in their matches.

The Super Strong Machines have been the biggest disappointment in Dragon Gate all year. Their gimmick is no good and it’s taken away from the most exciting title in the company. You pair the R.E.D. C team with the Strong Machines, eliminate Natural Vibes first and you’re going to get an underwhelming match. That’s exactly what we got here. Pretty much a big bag of nothing. Story progression for H.Y.O but he wasn’t the one to get the pin, that was given to Diamante over Gamma. As expected we got new champions and they’ll be better than the Strong Machines but not by much.

Open the Twin Gate Championship
BxB Hulk & YAMATO def. Big R Shimizu & Eita (c) @ 18:44 – ****1/2

There was a lot of doubt about BxB Hulk coming into this match. Coming off a serious neck injury almost a year to the day, Hulk delivered a performance to be remembered. Hulk turned back the hands of time with this performance, springboard spinning heel kicks, fluid cartwheels and a variety of other kicks that were super precise, the guy delivered in a way most thought was impossible at this point in his career. YAMATO played an excellent babyface, getting a flurry cut off by a trip from Eita, slammed into a stack of chairs on the outside, getting another flurry cut off by a chair to the back from KAZMA and another cut off from Eita spitting water in his face.

Speaking of shots to the face, referee Nakagawa took a massive Go 2 Hospital II from YAMATO that led to every member of R.E.D. running in for an attack. All hope looked to be lost just when YAMATO caught Eita running in with the Frankensteiner of The Almighty to score the win. This was an excellent match all around. The R.E.D. guys did a great job creating sympathy for YAMATO, Hulk turned back the hands of time and YAMATO’s flash comeback led to an exciting moment. Hulk and YAMATO pick up where they left off last year by regaining the Twin Gate. So much to love about this match.

Open the Dream Gate Championship
Naruki Doi def. Ben-K (c) @ 24:06 – ****1/4

After defeating PAC to win the Dream Gate, Ben-K ran through YAMATO, Mochizuki and Yoshino to defend the title. The final of the pillars was Naruki Doi. The story for Doi was that it’s been nearly ten years since his first and only reign as the Dream Gate Champion.

The match starts with Doi goading Ben to the apron where they exchanged forearms. Ben looks to German Doi to the concrete, Doi elbows free and side steps a spear, causing Ben to crash into the post and fall to the floor. Once Ben makes it back inside, Doi applies the V9 Clutch to keep Ben grounded. Ben gets to the ropes, side steps an attack and catches Doi with a vertical suplex. Doi bails to the floor but Ben stays on the chase and spears Doi through the barricade. Once back inside, Ben stays on Doi with a waistlock and drops him off the top rope with another vertical suplex.

Doi kicks out of a Dragon suplex, fights out of another top rope suplex and slides through into a powerbomb. He catches Ben with a Bakatare Sliding Kick but Ben kicks out. Ben connects with a snap German that Doi kicks out of and looks to hit another Bakatare Sliding Kick but Ben turns it into a spear for another two. Ben follows with a Ben-K Bomb that doesn’t put Doi away. Doi begins to flurry, hits the Noshigami, Doi 555 and reverses Ben’s spear into a Bakatare Sliding Kick for a great nearfall before finishing Ben with the Muscular Bomb.

The camera pans to fans in the audience weeping over Doi’s big win. He celebrates his victory and that’s how we end Final Gate.

Overall Thoughts
The show starts with putting the young talent over and ends with the veterans capturing the top two titles. The balance is great in terms of the stories. You have the Mochizuki Dojo boys and Dragon Dia winning early, Ishida cementing himself in R.E.D., H.Y.O capturing his first title and both Hulk and Doi turning back the hands of time to end the show. The Toryumon anniversary tag and Triangle Gate matches were both clunkers that brought the show down in the middle but we were bookended with strong matches on either side.

Ben-K was very nearly about to pass up the entire first generation. Him falling to Doi was a big shock to end the year. Of all the guys to beat Ben, Doi would’ve been the last I expected. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with this reign and how they use Ben from here. The old generation coming out of nowhere to capture these titles after it seeming all year that the torches were being passed is somewhat of a shocking development. I had thought Dragon Gate was going all in on the youth but after Final Gate everything seems uncertain once again.

Recommended Matches
Eita & Big R vs YAMATO & Hulk
Ben-K vs Naruki Doi
Naomichi Marufuji vs Stalker Ichikawa
Kaito Ishida vs Jason Lee
Okuda & Yoshioka vs Kagetora & KAI

Along with providing show reviews from across Japan, Robert McCauley is also an editor for FightboothPW.

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