Much of this will come to not much of surprise to long time fans of Dragon Gate, but the people have asked for an introduction into the company, and as such this will largely be for those tipping their toes into the promotion for the first time. I’ll approach this by going over the foundational history of Dragon Gate, the differences between the Toryumon and Trueborn generations, the current championships been defending and main current storylines going on following the recent Dead or Alive show in Aichi.
Open the Historical Gate:
Dragon Gate came into existence in 2004 on July 5th, following Ultimo Dragon leaving the Toryumon set up and taking the trademarks, leaving Toryumon Japan and its various offshoots in a copyrighted limbo. Takashi Okamura, along with the remaining officials and wrestlers decided on the name Dragon Gate, as a nod to the meaning behind Toryumon which means fighting dragon gate/climbing up dragon gate, and continue the traditions of Ultimo and Toryumon.
2019 marks the 20th year since Toryumon Japan was founded and as a result, Dragon Gate are celebrating it with a series of matches, so far mainly members of Aagan Issou have returned, wrestlers like Shuji Kondo who has perhaps had a lot of bad blood since most of Aagan were fired/let go shortly after the change was made. The new officials in the background have been righting those wrongs, and are welcoming them back to the promotion. But one man is on Masato Yoshino’s mind, Ultimo Dragon.
Toryumon Graduate vs Trueborn:
Occasionally, you may see wrestlers like YAMATO or BxB Hulk described as Trueborn within the Dragon System, this simply means they have been exclusively trained in the Dragon System by Dragon Gate rather than a student of Ultimo Dragon.
The core of the Dragon Gate roster is of Toryumon Graduates still within the company, with even Don Fuji and Dragon Kid who were graduates from the first term still wrestling, as well as Susumu, Genki and Saito who were all part of the original Toryumon Japan. After TJ it gets a little trickier, a lot of the 2nd class did join Dragon Gate but those who didn’t like KAGETORA, who eventually ended up in Dragon Gate, either went to one of the other two shortlived Dragon System promotions in dragondoor and El-Dorado, or Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
There will eventually come a time when there won’t be many of the Toryumon Graduates wrestling, but hopefully thats a while away yet!
Open the Championship Gate:
There is four active championships currently being defended in Dragon Gate, with one inactive. Last year there was five, with the comedy title Open the Owarai Gate still being active but following last years Dead or Alive cage match, Shingo Takagi, now in New Japan, ripped it apart.
The Open the Brave Gate Championship has a weight limit of 83 kg or a 183 lbs, yet has been defended against heavier wrestlers, it is currently held by Susumu Yokosuka, who is in first reign. The Brave Gate is considered the secondary singles title in Dragon Gate.
The Open the Triangle Gate Championship is the trios tag team championship in Dragon Gate and is currently held by R.E.D members, Takashi Yoshida, Kazma Sakamoto and Yasushi Kanda. Unlike other companies in Japan that often play hot potato with their 6 man belts, I feel the Triangle Gate gets a lot more importance and during the reign of Natural Vibes last year I felt it was elevated.
The Open the Twin Gate Championship is the tag team championship, it is currently held by YAMATO and KAI of Tribe Vanguard, YAMATO is currently the man with the most reigns, holding the belt 9 times with various partners. While T-Hawk and Eita are the most reigns as a team with 4.
The Open the Dream Gate Championship is the premier title in Dragon Gate and is currently held by R.E.D affiliated PAC, who is in his first reign and is the second ever gaijin to hold the championship, the first being Ricochet. CIMA was the first champion and holds the record for the longest reign, while Shingo Takagi, YAMATO and Masato Yoshino are all tied on most reigns with four a piece.
Open the Story Gate:
The main stories coming out of Dragon Gate following Dead or Alive 2019, as we enter into the early stages of the 2019 edition of King of Gate, think G1, Champions Carnival, Global League etc is that of Shun Skywalker and Ben-K, but first I’ll divulge a key bit of information that can often trip up new fans.
I don’t believe it is necessary to know every single detail of the history of the units and relationships of the wrestlers to fully enjoy the current product. These aspects will come in time to you. But in Dragon Gate, it is usually considered important to be a part of a unit.
The use of units dates back to Toryumon, normally there is one heel unit which contains all the heels in Dragon Gate while the rest are usually face/tweener. The current units are R.E.D, who are the heels, Natural Vibes, MaxiMuM, MochiDojo and Tribe Vanguard.
In the last few weeks, dissent in R.E.D was featured between Eita and Big R in the lead up to the cage match, but following Big R’s loss, he kicked out Ben-K in a swerve, who is now unit less, recent shows Shimizu has made fun of this, Ben is now a loner, while calling Shun a loser who nominated to kick himself out of MochiDojo after he grabbed the flag. Two of Dragon Gate’s biggest young stars are now ally less in an important stage of the company, King of Gate which eventually leads into Kobe World in July.
Which brings me nicely to the current other big talking point for me, Masato Yoshino has been asking for Ultimo Dragon to come have a match at Kobe but he doesn’t know how to contact him. Toru Owashi appeared at the last Korakuen dressed as Dragon and came with a message, all the DG roster came out in favour of Dragon coming, Owashi said Dragon will appear soon.