1. Akira Tozawa vs Will Ospreay
‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay makes his DG:UK début here against ever-popular Akira Tozawa. Ospreay seems to have a good number of fans in the crowd, which is unsurprising as he’s proving himself to be one of the best high-flyers in the country today. They get things started with a nice back-and-forth on the mat, but it isn’t long before Ospreay’s innate athleticism comes into play as he takes Tozawa down with a nice armdrag into a leg lariat. Ospreay attempted to maintain control, but probably shouldn’t have tried to go strike for strike with Tozawa, as he ended up on the wrong side of machine gun chops and a big running senton. Ospreay turned things back in his favour after coming off the ropes with a handspring spinning heel kick that sent Tozawa to the floor before following up with a beautiful no-handed backflip over the ropes. The turning point of the match came when he missed an implosion 450, Tozawa took full advantage, catching Ospreay with a bridging deadlift German suplex for the three count. This was a really fun opener, Ospreay shined while on offence and Tozawa’s comebacks were well timed. A good nine minute match that left me wanting more.
2. The Lion Kid vs Uhaa Nation
The crowd amuse themselves (and the wrestlers) by replacing lyrics of famous songs with ‘Uhaa’ for a few minutes, then we get things under way as Uhaa floors Lion Kid with a huge bicycle kick. Lion Kid tries to match Uhaa with forearms, only to become a first hand witness to the big man’s freakish agility as Uhaa plants a beautiful dropkick to Lion Kid’s face. A seemingly never-ending vertical suplex and leaping elbow drop later and Uhaa earned a near-fall, with Lion Kid struggling to get in any offence. He eventually managed to hit a nice springboard headscissors to send Uhaa to the floor, following up with an Arabian press moonsault that nearly went awry. Lion Kid got the big man back in the ring, only to be caught on a springboard and dumped to the canvas with a fall away slam for another near-fall. Lion Kid showed some fighting spirit as he broke a chain of suplexes with a beautiful bridging German suplex of his own for a two count. He couldn’t capitalise on this, however, getting hit with a big middle-rope superplex, followed by the Uhaa Combination to give Uhaa Nation the win. Another good match, Lion Kid put in a valiant effort, but this was all about Uhaa.
3. CIMA & Susumu Yokosuka vs Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi
A very interesting tag match here, with former stable mates reunited for one night only. Susumu & CIMA were previously both members of the Typhoon stable, while Yoshino & Doi found tag title success as the popular Speed Muscle team. Susumu & Doi get things started and a huge chop battle ensues, which Doi wins with a rake to the eyes. Susumu catches him coming off the ropes with a big knee to the gut, however, sending Doi rolling for the tag to Yoshino, while Susumu tags in CIMA. They waste no time in upping the tempo, CIMA showing that he’s more than able to keep up with Yoshino, at least for the time being. Susumu tags back in, but Yoshino and Doi show their experience as a team, making quick tags and doing a lot of damage to Susumu’s lariat arm. Susumu manages to break free and tags in CIMA, who isolates Yoshino and goes to work on his legs. CIMA & Susumu find a lot of success in this portion of the match, hitting a nice double-team lungblower and keeping Yoshino isolated, but eventually he makes the tag to Doi who hits a big chain of offence on CIMA. The match breaks down in short-order and, in typical Dragon Gate tag match fashion, the action becomes too fast to call. Each man gets time to shine and the crowd loved seeing Speed Muscle hit some of their patented tag offence, however miscommunication causes Doi to accidentally dropkick Yoshino, allowing CIMA & Susumu to capitalise. CIMA hit the Schwein on Yoshino and followed up with the Meteora for the three count. Very enjoyable tag showcase here that the crowd were super into, this is the style that Dragon Gate does best and all four guys showed why they’re considered some of the best proponents of that style in the world today.
4. BxB Hulk vs YAMATO
I was very much looking forward to this one, as the match came just a month before BxB Hulk’s victory over YAMATO for the Dream Gate title and, while that match wasn’t as great as I had hoped, it would be interesting to see what they could deliver here. A fairly tentative start leads into a big flurry of offence from Hulk, as he catches YAMATO unaware after kipping up from a shoulder block. He goes to work with a few favourites from his spectacular arsenal of moves, keeping YAMATO well controlled and peppering him with kicks to the arm. He followed up with an armbreaker, really wrenching the hold in on the Dream Gate champion and continued to work the limb well after YAMATO reached the ropes. Hulk got careless, however, and took a nasty dragon screw through the ropes to turn the tide in YAMATO’s favour. YAMATO continued to work over Hulk’s leg, leaving him limping and struggling to run the ropes, but got caught with a nice powerslam for a near-fall. Hulk tripped YAMATO and hit a standing corkscrew moonsault for another two count, but when trying to use the Galleria, YAMATO’s own move, YAMATO reversed it and spiked Hulk hard on his head. YAMATO followed up with a sick kick in the corner and a picture perfect brainbuster for a two count of his own. He went for Galleria again, but Hulk escaped and the two went through a nice sequence of submissions, counters and strikes before YAMATO hit Galleria once more for the closest near-fall yet. YAMATO tried to finish Hulk off with a sleeper, but Hulk fought out of it, hit the H Thunder and put away the Dream Gate champion with a devastating First Flash to the face! This was excellent, YAMATO’s such an underrated performer and really held the match together. I ended up enjoying this more than the Dream Gate match, as stripped of the big main event feel afforded to the title match and a good twelve minutes shorter, this felt like a much more focussed encounter. Both men were on point, the crowd were loving it and Hulk shrugging off the damage done to his leg didn’t feel as flagrant given the shorter running time. Great stuff.
5. Akira Tozawa & Ricochet vs Mark Haskins & Marty Scurll
Tozawa pulls double duty here, filling in for the absent Rich Swann to team with his fellow Monster Express stable mate Ricochet against the UK team of ‘Party’ Marty Scurll and Mark Haskins, who for my money are two of the best wrestlers in the UK today. Neither gets much appreciation from the crowd, however, who are firmly behind the Best Friends of Tozawa & Ricochet. Haskins starts the match with Tozawa, some good mat work to begin with. Ricochet and Marty tag in. The crowd sing ‘All Night Long’ and Ricochet invites Scurll to dance, but ‘Party’ Marty’s having none of it and locks on the chickenwing, but Ricochet flips backwards out of it and goes for a standing SSP that Marty smartly avoids. Ricochet connects with a series of kicks to send Scurll to the floor, before faking out a dive. Back in the ring Ricochet calls for Tozawa and the pair hit a nice vertical suplex, which Ricochet follows up with a standing moonsault for a near-fall. Tozawa tags in and goes for the brainbuster, only for Marty to clothesline him over the ropes. Ricochet then gets elevated to the floor by Scurll and he and Haskins hit a sweet pair of suicide dives taking Tozawa & Ricochet into the first row of fans. Haskins and Scurll go to work on Tozawa, making quick tags and keeping him isolated from his corner. Haskins locks in a sick bridging cross-armbreaker that forces Tozawa to the ropes, but when he tries to follow up Tozawa catches him with a brainbuster. Marty tries to stop his comeback, but meets a sick bicycle kick to the face and Tozawa tags in Ricochet who scores with a beautiful ace crusher to Haskins. Tozawa and Ricochet then hit a suicide dive and no-handed moonsault, respectively, to bring the crowd to their feet. Ricochet gets Haskins back in the ring and hits his northern lights suplex into a brainbuster combo for a near-fall, but when he goes for the Benadryller Haskins escapes. Ricochet goes up top, only for Haskins to bring him back down with a nice standing hurricanrana. He then hits a sweet short arm lariat that Stan Hansen would be proud of, which gets only a two count when Tozawa breaks up the pin. Marty hits a tornado DDT which Ricochet flips out of, only to get hit with a superkick from Haskins for another near-fall. Tozawa returns to the fray, he and Ricochet trying to put Haskins away with a reverse powerslam into a deadlift German suplex, but this time Marty breaks up the pinfall. The UK team catch Tozawa coming off the top into a nice double-team tombstone piledriver and now it’s Ricochet’s turn to make the save. He trades strikes with Marty & Haskins, but as they try for a superkick into the chicken wing, Ricochet ducks and Haskins superkicks Marty! Ricochet hits the Benadryller on Haskins, followed by an SSP on Marty to give Monster Express the win!
A fun main event on an entirely enjoyable show that, at a little under two hours long, just breezed by. Marty Scurll & Mark Haskins put on a good show at the top of the card, but it was a shame Rich Swann couldn’t make it. Ricochet was as impressive as ever, although perhaps not at his usual pace, while Tozawa deserves praise for working two hard-fought match-ups in one night. The match of the show for me was the Speed Muscle vs CIMA & Susumu tag bout. If you’re a fan of the fast-paced, intricately worked and beautifully executed Dragon Gate style, it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. BxB Hulk and YAMATO had a hell of a singles match as well that, as I stated above, I actually preferred to their main event from Kobe World this year, although I’m not Hulk’s biggest fan. I also enjoyed the other two singles matches, Uhaa’s always amazing to watch and I thought Will Ospreay really made a great showcase of his talents in the opener. Also, I feel like the production team deserve a share of the praise as well. The event feels like it’s a Dragon Gate event, from the match graphics, to the ring apron, the entrance themes and familiar Dragon Gate music that accompanies the tale of the tapes and the run-down of the card at the beginning of the show. The DVD is well produced, the action well shot and with five great matches, two of which I’d describe as ‘must see’, I’d certainly recommend this event.