1. Rich Swann vs The Lion Kid vs Uhaa Nation vs Will Ospreay
This match was meant to be Swann & Uhaa vs Ospreay & Lion Kid vs Scurll & Haskins, but animosity boiled to the surface for the latter pairing and they resolved to face off in a singles match later in the evening. Rich Swann, making his DG:UK debut after travel problems left him unable to perform at the previous night’s event, then suggests turning the match into a 4-way dance and we get things quickly under way as Swann floors Lion Kid with a big leaping kick. Ospreay gets an early chance to show off his agility, but it’s Uhaa who takes control after a beautiful dropkick to Will. The big man has such surprising agility and is a huge crowd favourite, really enjoyable to watch. Lion Kid and Swann go at it, recovering well from a slight botch, then we get a crazy sequence where Uhaa elevates Swann into a gutbuster, only for Ospreay to hit a standing SSP on Uhaa for a near-fall! Ospreay shows a ton of fire taking it to both Uhaa and Swann, but Lion Kid cuts him off with a sick hurricanrana that spikes Ospreay on his head. Uhaa & Swann turn the tide with some tag work, but the team is short-lived as Uhaa rocks Swann with a bicycle kick. Uhaa then hits his huge stalling vertical suplex on each man in turn, so they gang up and eventually hit a suplex of their own. Ospreay goes for a handspring back-elbow, but Uhaa grabs him in mid-air and just throws him overhead! The match breaks down and spills to the floor, giving Ospreay a chance to take flight, but it’s Lion Kid who gains the advantage, dragging Swann into the ring to hit an SSP for the win. Exciting opener that was a bit sloppy in places. The finish looked awkward, Lion Kid not getting any distance on the SSP and coming down head-first onto Swann. Fun stuff nonetheless and all four men got a chance to shine.
2. BxB Hulk vs Masato Yoshino
Former stablemates in the now-defunct WORLD-1 faction, Masato Yoshino & BxB Hulk have met in singles competition on a few occasions, but it’s been fairly one-sided with Hulk holding 3 victories over Yoshino’s 2. Their previous match was for the Open the Dream Gate title in 2013 and, on that night, it was Yoshino who was victorious. Hulk has since regained the Dream Gate title, so it’ll be interesting to see which way this non-title match goes. Hulk takes early control, proving he has more than enough agility to match Yoshino, but perhaps a bit too lackadaisical as he gets surprised by Yoshino’s quickness coming off the ropes, flooring Hulk with a big dropkick. Yoshino goes to work on the arm, slamming Hulk shoulder-first to the mat with an arm-wringer before locking in his rolling wrist-clutch octopus hold to force Hulk into a rope break. Hulk whips Yoshino, but when he goes for a leapfrog Yoshino just dropkicks him out of mid-air! Yoshino shows a bit of complacency, however, as he draws BxB Hulk into a strike battle and gets his bell rung with a huge roundhouse kick. Hulk hits a big springboard dropkick for a nearfall and tries to follow up with his dropsault, but doesn’t fully rotate and ends up flat on his face. Yoshino takes advantage and hits a slingblade for a nearfall of his own, but a nice kick combo from Hulk turns the tide back in his favour, only for Yoshino to get the knees up when Hulk tries for a standing moonsault! He hits a headscissors into an octopus stretch, before sunset flipping into a pin, but Hulk rolls through and scores with a big kick to the chest! Hulk’s arm is showing some wear and tear as they trade chops in the centre of the ring, but it’s Hulk who comes out on top, earning another nearfall with the EVO sideslam. Yoshino then counters a First Flash attempt and goes for the Torbellino, which he gets on the second try. He locks in Sol Naciente, but Hulk frees himself smartly and scores with an axe kick. A moonsault slam from Hulk, followed by another axe kick and the First Flash spell disaster for Yoshino, who finally concedes the 3-count. This was good, for the most part, Hulk sold the arm well and it was a well paced bout, but some uncharacteristic mistakes from both men brought it down about. Both are excellent singles competitors, but I don’t think they have the best in-ring chemistry together.
3. CIMA vs Naruki Doi
The first time CIMA & Doi have faced off in a couple of years here, when CIMA successfully defended the Dream Gate title against Naruki in 2012. A tentative start from the Mad Blankey member as he and CIMA go back and forth on the mat. Doi tries for a crucifix pin early on, but only gets a 1 count. They go for a test of strength, but Doi kicks CIMA low and rakes the eyes, drawing the crowd’s ire. Doi scores with a dropkick, but CIMA catches him with a hip-toss before hitting a nice wheelbarrow facebuster and locking in a surfboard. Doi adjusts his weight and rolls it back into a pin for two, before applying a leg scissors to CIMA’s midsection. CIMA grabs an ankle and Doi quickly reaches for the ropes, but is already favouring his leg. CIMA goes to work, locking on a rolling figure four in the centre of the ring. Again Doi scrambles to the ropes. CIMA dropkicks his arm, sending him out to the floor. Doi takes his time getting back in the ring and chokes CIMA on the ropes, before scoring with a slingshot elbow. He wraps CIMA’s leg in the ropes and hits a vicious dropkick, before applying a single-leg crab forcing CIMA into a rope break. They do a lengthy figure four spot, with the pressure’s reversed back and forth multiple times before the ref breaks it up, but as Doi goes for the bakatare kick CIMA ducks to the side and scores with a backcracker that does big damage to both men. CIMA is first to his feet and locks in a triangle choke, again sending Doi to the ropes. CIMA hits a big double knees in the corner, before following up with the Perfect Driver for a nearfall. He misses the Meteora, however, and Doi drills him with a cannonball senton. Doi hits a facebuster, followed by the bakatare sliding kick, but CIMA kicks out at the last second! Doi goes for it again, but CIMA trips him into a series of pins, the last one (a beautiful inverted Gannosuke clutch) doing the job and pinning Doi out of nowhere! This was a highly enjoyable match, some excellent back and forth mat work from both men and Doi did a great job selling his leg. The finishing stretch was fairly restrained and I loved that after kicking out of Doi’s big move CIMA showed a great sense of urgency as he desperately tried to finish the match before Doi could follow up. Great stuff.
4. Mark Haskins vs Marty Scurll
5. Susumu Yokosuka vs YAMATO
Despite this being their eight singles match Susumu has come up short on every occasion, except their very first encounter in 2007. Their last match, just a month prior to this event, saw YAMATO defend his Open the Dream Gate title against Susumu and YAMATO also defeated Susumu on last year’s DG:UK tour. They take their time in the early going of the match, Susumu doing a good job of keeping YAMATO grounded, but it soon breaks down into a strike battle and Susumu clocks YAMATO with a lariat that sends him over the ropes. YAMATO takes full advantage of the 20 count before getting back in the ring, but Susumu picks up where he left off and soon has YAMATO back on the mat. YAMATO rolls to the floor and heads for the exit, but Susumu follows him and slams his head into the merchandise table. He drags YAMATO to ringside and whips him into the ringpost, but when he goes for a lariat YAMATO ducks and Susumu’s arm hits the metal. YAMATO gets Susumu back in the ring and immediately goes to work, getting in his first significant offence of the match as he stomps Susumu’s elbow before hitting some deep armdrags. Susumu manages to fight back when he ducks a rolling elbow and they trade exploder suplexes. After slowly getting to their feet Susumu goes for a lariat, but YAMATO blocks it and slams Susumu into the turnbuckle before hitting his awesome flying kick to the face. He peppers Susumu with forearms and hits the ropes, but Susumu follows and catches him with a lariat for a 2-count! Susumu hoists YAMATO onto the top rope and, after a fair bit of struggle, manages to hit a huge exploder for another nearfall. He goes for a powerbomb, but YAMATO counters with a guillotine, rolls through into a keylock before transitioning into an armbar! That was so smooth. Susumu struggles to the ropes to break the hold, the crowd rallying behind him. YAMATO goads Susumu into a strike battle, hitting a big rolling forearm only to then eat a lariat that takes both men down. Susumu hits another lariat and follows up with the Yokosuka Driver for a very close nearfall. Susumu winds up his lariat arm and waits for YAMATO to get to his feet, but he collapses in a heap before Susumu can hit the move, stalling for time. Susumu drags him up and runs the ropes, but YAMATO smartly catches him and spins him around into the Galleria! Another nearfall as Susumu kicks out, but YAMATO’s firmly turned things in his favour. He hoists Susumu up for another Galleria and they fight a long time over the move, but eventually Susumu reverses it and hits a H-Thunder! A huge lariat from Susumu surely seals the deal, but YAMATO kicks out again! Susumu gets him in a death valley driver position, but YAMATO counters into a sleeper and hits a devastating sleeper suplex, a punt to the head and a brainbuster for another near, nearfall. He locks on the sleeper once more and hoists Susumu up, hitting the Galleria and finally earning the 3-count! Big standing ovation for both men, that was a hell of a match and the crowd loved it. They started off a bit slow, but the finishing stretch was very exciting, although again a bit too nearfall happy for some of the heavy offence that was being thrown around.
6. Akira Tozawa vs Ricochet
Monster Express team-mates face off here in the main event, as DG:UK heavy hitter Akira Tozawa (holding a 7-1 win/loss record) faces the then-Open the Freedom Gate champion Ricochet. This is just the third encounter between these two, Tozawa coming up short on both previous occasions. Ricochet shows off some of his razzle dazzle early on, flooring Tozawa with a shoulder tackle, hitting a sweet headscissors takedown and then faking out a dive. Tozawa throws Ricochet to the floor and fakes out a dive himself, somewhat less athletically than his opponent, however. Ricochet gets back in the ring, but Tozawa immediately puts the boots in before scoring with a big senton. Tozawa gets Ricochet into the corner and hits his never-ending machine gun chops, before punching Ricochet square in the jaw. He tries to follow up, but Ricochet catches him with a big leaping neckbreaker and hits a quick series of elbow drops. Ricochet fires off some big kicks to Tozawa’s back before setting up Tozawa for the always-electrifying People’s Moonsault, earning him a nearfall. Big chops from Ricochet, but when he whips Tozawa into the corner Tozawa rebounds back and scores with a freaking huge bicycle kick! Tozawa brings the crowd to their feet as he then hits three suicide dives in quick succession! He gets Ricochet back in the ring and hits a brainbuster for a 2-count. Tozawa goes for the bicycle kick again, but Ricochet catches him in a northern lights suplex, transitioned into a deadlift vertical suplex and topped off by a standing SSP! Holy shit. Tozawa kicks out at the last possible second. Ricochet gets Tozawa up on his shoulders and hits the Benadryller, but only connects with Tozawa’s chest and doesn’t get the 3-count. He heads up top and takes flight, but Tozawa rolls out of the way. Ricochet lands on his feet and comes off the ropes into a sunset flip, but Tozawa rolls through and gets another nearfall with a vicious knee strike. Crowd are fully behind Tozawa here, who’s noticeably favouring his ribs. Ricochet tries for a reverse powerslam, but Tozawa elbows his way out and hits a backdrop driver. Ricochet pops right back up, however, and scores with an axe kick before collapsing to the mat. Both men exchange forearm strikes and elbows as they battle back to their feet, Tozawa eventually scoring with another huge bicycle kick that only pisses off Ricochet! He goes for it again, but Ricochet catches him with a roundhouse and tries for the Benadryller, but Tozawa ducks under and hits a deadlift German suplex for 2! Tozawa locks up Ricochet’s arm and hits the package German suplex for the 3-count! Wow, this was a great match. It was about five minutes shorter than the prior match and felt like much more of a sprint, plus both men know each other’s move-sets so well there was a lot of great counter-for-counter wrestling. The finishing sequence was so smooth, Tozawa and Ricochet have a lot of chemistry together in the ring and it all came together here. Not the best match on the show, but perhaps the best way to send the crowd home happy.
Like the show before it, this was another highly enjoyable event. Both shows clocked in at a little over 2 hours each and the (relatively) compact running time makes these a hell of an easy watch. I’d say that ‘YAMATO vs Yokosuka II’ was a better event than ‘X’, but both were great fun and the first night featured a perfect showcase of the Dragon Gate style in the CIMA & Susumu vs Yoshino & Doi tag match. This show, however, really shone with some excellent singles bouts. Marty Scurll & Mark Haskins showed a ton of fire in their no-DQ match, which easily stands toe-to-toe with the Dragon Gate roster singles matches before and after it. CIMA vs Naruki Doi put on a very well worked back-and-forth match and I loved the highly exciting Ricochet vs Tozawa main event, but the match of the night for me was Susumu vs YAMATO. Both guys are exceptional wrestlers, but YAMATO deserves special praise for the pure molten charisma he exudes every time he steps into the ring. His expressions, his selling, his emotion and his interactions with the crowd put him a step above the pack, which was especially noticeable against the fairly stoic and expressionless Susumu, who nonetheless proved very popular with the crowd in attendance. As I mentioned in the previous review, the DG:UK production team deserve a pat on the back for how authentic these shows feel. The DVDs are well produced with some nice on-screen graphics between matches and the traditional Dragon Gate themes used throughout, they’ve really done their best to make it feel like a Dragon Gate event and I appreciate the attention to detail shown. Overall I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these shows, whether you’re a fan of Dragon Gate, British wrestling, or both. Well worth the price of admission.