Dragon Gate USA has been a bit of a blind spot for me as I was losing interest in American wrestling (ROH & TNA) and exclusively watching puro in 2009, the year it took off. Certainly, I was interested as it featured Japanese wrestlers along with guys that I liked at the time like Bryan Danielson and Davey Richards. The problem was that I didn't really care for the style of wrestling. My cable company would have previews of the PPVs and I thought the ring, venues, and wrestling looked rinky dink. Now, I cut my teenage wrestling teeth on ECW, grew to love ROH after college, and adore 90's Michinoku Pro but, DGUSA looked like my local wrestling promotion passing itself off as something more.
So, that being said it didn't surprise or please me to see Johnny Gargano or Chuck Taylor on their roster. These were dudes wrestling on Sportstime Ohio at midnight...and rightfully so. What were they doing up against the Dragon Gate talent? It seemed very budget. This was especially true when I was in my cult like devotion to AJPW and AJW at the time. It probably got even worse when I saw Tommy Dreamer was working there. I love me some Dreamer but, what the hell does he have to do with lucharesu? It really looked like Gabe S. was trying to grab at whatever he could from the ROH fallout. It just wasn't for me.
Skip ahead 9 years to now, and I have only a slightly better understanding of what was DGUSA. The fact that Evolve & DGUSA were being run akin to RAW and Smackdown does not do it any favors. Its messy...like a little kid with chocolate ice cream.
To get to the point, Gargano surprised the hell outta me at NXT New Orleans. The guys of 205 Live surprised the hell out of me. Tapes were on sale (DVDs) and these dudes were on them, let's give it a shot I thought! I got Revolt & Heat 2013. Sat. & Sunday shows held in Socal for Royal Rumble weekend in the Pappy Pavalion. It's a local promotion's space. It probably serves as their gym and a club/music venue by the looks of the space and bar.
Skipping the first 2 matches, they were OK I suppose.
Rich Swann vs EITA: A few flubs, probably did more than they needed to but, it was fun.
Samurai del Sol vs AR Fox: Very good match but, orchestrated. But fuck it, there's 50 people so, it hyped them up. It looks like it would be a blast to see in person. There is a tremendously obese guy in the front that is distracting. Um, Lenny Leonard is calling the match which does give this some prestige. He calls this a classic match but, it's not that good. It is a 205 Live main event level match though so, I'd highly recommend it. Kalisto fans, check it out
Sami Callihan vs Akira Tozawa: Again, 205 Live talent in Tozawa but, more Tozawa-y since he's not in WWE. Anyhow, this was a very physical and intense match. The 205 shit goes out the window here. This felt like a fight and was more appropriate for WAR or '90 FMW. Sami was shouting curses at Akira, they were stiffing each other, and people in the crowd were uncomfortable. They came for flip dives and got a melee. They dug it though. What else? Good leg focus and selling of fatigue and the desire to win the contest. This was Champion Carnival level wrestling and a great match. Fans of either should definite see this. Match of the night 1000%
Young Bucks vs Ryo Saito & Jimmy Susumu: This was pretty good as a filler between Sami/Tozawa and the Gargano/Davis main. The beginning was dry as fucking wheat toast but, the middle and end added a bit of butter and jam in typical Jackson Bros. fashion. I'd still give it a recommendation. The Bucks really deliver every match they're in. I left them off my mid year BMW list but, they are def in the running for my wrestler(s) of the year (or whatever the fudge I called that category!).
Johnny Gargano vs Jon Davis: It's funny that people still call Gargano "Johnny Wrestling" long after "Johnny Football" evaporated from the Browns and the NFL. It's cool though...it's like Tenryu's Mr. Puroresu nickname. Anyhow, St. Ed's own is charismatic enough to get this semi interested crowd into this. Trust me, for most of the show it looks like Calling Hours with a ring. *rimshot* OK thank you, thank you! But seriously folks- this was a good match. The spots were unnecessarily dangerous (which is fine) and Davis' stiffness was appreciated but, the fans didn't really seem to care to the extent that they should have. It's a blood feud blow off in front of an AA meeting. Mute the TV and I think you'll enjoy it more. The quietness is uncomfortable with the level of violence.
Overall a good show despite the crowd. Certainly worth the $5 paid. Let's see how the Sunday Afternoon show (!?) does.
Yes, a January show called Heat. Maybe it's wishful thinking? In DGUSA's case, they probably should have called it Money...
Arik Cannon vs Rich Swann: Very small time Indy feel match but, the crowd is much better. Probably did too much for an opener but, it got people pumped.
Jon Davis vs Drake Younger: Also, very weird to see WWE ref Drake Younger after seeing Psycho Shooter Drake Younger. Case in point here. The man is nuts but, athletic and got heart. Frankly, I think this bout is equal to or better than Davis' match with Johnny. Good pace from the start, stiff and brutal offense, and intense throughout. These guys clicked better and Drake was willing to take sick bumps to make Davis look like a monster. Johnny's a little too pretty for that. Where's Davis now? He seems like he'd be a good fit for the Indy Big man explosion.
EITA vs Chuck Taylor: A more technically advanced version of Cannon vs Swann. No rhyme or reason wrestling. The Awful Waffle is a extremely dangerous and brutal move for a wrestler of this low standing. Let alone, it has a stupid name. It's like naming your finisher, Pattycake and then you shoot the guy in the face with a magnum...and you have the physique of a high school soccer coach and your name is synonymous with a thin soled canvas sneaker.
Johhny Gargano vs Brian Kendrick: This is for the Open the Whatever Gate title. This definitely has a slower title match feel to it. The focus early on is the wrestling. Kendrick truly looks like a professional by picking the younger Gargano apart. Gargano's moveset is very WWE/signature move based already which is a bit undesirable in this style of match. He goes for flash when he should go for utility. There was a ref bump and it was well played. The finish was sorta flat but, fug it! It worked and this was probably the best match thus far. Definitely recommend this bout. Again, 205 Live main event feel.
Jimmy Susumu vs Sami Callihan: I'm guessing this went after the title match because of the ref bumping? Small show match from both but, the closing stretch was nice and the fans were digging it.
Young Bucks vs AR Fox & Akira Tozawa: Special Dream match. I would have preferred Sami & Tozawa vs the Bucks. That would have been my dream but, this will work Typically solid Bucks heel control and cutoffs. Very nice babyface comeback sequences although spot-fu cheesy at times. But, the fans are pretty awesome at this show. So, Gabe said "give 'em what they want fellas!" Cardio dive sequence combo orgy is a go!
Match of the night and a great Bucks style match. Everyone looked great and the crowd was pumped. Nice close and another feather in the Bucks cap of good stuff. The real honor is to Akira Tozawa who had the best matches on both cards. This was another very fun show and worth the time and money.
All that said, DGUSA at this stage does not look long for the world and history will show that to be true. The talent is clearly there but, the fanbase is not. I've got one more 2013 DVD which features Gargano vs SHINGO (another reason I decided to look into this- based off SHINGO's awesome 'resurgence' at the 2018 Champ Carny). Depending on how that show goes, I may just go back to the early classics in the DGUSA library. Right now, the show quality are fairly priced at $5. WWN doesn't discount so deeply so, we'll see if I wanna spend the dough.