Dragon Gate USA continues their WrestleMania Weekend tradition by debuting in North Carolina on Friday, then presenting an iPPV on the brand new WWNLive.com site (order here: http://www.wwnlive.com/signup.php?id=219) from Atlanta on Saturday and wrapping up the weekend with a traditional PPV taping on Sunday in Atlanta as well.
Dragon Gate USA was born from the success experienced by the partnering of Dragon Gate and Ring of Honor that began in 2006 and delivered some of the best matches the following year’s of 2007 and 2008. 2009 was the first WrestleMania Weekend without a Dragon Gate presence due to the separation of Gabe Sapolsky and ROH. A hyped return in 2010 in Phoenix drew mixed reviews, but the Dragon Gate USA product has grown, developed and fleshed out some of its core talent in the last year and arguably enter this weekend with the most punch in connection to their storylines and in-ring talent since they began this now annual tradition.
Here is a look at what is in store:
Friday in Burlington, North Carolina DG USA presents "Open The Southern Gate"
This show has a theme of The Stable Shootout, pitting Blood Warriors vs. Ronin
The Shootout will have the following matches:
1) 1-on-1 battle between one member of each stable.
2) A dream partner tag team match, but a participant cannot team with someone from his own stable.
3) This is actually two matches. Each stable will get to book a member of the opposing team against any available opponent.
Dream Partner Tag Team Match
PAC & Ricochet vs. Chuck Taylor & Akira Tozawa
Blood Warriors vs. Ronin One-On-One
CIMA vs. Johnny Gargano
Ronin Picks Doi's Opponent
Naruki Doi vs. Jon Moxley
Blood Warriors Pick Swann's Opponent
Sami Callihan vs. Rich Swann
The Shootout concept is really cool and the matches that have been booked as a results are great on paper. This feud really picked up a lot of steam in January during UNITED Weekend and solidified Ronin as a top babyface act, while turning Blood Warriors and specifically CIMA, heel in DG USA. The sub stories on display here are great: The Chuck Taylor-Ricochet Rivalry, The PAC-Ricochet Rivalry, The Continued Rise of Akira Tozawa and CIMA’s continued disrespect of Johnny Gargano and Ronin overall. The winner of the Shootout will carry momentum into Atlanta.
The other matches in North Carolina focus on the Breakout Challenge:
Four Way Freestyle - Breakout Challenge Match #1
Arik Cannon vs. AR Fox vs. Facade vs. Shiima Xion
Four Way Freestyle - Breakout Challenge Match #2
Jimmy Rave vs. Jon Davis vs. Kyle Matthews vs. Sugar Dunkerton
Breakout Challenge Match #1 winner vs. Breakout Challenge Match #2 winner
DG USA has been delivering big time with their Four Way Freestyle concept match, as they are often action-packed and very exciting. This now is coupled with another great element that DG USA can pride itself on – allowing wrestlers on the cusp of bigger and better things the stage to breakout! These matches pit veteran and name wrestlers than indy fans know like Arik Cannon and Jimmy Rave along with fresh names with a fresh style like AR Fox, Jon Davis and Shiima Xion.
Saturday as DG USA debuts in Atlanta, they kick things off with “Mercury Rising 2011” and they will look to deliver as stated before because of their audience and this being the first iPPV they are running on their WWNLive.com platform. This show has it all: High Profile Title Matches, the Six Man Tradition Match pitting arguably the hottest feud of Ronin and Blood Warriors and a mix on the undercard with wrestlers having opportunities to excel.
Main Event #1 - Open The Freedom Gate Title Match
YAMATO defends vs. Austin Aries
*Aries has stated he will leave DGUSA if he does not win the Championship
With Austin Aries’ history, this match should be fantastic. When Aries is on his “A Game” he delivers. YAMATO has been one of the stars of DG USA since the beginning of the promotion when he and BxB Hulk opened the first show and almost stole it! Add the stipulation that it is YAMATO’s Title against Aries’ career and that adds to the drama. My pick here is YAMATO, only because he won the title just 2 months ago from Hulk and I am interested to see what transpires with Aries and if this is his last weekend with DG USA.
Main Event #2 - Grudge Match - The Six Man Tradition Returns
Blood Warriors of CIMA, Naruki Doi & Ricochet
Ronin of Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann
As I mentioned in the Carolina preview, this feud has been hot. The brash Ronin seemed like destined heels to me when they came in and debuted in October of last year, but their breakout and great matches during UNITED weekend coupled with the disrespect lead by CIMA and Blood Warriors brings us to this match. I expect a lot of action here and really have been a HUGE fan of the Taylor-Ricochet interaction and story in DG USA. I feel like this is a pick’em because I don’t see the feud ending here. I will go with Blood Warriors because of their shot at the Open the United Gate Titles this weekend and to add heat to this feud.
Main Event #3 - Open The Brave Gate Title Match
PAC defends vs. Akira Tozawa
2010 was a breakout year for Akira Tozawa across the United States, but his DG USA coming out party was held in January as he put on a series of fantastic matches culminating with a potential Match of the Year with BxB Hulk. He was beginning to get better and better reactions from fans and to the dismay of Jon Moxley and Kamikaze USA, thus they booted him from the group. He is possibly primed now as the biggest single babyface in DG USA. His bout against PAC is a great chance to not only have another great match, but to win a singles title as well. PAC is also someone that DG USA fans have just had a sprinkle of, but he has proved that he is worth watching especially after his great bouts with Masato Yoshino as they captured the United Gate Titles as a duo in January. With that in mind, it leads me to my pick and that is Tozawa to get the gold here and continue to chase YAMATO and the Open the Freedom Gate Title.
Special Attraction Match - Non-Title
Open The Dream Gate Champion Masato Yoshino vs. Sami Callihan
This is a classic bout of Speed vs. Power. Callihan has posted creepy videos targeting the Japanese stars of DG USA and he gets another shot here against Yoshino. It should be a good match, but I think Yoshino takes it.
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Brodie Lee vs. Stalker Ichickawa vs. Silas Young vs. AR Fox vs. Jon Davis
I expect all kinds of goodness here with these six who can fly, brawl and hit high impact moves from anywhere. From a storyline perspective, Jacobs needs the win and I think he gets it here.
Special Challenge Match
Jon Moxley with Trina Michaels vs. Arik Cannon
This should be an unhinged brawl with Moxley getting the win. Cannon has been very impressive in DG USA and that should continue here even in a loss.
Finally, DG USA will bring the weekend to a close with “Open The Ultimate Gate 2011” that will be taped for what I believe will be a May PPV debut.
Open The United Gate Title Match
Masato Yoshino & PAC defend vs. CIMA & Ricochet
This will be the first defense of the titles that were introduced and won just a few months ago. The World-1 duo won the belts in a clean sweep of the round robin tournament and now face a Blood Warriors duo in an extension of the battles these teams have had in Japan. In addition to that, PAC and Ricochet’s simmering rivalry will likely now hit full gear in this match. World-1 should retain.
Non-Title Grudge Match
YAMATO vs. Akira Tozawa
This is could very well be the match of the weekend. The split from Kamikaze USA and the wedge between these two brings us to this match. Tozawa wants the title, but due to Jon Moxley pulling the strings and orchestrating the behind the scenes on-goings YAMATO won’t defend here (if he does get past Aries). My pick is Tozawa as he builds his case for a title match more and more.
Special Request Match
Austin Aries vs. Jimmy Jacobs
*Aries has stated that if he wins the Open The Freedom Gate Title on April 2nd he will defend it against Jacobs. If he loses on April 2nd this will be his farewell DGUSA match.
I am a big fan of this match, simply because of the history of the two. I believe a big part of this weekend is to say farewell to Aries (if it is legit) and to get Jacobs back on the winning track. I think both those things can be accomplished very well here.
Blood Warriors vs. Ronin Challenge Match #1
Naruki Doi vs. Johnny Gargano
This should be really good. Gargano has continued to prove his worth time and time again in DG USA. The bout against Doi is just another logical step from a singles perspective and in the landscape of the stable feud. Gargano tapped out CIMA in January to his “Gargano Escape” – can he do the same to Doi here?
Blood Warriors vs. Ronin Challenge Match #2
Brodie Lee vs. Chuck Taylor
On paper, this is a bout that I have been least drawn to. I am a big Chuck Taylor fan, but Brodie Lee hasn’t completely won me over yet. I have open expectations and think Taylor picks up the win.
Six Way Freestyle
AR Fox vs. Arik Cannon vs. vs. Jimmy Rave vs. Lince Dorado vs. Rich Swann vs. Sami Callihan
The Freestyle Match is a highlight for DG USA and this should be no different. I think it will make for a hot PPV opener and Sami Callihan should get the win to keep him strong.
There you go – a quick look at what DG USA is bringing to the table this weekend. I am excited to attend both of the Atlanta shows live with Jim and it is my first time to see DG USA live since September 2009.