We’re back for more from WrestleGate, as some of the stars of Dragon Gate came to Nottingham.
Held at the Rushcliffe Arena near Nottingham, we open with a montage from the first show set to weirdly sombre music, before they run through today’s card. I’m guessing it’s an overdub for the wXw Now service… El Toupee’s on commentary alongside Kosta K.
Jody Fleisch vs. Ricky Knight Jr.
There’s no overdubbing for this release, which is nice since the debut show handled the overdubbing rather awkwardly.
We’ve a stop/start opening as Fleisch got taken down with a shoulder tackle, before the pair traded dropkicks and armdrags, leading to a stalemate. Fleisch took the next step, chopping RKJ into the corner before a low dropkick sent the veteran down and into the corner. Knight retaliates with chops, sending sweat flying into the air, before he started to kick away Fleisch. Standing switches end with a back elbow as Fleisch avoids a clothesline, responding with an enziguiri and a reverse ‘rana, spiking RKJ and sending him outside to boot. A springboard moonsault sends Fleisch after RKJ outside, only to get dropped onto the apron ahead of a superkick as Knight instantly replied.
For some reason, Knight headed to the crowd for a chair, and sat Jody in it as a tope suicida knocked him out. Hopping the rail, they end up in the crowd, where Jody hits a wall run backflip before Knight repeated the trick, moonsaulting into Fleisch for good measure. Knight tries a running charge into Jody, but he misses, and gets caught with a wall-run enziguiri. On the other side of the barriers, they return to the ring as Fleisch’s enziguiri is returned with a superkick, only for him to catch Knight on the top rope with a ‘rana. He tries to keep up with a springboard ‘rana, but RKJ counters back with a sit-out powerbomb. A strike exchange only serves to fire up both men as RKJ lands a German suplex, then rolls through into an apt Dragon suplex, before heading up top for a double stomp. That gets a delayed two-count, so he heads up for a 450 splash that Fleisch avoids.
A ‘rana from Fleisch is an instant response, getting a near-fall, before an Awful Waffle dropped RKJ ahead of a shooting star that Fleisch misses. The Spanish Fly followed for a two-count, before RKJ blocked a 720 DDT and hit a death valley driver for a phantom kick-out… because he wanted to finish Jody off with a tombstone for the win. This was fine and flippy fun, although that finish was a bit weird. ***
I don’t have much OCD, but the lighting rig not being straight facing the hard cam is seriously making me twitchy…
Commentary pitches to Jaida “to give us the 911”. Crap, there’s going to be a run in?!
Lucas Steel vs. Callum Newman
Steel returned to the scene last year, with us reporting on him with 3CW… but since that promotion’s gone dark, he’s not made much tape. Commentary compares him to Jay White, which is a bit of a stretch.
Newman charges into Steel, but gets shoved back into the corner as he tried to use his speed to get past the monstrous Steel. A dropkick finds its mark, as does a gamengiri from the apron before Newman leapt in… and got wrecked with a big boot. Good God. A Flatliner from Steel spikes him next, but Lucas pulls up the cover so he can dish out more. Newman tries again… but just gets pancaked before a snap powerbomb dropped him for the win. A dominant display, as Lucas Steel marked his arrival here. He may be raw, but give him time and I can see Steel being a big time headliner in the UK. **
Ben-K vs. NIWA
The potential heir to PAC’s throne came to Nottingham, and started out even with NIWA, before he found himself on the outside after a low dropkick early on.
NIWA edged ahead with chops but couldn’t avoid a shoulder charge as Ben-K took over, testing the rigidity of those guard rails, which were held up by the Young Lions. Back inside, a back elbow dropped NIWA, who tried to fire back in with chops, only to get caught with a suplex as the Dragon Gate star pushed on. Ben-K ends up going through the turnbuckle padding as his shoulder charge met the steel post, allowing NIWA back into it. Briefly, at least, as a leap off the top’s turned into a release Northern Lights by Ben-K, as commentary pointed out that the turnbuckle pad was still missing after that earlier shoulder charge.
NIWA whiffs on a Quebrada as Ben-K looked to snuff him out, only to get folded in half with a running knee as NIWA got what had to be the upset with a Ligerbomb. This was a solid little match, but it did look like that shoulder tackle into the corner messed up Ben-K for a while… ***¼
Sadie Gibbs vs. Gisele Shaw vs. Shax vs. Jamie Hayter
This is under elimination rules, but we start with Gibbs and Shax, with the former scoring with a handspring elbow into the corner in the early going.
There’s a lot of swapping around as Shax was replaced by Hayter, who caught Gibbs with running knees in the corner for a near-fall, before Shaw’s in with a corkscrew armdrag to take Hayter to the outside. Shax returned to keep the pace up, with a diving double knees leading to a rude landing for Shaw on the outside… as a low-pe saw Shax keep up the pressure. Sadie busts out her Sasuke special, but Shaw got away and headed up top for a tornillo. The dives came to a rude end when Shax caught Gibbs with a back cracker out of the corner, and that’s our first elimination. Hayter tries to get rid of Shax straight after that with a superplex that rolled into a Falcon Arrow, but Shax kicked out and rolled out, as Shaw took a uranage backbreaker ahead of a stunner through the ropes. Gisele manages to make a comeback with a Spanish Fly… and that’s Jamie gone in pretty quick order.
Shax tries to put away Shaw with a swinging neckbreaker, only for Sole Food to see the Canadian Shaw come close, before Shax kicked out and put Shaw away with a rude DDT. The early going in this was fine, but those eliminations felt like they were a little too rushed… which begs the question, on a promotion’s second show, with no titles in play, did this need to be an elimination match? Still, it’s nice to see WrestleGate are getting behind Shax. **¾
Christ, in that last match, Kosta K on commentary came across very much like Ricky Gervais in the Office. Take that how you will.
Sean Kustom vs. Eita
After Ben-K lost earlier, can Eita bring some glory back to RED?
Eita’s out with scissors and a chair, the latter of which he used on a Young Lion on his way to the ring. Kustom has Eita grounded early, as the two traded holds… which then escalated into a battle of forearms before Kustom began to edge ahead with a dropkick and an enziguiri.
On the outside, Eita posts Kustom as Ben-K came out to distract the referee… meaning Eita could use the chair. The guard rail gets split in two as well as Kustom got thrown into the crowd, before some more blistering chops dropped the Aussie. Kustom eventually makes a comeback with a backflip into a shotgun dropkick, following with a tornado DDT and a frog splash… but he delays going for a cover as Eita kicked out. Kustom spiked Eita with a lifting reverse DDT, dropping him over a knee for a two-count… and somehow Eita’s able to make a comeback, only to get smashed with a forearm and a Twister suplex for a near-fall. Again, Kustom taking his time backfires…
Ben-K’s back to distract the referee, who somehow survived having Kustom pushed into him… but that just means he misses a low blow and a superkick as Eita took the win. Hated the finish, loved the rest of the match though – lots of heavy hitting and pretty pacey to boot. ***
Terry Isit vs. Robert Sharpe
Isit wasn’t originally booked, but was brought in as a replacement for Adam Maxted… apparently he tried the whole “good guy” thing last time, so he’s going for something else. It’s another open challenge, which got answered by the European Openweight champion for Frontline – a title that is a bloody mouthful.
Isit tries to snatch a win from the off, as commentary were trying to cram in Sharpe’s name as much as they could. Sharpe hurls Isit across the ring repeatedly as the size difference came into play. Isit manages to land a Pedigree version of a slingshot DDT thru the ropes for a near-fall as the match stayed even… Until Sharpe seemingly leant into a dropkick as his attempt to duck a clothesline went sour for him. Isit keeps up with a flying ‘rana before a modified jawbreaker earned him a near-fall.
After he poured water on Sharpe, Isit gets chopped to bits, before he responded with a back cracker… only for Sharpe to put him away with the Sharpe Ending tombstone slam a la Mat Riddle. Fine for what it was, but this felt like filler after Adam Maxted had to pull out. **½
M&M (Connor Mills & Maverick Mayhew) vs. Addicted 2 Adrenaline (Harrison Bourne & Joe Lando)
We’re under lucha rules for this, so prepare for LOTS of flips.
Commentary argues about the difference between play-by-play and colour commentary as Mills and Bourne go back-and forth while remaining relatively grounded. Mills kicks away Bourne as they were gunning for a WOS-style sequence, before both men traded places as Lando and Mayhew went through a series into a double-dropkick… with Mayhew landing an extra one on the end of it. We start to get a little flippy when Lando scored a standing corkscrew moonsault for a near-fall, before Bourne and Lando combine for a pair of cartwheel dropkicks on Mayhew. A ‘rana from Lando nearly ends it, but Mills kicks out as tags get us back to Bourne and Mayhew, with the latter taking a modified 619 and a reverse ‘rana. Mills makes a save with chops, but the referee – who was doing nothing to keep it one-on-one – only watches as Mills hits a Quebrada to Bourne and Lando.
Mills flips in and out of the ring for a tope con giro, starting our dives as Mayhew went up… but he ended up in a convenient pile of Young Lions as a Spanish fly from Bourne brought him crashing down. Back inside, the dives continue with a shooting star elbow and a 450 splash, before Lando’s cartwheel kick knocks Mills off the apron. Mayhew damn near kills Bourne with an Awful Waffle off the top, but fortunately Bourne got a hand to the rope to save himself… meaning nobody could save Lando from a Millshot as M&M took the win. This built up well, and wasn’t as needlessly-flippy as it could have been. ***½
Post-match, Nathan Cruz slow claps everyone via a promo, as he then gives everyone a gift… Lucas Steel’s back to beat up some flippy kids. They didn’t learn from last time, although Mills tried to fight back, he took got booted before Bourne took a powerbomb. It looks like Nathan Cruz is edging his way into WrestleGate, with Lucas Steel as his muscle…
Chris Ridgeway vs. Konosuke Takeshita
Commentary makes a big deal out of Ridgeway having his own corner men… which is a thing here, I guess.
Ridgeway hits first with a dropkick as Takeshita was going for a leapfrog, and that leaves the door open as a STF kept Takeshita down on the mat. Not for long though, as the match spilled into the crowd, with that 20-count was put to use as they brawled around the tuck shop. Problem was, the mobile camera crew barely caught any of the brawl, so we’re just hearing commentary make noises as they reacted to chops… then their reactions as they returned to the ringside area, via a drop onto the apron.
That put Takeshita in the driving seat as he looked to wear down Ridgeway, throwing some chops before hanging Ridgeway in the ropes for a YOSHI-HASHI-like dropkick. Things quickly descended into forearms before Ridgeway faked out and went for a Dragon screw, before a series of kicks left Takeshita prone for a bridging German. A grounded abdominal stretch has Takeshita in trouble, but he’s able to get to the ropes before he found a second wind, flattening Ridgeway with a lariat, then a running knee. Somehow, Ridgeway’s able to fight back with a brainbuster, before a package tombstone from Takeshita almost led to the win. He followed that up with a superplex, a Dodon and a release German suplex as head drops were becoming the order of the day.
Ridgeway managed to snap back in with a heel hook, turning it into an ankle lock and another German suplex, before the axe murderer kick led to yet another near-fall… but Ridgeway changed tactics, and it backfired as the Danielson elbows were countered as Takeshita rolled back on him and snuck out with the win. A heck of a match, although those head drops were getting a little too much by the end. ***¾
Robbie X vs. Ilja Dragunov
For as good as both men are in the ring, this was a curious choice of a main event.
Dragunov looked to keep the match on the mat to start with, forcing Robbie to flip his way free of wristlocks and the like. That pace kept Robbie free of danger, at least until he got caught with a chop out of the corner by Ilja, who followed that up with a Constantin-Spezial clothesline from the apron.
Robbie’s attempt at misdirection didn’t pay off as Ilja caught him with a tope regardless, but Robbie was able to respond in kind with a cartwheel kick and an Orihara moonsault as Dragunov was having problems. The momentum remained with the Lincoln native once Ilja returned to the ring, at least until Ilja found his way through with a back chop and a back senton for a steady two-count.
Dragunov keeps up with kicks and uppercuts taking Robbie into the corner, before a superplex segued seamlessly into another strike battle… with clotheslines and head kicks connecting simultaneously as both men crashed to the mat. Another strike exchange led to Ilja scoring with a knee lift, then with a clothesline as Robbie X finally responded with a roll through into a 10 Bomb – a backflip into a deadlift powerbomb. We’re back to duelling strikes as a 619-swivel and a clothesline saw Ilja score with a second Constantin-Spezial for a near-fall. Robbie X tried to cut him off on the top rope, trading more forearms before he was headbutted to the floor… but a cartwheel backflip kick knocked Ilja down ahead of a Spiral Tap that almost won the match.
A leg sweep and a standing moonsault looked to have Robbie X ahead… but Ilja’s straight back up with a death valley driver into the buckles. Still, it’s not enough, as a back senton and a Coast to Coast crashed into Robbie, before a Torpedo Moscau was countered into a death valley driver. We keep up as an X-Express got turned into a Saito suplex, before Robbie landed it at the second attempt for the win – and that’s gotta go down as an upset. ***½
Enter The Dragons was a good second show from WrestleGate – but while it may be harsh to question things like overall direction after just two shows, I’m a little bemused as to what this promotion actually is aiming to be. Is it a “super indy” with some of the UK’s underrated talents? At the time this was originally posted, we were days removed from WrestleGate’s fourth show – the Emerald Grand Prix – which decided the contenders for the inaugural WrestleGate Pro Championship later in the year. Without giving any spoilers, you’d perhaps not be too shocked at who made the finals, as the promotion looks to finally select an obvious figurehead for the company.