Dragon Gate USA Way Of The Ronin 2014
Brooklyn, New York 2/23/14
1.) Tim Donst vs. Caleb Konley: ***
This is part of the new talent initiative, where some new faces are getting opportunities. Here we have Tim Donst, famous for his work in places like CHIKARA and more recently AIW, getting a shot against Caleb Konley. I enjoyed this match. It was a pretty solid opener. The only real negative thing about this match is that Konley botched his finisher at the end. Otherwise, it was fine. Konley gets the win.
2.) Jay Freddie vs. Blake Edward Belakus: **1/4
I've sparingly heard of Jay Freddie, but this is my first time seeing Belakus, who has long hair and a beard. This was fine for what it was. Both guys got to showcase their stuff. Belakus gets the win.
After the match, Larry Dallas comes out to try & recruit both guys to The Scene, but they both turn him down.
3.) Yosuke Santa Maria vs. Ethan Page: **3/4
Good to see Ethan Page get an opportunity here. Yosuke Santa Maria is the only Dragon Gate Talent on this show, as CIMA & Ryo Saito both couldn't make the show. If you haven't seen Yosuke Santa Maria, he's a very.....flamboyant character, to say the least. I gotta say, I really enjoyed this. While this was more about the antics over the wrestling, it was still a lot of fun. Page's reactions to Yosuke Santa Maria's antics were both perfect & priceless. The crowd was really into it as well, making it all that more enjoyable. My only real gripe is that I don't think Page needed to lose to here, if they're serious on using guys like him & Tim Donst more. Yosuke Santa Maria gets the win in a very enjoyable match.
4.) Jigsaw vs. Fire Ant: ***1/4
This match was set up after Jigsaw turned on his partner after their match at Freedom Fight a few months prior. I thought the match was going along very nicely. Lots of great action between the two, exactly what you would expect from these CHIKARA regulars. Then the finish came. Essentially the last moments of the match had several big spots, the biggest of which was Fire Ant hitting a massive Beach Break on the ring apron!! Then, when they finally get back in the ring, Jigsaw quickly rolls up Fire Ant for the win. They had a great match going until that horribly booked finish. Why have them go through all of that just for Jigsaw to get a roll up victory. If they had a more suitable finish, this could have been one of the better matches of the night without a doubt. Instead, the ending killed it.
After the match, Jigsaw proclaims that he's the greatest wrestler in the world.
5.) The Premiere Athlete Brand (Tony Nese & Trent Baretta with Su Yung & Mr. A) vs. Rich Swann & Shane Strickland: ***3/4
Ivelisse comes out with Swann & Strickland. Trent Baretta recently joined The Premiere Athlete Brand during the Evolve Shows in Florida earlier in the year. This was a very good and exciting match. All four guys really got to show their stuff here and it was a great match to have before intermission. It's also pretty nice to see that The Premiere Athlete Brand got a strong victory here.
After intermission, The Bravado Brothers & Moose come out. Harlem Bravado say that the previous match wasn't wrestling, and that it would have been thrown out five minutes in because they weren't using the tag ropes. Harlem says that when the rules aren't followed, people get hurt, like how his brother Lancelot Bravado was hurt at the hands of The Young Bucks at Evolve 27. He goes on to say that Grandma Bravado got The Young Bucks suspended, and that from now on, they will only defend the Open The United Gate Tag Team Titles under traditional tag rules, and not Dragon Gate Rules. They then introduce Grandma Bravado's Insurance Policy in the form of Moose, who is a former NFL Player. Harlem says that their will be repercussions for those who don't follow the rules, and Moose goes after the two jobbers to start this apparent match.
6.) Triple Threat Match – Moose vs. Earl Cooter vs. Xavier Fate: DUD
No sure what kind of match this was. I've seen some reviews list it as a handicap match, and others have said it was a triple threat match, but cagematch.net lists it as a triple threat, so that's what I'm going with. This was basically just a squash used to introduce Moose.
After the match, The Bravados celebrate and bring up how Orange Cassidy got taken out the previous night by Moose. This brings out the rest of The Gentlemen's Club in Chuck Taylor & Drew Gulak and it's on!
7.) Open The United Gate Tag Team Titles - The Bravado Brothers vs. The Gentlemen’s Club (Chuck Taylor & Drew Gulak): ***1/4
I personally enjoy the team of Taylor & Gulak more than Taylor & Orange Cassidy. This was a fine match. Not nearly as good as the tag team match from earlier in the card, but it was still solid. Interference from Moose allows The Bravados to get the win and retain their titles.
8.) Evolve Title – AR Fox vs. Chris Hero: ****1/4
Chris Hero is coming off a set of challenge matches he had during the Evolve Shows in Florida, where he went 2-1. Fox has been Evolve Champion for nearly ten and a half months. It should be noted that Trent Baretta is watching the match from the balcony area. Simply put, this was an awesome match. Great action from start to finish. It build up and got better and better as it went long, and the latter stages of the match were especially awesome. Hero is able to lock in the Stretch Plum and is able to make Fox tap out!! Chris Hero is the new Evolve Champion!!
The crowd erupts at the title change, and Fox presents the title to Hero as the two competitors celebrate, but their celebration is short lived as Trent Baretta has the mic. He congratulates Hero in a sarcastic tone, and reminds Hero that Claudio Castagnoli is main eventing a WWE PPV tonight (Elimination Chamber). He also mentions that Hero would be in Claudio's spot if he "ate more salad". Baretta then mentions that he's been tearing it up on the indies in the past year and that Hero just can't waltz back in and basically challenges him to a match in New Orleans. This serves to be a distraction as The Premiere Athlete Brand's Anthony Nese & Mr. A come out and attack Hero! Fox tries to make the save but Caleb Konley comes out and attacks Fox!! He's joined the Premiere Athlete Brand! They either set up Fox or Hero (can't remember which) so Mr. A could hit a top rope splash, but he trips and fails miserably in one of the most embarrassing botches I've ever seen. Massive "You F'ed Up" chants erupt as the rest of The Premiere Athlete Brand lay out Fox & Hero. They stand tall in the middle of the ring.
9.) Open The United Gate Title – Johnny Gargano vs. Roderick Strong: ****
Strong was supposed to wrestle Gargano at Evolve 27 but couldn't because of his neck injury. While this wasn't as good as the Evolve Title Match, this was still a great match. Both guys are awesome in the ring so it should come as no surprise. I actually think I enjoyed this match a bit more than their match at PWG Matt Rushmore a few months prior because in this one, you have a clear face and heel. At one point, Rich Swann rallies the fans the surround the ring and pound on the mat to try and get under Gargano's skin. However, Gargano was still able to overcome this and defeat Strong to retain his title. Again, this was a pretty great match. While the fans pounding the mat wasn't exactly spontaneous (Swann encouraged them to do it), it still heightened the atmosphere and added to the excitement.
After the match, Gargano celebrates, saying he's a one-man Elimination Chamber, and that the fans should show him the respect he deserves. The fans boo him, while Swann gets in the ring ands rips into Gargano, saying that he, CIMA, and Ricochet are all going to kick his ass in New Orleans. He then leads the crowd in singing "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye" at Gargano as the champion retreats to the back. Swann then thanks the fans for coming out and says they will be back in Brooklyn in May.
This was a relatively solid show from Dragon Gate USA. We got to see some new talent showcased in the undercard in some solid matches. You then had a really good tag team match and two awesome title matches. Plus you had some significant moments like Chris Hero winning the Evolve Title and Caleb Konley joining The Premiere Athlete Brand. While this show did suffer from some booking issues, the lack of Dragon Gate Talent, and that glaring Mr. A botch, I feel like the good still outweighs the bad.