The Dragon Gate Six-Man Tag – A WrestleMania Weekend Tradition Continues
As WrestleMania weekend approaches, the wrestling world is chock full of hype in the form of buzz words and catch phrases.
One quick scroll through my Twitter feed showed me “End of an Era”, “Once in a Lifetime”, “The Streak”, “Best in the World” and numerous other catchy phrases that have been used to promote the matches headlining this year’s “Grandaddy of ‘em all.”
There is one buzz worthy phrase in particular that has my excitement level for this upcoming weekend at an all time high, though it admittedly has nothing to do with WWE or WrestleMania itself.
The Dragon Gate Six-Man Tag Match.
It has become a WrestleMania weekend tradition. In 2006, Ring of Honor brought in some of the stars of Japan’s Dragon Gate promotion to compete at their Supercard of Honor event, which took place in Chicago two nights prior to WrestleMania 22.
CIMA, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino of the stable Blood Generation took on rivals Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi of the stable Do-Fixer in a six-man tag that blew ROH fans away. The crowd was on their feet for most of the bout, doing their best to keep up with the insanely fast paced action.
It was so well received that it even earned a very rare 5 star rating from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, which is apparently a big deal for those who put much stock into star ratings for wrestling matches.
The success of the first ‘Mania weekend Dragon Gate six man can be looked back upon as one of the main reasons that Gabe Sapolsky, the man who was booking ROH at the time, went on to help create an American offshoot of Japan’s Dragon Gate promotion, DGUSA, in 2009.
When WrestleMania came to Arizona in 2010, Dragon Gate USA followed suit and joined in on the festivities, adding yet another option for wrestling fans who were in town for the big one. Their Mercury Rising event took place the Saturday prior to WrestleMania and was headlined by another epic six-man tag match.
This time around, CIMA teamed with his Warriors stablemates Gamma and Dragon Kid to take on World One’s team of BxB Hulk, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino.
While none of these names are instantly familiar to the mainstream WWE wrestling fan, these six athletes put on an outstanding show for the fans in attendance and by the end of the night, their names were likely on everyone’s mind as they filed out of the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix.
If the goal of smaller promotions like ROH and DGUSA running events in town during WrestleMania weekend is to bring new eyes towards their product, the Dragon Gate six-man tag match, loaded with excitement and athleticism, is a sure-fire way to intrigue potential new fans.
In 2011, the six-man tag main event of Mercury Rising felt like a proving ground for the stable known as Ronin. Johnny Gargano, Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann squared off against their rivals, the Blood Warriors, who were represented by their leader, CIMA, along with Naruki Doi and Ricochet.
The Ronin vs. Blood Warriors feud began late in 2010 and reached it’s boiling point on iPPV during WrestleMania weekend in Atlanta.
Despite coming out on the losing end, Ronin’s performance proved, without a doubt, that they could hang with the top stars from Japan. Less than a year later, Gargano reached the pinnacle of DGUSA by defeating YAMATO for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship.
The 2012 edition of Mercury Rising goes down this Saturday night in Miami and continue the six-man tradition with what looks to be one of the most exciting matches of the entire weekend.
Akira Tozawa and BxB Hulk have disbanded the Blood Warriors and formed a new stable called Mad Blankey. Dragon Gate has had some strange names for their groups but this one may take the cake. Anyways, they will be teaming with Low-Ki, you know, that guy known as Kaval from WWE NXT.
On the other side of the squared circle, the DGUSA tag team champions CIMA and Ricochet, collectively known as the Spiked Mohicans, will be teaming with one of the most well-respected veterans in Dragon Gate, Masaaki Mochizuki.
Mochi is probably also the hardest hitting wrestler on the entire Dragon Gate roster, even though Sami Callihan might have something to say about that. I personally cannot recall seeing a professional wrestler throw a harder kick than the ones Mochizuki has been known to fire off.
This match has a bit of everything, guys like BxB Hulk and Ricochet can take to the skies with the best of them. Mochizuki and Low-Ki are as stiff and tough as anyone I can think of. Tozawa and CIMA are two of the most well-rounded competitors on any roster.
Year after year, the Dragon Gate six-man becomes one of the most talked about non-WWE matches of WrestleMania weekend. This year should be no different. While the WWE will be giving us the end of an era on Sunday night, the future is readily available to watch this weekend on WWNLive.com.
(All photos courtesy of Scott Finkelstein – getlostphotography.smugmug.com)