DVDs - VGames - Books UNDERGROUND GEMS DVD REVIEW SERIES #4: DGUSA "Open the Historic Gate" (07-25-09) - Chikara eight-man tag match
Feb 18, 2011 - 1:49:00 PM
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Underground Gems #4 DVD Review Series
DGUSA "Open the Historic Gate"
July 25, 2009
Review by Wes Comer, PWTorch Specialist
This week's pick is the Chikara eight-man Tag match from Dragon Gate USA's first DVD release, "Open the Historic Gate."
Dragon Gate's mission is to feature contests between the best wrestlers in the world and to present their shows in a Supercard format where every match theoretically has the potential to steal the show. This match is an example of Dragon Gate's philosophy making sense when collaborating with other promotions. Chikara is known for featuring multi-man tag matches and more colorful characters and gimmicks. Their presence on this show was a nice contrast to the more serious action that would take place after this match.
The face team or, as it's called in Chikara, the “Technicos” were Jigsaw, Fire Ant, Soldier Ant of The Colony, and Mike Quackenbush. Most Ring of Honor fans are probably familiar with Quackenbush and Jigsaw, as Quackenbush made some appearances a few years ago and Jigsaw wrestled as part of the Vulture Squad, a face stable alongside Ruckus and Jack Evans.
The heel team or “Rudos” is comprised of Icarus, Gran Akuma of Team F.I.S.T. (Friends in Similar Tights) Amasis, and Hallowicked. It is apparent right away from the ring entrances that all eight men in the match were incredibly over with the Philadelphia crowd since the promotion runs shows in the area.
A friend once described a Chikara eight-man tag as a blank canvas where each wrestler performs and begins to color it with their moves to tell a story. I think that is a perfect analogy for why I thought this match worked. From the opening bell, this match was nonstop action without anyone taking a breath. It's a testament to the wrestlers that, despite the breakneck pace, I never felt overwhelmed like they were trying to cram in too many spots. Unlike a typical X Division match where it's just move after move and the action doesn't stick, this match started fast with lucha libre exchanges and armdrags, but continued at the same pace building to bigger moves.
Amasis stood out on the Rudo team for his comedy antics, which helped bring some much needed humor to the show and didn't detract from the action. My favorite moment came when he did a hilarious take on the “People's Elbow,” only to miss with the elbow which popped the crowd. I'm not too familiar with the Chikara storylines overall, but Icarus drew massive heat every time he was in the match, even if he was just standing there. It reminded me of Jimmy Rave back in 2004-2005 when fans would throw toilet paper and boo him mercilessly before every Ring of Honor match.
Hallowicked had a good showing and I am impressed with him as a tall wrestler who moves with the quickness of smaller wrestlers. He wrestles the fast lucha style as well. There were times where it seemed a little awkward in his execution, but Hallowicked brought power moves to the match that looked credible. Speed moves vs. impact power moves is a dynamic that can work well in a match and I thought it blended perfectly here.
Mike Quackenbush is someone that is held in such regard by independent wrestling fans and it is not difficult to see why. Quackenbush had all of the tricks on display in this match. He was technical, he brought the lucha exchanges, highspots off the top rope, and it was apparent he was keeping the match and everyone flowing smoothly. So much can happen when so many athletes are involved and Quackenbush deserves a lot of credit for making this coherent.
Fire Ant and Soldier Ant deserve credit for making their gimmicks work in the context of this match. Fire Ant was aggressive and intense, which is exactly what someone named Fire Ant should be like, and Soldier Ant in particular gets special recognition for managing to incorporate multiple salutes he performed.
Gran Akuma is a wrestler that I have heard a lot about over the years, but it wasn't until Dragon Gate USA where I started to really see him wrestle, and I thought he was fine in this match. Nothing he did in particular stood out, but it was a solid performance and he did not look out of place at all.
I thought Jigsaw came out of this match looking the best. His in-ring offense was fluid and crisp and I don't think I have ever seen someone in one match pull off so many impressive and memorable variations of an armdrag. I also liked Jigsaw scoring the pin in the match, which instantly elevated him, and the crowd bought into it.
There are too many stand-out moves and sequences to try to list them all here, but what I will say is the finishing sequence was the perfect way to end it. They built the match on counters and armdrags and, at the end, they unleashed a series with the technicos hitting what looked like a waterfall of moves on the outside. The timing was perfect, then with the crowd at its peak, Jigsaw pinned Icarus.
Going into the show, it was expected that the Chikara wrestlers would have a good showing, but instead they surprised everyone by having a great showing and really opening eyes to a new audience and style of wrestling. This match should not be forgotten because it was the start of a mutually beneficial partnership between Dragon Gate and Chikara. The DVD is worth purchasing for this match, easily.
FYI: Open the Historic Gate is available for purchase at Dragon Gate USA's website - http://www.dgusa.tv.
[Torch art credit Marco D'Alfonso (c) PWTorch.com]
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