Shingo Takagi (c) vs Masaaki Mochizuki
Open the Dream Gate Championship
Edion Arena Osaka #1, Osaka, Japan
Mochi goes right at Shingo to start us off, rushing him in the corner and sending him to the outside with a spinning heel kick followed by a solid Asai moonsault. Shingo throws an arena seat into the ring in frustration and takes his sweet time on the outside. Back in the ring, Mochi kicks away everything Shingo tries to get going, and the crowd loves it. In particular, Mochi is kicking at Shingo’s arms, trying to weaken Shingo’s Pumping Bomber and fireman’s carry finishers. Shingo reverses an arm wringer into a sleeper, but Mochi tosses him over and locks in an armbar, which Shingo is eventually able to roll over and hit a powerbomb out of, but the damage is done. Both men are real snug in everything they do here. Shingo tosses Mochi up on the turnbuckle and lariats him off for a pretty sick neckbump for a 45 year old man. Shingo goes for the Last Falconry on the apron, and while Mochi is able to knee his way out and lay in a few chest kicks, Shingo powers through, grabs a kick, and plants him with the Last Falconry on the apron. Mochi’s selling here, just slowly slinking off the apron, bent over backwards across the edge, is real nice. The champ then tosses a chair at Mochi on the outside, much to the chagrin of the crowd, who are very much behind the Iron Man of Dragon Gate. A dragon screw reveals that Shingo wants to neutralize the challenger’s leg, and he begins driving it into the ringpost and smashing it with a chair. Shingo goes for a spinning toe hold and Mochi is able to kick Shingo in the head with his good leg, but the champ uses the momentum to bounce into the ropes and fall back down on Mochi with a big forearm strike. Mochi tries laying in some kicks on the champ, but they’re clearly weaker now, and it takes real fire for him to get anything going. He kicks Shingo to the outside and hits a huge dive over the top, not even flipping, just straight launching himself over. Very impressive. Back inside, Shingo tries to reverse everything Mochi’s throwing at him, but Mochi does it right back, culminating in him backflipping out of a German and laying in THE snuggest of roundhouse kicks right to Shingo’s neck. He follows it up by locking the champ in the tree of woe and planting another kick right into his head. Mochi hits a good springboard dropkick, but Shingo uses the momentum to bounce off the ropes and hit a Pumping Bomber, followed by a straight up Pounce into the turnbuckles, pretty fucking rough stuff. They start trading blows, forearms and kicks, and Mochi lays it into Shingo’s right arm, forcing him to use the left for a lariat. No-sells and reversals back and forth ending in a double down after Mochi hits a spinning back heel kick and Shingo fires back with a lariat. Crowd is super behind Mochi, one of the louder crowds I’ve heard from DG this year, especially impressive considering the size of this venue. Shingo’s up first and pissed off, and goes to lariat Mochi in the corner, and because Mochi steps into it and out of the corner, he fucking eats it hard, crashing back into the turnbuckles. Big stalling Made in Japan, right on Mochi’s head, followed by another, but it only gets two. Violence Party in the corner from Shingo, and he throws off the ref (Lil’ YAMATO) when he tries to break it up, to a big chorus of boos. Shingo goes for a superplex but Mochi wriggles out and goes for a powerbomb. He can’t get it so he just lays in a high kick instead. Superplex from Mochi, who sort of no-sells it, which stinks. Series of incredibly stiff kicks from Mochi, who looks like a world beater here. BxB Hulk WISHES he was this good. Mochi goes for the Sankakugeri, but Shingo cuts it off with a short arm lariat. Shingo goes for three more Pumping Bombers, but Mochi stays up, responding with kicks. A couple of stiff forearms for Shingo and he goes off the ropes, and Mochi drops him with another round of kicks. Another Sankakugeri attempt, but Shingo grabs him with a quick ankle lock and hits a Pumping Bomber to a kneeling Mochi. Big series of Ishii elbows in the corner from Shingo. Big fucking STAY DREAM off the top and Mochi just fucking gets up, the absolute madman. He’s not no-selling it, but he’s fighting to his feet and is far from dead, but totally running on fumes here. Far and away one of the biggest mark out moments I’ve had this year, and in wrestling in general. Pumping Bomber attempt, but Mochi stays up miraculously. Second one puts him down, but he’s back up in a second, and the crowd loves it. Shingo just straight up slaps his ass before hitting the Ishii elbows and a HUGE third Pumping Bomber for a pin, but Mochi kicks out at one. I’m losing my mind. Another Pumping Bomber for two, which feels kind of weak on its own. Last Falconry puts Mochi away, and the crowd is dead. Their hero is dead, and Shingo is still champ. Great fucking match, certainly DG’s best singles match of the year. Shingo’s selling afterward is pretty good. It’s clear that this was a struggle for him, but he’s still kind of smug about the victory, about his continued killing of the old guard. Mochi is just shoot dead. Again, one of those matches that is 100% Dragon Gate, with all the high points and low points involved in that. Through it all, though, among the best matches I’ve seen this year.