Monster Express (Masato Yoshino, Akira Tozawa, T-Hawk, & Shachihoko Boy) vs Dia.Hearts (Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Kzy, & Big R Shimizu) vs VerserK (Shingo Takagi, YAMATO, Naruki Doi, & Kotoka)
Losing Unit Disbands 12 Man Three-Way Tag Team Elimination Match
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 01/08/2017) This is a match from one of those big DG shows I missed due to shitty internet or sleep or some other lame reason, and it seems like every time I do that, I miss a match that gets a ton of praise. So it goes. Hurts that I know who wins this (and perhaps more importantly, who loses), which is always a bummer in Losing Unit Disbands matches, but this should be great in any case. VerserK get right down to business before the bell even rings, attacking their opponents during their entrance, brawling all around Korakuen. Everyone starts to make their way back to the ring for the usual round of three-way spots, with various styles and personalities being shown off, as well as age-old stories. They highlight the Speed Muscle team, Shingo’s long history with Tozawa and Kzy, Mochizuki’s disdain for punks, and so on. Mochi gets the first elimination of the match, putting away Kotoka with a pretty mean roundhouse early on. They run through some comedy with Tozawa and a big sleeper spot before Kzy and Tozawa are both isolated at separate points and worked over, taking it fairly slow. With a big effort, Tozawa makes a comeback that leads into a dive sequence from everyone, topped off by Mochi’s big wild tope and a Big R dive tease. The three hosses of the match square off, which is an interesting bit of foreshadowing to the fact that T-Hawk joins forces with both of these men by the end of the year. Some more fast-paced spots sees everybody get in on the action, leading to Monster Express taking control of the match briefly before Dia.Hearts even things up, eliminating T-Hawk with Big R’s Shotput Slam. Tozawa avoids the same fate and gets into a goofy kick sequence with Mochi, eliminating the veteran with a bridging German. VerserK then gang up on Shachi, who survives quite a bit of offense from the main eventers before miraculously eliminating Shingo with a sunset flip powerbomb in a spot that Korakuen pops big for. He goes for the same thing on Doi, who reverses it into a pin of his own to eliminate the underdog. Dia.Hearts, sensing that the end is nigh for VerserK, gang up on YAMATO, but Doi saves his partner and reverses a big Frankensteiner off the top from DK into a powerbomb/Doi 555/Bakatare Sliding Kick combo that is a pretty solid nearfall. Everyone goes at it fast and furious, spots all around, and when DK traps YAMATO in the Dragonrana, Doi hits him with the Bakatare Sliding Kick to reverse the leverage, and YAMATO pins DK. The match is now 2-2-2 for those keeping score at home. We got more back-and-forth spots, some of them surprisingly sloppy, and Yoshino works real hard to avoid Big R’s Shotput Slam, reversing it into a rana to eliminate the big man. Kzy, the last remaining member of Dia.Hearts, does what he can to keep his team together, surviving a big superplex from Tozawa that they both sell real hard. The two jokesters trade strikesand reverse signatures, and Kzy eliminates Tozawa with the Skayde Special. YAMATO and Yoshino do their thing, with Speed Star laying in a bunch of his big moves as Doi is tied up on the outside, but he eventually frees himself to break up the Sol Naciente. Kzy takes it to both remaining members of VerserK, getting the better of a strike exchange with YAMATO, but he’s caught in a Gallaria for a big nearfall. In the end, he can’t overcome the numbers game, as Doi and YAMATO team up to eliminate him and disband his unit with a sleeper suplex/Bakatare/Gallaria combo. Strangely, this was sort of an underwhelming Unit Disbands match, not quite bringing the same level of action or emotion as other classics in the genre, though perhaps my problem is comparing this to “classics” and not the average. Additionally, this is definitely one of those kinds of matches that benefits from being watched live and buying into the heat of the moment, and it’s a shame that I didn’t get to see this live. Still, despite any shortcomings, this brought all the elements of Dragon Gate that I love together, and even if it wasn’t a blow-away match, I still loved watching it.