Kotoka (c) vs Yosuke Santa Maria
Open the Brave Gate Championship
Taped 03/05/2016, aired 03/23/2016
EDION Arena Osaka #2, Osaka, Japan
(reviewed 01/17/2017) Maria kicks off her underrated Brave Gate run! She quickly takes control of the match with her usual assortment of exotico offense, and Kotoka has to use a chair and the help of Mondai Ryu to turn things around. He strips Maria’s top off, a disgusting element at play in this feud, but she came prepared with a second, sportier top underneath. In return, she floors him with a solid chop and missile dropkick. Her usually lighthearted exotico offense takes a more malicious turn here, which is an appreciated escalation in response to sexual violence. Avoiding his double stomp, Maria hits Kotoka with the crucifix driver, but Mondai Ryu yanks the referee at the last second to break up the pin, allowing Kotoka to hit a low blow for a two count of his own. He follows it up with the double stomp for a bigger nearfall. Maria cuts him off as he climbs the ropes again, hitting a middle rope Falcon Arrow that takes a lot out of both of them. Struggling back to their feet, they trade strikes, leading to a spirited pin attempt exchange. A box attack and small package earn Kotoka a nearfall, but Maria catches him with a kiss and the crucifix driver for the win. Enjoyable stuff here, sprightly and fun but more subdued than the usual big DG singles matches. For that reason, it also feels a little empty, but I’d rather be left with polished reservation than clunky ambition.