Jimmy Kagetora vs Takehiro Yamamura – Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2017

Jimmy Kagetora (c) vs Takehiro Yamamura

Open the Brave Gate Championship

05/05/2017

Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya, Japan

(reviewed 09/13/2017) Sometimes you forget that the Brave Gate title is supposed to be a junior heavyweight title when 95% of the promotion is made up of people who are junior heavyweights. This is one of those matches that reminds you of what it’s supposed to be, by virtue of being built like a classic 90’s junior match. There’s limb work early on and then lots of speed and explosiveness and reversals later that mostly or entirely forgets that previous limb work. It’s not so egregious here as in, say, certain Liger matches, but this bout follows the same basic formula and is fun and flawed in the same ways those matches are flawed. Yamamura continues to exploit his greatest strength, his youthful speed, against his opponents and seeks to catch Kagetora off guard. Kagetora’s great strength lies in being able to string together a bunch of moves, but he can’t do that here simply due to how fast Yamamura is, so he bunkers down and goes after the kid’s knee when he has an opening to slow things down to his pace. It’s mostly convenient limb work, brought back when it pertains to a particular spot and not so much a constant thing, but Yamamura sells it more here than other people do in matches I complain about more, and moreover, Yamamura’s facials throughout are what actually tie this all together. It’s not often that you see someone so young have such a good grasp on how expressions work in a match and how not to go overboard. In the end, though, despite his best efforts and despite hitting his big Stardust Press, the knee work is enough to slow him down and Kagetora is able to build up a head of steam and finish him off with the Gurumakakari. Solid stuff here. Good showing for Yamamura in what I think is his first title match.

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