MaxiMuM (Kotoka (c), Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, Big R Shimizu, & Ben-K) vs Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!! (c), Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy K-ness JKS, & Jimmy Kanda)
Captain’s Fall Naniwa Rules Ten Man Tag Team Elimination Match
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 09/16/2017) So, a brief rundown of the stipulation of this match, as it’s a pretty nontraditional set of rules. Firstly we start out with a War Games set up, in which one member of each team starts out in the ring wrestling. Every minute, another member of one of the teams comes out and joins the fray, alternating back and forth between each team. During this time, wrestlers can be eliminated by pinfall or submission. Once everyone has entered the match, being thrown over the top rope also counts as an elimination. If either of the team captains are eliminated (in this case Kotoka is captaining MaxiMuM and Genki is captaining the Jimmyz), then their team loses the match.
If you’ve ever seen a Naniwa Rules match in DG, you know what to expect. The first portion is pretty bland and inconsequential, with everyone just sort of aimlessly punching and kicking until oh shit, over the rope eliminations come into play, after which everyone tries to throw each other over the top for a minute or two until they move on and regroup. From there the match settles into a more traditional tag team elimination match, with the added wrinkle here of Captain’s Fall, which isn’t always a part of Naniwa Rules, I’m pretty sure.
In any case, the choice of captains here is fun. Genki’s a no-brainer; even with the Jimmyz mostly operating as a collective, he and SaiRyo are the real driving force behind the group, and of the two, Genki’s got more of the edge necessary to really thrive and survive in a match like this. Kotoka, though, is a curious pick, being almost inarguably the weakest member of his team. Even though Ben-K has less than a year of wrestling experience under his belt by this point, he’s got significant size on his side and can hold his own with the best of them, something Kotoka has routinely proven himself incapable of doing. Still, after taking charge in most of the promo segments leading up to this match, Kotoka snuck his way into captaining for his fledgling team in a fairly major match, main eventing in Korakuen on the final TV before Kobe World.
Once the over the top rope action settles down and everyone falls into line for your regular ol’ elimination tag team match, this settles into a routine: everyone beats up Kotoka. The Jimmyz wisely isolate him early on and lay into him for a good long while before MMM is able to make any real progress at all, which really begins with Kotoka somehow surviving K-ness’ Hikari no Wa and reversing the momentum to pin the veteran down and eliminate him. Not long after that, though, Jimmyz are able to quickly eliminate Ben-K and Big R, taking away a great deal of firepower from the new unit, after which the Jimmyz return their focus to Kotoka. Somehow he makes it down to the final four, in which only he, Doi, Genki, and Susumu remain. Susumu rocks his shit and takes him out handily, leaving Doi all on his own against the Jimmyz forces, but Bosou Muscle weathers the storm and is able to free himself from multiple close falls to Genki’s backslide, after which he’s able to position Genki directly in front of the corner for a big ol’ Caldera double stomp from Kotoka that manages to put him away and win the match for MaxiMuM.
Right when he gets the pin, Kotoka shoots up to his feet and his entire body stiffens in just the sheer shock of it all before he collapses down the mat face-first and begins pounding the canvas with his hand. Moments later, Doi is above him, tackling him in an embrace of camaraderie, slapping him on the back. It’s a moment of pure joy, pure accomplishment for a young man that has known almost nothing but failure and alienation from those who he trusted. It’s a wonderful thing to see. This match is far from perfect, suffering from the needlessly esoteric stipulation that hardly plays into the match (aside from Big R’s great elimination) plus some good ol’ fashioned bloat and excess from Dragon Gate’s finest, but there’s a lot to love here with a bunch of really clever falsies and eliminations (highlighted, I think, by Kanda’s John Woo fakeout into a small package on Yoshino that I was sure was going to eliminate Yoshino) as well as a lovely emotional core for young Kotoka.