Wayne's World: Quality v Quantity - How DGUSA Outshone Wrestlemania 29
Apr 8, 2013 - 11:03:08 AM
Welcome one and all to a column that knows first hand that you can never have to much wrestling, my name is Wayne and you are now entering my world. Like the majority of wrestling fans I spent 4 hours on my couch yesterday watching the biggest day in American Professional Wrestling otherwise known as Wrestlemania. Unlike the majority of wrestling fans I spent 4 hours on my couch the day before watching another PPV presented by Dragon Gate USA entitled Enter The Ultimate Gate. After watching two PPV’s in two days, other than realising I have a lot of free time on my hands, I came to one realisation, that an Indy organisation outperformed the biggest company in the country on their biggest day of the year.
Now before I start explaining why I think this let me first clarify the fact that I am not saying Wrestlemania was all that bad. I am not one of these people who are going around saying that it was the worst Wrestlemania of all time or that it was no better than a regular PPV, far from it. While I wouldn’t say it was up there in the realms of the elite Wrestlemanias, it was however right there in the middle of the pack with the majority of the shows. Punk and Undertaker had a tremendous match, easily match of the night, and one that I would probably put in 5th in my rankings in the streak column I did last week. Rock/Cena felt like they had a better showing than last year and HHH/Lesnar was pretty good also, even though it felt closely similar to Cena/Lesnar from Extreme Rules.
Also I am not trying to say that Dragon Gate USA came anywhere near the extravaganza that the WWE put on. There was no way that the little Meadowlands Expo Centre was going to be confused for MetLife Stadium. There was no way you could confuse 1,000 people for 80,000, or the fact that there was no pyro, fireworks or even a celebrity to be seen, even the iPPV feed messed up and I missed most of the first match until they got it all corrected. WWE wins all this hands down as you would expect. Hell even the star power was on a minimal scale. There was no movie star like The Rock, World Mixed Martial Arts champion like Brock Lesnar, no big legends of the ring like Undertaker or Triple H and no current big names like John Cena and CM Punk. You just need to take a look at how the DGUSA card looked before the show to see that WWE had this part in the bag as well:
Open The Freedom Gate Title Match
Johnny Gargano defends vs. Shingo
Open The United Gate Tag Team Title Match
CIMA & AR Fox defend vs. The Young Bucks
Samuray Del Sol vs. Jon Davis
Special Attraction Match #1
Akira Tozawa vs. Ricochet
Special Attraction Match #2
Sami Callihan vs. Uhaa Nation
Special Attraction Match #3
Brian Kendrick vs. Rich Swann
Special Tag Team Attraction Match
The Super Smash Brothers vs. EITA & CIMA's Secret Weapon
Six Way Freestyle
Chuck Taylor vs. Arik Cannon vs. Jigsaw vs. Tony Nese vs. Fire Ant vs. Shane Strickland
Plus: The Scene of Scott Reed & Caleb Konley with Larry Dallas & Trina Michaels
Hell the only guys I really knew were Kendrick (WWE & TNA) and The Young Bucks (TNA) from their runs with the bigger companies, otherwise I had only seen Jigsaw and Tony Nese appear on TNA a couple of times, Uhaa Nation from a clip from Triple R’s Black History Month columns and a couple I had heard about in passing. No this is not where Open The Ultimate Gate beat Wrestlemania but instead it shit all over it in all the things where WWE didn’t really have the mega edge.
Since I have already mentioned the crowd I will start there. The 80,000 that showed up for Wrestlemania were the typical crowd at a WWE event, everything outside the big matches barely registered on their dial, hell even some of them, like the Triple H/Lesnar match, were met with a major amount of silence. Yes they woke up some of the time but the majority of the show they were pretty much asleep and just couldn’t give two fucks. While the 1,000 people could not generate the noise of a crowd 80 times bigger than it they gave it a shot. Yes they had some down times too but they let the wrestlers in the ring know that they appreciate everything they were doing for them and were behind every match on the card.
Even the announce booth made the effort to put the Wrestlemania team to shame, well all one member of it anyway. I have come so accustomed to hearing constant bickering and fighting, not to mention constant degrading of the wrestlers in the ring that it was a nice to hear Lenny Leonard call a match the way it is supposed to be done. For him it was not a dick-measuring contest like you see with Cole, JBL and King but he called it right down the middle like a proper play-by-play commentator is supposed to. While it would have been nice to see a good colour commentator beside him he easily did a better job in the booth by himself for 4 hours than the 3 big names did for Wrestlemania.
However good the crowd and announcer were however the major credit has to go to the product in the ring. While the WWE had the best match of the two shows in Undertaker v Punk the next few had to belong to Dragon Gate USA. The Gargano/Shingo title match and the Tozawa/Ricochet matches easily put the best of the WWE to shame and the six way freestyle match and the two tag matches put in a great showing as well. In fact the entire card, except for an unannounced squash match used to promote a match for the next PPV (which was the next day before Wrestlemania) the entire card from top to bottom, performed really strongly, something that cannot be said for the entire card at Wrestlemania.
One thing that really surprised me in the performances of these wrestlers was that of a recent member of the WWE Future Endeavoured Club, Trent Barreta. Trent was unscheduled to appear on the card but was brought in to replace Samuray Del Sol as he had suffered a slight injury the day before at an Evolve show. Trent did his job of putting over his opponent Jon Davis but in the meantime actually outperformed some of the wrestlers who still worked for his old employer and appeared the next day at Wrestlemania.
It wasn’t just the performances though that put Wrestlemania to shame but also the booking decisions were easily by far more superior. One of the reasons why the matches were of a better quality than the WWE had to offer and the wrestlers were able to put on a good performance was for the fact that all the matches were given a decent time to shine. Whereas WWE cut matches short to make room for video packages and music performances (if I wanted to watch a concert I would have watched one, I’m here to watch wrestling) DGUSA gave ample time for each match to tell its story. Except for the before mentioned squash match, which as I said was just there for promotional reasons, every match was given a minimum of 10 minutes. In comparison the WWE had 3 matches go under 10 minutes on the main card and the pre-show match doing the same. Without this time the WWE performances are more forgettable and are in no way a showcase of what those guys can do.
Another area in which the booking was more superior was in the match placement. With the Wrestlemania product it was quite easy to get bored early with the matches really going no where to begin with and then worn out at the end because of major matches being in a row, the crowd reaction in Triple H/Brock Lesnar match was a great example of that. At Enter The Ultimate Gate it had a more rolling style of booking we would go from a more traditional type match to a spot-fest (something I feel was lacking from this years Wrestlemania) to a more physical match up to a more all-round match. This allowed for all tastes to be catered for and thus not leaving crowd members bored of the same old for a long period of time.
Next don’t even get me started on the title situation difference. I mean DGUSA showed that they respect their titles as both were the main events of the evening with the tag titles given close to 20 minutes and and the main title given over 30. They were both hard fought battles between the champions and legitimate number 1 contenders. However on the WWE side of the coin we had the supposedly prestigious Intercontinental Championship change hands in a short match on the pre-show, the Tag Team Championship defended against a first-time teaming partnership in a match that screamed “hey we need to give these guys something to do at Wrestlemania” and the World Heavyweight Championship match barely given 10 minutes mid-way through the card. Way to make your titles mean anything on your biggest stage.
I think the most telling sign though why Wrestlemania failed so much was the predictability of the outcome of the matches. This year marked the 5th time I have ran a tipping contest on Facebook. Where I am normally able to get an outright winner or at least a small tie this year practically everyone involved was able to get the same high score. The Cena, HHH, Taker, Del Rio, Hell No and Shield victories gave the majority of those involved easy points and led to 9 of the 12 involved tieing for 1st place, 2 of which have practically no knowledge of wrestling. While knowing the result may not hurt a match (take Taker/Punk for an example) knowing the result of a whole card before the show even happens can take a lot out of the enjoyment of watching it live. You practically knew who would win each match and really other than Mark Henry beating Ryback there were no real surprises on offer in the entire 4 hours. Virtually every match at Open The Ultimate Gate however felt like it could have went either way. You had no idea who would win and thus when it happened you could not help but feel like the match achieved something and the best man won, not the guy who you knew would since the booking made it that way.
It is really a shame that WWE has fallen this far that I would enjoy an Independent PPV more than I did their biggest show of the year. While I will never stop watching WWE as it is the company I have been watching for 20 years now and I am very loyal to it, if I find that I am going to keep enjoying other shows more than theirs than I will start pulling my money from their product. I know that I will only be a blip on their radar and they will not miss me that money will be gratefully accepted by a company such as Dragon Gate USA who without people like me would cease to exist.
For those of you who would like to see why I believe Open The Ultimate Gate was a better PPV than Wrestlemania than all you have to do is click on the banner at the bottom of this column before the feedback section and it will take you to te site that hosts their PPV’s. For a low price of $15 you can purchase the Video-on-Demand of the PPV (also available for any other Dragon Gate, Evolve,Shimmer, Shine etc PPV you may feel like) which will allow you to watch it whenever you like, as many times as you like and quite honestly I believe you will watch it a fair few times, I know I am definitely going to.
Before I go I would like to leave you with the final clincher on why the show was better but first I wish to warn those of you who feel like watching the show that this will be a spoiler. The final clincher is that their major champion (who has held the belt since November 13, 2011) and their biggest face wrestler Johnny Gargano turned heel, something the WWE is just too afraid to do and thus added the icing to the cake.
Thanx for reading,
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