Note from zzzorf: At the beginning of this year I started to branch out and watch wrestling outside my norm of WWE and TNA and it has been one of the best moves I have ever done in my wrestling fandom. Throughout the year I have tried to bring light to some of these Indy promotions I have been watching through my columns to you my readers but of course I am still only limited to what I watch and cannot present to you all that there is to offer outside of the big 2 companies. That is why I have decided, as part of my goal to enlighten you more about the other sources of wrestling, to start featuring writers from the CF who write about other companies that I just don’t have the knowledge about, and even some that I do. Today’s column will be the first of hopefully many and who better to start with then LOP’s resident Indy expert Jeff talking about one of the biggest feud’s in Dragon Gate today. Hope you all enjoy, oh and keep your eye out for any Easter Eggs planted throughout the column.
zzzorf presents - Open The Column Gate: Shingo vs. YAMATO (written by Jeff)
Oct 12, 2013 - 10:08:08 PM
No, your eyes don't deceive you! Do not adjust your television sets! That is not a stroke you're having! The man formerly known as Son of Shockey and SOS, and LOP's personal Heath Slater lookalike, Jeff, is back in the column-writing business! It's been too long, and I've been having the itch to write again. It's hard to quell that itch when you've got a girlfriend to attend to, job applications to fill out, a piece of shit car you need to sell, and an apartment you need to keep clean, but I've managed to find some time to sit down and put the pen to pad (or fingers to keyboard). Let's see what I can whip up, and let's see if I can make this stay actually last.
For those who don't know me, I mostly deviate from the norm when writing columns, at least in terms of the companies and wrestlers I follow. While I do love the WWE, I tend to write more about lesser-known and lesser-followed companies like CHIKARA, Ring of Honor, and Dragon Gate. And since CHIKARA is all but gone and ROH bores me to tears currently (both topics I'll probably write about in future columns), Dragon Gate has been my main non-WWE company, which should hopefully explain the name of the column series. As for what Dragon Gate is, it's essentially a Japanese indie fed that draws fairly decent numbers and revolves around stables, with a hybrid puroresu-lucha style that sets it apart from other feds in Japan like NJPW or NOAH. And when I say it revolves around stables, I mean it; unlike WWE, Dragon Gate is all about gang warfare, to the point where non-stable people are frequently vying for the attention of the groups, hoping to be picked by one of them. Every match tends to have the stables at ringside to watch their representatives in the ring. If you're into that kind of thing, Dragon Gate is the fed for you.
Now, because it's a group-based company, most rivalries tend to focus on the stables themselves. Typically, these result in things like "losing stable disbands" matches after several months. Real one-on-one rivalries don't tend to happen, or if they do, they don't last too long. One guy will chase another for a title for a month or two, then move on to the next person or refocus on the stable as a whole. However, a rather interesting singles' rivalry has been brewing for some time now. One involving two former close friends and stablemates, revolving around jealousy, discontent, and Dragon Gate's top prize, the Open the Dream Gate championship.
Shingo and YAMATO have been friends in Dragon Gate for a long time. They have formed and led many stables together, including New Hazard, Real Hazard, KAMIKAZE, and -akatsuki-. Their combined forces have brought them much success, as the two are a renowned tag team, and have held the Open the Twin Gate titles (DG's tag belts) 3 times, as well as winning Dragon Gate's Summer Tag Adventure League back in 2009. They balance off each other nicely, with Shingo being the powerful grappler and YAMATO being the crafty submissionist. The duo has almost always been friends, and through thick and thin supported one another, even when they had to face off.
And then -akatsuki- happened.
The two of them were a part of the stable Junction III, a superstable created back in late 2011 to battle the heel supergroup, Blood WARRIORS. After over a year, the WARRIORS vanquished Junction III and forced it to break up. While many of the JIII members went on to form their own stables (and Blood WARRIORS becoming MAD BLANKEY and kicking out a few members), Shingo and YAMATO remained affiliated but without a stable. They didn't really fit in with any of the other groups. World-1 International was all about speed and flight, the Jimmyz were a bit silly, Team Veteran Returns was more focused on the older wrestlers, and MAD BLANKEY was evil. For a while, the two just didn't have anywhere to go, and they were all right with that. After all, they'd been teaming for several years at this point, and they could handle and support themselves. But two greenhorns relented until they could get TakaYAMA to join, and that was the wedge that eventually forced the team to break.
Chihiro Tominaga and Yosuke Watanabe were two young guys who had missed out on the great BW/JIII war, mainly for being too young and inexperienced (and in my opinion, talentless). During the reconstruction period afterwards, they wanted to become relevant and make a name for themselves. Watanabe would adopt the masked Super Shenlong character, become the third man to take on the moniker in DG. The two of them would ask Shingo and YAMATO to fight alongside them. Eventually, after several weeks of asking, the two veterans would take the two rookies under their wings, and form the group known as -akatsuki-. It was a chance for two of Dragon Gate's brightest and best to help out the newest generation of wrestlers. And in theory, it should have worked. The two stars can have their skill rub off on the younger guys, and the rookies can provide youth and excitement for the stars to rely on. Unfortunately, it did not end well, particularly for Shingo.
You see, the problem with the group is that Shingo and YAMATO were talented. Exceptionally talented. Vastly more talented than their stablemates, to the point where it might as well have been called TakaYAMA and The Other Guys. The Falcon and the BATTLESHIP could hold their own against anyone, but the same couldn't really be said for Tominaga and Shenlong. Normally, this wouldn't matter in singles' matches or TakaYAMA tag matches, but when the six-man tags occurred, it was clear that Tomi and Shenlong were not capable of supporting their weight. In fact, during the stable's existence, the only title that was won was the Twin Gate belts, which was won twice by, guess who, Shingo and YAMATO. And this irked YAMATO a lot. He got fed up with the fact that he was basically having to carry around dead weight, and thought that the two rookies were beyond useless. For whatever reason, he took this out on his partner and co-leader Shingo, who had been the one to agree to the stable and take Tominaga and Shenlong as glorified students.
Despite this, TakaYAMA worked in harmony for a long while. As noted, they won the Twin Gate titles twice during -akatsuki-'s lifetime. But being the glue that held the stable together was beginning to grate on YAMATO, especially after Shingo defeated him during the company's King of Gate tournament. Eventually, YAMATO had enough of carrying the group on his back. During a TakaYAMA Twin Gate title defense against MAD BLANKEY's BxB Hulk and Uhaa Nation, Hulk went to attack legal man Shingo with a chair. YAMATO ran in, initially looking to save his partner, only to have Hulk hand him the chair. With it, YAMATO ended his partnership with a shot to the head, handing the victory and the titles to MAD BLANKEY. Afterwards, YAMATO announced that he had cut ties with -akatsuki- and was joining MB, making sure to note that he was finally free from having to support Shingo, Tominaga, and Shenlong. But the torment would not end there, oh no. YAMATO was not satisfied with just leaving his old stable. He wanted to destroy it. But he would have to wait, as Shingo had a date with destiny.
Shingo wasn't down for long, because he was the number one contender for Dragon Gate's top prize, the Open the Dream Gate belt, held at the time by company ace, CIMA. The Falcon was not about to allow his old friend to take away from his crowning moment, and what better way to stick it in YAMATO's craw than by winning the big one? Well, that's exactly what happened. At DG's yearly Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival, Shingo survived CIMA's onslaught to win the Dream Gate belt, in a move that many say ushered in the new generation of Dragon Gate, with CIMA (affiliated with Team Veteran Returns) representing the old era. Even without YAMATO's backing, Shingo proved he was capable of great feats, and looked to bring Dragon Gate to new heights as the new face of the company. But MAD BLANKEY are a heinous bunch, and it wouldn't be long before -akatsuki-'s livelihood was on the line. The new champ had nary a moment to truly celebrate, as he was challenged by YAMATO to keep his stable afloat.
On August 1st, less than three weeks after Shingo's successful title match, the two stables met in a 5-on-4 Losing Stables Disbands, Loser Loses Mask or Hair bout. Ain't that a mouthful? With one fall to a finish, the stable that came up short would be forced to disband, and the person who ate the pin would lose their mask or hair as extra punishment. Shingo called on old friend Cyber Kong to join him, to try to make it a more even fight. Even with the help of the Muscle Beast, -akatsuki- lost when Akira Tozawa, leader of MAD BLANKEY, pinned Super Shenlong, forcing him to unmask and the stable to cease existing. Normally, you'd think that'd be all right, and the heels would walk into the sunset laughing. But MB wanted to make an example of Shingo, and Tozawa had failed to do that by pinning Shenlong instead. In retaliation, YAMATO and the gang kicked out the man who had basically allowed them to defeat -akatsuki- once and for all. With Tozawa gone, the now-vain YAMATO took over the reins, citing to rule over Dragon Gate and embarrass Shingo at the same time.
And boy, did that ever happen.
YAMATO became the number one contender to Shingo's title in short order. It was the Falcon's first title defense during the reign, and YAMATO wanted to prove his superiority by making Shingo only the second Dream Gate champ to have no successful defenses (the other being current Jimmy, Ryo "Jimmy" Saito). YAMATO thought of himself as the coolest, sexiest man to ever step foot in a Dragon Gate ring, and being Dream Gate champ would force the fans and other wrestlers to acknowledge that. Shingo simply thought of him as annoying, and wanted to shut him up and get back at the BATTLESHIP for bringing down his stable. The two clashed in Korakuen Hall only 22 days after the match that ended -akatsuki-, and it was an epic one. The two went back and forth, bringing out all the stops, drops, and chops in order to take the other down. But with YAMATO going back to his nefarious roots, he made sure to end the match in controversy. Stablemate Kzy blasted Shingo with his trusty box, which allowed the challenger to hit a Frankensteiner flash pin and defeat the champion. Just like he promised, YAMATO had taken everything from Shingo, from his stable right down to his championship. No one could deny the greatness that was YAMATO and MAD BLANKEY, whose plan had worked basically to a T.
But it is still not over between these two. Nothing this personal ends with just a roll-up. After Tozawa was kicked out of his own stable, he and Shingo forged a friendship after being rivals for many years. Tozawa's best friend Uhaa Nation would join them, after also being kicked out of MB for refusing to fight Tozawa. YAMATO would bring both Cyber Kong and Naruki Doi into the MAD BLANKEY fold, as well; Kong was upset that, after Shingo feuded with Tozawa for so long, that he would go and become friends with him. Doi, meanwhile, had grown tired of his own place in World-1 International, and left to join YAMATO, which brought down that stable, as well. YAMATO has a way with ending groups on sour notes, doesn't he? However, by doing so, he's made a rather deadly enemy. For Shingo now helms a stable with Tozawa, Nation, Masato Yoshino, Ricochet, and Shachihoko BOY. And Shingo is royally pissed off. While nothing official is on the books for future showdowns, one can be sure that Shingo's squad will be going after MAD BLANKEY with a vengeance, and that Shingo will be gunning to knock YAMATO down several pegs and take back the Dream Gate title.
It's a classic tale of good friendships gone sour, and one that doesn't look to be ending anytime soon. YAMATO is bound to put as many obstacles, hoops, and people between him and his old friend. And Shingo will do whatever it takes to get back at his former partner, even if it means fighting the rest of the locker room by himself. For YAMATO, it's about superiority. For Shingo, it's about pride and honor. Either way, both men will have to Open the Dragon Gate in order to unlock their potential and bring the other down.