OPENING SEGMENT - Great! The moment we go on the air, before the house lights are even turned back on from the big intro, Jon Moxley and Brian Kendrick are already marching to the ring. They both cut one hell of a promo on Tommy Dreamer, with Moxley demanding to fight him and Kendrick trying to convince him that not only does he not need to prove anything to anyone, but that even if he did, beating an old "sellout" like Dreamer wouldn't prove anything to anyone because Dreamer isn't the fighter he used to be, and hasn't been so for almost a decade. Moxley said that if Dreamer had any balls he would come out and fight him but Kendrick told Dreamer wasn't going to come out so he angrily stormed to the back with Kendrick in tow. Hearing a Jon Moxley promo after so many years of Dean Ambrose was definitely an eye-opener. He will very likely be a game-changer for AEW, ROH, TNA, MLW or whoever he winds up with.
TJP vs. GRAN AKUMA - 6.5/10
A solid, fun action-packed opener.
DAVEY RICHARDS PROMO - Excellent! Davey gave a brief recap of what has come before (he lost the FIP World Heavyweight Title to Masaaki Mochizuki when Mochizuki knocked him out during a match in Sapporo), told us what the title means to him, and vowed to win it back. Now I, too, am excited to see Davey win his title back.
SUPER CRAZY & CIMA vs. CHIKARA SEKIGUN (Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw) - 7.75/10
A heated and very athletic tag team match that did an excellent job of building up the heat between Quack and CIMA. When their issue finally really boils over and comes to a head, that match is going to be something special. That being said, Super Crazy really should have been DQed for hitting first Jigsaw and then referee Bryce Remsburg with those thunder sticks. I don't care if they're full of air, it's still a foreign object and he still struck the referee.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. CIMA attacked Quack from behind but wound up eating a double-superkick from Quack and Jigsaw. This is the sort of thing that I normally find pointless or even counterproductive because it sends the heel away with less heat than if you hadn't done it, but in this case I actually liked it. It both showed that in CIMA's mind beating Super Crazy did not prove Quackenbush right about CHIKARA being equal to Dragon Gate, while Jigsaw saving Quack is CHIKARA physically standing up for Quack just as Quack has verbally stood up for CHIKARA.
PRE-MATCH SEGMENT - EXCELLENT! Kendrick starts on this speech about how he and Jimmy both consider themselves not just to be wrestlers but also artists and blah blah blah... but Kendrick says that he doesn't just think about his wrestling strategically, but also psychologically, and so instead of watching tapes to prepare for tonight's match, he made some phone calls to people to see what he could learn about what makes Jimmy tick. And one of those phone calls bore more fruit than he could have ever expected. Kendrick tells Jimmy that he has a secret weapon tonight... LACEY!
The crowd went nuts for this, while Jimmy did a FANTASTIC job of letting us see that he was doing his best to not let this affect him, but it clearly was... and when Lacey got into the ring and smiled at Jimmy while raising Kendrick's hand, Jimmy just snapped and charged at Kendrick and took him down and started firing away, kicking off...
JIMMY JACOBS vs. BRIAN KENDRICK (w/Lacey)- 4.5/10
Having seen the whole saga, seeing Lacey managing someone against Jimmy Jacobs was like a stab in the heart as a viewer, so you can imagine how it affected Jimmy. The best part about it is that Lacey isn't even in the wrong. The last time we saw these two (in ROH, over a year ago) he was the heel and she was the babyface, coming back to get some revenge on him for trying to control her life after neglecting her and sending her into the arms of Austin Aries. Lacey gleefully volunteering to be at ringside to mess with Jimmy makes perfect sense... but the Jimmy Loves Lacey saga was so effective that seeing it end with them apart is just not what I want to see, and so seeing this made me even more thankful that Jimmy got the send-off he did in ROH at Supercard of Honor IX, with Lacey showing up to save him and them leaving together, hand in hand.
I bring all of this up because not only was it relevant to the story of the match but because it imperative to understand just how f*cking dastardly and horrible and downright mean this whole thing makes Kendrick and Lacey feel and how much of a babyface it makes Jimmy into. DGUSA at this point is a fledgling company with a bunch of great workers but very little going on from a storyline point of view, so angles like this that can get a viewer so invested in characters (and especially the American ones so the promotion feels different from just watching Dragon Gate proper) is key.
That being said, Lacey getting in the ring and kissing Jimmy in a way clearly intended to cause a distraction for Kendrick to capitalize on really should have been a DQ.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Very good. Moxley comes out and he and Kendrick and Lacey all celebrate together. Lacey keeps putting her hand in her mouth like she is trying to wipe off all traces of Jimmy Jacobs was fantastic, and a painful reminder of what an absolute gem of a heel the wrestling business lost when she retired. WWE needs to track her down and throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at her to get her to come back and have a run as their top heel.
The heels head to the back, but before they can get there Jimmy Jacobs grabs a microphone and threatens to go to Kendrick's house and... well... I really hope he meant "seduce," but it was kept ambiguous so he threatened to either seduce or rape Kendrick's wife. Yes, really. Jimmy Jacobs has a berserk button, and that button is Lacey, and if you are considering trying to push that button, you need to think very, very carefully first.
It turns out Kendrick has some buttons you don't want to push, too... although I think that what Jimmy said to Kendrick would be a trigger for pretty much anyone. Kendrick came back and took a few more shots at Jimmy. He told Jimmy "I could kill you right now or make you choke on your teeth... but instead I'm going to break your heart." Then he went over to Lacey and put his arm around her head and she put her arm around his... and then Jon Moxley nailed Lacey with a clothesline.
Kendrick stomped on Jimmy's head and he and Moxley high-fived. A referee came out to pull Lacey to safety but Kendrick yanked her back into the ring. Jimmy began to crawl towards... either Lacey or Kendrick. I'd love to know exactly what was going through his head at that point. More referees came out to protect Lacey
And then Tommy Dreamer came out. Dreamer's presence distracted Kendrick and Moxley, allowing Jimmy to jump Kendrick from behind. Moxley went after Jimmy, and Dreamer came to Jimmy's rescue. Jacobs and Kendrick brawled to the back while Dreamer and Moxley brawled all over. The crowd was extremely into Dreamer, as he was fresh off of his release from WWE. He won the brawl by laying Moxley out with a DDT.
FIP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Masaaki Mochizuki(c) vs. Davey Richards (w/Kyle O'Reilly) - 9/10
FANTASTIC! I had forgotten about Davey Richards' tendency to overshoot on his dives and go flying several rows deep into the crowd, so I got quite the surprise where when that happened. The match was the usual excellent from these two, and was a solid reminder of just how phenomenal Davey Richards was in 2009-2011. He could have solid his leg better, but other than that this was a wonderful battle of strikes and submission with several big high spots placed perfectly throughout the match. One bit that I loved was that Mochizuki- whose arm Davey was working over- almost never used it for offense aside from one or two big spots that felt like finishes simply because you knew Mochizuki wasn't going to put any unnecessary pressure on his bad arm unless he thought it would end the match right then and there.
MIKE QUACKENBUSH & JIGSAW PROMO - Fine. Jigsaw has apparently changed masks since his earlier match. I assume this is because the mask he wrestled in got sweaty so he switched to a spare for this promo. They say people are calling them "the best American tag team in Dragon Gate USA" and they are soon going to prove they are the best tag team in DGUSA regardless of nationality.
THREE-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH: The Young Bucks vs. WORLD-1 (Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi) vs. KAMIKAZE (Shingo Takagi & YAMATO) - 8.5/10
The expected fast-paced tag team awesomeness.
DGUSA OPEN THE FREEDOM GATE TITLE MATCH: BxB Hulk(c) & Dragon Kid (w/CIMA) - 7.75/10
An awesome main event, although it definitely rubbed right up against the line of finisher overkill by the end.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. Davey Richard, Gran Akuma, and YAMATO came out to beat everyone down. Shingo came out like he was going to make the save but then Russo Swerved everyone and joined in the beat down. CIMA eventually managed to pull Dragon Kid out of the ring and get him to the back so the heels just beat BxB Hulk down some more. More people took turns trying to make the save but getting foiled. Eventually the CHIKARA guys were able to do it, and then CIMA came back swinging a broom around and chasing everyone off. Then he grabbed the mic and cut the usual "thank you all for coming tonight" promo, which seemed horribly out of tone with what had just happened.
This was a GREAT show from DGUSA, with excellent in-ring action and some great angles all wrapped up in an extremely watchable two-and-a-quarter-hour package. The commentary by Lenny Leonard and Phil Colvin was superb, both in terms of the way they called the matches and their ability to get the viewer caught up on the necessary storyline information in a timely manner. I only watched this show because I thought it might be necessary to see before watching Evolve 2 (turns out it's not, as those two words apparently don't start to intersect in any meaningful way quite yet), but after watching this show I will certainly be returning to 2010 DGUSA just for its own sake.