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DGUSA “Independent Tour De Force – Vol. 1”

*** Dragon Gate USA DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***

INTRODUCTION: Dragon Gate USA has decided to scratch the backs of their affiliate promotions, who helped get the word out about their upstart company. It seems like all the successful indy promotions have formed good relationships with other promotions, as opposed to adopting the “us against everybody” philosophy. DGUSA would have been successful either way, but they earned a lot of respect for working with other groups. So this DVD features matches from Pro Wrestling Riot, Chikara Pro Wrestling, Hybrid Championship Wrestling, Women Superstars Uncensored, All American Wrestling, and Full Impact Pro. Sounds like a good mix, so let’s get the party started.

“Sweet & Sour” Larry Sweeney vs. Sal Rinauro: I wanted to make sure I mentioned, for those who are keeping track, Larry Sweeney is now a 21-time ICW/ICWA Texarkana Television champion. Both of these competitors are consummate heels, who also rely on an element of comedy to gain a psychological advantage over their opponent. In between the wrestling, they went from a chicken dance, to a test of strength, to a pose down, to an arm-wrestling competition. They kept shaking hands afterwards, out of some kind of weird bad guy respect. One spot saw Sweeney sneak out and hide under the ring, so Rinauro jumped off the top rope with a loud BANG! Sweeney came out from under the ring holding his ears. Seeing two heels try to out cheat each other was a real treat for the fans. One cool thing about PWR is that the announcers sneak in a lot of old school references. Sweeney had his trunks pulled down and did the finishing with his crack exposed. Rinauro pulled out a foreign object and took a swing at Sweeney, who ducked, and put Rinauro into the sleeper-hold! Sweeney cinched it in until the referee lifted and dropped Rinauro’s arm three times. Some old WCW fans will be interested to know that our good friend Scott Hudson was a guest commentator for this event.

Christopher Daniels vs. Dave Cole: Christopher Daniels is one of the top professional wrestlers in the world, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Hybrid champion Dave Cole. This match was fantastic. However, the production quality was absolute crap. The lighting was non-existent, and the ring had a few rolls of duct tape keeping it together. Oh yeah, and there was no commentary track. They clearly don’t care about their product. Thank the wrestling Gods that Daniels had the talent and ability to make us forget all of that. This was during Daniels’ creepy mustache phase in TNA. Daniels stole the show but the heel Dave Cole stole the victory and escaped with his championship in tact.

Mercedes Martinez (c) vs. Nikki Roxx: Those who have followed my DVD reviews, know that I have been on the WSU bandwagon since its inception in 2007. They have had their ups and downs, like any promotion, but they have developed into a pretty remarkable little group. One of the reasons I love WSU so much is its current champion, Mercedes Martinez. Nikki Roxx hasn’t been a regular full-time member of the roster, but IS a former WSU champion, AND IS one of the best female wrestlers in the world. This match was long and worth every minute. Both girls tried to use the others finisher, but failed to get the three count. Martinez gutted it out and won the match, to keep her beloved WSU championship once again!

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Ryan Boz: One of the things I miss about Ring of Honor is seeing Jimmy Jacobs perform. The guy has got to be the greatest independent wrestler there ever was – so underrated, in my opinion. He can compete against anybody in any match, and deliver every time – if his heart is in it (which it usually is). For this match, Jacobs found himself competing under I QUIT rules, which is right down Jimmy’s ally. I haven’t seen much of Ryan Boz, but I know he’s been around long enough to know his way around the squared circle. This fight got really hardcore really fast. God bless, Jimmy Jacobs. You know things got even more violent when a cheese grater was introduced into the mix. Of course the object of the match was to force your opponent to yell “I Quit!” into the microphone, so there was a lot of room for some pretty dastardly psychological warfare. They did an insane table spot, but I won’t spoil it for you. Jacobs pulled out the dreaded spike and stabbed Boz in the genitals, causing him to scream I QUIT! A little over the top, but it doesn’t get any more intense than that.

Jigsaw & Helios & Equinox vs. Hallowicked & Fire Ant & Arik Cannon vs. Chuck Taylor & Vin Gerard & STIGMA: I guarantee you haven’t seen this many masks in one ring in your entire life. Chikara is one promotion that is different than all others. The production value is simply amazing, the ring is well lit, and the commentary is smart and void of any vulgarity. Believe it or not this is the first Chikara-promoted match I’ve ever watched. I’ve seen Chikara featured on Ring or Honor, Full Impact Pro, and Dragon Gate shows, but never an actual Chikara show – which is supposed to be one of the few remaining family products left out there. The bottom line is this; if you’re watching Chikara you’re having a lot of fun! The crowd was chanting “this is awesome!” and I am chanting “this is awesome!” too!

Erick Stevens (c) vs. Go Shiozaki: Go Shiozaki’s FIP contract had been purchased by Heartbreak Enterprises (aka the Heartbreak Express) and he was immediately utilized in their mission to secure the FIP World Heavyweight title. Erick Stevens had just recaptured the FIP World title from long-time rival Roderick Strong, and this was his first opportunity to defend the title in Florida. The outfit that manager Superstar Sean wears is just hilarious. The match went on for quite some time, as Stevens went from simply defending his title, to desperately struggling to survive the battle. The finish was pretty intense, which is not unusual for well-booked FIP main events. I don’t think anybody expected a title change this quickly, so it was a big surprise when the Japanese challenger dethroned the champion and brought the FIP championship into the Heartbreak Enterprises mix.

CONCLUSION: With six amazing matches, lasting well over two hours, this DVD is a great way to get a taste of the American indy scene in one satisfying dose.

If you would like to purchase this or any other DRAGON GATE USA DVD, please check out the Dragon Gate USA website at  DGUSA.tv