A Brief History of “Dragon Gate”

Dragon Gate (traditionally spelled as ドラゴンゲート and pronounced Doragon Gēto) is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion — formerly known as Toryumon Japan, as most of Dragon Gate’s wrestlers are graduates from Último Dragón’s Toryumon Gym (makes sense, right?), Dragon Gate is based on a Junior Heavyweight pro wrestling style with emphasis on high-flying maneuvers, flashy technical grappling, and submissions holds.  Dragon Gate is also often associated with Mexico, as it is based on Mexican lucha-libre wrestling style, as many wrestlers in Dragon Gate trained in Mexico earlier in their careers.

The origins of Dragon Gate trace back to 2004, when Último Dragón left the Toryumon promotion, taking the name and trademarks with him. The promotion’s name would change to Dragon Gate and declared Cima (the last wrestler to hold the Último Dragón Gym Championship) its first Open the Dream Gate Champion. Since that time, Dragon Gate gained a steady and loyal following in Japan and a dedicated and cult following in the United States.  Dragon Gate announced its expansion into the United States with Dragon Gate USA on April 14, 2009 at the Korakuen Hall event in Tokyo, naming Satoshi Oji as the President and Gabe Sapolsky (formerly of Ring of Honor) as the Vice President. Dragon Gate’s first show in the United Kingdom was held on November 1, 2009 in Oxford, England.

Personal photo from the “Supercard of Honor” show from Chicago Ridge, IL on March 31st, 2006

I’m fortunate enough to have attended wrestling shows featuring stars from Dragon Gate, namely shows promoted by Ring of Honor (ROH) Wrestling.  Back when I was working as an architectural intern in Chicago in 2006, I attended the Supercard of Honor and Better Than Our Best shows in Chicago Ridge, Illinois on March 31 and April 1, 2006, respectively (aka, WrestleMania 22 weekend). There was a six-man tag team match featuring Cima, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino (from the “Blood Generation” stable) versus Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi (from the “Do-Fixer” stable) at the March 31st Supercard of Honor show. I remember loving that match, and I wasn’t alone in that opinion, as it was very well received by both fans and critics, making it one of only a few North American matches that prolific wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer has given a five-star rating.

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