The show opened with BJ Whitmer and Brodie Lee finally going at it in an official match after butting heads all weekend. Their issue goes back to DGUSA's last tour in the Midwest, when Whitmer was first making his return to the independent wrestling scene. Since then, Whitmer has looked amazing, getting himself into tremendous shape and adding some new submission holds to his repertoire, including the Peruvian Necktie he had been using as a finish. This turned out to be more of a brawl than a wrestling match, as they fought out on the floor and then back into the ring where they traded big boots. Brodie again got to show his versatility, hitting a dive through the ropes to wipe out Whitmer on the floor, then bridging backward to counter the Peruvian Necktie to a pinning combination. Still, Brodie finished Whitmer with the power moves that brought him to the dance, hitting a powerbomb, Truckstop, and a second powerbomb to come out on the winning end of his issue with Whitmer.
We move on to a tag match featuring the Scene (managed by Larry Dallas) taking on Uhaa Nation & John Silver. These two teams came together because the Scene attacked Uhaa after he had turned down a contract offer from Dallas, and Uhaa brought along Silver, who has had some great matches in EVOLVE, to watch his back. Silver is deceptive because he's small, but the guy is an excellent technical wrestler, a surprisingly hard striker, and has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide. He doesn't mind getting right in the face of a guy like Scott Reed and going toe to toe with him...and winning. The Scene eventually trapped Silver in the ring, but Uhaa got the hot tag and started cleaning house, hitting dropkicks and standing shooting star presses as easily as he threw Reed and Konley around with power moves. Still, the Scene use their experience edge as a team to get Uhaa out to the floor so they can hit Silver with their finish and get the win.
Next up is a grudge match between BxB Hulk & Akira Tozawa of Blood Warriors and Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann of Ronin in the latest battle in the now year-long feud between the two stables. Johnny Gargano comes out to tell Chuck Taylor that he needs to give the Open The Freedom Gate Title back to YAMATO. Taylor says that he'll give it back later tonight, but Swann tells Gargano that he should concentrate on beating YAMATO for the title later, because they need to take care of Blood Warriors after all they've put Ronin through this year.
I hate to bring up Jim Cornette in a review of a Dragon Gate USA show, but since Lenny Leonard did name drop Stan Lane and his educated feet, here goes. This was structured a lot like an old school Midnight Express match where they did a bunch of comedy spots at the beginning, like one guy after another raking each other's backs, before getting into some really good tag team action. BxB Hulk, who is making his first appearance in New York since losing the Open The Freedom Gate Title to YAMATO, is a very rare kind of worker in the way he seamlessly blends martial arts with traditional professional wrestling, which isn't easy to do without making it look forced. He's a terrific wrestler, and he and Tozawa work well together as a team. Tozawa and Swann had been going at it all weekend, first in a rap battle and then a singles match, but Swann gets the last laugh here by following up an Awful Waffle from Taylor with the triple jump 450 splash to score his second fall of the weekend on Tozawa.
Blood Warriors run in and attack Taylor and Swann, and Johnny Gargano comes out with Masato Yoshino to make the save, leading right into the Yoshino-CIMA match. Even though they've faced off a few times in tag matches, this is the first singles meeting between CIMA and Yoshino, who have both said they consider each other their greatest opponents. CIMA came in with a logical strategy, going after Yoshino's legs to prevent him from using his speed and agility to his advantage. He changed that strategy when a kick to the breadbasket knocked the wind out of Yoshino, and CIMA now concentrated on attacking Yoshino's midsection instead. In hindsight, it might have been better to stick to his original strategy, because Yoshino survived the attack and caught CIMA in Sol Naciente. CIMA desperately fought to get to the ropes, and he might have had he continued weakening Yoshino's legs to the point he couldn't effectively apply the move, but he ended up down on the mat and on the losing end of the match due to referee stoppage.
Now we're on to the last three matches on the show, and I think it's key to point out that of the ten men involved in those three matches, only one is Japanese. This goes to demonstrate how far DGUSA has come from simply a place for Dragon Gate wrestlers to showcase themselves to American fans, and into a bonafide independent promotion featuring a mix of established Japanese stars with some of the best indy wrestlers in North America. The whole idea behind the formation of the Ronin and DUFs stables was that they were both groups of guys who came together because they never thought they'd get a chance on their own in a company they saw as having a class system with the Americans below the Japanese. That became a running theme throughout all of 2011, and now we're down to the last three matches of 2011, and both groups are represented in main event matches. DGUSA has done a terrific job of establishing them as stars, and this illustrates how much you can accomplish in terms of developing talent when you let things build and grow naturally over a long period of time.
Anyway, we start off with what is billed as the final ever singles meeting in DGUSA between PAC and Ricochet, regarded as the two top high flyers in DGUSA. Ricochet has probably gotten a bigger push than any American wrestler who has been accepted into the DGUSA fold, and in the span of a year won I think three different titles in Japan, which is pretty unheard of. He and PAC had been going at it all year long, including a best of three series on an earlier tour, and this encounter will determine once and for all who is the better man between the two. They pulled out the insane spots you'd expect from their final confrontation, including one spot where Ricochet hit a dive from the crowd, over the guardrail and onto PAC at ringside, and another later on when PAC hit an inverted Frankensteiner on the floor. They continued pulling out spot after spot until they got to the end when Ricochet started destroying PAC, and I mean DESTROYING him, with one shot to the head after another. First he German suplexed him right on his head, then hit a series of knockout kicks, a snapmare driver, and finally a Regalplex right on top of his head before finishing him with a knockout kick. That's enough damage to turn someone into a vegatable, and it was certainly enough to put PAC down for three to give Ricochet the decisive win over his rival.
The Open The Freedom Gate Title is on the line in the next match, as Johnny Gargano gets his long-awaited shot at YAMATO, whose belt is still in the possession of Chuck Taylor. Gargano came to wrestle the match of his life, but YAMATO was the far superior wrestler, and dominated Gargano for most of the match. Gargano knew he'd have to take his opportunities where he could get them, and relied on several high risk dives on the floor to shift the momentum in his favor after weathering the storm of YAMATO's offense. Gargano hit the Hertz Donut, but the referee was unconscious after getting bumped and couldn't count the fall. The old YAMATO who would do anything to win came out at this point, as he became increasingly desperate to save his title. He kicked Gargano low to get the advantage, causing Taylor to come out and try to hit YAMATO with the belt, but YAMATO ducked and Taylor accidentally hit Gargano. YAMATO quickly swooped in and hit Galleria as the referee came to, but Gargano dug deep and kicked out, then made it to the ropes when YAMATO got him in the stranglehold. They went toe-to-toe, and Gargano hit the Hertz Donut again and immediately went into the Gargano Escape. YAMATO desperately fought for the ropes, but was eventually forced to tap out, making Gargano the new Open The Freedom Gate Champion.
After winning the title, Gargano thanks YAMATO for the opportunity to wrestle him, and then asks Taylor to bring the belt back out. He says they formed Ronin because there was a glass ceiling formed by guys like CIMA, but that's not true anymore because now he's the Open The Freedom Gate Champion, and he says that Taylor and Swann are the #1 contenders to the Open The United Gate Title that is currently held by CIMA and Ricochet, and Ronin can complete their destiny by taking that title as well. Taylor returns the belt to Gargano and feints like he's going to turn on him, but stops short and smiles at Gargano before Ronin engages in a group hug in the middle of the ring.
Now we come to the main event, an Extreme Warfare six man between Arik Cannon, Sami Callihan & Pinkie Sanchez of the DUFs and AR Fox, Jon Davis & Sabu. Fox and Davis faked the DUFs out in the beginning by claiming that Sabu wouldn't be there since the DUFs attacked him backstage, but Sabu blindsided the DUFs after they came out and all six men were present and accounted for. This wa short, at only about ten to twelve minutes, but they packed a lot of violence into that time and there was no shortage of blood flowing. Sabu took out a steel spike and worked Cannon over with it while Callihan nailed Fox coming off the top rope with a bicycle kick and gouged at his head with a fork. Most of the sickest things in this match were done by Callihan to Fox, including one spot where he suplexed Fox off the stage and onto a piece of guardrail bridged between the ring and the barricade. I once again have to give Fox credit for being able to effectively step outside his element and show that he can hang in something other than a spotfest, and he's shown himself to have a solid understanding of the psychology of hardcore matches. They did a great finish where Fox is beaten and bloodied and is on his knees in the middle of the ring, but yells at Callihan to give him more, so Callihan breaks a beer bottle over his head and knocks him out before pinning him. Great match, and I think it did a lot to elevate everyone involved just by being in this match.
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Very strong end to the tour, as well as a fitting conclusion to DGUSA's biggest year yet. It's great to see how guys like Ronin and the DUFs developed over 2011 into the group who main evented the annual blowoff show, and other Americans like Ricochet and Brodie Lee became such key players as part of Blood Warriors. Everything on here was good to excellent and all the storylines that had been building all year came together well, making this by far the best show of the tour and an easy thumbs up from me.
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