|Friday LA Extreme Night|
|Date||September 5, 2008|
|Venue||John Anson Ford Park|
|City||Bell Gardens, California|
Friday LA Extreme Night was a Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling event. It took place on Friday, September 5, 2008 at John Anson Ford Park in Bell Gardens, California. It was the first event promoted in the United States by Dragon Gate. It drew roughly 550 fans, making it a successful event. It would be the precursor to the founding of Dragon Gate USA.
Background[edit | edit source]
Since 2005, Dragon Gate had been trying to expand its product globally. Many of its wrestlers, including CIMA, Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Shingo Takagi, BxB Hulk, and others have made numerous appearances for various American wrestling promotions such as Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and Full Impact Pro. This was done to get an idea of how audiences in the country would take to their brand of wrestling. The response was overwhelmingly positive with high caliber matches, including a 2006 six-man tag team match that was given the elusive Five-Star Rating from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter along with numerous Best Wrestling Match of the Year honors.
There was an earlier attempt to run a Dragon Gate sponsored show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2006 called DG Impact, but it was canceled a week prior to the show when Shingo Takagi was injured while wrestling in Florida for Full Impact Pro. The entire show was said to have been built around Shingo's participation in the main event and his loss therefore made it impossible to salvage.
In time, they found a huge fan base in the Los Angeles, California area through their appearances in PWG. Shows featuring the Dragon Gate talent increased above the average attendance by about roughly one hundred fans. It helped that Los Angeles was a reasonable distance to get to from Japan as opposed to more eastern cities like New York, New York or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Furthermore, Los Angeles had a sizable Asian community, which includes a distract known as Little Tokyo.
On January 6, 2008, after competing in the main event of a PWG show, CIMA announced to the fans that Dragon Gate would be running a show in Los Angeles. This was made official in April with the September 5 date being posted through his MySpace page. They would also be running a show in Honolulu, Hawaii the following day. CIMA promoted the Los Angeles event through appearances at the World Power Wrestling shows taking place during the Orange County Fair in July and the PWG shows that occurred a week prior to the scheduled Dragon Gate show. Also making appearances were "Hollywood" Stalker Ichikawa, Susumu Yokosuka, and PAC.
Months prior, CIMA suffered a severe neck injury that would put him out of action for roughly the entire year. This would mean that he would not participate on the show as a competitor, though he would certainly make an appearance given his popularity with the Los Angeles fans. Taking part in the tour would be Hayabusa, who at the time was participating in an extensive working relationship wtih the promotion. He designed the T-shirts that were specific for the tour and would be on hand for pictures, autographs, and to sell jewelry he had made.
Going into the show, Shingo had just accepted the invitation to join Typhoon and fill the void that was left as a result of CIMA being injured. He was also the reigning Open The Dream Gate Champion, but it was decided that he would not defend the title so that the six-man tag team match would be highlighted.
"Hollywood" Stalker Ichikawa was in the middle of a new Bosou 10 Match Series. The premise of these matches would be to pit him, regarded as one of the weakest wrestlers in the world, facing some of the most famous opponents in the business. His match with Necro Butcher would be the fifth and would be coming off a shocking victory in the series of The Great Sasuke.
Dos Caras, who had a hand in training the first class of Toryumon students, was scheduled to team with Dragon Kid against Kenichiro Arai and Taku Iwasa. However, he suffered an injury just a week prior to the show and it was serious enough to keep from appearing. Through connections with WPW, it was announced that Vampiro would fill in for Dos Caras. The day before the event, Vampiro's belongings had been stolen from his locker during a wrestling show in Mexico, which included his passport. Running out of time in finding a second replacement for the show, they managed to bring in veteran lucha star Kendo.
Event[edit | edit source]
Ten minutes prior to the start of the show, a special attraction dark match presented by World Power Wrestling took place. It was a three-way involving Amazing Junior, Infernal, and Lil Cholo in a Dragon Gate Special Invitational Match. The premise being that the winner could possibly receive a future Japan tour. WPW boss El Genio, who has appeared in Dragon Gate as King Ali Baba, was doing live Spanish commentary on the house microphone.
The show opened with Dragon Gate announcer Naoto Kikuchi and Southern California announcer Jon Ian welcoming everyone. Kikuchi would speak in Japanese and Ian would translate in English. They made the announcement confirming that Vampiro, who was to replace Dos Caras on the show, would not be present. The referees for the show were Dragon Gate official Takayuki Yagi and Southern California senior referee Rick Knox.
Following the first match, all the present members of Real Hazard attacked El Generico until WORLD-1 made the save. Gamma and Doi got into a verbal exchange, during which Naruki Doi demanded Gamma to "speak English!" Later, he told Gamma to "go home!" When Real Hazard left, Doi reminded the fans that this was the very first Dragon Gate show in America and asked them to enjoy.
Following the third match, Genki Horiguchi immediately attacked Dragon Kid. Making the save was a man wearing a Dos Caras mask. He took out Horiguchi with a thrust kick and then the Schwein. The man unmasked to reveal himself to be none other than CIMA. CIMA asked everyone if they were enjoying the show and told everyone keep having fun.
After the main event, an irate Doi challenged Gamma to a singles match. Gamma attempted a sneak attack, but failed. The Real Hazard unit took off immediately afterward. Doi thanked the fans for attending and informed them that they would return to the country next year. All of the talent, minus the Real Hazard unit, closed the show for group pictures.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
The show was considered a major success, both in terms of attendance and of match quality. Dragon Gate immediately went to work into planning their next visit and ultimately began developing a sister promotion specifically to run shows in North America known as Dragon Gate USA. The majority of DGUSA shows would occur in the eastern cities until January 27, 2012 when they finally ran a new show in Los Angeles, California, Open The Golden Gate, in conjunction with the WrestleReunion event at the LAX Westin Hotel.
The dark match three-way was billed as a Dragon Gate Special Invitational match where the winner would possibly receive a Japan tour. To date, the winner Lil Cholo has yet to appear in either Dragon Gate or Dragon Gate USA.
Prior to the launch of DGUSA, a DVD of Friday LA Extreme Night was released through Big Vision Entertainment. Retitled Live in LA, the DVD featured commentary from Excalibur and Disco Machine of PWG fame. The DVD is noted for having technical issues, specifically the actual sound for the show being slightly muted, mislabeling the Shingo Takagi vs. PAC match as being for the Open The Dream Gate Championship, the complete lack of commentary on the Dragon Kid and Kendo vs. Keni'chiro Arai and Taku Iwasa match, and incorrectly placing Shingo Takagi vs. PAC before Dragon Kid and Kendo vs. Keni'chiro Arai and Taku Iwasa.
Los Angeles would continue to be an excellent place to showcase Dragon Gate wrestling. After two more appearances from talent in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Akira Tozawa would engage in his year-long learning excursion with PWG as one of the primary promotions he worked in. The tour would result in a massive growth in ability, rank, and popularity for Tozawa that was highlighted by a match with Chris Hero in the second round of the PWG Battle of Los Angeles Tournament in 2010.
Results[edit | edit source]
|Dark||Lil Cholo defeated Amazing Junior and Infernal||Dragon Gate Special Invitational Match|
|1||El Generico defeated Genki Horiguchi||Singles Match||9:02|
|2||Necro Butcher defeated "Hollywood" Stalker Ichikawa||Dangerous Comedy Match||0:18|
|2b||Necro Butcher defeated "Hollywood" Stalker Ichikawa||Dangerous Comedy Match||6:23|
|3||Dragon Kid and Kendo defeated Tozawa-juku (Keni'chiro Arai and Taku Iwasa)||Tag Team Match||11:15|
|4||Shingo Takagi defeated PAC||Singles Match||13:12|
|5||Typhoon (Ryo Saito and Susumu Yokosuka) © defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)||Open The Twin Gate Championship Match||14:29|
|6||Real Hazard (Gamma, YAMATO, and Yasushi Kanda) © defeated WORLD-1 (BxB Hulk, Masato Yoshino, and Naruki Doi)||Open The Triangle Gate Championship Match||18:35|
|© - Refers to the champion heading into the match.|