Think what you will about how necessary factions within professional wrestling are. To put it in perspective, if Evolution had never formed, would Randy Orton have won the World Heavyweight Title that year, making him the youngest WHC in history? Would Batista have broken out as one of the company’s biggest superstars, if not for butting heads with Evolution’s leader Triple-H?
Factions are indeed important.
Yet, in an age where The (New) Nexus and The Corre, and Immortal and Fortune have failed to create lasting growth for their companies, it’s easy to down play their significance, until Dragon Gate USA came along.
The stables of Ronin, Blood Warriors, and D.U.F. (Dirty Ugly F–ks) have not only generated new stars, but, more importantly, have kept DGUSA from folding.
You see, when Ronin announced that Chuck Taylor, the stable’s leader, was out with a groin injury, and that they were scheduled to face Blood Warriors in a six-man elimination match, it was up to Johnny Gargano to find a suitable replacement.
Though Rich Swann heavily suggested recruiting the services of a lovely female fan from the audience, Gargano knew that “Enter The Dragon” would be a proving ground for Ronin and for himself. In other words, Johnny Gargano would temporarily assume the position as Ronin’s new leader.
While Ronin looked for a combatant, Blood Warriors were ringside in Ricochet’s match against Masato Yoshino. BW’s game plan was textbook, have Ricochet divert the referee’s attention, while CIMA, Austin Aries, and Brodie Lee ganged up on Yoshino on the outside. However, despite the numbers game, BW were unable to prevent Ricochet from vocally submitting to Yoshino’s Sol Naciente Straight jacket triangle choke. And, well, like any good heel stable, BW ganged up on Yoshino after the match up until Ronin came to the rescue. Essentially, Masato Yoshino would later act as the third member of Ronin.
Amid the six-man elimination, Blood Warriors dominated the first half of the match, eliminating Yoshino early, and working on Rich Swann. But, tragedy struck when Brodie Lee injured his leg when connecting with a running big boot on Swann. This granted Ronin the opportunity to level the playing field 2-to-2. Ultimately, Rich Swann was eliminated, leaving Gargano to contend with both CIMA and A-Double. All three, amazing competitors, but Gargano proved to be the better man as he submitted CIMA, and faced A-Double in a stand off that had the NYC crowd unitedly expressing the awesomeness of the bout. Gargano went over and was declared the winner.
Johnny Gargano has come a long way since competing in DGUSA’s first match, and his showdown with Austin Aries was undeniably meant to build Gargano as the company’s next biggest star. Could the Open the Freedom Gate (World) Championship be in his immediate future? And how will Chuck Taylor feel about Gargano receiving the golden opportunities that he would have had, if not for his injury?
Then again, after the Open the Freedom Gate champion YAMATO defeated PAC by pinfall to retain the title, BW’s leader CIMA challenged YAMATO for a title shot, and forced his claim through the gang violence that ensued. YAMATO, only the second Open the Freedom Gate Champion in the company’s two-year existence, certainly has his work cut out for him, with both CIMA and Gargano on the rise for title opportunities.
D.U.F. — originally a two man group — officially became a stable when Sami Callihan and Arik Cannon recruited Pinkie Sanchez (Chikara Pro’s Pink Ant). For what the group’s initials stand for, Sanchez is a perfect fit because he looks like he was raised by wolves. He has no qualms about wrapping his sweaty arms around fans, smelling them, or passing by an unsuspecting waitress and shouting in her ear, or pulling down his pants so he can rub his butt in his opponent’s face. And just like Ricochet, Sanchez suffered a loss at the hands of AR Fox despite the numbers advantage.
Sami and Arik confronted AR after the match. Hell, Fox is a good-looking man, D.U.F. admitted it. Not an ounce of fat on him, ridiculous amount of abs, looks straight out a WWE Magazine. But, D.U.F. instigated that Fox had been handed everything to him since arriving to DGUSA, and proceeded to attack him with a keg and a dual line post. Then, Sami and Arik capped off the evening by defeating Masaaki Mochizuki and Susumu Yokosuka via submission. This should put them in line for a shot at the Open the United Gate (Tag Team) Championship.
On a separate but very related note, “Enter the Dragon” featured a Fray! Match. Basically, it’s WWE’s Elimination Chamber concept without the chamber. The Fray! is an elimination match were two men start the match, while the other combatants enter the ring at timed intervals. Among the combatants were Caleb Konley (a surprising resemblance to Brian Kendrick), Flip Kendrick (doesn’t even come close to BK), Louis Lyndon, Sugar Dunkerton, Facade, Tony Nese, Jon Davis, and Attu.
Larry Dallas (not to be confused with the beloved neighbor from Three’s Company came out with Attu and stated that if he won the Fray, he would stay with DGUSA, but if Attu lost, he would be gone forever. Dallas took such a risk because Attu is a monstrously built man. His stance, his enhanced strength, and his Gene Simmons tongue could be straight out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (Hey, Kevin Nash did portray Super Shredder.) And for a brief time, Attu was the immovable object, until Jon Davis proved to be the irresistible force. While no one was even able to budge Attu, Davis managed to take him off his feet and eventually eliminate him. Davis wound up winning the Fray by last eliminating Tony Nese.