Dragon Gate is one of the largest independent wrestling federations in Japan - large enough that some wouldn't even call it an indy fed. It has broken the 10,000 attendance mark, and it has a weekly televised show.
Originally founded in 1997 as Toryumon by Ultimo Dragon
, the federation was primarily a showcase for the wrestlers he trained. Each year would have a "graduating class", introducing new wrestlers a few at a time. It was notable for its isolationism, rarely opening its doors for wrestlers who did not come up through the Toryumon system. It sanctioned one title, the Ultimo Dragon Gym title
, and promoted several others including the Universal Wrestling Association Trios Tag Titles, and the National Wrestling Alliance
Early in 2005, Ultimo Dragon left the promotion and took the Toryumon trademark with him. Now run by Takashi Okamura, the promotion renamed to Dragon Gate. It continued to produce young wrestlers from a dojo who would form a significant part of the roster (and in many cases, push the older Toryumon guys to the background), but it ended the isolationism. It also sanctioned Dragon Gate has become a visiting grounds for many an American wrestler in Japan.
In 2006, Dragon Gate sent six of their wrestlers - CIMA, Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, Ryo Saito, Dragon Kid, and Genki Horiguchi - to Ring of Honor
. The match, a six man tag team battle pitting the first three named against the last three, obtained the coveted Five Star Match rating, and exposed Dragon Gate to an American audience.
The federation expanded fully into the American market with Dragon Gate USA, featuring about 2/3rds of the regular DG roster and many big name indy wrestlers from America. There has been significant interpromotion with CHIKARA
As of April 2009, Dragon Gate recognizes and books the following titles.
There's also the Open the Owarai Gate Title
, but it doesn't really count.
Dragon Gate USA introduced its own title, Open the Freedom Gate
. BxB Hulk defeated YAMATO, CIMA and CHIKARA
's Gran Akuma to become the inaugural champion. It is now held by Johnny Gargano.
As a promotion, Dragon Gate has a few quirks. Most notably pretty-boys make up roughly 95% of the roster
. For probably related reasons it also has a proportionally large female fanbase, and panders to it by repeatedly decreasing the size of the wrestlers outfits. It is also a great source of newly invented moves, making it wrestling's premier example of the Lensman Arms Race
. Matches generally end with full on barrages of these newly invented moves, which causes a lot of non-DG wrestlers to dislike and resent the promotion. note
Dragon Gate is also very heavily factionalized, with usually at least four Power Stables
active at one time, and generally only undercard wrestlers have no stable alignment.
Tropes Associated With Toryumon
- Crossover: The largest member of the World Wrestling Network by far, it still benefits from some cross promotion with FIP, Shine and even Five Dollar Wrestling. Dragon Gate used to have a pretty good relationship with Ring of Honor, ROH even hosting a "Dragon Gate Rules Match" featuring Cima, Shingo and Matt Sydal vs Delirious, Roderick Strong and Austin Aries but the relationship seems to have soured for some reason. Also, as noted above, Chikara.
- Determinator: One of the few promotions able to get bookings in locations where WWE tries to keep all other companies out.
- Dreadlock Warrior: Delirious and Cyber Kong have tassels hanging off their masks to invoke it.
- Everything Is Better With Monkeys: Cyber Kong and APE Kimata
- Face Heel Revolving Door: Invoked, as the Toryumon have some degree of continuity with each other and region promotions, such as those in the WWN. Perhaps because of this continuity, forced attempts often fall flat however.
- Legacy Character: Dos Caras Jr. and Lizard Mark Jr.
- Ring Oldies: The over fifty Mil Máscaras in Toryumon México
- Take That: Autin Aries and CIMA were engaged in an angle which turned out to be a comedic jab at WWE Tough Enough.
- X Meets Y: Toryumon Mexico is basically Toryumon meets IWRG. Dragon Gate USA is basically Dragon Gate only half the wrestlers are Evolve regulars.