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 based in Mexico and was primarily a showcase for the wrestlers he trained. Each year would have a "graduating class", introducing new wrestlers a few at a time in a Japanese sucursal (branch) called Toryumon Japan. 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 Welterweight Title.
Early in 2005, Ultimo Dragon left the Japanese sucursal and took the Toryumon trademark with him. Now run by Takashi Okamura, the promotion renamed to Dragon Gatenote . 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. Dragon Gate has since 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. Initially it featured about 2/3rds of the regular DG roster and many big name indy wrestlers from America. There has been significant interpromotion with CHIKARA. Although the promotion became Dragon Gate in name only when the last of the Dragon Gate wrestlers had been fazed out by 2014 and eventually came to the point of being entirely absorbed by EVOLVE before the USA titles, Open The Freedom Gate and Open The United Gate, were retired.
As of April 2009, Dragon Gate recognizes and books the following titles.
- Open the Dream Gate - YAMATO - since July 2016
- Open the Brave Gate - Jimmy Kagetora - since March 2017
- Open the Triangle Gate - Naruki Doi, Big R Shimizu & Ben-K - since March 2017
- Open the Twin Gate - CIMA & Dragon Kid - since November 2016
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 & Dragon Gate
- Aloha, Hawaii!: The Monday Aloha Night event with Action Zone Wrestling in 2008
- All-American Face: The Florida Brothers, Taku Iwasa and Raimu Mishima...excuse us, Michael and Daniel.
- Ascended Meme: The Gate To Heaven match isn't just a tag team where tags are strictly enforced (unlike most in Dragon Gate), it start out with with two referees, as Gorilla Monsoon always said there should have been.
- The Bad Guy Wins: It has been noted how the vast majority of stable vs stable feuds in Dragon Gate end with the heel stable winning, forcing the face stable to disband - followed by the Big Bad and his Dragon having some kind of a falling out and one or the other turning face.
- B Show: PRIME ZONE and Infinity
- Battle Strip: Nidia tried to get cheap heat in Toryumon Mexico by trampling and spitting on her shirt before throwing it in the audience...a surprising amount of fans still tried to make the catch.
- Boy Band: Taiji Ishimori with Shu and Kei Sato as his backup singers in Toryumon X. They were supposed to be the top faces of the promotion and even released an album, but fans took to their rivals, the "Salsa Band" known as Los Salseros Japoneses, better.
- The largest member of the World Wrestling Network by far, it still benefited from some cross promotion with FIP, Shine but working relations died down and DG USA was then discontinued. 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.
- Dramatic Dream Gate and DDG Returns in 2008.
- The Pro Hanshin Puroresu Battle: Dragon Gate vs. Osaka Pro in the June 2010, which featured WARRIORS vs LOV elimination match, CIMA challenging Billy Ken Kid for the Osaka Pro title in the main event, among other things. Also, Open The German Gate with westside Xtreme wrestling.
- The roster was apart of GAORA 20th Anniversary ~ Super Fighting Spirit 2011 along with AJPW's and some from Oz Academy
- Determinator: One of the few promotions able to get bookings in locations where WWE tries to keep all other companies out.
- Double X: Magnitude Kishiwada and Gamma tag teaming as "FluXxx".
- Dreadlock Warrior: Delirious and Cyber Kong have tassels hanging off their masks to invoke it, while brother YASSHI has the real things and further invokes it with braids, including some in his beard.
- Engrish: Theme song names are frequent offenders, with names like WILD DRANK HUSKEY (Don Fujii) and KICK START THE ELEPHANT (Yasushi Kanda).
- Early-Bird Cameo: Magnum Tokyo, Shiima Nobunaga, Sumo Fuji, Judo Suwa, and Little Dragon note all made appearances in WCW in the late 90s. Tokyo actually got a bit of a push as the lackey of the Boogie Knights (Disco Inferno and Alex Wright), and Little Dragon beat Eddie Guererro on WCW Monday Nitro note .
- 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 regional promotions, such as those in the WWN. Perhaps because of this continuity, forced attempts often fall flat however.
- Fake Nationality: In-universe. Toryumon 2000 Project had a stable called the Italian Connection, founded by Akihito Terui, who would change his name to Milano Collection AT and claim to be Italian. He would add YOSSINOnote , "brother" YASSINInote , Condotti Shujinote , Berlinetta Boxernote and Pescatore Yaginote to the stable over its first couple years of existence. Most of them debuted under Japanese names, and once they joined the Italian Connection, pretended to be Italian as well. Eventually the stable lost a grudge match against a rival stable and were forced to admit they were Japanese and not Italian.
- Final Battle: Every year has Final Gate, though in 2013 Final Gate was followed by... The Last Gate of 2013
- Follow the Leader: The annual Dead or Alive hair vs mask cage match brings to mind CMLL's "cage of death", which has roughly the same stipulations.
- Foreign Fanservice: Los Guapos Internacional: Marco Corleone, Alex Koslov and Shocker in Toryumon Mexico.
- Handshake Refusal: Dragon Kid's first DGUSA angle revolved around Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi continued refusal to shake his hand.
- I Have the High Ground: Besides Sydal, AR Fox really stands out here, as he jumps on a lot of things. Ricochet is among the first wrestlers with a documented two full rotation moonsault. Rich Swann and Uhaa Nation don't need the high ground. CIMA used to be a high flier but became less of one as time went on.
- Interesting Situation Duel: Every bout on the Wakayama Bicycle Racetrack Special Match show.
- The Load: Stables will often have one member who is far enough below the others in skill that his teammates have to spend time rescuing him in addition to trying to win the match themselves. Raimu Mishima and Akira Tozawa were Loads in the past. Currently, Mondai Ryu in VERZER-K.
- Legacy Character: Dos Caras Jr. and Lizmark Jr.
- Licensed Game: Virtual Pro Wrestling was a WCW series, nominally, but had wrestlers from many different Japanese promotions and added Toryumon wrestlers after WCW went under.
- The Millstone: Stalker Ichikawa during his affiliation with CrazyMAX. Worse than being simply a load, if they so much as tagged him into the match he'd immediately screw up his offense and need saving. Teaming with him in a trios match was more like wrestling a 4 on 2 handicap match - or worse, like pro wrestling's version of an Escort Mission.
- Monster Clown: The original Los Payasos Tricolor have stopped through Toryumon Mexico.
- New Year Has Come: Originally the Primal Gate shows fulfilled this purpose. Later, they were replaced by Open the New Year Gate.
- Ninja: Dick Togo became "Ninja Warrior" when moving from Dragon Gate to Toryumon Mexico.
- Parody: If you know The Great Muta, well they did have TARU as The Great Ruta,
- Power Trio: Most teams who hold Open The Triangle Gate titles, though they are often part of larger groups. The Dirty Ugly Fucks (Pinkie Sánchez, Sami Callihan, Arik Cannon) are primarily a three man team.
- Punny Name: The Spiked Mohicans CIMA and Ricochet were not so named because the were Mohican.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Or are a part of World 1 International
- Ring Oldies: The over fifty Atlantis and Mil Máscaras in Toryumon México can still go, and being old proved unable to stop Atlantis from going to Japan as well.
- Scandal Gate: Infinity had an episode called Scandal Gate where BXB Hulk lost the Dream Gate title after facing four members of Mad Blankey by himself.
- Sexy Secretary: Su Yung is one for The Premier Athlete Brand, as well as a recruiter
- Take That!: Autin Aries and CIMA were engaged in an angle which turned out to be a comedic jab at WWE Tough Enough.
- Tag Team: Downplayed, the matches are usually more like Parejas, as tags usually are not necessary. Considering the Mexican origins of Toryumon/Dragon Gate, it's not surprising.
- Tag Team Twins: The Brahman Brothers/Sato Twins are the kings of this trope in Japan were considered one wrestler in Toryumon X and were allowed to compete in matches as the same person, as the referee would rather permit it than try and figure out who was who.
- The Cheerleader: Averted Trope. All the wrestlers were provided two cheerleaders during the WWN China tour. Cheerleaders who were actually sweet and there to get pops, even for the heels.
- Took a Level in Badass: Happens fairly often, since not only are rookies in the Toryumon/Dragon Gate system often expected to do a lot of losing, but are frequently started in jokey if not humiliating gimmicks. The prime example would have to be the Sato twins, who went from The Sailor Boys (pop idol backup singers for Taiji Ishimori) to the Brahamns (Hindu occultist deathmatch afficionados).
- Also any time someone who spends an extended period of time as a jobber starts getting pushed and wins titles - examples being Taku Iwasa and Akira Tozawa.
- Tournament Arc: Summer Adventure Tag League, Battle Of Tokyo, King Of Chop Tournament, Young Dragon Cup...
- Trope Codifier
- For various cheats such as outside interference and wimpy referees in Japanese wrestling. They had existed before, but were largely on their way out in "mainstream" shows (New Japan, All Japan, NOAH) till Toryumon's first graduating class got back from Mexico and made Toryumon Japan a hit.
- In the USA, there hadn't been a promotion that catered as much to a female audience by way of male fanservice since the mid 1980s, none that managed to be a major blip on anyone's radar anyway.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Combined with gratuitous English for Tigers Mask and Black Tigers, although the gimmicks came from Osaka Pro and somewhat make sense, since they have the added spin of being fan boys of a baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers.