Saturday 8/1: DDT Beer Garden-Like Professional Wrestling 2020 Day 3
(Streams live at 5AM EDT on Wrestle Universe.)
One of DDT’s many annual ventures is their Beer Garden series. Held at Shinjuku FACE, these shows are raucous alcohol-friendly affairs with fans seated at long tables, drinks in hand. They feature a range of silly, fun specialty matches, and are heavy on strange stipulations and character work. This year, the series is being called “Beer Garden-Like” since alcohol will not be sold on-site as a public health precaution. However, the card itself looks to provide the same goofy, joyful fun as every year.
Each day has its share of worthwhile matches, including the return of the Hell in a Blue Sheet match and a Tornado Pantyhose Match. However, I chose to go with the last one because it features an iconic Beer Garden staple, the Drunk Match. This year’s match features Daisuke Sasaki (naturally) facing Yukio Sakiguchi and Yuki Iino in a 3-way. As always, it will involve the competitors imbibing more and more beer as the match progresses, which never fails to produce hilarity.
The show also has a Rock ‘n’ Roll 4-Way between Saki Akai, Antonio Honda, Kazuki Hirata and Shunma Katsumata. This returning stipulation involves the competitors dancing and wrestling to a variety of popular songs until someone dances into a pinfall. Additionally, there’s a six man tag match where fans draw the teams. Competitors in that match are Tetsuya Endo, Chris Brookes, Yuki Ueno, Naomi Yoshimura, Konsuke Takeshita and Kazusada Higuchi. If you’re watching the show live, I suggest following the DDT English Twitter account. It provides summaries of all on-mic content, as well as context invaluable to understanding these types of concept-heavy shows.
Saturday 8/1: Pro Wrestling NOAH The Spirit 2020
(Streams live at 10:30PM EDT on Wrestle Universe.)
This NOAH show is the rare Japanese wrestling show that airs on a Saturday night for North American wrestling audiences. For those who subscribe to the Wrestle Universe service, it’s the perfect excuse to check out a promotion that hasn’t always been convenient (or legal) to watch in the past. The main event sees current heavyweight title holder Go Shiozaki teaming with junior heavyweights Yo-Hey & Dasiuke Harada against Naomichi Marufuji and his own juniors, Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara. Shiozaki will defend his GHC Heavyweight Title against Marufuji on 8/5/2020, so this is one of their last opportunities to study each other before that match.
Kaito Kiyomiya has a singles match on the card against Kaz Hayashi, the accomplished veteran formerly from Wrestle-1. Elsewhere, GHC National Title holder Katsuko Nakajima teams with rookie Kinya Okada against Kongo faction heels Kenoh and Yoshiki Inamura.
Sunday 8/2: Dragon Gate Memorial Gate 2020 in Wakayama
(Streams live at 5AM EDT on Dragon Gate Network.)
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Dragon Gate ran a singles tournament called King of Gate 2020. Eita, leader of the heel faction R.E.D., eventually won the tournament by defeating Naruki Doi, allowing Eita to challenge for Doi’s Open the Dream Gate Championship. That match is the main event on this show. Eita has been a major player in Dragon Gate for years, capturing many of its titles over the past 7 years. Yet he has never won the Open the Dream Gate, DG’s highest honor. This match, on Dragon Gate’s biggest show in months, may be his best shot yet.
This show also has an Open the Twin Gate Championship match, with BxB Hulk & Kazma Sakamoto defending against Jason Lee & Kota Minoura. Additionally, there’s a special match between Dragon Gate’s three factions designed specifically for the show. Called a “3 Faction War Wakayama Rules Tornado Winning Match”, it pits a trio from each faction against each other. The teams will participate in a lottery before the show, drawing lots from one to three. It begins as a 3-way singles match, with team members entering at one-minute intervals determined by the lottery. The match then proceeds as a single-elimination tornado tag match, ending when one member from two of the three teams is defeated. The undercard features a singles match between KZY and Yasushi Kanda, as well as a tag match between Ultimo Dragon & Don Fujii and Masaaki Mochizuki & Gamma.