First announced earlier this year, and hyped on Never Say Never, MLW has officially partnered with Dragon Gate, and I couldn't be happier. Dragon Gate is an interesting, exciting, unique company, and they will be a great match up for MLW's style. They used to have a show here in the US, but that ended in 2015, and the tape library of it has been bought by WWE. They haven't had any real presence here since, but MLW has given us another opportunity to have Dragon Gate here, and unlike Dragon Gate USA, it seems we will be incorporating Dragon Gate wrestlers here as opposed to making a whole new separate American roster. So why am I so excited? What about Dragon Gate has me so interested in seeing it cross over with MLW? I have five pitches that should not explain what I want to see out of this partnership, but what makes Dragon Gate so special.
Open the Triangle Gate Championship Defended
MLW is already working with AAA so their Trios belt could also be defended, but with Dragon Gate having their own Trios division, now it seems like we'll have to see a Trios match in MLW. Dragon Gate, despite being based out of Japan, uses Lucha Rules for its tag matches, meaning whenever someone rolls out of the ring their partner can step in. AAA operates the same way, so having Dragon Gate Trios and AAA Trios both on MLW would be seamless, and there wouldn't be a rule kerfuffle. MLW tag teams don't use Lucha Rules, but a new MLW Trios division going after the Open the Triangle Gate Championship absolutely could. Imagine Los Parks taking on the Open the Triangle Gate Champions The Natural Vibes(KZY, Genki Horiguchi, and Susumu Yokosuka) main eventing Fusion. That would be an international dream match right there. It would add a new flair to MLW, and with the faction based nature of the show, would fit like a glove.
King of Gate USA
King of Gate is the big annual tournament in Dragon Gate every year. Traditionally it has been a single elimination tournament like New Japan Cup, but from 2016 to 2019 to was round robin style like the G1 Climax. In 2020 it returned to single elimination, which we can expect to stay this year. There are two ways this could go in America, and I'm okay with either. We could have some MLW wrestlers enter the normal King of Gate, or do a second, smaller King of Gate USA tournament, similar to what NJPW is doing now with the USA New Japan Cup. I, for one, would love to see MLW wrestlers in the actual King of Gate, but with travel restrictions and such, I'd understand having a separate tournament. The best case scenario would see MLW wrestlers in the main King of Gate, and Dragon Gate wrestlers involved in the Opera Cup: MLW's big annual tournament. Letting wrestlers compete in your tournament is a great sign of honor and acceptance, and I think that would go a long way in building this partnership into something truly meaningful and special.
YAMATO VS Jacob Fatu
I thought long and hard about who from Dragon Gate should be the one to fight Jacob Fatu. If there is one thing this partnership needs to do, it's put over MLW's top champion. If he looks weak against Dragon Gate, then why not just watch Dragon Gate. He can lose, especially in tournament matches, but he really needs a big, special singles win out of this partnership. Shun Skywalker is the current Open the Dream Gate Champion(the top prize of Dragon Gate) but I don't want Dragon Gate to get their top guy eviscerated just to build up MLW: this partnership needs to be equal. So I found a great star of Dragon Gate, who could lose and not be seen as losing his sheen, but would still be a great challenge and important win for Fatu: YAMATO. He's the perfect fit because he's mostly a tag star now but is a very well established singles star. He's a four time Dream Gate Champion, a five time Triangle Gate Champion, and a whopping ten time Twin Gate Champion. He's a King of Gate winner, a Dragon Gate USA open the Freedom Gate champion, he holds wins over Jushin Liger and PAC, and has been doing this for quite some time. He would be a perfect match for Fatu as a special attraction match, and one that would truly cement Fatu's legacy, not just as a great champion, but as a great wrestler.
Lio Rush VS Ultimo Dragon
This is the big dream match for me. I have a little bit of fantasy booking leading up to this one. I want Lio to win the Open the Brave Gate Championship(basically a light heavyweight title) and combine all three belts, the MLW Middleweight, the AAA Cruiserweight, and the Brave Gate, into a new version of the Super J Crown. The Super J Crown was a collection of 8-9 belts all worn together that's best associated with Ultimo Dragon, who is one of the heads of Dragon Gate. Ultimo Dragon brings so much name recognition from his time in WCW, WWE, NJPW and more that he would be a massive draw. Lio is becoming one of the best cruiserweights in the world, and has never stepped in the ring with Ultimo Dragon. This match would be legendary, and MLW can now book it. There is so much going on with Lio and the cruiserweights that MLW can now take advantage of, and beating Ultimo would truly take Lio from being a great wrestler of his day, to one of the best of all time. When the deal between Dragon Gate and MLW was announced, this was the very first match I thought of, and the story could be amazing. Belt collector Lio Rush taking on Ultimo Dragon, the man who holds the record for most belts held at one time. It would truly be a clash for the ages, and I just can't see a world where MLW doesn't at least want this to happen.
A World Cup
I don't care if it's done as a single elimination, or a round robin, or even team based, I just need this to happen. We now have MLW, AAA, and Dragon Gate all together, and we have to do something with that. Give me Eita vs Laredo Kid, Arez vs Myron Reed, Calvin Tankman vs Takashi Yoshida, the options are endless. We have such a great partnership here, as MLW has quietly been opening "forbidden doors" left and right, giving us a worldwide relationship that can really change the landscape of wrestling. This could be a multiweek event, or even its own show. MLW has so much room to grow, and can really become a force of nature. I feel like we are on the cusp of something great here, and I can't wait to see what we get.