Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling’s King of Gate returns to the round-robin format in 2021. This tournament had much speculation around it as the initial start days got canceled due to the state of emergency. Afterward, an injury to HipHop Kikuta left a vacancy in the block, but now things are back on track and the tournament will go on as planned.
Here are the rules according to the official English Facebook: the tournament will consist of 3 blocks of 6 competitors in round-robin league play. The league will run from May 14th through May 30th. The 3 winners of each block, plus the winner of a second chance battle royal, will advance to the semifinals of a standard format tournament that will take place on June 3rd in Tokyo. The winner usually challenges for the Open The Dream Gate Championship. The point system works like this: 2 points are awarded for any victory, 1 point is awarded for a time limit draw, and 0 points are awarded for any loss, no contest, or double count out.
— Dragongate Japan Pro-Wrestling (Official English) (@DragonGateEN) May 13, 2021
King of Gate 2021 A Block
Naruki Doi is one of the absolute greatest wrestlers of all time, in terms of Dragon Gate. He has been a centerpiece for the company for quite some time. He just returned from injury, so he feels like he has something to prove. This is especially true considering last year, he made the King of Gate finals as Open The Dream Gate Champion. He is still indeed a top star and a dangerous threat, and probably the favorite to win the King of Gate 2021 block. However, that might not actually be the case.
Ben-K is a former King of Gate winner himself, and he went on to win the Open The Dream Gate Championship from PAC. However, he finds himself in quite a weird spot. For as much buzz HIGH-END had upon their formation, his faction mates have been successful in big spots. Ben-K seems to be the odd man out. He lost a singles match to HipHop Kikuta and has been a multi-person tag guy in the background. Perhaps scoring the victory at Dead or Alive 2021 has given him a boost of confidence. However, because of how up and down his year has been, someone who should be a favorite is now someone who seems like they have no shot. However, no one should count Ben-K out in the King of Gate 2021 tournament.
Kota Minoura is someone who seemingly, over the last year, just broke out. His Open The Twin Gate Championship run with Jason Lee was something different. It showcased how much young depth Dragon Gate has on the roster. Every single time he is in the ring, it seems like he is getting better. Minoura seems like he is always ready to just break out. This tournament could be that opportunity. While it may seem shaky with the depth of his block, Minoura has a high chance of taking the A Block. However, it won’t be easy by any means.
Takashi Yoshida is in the middle of an interesting time in his career. After a very long time as a heel, he finds himself a babyface. While it’s something that might have seemed odd last year, he made the transition rather beautifully. He showed how good he was in a tag team with Masaaki Mochizuki. However, this current version of Takashi Yoshida gets to test himself in singles now. His tournament is hard to navigate; winning the block may not be likely. The muscle beast is a heavy favorite if he has to be in the second chance battle royal. It will be interesting to see how he handles this chance.
BxB Hulk is always a deadly opponent to face in any setting. He stands out in this block due to his elite striking. Every wrestler in this block overpowers him easily. However, Hulk might be the smoothest wrestler in this block. He is graceful in all his attacks and his striking might be what helps him overcome the power game of many. Hulk is someone who could very well sneak away with the block, but his case is like Yoshida’s where no one really knows. Only time will tell if BxB Hulk will be one step closer to another Dream Gate run.
Diamanté is the dark horse of this entire tournament. Diamanté has been the top Dragon Gate foreigner since he first came to the company. He boasts an insane combination of power, agility, speed, and grappling. With his big singles win over Bokutimo Dragon in their mask vs. mask match, he has nice momentum going as far as singles action goes. He is someone who could sneak their way into the semi-finals by winning the block or battle royal. It would probably be smart to track his progress throughout the tournament.
King of Gate 2021 B Block
KZY, since reforming Natural Vibes and being a leader once again, has been on fire. He has built a solid record when it comes to wins and losses. He also had a recent reign as Open The Triangle Gate Champion with Susumu Yokosuka and Genki Horiguchi. He has all the tools to be the top guy from being a great worker to having charisma off the charts. However, he has a problem winning the big one, where it feels like it’s his time, then it isn’t. He just can’t take the next step that he needs. However as a frontman once again, he very well could take this block. Although this is one of the hardest blocks to call, he has to be considered a King of Gate 2021 favorite.
Eita won King of Gate last year and rode that wave to become Dream Gate Champion; this, in and of itself, makes him a favorite. He is a favorite and a serious threat to take the whole tournament and become champion again. While he has sat in the background since losing to Shun Skywalker, things are different now. This is a singles setting where it’s all about him. No matter how he gets the job done, he is one of the best Dragon Gate has to offer. There’s no doubt Eita will be looking to get back to the top of Dragon Gate by any means necessary.
For Susumu Yokosuka, the tournament might have the narrative of his victory. However, the narrative also involves him becoming older and having a down 2020. He also suffered the pinfall to lose the Triangle Gate belt. Despite these setbacks, he is not slowing down and one shouldn’t take him lightly. Otherwise, he will eat them alive and make them pay. Yokosuna is going to look to knock down some of the big names in this block. However, that thought of becoming Dream Gate Champion again probably sits in the back of his mind.
Jason Lee has shown drastic improvement each and every year; this will more than likely be his story in this tournament. He aims to show his progress and what he can do in a singles setting. While the odds of him winning the King of Gate 2021 aren’t very high, he won’t go down without a fight. He could have a very interesting tournament.
Dragon Kid is coming off of toppling SBKENTo in the Dead or Alive cage match. He has finally gained some closure from the Toryumon disbandment where SBKENTo made him tap after ripping his mask. After losing a singles match to SBKENTo in Korakuen, Dragon Kid finally received his redemption. For some odd reason, Dragon Kid doesn’t really feel like someone who can win, when in reality, he definitely could. He has never been Open The Dream Gate Champion, and maybe that’s enough motivation to get him to the next level. However, only time will tell what type of tournament Dragon Kid will have.
Another odds-on favorite to win the block is SBKENTo. While he lost at Dead or Alive before, he has been on quite the tear since joining R.E.D. He is a super rookie in every sense of the word and he seems to only be getting better. He obviously is a one-in-a-generation talent, and for that reason, there is a scenario where Dragon Gate goes all the way with him. He could lap the King of Gate 2021 field and eventually go on to fight for the Open The Dream Gate Championship. No matter what happens to him, it seems like he only gains more momentum, even in defeat. His tournament will be an interesting one, especially with R.E.D. leader Eita in the same block.
King of Gate C Block
The Open The Dream Gate Champion enters King of Gate 2021, looking to replicate what Naruki Doi did last year. Except, Shun Skywalker is looking to win after coming off a fourth defense that got cut short. His focus has shifted to King of Gate and Skywalker very well could win this tournament. However, it’s hard to see what he would do if he won the tournament. It’s very hard to dissect, but it would be crazy to count the champ out.
The Open The Brave Gate Champion is coming off a great defense against U-T. While he is the Brave Gate Champion, the idea of also holding the Open The Dream Gate Championship is probably very appealing to Keisuke Okuda. However, more than anything in this block, Okuda is a target for two other men who are also in this block. While he may not win the block or battle royal, Okuda is probably going to be looking to fight off possible challengers.
Kaito Ishida started the year off rough, but he has bounced back greatly. He started off the year staking his claim for the Open The Dream Gate Championship but ultimately fell short in his attempt to beat Shun Skywalker. However, Ishida recently formed a tag team out of boredom with KAZMA Sakamoto. At Dead or Alive, they captured the Open The Twin Gate Championship. Ishida is prancing into this tournament as a champion, but the ultimate goal is the Dream Gate. If there was a dark horse pick for this block, it’s Ishida.
U-T has really come into his own since joining Natural Vibes. He has that confidence he was always lacking and finally feels like himself. He tried his luck at the Open The Brave Gate Championship in his hometown of Nagoya, but he failed at the hands of Keisuke Okuda. U-T won’t win this tournament or come close. However, U-T’s his eyes are still on Keisuke Okuda and his dream of being Brave Gate Champion. U-T will give it his all, but expect his focus to be on beating Okuda.
H•Y•O is the injury replacement for HipHop Kikuta, but originally, he was not in this tournament at all. It might seem easy to write him out for this reason. That would not be the logical thing to do, though, because he can sneak wins away from any man on any given night. However, just like U-T, he will probably be aiming for Okuda. He also failed to dethrone Okuda and will more than likely be out for revenge.
YAMATO must move on from KAI after failing to receive closure in their recent feud. YAMATO must turn his attention to King of Gate 2021, especially after the rough 2020 he had. It’s almost like as soon as he takes a step forward, he ends up taking three steps back. Nonetheless, this is a tournament that YAMATO can win, and in this block, he is probably one of the favorites. For a reason why, one could say that, deep down, he wants to be Open The Dream Gate Champion again.
King of Gate 2021 Prediction
Right now, this tournament has two winners who seem like the perfect options: KZY and SBKENTo. Either that fails to win their block may win the second chance battle royal. A Block will probably go to the surprise pick of Kota Minoura and it seems like a given that YAMATO takes C Block. Overall, this is the perfect chance for KZY to get his moment he has been chasing by beating YAMATO in the finals and winning King of Gate 2021. This year’s tournament is nothing short of unpredictable.
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