Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. At Hopeful Gate 2022, KAI puts the Open the Dream Gate Championship on the line against Shuji Kondo. Here’s what to know.
Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling has been on quite the roll in 2022, and they’ve continued to roll on by keeping things interesting. The whole road map to Kobe World could change as we have the second Open the Dream Gate Championship match in Korakuen Hall this year. This is a rematch of the most polarizing bout in King of Gate 2022 where Shuji Kondo beat KAI in 39 seconds. However, it originally wasn’t supposed to happen. The embarrassment KAI felt was enough to allow him to convince Dragon Gate General Manager Ryo Saito to bump Kondo to the front of the line. Yet, this match pitting KAI against Shuji Kondo at Hopeful Gate 2022 has years upon years of history.
▼Open the Dream Gate Championship
▼Skateboard contra Caballera
⭐︎Special guest referee: GM Ryo Saito pic.twitter.com/Q4wjWNI17Y
— Dragongate Japan Pro-Wrestling (Official English) (@DragonGateEN) July 3, 2022
KAI vs Shuji Kondo, Hopeful Gate 2022
KAI and Shuji Kondo have been connected together for years upon years. They were in All Japan Pro Wrestling together, and there, KAI defeated Kondo to become World Junior Champion in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. Then both men followed Keiji Mutoh to the Wrestle-1 promotion where Kondo was the head trainer and KAI was one of the first ace projects alongside Seiya Sanada. However, KAI never was able to reach the level W-1 had hoped and his reigns were often short and unremarkable. KAI eventually began freelancing once again while Kondo stayed with the company until it closed down.
KAI began appearing in Dragon Gate due to his relationship with the departing Shingo Takagi, and being a drinking partner of YAMATO. He stuck around after breaking BxB Hulk’s neck on accident to fulfill Hulk’s commitments as he was truly sorry. Soon he stopped appearing in other promotions and became mainly based in Dragon Gate. When W-1 shut down, Shuji Kondo came back home to Dragon Gate to be with his Toryumon brethren. The two had brief interactions, but KAI became Dream Gate Champion and finally seem to become that top guy people knew he could be.
KAI’s Dream Gate run has been quite different from others, as he mainly has wrestled the power fighters of Dragon Gate. He wanted to prove himself as the strongest, and he’s succeeded in proving that thus far. Then the first round of King of Gate 2022 happened, and if you blinked, you missed 39 seconds of all-out action ending with Shuji Kondo crushing the Dream Gate Champion. Kondo went on to the final four, but eventually lost and Yuki Yoshioka ended up winning the whole tournament.
Since Yoshioka won, he technically has a right to challenge the Dream Gate Champion, and has done so multiple times. However, KAI says since he didn’t beat him, he doesn’t see how he’s earned anything. Afterward, KAI nominated Shuji Kondo as his next challenger, and hoped for it to be for Kobe World. GM Saito had other ideas booking it at the scene of the defeat, Korakuen Hall. Kondo then promised Yoshioka if he let him challenge after he wins, then Yoshioka will get the first shot. Thus, Yoshioka allowed it to happen.
There’s no way that KAI isn’t walking into the biggest night of the year as Open the Dream Gate Champion. He’s had a fantastic reign, but what people should be looking out for is what happens afterward. Yoshioka does have the right to challenge, but also Minoura has stated simply he doesn’t agree with the Dream Gate match taking place at Korakuen. This is perhaps due to the fact he was the one that eliminated Kondo during King of Gate. Kondo will hold the belt one day, but it seems like a definite V4 for Z-Brats’ leader.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Looking to watch Dragon Gate? All their live shows will be on their steaming service Dragon Gate Network.