Posted on

Lights … Camera … Pandemonium!

Masha Slamovich vs. Johnny Hollywood (John Morrison/Hennigan) at Pandemonium Pro Wrestling

Pandemonium Pro Wrestling’s Exciting Evolution


“IT’S PANDEMONIUM!” THESE were the iconic words often uttered by the late, great Gorilla Monsoon when things on WWF television kicked up a notch. And while Gorilla, sadly, isn’t with us any longer, “Pandemonium” can still be found in the wrestling business. In particular, we see it on the West Coast, where a new promotion has adopted the moniker as a catch-all description for the action it offers.

Pandemonium Pro Wrestling is a Los Angeles-based wrestling promotion that debuted in 2021. In recent months, it has gotten increasingly serious about offering a product that captures the cinematic elements of Hollywood blockbuster films and merges them with professional wrestling. If you think of Lucha Underground and Wrestling Society X, then you are on the right track.

An earlier episode of Pandemonium TV. While still showcasing the stars of the L.A. independent scene, Pandemonium Pro Wrestling has since become more ambitious on the production side of things, taking inspiration from some interesting places.

The growing company features competitors from all over the world, from West Coast sensations like Kidd Bandit and the promotion’s current Gen Z champion, Wicked Wickett, to notable talent from major companies such as AEW’s Fuego Del Sol, IMPACT Wrestling’s Alan Angels, NJPW’s Yuya Uemura, and even former WWE Intercontinental champion John Hennigan (performing here as “Johnny Hollywood.”

The mission and vision, as laid out by the promotion itself, is for Pandemonium Pro Wrestling to showcase the talent of Los Angeles and the surrounding counties and place them into an environment with the cinematic feel of a Marvel film.

“Professional wrestling is one of the highest forms of performance art in the world,” noted PPW director/editor/wrestler, Kidd Bandit. “We wanted a company that departs from the sports-based presentation of pro wrestling and focuses on its parallels with a stage-play spectacle.”

This more theatrical approach can even be seen in the job titles given to the key people behind PPW. In addition to Bandit, the company lists Asan Washington as its CEO and Executive Producer and camera operator Hoby Lasko as its Cinematographer.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the larger-than-life personalities, the cinematography of the action, and the narrative of the stories,” said Bandit. And it’s this focus on production and visual elements that may help the promotion stand apart from the pack on a crowded indie scene.

Holiday in Hollywood marked the IWTV debut of PPW, and it was featured as our “Spotlight Card” in the January 30 edition of the PWI Weekly. The event, filmed on December 4, 2022, at the Jaxx Theatre in the heart of Hollywood, was a blend of everything that makes Pandemonium Pro Wrestling one of the hottest tickets in Tinseltown. From the high-impact fast-paced action of the opening lucha bout between Serpentico and Wicked Wickett to the impressive showcase of NJPW’s Young Lions, The DKC and Yuya Uemura, Holiday in Hollywood had a little something for most wrestling tastes.

The main event of that show was The Hollywood Classic: a hyper-competitive ten-person gauntlet match for the “Ticket To Hollywood” contract. Ishmael Vaughn won the contest, earning a future shot at either the dotTV championship or the Gen Z championship at any time.

With a broadcast deal that sees the product showcased on IWTV, Pandemonium Pro Wrestling is rolling ahead toward another big show on March 29.

“Our next event is called ‘dotTV Vol. 4: Best Damn Thing,'” revealed Kidd Bandit. “It will be headlined by the Rumble Riot Match for the Pandemonium Pro championship, as well as a dotTV title bout between Johnny Hollywood and Masha Slamovich. And the whole thing will be available for viewing on IWTV VOD.”

To paraphrase Horace Greeley, if you are looking for something a little different in the wrestling sphere right now, go West, young person! Because, in Hollywood, it’s Pandemonium out there.

Posted on

IT IS KZY TIME … And The U.S. Is About To Go Crazy!

It's Kzy Time!



It's Kzy Time!


DURING THE MONTH of February, the leader of Dragongate’s NATURAL VIBES, Kzy, and the unit’s powerhouse, BIG BOSS Shimizu, will be wrestling throughout the U.S.—East to West Coast and some in between!

When I was still in Japan, I had the opportunity to speak with Kzy just days ahead of the tour announcement. He is the man in charge of Dragongate’s most beloved faction, NATURAL VIBES, known for its feel-good energy, music, and, most importantly, being the blueprint for what a cohesive unit should be.

NATURAL VIBES (Good Vibes Only): Dragongate

“We stay true to who we are,” explains Kzy. “We respect each other, support each other. There are no betrayals.  We are made up of ‘Good Vibes Only.’”

Since re-establishing NATURAL VIBES, Kzy has focused his efforts on coaching and mentoring the next generation of talent in Dragongate.  “When the first iteration of NATURAL VIBES was established, I had Susumu (Mochizuki) and Genki (Horiguchi) to help develop me as a top player,” he said. “After their departure from the unit, I assumed their former roles in order to pay it forward to the younger generation of wrestlers that make up NATURAL VIBES, Chapter 3: Jacky, Jason, and (Strong Machine) J.” 

In my interviews with Jacky Funky Kamei, Jason Lee, and Strong Machine J (SMJ), each effusively praised the group’s leader, with SMJ acknowledging it was Kzy who gave him the opportunity and the platform to be the truest version of himself. Without such a supportive captain, NATURAL VIBES simply would not be what it is today.

Big Boss Shimizu & Kzy

Given the choice, I wondered whether Kzy preferred being the undisputed “Top Guy” in Dragongate or being a leader among his peers. He doesn’t see the two as being mutually exclusive. “As a leader, I always strive to be in the limelight,” he admitted. “But helping the younger wrestlers become the next generational group to lead the promotion ignites the fire and grit within [me] to continue to fight harder to achieve my results. Helping them elevates me.” 

While that may be true, those who have followed Kzy’s career have wondered when it will finally be his time to reign as Open the Dream Gate champion. That includes the NATURAL VIBES leader himself. “Seeing all the younger wrestlers thrive and become champion, from the lens of the promotion, I am very happy to see,” Kzy told PWI. “However, personally, it is frustrating [to not become champion]. In Dragongate, timing is everything. And when the time is right, I will be ready to take advantage of it.” 

Perhaps his journey overseas will enable the veteran wrestler to become closer to undeniable. And what should U.S. fans expect from Kzy? “In every state and venue I will be wrestling at, it is going to be fun,” he said. It is going to be loud, it is going to be exciting!”

Dragongate fans will nod their heads in agreement. They have learned to expect nothing less from “Mr. All Gas No Breaks, Mr. Full Throttle!”

Take it from the man himself: “That is why it is always Kzy Time.” 

If you have never seen Kzy wrestle before, you are in for a treat! 

At the end of this article, we will provide you with some recommended matches to watch via YouTube. However, the one that solidified everything for Kzy is available exclusively on the DRAGONGATE Network ( This is Open the Dream Gate challenge against PAC on February 10, 2019. 

Even though Kzy was not victorious in the end, he proved that he could go toe to toe with a world-class wrestler, giving him the confidence in his ability that he can stand with the best on the planet

U.S. Tour Schedule for Kzy & BIG BOSS Shimizu


02-03 GSPW (New Jersey) 

02-04 MLW (Philadelphia) 

02-17 Prestige (Portland) 

02-18 BLP (Chicago) 

02-25 MEW (Alabama) 

02-26 ETU (New Jersey) 


BIG BOSS Shimizu displays his impressive strength

02-03 GSPW (New Jersey) 

02-04 MLW (Philadelphia) 

02-18 WrestleRave (Texas) 

02-25 MEW (Alabama) 

02-26 ETU (New Jersey) 


Kzy vs. Shun Skywalker, 12-16-2022

Kzy vs. Shun Skywalker, Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival 2021, 07-31-2021

Kzy vs. Kota Minoura, King of Gate 2021, 06-03-2021




2月ではNATURAL VIBESのリーダーであるKzy選手とBIG BOSS清水選手が渡米することになりました!

アメリカンツアーが発表前に運よくKzy選手と話す機会がありました。彼がドラゴンゲートの最愛であるユニットNATURAL VIBESのリーダーです。改めて紹介しますが、NATURAL VIBESはエネルギーと音楽で知られている中、彼らの結束力がユニットのあるべき姿でもあります。


「私達は私達に誠実であり続ける。お互いに尊重し、支え合っている。裏切りなんてしない。私達はいつもGood Vibes Onlyで構成されている」

NATURAL VIBESを再結成して以来Kzy選手は次世代選手の指導や育成に力を注いでいます。「NATURAL VIBESが立ち上げた当初は望月ススムさんと堀口元気さんにトッププレイヤーとして育ててくれました。彼らがユニットを離脱した後、NATURAL VIBES第3章を構成する若い世界のジャッキー、ジェイソン、とストロングマシーンJに恩返しするために、彼ら(望月と堀口)の役割を引き継ぎました。」

ジャッキーとジェイソン選手、そしてストロング・マシーンJ選手のインタビューでは、それぞれがリーダーを絶賛し、J選手は真の自分であるための機会を与えてくれたのはKzy選手であると認めている。NATURAL VIBESはこんな協力的なリーダーがいなければ、今のような姿にはならなかっただろう。









2月3日 GSPW、ニュージャージー州







2月3日 GSPW、ニュージャージー州








King of Gate 2021年、2021年6月3日


Posted on

DDT Pro’s MAO and Shunma Katsumata Come To Prestige Wrestling

DDT Pro’s MAO and Shunma Katsumata Come To Prestige Wrestling


IT HAS BEEN (almost) four years since Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) last came to America. Now that travel bans have been lifted, and DDT Pro is set to “Go Hollywood” over WrestleMania Weekend., fans in California are being treated to a sneak peak of what to expect in March. That’s because MAO and Shunma Katsumata make their Prestige Wrestling debut at this Saturday’s VENDETTA event.

Those who are unfamiliar with #ddtpro, MAO, and/or Shunma will be introduced to “the honest to goodness anything goes DDT style; the perfect example of what personifies the core of DDT wrestling,” as MAO so eloquently put it!

MAO, who is no stranger to wrestling in the U.S.—who can forget his Weapon’s Rumble Match against DDT’s President Sanshiro Takagi at DDT is COMING TO AMERICA?—as well as Europe, is very excited to re-introduce his “F****d Up Wrestling For A F****dUp World.” His previously scheduled tour (with his Moonlight Express partner, Mike Bailey) was derailed due to the global pandemic.

At Prestige, MAO will be wrestling against Kevin Blackwood in what will be a fast-paced, hard-hitting match. It’s a bout that I can guarantee you will not want to miss. And you can catch it streaming live via at 7 p.m. PST, 10 p.m. EST.

For his part, DDT’s “Happy Boy,” Shunma Katsumata, is traveling outside of Japan for the first time in his life … and he could not be more excited!  “It will be a whole new world for me to experience,” said Katsumata. “In preparation for this trip, I have been watching YouTube videos of California to get a feel for the area.”

He continued: “As the Genki member Sauna KAMINA (#T37K), I want the fans in the U.S. to see and understand how happy I am every time I step in the ring and how much I truly enjoy wrestling.” 

But do not be fooled by all the happiness you might see … because Shunma Katsumata will tap into his hardcore alter ego when the situation calls for it. And, in his no-holds-barred match with Sonico, I would not be surprised to see him “LEGO” and “NEPPOWER” himself to victory!

To see more of MAO and Shunma Katsumata, make sure to subscribe to #wrestleUNIVERSE. And stay tuned to this blog for a more in-depth spotlight of both wrestlers on the road to DDT Goes Hollywood!

Posted on


Shun vs. Yuki


Why He Will Conquer The Wrestling World

Shun Skywalker raises his hand


LAST TIME WE spoke with Dragongate’s self-proclaimed savior, Shun Skywalker, he was headed to Mexico and the U.S., to show his ruthless strength and prove why he personifies the level of talent DG has to offer. And, in the two months since his return, Skywalker has been on a tear:

1. Took the Triangle Gate title from M3K
2. Championed the disbandment of HIGH END
3. Challenged for the Dream Gate Championship.

But what about his quest to end Kzy and NATURAL VIBES?

“We will, how do you say it …” he says, searching for the right words.

Put a pin in it?

“Yes, put a pin on that,” agreed Skywalker. He then added, with a maniacal laugh, “for now!”

Shun Skywalker applies a cravat hold.

At this moment, Skywalker is applying some of the lessons he learned during his recent North American tour.

“While there are many great wrestlers in Dragongate, in America, I found many wrestlers with different talent, attributes, styles, wrestling psychology … something I had not seen or experienced before,” he revealed. “I also returned to Mexico to train, gain new experience, work with the promotions I was not able to work with during the global pandemic, and wrestle luchadores I have wanted to work with, like Dragon Lee, Komander, Jack Evans, Aeroboy, and Ciclon Ramirez Jr.”

Though he locked up with numerous wrestlers—and briefly wore the MLW World middleweight title—Skywalker was able to single out a favorite battle. “My match in GCW against Nick Wayne,” he said, citing the teenage prodigy currently under a developmental-like deal with AEW. “His ideas and style embody what pro wrestling is. He has a great and promising future. And I am excited to see what the future holds for him … and what our next match will be like.”

Originally, Skywalker indicates he had no immediate plans to return to the U.S. However, on November 24, he was announced as the second entrant in the 2023 edition of the celebrated Battle of Los Angeles tournament. The announcement prompted us to reach out to him for a follow-up.

Shun Skywalker's maniacal laughter

During his 2019/2020 excursion, Shun Skywalker had expressed his desire to wrestle at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (home of the BOLA tourney) and face the likes of Bandido, Mike Bailey, A-Kid, and Lucky Kid. Unfortunately, the pandemic derailed any possibility of making those match-ups a reality. When Skywalker returned to Japan, he captured the prestigious Open the Dream Gate championship; however, the proverbial Gates were still closed worldwide. Now, there’s nothing stopping him from continuing to show the world his style of wrestling; that he is, in his mind, the greatest wrestler on the planet; and why PWG wants Shun Skywalker.

“My first-round match is against Aramis, but I am also looking forward to the prospect of wrestling Konosuke Takeshita, Daniel Garcia, Lio Rush, Komander, and my teacher, friend, brother, and rival, Bandido,” Skywalker said. “Three years ago, when wrestling shows were suspended, I spent most of my time in Mexico training with Bandido. He has beaten me twice, has made his mark in the world, is an AEW-contracted wrestler. But I do not think he is better than me. I have gained the power and the experience I did not have at the time we faced each other … and have evolved as a beautiful idol with a crazy spirit.”

Skywalker, confident in his own abilities, has vowed that he will win the 2023 Battle of Los Angeles tournament. But he’s also got other things on his wild mind. On Christmas Day, he interrupted Ben-K and Yuki Yoshioka as they thanked one another for the great match they’d just had—a gesture of goodwill that Skywalker did not appreciate!

Shun vs. Yuki

“Certainly, Ben-K vs Yuki Yoshioka was a good match,” he acknowledged. “In pro wrestling, there needs to be respect between opponents. However, wrestlers do not need to make commercialized praise and shows of affection. When I heard their declarations in the ring, I grabbed a microphone and spoke my mind.”

In his view, the current Dream Gate champ is simply not the best man for the job. “Yuki Yoshioka should not hold the title that shined the brightest when it was mine,” he said. “I do not want the Dream Gate championship [belt] that he has…I detest the title ‘HE’ holds and I have no interest in carrying that unnecessary baggage. But, I do not want someone who is weak, has devalued the title, and whose stupid fans just love his cheap impressions. So, I issued the challenge.”

Shun Skywalker brawls outside the ring

And we do not have to wait long to see that match! Dragongate General Manager, Ryo Saito (SaiRyo), made the title bout official for the company’s January 12 Korakuen Hall show. Taking place just days after Skywalker’s PWG jaunt, the DG show will be streaming live via with English commentary.

Make sure you subscribe! Because, the day before that match, Shun Skywalker and the rest of Z-Brats will be involved in a unit-disbandment match against HIGH END (YAMATO and Dragon Kid), with the assistance of Takashi Yoshida and Problem Dragon.

“In Dragongate, broken or incomplete units are unnecessary,” said Skywalker. “In the hierarchy of units, HIGH END does not belong or deserve the place they continue to hold. SaiRyo, as a former wrestler, and now GM, has betrayed the unit code and has used his power and position to allow for the emotional nepotism they represent. If the GM is not apt to do his job, then Shun Skywalker will take over. I will enforce my laws and police all the undeserving talent in Dragongate.”

Shun Skywalker laughs on the entrance ramp

Though he may be a little autocratic, Skywalker still knows where his bread is buttered. Thus, he has a message for fans who watched him on his most recent excursion. “I know you enjoyed my matches,” he said. “I understood when you said, ‘I love Shun, I want Shun, I need Shun in my life.’ I know you want me back and want me booked at those shows again. Do not forget to remind the promoters to do so.”




  1. M3Kからトライアングル・ゲート奪還
  2. HIGH ENDの解散宣言
  3. オープン・ザ・ドリーム・ゲート挑戦表明










元々スカイウォーカー選手はアメリカに戻る予定はなかったが11月24日PWG 「Battle of Los Angeles 2023年」に出場することになりました。その発表で今回の記事に至りました。





Shun Skywalker taunts his opponent




Shun Skywalker poses backstage







Posted on

From NATURAL VIBES To Kung Fu Masters

Lee & Kamei pose with the Open the Twin Gate tag team title belts

From NATURAL VIBES To Kung Fu Masters

The Two Faces Of Jason Lee & Jacky Funky Kamei

Lee & Kamei pose with the Open the Twin Gate tag team title belts


IN PRO WRESTLING, one needs to develop a character or persona that resonates with an audience. This is no easy task to accomplish merely once—just ask any wrestler who has cycled through multiple gimmicks over the course of a career.

Imagine, then, a tag team ably portraying multiple characters within the same wrestling company … at the same time.

Lee & Kamei vs. Z-Brats

Indeed, it is a major challenge to embody two different characters and the relationships those characters have—completely distinct and unique—and yet, DRAGONGATE’s Jason Lee and Jacky Funky Kamei have managed to do just that!

Both members of the NATURAL VIBES unit, Lee and Kamei make for an awesome pair. Lee introduces himself as the “pro wrestler from Hong Kong that represents DG, able to master everything he does.” While Kamei is the self-described “funky energetic Jackie Chan lookalike with a deadly POW!”

Given their respective namesakes (Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan) and connections to the culture and land, the two tandem specialists decided to create a Hong Kong-centric unit of their own. (Note: DG is based in Kobe, home to a large Chinatown area named Nankinmachi.)

A deftly applies submission hold

Realizing that a two-wrestler unit would not be able to survive long in DG’s competitive landscape, invitations were extended to Hong Kong native Ho Ho Lun and his friend Super Shenlong III.

When asked if it’s ever confusing to alternate between their original personas and newer personas, Lee is nonplussed. “Honestly, no,” he told PWI. “Kung Fu Masters (KFM) is more a comedy unit, something I do not mind doing. However, the Jason Lee you see wrestle as part of NV (Natural Vibes), the technically sound, high-speed athlete with an infusion of kung fu, is who I am.”

So, if he must pick one version of Jason Lee, which does he prefer? “NV Jason Lee, definitely!”

For the record, KFM’s Jason and Jacky are more than just a comedy act. At Kobe World Festival 2022, they dethroned Open the Twin Gate champions Shun Skywalker & Diamante—pound-for-pound, one of the promotion’s biggest, most dominant, and most agile duos. Interestingly, the so-called comedy unit seems to have made its members more confident in their abilities.

“KFM has given me the ability to expand my range when speaking on the microphone, show that a wrestler with a small body, big heart, who will never give up, is not limited in the ring,” said Kamei. “My style remains the same for the most part … displays of strength, with the ability to cover every inch of the ring, and strike from any angle.”

And, while both Kamei and Lee have desires to win singles titles in a not-too-distant future, they both prefer tag team wrestling. “With a great partner,” adds Lee. “Like I’ve had with Kota Minoura, and now Jacky.”

“In a tag team, you have the ability to develop and create powerful team moves,” Kamei said. “Which requires a combination of strength and skills.”

Moreover, Lee & Kamei have plans to conquer the world as a team … and regain the Twin Gate title they lost to D’Courage in Tokyo. “I truly believe the outcome [of the match] would have been different, had they faced the NV team,” said Lee. “KFM, the unit that is specific to Kobe … We were at a disadvantage by not having the energy, power, and the spirit of the community with us.”
And having been there in September to witness the loss, this author cannot disagree with Lee’s assessment.


NATURAL VIBES to Kung Fu Masters

With that, we leave you with Lee & Kamei’s parting words for readers of our ongoing DRAGONGATE Series:

“I hope to have more fans learn about and watch DG. And, when I wrestle again in the U.S. and Mexico, new fans and current fans come to watch and support during the tours.” – Jason Lee

“Please everyone watch and support DG and my FUNKY wrestling! POW POW!” – Jacky Funky Kamei


Jacky Funky Kamei vs SB KENTo, October 17, 2021

Jason Lee vs Shun Skywalker, April 25, 2022

Jason Lee & Jacky Funk Kamei vs. Diamante & Shun Skywalker, July 30, 2022

Kung Fu Masters vs. Genki Horiguchi & Teelan Shisa, November 19, 2022

NATURAL VIBESからカンフー・マスターズへ



















みなさん是非DRAGONGATEと私のファンキーレスリングを見てくださいね!POW POW!

Posted on

On Heels: Wardlow, Samoa Joe, GCW’s Kevin Gill

Samoa Joe lets out a war cry at Full Gear in Newark, NJ, November 2022

ON HEELS: Wardlow, Samoa Joe, GCW’s Kevin Gill


THOUGH I’M MOST comfortable guiding my talents to victory from the safety of ringside, never take the fact that I don’t enter the ring as meaning I can’t!

No, I am not discussing the countless uncalled-for instances where wrestlers have laid their hands on me as I work my managerial magic. Unfortunately, that occurs far more than I care to admit. Last spring, Mia Yim knocked out my tooth … and Jacob Fatu broke my ribs just months later!

More than once in 2022, however, my hand has been forced—requiring me to defend myself.

Early this year, during Game Changer Wrestling’s San Francisco debut, Joey Janela took apparent offense to me cheering on DARK Sheik during their match. He violently assaulted me even before the bell.

After regaining my composure, I exacted a modicum of revenge—powerbombing “The Bad Boy” through a table. Doing so in seven-inch platform heels seemingly shocked many, leading to a “Moment Of The Year” nomination in the annual Outsports QWI Awards.

Most recently, though, I put the heels aside and climbed between the ropes to wrestle. On Halloween Eve, at Underground Wrestling Alliance Devil’s Night 17, I led The Agenda into eight-person action against The Circus of Sin.

Our place as the most dominant faction in UGWA’s storied history—and, for that matter, all of California—was challenged by Funnybone, Super Beast, Abigail Warren, and vile leader KP. Months of skullduggery and ceaseless, unprovoked attacks against my glamour, beauty, and managerial genius led to one epic night.

Once KP and I were face-to-face—and my earrings came off—their fate was sealed! Like glitter you simply can’t get rid of, I was all over that frightful cretin as we brawled into a corner. Eventually, they, too, felt the wrath of my “Pollo Bomb”!

Even The Circus of Sin grew tired of KP, as each member ultimately delivered beatings to their hapless former ally. Who am I to be swayed by such misfortune? I offered a final, devastating elbow drop to the doughy dumbass and secured the pin!

That same night, UGWA tag team champions Money Power Re$pect (Marco Mayur & Fabuloso Fabricio), “Link to the Future” Anton Voorhees, and I continued our celebration. We gathered ringside as DARK Sheik regained the UGWA Championship of Sharks.

Once again, we reign supreme. Everyone in California, and soon beyond, will know: You’re either with The Agenda … or you’re on our agenda!


Samoa Joe lets out a war cry at Full Gear in Newark, NJ, November 2022
Pollo Del Mar applauds the return of Samoa Joe’s killer instinct in All Elite Wrestling, which led him to become a double champion at Full Gear 2022. (PHOTO BY JAYLEE MEDIA)

Did Ring of Honor Television champion Samoa Joe attacking AEW TNT champion Wardlow on a recent episode of Dynamite make sense to me?

Not particularly, but I certainly didn’t cry over the dissolution of the all-too-brief WardJoe partnership. Frankly, it gave me something I have waited far too long to see!

Few AEW debuts inspired the excitement I felt for Joe’s. Criminally underutilized by WWE, where he unquestionably should have been World champion, injury nearly robbed him of all opportunity to rectify that elsewhere.

In AEW, I hoped Joe would emerge as a killer poised to right that wrong. (Re)capturing the ROH TV title teased the possibility … but when? After a few matches, Joe disappeared from the very television he purportedly represented and faded into an afterthought. (Not uncommon in the bloated AEW, it seems, where sidelined or underutilized talents exceed even most larger-scale Indie rosters.)

All that changed at Full Gear! In front of a sold-out crowd, the devious Samoan snatched victory from Wardlow, putting away Powerhouse Hobbs in triple-threat action to become the new AEW TNT champion.

Fans can whine and complain about Joe’s underhanded tactics. They can bemoan Wardlow losing his belt without actually being defeated. Say whatever you like; it does not change facts.

Samoa Joe is a former ROH and IMPACT World champion, can brag about carrying major title belts around the globe, and now joins a select few to become a double-champion within AEW. Joe has finally reclaimed all that was nearly taken from him, and I, for one, love to see it.

Indeed, I’d love to see even more. Perhaps it’s time AEW crowns its own Samoan Dynasty.


How verrry dare you, Kevin Gill?!

After decades as a West Coast-based hype man, the pro wrestling vocal legend has packed it in! No, he’s not retiring, but the man known to fans worldwide as “The Voice Of GCW” and beyond announced his shocking decision to leave the San Francisco Bay Area.

“The O.G.” briefly discussed this relocation during a recent appearance on Busted Open Radio. There, he joined host Dave LaGreca and Thunder Rosa to share his lifelong love affair with deathmatch wrestling and how today’s Game Changer Wrestling—where Kevin’s commentary is an experience-altering must—continues that tradition.

I don’t care that Kevin’s move is fueled by golden intentions! What do I give a damn about some bleeding heart softie’s desire to be closer to and better able to support and assist loved ones in times of need and crisis?!

Kevin never shook the New York, which is obvious to any who have heard him call matches from Kansas to Korakuen Hall. And yet, the West Coast had stolen one of the best play-by-play men not signed to a major company.

And now this?!

Oh, Kevin Gill, you will rue the day you turned your back on California. And I might yet be the one to personally make you pay!

Posted on

Shingo Takagi Returns At DRAGONGATE Fan Appreciation Night

Shingo Takagi

DRAGONGATE Fan Appreciation Night (Shingo Takagi Returns!)

PWI’s Ringside Report (12.06.22)


THE FIRST OF hopefully many DRAGONGATE Fan Appreciation Nights gave us a glimpse of what’s to come on the road to FinalGate2022, offered an impressive rookie debut, solidified the greatness of Masaaki Mochizuki, and gave us the return of NJPW’s Shingo Takagi after a four-year absence from the company. In other words: FAN SERVICE at its best!

If you have not watched the show, do yourself a favor and go do so! It is FREE! No sign-up required; all you have to do is type on your web browser and select the “English Commentary” option for the 12.6 show. It does not get any easier than that.

The night began with a fast-paced tag team match between Kaito Nagano (who debuted three months ago, yet is wrestling like he has been doing it for much longer) and Dragon Dia vs. the Z-Brats team of ISHIN and Diamante. I am still waiting for that ‘Mante/Nagano singles match, DG!

In the second match of the night, rookie Yoshiki Kato had his debut match against Madoka Kikuta. Talk about a show of strength between these two … the future looks so so bright for Kato!

Strong Machine J displayed more and more of that aggressiveness he’s shown since April. The second-generation wrestler showed he is not always full of “Good Vibes Only” in the six-man tag team match pitting NATURAL VIBES (SMJ, Jacky Funky Kamei, and one-half of the newly crowned Open the Twin Gate champions, Kzy) against the M3K team of Kanda Yasushi, Mochizuki Jr., and Susumu Mochizuki.

One-third of DDT’s KO-D 6-Man tag champs, Naruki Doi, teamed with Shuji Kondo and Eita to take on Gold Class – (Minorita, Ben-K, and Kota Minoura). This match was a great reminder that the former Takumi Hayakawa is a fighter and that we are closer and closer to seeing Eita on the path to great things. Eita did signal to Doi and Kondo that the three of them would make a great team to challenge for the Triangle Gate (trios) title.

Speaking of that prestigious trios title … in a surprising turn of events, Takashi Yoshida pinned one-third of the Triangle Gate champions, KAI, during the eight-man tag between High End and co. (YAMATO, Dragon Kid, Takashi Yoshida, and Problem Dragon) and the Z-Brats team of BxB Hulk, Shun Skywalker, KAI, and H.Y.O.

Shingo Takagi

The win was overshadowed when a piece of all-too-familiar entrance music started to play as BxB Hulk was about to put away YAMATO with a First Flash. Hulk was visibly shaken and became emotional when Shingo Takagi walked out.  The “Rampage Dragon” made his intentions known, as the match has been set for Final Gate!  Shingo Takagi and BxB Hulk will face YAMATO and Madoka Kikuta in the “Shingo Takagi is Back! Special Tag Team Match.”

The night ended with Yuki Yoshioka defeating the “Iron Man” himself, Masaaki Mochizuki, for a fourth successful defense of the Open the Dream Gate championship.

Still, at 52 years old, “Mocchy” pulled all the stops and once again solidified why he is one of the best, hands down.  And Yoshioka keeps showing glimpses of the inferno that burns within.  You want and need to watch this match!  You’ll thank yourself for it.

Yuki Yoshioka

The second Fan Appreciation broadcast is scheduled for December 11 from Nagoya. This show will again broadcast for free at No sign-up is required!

Posted on

Is This What’s N(e)XT For ROH?

Chris Jericho wields a baseball bat and dons the ROH World heavyweight title belt

Is This What’s N(e)XT For ROH?

Chris Jericho wields a baseball bat and dons the ROH World heavyweight title belt


ONCE UPON A time, the case could easily have been made that Ring of Honor was the legitimate number two wrestling promotion in the world after WWE. Indeed, such was the growth of the company from its inception in 2002—and such was the quality of the matches and wrestlers on display there—that by the 2010s, ROH had long cast off the label of just being a “Big Indie.”

As the next several years went by, and the promotion’s alliance with New Japan Pro Wrestling grew, so, too, did Ring of Honor’s footprint on the global wrestling scene.

Then, a funny thing happened: Some key ROH wrestlers became All Elite.

No matter what way you slice it, the formation of All Elite Wrestling harmed Ring of Honor’s standing in the pecking order of the wrestling business. Almost overnight, there was a new #2 promotion in the U.S. … one that had its sights ambitiously aimed at being #1.

On top of that (and more damaging for ROH) was the fact that many of the big names Ring of Honor had been using—The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, and Adam Page to name a few—had left and were part of the new upstart company. When AEW got up and running, ROH quickly lost its status as the cool brand for wrestling diehards. In a short period of time, things had changed dramatically. But worse things were still to come.

While no one in the industry could have foreseen COVID-19 and the subsequent changes it brought to the sport, it might be fair to say that no wrestling promotion was hurt more by the pandemic than Ring of Honor. Unlike WWE, AEW, and IMPACT Wrestling, ROH decided to cancel shows altogether rather than run without crowds (at least initially). The company’s decision to protect its workers and fans must be applauded. However, when ROH did return, it was to a much different wrestling landscape. For a company whose fans had been its lifeblood for years, not having them in attendance was catastrophic.

A fan, loosely sporting a protective mask, holds up a "Thank you, ROH" sign
Fans show their appreciation for ROH at Final Battle 2021. (PHOTO BY RICK HAMILTON)

Ring of Honor chugged along quietly until autumn 2021. By then, many were not feeling good about the long-term health of the promotion. Sure enough, on October 27 of that year, a formal announcement was made that ROH would go on hiatus after December’s Final Battle event—vaguely promising a return planned for the following April, with a “reimagined” Ring of Honor offering a “fan-focused product.” In the interim, almost all contracted talent were released.

Whether or not ROH could have returned and thrived as a “Big Indie”—which was reportedly the plan—we will never know, as on the March 2, 2022, episode of Dynamite, AEW boss Tony Khan announced that he had purchased Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. The purchase included its brand assets, intellectual property, and video library. In the end, the company that hastened ROH’s decline ended up saving it … but to what end?

Since March, Tony Khan has made it known his intentions were (and are) to relaunch Ring of Honor as a separate promotion. However, despite running some well-received shows like Supercard of Honor and integrating the title belts into AEW television, the re-launch of ROH as a full-fledged promotion is yet to come. And this writer wonders if it ever will.

Despite flip-flopping over the years on how it truly viewed NXT, WWE largely continues to groom talent for future success on the Raw and Smackdown brands. And, in my view, AEW would be wise to use ROH in the same manner.

Indeed, there may be those in Jacksonville who feel the same way, as the upcoming Final Battle show is being promoted as “AEW Presents: ROH Final Battle,” as opposed to just “ROH Final Battle.” Though this may only be a branding move, meant to boost awareness of the show among AEW diehards, there would be no shame in Khan and co. reimagining Ring of Honor as more of a developmental product—a proving ground through which would-be stars can sharpen their skills en route to becoming All Elite.

    Prince Nana accompanies Toa Liona and Jasper Kaun for a match on AEW Rampage (ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise dons a neckbrace in the background)The longtime leader of The Embassy in Ring of Honor, Prince Nana now manages The Gates of Agony (Toa Liona & Bishop Kaun), an up-and-coming tandem who are a perfect fit for an ROH that is more developmental in nature. (PHOTO BY JAYLEE MEDIA)

So, what could ROH as an AEW developmental “territory” look like? Well, AEW Dark and AEW Dark: Elevation could become weekly ROH shows, with Dark being the storyline-driven show and Elevation more of a way to showcase new and upcoming talent (much like it does now). Of course, this is just fantasy booking. And, in the spirit of that, I’d like to see some additional steps taken until a firm direction for Ring of Honor is in place.

I would perhaps look at unifying the likes of the ROH Trios title with the AEW Trios title—and maybe some others while we are at it. I’m far from the only person who’s pointed out the overwhelming number of title belts floating around on Dynamite and Rampage.

This brings me to perhaps the most contentious suggestion I may have. If Ring of Honor is going to become developmental in nature, perhaps Pro Wrestling Illustrated ought to consider dropping the ROH title belt’s status from “World” to simply “Heavyweight.” Ditto for the Women’s and tag team straps. This is no reflection on what those belts have meant over the years but, rather, perhaps a fairer reflection of their current status. After all, ROH neither exists as its own promotion nor as a separate television property.

So, what say you, PWI readers? Is making ROH AEW’s version of NXT the way forward? Let us know your thoughts on social media, or by emailing

Posted on

DRAGONGATE’s Braveheart: A Candid Conversation With U-T

U-T shows off his tag team title belt

DRAGONGATE’s Braveheart: A Candid Conversation With U-T

U-T is seated at a table, donning casual clothes, with a potted plant beside him

Text & Photos by Issa Marie

IN ALL ASPECTS of life, representation matters!

Imagine being a nine-year-old child attending a pro wrestling event and seeing a wrestler who personifies who you are in size and stature—inspiring a small fan to become the athlete they believed they could never be, due to their body composition.

That child, U-T, remembers seeing Dragon Kid wrestle live for the first time, being mesmerized by his athleticism, his grit, and immediately adoring the man who, most importantly, reminded him of himself.

“Throughout my career, my opponents have always underestimated me, my abilities due to my size,” says U-T. “They see me as the target, the weakest link of a unit that can be bullied, even when I have shown time and time again that is not the case.  My drive, heart, and passion more than compensate for the perceived lack of height and strength.”

U-T throws a dropkick

These sentiments were shared most recently in an online exchange with Shun Skywalker, in which U-T, member of the “Good Vibes Only” unit NATURAL VIBES and one-half of the Ryukyu Dragon Souryu-Ou champions with Kzy, admitted he has envied Skywalker’s physique, strength, and the potential he showed since his debut. However, U-T would never compromise himself—his soul—to achieve any levels of results.

Interestingly, it was a match against Skywalker where things first clicked into place for U-T.  “On December 4, 2018, at Korakuen Hall, Shun and I had a special singles matches,” recalled U-T. “Even though I was the senior wrestler, Shun had been showing that he indeed had ‘Star Power’ and that he would soon be at the top of DRAGONGATE. While everyone expected Shun to beat me, the match ended in a 20-minute time-limit draw.  This match allowed me to show the fans the wrestling style that has defined me since—[that of] a llave technician. The match also gave me confidence as a wrestler, something I was missing at the time.”

U-T uses a llave-style hold

And, now that the rivalry between Z-Brats and Natural Vibes has reached an end—at least for the time being—U-T will shift his focus back to the Open the Brave Gate championship.

“Before I can challenge, I need to achieve some results,” he said. “Get the wins that will set me on the path to the title.” U-T last challenged for the belt, which is DRAGONGATE’s equivalent to a junior heavyweight title, on December 19, 2021, in Nagoya (U-T’s and SB KENTo’s hometown). That was a hard-hitting match, which showed us a ruthless side of DG’s “Braveheart.”

U-T is passion personified.

He has earned his place in DRAGONGATE, regardless of other’s opinions that he cannot be “saved” (according to Shun Skywalker and H.Y.O).

Dragongate's U-T shows off his tag team title belt

U-T has proven that his style of wrestling can stand on its own against any opponent.

To the fans, whether you are new to DRAGONGATE or you have been with the company for the long haul, U-T wants you to know that. “I will always give everything that I am, everything that I have in every match I wrestle,” he said. “Thank you very much, and I look forward to your continued cooperation!”


Z-Brats vs NATURAL VIBES 4 Singles Match Series, October 7, 2022

NATURAL VIBES (Susumu Yokosuka & U-T) vs MASQUERADE (Shun Skywalker & Jason Lee), April 9, 2021

Open the Brave Gate Contender Battle Royal, Ultimo Dragon’s 35th Anniversary Celebration, July 30, 2022

His singles bouts with SB KENTo (December 19, 2021), Shun Skywalker (December 4, 2018), and Yuki Yoshioka January 16 and April 16, 2019) are MUST-WATCH matches … and are all available at!



U-T attempts a pinfall





常に「Good Vibes Only」であるNATURAL VIBESのメンバやKzy選手と共に琉球ドラゴンプロレスリングの双琉王王者であるU-T選手は最近その心情ではシュン・スカイウォーカー選手とSNSで語りました。スカイウォーカー選手の体格や強さ、そしてデビュー当時から見せていたポテンシャルを羨ましく思っていたことを認めている。しかしU-T選手はどんな結果であっても自分自身の魂を売るつもりはない。





ジュニアヘビー級の同類である「オープン・ザ・ブレイブ・ゲート王座」に最後で挑戦したのは2021年12月19日名古屋でSB KENTo選手との対戦でした。ドラゴンゲートの「ブレイブハート」とも言われるU-T選手は非常な一面でハードな試合を戦いました。





NATURAL VIBES vs Z-Brats シングル4番勝負2022.10.07 –

NATURAL VIBES 横須賀ススム & U-T vs  MASQUERADE シュン・スカイウォーカー & ジェイソン・リー2021.04.09 –

オープン・ザ・ブレイブゲート王座 次期挑戦者決定 時間差バトルロイヤル “ドラゴンスクランブル2022.07.30 –

他シングルマッチ、対SB KENTo選手 2021.1219、対シュン・スカイウォーカー選手2018.12.04,や吉岡有紀選手2019.01.16と2019.04.16は是非!dragongate.liveでお見逃しなく!


Posted on

Sobriety and Wrestling: A Place To Belong

Jon Moxley makes his emotional return after taking away from AEW to fight his addiction.

Sobriety and Wrestling: A Place To Belong

Jon Moxley makes his emotional return after taking away from AEW to fight his addiction.
All Elite Wrestling fans warmly welcome back Jon Moxley, celebrating his courage to grapple with addiction. (Photo by JayLee Media)


SIX YEARS AGO, I decided to stop drinking and using drugs.

I spent 15 years (half of my life) wasting any and all potential I had on numbing my emotions and stuffing my pain. Addiction stole everything from me: education, careers, family, friends, freedom, and my future. June 10, 2016—a little over two months after my 30th birthday—I decided I’d had enough loss for one lifetime, and started to rebuild from the bottom up by sobering up.

In the following two years, I still experienced many setbacks. I was selfish and self-centered. And focusing solely on myself created a hole so big I didn’t feel like I could ask anyone for help. The storm kept raging, but, somehow, I kept sober. In AA, they tell you as long as you have your sobriety, anything is possible.

Jon Moxley makes his emotional return after taking away from AEW to fight his addiction.
Jon Moxley addresses AEW fans in his first appearance after working to get clean and sober. (Photo by JayLee Media)

In August 2018, after spending two years of sobriety completely miserable, I decided I had to be honest with myself and everyone else—even if I didn’t think they needed the truth—and the end result was beautiful. I recouped everything I had lost, plus more. I was starting to see the sun behind the clouds. Working a 12-step program while also being miserably sober was not what I wanted out of life … I needed more.

Around the same time I was getting my act together, I started writing for various wrestling websites. I only became a wrestling fan in 2014, through my family’s insistence. And, ultimately, I only started writing about wrestling after being recruited by a friend. But, with my background in sports journalism, I felt at ease writing about the athletes who put their bodies on the line every day for our entertainment—especially the female wrestlers, who, from day one, had obviously been treated as “less than.”

As you can imagine, almost every addict has a story about “not fitting in,” and I am no different. I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere; always on the outside looking in at what addicts call “normies”—people who have never felt the cold draft of addiction, the demon on their shoulder waiting for one false move. However, throughout the past four years or so of writing wrestling news and opinion, I have found myself more and more at home among the fans, media members, and wrestlers.

Creating lifelong friendships, a solid support system, a strong circle of friends, mentorships, and even a romantic relationship, I found a place where I felt like I could be myself and let my guard down; something I hadn’t done in years. In every social sphere, you’ll find hate and toxicity. But I found my crowd.

Still, I had trouble reconciling who I was in the past and the struggles I was facing in the present with those around me. I had told a few friends close to me about who I was back then—most of whom were not able to picture that version of Kristen—and everyone was kind and understanding. But I still felt like I was on the outside, looking in at those who had not experienced the hardships I had.

Most of these friends were either always sober, never had an addiction problem, or couldn’t understand the concept. These were friends, but they couldn’t relate. Most people can’t relate, and it’s never been a prerequisite for new friendships. Still, something was missing: representation and complete understanding.

The more I watched shows, covered news, and began to personally interact with wrestlers, the more I realized that sobriety was not a new concept in wrestling. In prior generations of wrestling, addiction was so prevalent it killed off countless bright and talented athletes. It cut short so many promising futures. And those who it didn’t kill still struggled with life-long illnesses … a reality I was always one relapse away from.

The wrestlers of today saw that pain, and many didn’t need to learn the hard way to stay clean. Those I related to most, however, were those who, like me, had to go through hell to see the light.

William Regal, a man so many in wrestling fight to call their mentor, wrote the autobiography Walking a Golden Mile, which details his own struggles with alcoholism, describing experience that so closely related to mine that it was like reading my own story.

Eddie Kingston has publicly said in interviews and during promos that he had to fight away his own demons, which threatened to take away his freedom. Man, did those revelations ring true to my own life!

Nick Gage has been to hell and back, including prison. I have my own history of jail time. Seeing how beloved Gage is, how his strength is celebrated, gave me strength.

In Jon Moxley’s autobiography, Mox, the reigning AEW World champion also detailed a family history that looked familiar. And, without even having to say it, I knew he was a kindred spirit. Last November, Moxley checked himself into rehab for alcoholism.

The public nature of that struggle, the positive reaction from fans, coworkers, and Tony Khan, and the triumphant return gave me hope. I had hope that not only was I not weird or different, but that there was hope for me to stay sober and make something of myself.

If Regal, Kingston, Gage, and Moxley could do it, couldn’t I? Couldn’t I stay sober and do great things?

And they weren’t the only ones, were they? Kylie Rae, Saraya, Dustin Rhodes, Shawn Michaels, Alicia Fox: all incredibly public with their struggles, all having the ability to inspire me to do more.

It’s hard to be this vulnerable when writing for a very historic publication. Every wound opened both inspires others and draws ire. But writing this has also opened a flood of emotion that I so clearly needed to feel. Healing starts with honesty. Those brutally honest wrestlers have taught me that.

It took a long journey of searching and scratching before I found a place I called home. Six years after getting sober, I still often struggle with fitting in and finding like-minded people outside of an AA meeting. Wrestling, though, gave me that home. Those who share their struggles and celebrate their victories have given me hope and strength that I didn’t think would ever come from a sport.

This is my thank-you letter to every person I have encountered during my career in wrestling who has been kind, understanding, and supportive. More than that, it’s a letter of sincere gratitude to every wrestler who has had the strength to tell their story. Your truths have given me a place to stay when I feel cold and alone.

I laugh as I write this last paragraph, because I know that if this was hand-written, it would be illegible from the sheer amount of tears I’ve spilled writing this. I’m so lucky to have stumbled onto wrestling. I’m so lucky to know where I belong.