Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Indy Spotlight #6: Dragon Gate USA / Evolve

by Mike Bradford

Promotion Name: Dragon Gate USA / Evolve
Founded: DGUSA - 2009, Evolve - 2010
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, PA
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Johnny Gargano
Open the United Gate Champions: Ricochet & Masato Yoshino

Thoughts:  The reason I’m doing these two promotions at the same time is because even though they run separate events, they share a roster. Evolve recognizes the DGUSA champions as the Evolve champions (more on that later). In addition to their core roster, each promotion also has guest stars that may come to do a show or two. They also have open working relationships with many other independent promotions, so fans may recognize some of the talent.

Dragon Gate USA is the United States branch of the Japanese promotion, Dragon Gate. It is not uncommon for Japanese stars to wrestle on DGUSA cards to gain exposure in the States and vice versa. The style of wrestling you’re going to see at a show or on DVD is an impressive mash up of Japanese striking, US technical wrestling, and lucha libre. DGUSA focuses heavily on it’s Japanese roots and is a great way for the American fan to expose themselves to the stars that they miss out on seeing in Japan’s independent scene.

Evolve focuses it’s attention on the in ring ability of it’s wrestlers. Unlike other promotions, Evolve proudly displays the win/loss records of the roster on their website. Rather than traditional champions, wrestlers that have the best records are treated as the best in the company. Ring entrances are stripped down, there is extra emphasis on the rules, and the in-ring talent is the center of the show. Every match is followed by “sideline style” interviews. For fans of the SPORT of professional wrestling, Evolve is a must see.

As far as talent goes, both promotions should be proud of what they have to offer the wrestling world. DGUSA is credited with giving Jimmy Jacobs his second chance, and through their working relationships with other indies, they can provide plenty of familiar faces to go up against home grown stars. Production value of the DVDs for DGUSA and Evolve are fantastic. If you have to choose between one or the other at this point, then you really have to decide what you’re looking for in your DVD. If you need storylines and a bit of theatrics to stay interested, go with DGUSA. If you’re into the sport aspect, and seeing the best in ring stars showcased, then start with Evolve. How serious is Evolve about it’s in ring work? One of the founders is Davey Richards, and the name was suggested by Daniel Bryan. If those guys can’t get you excited for in ring skills, there may be something wrong.

Note: I’ll be doing a different “Indy Spotlight” each week, which will hopefully be posted on Wednesdays. All “Indy Spotlights” are written by me, and me alone and my opinions may not match the other writers on this site. If you are wrestler, promoter, or fan of a promotion that you think I should take a look at, please drop me a line at or on twitter @Bradford_FTLOW. I’m not expecting anything free, and I have no problem supporting you by buying a DVD.

Contact me on Twitter to discuss this article or anything wrestling : @Bradford_FTLOW | #FTLOW