33° Good Morning
33° Good Morning
LifestyleRecreationSports Fitness

Japanese wrestlers enter Deer Park ring

YAMATO is the champion of Dragon Gate USA,

YAMATO is the champion of Dragon Gate USA, which makes its New York debut in Deer Park. Credit: Handout

Wrestling fans on Long Island know the names John Cena and The Miz. But they've probably never heard of CIMA or Masaaki Mochizuki.

That's because the supremely talented professional wrestlers can usually be found wowing crowds in Japan. But on June 4, Long Island fans will get to see them in person when Dragon Gate USA makes its New York debut in Deer Park.

Entering the gate

DGUSA was founded in 2009 by Philadelphia-based wrestling promoter Gabe Sapolsky, who had previously worked with stars from the Kobe, Japan-based wrestling company Dragon Gate.

Sapolsky's vision was to bring Dragon Gate's unique brand of high-flying, hard-hitting simulated competition to the United States in a new promotion that would blend the best of its talent with some top American wrestlers.

DGUSA created buzz in the wrestling world, leading to regular shows in several major markets throughout the United States and events broadcast on Pay-per-view television.

"The fans here are getting the very top stars from Japan," says Sapolsky, who has been promoting wrestling shows for more than 10 years. "It's the same as if the stars of WWE would be going to Japan."

Blink and you'll miss it

Different from the talk-heavy, soap-opera world of WWE, DGUSA focuses primarily on the athleticism in the ring. Individual matches are known to go longer than a half-hour and feature jaw-dropping aerial maneuvers and innovative submission holds.

Taking the excitement to an even higher level, DGUSA will debut the "freestyle match" in Deer Park, featuring four wrestlers in the ring simultaneously.

"The whole idea is that it's just action, action, action, action. You don't have a second to breathe. You cannot blink," says Sapolsky. "You'll see more crazy moves than you'll see in any other match in any other promotion."

A universal language

Athleticism may be DGUSA's calling card, but that's not to say that its stars don't have plenty of personality.

From the cocky DGUSA champion YAMATO to the intense high-flyer Masato Yoshino, even those wrestlers who don't speak English have no problem communicating with American fans and opponents.

"You see their body language. You see how they react. You see the moves they do and how they put things together. And you can't help but get emotionally invested," says Johnny Gargano, a Cleveland-based wrestler and DGUSA regular. "It's a universal language."

The best of the U.S.

In addition to featuring stars from the Land of the Rising Sun, DGUSA also incorporates several top names from the American independent scene. They include two-time Ring of Honor heavyweight champion Austin Aries and the ultra-aggressive Sami Callihan.

Making his DGUSA debut at the June 4 show is Middle Island's Tony Nese, who frequently wrestles in Deer Park as part of the New York Wrestling Connection.

"It's extremely exciting, because this is the type of wrestling that I love to watch -- fast-paced and super-exciting," says Nese, 25, who has followed the Japanese wrestling scene for years. "It has that underground feel. Everything is all about the wrestling. It's all about the in-ring skills." 

Dragon Gate USA wrestling

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. June 4, The NYWC Sportatorium, 435-13 Brook Ave., Deer Park

INFO 267-519-9744,

ADMISSION $20-$60. Use the code "Newsday" and get a 20 percent discount.

More Lifestyle