December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan
My third and fourth Gatoh Move shows this trip fell on consecutive days over New Year’s.
As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements.
Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken afterward, so my pics here won’t contain anything from the matches and will only be of the roundtable and dancing following the shows (as well as of some souvenirs).
The New Year’s Eve show opened with a contest between CHANGO and Baliyan Akki. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from each previously, and this was decent. Chango was in full on over the top heel mode here though, which was little much and almost seemed out of place. He took advantage of the ref’s (another wrestler) position and won after a cheap shot on Baliyan.
The second match saw Masahiro Takanashi and Cho-un Shiryu go to a draw that was pretty predictable from the pace they were wrestling, beyond even considering the fact that I saw this same pairing with the same result last year. Fine for what it was.
Doing a six-person tag in such a limited space is undoubtedly difficult, but of course the Gatoh Move roster is extremely familiar with such a challenge and was more than up for it. Emi Sakura, Sayaka Obihiro & Saki vs Riho, Mitsuru Konno, & Toru Owashi was fantastic. Lots of great stuff centered around Emi’s team trying to avoid / deal with the larger Toru, as well as Riho and Mitsuru trying to take the attack to their opponents. I was at the window that’s used as one of the tag corners, and amusingly they spilled out of that one instead of the other for the first time I’ve ever seen during this match. This was exciting, a little different, and flat out fun. Emi continued her habit of pinning Mitsuru to win, something she jokingly teased me about after the show.
Also after the show, I received an unexpected gift from another fan of Riho’s keychain, which completed my collection from last year when I got everyone else’s but hers was sold out before I could get it. I can’t say how much I appreciated the kind gesture and thoughtful gift.
So the undercard might have suffered just a touch with all the core roster members being in the main, but everything was still fine and the main event was incredible. Another easily enjoyable show from GM.
I was back the next day, which started out in fine fashion with me getting to see Mitsuru getting another singles match against a veteran, with it being Takanashi this time. Like Riho vs Mitsuru from the 12/29/17 show, this told an excellent story of the overmatched, determined Mitsuru against a formidable, vastly more experienced opponent. Was really excited for this and it was great.
Baliyan Akki vs Yusuke Kubo was ok but honestly a little bland. Kubo didn’t seem like he could take full advantage of the environment. Still fine overall though, and getting to wrestle a variety of guests can only help the relative rookie Baliyan develop during his stay in Japan. Interestingly, Takanashi came out to watch this one from the doorway.
A running theme of these Ichigaya show reviews from me is how good GM’s main event tag matches tend to be, and Riho & Hikaru Shida vs Emi & Saki was no exception. It was my first time seeing Shida in this environment, and her style fit in well. It’s been really great to see Saki as a regular, and of course Emi and Riho are masters of their craft, particularly in their home base. Emi created some crowd murmurs to open by participating in the pre-match handshake. She explained to us visitors that it indicated a “clean fight,” but of course that didn’t last long once the match got going and her pseudo heel antics emerged. This (somewhat expectedly) went to a draw, staying action packed the whole way.
After the show there were rounds of rock, paper, scissors for the opportunity to purchase special autograph boards, and I was lucky enough to win an Obi one draw by Mitsuru.
I always enjoy my time at Gatoh Move, and these provided the usual fun times. 🙂