October 6 and 7, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan
My third and fourth (and final) Gatoh Move shows this trip continued on consecutive after 10/4 and 10/5.
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).
This show opened with a contest between Darcy Stone and Sakura Emi. It was Darcy’s final match of the tour, against GM’s founder and the person who brought her in. Hard hitting, good opener. Darcy’s chest was bright red, and she mentioned to me after the show that she noticed the bruises on someone’s chest the night before after they faced Emi and Emi said to her “that’s you tomorrow.” Rite of passage passed I guess. 😉 I hope Darcy returns.
I have to be honest – I don’t remember Joji Otani vs Yu Iizuka at all. ^_^; So nothing particular stellar nor particularly poor here.
I go on and on about how wonderful all the 6-person tag matches are at Ichigaya, but it’s well deserved. The core roster knows the environment and how to use it effectively so well whenever several of them are in a match like that it’s always fast paced, exciting, and flat out fun. Not only was Mei Sagura, Mitsuru Konno, & Balliyan Akki vs Kaori Yoneyama, Saki, & Yuna Mizumori no exception to that, I think this was one of the best I’ve seen. Something about the structure and execution of this one made it stand out a bit even among all the excellent matches of this type Gatoh does. The relative rookie team of Mei, Mitsuru, & Akki battled veteran Yoneyama and the then reigning Gatoh Move tag team champions to a time limit draw in a fantastic main event.
This show was in the evening after Aoi Kizuki’s retirement show, and several Gatoh Move talents appeared there as well. Most everyone that was involved in that show wore Aoi t-shirts after this one, which was really cool.
Mitsuru was at Aoi’s show selling merchandise and cornering for her compatriots, but wasn’t feeling well and ended up being pulled from this show. So it was announced that the winner of the opening triple threat of Riho vs Yuna Mizumori vs Kuishinbo Kamen would take her place in the second match.
I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with Kuishinbo, so didn’t understand his status nor why on Earth he’d end up double pinning the Super Asia champ AND half of the reigning tag champs. It was well done, and the rest of the audience was really into him, but since a lot of his act is verbal and/or playing off the fans knowing his act and moves it fell flat for me. Action was good when things picked up, and despite my personal dislike of the result the finish is a cool one to occasionally bust out for triple threats (Riho and Yuna were fighting over a backslide and Kuishinbo flipped them both over to pin them simultaneously).
During entrances fans placed necklaces made of snacks around the necks of each competitor. Mei’s amusingly covered her head.
So Kuishinbo Kamen immediately wrestled again as the partner of Balliyan Akki against Makoto & Saki. This was fine, although again I didn’t have the context to follow Kuishinbo’s antics and two matches in a row that had heavy comedy overtones (of the same type no less) was a bit much. Good effort all around though, and the other half of Gatoh Move’s tag team champions (Saki) got some payback for her partner by picking up the win at Kuishinbo’s expense.
I was concerned for Mitsusu and clearly since she wasn’t well enough to compete she shouldn’t have, but she is a favorite of mine and her participation in this match was definitely missed.
In a bit of a completion thematically of the main events from 10/4 and 10/5 (as well as being appropriate for the day), Aoi’s two opponents from those days, her partner protege Mei Sagura and her trainer Emi Sakura, faced off here. This was incredible, with the fiery Mei giving Gatoh’s lynchpin everything she could handle until Emi weathered the storm long enough and experience won out. Fantastic.
Even more impressively, Sakura had to be helped out of the ring during Aoi’s show and limped into this one, but you’d never know it from her work during the matches. Her performances were amazing, and a admittedly a little worrisome as I really hope she’s not overdoing it. She’s one of the very best in the world.
As I mentioned in the Aoi tribute and the review of her final show, Aoi gave Mei her wings from her entrance gear. Mei was so clearly excited about them, and it was pretty adorable how she had to struggle a bit to get used to not tripping while jumping around in them since Aoi’s taller and thus the wings are a bit too big for Mei.
So-so undercard for me that everyone else seemed to really enjoy topped off by an excellent main event still made this a worthwhile show overall. Four days in a row of Gatoh Move was pretty awesome. 🙂