April 27, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan
Due to a tight train schedule and being out in Sendai for Sendai’s Girls’ show earlier in the day I missed half of this show live. What I did see was incredible, and I’m looking forward to catching up on what I missed (and revisiting the matches I saw) with this DVD.
1- Leon vs Mei Suruga
Side note: It always brings a smile to my face to see Mei joyfully coming out wearing Aoi Kizuki’s wings.
Nice opportunity for Gatoh’s rising star against a visiting veteran. Even better, this felt more like an encounter of equals than a typical “rookie vs vet” match, which is another indication of great things ahead for Mei. Her energy and creativity in the ring always adds a little extra spark to her matches.
This featured nice back and forth chain wrestling interspersed with high octane offense that made for a good, face paced opener that really picked up towards the end. Leon defeated Mei with the frog splash.
2- Baliyan Akki vs Asuka
This is of course the formerly of WAVE Asuka (and not the former Kana who now wrestles for WWE). Big matchup for Akki.
Highlights included a great sequence of back and forth dodges going outside the ring and back early on and a section where they forearmed and elbowed the HELL out of each other. In general this excelled during rapid back and forth, with the rhythm feeling a bit off during the sections where Asuka was on extended offense. Solid and well paced overall though, and it didn’t feel like they were going for the time limit draw until it happened.
The first glimpse of a strong night of intergender wrestling from Gatoh Move.
3- Mitsuru vs Sawasdee Kamen
The superhero team had issues of late going into this and the former partners squared off to settle their issues here. The setup also furthered the ongoing undercurrents of Mitsuru’s frustration and desire to prove herself.
They went right at each other, with Sawasdee actually being the initial aggressor during his introduction. This featured some really nice counters speaking to their familiarity as teammates.
It was also the shortest match of the show at about five and a half minutes, and I wish they had gotten a little more time. They made good use of what they had and this was decent, but it did kind of feel like a longer, better match on fast forward.
Mitsuru got a decent amount of offense, and looked like her partner’s equal even in defeat. Second match of the night to end with a frog splash of only two matches so far with finishes, which was a little odd.
Sawasdee helped Mitsuru up after the match, and they fully reconciled at the end of the show.
4- Emi Sakura & Kaori Yoneyama vs Cho-un Shiryu & TAMURA
I love Yone coming out in a matching Sakura outfit when they team. The crowd was behind the men to start, feeding off of Sakura and Yone’s somewhat natural heel tendencies. This set up a really interesting match long story as things unfolded.
Things built to a long section in the middle of Cho-un and Tamura targeting Sakura’s bad back and repeatedly knocking her off the apron with cheap shots. It both switched the crowd’s allegiance and made two 20+ year veterans seem like major underdogs without feeling cheap or sexist. I can’t stress enough how exceptional Gatoh Move is at intergender wrestling, and that skill and deft touch was on full display here.
This match is where I came in live, and the crowd was electric for the ending stretch, leading up to Sakura and Yone hitting consecutive moonsaults from the same turnbuckle for a big win. Great stuff.
5- Yuna Mizumori vs Mizuki
The semi-main event featured one half of Gatoh’s reigning tag champions against one half of Tokyo Joshi Pro’s reigning tag champs in singles competition. Really awesome to see Yuna getting some big singles match spotlights, and she had another vs Hiroyo Matsumoto days later.
Yuna decides early to poke fun at Mizuki’s “Mizupyon” nickname and declares herself “Mizumoripyon,” complete with bunny poses and other taunts to Mizuki’s rapidly increasing annoyance. It provided a nice start to the match and a backbone story to center the match on.
Yuna’s been adding really cool, off the wall stuff to her arsenal and combined with Mizuki’s natural athletic ability and attention to little touches that enhance her matches this was great fun.
There was a tangible sense of desperation and escalation at the end, leading to Mizuki hitting a GORGEOUS Cutie Special variation on her larger opponent for the win.
6- Riho vs Masahiro Takanashi
While I love Gatoh Move in general and was excited about the entire show, this match in particular is primarily why I came rushing back from Sendai.
Riho was a couple months out from leaving Gatoh Move to go freelance and this was one last big singles match against their most frequent male visitor.
Takanashi is an absolute master at working with smaller opponents in a believable way, and Riho of course is a expert in her own right (and usually faces larger opponents). The combined experience in this match was close to 29 years, and did it ever show.
The match built from careful counter-grappling to high impact offense naturally, telling an incredible story along the way. During the opening sequence of hold-for-hold struggles there was a particularly excellent exchange of stranglehold reversals.
Throughout the match there was realistic use of Takanashi’s size advantage (in certain counters, the way moves were applied/executed, etc), which is one of my favorite little touches. It adds so much to the match and forced Riho to get clever and make good use of her speed, etc to nullify that edge.
They made each other fight for EVERYTHING, which is so important to immersion and feeling like they’re both doing everything they can to win. The constant counters and back and forth in this are amazing, and it was all so smooth. Takanashi eventually had one counter too many in his bag of tricks and small packaged Riho out of a suplex attempt for the win. This was a wonderful way to end the show, and my match of the night against some stiff competition.
When the biggest criticism I have of a show is that one of the matches deserved more time, it’s a sign things went quite well. Simply fantastic from top to bottom with a variety of great matchups, styles, and of course talent. One of my favorite shows of this trip.