April 10, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan
Choco Pro is a new effort from Gatoh Move’s Emi Sakura and DDT’s Antonio Honda to bring live wrestling from Ichigaya to fans all over the world.
The shows are streamed live from Ichigaya Chocolate Square with no crowd. As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring.
With no crowd the two large sliding windows on one wall which are left in, but opened as needed for some unique high risk maneuvers.
Two matches on tap instead of the usual three, presumably due to less wrestlers being available. Still to be something special in store to be sure.
As usual Baliyan Akki is helping with translation, as well as sharing camera duties with Honda. Sakura usually referees, except her own matches when someone else on the card steps in.
Amusing pre-show remarks from Sakura revolving around her cheat meal (which was live-streamed) the day prior. There’s been something from ChocoPro every day, be it a live show like this, a watch party of things ranging from these shows to Wrestlemania to ProWrestling Eve streams and so on, or live chat premiers of previously unreleased matches, etc. The variety of offerings is great and it’s nice to have something to consistently look forward to.
1) Mei Suruga vs Antonio Honda
This is a rematch of the phenomenally absurd 500 count match from Gatoh Move’s 500th show.
Mei and Honda team regularly, and Mei seems a little trepidatious squaring off. On the other hand Honda does his normal taunts and psychs out Mei when she offers their tag team pose. Extra five minutes to the normal time limit, giving this 15 minutes.
As usual for Honda’s matches, this was a mix of ridiculousness and action. It worked particularly well here with some unique variations, really good pacing, and the tension created by Mei’s incredible reactions.
They went all in on both aspects of the match. One particularly fantastic highlight saw them chop the absolute hell out of each other right after an extended sequence of exchanging increasingly exaggerated versions of Mei’s kawaii chin in hands pose to see who was prettier. Another saw Antone charge with the pointed end of a small sign from a flower bouquet resulting in Mei dropping to the mat in a panic to play dead only to have Honda pull the strike anyway to show the sign to the camera. Again, Mei’s reactions elevated this to pure art.
Honda eventually trapped the much smaller Mei in an anaconda vice variation she can’t escape and gets the submission victory. An emotional version of their tag team pose followed after the dust settled.
2) Emi Sakura & Chris Brookes vs Yuna Mizumori & Baliyan Akki
Referee/announcer/time keeper Mei introduced Chris as her best friend. I’m not entirely sure that’s the most appropriate way to indicate impartiality.
This was so engrossing, as the ChocoPro/Gatoh Move crew continue to really push the levels of imagination of what can be accomplished within the framework of a wrestling match and the unique environment they perform in. There was so much creativity in this, both in new ideas and perhaps more importantly subtle twists on established norms.
I’m not going to try to recap in detail, but the way everything was integrated into the high octane offense was really well done. The sequence involving Emi being too short to do the double boot with Chris was great, as was the variety of uses of the ChocoPro banner later on. The super precise timing on lot of Akki & Yuna’s double teams and counters was INCREDIBLE, and everyone was generally just firing on all cylinders.
Also, special mention to Akki’s fantstic dropkick and him nailing it on Chris’ full height early on. Yuna also forcibly taught Chris to do her pose early on, (which would come back to haunt her 😉 ).
In the end Yuna gives up to Chris’s octopus stretch and Chris’s winning streak against Akki continues.
Special game in place of A Chocolate Bit of Happiness Rock-Paper-Scissors Tourney during the post show where players have to try and match one of the players either doing Yuna’s normal Tropical pose or crossing their arms instead. It was really amusing.
Mei and Yuna went out first as a result of Chris’s choice and neither is happy. Emi’s also out, but intentionally as she made her own unique pose and thus had no chance of matching and surviving the round.
For the third time in a row Akki made the finals … and for the third time in a row lost. Chris isn’t into chocolate, so gifted his prize to his new best friend. When this explodes it’s going to be big.
Singing of the usual ending song while everybody washes their hands closed things out.
ChocoPro 5 is announced for April 14th, and the main event is Akki vs Masato Tanaka! This reminds me of when Wrestle-1 kept brining in legends for Reika Saiki to face as it’s becoming dream mach after dream match for Akki and it’s wonderful.
As I said before I’m really grateful for Sakura and the rest of Gatoh Move/ChocoPro to be doing so much to provide good natured content aimed connecting people in this time of isolation and bringing smiles to everyones faces. It’s much needed.
ChocoPro shows are just straight up fun, and this one was no exception. They’re embracing the difficulties of the current global situation and specifically doing things they couldn’t under normal circumstances. It’s refreshing and the commitment and energy applied to the execution continually makes for a captivating show.