April 20, 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’s unique environment to fans all over the world.
The shows are streamed live from Ichigaya Chocolate Square with no crowd. As I like to mention to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring. The edge of the mat and the wall are essentially the “rope break” point for submissions, but do not interrupt pinfall attempts.
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 performed from the windowsill.
Before going further I’d like to spotlight an incredible fan made video by CheeZeFX that really highlights all the fantastic aspects of Gatoh Move and ChocoPro I keep rambling on about. Check it out here!
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.
1) Sayaka Obihiro vs Antonio Honda
Really great to see Obi wrestle again after being out injured for six months, and fitting that she returns against an old rival of sorts in Antonio Honda.
Although I have to admit I am personally at a bit of a loss when it comes to Honda’s ChocoPro singles matches. 75% or so of every one of them is all the same spots and jokes with minor variations. I understand all the reasons for it. Building humor based on subverting expectations requires a degree of repetitiveness to establish the expectations in the first place. It just doesn’t have much impact or interest for me when most of the bits involved are nonsensical and disjointed. Most of it feels like being silly for sillinesses sake with nothing connecting it all, and I tire of it quickly.
Some of the little things he does are inspired, and there are always a few high points in each match I really enjoy. Here they included things like Honda exclaiming “I’m ruined!” when Obi blocks his T-strike only to calmly strike her with his other hand and their dueling Gongitsunes in slow motion. His opponents’ reactions to his antics can also be a treat, and whenever the action actually picks up it tends to be great.
But it’s really not enough to keep me engaged while waiting through the majority of the match for these moments. I often talk about how ChocoPro has something for everyone, but the flip side is that some things won’t be to any individual person’s tastes, and show by show it’s becoming clear Honda’s current formula is not for me.
So instead of rehashing the same things I don’t care for every time I wanted to mention this in context and going forward I’ll focus more about how these matches relate to each other. One match one this type should generally be enough to judge how much you’ll enjoy the others. If something significant changes in the approach then I’ll likewise adjust how I talk about the matches.
This one was pretty standard, and Honda eventually wins with a rollup to continue to be undefeated in ChocoPro.
Afterwards a frustrated Obi demands a rematch, and after some convincing Sakura agrees to it whenever Obi comes next.
2) Yuna Mizumori vs Tokiko Kirihara
This is Tokiko’s first match in ChocoPro, and she starts off with quite the memorable moment by attacking during Yuna’s Tropical Yahho pose and slamming Yuna into the camera in a fantastic visual. Again it’s things like truly this creatively taking advantage of the no audience format that makes ChocoPro particularly unique and special.
This was a really solid, exciting and enjoyable match that was the perfect pace and length given the participants. Tokiko looked sharp, and Yuna’s totally been on fire lately. Yuna hits her wall launch splash to win a hard fought, fun contest.
3) Baliyan Akki vs Mei Suruga
Interesting framing here as they push the idea of this being a battle between two possibilities for face/ace of ChocoPro. I understand given how central both are, the main events they been in, etc. On the other hand it’s a bit odd angle to take as Akki came into this without a single win in ChocoPro. However the match itself makes quite the case that these two are in fact prime choices for that distinction.
This was an incredible, fast paced main event with a lot of creativity. The theme of one-upmanship was prevalent throughout and done so well.
Things like Akki doing Mei’s off the windowsill armdrag and Mei countering with a cartwheel, only to have Akki respond in kind when Mei hit the armdrag herself were pitch perfect.
Akki used some wonderfully inventive, really painful looking submissions. Mei responded by trying a Figure 4, which she couldn’t quite lock in due to the disparity in length of their legs. Referee Sakura “helped” Mei apply it by pulling her leg into position over Akki’s, but Akki’s leg are so long Mei screams in pain herself as this is done so Emi undoes it and Mei goes on with her variation.
Later on in one of the funniest moments I’ve seen Mei tries to do Akki’s counter across the wall grabbing at opposite windowsills but she’s too small so she splats against the wall and then the floor and gets SO ANGRY. Then Akki “helps” put her into position and ends up stranding her on the wall as she can barely reach and can’t get down once put there. So he takes the opportunity to taunt her by doing her own face in hands pose behind her back.
These are just a few of the awesome moments in this excellent match. Definitely one of the (many) highlights of ChocoPro so far.
In the end Akki gets the better of an extended rollup and reversal sequence for his first non-janken win in ChocoPro.
Afterwards it’s time for A Chocolate Bit of Happiness Rock-Paper-Scissors Tourney 4!
These are a really fun way to wrap up. Sakura’s participating so there’s one bye in round 1, which goes to Yuna. Both Akki and Honda again defeat their opponents from earlier in the show and Sakura continues to deny Tokiko her first ChocoPro win leading to Yuna vs Honda and Akki vs Emi in the semis.
Yuna amusingly beats Honda when Honda’s mindgames backfire as he truthfully tells her what he’s going to throw and she simply counters.
Sakura, clearly with the advantage after not wrestling this time around continues her roll and makes short work of both Akki and Yuna to win her second Chocolate Bit of Happiness tournament. The AEW superstar glefully enjoys her chocolate as Akki asks the gods why they would do this.
Post show they have ChocoTalk with Emi and Obi talking about their past internet wrestling experience with 19 O’Clock Wrestling.
As I like to reiterate 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 and appreciated.
Another top notch effort and show in a series of them. Watch the replay of here. ChocoPro is just plain fun.
In another greatly appreciated gesture ChocoPro 7 will be on at a special time to be a little more accessible to foreign viewers: April 24th 9pm EDT (April 25th 10am Japan time). This is in addition to all the watch parties and other fantastic content they provide every day at 8pm Japan time. Visit Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel to check it all out.