July 16, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan
ChocoPro is a new effort from Gatoh Move’s Emi Sakura to bring live wrestling from Ichigaya to fans all over the world and take full advantage of the unique particulars of wrestling without a crowd / specifically for online delivery.
The shows are streamed live from Ichigaya Chocolate Square. 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.
Without an audience and thus not having anyone trying to watching outside, the two large sliding windows on the “back” wall are left in but opened as needed for some unique high risk maneuvers performed from the windowsill.
“Today’s main event: the team who is getting slaughtered and the team that is doing the slaughtering.” – Akki summarizing the impending clash of MonTsuru and Pencil Army.
Yuna sings Girls Just Want to Have Fun and leads twists instead of squats, saying it’s an exercise even someone with a bad back can do. Given how little Sakura participants (and Yuna’s resulting targeted annoyance) I don’t think this was the generous gesture she claims.
1) Mei Suruga vs Sayuri
Last time Sayuri appeared these two were teammates (in a losing effort against MonTsuru).
Mei takes issue with Sayuri pointing out that she’s actually taller than her opponent for a change, and stands extra straight during the handshake to appear otherwise.
Of course the flipside is that Mei is significantly stronger than her opponent for a change. This would come up a lot as she was able to shrug off numerous attempts by Sayuri to apply holds, etc. The elusive completion of the bodyslam attempt continues to elude Gatoh’s resident kunoichi.
I say it a lot, but it’s worth repeating that Sayuri is improving rapidly and really developing a strong character and presence. Her ninja stuff is great as it adds unique flair while still remaining well integrated and based in the concept of trying to win the match.
At a couple points Sayuri forces Mei into splits (one using the windowsill O_o) to immobilize her for a strike. Later she gets Mei down for a hold that’s just a knee on Mei’s back while she poses. Mei’s “are you for real?” look at Akki when he asks if she gives up is amazing.
They get locked in a backslide attempt by Mei, then Sayuri climbs the wall with her feet, has the window opened, then “walks” over to it and drops outside, slamming Mei’s back against the sill. She’s doing such creative, out-of-box stuff and Mei’s excellent skills provide a strong anchor to center the match.
Mei spins out of sleeper, but Sayuri keeps going back to it to wear her down. It’s a good move for her repertoire, and again her small size and distinct style allows for things like that wild counter by Mei.
By far Sayuri’s most competitive match yet, and it’s awesome to see her development. But the more experienced Mei weathers the storm and wins with her trademark Propeller Clutch.
2) Baliyan Akki vs Tokiko Kirihara
Otoki fires shots right away saying she’s happy to face a larger opponent because there’s more space to kick. Akki is not amused.
It all leads to a different kind of match right away as Tokiko squares up with the kicks and Akki has to take a sec then decisively respond in kind to force her to switch to a grapple based attack.
Really engrossing match alternating between tooth and nail grappling and hard strikes. Tokiko holds nothing back, especially with her fantastic judo throws. Akki had to reach down for some of the fire he had in the season one match with Yuna.
Akki tires of a Tokiko flurry of kicks late and DESTROYS her with a super kick. She gets the shoulder up at 2.999 and Akki is in shock. Namaste Press meets knees and Tokiko almost gets the upset with a knee bar. Akki powers up into a pin attempt to break it.
Akki counters a kick to tie Kirihara up in a leg lace cloverleaf variation, then grabs both her arms to force the submission for a hard fought win.
Like the opener this had a great showing for the rookie even in defeat, but was a great example of how different matches can be even with similar underlying stories. This show is shaping up to be one of ChocoPro’s strongest so far.
“You pushed me today, but there’s a well there and you’re happy with the bucket.” Akki getting philosophical and talking extreme trash at the same time.
3) Pencil Army (Emi Sakura & Lulu Pencil) vs MonTsuru (Yuna Mizumori & Mitsuru Konno)
“Only for Yunamon.”
“I’m so angry. That’s all.”
Yuna looks determined even as she sings. Sakura got Mitsuru angry during the prior day’s chat, and unfortunately for the favorites today Mitsuru’s resulting comments put her at odds with the entire roster, including her tag partner. However they both still want to rip Sakura apart, so don’t bet against them yet.
In some sense Emi got what she “wanted,” as she had been mocking the duo for being too cheerful and having too much fun in their last match (which they WON, by the way). As a strategy going into this match though it might have been a gross miscalculation.
To rub salt in the wounds, Sakura comes out in full cheerful Emi Pencil mode. Lulu tries to start and MonTsuru run right by her to absolutely wipe the floor with Sakura for a bit.
I’m never more happy than when watching Mitsuru or Yuna in full berserker mode, and we got both here. This was 90% Lulu just trying to survive, with moments of her unorthodox offense and key distractions and flurries from Sakura to keep the Pencil Army in the match. And it was fantastic.
At one point Yuna pulls the mat up at teases a backdrop on Sakura, but Lulu pulls them out of position so Emi lands on the double mat instead to no ill effect. Later Emi applies the slowest La Magistral in history and an IRATE Mitsuru kicks out before 1 cursing Sakura out for messing with her.
Given Sakura’s bad back, when in Emi Pencil mode she often knocks an opponent down and uses them as as a step to get into/through the window, then drags them outside and does it again to get in proper position. It backfired MAJORLY here as both Mitsuru and Yuna recovered while she was still in the windowsill and she ended up surrounded by extremely angry opposition.
There were tons of creative moments and crazy action throughout anchored by an intense emotional core to the underlying issues of the encounter. Incredibly well done.
After a flurry of offense on Sakura by both Mitsuru & Yuna the former hits one more Volleyball Strike… for the WIN?! MITSURU PINS SAKURA!!! Even in a tag match with Sakura in Emi Pencil mode, this is huge. Only Mitsuru’s second ever direct win over Sakura, and definitely Sakura’s first pinfall loss in ChocoPro (she lost one singles match to Antonio Honda by submission and her tag partner was pinned in all of her previous tag losses).
Mitsuru had harsh words for the state of Gatoh Move and ChocoPro afterwards, and said Riho leaving wasn’t the catalyst: it was Mei’s arrival. She made it a game. “I’m ashamed of the rookies that came after you. This is not a sports club.”
“Mitsuru’s job is to discipline them and be hated. But mine’s not and I’m not hated.”
Mitsuru takes control and sets up the janken brackets herself. It’s a pretty intense affair, apart from Akki who is determined to be calm and happy. It serves him well, as he claims the tourney and the chocolate.
Of note during their first round match Yuna tells Yuna Mitsuru beat Sakura because of their team, Mitsuru said no I did it myself. An upset, glaring Yuna is DEAD SILENT as she glares at Mitsuru through three ties and then beats Mitsuru with a flat look on her face.
During closing comments Lulu remarked “Today I am not defeated. Today’s defeat is only Emi Pencil. One step forward.” Akki comments that Lulu seems to be learning a lot from Sakura. He. Too true.
ChocoPro 33 will be July 19th at 10am JST (July 18 9pm EDT) and to no one’s surprise after the earlier comments will feature Mitsuru vs Mei.
This show was incredible. All three rookies looked great and are really stepping up very time out, and everyone in general was firing on all cylinders. Some of Mitsuru’s comments were especially harsh and like with Yuna’s feud with Sakura there could be a little too much blending of story and real frustration building (and fallout with the rookies getting dragged into the crossfire), but for now the effect is extremely compelling.
Seek this show out.
As I like to reiterate I’m beyond grateful to Sakura and the rest of Gatoh Move/ChocoPro for doing so much to provide good natured content aimed at connecting people in this time of isolation and bringing smiles to everyones faces. It’s much needed and appreciated.
Visit Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel to check out all of ChocoPro’s content, including the replay of this show. Everything they are doing goes up for free under Sakura’s “No Pay Wall” initiative, so if you do enjoy and are able / would like to support please see their patreon, join as a member of their YouTube channel, and/or donate directly via their PayPal. Also check out their brand new merchandise store with international shipping!