July 19, 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.
Mitsuru sings an old favorite song of hers during the squats, and it’s the longest squat song ever. Pretty sure Sakura’s not going to nominate Mitsuru for this duty again. 😉
1) Baliyan Akki vs Lulu Pencil
Lulu can barely breath from Mitsuru’s extended squats. And Akki was on camera duty so he’s well rested. Akki explains he’s not just facing Lulu, he feels he facing the whole Pencil Army so he’s extra determined.
Lulu rushes to start and Akki just lifts a foot and she wipes herself out, which set the tone for the whole match nicely. Akki was almost indignant about his upstart opponent.
After a little while Akki can’t handle not being cameraman so grabs it from Sakura for some first person holds and attacks. He pays for that later as Emi kicks over a submission attempt from behind the camera to aid her partner.
Every match is a progression for Lulu as she tries new things and becomes a little more effective while still approaching everything from a fundamentally different and weird perspective. Her attempt at a Vader splash was the most hilarious thing ever. She gets tougher each time out and late in the match survives an airplane spin she submitted to last time they faced. Akki became more frustrated and the longer Lulu lasted.
In the end Akki won with a mere 15 seconds left. Lulu nearly pulled off a draw.
The victorious Akki is a bit dumbfounded by the level of fight he got from Lulu, especially after an equally difficult fight with Tokiko Kirihara the show before. “What is happening with the rookies? Why don’t you give up?”
“Passion for wrestling.”
Akki’s impressed and salutes the Pencil Army.
Solid, enjoyable match. Lulu’s gradual journey is being REALLY well done.
2) Emi Sakura vs Tokiko Kirihara
First singles match for Emi Pencil.
Interesting combination of regular old Sakura and her new character as she uses the cheerful Pencil Army chant as a taunt in the place of shaking hands.
Tokiko starts 100% full bore. She throws Emi all over and gets some quick, super close falls… then Sakura grabs a small package out of nowhere for the win in under a minute and a half.
Tokiko is NOT happy, and jumps Sakura then tosses her out the window. She continues with an attack on Emi’s partner Lulu (who is behind the camera, leading to a really interesting visual as we see a first person view of Tokiko choking her). Referee Akki tried to calm her down and she goes crazy on him as well.
Whether the length here was a result of Sakura’s bad back or not, it was done perfectly. Sakura survived due to her experience and her opponent’s emotions getting the better of her, having a really short match every once in while add a lot of unpredictability, and Tokiko got to show an incredible amount of fire that will be really intriguing going into her future matches.
3) Mitsuru Konno vs Mei Suruga
Mitsuru had harsh words at the end of ChocoPro 32, which were expanded into a more nuanced explanation in a ChocoTalk interview ChocoTalk interview with Emi Sakura the night before this show. Both are really must watch going into this.
This was exactly the incredible, fast paced, hard hitting war expected while being equally anchored by a well integrated style and perspective clash. It was absolutely incredible down the stretch, and pretty much the definition of must see.
After a late series of back and forth counters, Mitsuru turns a Propeller Clutch attempt by Mei into a harsh submission hold that she just keeps modifying as Mei hangs on until settling into a leg lace dragon sleeper (subsequently named the Doragram Sleeper) that Mei has to tap to.
Mei says she lost, but she had fun. Mitsuru doesn’t understand it all, but is in good spirits and says after last night it feels like she found something. It feels like she can go on to find out what it is.
Sakura says Mitsuru has a good look on her face. But she thinks Mitsuru needs to face someone else. On July 24th at 10am JST (July 23rd 9pm EDT) she’ll battle the other member of ChocoPro who has gone through a transformative journey lately, Yuna Mizumori.
As her janken match starts Mitsuru explains she slapped Mei so hard she bruised herself, she says that must have hurt but Mei is still smiling. She got hurt and lost but still had fun. Mitsuru’s kind of amazed. She thanks Mei for fighting her… then beats her again at Janken. Heh. And then she beats everyone else as well, as this turns out to be Mitsuru’s day all around and she enjoys the janken victor’s prize chocolate.
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. Heh. Too true.
In an interesting twist, Mitsuru decided to take a different approach going into her match with Yuna and meet for some discussions ahead of time to try to properly communicate her feelings to avoid the type of situation that happened with Mei. It didn’t go well. Check out this fascinating discussion between Mitsuru and Akki going over it all less than twenty four hours before Misturu and Yuna collide.
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!