July 24, 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.
Mei (in her green “Lettuce-chan” costume) excitedly reclaims squat song duties… and has an absolute blast singing Bobby Roode’s theme Glorious. Fun stuff.
1) Baliyan Akki vs Pencil Army (Lulu Pencil & Emi Sakura)
“1+1= infinity.” – Emi Pencil
Lulu lasted until the final 15 seconds of her match against against Akki last show. Sakura pondered that Lulu could win rematch, and to make sure of it she added herself and made this ChocoPro’s first ever handicap match.
The Pencil Army stuff is really leading to extra dimensions and wonderfully well integrated humor and action. This was a excellent example of it all, right from the opening moment when Akki wiped out Emi with a superkick and nearly stole it with a rollup on Lulu.
Little touches like Emi using the camera to check her face after the second of Akki’s brutal superkicks and Mei’s highly amusing commentary added a lot.
Lulu continues to keep pushing herself to get better each match and hangs on for dear life while applying a sleeper to Akki late, but Akki pushes off of Emi to bridge back and uses Emi’s weight to help keep Lulu down for the upset(?) win. Exactly what it should have been, and Lulu’s quest for success in wrestling continues.
2) Mei Suruga vs Tokiko Kirihara
Tokiko was quite angry after being beaten by Emi Pencil in under two minutes, and once her next opponent was announced as her debut opponent Mei the two started sniping at each other big time.
So the opening face off and introductions were rather tense, and when the bell rang Tokiko charged Mei so fast/hard she intercepted before Mei got into frame and then judo tossed her in. Really different and awesome.
Kirihara continued to be really aggressive and gave the more experienced Mei trouble … but Mei managed to use Tokiko’s energy against her and held her down in a rough rollup for the win in about three minutes. Mei condescendingly pats Otoki on the head after the match in an extraordinary display of bad judgement, and gets tossed out the window.
Referee Sakura manages to pull Otoki away as she goes for Lulu ebhind the camera like she did last show, so she judo tosses Emi and then Akki for good measure. Frustrated, rampaging Tokiko is a very interesting development.
3) Mitsuru Konno vs Yuna Mizumori
After a bit of an epiphany following her match with Mei at ChocoPro 33, Mitsuru decided to approach this match with Yuna a bit differently. Her attempted talks with Yuna led to both of them discovering things about themselves, but it was a bumpy ride. Mitsuru sat down with Akki for a excellent summary discussion the night before this show.
With the timed nature Mitsuru applied to their talks causing a bit of friction, Sakura decided to make this a no time limit match. Now all the talking is done and two of ChocoPro and Gatoh Move’s lynchpins collide in a situation where there must be a winner.
There’s a great “roughness” to the early chain wrestling that felt really visceral. Both wrestlers are in a different place here and the match is quite different from all the other great matches the two have been having with others lately, but in a wonderful way.
This got wild, including a crazy exchange up against the tables leaning against the far wall and a heart stopping moment when Mitsuru slammed Yuna against the giant glass window on the other side of the venue.
Their striking was vicious. At one point they absolutely WAYLAID each other with forearms, and in a late moment that made me wince Yuna did a full charge right into Mitsuru’s Sekkai Volley (overhand volleyball spike style strike).
Yet another significant, well integrated aspect of the match with the holds and counters. Mitsuru’s submission game is amazing, and the way she continually works and modifies her holds makes everything riveting. Little touches from Yuna were equally important, like the way she fought tooth and nail every time she found herself confined and a smart detail of holding on to and pulling on the mat to help with counters and escapes.
Yuna spins out of Mitsuru’s attempt at her version of the Overdrive but unfortunately turns right into a dragon sleeper. With some effort Mitsuru fully converts into her Doragram Sleeper (dragon sleeper with a leg lace and her knee in the opponent’s back) for the win in about 23 minutes. Fantastic, hard fought match that really lived up to its potential and had a little bit of everything.
Afterwards Yuna slaps away Mitsuru’s hand… but gestures for a hug instead. She’s torn up and crying at losing, but says they’re tears of happiness. She wanted to show Mitsuru how far she’s come by winning, but after all this time trial and error today she’s proceeded at least one step towards where she wants to go, even in a loss.
The janken tournament was as usual really fun and interesting. Emi once again teaching Lulu all the wrong lessons by giving herself the bye. Tokiko played major mindgames with Mei throwing so close to Mei’s face it looked like she was trying to punch her or put her eyes out (with throws of rock and scissors respectively). Yuna faced Mitsuru again and seemed perfectly happy even if she lost again… but didn’t. In the end a calm and collected Akki beat Lulu, Yuna, then Emi to claim the prize chocolate.
Post show Mitsuru does a special cheer with everyone, but pushes Akki with camera out of participating because he’s doing the camera and she doesn’ think it’ll look good for viewers. Everyone else is a little aghast, so Sakura makes Mitsuru vs Akki for the next ChocoPro.
What a string of amazing shows. Several things that have been building tied up in emotional and cheerful fashion. Yuna even gave Sakura a hug during the end song to everyone’s shock. This almost felt like a good place to end the season, but there were two shows to go and Akki is one of the last big singles matches left for Mitsuru among the regular that hadn’t happened yet so is a good choice for next show. Great stuff.
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!