April 7, 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.
The card was announced the afternoon of the show, and looked quite interesting to say the least…
As usual Baliyan Akki is helping with translation of Sakura’s opening remarks and Antonio Honda is behind the camera.
Sakura explains that matches that might be held off of in Gatoh Move for special cases will be done in ChocoPro without hesitation because they don’t know how long ChocoPro will last… and also they don’t have many wrestlers. I love her frankness. So dream matches galore.
1) Lulu Pencil vs Antonio Honda
Akki takes over camera and Sakura is ref.
The opening sequence where they trade hammerlocks and alternately dramatically start to say “give up” and say things like “give and take” and do Abraham Lincoln impressions instead might be an immediate indication if this particular match and style is for you.
Everything is over the top and ridiculous here. Honda does a Rambo impression and other silliness using the bands of Lulu’s suspenders, then brutally flicks her forehead to firmly establish control.
Honda teases a chair shot and instead sets it down, sits in it, and eats a banana as Lulu acts horrified and Akki calls it like Mankind vs Undertaker. Once Honda is done playing with the banana peel he once again sets it conspicuously on the window sill. Then he attacks Lulu with a bag of green vegetables. Lulu manages so sustained offense but going to the window for the Pencil Splash allows Honda to get the legs up and take over again.
Honda tries the windup for the Dusty elbow and they go back and forth, but when they’re both doing it and Honda is distracted with his own dancing Lulu disappears under the ChocoPro banner. Honda gets lonely and scared because her thinks she’s become a nobody like in the Ghibli film Spirited Away (no, I’m not making any of this up). She sneaks behind him and sings as a ghost. She applies a sleeper and Honda’s arm goes down twice before he powers up and tries the fox strike. Lulu knocks it away towards Emi, who pushes it towards Mei, who bumps it volleyball style to Mitsuru, who sets it to Lulu, who spikes it back on Honda himself. This is perhaps the oddest paragraph I’ve ever had to write reviewing a wrestling show, and I’ve watched everything from hot dog eating contest matches to UFO deathmatches.
Lulu goes to the window and this time it’s her who slips on the banana peel Honda tries to capatalize but a stretch which Lulu reverses the stretch into her own… but it’s Lulu so Honda simply stands up to counter and Lulu ends up tangled around him. Honda closes his hands together to apply pressure and Lulu has to tap.
There were some really cool moments in this and I appreciate them (and Akki) going full in on the concept. Some of Honda’s stuff gets on my nerves personally but I found it fun overall and it was extremely good for what it was.
Honda resumes camera duties afterwards.
2) Mitsuru Konno vs Yuna Mizumori
I always really enjoy when these two get to face off. This is one of the matches Sakura was talking about as being rare normally, so was really excited to see it on the card.
Yuna starts in a fun mood but Mitsuru takes exception to Yuna’s saying she’ll win and is all business. Her intensity quickly catches on with Yuna and they lay into each other.
This was full throttle all the way and they absolutely battled at an impressive pace and energy level for every last second of the ten minute time limit. There was some great use of the lack of crowd format, like Mitsuru directing Honda over to the side for a proper view of her posing submission, a super closeup of poor Yuna’s face later in another hold, and Yuna using the wrestlers on the sidelines for running momentum in places of ropes.
One great sequence saw Yuna struggle to complete the bridge out of a pin spot, fail to quite stand all the way up… and fall back onto Mitsuru for a fortuitous consequence.
They were both still going strong when time expired on them, leaving the match a draw. I want a rematch ASAP.
I absolutely loved this match. Well worth going out of your way to see.
3) Emi Sakura & Baliyan Akki vs Apple Calamari (Mei Suruga & Chris Brookes)
Mei & Chris is a hilariously awesome first time team here, as they’ve been constantly sniping at each other online and whenever they cross paths in Gatoh Move. So naturally Sakura pairs them up and puts herself opposite lol. 😉
Yuna takes over for Sakura as referee.
Chris says he came because he thought Masa would be there, and instead this.
Emi starts a Sakura chant among… well Mitsuru and Lulu. Mei tries to convince them to cheer for her instead, and when that doesn’t work attacks Sakura, which is probably more effective anyway.
Mei messes with Chris here and there. Early on she lets go of her opponent too soon while holding for a strike so Chris misses. When Honda & Emi have Chris immobilized and drag Mei on top for the pyramid pose she very quick gets over her surprise and goes along with it. Later Mei asks Chris to get in the window then goes into her rollup instead of holding Sakura in place for a strike. And so on. All it naturally folded into the match and executed without any loss of momentum or tension regarding two teams trying to win.
One really great part about Gatoh Move and ChocoPro in general is how seamlessly they can integrate story like that into matches without sacrificing pacing or action. This was on full display. Other examples include Mei panicking when getting on Chris’ shoulders for a double team because he’s so tall and has threatened to put her through the ceiling in the past, and Emi stoping for a moment to mock Mei’s height, Chris responding in kind, then Emi revealing she suckered them in just to elbow them both. It was all so well done.
The action was of course also top notch throughout, including really great spots with Emi and Akki grabbing Mei out of the air at points and a sweet doubleteam with Akki dropkicking Chris against the wall with Emi simultaneously splashing Mei at his feet.
Late in the match Chris repays Mei’s earlier antics by asking her to get in the window, then pushing her outside and closing it. I’m dying of laughter as Mei can be seen pressed against the window in the background trying to get in while Chris goes back to attack Akki.
The bickering pays off however when Akki goes to the other window for a splash and Mei is able to foil him from outside.
Mei & Chris keep pressing their advantage, leading to Mei going for the propeller clutch on Akki. Chris floats over into a jackknife for the double pin AND THEY WIN! Simply amazing.
During a post show chat with Chris and Akki, Akki says he’s been beating by Chris twice but is getting close and will win eventually. Chris says he’ll never get that close. Nice, good natured rivalry building.
Akki then turns to the team of Mei & Chris, and reveals a rumor that Chris actually requested the match. Chris claims maybe he and Mei got off on wrong foot and could get long better. Then presents Mei a gift… of a basketball, because he saw on her social media that she plays. Mei’s relly excited. Hmm, I was expecting a joke gift. Oh wait, they’re playing basketball with Chris as basket. Yep, there’s Mei hitting Chris in the face with the basketball. But they still seem ok. We’ll see how long it lasts.
We finish with A Chocolate Bit of Happiness Rock-Paper-Scissors Tourney 2! LULU WINS HER FIRST SINGLES MATCH EVER! Such as it is anyway. 😉 Then goes on to win the tournament!!! And devours her prize chocolate in short order. To the victor goes the spoils.
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.
This was another really fun show in general, but also continues to show what makes ChocoPro unique even compared to Gatoh Move. They are really embracing the no audience format and the unique characteristics and advantages it offers. Creative window spots, running commentary from whoever’s behind the camera, and being unafraid to use dramatic close ups, etc all really enhance the experience. Bravo.