Gatoh Move 2.0: The Future

In the aftermath of Riho, Gatoh Move’s ace since their inception, going freelance the company is refocusing a bit. The “Japan Tour” numbering has now finished and the August 28th show will relaunch things simply as Gatoh Move #1 (subtitled Gatoh Move Juice 100%).

In addition, things have evolved to the point where it is even more of a new beginning for the company. The core roster size will be DOUBLED, with six trainees debuting to join Gatoh’s remaining five wrestlers. Gatoh Move #1 will be a show made up entirely of debut matches:

  1. Emi Sakura vs Rin Rin
  2. Mitsuru Konno vs Sayuri
  3. Mei Suruga vs Tokiko Kirihara
  4. Yuna Mizumori vs Lulu Pencil
  5. Sayaka Obihiro vs Chie Koishikawa
  6. Emi Sakura, Yuna Mizumori, & Mei Suruga vs Sayaka Obihiro, Mitsuru Konno, & Sayaka

(Edit 9/3/2019: Gatoh Move has shared all six debut matches from the show discussed above on their YouTube channel! So I have updated the listed card above with links to the matches)

In anticipation for this event, profiles of all eleven wrestlers have recently been shared on the company’s Twitter account. Presented here (and in Gatoh Move 2.0: The Present) is an attempted translation of those profiles. I am not fluent in Japanese and these translations were done with heavy reliance on translation software and a LOT of help and clarification from my friend Kaori (who I can’t thank enough).

So I apologize for any awkwardness or inaccuracies but hope I’ve captured the essence and that this is somewhat useful as an English intro to the wrestlers of Gatoh Move.

This time we’ll be looking at the six debuting trainees (all of which started through Gatoh Move’s informal training program DareJyo) :

Tokiko Kirihara

  • Birthplace: Ibaraki Prefecture, who loves natto
  • Birthday: November 4
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’5″
  • Weight: 128 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Cobra twist
  • Favorite Food: Red bean paste (Koshian person)
  • Most Charming Feature: Making myself up to look younger
  • Self Introduction: 44 years old and still evolving!
  • Hobby: Going for walks
  • Special Skill: Quick change of clothes
  • Common Saying: Okay, okay
  • Personality: Don’t think deeply
  • Motto: Reflection, but without regret.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    44 years old seems to be the oldest debut in joshi prowrestling history. Please watch a mature lady’s aggressive fight!

Twitter: KiraRi_1104

Sayaka

  • Birthplace: Kanagawa
  • Birthday: November 8
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’3″
  • Weight: 117 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Drop kick
  • Favorite Food: Pickled plum
  • Most Charming Feature: Dimples
  • Self Introduction: I will do my best. Thank you for your support and devotion!
  • Hobby: Cosplay, gaming
  • Special Skill: Working without a day off
  • Common Saying: ~っすね! [This is the casual way of saying honorific language.]
  • Personality: Sloppy [doesn’t pay attention to detail]
  • Motto: Fortune is unpredictable and changeable.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Please watch my dropkick!

Twitter: kukku118

Sayuri

  • Birthplace: Chiba Prefecture
  • Birthday: August 3
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’0″
  • Weight: 95 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Sayuri Gatame
  • Favorite Food: Meat
  • Most Charming Feature: Dignified eyebrows
  • Self Introduction: Usually bearish, during matches bullish
  • Hobby: Solo karaoke
  • Special Skill: System development (previous job)
  • Common Saying: Oh no!
  • Personality: Negative but competitive (I don’t like losing)
  • Motto: One chance in a lifetime.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Desperately struggling towards the professional world.

Twitter: sayuri83sayuri

Rin Rin

  • Birthplace: Kanagawa Prefecture that looks like an animal
  • Birthday: November 21
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Professional Skill: sickle firming, cross arm-lock hold
  • Favorite Food: sebon star, Twinkies, educational confectionery, pigeon sable (I will use a container as a weapon someday), oblate (Anpan man gumi), avocado, soy-milk skin, MacDonald’s French fries, all fruit
  • Most Charming Feature: Useless long eyelashes
  • Self Introduction: Forget as soon as you sleep
  • Hobby: Communicating with the Universe, helping insects
  • Special Skill: Guitar, making dried fish, sing a song of Takasu Clinic and Shiromoto Clinic
  • Common Saying: Half price sale yet?
  • Personality: Insects and weeds
  • Motto: Even a worm will turn.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Rampage

Twitter: minyo_yutori

Chie Koishikawa

  • Birthplace: Shizuoka, a country of tea and oranges
  • Birthday: July 29
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 104 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Nothing so far
  • Favorite Food: Simmered squid and radish, all sweets
  • Most Charming Feature: Bangs
  • Self Introduction: I’m doing well today!
  • Hobby: Reading comic books, making sweets
  • Special Skill: Fencing
  • Common Saying: I see
  • Personality: Duality
  • Motto: Eating is living
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    All the matches are debut matches. I also have a debut match.

Twitter: chie_gtmv

Lulu Pencil

  • Birthplace: West of Tokyo
  • Birthday: July 30
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 101 lbs
  • Special Skill: Body press
  • Favorite Food: Gummy bear!
  • Most Charming Feature: Thick eyelids!!
  • Self Introduction: Read “#プロレス始めました” on Twitter!
  • Hobby: Movies and games!
  • Special Skill: Favorable interpretation
  • Common Saying: I see!
  • Personality: Positive!
  • Motto: Bet on vain effort
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Even if someone kicks the crap out of me or my joints are locked, I will rise again and again. So please watch over me.

Twitter: lulupencil_gtmv

For a sneak peek, check out Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel for some of their trainee exhibition matches. Best of luck to all six in their official. debuts! Can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.

Gatoh Move 2.0: The Present

In the aftermath of Riho, Gatoh Move’s ace since their inception, going freelance the company is refocusing a bit. The “Japan Tour” numbering has now finished and the August 28th show will relaunch things simply as Gatoh Move #1 (subtitled Gatoh Move Juice 100%).

In addition, things have evolved to the point where it is even more of a new beginning for the company. The core roster size will be DOUBLED, with six trainees debuting to join Gatoh’s remaining five wrestlers. Gatoh Move #1 will be a show made up entirely of debut matches:

  1. Emi Sakura vs Rin Rin
  2. Mitsuru Konno vs Sayuri
  3. Mei Suruga vs Tokiko Kirihara
  4. Yuna Mizumori vs Lulu Pencil
  5. Sayaka Obihiro vs Chie Koishikawa
  6. Emi Sakura, Yuna Mizumori, & Mei Suruga vs Sayaka Obihiro, Mitsuru Konno, & Sayaka

(Edit 9/3/2019: Gatoh Move has shared all six debut matches from the show discussed above on their YouTube channel! So I have updated the listed card above with links to the matches)

In anticipation for this event, profiles of all eleven wrestlers have recently been shared on the company’s Twitter account. Presented here is an attempted translation of those profiles. I am not fluent in Japanese and these translations were done with heavy reliance on translation software and a LOT of help and clarification from my friend Kaori (who I can’t thank enough).

So I apologize for any awkwardness or inaccuracies but hope I’ve captured the essence and that this is somewhat useful as an English intro to the wrestlers of Gatoh Move.

First up is the current Gatoh Move roster, itself already a deep and impressive mix of styles, personalities, and experience levels:

Emi Sakura

  • Birthplace: Chiba Prefecture, Mother Farm
  • Birthday: October 4
  • Debut: August 17, 1995 (25th year)
  • Height: 5’1″
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Professional Skill: 70kg Emi Sakura!
  • Favorite Food: Shokupan Bread
  • Most Charming Feature: Mouth mole
  • Self Introduction: Trying to survive.
  • Hobby: QUEEN
  • Special Skill: Making decisions in 2 seconds
  • Common Saying: Get along
  • Personality: Forgetful
  • Motto: As soon as you think of something, do it.
  • Thoughts on 8/28: The show may not go an hour…

Twitter: sakuraemi

Sayaka Obihiro

  • Birthplace: Your own humanity is tested in Hokkaido
  • Birthday: September 2
  • Debut: April 29, 2010 (10th year)
  • Height: 5’2″
  • Weight: 132 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Throat Thrust
  • Favorite Food: Sushi
  • Most Charming Feature: Husky voice (not from alcohol burn)
  • Self Introduction: Recently, wrestling for me has been a racewalk, not a sprint, but still full power. I will do my best!
  • Hobby: Menu planning by looking at supermarket flyers
  • Special Skill: Making a decent meal
  • Common Saying: What does that mean?
  • Personality: Ignition, extinguishing
  • Motto: Always rise after a fall.
  • Thoughts on 8/28: Show my back. [Obi wishes to lead/teach by example.]

Twitter: obi_gtmv

Mitsuru Konno

  • Birthplace: Tokyo, where there is nothing that doesn’t exist
  • Birthday: May 10
  • Debut: October 4, 2016 (3rd year)
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 128 lbs
  • Professional Skill: World Volleyball, Foreign Thunder, Brain Buster Hold
  • Favorite Food: Draft beer! Draft beer!
  • Most Charming Feature: Munchy mouth
  • Self Introduction: Entrust chores, miscellaneous duties, and backstage to Mitsuru !!
  • Hobby: Drinking
  • Special Skill: Cooking, handicraft
  • Common Saying: Damn it!
  • Personality: Diligent bad girl
  • Motto: Try to take every opportunity
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Is this an important debut?
    Noisy! Listen!
    I will kick everyone together!

Twitter: Mitsuru_gtmv

Yuna Mizumori

  • Birthplace: Tropical star (Kumamoto)
  • Birthday: August 2
  • Debut: February 2, 2018 (2nd year)
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Tropical ☆ Yahoo
  • Favorite Food: Pineapple
  • Most Charming Feature: Dimples
  • Self Introduction: Tropical ~ Yahoo!
    If I say papaya mango, yell coconut!
  • Hobby: Karaoke
  • Special Skill: Shiatsu
  • Common Saying: I ’m getting excited! [Dragon Ball / Son Goku’s dialogue]
  • Personality: Everybody’s friend
  • Motto: There is not a bit of regret in my entire life!
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    フレッシュな新人たちを、差し引いて一番ジューシーな汗をかいている ? !
    [I’m leaving this one alone lol]

Twitter: Mizum0ri

Mei Suruga

  • Birthplace: Quietly beautiful Kyoto
  • Birthday: May 30
  • Debut: May 27, 2018 (2nd year)
  • Height: 4’10”
  • Weight: 110 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Propeller clutch, Hōkiboshi [comet]
  • Favorite Food: Any kind of apple
  • Most Charming Feature: Narrow eyes like Heian beauty
  • Self Introduction: I want to increase my followers!
  • Hobby: Imagination
  • Special Skill: Realize imagination with 72% success rate
  • Common Saying: Wahahaha (I’ll keep it in my heart. “Why is it!”)
  • Personality: Live at my own pace
  • Motto: You can’t fight if you’re hungry
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Who shall I hit with the dropkick !!
    Mei has become a senior!
    I will do my best like a senior!

Twitter: Mei_gtmv

Still to come (hopefully), the rookies!

Gatoh Move 4/28/19 Live Thoughts

April 28, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan

This show was in an interesting spot being the day after one Itabashi Greenhall show for Gatoh Move and three days before another (thoughts on both to come).

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As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements.

Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken afterward, so my pics here won’t contain anything from the matches and will only be of the roundtable and dancing following the shows (as well as of some souvenirs).

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1) Mitsuru Konno vs Saki 

This contest provided a fun contrast, as Mitsuru was developing a more serious attitude while Saki was having a bit of fun at her expense, turning every move into a Namashite in honor of her partner in the impending Go Go Green Curry Cup Akki. They had great chemistry, and fought all around building maintaining a high intensity level. It was also a very different match from the one they would have a month later going into Mitsuru & Sawasdee Kamen challenging for Saki & Yuna’s tag titles. Strong opener, with Saki picking up the expected win. It’s a slow build, but Mitsuru’s eventually going start racking up unexpected victories and it’ll be glorious.

2) Baliyan Akki vs Yuna Mizumori 

Speaking of Saki’s two regular tag partners in Gatoh Move, they faced each other in singles action here. This had some really cool, creative sequences and it’s awesome to see Akki’s progression as he starts having more singles intergender matches. He picked up the win against Gatoh Move’s resident lovable wrecking ball.

3) Emi Sakura,  Masahiro Takanashi & Riho vs Ryuichi Sekine, Antonio Honda, & Mei Suruga

Lots of comedy. Lots of chaos. Lots of fun. 😉 Honda pinned Sakura to give his team the win over Gatoh’s top veterans in yet another great 6-person tag at Ichigaya Chocolate Square.

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During the post show roundtable the brackets were determined for Gatoh’s annual Go Go Green Curry Cup mixed tag tournament, which everyone on this show would be involved in.

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Gatoh Move keychains!

Not a lot else to say this time around. A solid, well worked, highly entertaining show from top to bottom.

Last Song for You: Riho’s “Graduation” from Gatoh Move

Later today (7/2/19) Riho, Gatoh Move’s ace, will have her final match with the company. She will be “graduating” (the term used in Japan when someone leaves a company to move on, whether it’s for retirement or a case like this) to go freelance.

 

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Prior to my first trip to Japan at the end of 2015, I was primarily only had seen Joshi wrestlers that had come stateside for Shimmer. So, as I mentioned in my look back on Kotori’s career when she retired, I was largely unfamiliar with the professional wrestling company Gatoh Move and their wrestlers when I attended my first show of theirs on 12/22/15.

On that show freelancers Hikaru Shida and Makoto, who I knew from Shimmer, were on opposite sides from each other in a tag match paired with Gatoh Move roster members Kotori and Riho respectively.  It was quite good, and in particular Riho stood out with skills and instincts that seemed beyond what her 18 years of age would have implied.

 

 

And with good reason. “Young” in Joshi doesn’t necessarily correlate to experience, and Riho was in fact the most senior competitor in that match with nearly 10 years as a wrestler, incredibly starting at the age of just 9 years old. She grew and honed her craft under the training and tutelage of the incredible Emi Sakura, first in Ice Ribbon then following her mentor when Sakura split with the company in 2012 and started Gatoh Move.

 

 

So in my initial exposure to Riho, she was already an accomplished, polished veteran. And boy did it show. Particularly later that trip when I got a chance to see Gatoh Move in their home environment. The 12/22/15 show had been a “traditional” wrestling show with a traditional wrestling ring. The reason I specify is that Gatoh Move’s home venue, Ichigaya Chocolate Square, is a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements.

It’s such a unique environment, that not only provides something special for the audience but also forces the wrestlers to push themselves and adapt to the unusual constraints. And Riho is an absolute master of it. Her athleticism, creativity, and precision always combined in fantastic fashion as she bounced around the confined space, often utilizing not only the windowsill but also her opponents and partners as platforms to launch herself off of in lieu of ropes and turnbuckles.

 

 

As such, some of the most memorable moments of Riho in Ichigaya for me came from Gatoh’s incredible 6-person tag matches, including  Riho, Kotori, & Aasa vs Emi, Obi, & Mitsuru on 12/31/16, a similar variation two years later of  Riho teaming with Emi & Obi against Mitsuru, Mei Suruga, & Yuna Mizumori in a special “Old Gatoh Move” vs “New Gatoh Move”  match on 12/31/18  (which is up on Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel!!!), and a fantastic match from just  last month  of Riho, Baliyan Akki, & An-Chamu vs Emi, Masahiro Takanashi, & Mei (also up on Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel!!!).

 

 

At the risk of getting overly cliched, Riho has the presence of a star. The audience reactions when she appeared at other promotions, such as in a pair of great tag team title challenges in back to back years in Tokyo Joshi Pro’s biggest events, was always incredible.

 

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Riho’s greatest strength may be her ability to make whatever story she’s telling in the ring accessible and convincing. She’s believable as a threat, even against far larger opponents and in the many intergender matches she’s had. A particular favorite of mine was her no-rope match against Yaso Urano at Basara’s 12/28/17 show.

 

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This Spring I was extremely lucky to be able to attend some of Riho’s last matches in Gatoh Move, and there have certainly been a lot of high notes to go out on. At the beginning of May she faced DDT wrestler and regular Gatoh Move guest Masahiro Takanashi in an incredible encounter that’s one of my top matches of the year thus far. A few days later she won Gatoh’s annual Go Go Green Curry Cup (a mixed tag team tournament).

 

 

And just a month out from her final match, in her second to last “traditional” show for Gatoh, she successfully defended her Super-Asia Championship against rising star Mei Suruga in a wonderful match, after which she relinquished the title.

Tonight Riho will wrestle her trainer Emi Sakura one-on-one in her final Gatoh Move match. I can’t think of a more fitting farewell.

 

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Riho has already given fans a little glimpse of what’s to come after Gatoh Move, as she’s had a pair of good outings with AEW. She’s implied in a recent interview that she doesn’t intend to sign anywhere full time just yet, so it’ll be interesting to see if/where she wrestles in Japan in addition to continuing with AEW in the states (as of now nothing else has been announced/scheduled). It will also be interesting to watch Gatoh Move change and adapt after her departure.

I look forward to the continued success of both.

 

Gatoh Move 5/30, 6/1/19 Live Thoughts

May 30 and June 1, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan

Tonight Gatoh Move has a big show at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring. In her last month with Gatoh Move before going to AEW, Riho defends her Super Asia Championship in the main event on her birthday.

Special note: Gatoh Move continues to increase accessibility with the sharing of matches online with English commentary at an incredible turnaround. Five of the six matches I discuss here are ALREADY up on their YouTube channel.

 

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As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements.

Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken afterward, so my pics here won’t contain anything from the matches and will only be of the roundtable and dancing following the shows (as well as of some souvenirs).

 

5/30/19

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1) Masahiro Takanashi & An-Chamu vs Saki & Baliyan Akki

An came out in Sakura’s old costume again, which continues to amuse me to no end. This was just pure fun. An continues to get better and better the more she works with the incredible talent in Gatoh, Takanashi is a master, and their opponents are really gelling as a team and are solid every time out. Good start.

 

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2) Mitsuru Konno vs Yuna Mizmori

Important match for Mitsuru as she tackles one half of the reigning tag team champions she’ll be challenging tonight. Both kept the intensity high here, and added a lot of careful touches to elevate things. There was a particularly great sequence where Mitsuru set up the deathlock but Yuna kept scurrying her body sideways so Mitsuru missed her head while folding backwards. Mitsuru eventually head faked then zoomed right in on the moving Yuna to complete the hold. It’s the little details.

Mitsuru pushed Yuna to a time limit draw. Really good lead in to their impending tag title battle, and during the roundtable it was announced Mitsuru would get to wrestle Yuna’s partner in a singles match on 6/1.

 

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3) Riho & Emi Sakura vs Mei Suruga & Antonio Honda

Just back from their US debuts, Emi Sakura & Riho came out sporting AEW t-shirts with Emi complaining about the crowd size and dismissively calling her OWN promotion a “local indie.” She knows just how to present things like this, and the sheer absurdity of it (while being delivered deadpan) was pitch perfect.

Fun back and forth match, with Riho and Mei interacting a bit before their big title match. Honda eventually defeated Sakura to vindicate… well, Gatoh Move (lol) and potentially give Mei a little bit of an edge going into tonight.

 

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Many birthdays and a wrestling anniversary to celebrate.

 

As usual lately, Gatoh Move is really clicking and this show was a breeze and a joy to watch.

 

6/1/19

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1) Cho-un vs Tetsuya Izuchi

Two of the members of the Heat Up vs Gatoh Move 6-man tag tonight faced off in singles action to open this show. Technically sound if a bit slow, with Cho-un picking up the win and momentum.

They got heated during the roundtable (with Emi involved too), and while I couldn’t follow what was the said the atmosphere and reactions of those around them was pretty easy to read.

 

2) Mitsuru Konno vs Saki

After drawing with one half of the reigning tag team champions two days prior, Mitsuru got a singles opportunity against the other as she faced Saki going into her title shot (with partner Sawasdee Kamen).

This was a really hard hitting contest, with a desperate Mitsuru pushing herself as much as possible but Saki getting the expected win. The frustration is building in Mitsuru, and honestly I kind of feel like it’s the right time to have her shake it all off and pull out a huge victory tonight. We’ll see.

 

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3) Riho, An-Chamu, & Baliyan Akki vs Masahiro Takanashi, Emi Sakura, & Mei Suruga

Incredible main event, interweaving numerous stories in a fast pace, frantic battle with numerous creative double and triple team from all (particularly from Akki’s smaller teammates using him as a base).

At one point the small An tried to help push Akki into a run for momentum, and he didn’t budge. They amusingly started to argue in English (“What are you doing?” “How weak are you?”) then got back on the same page and got the better of Sakura when she tried to take advantage of their bickering. Later Riho tried Emi’s own “We Will Rock You” splash on her. The whole match was peppered with great little things like those.

In a little bit of a surprise after a relentless final onslaught Mei loses clean to Riho going into Tues, wiping out any momentum she had and stacking the deck majorly against her. This was the PERFECT build to tonight’s main, and let several other wrestlers shine as well. Incredible work.

 

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Absolutely everything on this show was set up to build to Tuesday, with to great effect. These two shows were both highly satisfying on their own while progressing the larger pictures for their participants. Really great stuff.

DareJyo 5/1 & 5/11/19 Live Thoughts

May 1 & 11, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan

I had the opportunity to see DareJyo present a special showcase show at Itabashi Green Hall on May 1st, then again as a pre-show for Big Japan Wrestling on May 11th. Given the nature of DareJyo I won’t be trying to analyze things match by match here, but will still be giving thoughts in quite a bit of detail.

*Note: While I’ll be talking in length about both of the DareJyo shows I’ve seen so far here, pictures were only allowed at the May 1st showcase at a couple of key moments so the majority of the pictures are from the May 11th pre-show.

 

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DareJyo is short for “Daredemo Joshi Puroresu” or Anyone’s Women’s Professional Wrestling. Run by Gatoh Move founder Emi Sakura, the idea is to offer a suitable environment for any woman, regardless of age, experience, etc, to learn the basics of pro wrestling in a casual manner within a professional, safe environment. There are limits on the types of things the participants will learn and try (avoiding more difficult and potentially dangerous aspects like certain types of strikes, etc) while still giving a strong introduction and base to build off of.

 

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It’s a wonderful concept, making wrestling extremely approachable while providing the right framework and support system to learn properly. And it works particularly well because the philosophy and experience of one of the greatest trainers in wrestling, Emi Sakura, is behind it.

The approach to their shows is also wonderfully unique and engaging. They start with warm up drills and “competitive” practice sequences (two wrestlers locking up then trying to force each other into the ropes, etc), then proceeded to exhibition matches. As a wrestling fan the little deeper glimpse of preparation and training was really cool to see.

 

 

Mei Suruga, an incredible rookie roster member in Gatoh Move “proper” who started via DareJyo, was heavily involved in the showcases both helping to run the drills and participating in matches (two on 5/1 and one on 5/11).

On the longer 5/1 standalone show there was also a period of dropkick practice, where the participants attempted dropkicks to a kickpad held by Mei. They were judged by a panel including several wrestlers as well as the visiting promoters of Pro Wrestling Eve in England. Afterwards the participants who performed the best dropkicks in the judges’ eyes were recognized.

 

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The exhibition matches were a couple of minutes apiece, and in a lot of ways were a breath of fresh air for someone like me who watches so much wrestling.

The participants ranged in age from 8 to 48, and along with their exceptional effort Emi Sakura’s measured and brilliant approach to wrestling in general is what really made it all shine.

The showcase show featured seven exhibition matches:

  1. Mei Suruga vs Hime
  2. Sayuri vs Rin Rin
  3. Yokochin vs Megumi
  4. Hotaru vs Tokiko
  5. Kaori vs Yamada
  6. Sayaka va Erimo
  7. Mei Suruga & Blue vs Aitama & Pyon

 

Each match was clearly well designed to stay within each individual’s limitations while making the absolute most of their skills. Things were understandably kept basic, but an incredibly solid foundation of learning was evident and everyone got a chance to shine a bit.

From the playful opener seeing Mei facing an 8 year old to a match centered around one wrestler’s double jointedness, and so on, each short contest was a captivating example of being able to tell an engrossing story in clever ways by utilizing individual strengths.

 

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As I mentioned on May 11 DareJyo also presented a preshow before Big Japan, which was similar in format but abbreviated compared to the standalone show.

In this case there were three exhibition matches:

  1. Blue & Pyon vs Aitama & Tokiko
  2. Saito vs An-Chamu
  3. Hime, Rin Rin, & Etsuko vs Yokochin, Erimo, & Mei Suruga

 

This time around was a nice chance for the participants to push themselves a little farther, and it included another Gatoh Move “proper” regular who has ties to DareJyo in An-Chamu. Again I was impressed with how everything was structured and approached, and it was a lot of fun.

 

 

DareJyo is the type of thing wrestling needs a lot more of. I think it’s both a fantastic way for interested women to give pro wrestling a try and an extremely fun thing to have experienced as an audience member. I wish all the participants the best whether they choose to keep training on a casual level or pursue wrestling in a professional capacity.

 

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Gatoh Move 5/6/19 Live Thoughts

May 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan

Last Monday’s Gatoh Move show had a lot of important developments, most centered around a one-day, four person tournament to name Riho’s next challenger for her Super-Asia Championship at Riho’s birthday show on June 4th.

 

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In a wonderful step that increases the accessibility of one of the most unique and fun wrestling companies anywhere, Gatoh has started uploading matches with English play-by-play. Currently new matches are being uploaded daily, and in an awesome move they shared the entire tournament yesterday. Short version: it’s great. Head over there now to watch without spoilers. Then/or continue reading for my thoughts and match results (including from the one non-tournament match one the show, which made this a rare four match show for Ichigaya).

This tournament came about after the May 1st Go Go Green Curry Cup show (more on that in a later post) where Mitsuru, Yuna, and Mei all expressed a desire to challenge Riho before she leaves Gatoh Move to go freelance in July. A reluctant Emi, enduring a particularly bad day with her ever present back problems, eventually accepted her spot as the fourth participant.

 

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As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements.

Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken afterward, so my pics here won’t contain anything from the matches and will only be of the roundtable and dancing following the shows (as well as of some souvenirs).

 

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1) Super-Asia Championship #1 Contender Tournament Round 1: Mitsuru Konno vs Yuna Mizomori

The previous Saturday Mitsuru was pulled from Gatoh’s show due to an injury to her right arm suffered during practice earlier in the day. Here she had it wrapped, was favoring it heavily, and seemed unable to really straighten it fully. I really hope she wasn’t pushing herself too hard taking part here.

That said, this was the usual masterclass in Gatoh Move on making the most of what’s available and woking within constraints. Mitsuru’s arm became the story of the match, with Yuna continually targeting it and taunting Mitsuru in ways like refusing to shake her good arm and insisting on the injured one (which of course caused Mitsuru to angrily slap the hand away). This was top notch story telling by both, with a gutsy performance by Mitsuru and excellent work by Mizumori to take care of her injured counterpart while putting on an exciting, engaging match. Mizumori’s onslaught was eventually too much and she pinned Mitsuru to advance to the finals.

Would have liked to see what this would have been without the injury of course, but instead of letting it hamper things they capitalized and built around it to produce an excellent match. And Mitsuru did not let her arm slow her down at all, which as with her mentor is both incredibly impressive and a little worrisome long term.

 

 

2) Super-Asia Championship #1 Contender Tournament Round 1: Mei Suruga vs Emi Sakura

This was a rematch of the best match I saw during my trip last fall.  Speaking of Mitsuru’s mentor and not letting anything stop her, Emi Sakura, who was using a cane to move around, once again put on a clinic while nursing a bad back. Again making a potential weakness a strength Sakura’s back was the story here, with her unable to lock in certain moves, Mei targeting it, and Sakura even resorting to getting her cane involved. More great stuff for Gatoh’s regulars. Mei eventually tied Sakura up just enough to keep Gatoh’s founder down for 3 and move on to the finals.

 

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3) An-Chamu & Riho vs Baliyan Akki & Cherry 

While giving the tournament participants a break before the main event, this match was also a ton of fun on its own. Riho embraced teaming with the gravure idol, and there was a lot of posing and playfulness going on. Cherry played full heel here, drawing an initially confused Akki along into full on antics by the end. Light and entertaining yet of course anchored with strong wrestling. Cherry pinned An-Chamu to prove underhanded tactics sometimes do pay off. 😉

 

 

4) Super-Asia Championship #1 Contender Tournament Final: Mei Suruga vs Yuna Mizomori

So Gatoh’s two super-rookies faced off to see who would challenge for the company’s top singles title. They are both amazing, particularly given both have under a year and a half experience. It’s interesting that with all the (rightful) buzz about Mei that I think that Yuna’s equally impressive start in pro-wrestling gets overlooked a little, even though she’s already a two-time tag team champion in Gatoh.

This was a blast, with a hyper aggressive Yuna repeatedly charging and trying to overpower the hyper quick Mei. While Mei seemed the favorite for the tournament did eventually best Yuna to become Riho’s next challenger, this really could have gone either way and was gripping right up to the end. Great stuff.

Yuna was crying in frustration after and during the roundtable, a feeling that clearly extended to Mitsuru as well.

 

 

Special guests Dann and Emily Read, who were a joy to meet and talk to, appeared after the roundtable (with translation help from Akki) to talk about being in Japan and taking in around fourteen shows scouting talent. They said one wrestler impressed them more than anyone else, and would be getting a straight shot into their SHE-1 tournament without needing to go through a qualification match, something they only ever did before with Meiko Satomura. There seemed two possibilities and with that lead up I was leaning towards Riho, but it was in fact the other and Mei is going to London this fall! Huge, well deserved opportunity. Big day all around for her.

 

 

During the roundtable Gatoh talents wear t-shirts over their gear. When Dann finished the announcement he gave Mei an Eve t-shirt and she quickly and excitedly took off the one she was wearing to put it on in a really cute moment.

 

 

Great show, perhaps one of the best I’ve seen at Ichigaya, with a ton of significant things happening around excellent wrestling, And in a somewhat unusual case for Gatoh I can recommend going online right now to check out a majority of the show, so do so. 😉