Coronavirus might be putting the world under lock and key, but even that can’t stop Emi Sakura. Over the weekend she debuted ChocoProLIVE!, a wrestling show broadcast live on YouTube from the famous Ichigaya Chocolate Square And boy, did they have a name to help them kick things off as they said hello to Murder Grandpa himself, Minoru Suzuki.
Before we get to that, though, I want to have a wee blather about this program. This was very much a DIY operation, to the extent that Antonio Honda was the cameraman. It also meant they weren’t without a technical hitch or two, part of which was caused by YouTube cutting off the live feed thanks to ‘Kazi Ni Nare’ invoking a copyright strike. The version they’ve got up now doesn’t even come from Honda cam, as we’re perched in the corner, watching from the side.
All of which only adds to my enjoyment because let’s face it, you ain’t watching this stuff for the production values. The thing that caused me to fall in love with Gatoh Move was the DIY family vibe that is wrapped around it. Their aesthetic might not be punk rock, but their attitude is, and that extended into this. All through the show, that alternate viewpoint lets us watch people coming in and out, chipping in and helping how they can. As someone who spends a lot of their life watching the same thing happen in tiny music venues across the UK, that instantly makes me happy. That sense of togetherness bulldozes over any shakiness that the final product may have.
It helps that the wrestling is genius too and whether it’s Emi Sakura biting Rin Rin’s hair or the subversive brilliance of Lulu Pencil, ChocoProLIVE! is a perfect example of what makes Gatoh Move work. Sakura allows her wrestlers’ personalities to shine, and they’re all delightful, but it’s backed up by an understanding of technical wrestling that they will never get credit for. She has an ability to get the best out of people which is genuinely staggering. There is a reason they are producing unique talent like Mei Suruga.
And, of course, we had that main event, which was executed to perfection. What’s often missed about Suzuki is that’s he’s at his best when he’s playing a panto villain, snarling and girning his way through matches. That made him the perfect opponent to wander into Ichigaya Square and take on Balliyan Akki. In Chocolate Square, Akki was the hometown boy, who’d explained at the start of the show how he idolised Suzuki. That made it all the more perfect when MiSu was given a chance to come in and stamp all over his dreams as his friends watched on.
It was a set-up which led to one of my favourite moments of the year so far, as the Gatoh Move roster in attendance combined in an attempt to vanquish the big bad. Suzuki refused to let go of a submission, more interested in torturing Akki than in listening to the ref, and they couldn’t sit back and allow that to happen. Suddenly, Lulu Pencil was on the mat throwing elbows at MiSu, a plan she clearly hadn’t thought through. It was the catalyst, though, for everyone else flying to her aid, coming together and turning the company as a whole into the defiant babyface throwing themselves at this snarling force of evil.
As incredible as that was, I don’t want to take the focus entirely away from Akki. This was a massive opportunity for him, and he grasped it with with both hands. He took a beating but showed fire and heart throughout, doing everything in his power to chip away at Suzuki. Murder Grandpa is such a massive personality, that it would have been easy for him to get absorbed by it, becoming an irrelevance in the match despite making up half of it. Thankfully, that never happened. He held his ground, and he gave his all, so by the time the bell went to call the match to an end, he’d more than proven himself.
As had ChocoProLIVE! This scrappy little wrestling company that does things their way even managed to charm Minoru Suzuki, drawing him into their post-match fun. He sat down with Emi, and they had what I can only imagine was a fascinating conversation (fingers crossed that gets subtitled that at some point). Then, he led them all in washing their hands, showing that even a Murder Grandpa knows how to be responsible during a pandemic. We’ve got to keep them all healthy. I want a lot more episodes of ChocoProLIVE! in the future.
Watch Gatoh Move: https://gatohmovex.pivotshare.com/