Yunamon vs Emi Sakura is the story that ChocoPro has been built around. Yes, there have been divergences, the occasional scurry down another alley, but time after time it’s come back to those two. Emi Sakura believes that two years into her career, Yunamon doesn’t know who she is. That’s she trapped somewhere between an idol and a wrestler, more interested in seeking fan approval than greatness. Unsurprisingly, that’s an opinion that Yunamon took to heart, driving her crazy as she sought to prove herself to the person who trained her. It felt like the only place it could be settled was on Chocolate Square’s mat, and while Sakura initially ducked and dodged Yunamon’s challenges, she finally gave the Tropical Girl what she wanted. It was Oni vs Pineapple in a Last Woman Standing.
And in the opening minutes of this match, all that fire Yunamon had been storing up was unleashed. She flew at Sakura, going after that consistently vulnerable back and, not so much taking control, as overwhelming her in a torrent of hate. It was summed up by a Giant Swing that saw her throw Sakura into the wall, a satisfying thud as she connected. Emi, meanwhile, kept trying to find ways back in, grasping at small openings, but Yunamon couldn’t be stopped. She even gave Sakura a taste of her own medicine, responding to an attempt to steal one of her moves by throwing her across the mat by her hair, an old Sakura favourite.
The problem with that kind of fire, sadly, is that it can only burn that bright for so long. Eventually, Yunamon began to show cracks, unable to keep up her relentless pace, and that’s when Sakura stepped in. People always talk about Emi Sakura as a trainer, and there is a good reason for that, but I think it is almost dismissive of how great a wrestler she is. She has been brilliant throughout this entire feud, digging her elbow in and mocking Yunamon at every opportunity. When she got her up in the Romero Special, she got revenge for that earlier Swing, tossing her dismissively out of it and into the wall.
It also hinted at what made this match work. The pacing and timing of this thing were incredible. They went for over half an hour, but it never felt long, and I am someone that will moan about match length at every opportunity. Sakura’s years of experience came to the fore, as they slowed things down and picked them up at the exact right moments. Emi playing the evil heel, cutting Yunamon’s legs from underneath her only for the Tropical Hero to find one more gear and come roaring back.
Sometimes, though, there aren’t enough gears. Yunamon gave her everything to this match, pulling herself back to her feet when it should have been impossible. Unfortunately, there was an ogre in town, and she was more than happy to stomp all over those dreams. What’s the old saying? I taught you everything you know, but not everything I know? After having ‘chickened out’ of the Musya Gaeshi earlier in the match (something she’s been doing all through the build), Sakura suddenly struck, pulling out not just the original, but an incredible twisting version of the move. At that moment, you got the sinking feeling that this was done. Yunamon was brilliant, but Emi Sakura is Emi Sakura. She at least gave her tropical pupil the honour of eating an Ice Driver, a rarely seen move that definitively put her down for ten.
Afterwards, Emi spoke about ChocoPro and her approach to wrestling. She seemed to give Yunamon something approaching a slither of a compliment, claiming she was going to try to send the match to AEW, but it was a taster, not the full meal. Plus, it was quickly forgotten when she once again stole away with Yunamon’s Janken Tournament chocolate, not giving a damn as her pupil burst into tears.
Thankfully, that wouldn’t be our final image. During the closing song, Sakura clambered onto the window sill behind Yunamon, ready to enact her revenge for the sneak attack on the previous show. On this day, though, the rest of the ChocoPro roster spotted her, Lulu, Mitsuru, Mei and Otoki leaping up and dumping the oni unceremoniously out the window, leaving our Tropical Girl to have her moment. Evil may have won the battle, but the war continues, and I reckon Yunamon is going to be just fine.
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