When Gatoh Move announced that Mitsuru Konno was retiring, it was both a blow and somehow entirely unsurprising. The storyline that defined Mitsuru’s 2020 and pushed her to the MVP award in ChocoPro’s second season was built around her bizarre relationship with wrestling. On more than one occasion, she’d expressed that it wasn’t fun for her, and that what kept her going was the need to figure out what exactly it was that made the likes of Mei Suruga fall wildly in love with it.
That was a hook which made for a hell of a tale. For the length of season two, Mitsuru became a focused force of uncontrolled emotion, veering wildly between sadness and fury as she tried to figure out exactly who she was and what she was doing here. It would see her boot Emi Sakura repeatedly in the face, slap Mei Suruga so hard her own hand bled and put on ChocoPro classic after ChocoPro classic. For many, it was that wee promotion’s finest hour, and the fans fell in behind her, roaring her on from the YouTube chat.
And what made that story work is that Mitsuru isn’t like Emi’s other pupils. She’s focused and aggressive; someone who in another world would have fit nicely into a company like SEAd. In a promotion full of goofs, Mitsuru was the one who slapped them all into line and sometimes, as much as I love those goofs, that was what ChocoPro needed. It’s not to say she couldn’t do the other stuff too. She lost a match to Honda at the start of season three because she got caught up in how adorable Gon is, but even at her most comedic, there was an intensity to her that few others have, summed up by her unusual approach to a pre-match handshake. That run she went on felt like the start of something special, although I guess it’s also a hell of a way to go out.
There is some joy to be found from this retirement, though. In the video that announced it, Mitsuru looked happy, comfortable in her decision and ready to move on (although she has also said she’ll still pop in and help out behind the scenes, taking a similar role to someone like Aoi Kizuki). Most importantly, though, in the ‘press conference’ with such luminous examples of the free press as Suruga Weekly, Minoru Fujita would ask her what the most fun part of wrestling had been. It was an innocent question from someone unaware of Mitsuru’s previous claims, but it led to the answer that everyone wanted to hear. As she stepped away, Mitsuru was finally able to say that actually, despite what she’d said before, every moment of it had been fun. I wish she wasn’t going, but I’m glad she found that feeling before she did.
Thanks to their No Pay Wall initiative, all Gatoh Move and ChocoPro content is available for free on Gatoh Move’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2HtPsU4U7TNSv2mSbPkj0w
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