Lulu Pencil’s Hat

Before the storm. Credit: ChocoPro

Wrestling titles are weird. You don’t need to work to make a football league or an Olympic gold medal feel important. In a pre-determined sport, however, a title only has as much value as the people competing for it give it. It means that in some companies, they are mere props, McGuffins to build stories around, but with no real value. In others, they are everything, the backbone of what they do and the conduits to incredible moments. That feeling you get when you watch your favourite scratch and claw their way to the top, finally winning the big one, well, there are few things like it. Rarely, though, and I do accept that it’s uncommon, those titles are hats.

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Mayu Iwatani vs Takumi Iroha II

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If all fails, fucking yeet yersel at the problem. Credit: Stardom

February was a more innocent time. Yes, the world was already a shithole, but you could at least go to the pub or have a wee holiday to deal with the ever growing sense of dread. It was also when Takumi Iroha rocked up to Stardom and gave Mayu a good old-fashioned beating in front of a packed Korakuen Hall. In a match that is still held up by many as one of the best of the year, she looked a step ahead of Stardom’s Icon. Of course, we know what happened next. COVID struck, and we’ve had to wait a bit longer than we expected to see round number two, this time with the title on the line.

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Tokiko Kirihara: ChocoPro’s Success Story

Don’t mess. Credit: ChocoPro

ChocoPro might not have been around long, but it can already lay claim to a success story or two. Both Yunamon and Mitsuru have benefited from long arcs that have seen them grapple with who they are as a wrestler (while season three has hinted at a similar role for Mei). Meanwhile, Emi ‘Oni’ Sakura stirs the pot, looking on as the likes of Lulu Pencil grow in confidence, finding themselves in the ring. Nearly everyone involved has had something for fans to grasp hold of, and yet, ChocoPro’s greatest success story is none of that. Instead, it’s been the growth of one Tokiko Kirihara, known to fans as Otoki.

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Hyper Misao vs Jun Kasai

The first attempt did not go to plan. Credit: TJPW

You don’t have to dig deep to see the differences between Hyper Misao and Jun Kasai. One is a crazed lunatic, dealing out violence with an increasingly bizarre collection of weapons and the other is Jun Kasai. Jokes aside, it’s safe to say that the superhero antics of PaMi and the scarred deathmatch torso of Kasai don’t look like they belong in the same world. And yet, it was Kasai that inspired Misao to become a wrestler. To push off from a life where she was wasting away, living on bags of chocolate cream puffs, and become the superhero we now know and love.

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The Ramblings About List Of Things That Should Be On a List, But A Good List, Not A Bad One

Queen. Credit: ChocoPro

It’s PWI500 time which means that for a few excruciatingly long days everyone is going to be talking about a list of wrestlers that means fuck all and tends to ignore the existence of things like women. With that in mind, I decided that maybe it was time to release the Ramblings About List Of Things That Should Be On a List, But A Good List, Not A Bad List. Alright, it’s not my catchiest title, but I think it works.

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Emi Sakura: The Perfect Wrestler

‘You hate me? That’s okay.’ Credit: ChocoPro

Emi Sakura has been wrestling for twenty-five years. That’s longer than some of modern-day joshi’s biggest stars have been alive and covers a period where the scene has changed in countless ways. In that time, Emi has been an erratic constant. Despite having worked for some of the biggest companies and alongside the biggest stars, Sakura-san has ultimately ploughed her own path, doing things in a way that only she could.

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I Believe In Lulu Pencil

Credit: ChocoPro

Lulu Pencil probably shouldn’t be a wrestler. All those people who claim they could snap Kenny Omega over one knee would be telling the truth if they made the same claim about The Pencil. Her long, skinny frame does not look like it should be involved in physical sport, appearing much more suited to the world of a freelance writer, the job she does when she’s not prowling the mats of Ichigaya. However, Lulu Pencil is a wrestler, and an inspiring one at that.

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Saki Akai vs Meiko Satomura

Unsurprisingly, this ended badly for Saki. Credit: DDT

Not that long ago, the idea of Saki Akai headlining a DDT show, even one with limited attendance, would have felt pretty far-fetched. Early in her career, I remember someone describing her as wrestling like Bambi on ice, as while there was potential there, she didn’t quite seem in control of her limbs. However, times have changed, and now every time Saki steps into a ring, she seems to improve. Suddenly, the idea of having her main eventing isn’t ridiculous at all, and when you put Meiko Satomura across from her, it’s downright tasty.

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Yunamon vs Emi Sakura: Last Woman Standing

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.

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