ChocoPro: Wrestling for an Online Age

(This article, written by Norihiro Hashimoto, originally appeared in Japanese at Yahoo News via Sports Graphic Number under the headline “Minoru Suzuki fought at the debut event! Introducing ChocoPro: Wrestling made for online broadcast”)

Chocolate Pro Wrestling—ChocoPro for short—is a new promotion, founded on March 28, 2020 by Emi Sakura, head of Gatoh Move. The promotions also share a venue: Tokyo’s Ichigaya Chocolate Square. Where ChocoPro differs from Gatoh Move is that all of its events are exclusively broadcast on YouTube. In fact, ChocoPro has never had a single audience member in attendance.

During ChocoPro events, Ichigaya Chocolate Square is completely empty, save for the wrestlers and a few staffers. But Sakura refuses to think of these as “no-audience” shows: “There’s definitely an audience,” she says. “They’re just on the other side of the camera.”

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No Joke: Gake no Fuchi Joshi 1.4 Report

(This article, written by Norihiro Hashimoto, originally appeared in Japanese at Yahoo News via Abema Times under the headline “Bamboo Skewer Bash-up: A wild 1.4! Gake no Fuchi presents a fierce intergender match.”

Photos accompanying this translation were taken by yours truly at the event. If you’re interested, you can find more in this Twitter thread.)

Gake no Fuchi Joshi Pro Wrestling (GKPW) is a one-woman promotion, run by freelance pro wrestler Miyako Matsumoto. Originally established during Matsumoto’s run in Ice Ribbon, Gake no Fuchi lay dormant for several years, until it was revitalized in late 2019 when DDT “Big Boss” Sanshiro Takagi purchased the promotion.

Matsumoto kicked off the latest chapter of GKPW history in a remarkable match against Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio on December 24, 2019. Their match was the only one billed on the card, but as you’ll soon see, derailment and derangement is on-brand for GKPW…

Following up on Christmas Eve, Matsumoto wasted no time in announcing her next show: 5 PM on January 4, 2020, at Itabashi Green Hall. Yes, directly opposite a certain major event at Tokyo Dome. But as far as Matsumoto is concerned, the Tokyo Dome event ran opposite GKPW. Her audacity was rewarded with a nearly packed house of fervent fans from Japan and beyond.

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Sanshiro Takagi pays out of pocket for the wild genius of Gake no Fuchi Pro

(This article, written by Norihiro Hashimoto, originally appeared in Japanese on Abema Fight Times.)

Sanshiro Takagi, president and “big boss” of Dramatic Dream Team (DDT), has taken up a new business venture with an unexpected wrestling promotion.

On November 11, Takagi held an event to commemorate the recent publication of his book, Growing a Small-Fry Five-Million-Yen-a-Year Wrestling Promotion into a Subsidiary of a Major Publicly-Listed Company. Part of the festivities included a press conference with a surprise announcement.

Attendees were told beforehand that the announcement “might shake the pro-wrestling world to the core” – and nothing else. Amid the ensuing atmosphere of intrigue, Takagi called on freelance wrestler Miyako Matsumoto to join him.

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Yuki Aino — “Burnin'”

“Burnin'” is Yuki Aino’s entrance theme. Available on TJPW Saikou Music vol. 1.
Vocals: Yuki Aino (featuring Nodoka Tenma)
Lyrics: Nodoka Tenma
Music: typhonKAZ

If you stop moving, you’ll be left behind
The city itself feels like it might take off running
I stretch and fake a smile
A truly foolish girl that can’t be tossed away

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Nodoka Tenma — “Existence”

“Existence” is Nodoka Tenma’s entrance theme. Available on TJPW Saikou Music vol. 1.
Lyrics and vocals: Nodoka Tenma
Music: Kurama Adachi

The time has come to raise the curtain and start the show
I want to make the dream you drew come true

“I’m not one to be lonely, I can fight on my own”
Or so I thought, but I wonder if it’s true

Isn’t a blind leap into darkness the perfect chance to change destiny?
To change the world?

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Rika Tatsumi — “Love and Revolution”

“Love and Revolution” (in Japanese 恋と革命, Koi to Kakumei) is Rika Tatsumi’s entrance theme. Available on TJPW Saikou Music vol. 1.
Lyrics and vocals: Rika Tatsumi
Music: typhonKAZ

I want to hold tight to the fantasy, whatever it may be
I won’t wake from this dream
I’ll keep on going, keep on shining
Ah, say hello, say goodbye

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MAO: When to Hit Your Boss with a Van

(This interview originally appeared in Japanese in Rolling Stone Japan under the headline “Why did pro wrestler MAO hit Sanshiro Takagi with a car?”)

Employing several dozen wrestlers across multiple sub-brands, Dramatic Dream Team has reached the point where it’s hard to call it an indie promotion. One wrestler who stands out among their roster is 22-year-old wunderkind MAO. One half of the graceful, acrobatic tag team Moonlight Express (along with Mike Bailey), MAO carved out his place in professional wrestling in DDT’s infamous Street Wrestling events – an off-the-wall format that fits him to a T.

Some fans call MAO “the second coming of Kota Ibushi” for his physical prowessand also his affinity for nonsense. Why is it that he prefers such a bizarre style? We caught up with MAO as he prepares for DDT’s Wrestle Peter Pan 2019 event, coming soon to Tokyo’s Ota City Central Gymnasium.

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666’s Ram has “no intention of playing along” with joshi wrestling

(This article originally appeared in Japanese on Battle News under the headline “A singles match between Ram Kaicho, former elementary school heel, and ‘underclassman’ Tsukasa Fujimoto!”)

The Japanese indie promotion Pro-Wrestling Of Darkness 666 held their 90th event on June 6 at Shinkiba 1st Ring. This event, which celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of wrestler Shinobu’s debut, also featured wrestlers from 666’s Shinjuku Nichome Pro Wrestling sub-brand. The event came with a surprising announcement: 666 wrestler Ram Kaicho (“Chairperson Ram”) will soon have a singles match with Ice Ribbon‘s Tsukasa Fujimoto.

Ram made her wrestling debut in 2005 and, being in elementary school at the time, immediately captured media attention as the youngest wrestler in Japan. She’s been called “the O.G. child wrestler.” Despite her young age, Ram retired in 2009but not before facing Riho, who made her own debut as an elementary schooler in 2006, in a famous match in Ice Ribbon.

After her retirement, Ram kept her distance from professional wrestling. That is, until 666 founder The Crazy SKB fell ill, and then-president Kana left the promotion to join WWE (where she now wrestles under the name Asuka). Seeing her home promotion in a pinch and hoping to help out, Ram returned to the ring in 2016.

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The Big Kaiju Raids Again! Interview with Shoko Nakajima

The following interview with Shoko Nakajima originally ran in Japanese in Weekly Pro Wrestling issue 2009.

Shoko Nakajima, the “1.47-Meter Big Kaiju” of Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestler, has kept a comfortable distance from TJPW’s title scene recently. But that all changed at Shinkiba First Ring on April 13, when she issued a heartfelt challenge to Miyu Yamashita, the current Tokyo Princess of Princess champion. As her May 3 title match with Yamashita approaches, Nakajima bares her feelings towards her fellow wrestlers, as well as towards the belt that she’s yet to claim for her own.

Interview by Yuuki Ishii.

“Yamashita = Champion” — A hard truth to swallow, but the truth

What’s your impression of Miyu Yamashita right now, as you prepare to face her at Korakuen Hall?

Yamashita’s been the ace of TJPW since the moment it was founded, right? She’s carrying the whole promotion, right? I don’t think she was even aware of her position at first. But once she got the belt, I think the idea started to sprout in her head, like, “Okay, I’m the one who’s gonna lead this promotion.”

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 8

This is part 8 of Wild MOTHER Party – a round table discussion on the MOTHER/EarthBound series of video games with series creator Shigesato Itoi, musician Maximum the Ryokun (of Maximum the Hormone) and Kenny Omega.

You’ll probably want to start with Part 1 if you’re just joining in.

In this final installment, Shigesato Itoi invites Kenny and Ryokun to look into their future creative endeavors.

Parting Comments

Itoi: It looks like we’re running out of time. Before we go, I’d like to hear about what’s coming up for the two of you.

Kenny, can we expect Japanese pro wrestling to get more interesting as long as you’re around?

Omega: I think you can. But, um, especially as the champion, it’s a little embarrassing to say so myself.

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