One of wrestling’s hottest feuds over the past year has taken place inside a small and seemingly innocuous gutted out room deep in the heart of Tokyo. It started with a colourful pink hat and ended in a war. What grew from that is a story of betrayal, hurt and an indomitable spirit in the search of proving oneself a pro wrestler.
This is how Lulu Pencil earned the title of ‘Pro Wrestler’ in the eyes of Chris Brookes.
A trained journalist by trade, Lulu entered the wrestling industry in the middle of 2019, debuting shortly after under the name Lulu Pencil – the name inspired by her freelance writing. At first glance, she doesn’t fit the typical image of a professional wrestler. She walks out in pink dungarees and a hat, seemingly lucky to weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet. Compared to her boisterous co-workers Chie Koshikawa and Mei Suruga, she is quieter and a little awkward. When she started, her forearm strikes hurt herself more than they did her opponent. Simple moves would put Lulu down for the count.
Through all of this, she garnered a following. A true underdog just wanting to find their place in the industry and win a match. People flocked to her, and slowly the lone pencil formed herself an army of legends. Emi Sakura and Minoru Fujita became Emi Pencil and Minoru Pencil. Together they would march out in matching attire, chanting ‘Pi Pi, Pi-Pi-Pi’ as the Pencil Army.
Lulu had won over a lot of people, but not everyone. Not Chris Brookes.
Hailing from England, Chris Brookes made a name for himself in the British independent scene before choosing to forge a legacy in Japan. He joined up with Dramatic Dream Team, one of more unique promotions in wrestling, and quickly became one of their bright stars, racking up championship reigns as he did back in his homeland. In mid 2020, he started appearing on the ChocoPro shows, and was booked to face off against Lulu Pencil in Shinkiba in September. Emi floated the idea of Chris putting his DDT Universal Championship on the line to make things interesting. He scoffed at the idea of the winless rookie getting a shot, but to make things fair Lulu put her hat on the line. Championship versus hat in the main event.
Chris comfortably won, as you would expect, and walked away from Shinkiba with a title around his waist and a pink hat atop his head. In a recent interview with Emi Sakura, he spoke of how he found himself in the same train carriage as Lulu after the show, unbeknown to her. “How did I end up here? I’m a writer not a pro wrestler” he overheard Lulu talking to herself.
“You made me strong, now help me get more stronger” Lulu asked him, looking for help and guidance. He felt inspired, but when they teamed together he was disappointed even in victory. Brookes felt she relied on someone stronger being by her side to carry the team, rather than being motivated to get better herself. When she had to fight, and fight for something, Chris saw more strength within her. The hat motivated her, so Chris would make her fight to win it back. She wanted respect, so Chris would make her earn it. She wanted to be seen as a pro wrestler, so Chris would make her prove she was.
At ChocoPro #63, Chris saw what he was looking for. As part of a tag team I Quit match (with Emi on Lulu’s side and Yuna Mizumori with Chris), the two faced off once again. Chris trapped her in a brutal octopus hold, stretching her beyond her limit. Instinctively, you could see her hand trying to tap in submission, but she needed to say ‘I Quit’. It was something she wouldn’t do. That drive and determination kept her from giving up despite the pain, until eventually Emi quit on her behalf to save her from the inescapable hold.
That determination was enough in the eyes of Chris Brookes to earn her hat back. A few months later, she would offer her hat back to him, asking Chris to join the Pencil Army. He accepted it, albeit reluctantly. At least Lulu embraced her new army member: She made Chris a pair of pink dungarees like hers, and dyed a patch in her hair pink to match his. However, they couldn’t find the success they had once had, and Lulu continued to lose.
At ChocoPro #110, Chris had seen enough. He fought hard for Pencil Army, and almost won the 8 person tag match through his efforts alone. But he was trapped in a hold and watched Lulu Pencil quickly tap out to Chie Koshikawa’s Stretch Muffler. The same Lulu who had refused to give up against Chris was quick to submit to Chie after he had fought in her name for forty minutes. After everything, they lost because she quit, and that insulted him.
He was done with the Pencil Army and he was done with Lulu. He was scathing in his post match address:
“The fact is Lulu, you’re a loser. Ok? And I was stupid enough to think otherwise, but you’re a loser and you’ve always been a loser.”
His final act was to take the hat at the centre of it all – the hat that they first fought over and had been traded back and forth as a sign of respect – and tear it to pieces.
When Chris returned to ChocoPro, it would be against Emi Pencil in one of the most chaotic scenes in ChocoPro history. He then brought some allies, in Yuna Mizumori and ASUKA, to continue his war on the Pencil Army. Lulu was targeted for much of the match, but the war with Chris had started to harden her. She showed that resolve and determination Brookes had been looking for, and nearly even beat him after hitting a DDT on the exposed wood floor.
This new Lulu was best highlighted when she climbed onto the window ledge in search of her Pencil Splash. In the past, her splash was weak, landing first on her feet before then falling onto her opponents, struggling to make the distance and put her body on the line. This time however, there were no precautions. She flew for a full bodied Pencil Splash.
Chris Brookes would eventually trap her in another vicious Octopus Stretch, bending her body into inhuman shapes. And Lulu would eventually submit, but this time she held on for all of her might rather than quickly giving up. Even if Chris didn’t acknowledge it at the time, he had to have noticed.
All of this leads us to July 22nd 2021. ChocoPro #137. A single match on the show. Chris Brookes versus Lulu Pencil in a 30 minute Iron Man Match.
Lulu had no one to rely on but herself, and stood opposite a man a foot taller than her with an extensive championship resume. She had yet to pin anyone herself. How would she survive, let alone win?
She tried to outwrestle him, and was soundly handled. She tried to get physical, but was quickly shut down. She tried to draw inspiration from Minoru Fujita and make the match hardcore, but was suplexed into the table she set up, allowing Chris to quickly pick up the first fall. Brookes then turned to using the fans against her, destroying all of the fan messages on the wall and wrapping her up in the ChocoPro sponsor banner for a second 3-count.
“You’re not a pro wrestler” Chris reminded her, and looked to break her spirit as he snapped pencils in front of her. That’s when the tide changed. She snapped a pencil of her own, only to stab him in the knee with it. She took it outside, and broke the metal shutters as she threw him into them and crushed the shutters onto his arm. Brookes continued to take her down with single moves, but the determination inside of her brought her back to her feet. She was down 2 to 0 (and eventually 3-0), but she hadn’t quit. She wouldn’t quit.
As the clock ticked ever closer to the final bell, Lulu fired up, trapping Chris in several tight pinning predicaments that resulted in near falls. Even a brutal shotgun dropkick that cracked her head back onto the exposed floor didn’t stop her. With seconds to go, Lulu throws a new flash pin at Brookes, trapping his legs over his shoulders and putting all her weight on top.
The bell rang and the final score read Chris Brookes: 3, Lulu Pencil: 1. The record books will show that Chris won the match. He finished the match a bit out of breath while Lulu could barely stand up of her own accord, and needing an ice pack for her head. The battle was won by Brookes, but the real winner was Lulu.
As she slumped into his lap, a towel draped over her head to hide both the ice pack and the tears, he told her the words she had needed to hear.
“You are a Pro Wrestler.”
For months Chris had told her she wasn’t. Lulu was a writer, not a wrestler. She was weak. She made legends like Minoru Fujita and Emi Sakura look foolish. She couldn’t win a match without someone else finishing the job. But, in the final moments of their Iron Man Match, Lulu Pencil had pinned Chris Brookes’ shoulders to the mat for the count of 3. The very first pinfall she ever earned in her career was over the current DDT Extreme Champion.
“You are a Pro Wrestler. Good job.”
They were the words Chris left her with. It wouldn’t go in the record books, but that was the real victory for Lulu. She had earned his respect, and in the process also warmed his heart somewhat. The same man who left a trail of destruction in Ichigaya Square so bad they couldn’t run the end-of-show Janken (rock paper scissors in Japan) tournament was now the one putting the Janken banner up. He participated in all the jovial post match routines he once wouldn’t bother with. It was like a weight had been lifted off both of their shoulders now the war was finally over.
Only an ultimate underdog like Lulu could lose a match like this and still walk away a winner in everyone’s eyes. But, for nearly a year she had been fighting to prove herself as a pro wrestler and earn the respect of Chris Brookes. Today that goal was accomplished. And in doing so it brought a close to one of the most compelling stories in professional wrestling.