It’s so easy to underestimate ChocoPro at first glance. It’s a small promotion based out of a room inside an apartment complex deep in the heart of Tokyo. In spite of its limitations (and arguably because of it), they have continued to produce not only some of the most entertaining wrestling of 2021, but also the most emotional stories. The overarching narrative for the past couple of months has been Chie Koishikawa and her efforts to finally defeat someone who is a mentor, a friend, and also a rival.
You can gain a lot of knowledge about Chie from her nickname: Too Much Energy is not just a fun moniker, but seemingly a lifestyle. Your first introduction to Koishikawa is her flying into view, sword in hand, as she bursts into her pre-match routine – an exuberant welcome in multiple languages. Once the bell rings, she’ll hit the mat at full speed, running circles around opponents and testing the audio levels of the camera. Her passion and energy has earned an equally passionate following, becoming one of the more popular stars in ChocoPro.
Her wrestling journey is still in its infancy, having wrestled for just over two years (and missing six months of that period due to a hiatus). As part of the ‘Fourth Generation’ of Gatoh Move trainees – alongside Lulu Pencil, Sayaka, Tokiko Kirihara, Sayuri and Rin Rin (who has since moved on to GLEAT) – Chie represents the future of the promotion. Despite her brief time away from the ring, her progress has planted Koishikawa comfortably at the top of this group of up and coming performers. Against her fellow Fourth Generation, Chie was clearly the strongest.
She might be the future, but she’s struggled with being the present. Standing out amongst the fourth generation, Chie has often found herself placed at the top of the card battling against far more skilled and experienced opponents. Facing impossibly tall odds, she often finds herself looking up at the ceiling of Ichigaya (that is dotted with the holes caused by her sword during entrances). Yet with every successive match, Chie would look more at home on the chocolate mat. She picked up on opponent’s strategies; adapted when they targeted her arm to nullify her deadly chops and toughened up to endure what was thrown at her.
Little by little, Chie is getting closer to the top of the pack. But it continues to fall just out of her grasp.
After Season Eight finished in August, ChocoPro said a temporary goodbye to its leader Emi Sakura as well as fellow fourth generation performer Lulu Pencil, who could match Chie in terms of fan support. Both were moving to America to work in AEW. Now more than ever, ChocoPro needed somebody to stand up and fill that void.
Chie Koishikawa was that person.
The following season, Chie main evented in 12 of the 18 shows. She fought singles matches against top talent like Baliyan Akki and Kaori Yoneyama, she worked with a range of partners in tag matches, and even fought in the unique madness that was the Summer Party special that nearly drowned Ichigaya Square.
It was during this Season Nine that the “so close yet so far” feeling of Chie matches started to weigh heavy on her shoulders. The spotlight was on her, but with every loss the frustration began to amass. There was no hiding it either, Chie wears her heart on her orange sleeves.
As she pulled herself up off the mat after another loss, her shattered soul is revealed through her tears and quivering lips. ChocoPro has proven itself capable of telling emotional stories, but seeing the pain in Chie’s eyes after these agonising failures is truly heart-breaking. Her acting is almost too good in these situations.
This is compounded by the fact that at every turn, there seems to be a familiar face constantly one step ahead of her.
Emi Sakura might be both the founder and the heart of ChocoPro, but Mei Suruga is its face. The bright and bubbly pint sized Mei has only been wrestling for a couple of years, but has proven herself a true natural when it comes to wrestling. To get an idea of how quickly she picked up the art of grappling, even though she debuted just a year prior, she is credited alongside Emi Sakura as training Chie and the rest of the Fourth Generation talent. When it comes to Mei Suruga, it feels like only a matter of when, and not if, she becomes one of the biggest names in Joshi.
Their bond extends beyond just Chie’s training. The two often tag together as the Warm Caterpillars, appear on streams together, and their combined energy could be harnessed to power all of Tokyo. For all of the apparent friendliness, however, there’s a very real rivalry that has been bubbling on the surface.
In an interview on the ChocoPro Youtube Channel, Chie spoke of how Mei is the one wrestler who forces her to change the most – and you can see that evolution in her performances the more she faces off against Suruga. She also reveals what drives her – Chie desperately wants to surpass her as a wrestler, and even just wants Mei to notice her.
Chie has watched Mei earn success after success. With Akki she’s held the Asia Dream Tag Championships for over 300 days. She was invited to take part in the AEW Women’s tournament and was often busy running around Tokyo appearing in other companies (though rumours of her being Mei Saint Michel in TJPW is scandalous, it was pure coincidence that the one time MSM appeared in ChocoPro Suruga was mysteriously absent…). More importantly, where Chie is often left looking up at the ceiling, Mei rarely finds herself on the losing end. And if she is, she’s probably not the one taking the fall.
Her goals can be achieved in two connected steps: To win the Asia Dream Tag Titles alongside her primary partner Hagane Shinno (collectively known as Egg Tart), and to defeat Mei Suruga.
In the span of 30 days (from September 25 through to October 24) Mei Suruga and Chie Koishikawa squared off seven times, and all but once was Mei on the winning side. The exception was September 26, when The Best Bros fought Chie and Hagane to a draw. Even when Mei failed to win, so did Chie. The next time Egg Tart had a chance at the titles was the Season Nine finale, and Chie had to watch on helplessly as the third team in that match (Masahiro Takanashi and Hoshitango) were beaten.
Through all of Chie’s failures, it’s alongside her fellow Egg Tart where she always comes closest.
Koishikawa’s hard work through this period wouldn’t go unnoticed. Even if she didn’t light up the wins column, the fans paid attention to her growth and effort, naming her Season Nine’s MVP. The news seemed to surprise her, and we see a more raw Chie – behind the vibrant performer is a woman who second guesses and doubts whether she deserves the praise and award.
At the heart of it all has to be that no matter how hard she’s tried, Mei Suruga still stands above her. Since her debut in August of 2019, Chie had never been on the winning side of a match against Mei Suruga. For over two years she has been chasing the Apple Girl.
As Chie recovers from her recent losses, the heartbroken expression changes. The inner frustration manifests into an unbridled fury, and her and Mei often have to be separated as the latter lives up to her goblin ways, poking the fire burning inside of Koishikawa.
Season Nine gave way to Ten, and still she was chasing Suruga. In the span of a week, Chie would get everything she could ask for. A one on one match with Mei, and then a tag title rematch. The last two times Best Bros and Egg Tart had fought, Chie and Hagane hadn’t directly lost. Now, she just had to find that next level to turn nearly to victory.
In their one-on-one confrontation, Chie wrestled Mei as well as she has ever had. Her arm was targeted, but she didn’t let it nullify her offence. Suruga resorted to underhanded tactics like biting, but still she was kept on the back foot as the match neared it conclusion. One small mistake, and Mei capitalised, catching her in a variation of her Best Bros team pin maneuver, trapping Chie underneath her own legs. It would be a difficult hold to kick out of when fresh, let alone at the end of a war.
Short once again, but Koishikawa would have a chance to kill two birds with one stone the following week. Defeat Mei on October 30, and not only earn the bragging rights but the tag titles as well.
Looking at their body language before the match, you’d think it were Egg Tart that had all the momentum coming in. Both Akki and Mei seemed a little unsure as their names were announced whereas Chie and Hagane were business as usual. In the record books Chie might have been on a losing streak, but the momentum and the narrative seemed to be in her favour, and she had her friend Hagane by her side.
It was a hellacious battle, with each competitor taking a beating. Chie threw everything she had at the two, forcing Mei to try and claw her way along the mat to break the brutal Stretch Muffler submission she was locked in. When that didn’t work, Chie busted out her old submission maneuver, but again it wasn’t enough. Old favourites and new moves debuted that Best Bros couldn’t have possibly scouted, this was Chie Koishikawa at her best.
Somehow, the Best Bros kept fighting, and Chie had exhausted everything she had.
Not every story can have a happy ending. Akki flew across the room to hit a long distance Namaste on Hagane, leaving Chie without backup as the Best Bros joined forces to hit their Dolphin Press finisher and claim another successful defence. Once more Mei Suruga stood victorious against Chie Koishikawa.
To rub salt into the wounds, she changes the post-match Janken tournament lineup so that she could get revenge on the Apple Girl that continued to haunt her, only to throw scissors as Mei went with rock. Foiled even in Janken.
There was some small solace for Chie. The next day she managed to throw Mei (dressed as a cat) out the window to win the Halloween Battle Royale. Was it the victory she first envisioned? Maybe not. But in that moment, Chie had defeated Mei. Her fervent celebration demonstrated how big a deal this was. All of Tokyo heard her victory cry.
Halloween weekend had a sense of finality about it. In spite of their best efforts, Egg Tart couldn’t conquer Best Bros, but Chie would get that crucial first win. A season and a half’s worth of storytelling aided by her entire career to this point. Even if this was the closing of a chapter, Chie’s story is not finished. Her determination hasn’t left. She might have finally got one over on Mei, but that won’t quell the fire that still burns inside of her. She didn’t quit her job and focus on pro wrestling to settle for being the bridesmaid. It took Chie Koishikawa thirty three attempts to beat Mei Suruga, but she finally did it.
Now, once again ChocoPro needs someone to stand up. Just as Emi and Lulu went to America to work AEW, now too has Mei Suruga. It’s time for Chie to do as she did again, and continue to help ChocoPro grow.