One of the most entertaining acts in Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling, as well as wrestling throughout Japan, is the team known as Best Bros. Consisting of Mei Suruga and Baliyan Akki, this team has been on a roll in ChocoPro, showcasing their unique tandem offense and undeniable charisma. Whether they’re defending the Asia Dream Tag Team Championship or having fun at the expense of their opponents, there’s seldom a dull moment when they’re on-screen. However, their stories are very unique from one another.
Best Bros – An Overview
Mei Suruga, “The Apple Girl” of Gatoh Move, began her professional wrestling career in 2018. She learned under Emi Sakura, the founder of Gatoh Move, and wrestled her first match at age 18. Due to her rapid growth as a wrestler, many fans in the joshi puroresu community have dubbed her a prodigy of sorts. Armed with a seemingly innocent yet mischievous demeanor, “The Apple Devil’s” personality shined in her performances. She would also team with Baliyan Akki early in her career, planting the seeds for what would become Best Bros.
Born in Uttar Pradesh, India, Baliyan Akki grew up as a wrestling fan. He was specifically interested in WWE; interestingly enough, in his younger years, he wasn’t aware that “pro wrestling” was a term, though he would become exposed to it as he started training. He plied his craft in his home country of India, Thailand, and of course, Japan. One year before his future tag team partner started her career, Akki made his Gatoh Move debut in December of 2017, working a series of singles and tag team matches alike. The self-proclaimed “Ace” of ChocoPro’s time in the promotion was just beginning.
As stated earlier, Best Bros teamed fairly recently into “Mei-chan’s” career. In fact, they first teamed in June of 2018, facing Mitsuru Konno and future AEW Women’s World Champion Riho in a losing effort. They would work together two more times that year, as well as twice in 2019, facing the likes of TAMURA, the founder of Pro Wrestling HEAT-UP, and Antonio Honda along the way. Keep in mind that, by this point, Suruga and Akki were still not an official tag team. It wasn’t uncommon for Gatoh Move regulars and outside stars to work together. Things would change, however, come 2020.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic arose Gatoh Move’s new initiative: ChocoPro. This was the little promotion’s way to continue providing professional wrestling to the world, despite the limitations that the pandemic had brought on. Akki was part of the first episode, not only providing an English voice but competing in the main event, battling New Japan Pro Wrestling star Minoru Suzuki in a chaotic encounter. Suruga would make her ChocoPro debut on the second episode, teaming with Ryo Mizunami in a winning effort against Akki and Konno in that show’s main event.
This isn’t to say that ChocoPro entirely defined 2020 for either Best Bro. Suruga found herself gaining experience in Gatoh Move and elsewhere. Case and point, in addition to wrestling on the Kagetsu Retirement Show in February of 2020, Suruga would wrestle Kagetsu in one of the latter’s final singles matches. Meanwhile, Akki had been building quite a reputation for himself in Wrestle Square, located in his home country of India, and DDT Pro, where he continues to make appearances to this day.
The Formation of Best Bros
Best Bros wouldn’t start teaming regularly until the spring of 2020. Their first match as a team, in ChocoPro, took place on episode #18. In the main event, Suruga and Akki bested Yuna Mizumori and Minoru Fujita, the latter of whom would win the Super Asia Championship following its recent revival. Though they continued to work singles matches, separate from one another, Best Bros would prove nearly immovable when together. Tag team victories over the likes of Tokiko Kirihara, Lulu Pencil, and even Emi Sakura herself were a collective testament to Best Bros’ chemistry.
Their contrasting in-ring styles complemented one another, too. Standing at four feet ten inches, Mei Suruga relies on quickness and craftiness to battle her comparatively larger opponents. She has also proven to be deceptively lethal, as evidenced by her grueling submission maneuver dubbed “Lucifer.” Akki’s in-ring style is a blend of high-flying offense and strikes, meaning that he can be a threat in the air as well as on the mat. Suruga and Akki’s styles work well together, especially when pulling off tandem maneuvers that often lead them to victory.
This chemistry would even transcend Ichigaya Chocolate Square, Gatoh Move’s home venue, and traditional wrestling rings alike. As ChocoPro picked up steam, the crew behind the show would take part in YouTube live streams. Gatoh Move talent and guests would either rewatch previous ChocoPro events, host watchalongs for live pay-per-views, and answer fan questions, just to name a few pastimes. Mei Suruga and Baliyan Akki became prominent fixtures in these live streams. Whether it was Suruga being delightfully animated or Akki poking fun at his good friend, they knew how to keep viewers engaged beyond bell-to-bell action.
The Asia Dream Tag Team Championship
After months of tag team victories, Best Bros would meet their greatest opponents yet. Enter RESET, the team of Sakura and Kaori Yoneyama; World Wonder Ring Stardom fans may know the latter better under her various face-painted alter-egos. The final ChocoPro of 2020, episode #76, took place on New Year’s Eve. Best Bros battled RESET for the Asia Dream Tag Team Championship, which the latter won in March, the same month the pandemic impacted all of wrestling. Putting forth their greatest effort, up until that point, Suruga and Akki emerged as the new titleholders.
This was a monumental win for Best Bros as individual competitors. While she had been in Gatoh Move since 2018, Mei Suruga had yet to win a championship, so the fact that it was the purple belt of her home promotion was appropriate. Meanwhile, though Baliyan Akki was a three-time Wrestle Square Intercontinental Champion, he had won neither tag team gold nor a title in Japan. Together, Best Bros made history. Their run as the top team in Gatoh Move, however, was just beginning.
As of this writing, Best Bros have overcome every team in their path in title matches. From TropiCalamari, the duo of Yuna Mizumori and Chris Brookes, to the legendary Emi Sakura and Minoru Fujita, Suruga and Akki proved to be on a different level than any other duo. With more teams being formed in Gatoh Move, it would seem that Suruga and Akki have no shortage of challengers. As they have done in the past year, it’s safe to say that they approach each team head-on.
Mei Suruga and Baliyan Akki’s Solo Efforts
The tandem efforts of Best Bros can’t be denied, though this isn’t to say that they’ve been tethered. In fact, they’ve been incredibly successful as solo stars. Akki continued his appearances for DDT over the past several months, testing his mettle against the likes of Konosuke Takeshita and HARASHIMA at the Chris Brookes Produce Show events. Though he fell short in both encounters, Akki wowed new viewers, showing them what he was capable of between the ropes. Recently, Akki landed a role as a commentator for Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling‘s English language show, That’s J-PW. Alongside Brookes, Akki provides insight not unlike what he’s done on ChocoPro shows. Needless to say, the self-proclaimed “Ace” of ChocoPro has kept busy.
The same can be said for Mei Suruga. Earlier this year, she was announced as one of the competitors in the Japan Bracket of the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament. Though she lost in the first round to TJPW’s own Yuka Sakazaki, Suruga had a solid showing. The autumn prior, Suruga debuted for TJPW as Mei Saint-Michel, the French maid attire-wearing underling of Sakisama. Unlike Gatoh Move’s beaming “Big Apple,” Saint-Michel has proven more devious, often using her trademark tray to attack opponents. Last month, at TJPW’s Still Incomplete event, she teamed with Sakisama to defeat Nodoka Tenma and Yuki Aino for the Princess Tag Team Championship. At that moment, the diminutive dynamo became a double champion.
Whether in Japan or abroad, Mei Suruga and Baliyan Akki are two young stars primed for success. Wrestling fans have seen flashes of their individual, as well as shared, potential and it’s only a matter of time until it’s fully realized. Until that time comes, Best Bros will keep moving forward as the must-see team in Gatoh Move. Whether from bell to bell or in life, you can always count on your bro to have your back.
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