For the uninitiated, GLEAT (pronounced GREAT) is a promotion that was founded in August of 2020 after LIDET Entertainment—the former parent company of Pro Wrestling NOAH—teamed up with pro wrestling legend Riki Choshu (as an “Observer”) and UWF stalwart Kiyoshi Tamura to get back into the pro wrestling business.

Soon after, while working for NOAH, Kaz Hayashi and Nosawa Rongai would both join the company and take positions backstage, although Nosawa has since left the start-up promotion to focus on his duties at Pro Wrestling NOAH.

On October 15, 2020, GLEAT held their inaugural event GLEAT Ver. 0 in Korakuen Hall which featured talent from multiple Japanese promotions including the aforementioned NOAH who would send a number of names to the event including the, at the time, GHC National Champion Kenoh. The event also had a focus on re-introducing the UWF style which has been a key component of the marketing of the brand since its formation. GLEAT Ver. 0 was headlined by a star-studded main event six-man tag that featured names like Daisuke Sekimoto, Takashi Sugiura and Jun Akiyama.

GLEAT managed to raise some eyebrows early on by announcing that GLEAT Ver.1 was set for July of 2021, nine months after their debut show. Since then, GLEAT has been keeping itself relevant by posting weekly (well… most of the time) matches from their training center (the old Wrestle-1 gym, I believe) to their very active YouTube channel.

Although GLEAT hasn’t been running shows with fans, they have been keeping busy by announcing the signings of talent such as Daijiro Matsui, a former MMA fighter who has competed for PRIDE, DEEP and Pancrase as well as a number of other organizations.

Minoru Tanaka, a Japanese legend with a history in shoot-style who would also take on a role behind the scenes and Yu Iizuka, a very young but incredibly technically talented wrestler to come out of HEAT UP who (you might be able to guess the theme here) has also had some experience training in MMA.

GLEAT’s biggest talent acquisition would come on March 13 when they announced that CIMA and his #Stronghearts contingent of El Lindaman, T-Hawk and Issei Onitsuka had also signed with GLEAT fresh off of their Oriental Wrestling Entertainment and All Elite Wrestling runs. Much like Kaz Hayashi and Minoru Tanaka before him, CIMA also took on a backstage position within the company. Their most recent talent acquisition occurred on March 17 when it was announced that GLEAT had bought out the contract of Big Japan Pro Wrestling member Ryuichi Kawakami, who we have yet to see in the GLEAT ring.

GLEAT also announced the formation of the GUM (G PROWRESTLING, LIDET UWF or MMA) system to help distinguish which divisions of GLEAT’s brand their pro wrestlers will be competing in. For example, T-Hawk will be competing purely on the pro wrestling side. While one of their trainees Soma Watanabe—a former Wrestle-1 worker who reminds me a lot of a young Kota Ibushi—will be competing in both the pro wrestling style contests and in bouts contested under UWF Rules. Daijiro Matsui and Yu Iizuka will both be competing in all three divisions. I do not believe that this means GLEAT will be hosting MMA shows but instead that these two will be taking fights outside of their GLEAT responsibilities.

Personally, from what I have seen the pro wrestling side of GLEAT is the most dynamic and interesting. This is also the division in which Soma Watanabe and Takanori Ito, another former Wrestle-1 trainee, have shone the brightest and put on their best individual performances. I do worry that being married too much to the UWF style could hinder the growth of the company, but I appreciate its value as an attraction and as a way of differentiating itself from other promotions in Japan.

So, what does this all mean?

Well, GLEAT definitely has a lot going for it right now with a talented undercard of young marketable talent and a seemingly united backstage environment that features some of the best veteran minds in modern Japanese pro wrestling. But, as we have seen with many promotions before, egos can get in the way, talent can leave and sometimes promotions just do not take off even with all the potential in the world. Trust me I know; I am a Wrestle-1 fan. I will say however that after watching G PROWRESTLING Ver. 0 I am cautiously optimistic about their future as GLEAT does seem to have a clear idea of the product they want to present and a willingness to embrace new faces within the company. I just hope they don’t get in their own way by trying to be too much at once.

G Prowrestling Ver. 0
May 26, 2021
Shinjuku FACE
Tokyo, Japan 

The announcement of GLEAT’s early return to running full events was a pleasant surprise for me. I had conditioned myself to expect their “Experimental Match” series on YouTube to be my only exposure until July 1st but here we are. This however was not GLEAT’s first show back with fans. On May 5 in Sapporo, GLEAT ran an interesting card featuring talent from Big Japan and Zero-1 that drew over 300 people. That show has not made tape yet, but I am hoping to see it uploaded to their YouTube channel soon. Before this show starts, we are treated to a DJ set from someone called Ricky(?) and former(?) pro wrestler/#Stronghearts member Takehiro Yamamura who has been on the shelf since he suffered a re-injury in 2019 on a Wrestle-1 show.

Future of GLEAT Match
Keiichi Sato def. TiiiDA

This was both men’s debuts in the promotion. I am unfamiliar with TiiiDA but according to he is an independent wrestler that works for a number of notable promotions like Pro Wrestling FREEDOMS and Dove Pro. I am however familiar with Keiichi Sato from his time in Wrestle-1 where he sported a much more subdued look. This was a quick opener, but the crowd got into the big spots from both men. TiiiDA is deceptively athletic and was able to bust out some seriously impressive handsprings and flips. Sato who was sporting a look very similar to NOAH’s Katsuhiko Nakajima took over quickly with an array of exaggerated strikes before finishing TiiiDA with an Austin Aries style crucifix driver. Post-match Kaz Hayashi made his way to the ring. I don’t speak Japanese, but I believe he offered Sato a spot on their upcoming show July 1st at Tokyo Dome City Hall. Glad that we will seemingly be seeing more of Sato as I think he fits the pro wrestling side of GLEAT well. I also hope this is not the last we see of TiiiDA.

Takanori Ito & Akira Francesco def. Shigehiro Irie & Issei Onitsuka

Both Shigehiro Irie and Issei Onitsuka are members of CIMA’s #Stronghearts faction. This is the first time we are seeing Irie in GLEAT, but it is a welcomed addition as he has always been a highlight for me in DDT. Onitsuka is someone fairly new to me who I’ve become really high on over the Experimental Match series. He has shown a lot of fire and is as polished as you’d expect from someone training under CIMA. I’m not super familiar with “The Good Italian Boy” Akira Francesco from All Japan but he is a favorite among those in the VOW Slack group. Takanori Ito was one of my favourite Wrestle-1 students and I actually had him pegged as a future Wrestle-1 champion. He has an impressive moveset of strikes and uses a German suplex with a bridge that would bring a tear to any New Japan dojo graduate’s eye.

This match starts off hot and heavy with Ito and Onitsuka laying in some stiff slaps, which might just be my favorite way to start a match. Irie and Akira pair off next and Akira shows some real smoothness in the ring before Irie takes over. The #Stronghearts are a perfect addition to any show and are almost guaranteed to raise the level of match quality. Ito is no slouch either, since joining up with GLEAT his striking has gotten much crisper, and he’s been able to bring an intensity that wasn’t as prevalent in his Wrestle-1 work. After a streak of offense Ito manages to put Onitsuka down with his German suplex. Post-match Onitsuka refused a handshake from Ito, hopefully, this leads to a singles match next month as Ito and Onitsuka worked really well together in this match. Onitsuka sold his ass off for Ito and helped make his already crisp offensive look world-class. I think a singles match between them has a lot of potential. Overall a good match that you should seek out.

In-between this and the next match we get a promo section where the two main event teams come out and rile each other up. I wonder if this is the CIMA influence? Soma Watanabe specifically calls out CIMA. The crowd seemed into the shit-talking from both teams.

Misa Matsui & GLEAT X def. Hikari Shimizu & Ami Miura

Michiko Miyagi (the former Andras Miyagi) was revealed as GLEAT X.

This was my first time really seeing any of the women from AWG. Since I am pretty new to the Joshi scene, although I knew who Andras Miyagi was, this was probably my first time really seeing Michiko Miyagi as well. Miyagi cuts an imposing figure immediately; she already feels major league to me. Miyagi’s offense is impressive and everything she did felt deliberate and with purpose. I was also really impressed with Hikari Shimizu and her heavy strikes. On a show full of impactful strikers, it is important that you can keep up. Not only did Shimizu keep up but she was neck and neck with anyone else on the show. Miura and Matsui did not really leave an impression on me, but it was a relatively quick match, so I won’t judge them too harshly. Miyagi gets the win with a vicious tombstone piledriver on Miura. Hope that GLEAT continues to put an emphasis on Joshi within their ranks moving forward, making a big deal about Miyagi’s debut gives me hope that it will be a focus for them.

Ayato Yoshida def. Yu Iizuka

This was my most anticipated match on the card. Iizuka has been a real highlight since joining GLEAT. Debuting and making it to the finals of their UWF style tournament where he lost to Ito. I’ve been a fan of Yoshida since he debuted in New Japan and have tried to keep up with his exploits in both All Japan and 2AW. This was the first time I have seen Yoshida take on the bullying veteran role and I have to say, it suits him. Yoshida being a much bigger man was able to use his strength to fling Iizuka around and power through him with elbow strikes. While Iizuka tried to work his arm and lock him in a variety of armbars, even managing to drag him over into a throw while grasping on to a keylock! If you have not seen Iizuka before I highly recommend you seek out some of his matches if you’re a fan of wrestlers like Zack Sabre Jr. or Jonathan Gresham. His grappling is dynamic, quick as lightning and he has an untapped mean streak that is just waiting to bubble over. Yoshida puts Iizuka away after a wheel kick and a backdrop driver after a really good match. Would love to see more of Yoshida in GLEAT, seeing him in a position like this really affirms how much of a star this guy could be.

Greatest of GLEAT
T-Hawk, El Lindaman & Soma Watanabe def. Kaz Hayashi, Minoru Tanaka & CIMA

Here we are. The main event to determine just who is the Greatest of GLEAT. Going into this match I was pretty nervous. Not because there was anything particular on the line, at least not officially. I was nervous because to me this match was setting the tone on how high I should set my expectations with GLEAT. A lot of company’s downfalls are based around their inability to see beyond what is immediately in front of them. It would have been really easy to put the veterans over here. No one would have batted an eye at the team of CIMA, Minoru Tanaka and Kaz Hayashi getting the win. These are three legends in the business and historically this should have had a back-and-forth match that makes the young guys look strong before pinning Soma. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED. I do not know if I can accurately express to you, the reader, how shocked I was when T-Hawk pinned Hayashi at the end of the match. This just does not ever really happen. But, today in GLEAT it did. Listen this could just be a one-off thing; the real test will be the future singles matches that happen. That will be when we really test how committed guys like CIMA and Tanaka are to the company. The match itself rocked. Very similar in a lot of ways to the other #Stronghearts six man tag that GLEAT produced (available on their YouTube, highly recommended) but with the added intensity of a generational war. This was fast-paced and had a ton of spots that got the clap crowd to audibly react throughout (naughty!). This is a notebook, spreadsheet, GRAPPL app… WHATEVER match! Be sure to check it out.

Post-match the latest GLEAT roster addition Ryuichi Kawakami made his debut by feigning a handshake with CIMA before attacking and laying him out. T-Hawk (who teamed with Kawakami in the 2019 New Year’s Shuffle Tag Tournament) confronted Kawakami after. Seemingly setting up a singles match next month.

Final Thoughts

Overall GLEAT ended up putting on an easy to watch, sub-two-hour event that highlighted their positives with a focus on spotlighting their young talent. An event that gives you hope that it won’t end up being another company of legends associating themselves with youth in order to stay relevant as the business marches forward. Although it is hard to give a promotion too much credit two shows in, I do believe, genuinely, that GLEAT has a lot of potential and that everyone with a spare couple of hours should give it a shot, especially when they produce an easy to digest show like this.