Over a year ago, I wrote about why I love professional wrestling. Two weeks ago, I wrote about why CHIKARA is the best at delivering the things I love. On June 21, I attended CHIKARA’s “Quantum of Solace” at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago.
“Quantum of Solace” wasn’t supposed to exist. CHIKARA originally scheduled one show for Chicago, “Diamonds Are Forever.” However, it sold out so quickly that they added a matinee show with everyone not scheduled to perform that evening. That means it probably wasn’t going to progress the story, but it’s CHIKARA, so it was probably going to be pretty good regardless.
You guys, IT WAS SO AWESOME!
I previously mentioned that CHIKARA tends to be family-friendly. A human pretzel contest and a ten minute selfies-with-wrestlers break certainly proved that true. And when a “Cena sucks!” chant broke out, referee Bryce Remsburg unsuccessfully tried to convince people to substitute “stinks.”
The rest of the crowd seemed to be a mix of pro wrestling interests, if people’s t-shirts were any indication. Some people were really funny. Many people were trying way too hard to be funny. Everyone was extremely excited to be there.
We were treated to promos from Mike Quackenbush, who essentially thanked us for still caring after last year, and Lisa Marie Varon (Victoria to WWE fans and Tara to fans of pro wrestling who also hate themselves) got some corporate synergy going, promoting her Chicago restaurant.
The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & Mark Angelosetti) defeated The Submission Squad (Evan Gelistico & Gary the Barn Owl)
The opener was one of several reshuffled matches due to the withdrawal of Amasis from the event. Predictably, this match had a good deal of comedy early on, although I’m sure Dasher’s BLEEDING CHEST from Gary the Barn Owl’s chops would disagree. The Throwbacks picked up a third point, earning a shot at the Campeonatos de Parejas as soon as that situation sorts itself out.
Ophidian defeated Heidi Lovelace
This match never really clicked. The easy answer is that Lovelace wouldn’t have been able to keep up with a full-speed Ophidian, so they didn’t push the envelope. It’s also possible that Lovelace legitimately injured her knee during the match. My buddy said she was limping around on the balcony, where no one would have noticed. That’s either tremendous selling or she was actually hurt.
My theory is that Ophidian just isn’t that good at singles wrestling. The Osirian Portal is amazing, but I don’t remember any matches that impressed me during Ophidian’s singles run.
The Baltic Siege (The Latvian Proud Oak & the Lithuanian Snow Troll) defeated The Bloc Party (Mr. Azerbaijan & Prakash Sabar)
Where do I even begin? Baltic Siege is a stable consisting of an Estonian frog with Thor’s Hammer, a Latvian tree with special tree powers, and a snow troll from Lithuania. Their rivals consist of a socialist boar, the multiple-time winner of Azerbaijan’s “Azerbaijan’s Sexist Man” contest (except for the year of the coal strike, of course), and Prakash Sabar, who seems to have the gimmick of Arabic X-Pac, all the way down to a mask with a perpetually extended tongue.
Robert Evans had another match later in the evening as one of his other personas, so Proud Oak didn’t do much. Snow Troll is still a little green, but has definitely gotten better over the last year.
Although Baltic Siege picked up the win, the Bloc Party beat them up after the match, tossing their national flags into a nearby garbage can. THE HORROR!
Worker Ant defeated deviANT
This was one of two matches with some bearing on the CHIKARA vs. The Flood story. Worker Ant is another one of those guys who has come a long way over the last year or two, but still has a ways to go.
In a brawl between the two former partners, Worker Ant tore one of deviANT’s antennae off his mask. While this might seem tame, it was actually extraordinarily graphic. In-universe, masks are an extension of the wrestler. In the past, whenever Colony members have had an antenna bitten or twisted, they’ve reacted with pain.
That means that WORKER ANT DISMEMBERED HIS OPPONENT! This would be the equivalent of Heidi Lovelace ripping Ophidian’s finger off.
If that wasn’t horrifying enough, I was explaining all this to my friend when my peripheral vision told me to brace for impact. Worker Ant had flung the antenna into the crowd and somehow, deviANT’s detached antenna landed directly atop my shoulder.
The match’s other memorable moment was one of those things that totally justifies the extra five bucks for good seats. If the DVD makes it look like deviANT complete ate Worker’s Pumphandle GTS, it’s because Worker connected with that thing. It looked brutal and effective, which is, I suppose, the entire point of a finisher. On the other hand, a dude actually getting a knee in the face isn’t.
The Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw & The Shard) defeated AC/DC (Arik Cannon & Darin Corbin)
This was easily the match of the night. These four burned the house down. Shard and Jigsaw are insanely talented and so adept at playing heels. Cannon and Corbin, Corbin especially, are natural babyfaces, so everything fell into place.
Early on, we were treated to one of Corbin’s famous slow-motion wrestling bits. This time, Corbin launched into John Cena’s Five Moves of Doom, hence the “Cena sucks!” from earlier. Everyone in the crowd dropped an octave and slowed their cheering, playing their part. Normal speed resumed when Corbin dropped a Five Knuckle Shuffle and Attitude Adjustment as the entire crowd lost it.
The match never slowed down or pulled its punches (or kicks) and the crowd never lost interest. Big time credit to AC/DC for stepping up to plate. Even bigger credit to Jigsaw and the Shard, who seem to have matches this good every time they compete.
The Proletariat Boar of Moldova defeated the Estonian ThunderFrog
The shtick for this match was the “secret move.” Mike Quackenbush picks a move from a bingo hopper and if the move is performed in the next match, everyone wins a prize. The afternoon’s move was the powerbomb, a “fortunate” draw since the powerbomb just so happens to be in the Estonian ThunderFrog’s repertoire.
This was a pretty good match and both did a great job of milking the secret move for crowd reaction. After the match, the Bloc Party assaulted ThunderFrog and a brawl ensued, culminating in the rudos *gasp* elbow dropping the Estonian flag.
I don’t think this rivalry is over yet.
The Spectral Envoy (Frightmare, Hallowicked & UltraMantis Black) defeated The Wrecking Crew (Blaster McMassive, Jaka & Oleg the Usurper)
The main event was a fantastic trios match featuring our defending Kings of Trios, the Spectral Envoy. The Spectral Envoy is incredible, but the Wrecking Crew wasn’t always able to keep up. Oleg the Usurper seems to be the clear weak link in Sidney Bakabella’s stable.
Blaster McMassive, however, was a revelation in this match. He used to be just as likely to maim his opponent botching a move than to he was to leap to the top rope for a superplex. His partner, Max Smashmaster, has lost a TON of weight. These guys are going to be really good, really soon.
McMassive was killing it with some great crowd taunts, a wicked spinning sideslam and a tope con hilo that brought the entire Logan Square Auditorium to its feet chanting “Holy poop!”
Family show, remember?
Afterwards, I hit the merch line, which was actually sort of intimidating. In all (both!) of my experiences, I have found indie wrestlers to be incredibly personable and friendly. CHIKARA’s personnel did nothing to dispel that. However, along this row of tables, was EVERYONE WHO DOES THE THINGS I LIKE ABOUT WRESTLING BEST.
I chatted with Jigsaw about his match and how much he loves performing in Chicago and Logan Square Auditorium. I chatted with Juan Francisco de Coronado about our mutual excitement that he was on the main roster. Evan Gelistico offered to draw a picture of me for five dollars. I skipped saying hello to Kodama/Obariyon because I was embarrassed that I didn’t know which member of the Batiri he was. I chatted with Chuck Taylor about my Chuck Taylor shirt. I chatted with Arik Cannon about Wrestlepalooza IV. I told Mr. Touchdown and UltraMantis Black how great it was to see them perform and the Colony and 3.0 that I was bummed I didn’t have tickets to the evening show to see them. Frightmare, completely in character, tried to sell me a shirt. Part of his gimmick is that he speaks gibberish, except for one word in each sentence that clues you in to what he’s actually saying. He’s sort of like a tiny, pumpkin-headed Pootie Tang. We ran into Bryce Remsburg and Gavin Loudspeaker on the way out.
AAAAHHHHHHH! EVERYONE I LIKE!
With one of the best sports/entertainment/sports entertainment events of my life in the books, all that’s left for me to do is to wonder how I can get in the second row of every future wrestling show I attend.
See you again next year, CHIKARA.
Should I Buy It?
For the Wrestling? Yeah. Only one match didn’t do much more me. The rest of the show was enjoyable, particularly the multi-man matches.
For the History? Probably Not. Unless Heidi Lovelace retires from an exploded knee, there’s nothing here CHIKARA fans will be talking about ten years from now. However, if the Throwbacks win the Campeonatos de Parejas in the next month, remember they picked up their third point here.
For the Storytelling? Not really. Remember that this show was assembled from pieces deemed extraneous to the evening’s planned plot advances.
I Am Chikara – You Only Live Twice – Quantum of Solace – Diamonds Are Forever – Goldfinger – The Living Daylights – The World Is Not Enough – Permis De Tuer – Vivre Et Laisser Mourir – King of Trios 2014 (Night One)(Night Two)(Night Three) – Thunderball – Moonraker – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – For Your Eyes Only – Tomorrow Never Dies