Chikara “Diamonds Are Forever” Review

ChicagoEPPre-Show Notes
-June 21, 2014. Logan Square Auditorium. Chicago, Illinois.
-This is the second Chikara show of the day. “Quantum of Solace,” my very first Chikara show, was held early afternoon.
-While writing my “You Only Live Twice” review, I watched the clip from “Zelda the Great” where Mr. Touchdown murdered Sapphire. First of all, it got very dusty in my house very suddenly. Secondly, I noticed that the surroundings looked familiar. Yes, Sapphire perished this very venue. I’m glad I didn’t know that or else I might not have been as happy to see Latvian Proud Oak.
-Here’s hoping the Titan of Titor, now known as Deucalion, doesn’t toss Silver Ant in a bag and murder him to death tonight. The too long;didn’t click version is that Deucalion is a mythological survivor of the great flood, sort of like a Greek Noah. The Great Flood/The Flood… It’s like someone at Chikara reads books or something.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-17h09m02s143Chuck Taylor defeated Shynron via Pinfall
A bonus match featuring these two was at the end of the video. Given the sparsely populated crowd, I’m assuming it was the Expansion Pack held between the two shows. Hilarity ensued as Taylor was accidentally introduced to Right Said Fred instead of his normal Harlan County fare. Chucky T wasn’t a fan.

To my great chagrin, a contest-winning eleven year-old joined Leonard Chikarason on commentary. I don’t know if it’s this kid or all eleven year-olds, but he couldn’t enunciate and used the phrase “epic fail.” This is the worst.

Have I mentioned I hate little kids?

Listening to the match was brutal, but watching it was another story. Little did the handful of fans in attendance know that this would be one of the evening’s best matches. In fact, it was easily the best singles match of both events that day.

From what I’ve seen of Shynron, he’ll be a great addition to the Chikara roster. He’s innovative and insanely athletic, as showcased by a 450 Splash from the bottom rope. Chikara hasn’t seen a flippy dude like this since Helios bolted and became Ricochet.

Honestly, though, Shynron might be a better all-around wrestler than Ricochet was at this stage in his career. Not that Shynron is destined to become one of the best wrestlers on the planet as well, but his all-around game is worth noting. Then again, just about anyone can look like that against Chuck Taylor. I’ve seen Chuck Taylor wrestle for five promotions and I don’t remember one bad Chuck Taylor match.

I mark out for three moves: Swiss Death, which has been neutered a little for WWE, grounded superkicks, and the Awful Waffle, which Chucky T used to pick up the win at 9:28. It’s the best finisher in professional wrestling.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-16h31m50s0Old Fashioned (Jervis Cottonbelly & Marion Fontaine) defeated Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream & Ice Cream Jr.) via Pinfall
Cottonbelly and Fontaine shake hands with the entire front row on their way to the ring, and then with each other. If they ever find themselves wrestling the Vaudevillains, the universe will implode.

These matches are usually pretty entertaining, even if the wrestling can be hit or miss. Los Ice Creams are hilarious, with or without their deathmatch sprinkles. And that weird arm waving never gets old somehow.

Los Ice Creams make some kid’s childhood by setting him on the apron and tagging him in. I think it’s the contest winner again. Old Fashioned responded by bringing in their own little kid. Standard shenanigans ensue and everyone gets in the proper Chikara spirit. Old Fashioned wins with double backslides at 9:32.

For those of you wondering when was the last time Los Ice Creams won a match, it was against the legendary Primer Brothers last August. Their last Chikara win was at “Give ‘Em the Axe” in July 2012. Their last Chikara win in which Steve “The Turtle” Weiner was not an opponent was during JoshiMania in December 2011. (Thanks IWDB!)

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-16h35m26s202Max Smashmaster defeated JoJo Bravo via Pinfall
I think JoJo Bravo is pretty well-known around Texas, but he survived about as long as Stan Stansky. Leave it to the Chikara crowd for a hilarious “We will miss you!” chant for Bravo. Max Smashmaster, for his part, seems to have lost 100 pounds. He looks GREAT.

Nothing to see here. Smashmaster crushes Bravo with a moonsault at 3:11. Complete squash. Devastation Corporation has gotten pretty good in the ring, especially compared to their first few matches.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-16h36m17s186Blind Rage defeated Matt Fitchett via Pinfall
Fitchett seemed like the sort of guy who could go if given the chance. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. Blind Rage put him away at 3:28 with a Splash Mountain. Three matches in and not a wrestling match to be seen. The crowd was starting to get restless.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-16h38m13s50The Odditorium (Oliver Grimsly & Qefka the Quiet) defeated The Batiri (Kodama & Obariyon) via Disqualification
This was the Batiri’s first match since the death of their teammate Kobald at the hands (and knee) of Deucalion. Grimsly and Qefka unwisely rubbed it in with a Kobald mask and fake chokeslam.

The Batiri stormed out all business. They went to town on the Odditorium until their disqualification for excessive violence at 2:45. The Batiri refused tag in and out, go for covers, or break at five. Somewhere, Mike Quackenbush was smiling thinking about his Quackendriver countdown on 17. And by somewhere, I mean probably in the balcony.

The crowd clearly didn’t appreciate yet another aborted match, although they kept their displeasure mostly inaudible. Is it just me or does Chikara always toss PJ Drummond out there whenever they need a referee to do an unpopular thing?

I don’t like this happening at this point in the show, but I love the idea here. Bear with me for a moment…

Chikara made a bold decision in killing Kobald. By doing so, they raised the stakes far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in professional wrestling. Let me state that again. THEY KILLED KOBALD. The Flood ended the existence of one of the tecnicos.

Now that’s a gutsy call, but now you need to live in the universe you’ve created. You need to portray a universe where wrestlers respond to death, even if it doesn’t mesh with wrestling conventions. If the Flood sent Kobald shuffling off this mortal coil, the Batiri can’t come back the next show and settle into a nice back and forth tag match. They can’t. They need to either crush their next opponents or get DQed while crushing their next opponents. Those are the only responses that make sense.

So, (JoJo) bravo for the storytelling here, even if it comes with the risk of escalating beyond Chikara’s creative control. I sure wouldn’t mind having Kobald back, but the last thing Chikara needs is to Moffat this thing by bringing back the dead without explanation and expecting us to invest in a story without consequences.

Meanwhile, Kobald is dead and I’m still waiting for Chikara’s reply.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-16h50m01s247Juan Francisco de Coronado defeated Billy Roc via Pinfall
While de Coronado ran down the “United Stations,” other members of the Chikara roster seemed to be wrapping up business at the merch tables. Was that the first half? A comedy match, two squashes, and an insta-DQ? Looks like I attended the right show…

Billy Roc is the Indiana Colt Cabana. Juan Francisco is quite good, but he’s not ready to keep up with an experienced English-style grappler. Juan Francisco got the win with a Bridging German Suplex at 7:32. This was a good match that would have been a lot better if the result was ever in doubt. That said, if you need a guy for a competitive squash, you could do a lot worse than Roc.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-16h54m48s41The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant) defeated The Colony: Xtreme Force (Missile Assault Ant & Orbit Adventure Ant) via Submission
This was sort of a rematch from their trios match at “You Only Live Twice,” except without the weakest link on both teams. It was the match of the night then, and it was the MATCH OF THE EVENING tonight as well. To their credit, the crowd is still really into this event. And anyone who was starting to drift was immediately brought back by stereo suicide dives by the Colony.

These two teams have built an impressive rapport over the last few months. Xtreme Force has found the right amount of crowd baiting and has perfected their name shtick timing to accentuate their moveset, rankle the crowd, or give their opponents a chance to interrupt them.

Missile Assault Ant once again stood out. He was an impressive base for Fire Ant’s flying throughout the match. He’s even started getting the Claudio Castagnoli Memorial spots where he uses his strength to bring moves to screeching halts. Now that I mention it, he cut off some Colony moves with European Uppercuts. Can anyone confirm the whereabouts of Cesaro that evening?

This was a fast-paced match with lots of great action and several fantastic sequences. There were a couple of spots that took a noticeably long time to set up because Xtreme Force was out of place, but the payoff to those spots was well worth it.

Silver Ant submitted Orbit Adventure Ant with the Chikara Special at 12:16. The Colony celebrates until Missile Assault Ant lands the cheap shot to end all cheap shots. This one’s not over yet…

tumblr_n6naan15Nf1qe2ybqo1_400Jimmy Jacobs defeated Eddie Kingston via Pinfall
PATHOS!

Eddie Kingston showed more character development with his entrance than most wrestlers do in a year. One’s reaction to losing is probably the most underrated aspect of wrestling storytelling.

In WWE, you have three options. You can make angry faces and tell the champion to “keep that belt warm,” smile and promise Each and Every One of You™ that they’ll work their hardest and get the title back, or if you are John Cena, you can be blasé because you’re going to win everything for the next several months.

Johnny Gargano went with Option 4 in Dragon Gate USA. When his 873 day reign as Open the Freedom Gate Champion came to an end, he went into denial, even going so far as to magnanimously put his non-existent title on the line the following evening. It was great.

Eddie Kingston had become so invested in the Chikara Grand Championship that it basically defined him as a person. Nothing in his life meant nearly as much. He said as much on Ring of Honor Television while feuding with Kevin Steen.

So, it makes perfect sense that losing the Grand Championship would be utterly devastating to him. He (Option 5) trudged out for his match, clearly uninterested, but still willing to go through the motions, at least until Gavin Loudspeaker introduced him as the “former” Grand Champion. Kingston grimaced and stopped in his tracks, leaning on the ropes until Jimmy Jacobs’ music hit.

It turns out that Jimmy Jacobs wasn’t there to fight Kingston, but to recruit him. Jacobs tells Kingston that no one in Chikara likes or cares about him and offers him a chance to join the Flood. When Kingston doesn’t respond, Jacobs says this is why Kingston lost the Grand Championship, sending Kingston into a fury and starting the match.

The match was good while it lasted, but it soon became clear that the war inside Kingston’s head was more important than the one in the ring. Jacobs promised to help Kingston get “Her” back. Kingston caved and asked if Jacobs promised, leading to a Spear and pin at 5:48.

I found this segment completely engrossing. There were several vocal individuals in the crowd who tried to ruin it for everyone, but they were (too) politely ignored. Kingston is a fascinating wild card here. He seems to be interested in joining the Flood if it helps him get the Grand Championship back, but he hasn’t committed yet. We’ll see how long they play out his decision.

Two Notes:
1) The tool shouting “What?” during Jacobs’ promo and the tool chanting “Burger Kingston” was the same tool, right?
2) I’m confused. I thought Bull Dempsey was the “Last of a Dying Breed?” BULL!

No?

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-17h03m39s2163.0 (Shane Matthews & Scott Parker) & Archibald Peck defeated Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Ares, Nøkken, & Tursas) via Disqualification
The scheduled main event was good while it lasted, although it felt a little slower than a traditional Chikara trios match. That might make sense given the hossy nature of Tursas and Nøkken, but then again, the BDK/Spectral Envoy match at “You Only Live Twice” never seemed to drag.

Archibald Peck went up top to do some flying, but Oliver Grimsly and Qefka the Quiet pulled him down for the DQ at 9:48. 3.0 and Peck were beaten down until the Batiri came out and cleared the ring.

BUT HOLE ON A MINNUT, PLAYA!

Peck challenged the Flood to a ten-man tag match and Bryce Remsburg rang the bell before Ares could haul the Flood to the back.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-17h04m50s1903.0 (Shane Matthews & Scott Parker), Archibald Peck, & The Batiri (Kodama & Obaryion) defeated Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Ares, Nøkken, & Tursas) & The Odditorium (Oliver Grimsly & Qefka the Quiet) via Pinfall
The Chicago faithful finally got the match they had waited so patiently for. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Chikara is absolutely bulletproof with their multi-man matches. The pace picked up, there were finisher barrages, and Shane Matthews had the crowd on their feet when he turned the Boston Crab over on Tursas. Nøkken and Ares broke the hold, but dives from Archibald Peck and Scott Parker set up the Batiri for an Alabama Slam variant of the Seventh Circle to Grimsly at 8:32.

No one hates “wrestling matches that exist solely to set up a wrestling match later in the show” more than me, but I didn’t mind this one. If you just toss the Batiri into a ten-man tag match from the start, you lose that visceral VENGEANCE FOR KOBALD! beatdown you really needed after “You Only Live Twice.” I know it reeks of bad Smackdown, but the two DQs before the main event definitely added to the drama and to the story.

That said, I’m not as happy with the tecnicos cleanly winning the main event. The Flood either lost or looked weak in all of their matches against Chikara tonight, which followed “Quantum of Solace,” where the same thing happened. I have no problem with Chikara firing back and showing they’re not going to lie down for the Flood, but it’s sort of overwhelming enough that the flash Flood warning has been downgraded to a watch.

My apologies for that joke to anyone who doesn’t live by rivers.

Hopefully, the Flood answer back with something decisive at “Goldfinger” to reassert the threat they pose.

Overall
It’s a credit to Chikara that I so rarely feel this way at the end of a show. In fact, I can only think of one show (somewhere in 2011, I think) where I felt this underwhelmed. Chikara needed to take a strong step forward to continue the tremendous momentum generated by “You Only Live Twice,” but they seemed to step sideways at best. It’s too bad, because the show was actually pretty good from a storytelling perspective.

However, a truly baffling match order made for an almost oppressive first half. Move one of the squashes to the second half and give us de Coronado/Roc in the first half so there was a competitive match there somewhere. To the crowd’s credit, they stuck with the show, suppressed the idiots during Kingston/Jacobs, and blew up for the main event.

All problems and complaints aside, “Diamonds Are Forever” might end up being a better show in hindsight. Chikara is going for some HBO-worthy serialized drama here and sometimes those shows need to have a quieter episode to move pieces around and set things up. Forests and trees, man. It’s all about forests and trees.

Should I Buy It?
For the Wrestling? No. This was the weakest Chikara show in several years.
For the History? Not sure there was any.
For the Storytelling? A lukewarm “yes.” I get the feeling that this Eddie Kingston stuff is going to be extremely important.

*************************

More Chikara

I Am ChikaraYou Only Live TwiceQuantum of SolaceDiamonds Are ForeverGoldfingerThe Living DaylightsThe World Is Not EnoughPermis De TuerVivre 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

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