Chikara “Goldfinger” Review

goldfinger-detroit-pro-wrestlingPre-Show Notes
-June 22, 2014. The Majestic Theatre. Detroit, Michigan.
-This is the final show in a weekend that saw two shows in Chicago the day before.
-The card says all hands on deck for this one. Should be a doozy!
-New music for the BDK. Unacceptable! I demand the return of poor man’s Engel immediately!
-Who did the lighting for this show? It’s so dark outside of the ring and so bright inside of the ring that it sort of looks like jellyfish wrestling in a black hole.
-Icarus apparently suffered a concussion somewhere along the line, hence his absence from this weekend’s shows.
-Danielle Matheson did a piece on this show for With Spandex. It’s worth your while to check out.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-14h36m28s2The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & Mark Angelosetti) defeated AC/DC (Arik Cannon & Darin Corbin), Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Nøkken & Tursas), & the Odditorium (Oliver Grimsly & Qefka the Quiet) via Pinfall
What better way to start off the show than a lucha-style four-team elimination match? Unless it’s a surprise Cesaro appearance, I can’t think of anything. Remember, the Throwbacks have three points and a shot at the Campeonatos de Parejas, but a loss here drops them to zero.

AC/DC was the third team out and froze on the ramp when they saw the Flood in the ring. After a bit of conversation, they waited for the Throwbacks before getting any closer. It’s not the big things that make Chikara the best. It’s a slavish attention to character and detail, just like this.

Because it was a Chikara opener, there was some early comedy. The Odditorium and the Throwbacks ended a baseball skit with a beanball and bench-clearing brawl. Qefka the Quiet built an invisible box during AC/DC’s slow-motion bit. Thankfully, Arik Cannon had the key, allowing AC/DC to eliminate the Odditorium at 9:26 with an assisted shiranui and grounded superkick.

These guys keep coming up with new spins on old classics.

AC/DC didn’t get to celebrate long, though, as they were immediately crucifix powerbombed and chokeslamed out of the match at 10:02 by the BDK. The BDK dominated the Throwbacks until Angelosetti Cesaroed Tursas over the ropes and tossed Nøkken from the ring. Tursas crawled back in just in time to eat the new Throwbacks finisher Prime Time, a sick-looking shoulder block into a Lightning Spiral at 14:26.

This was a tremendously fun opener that did a great job switching things up so it didn’t feel like a retread of the elimination match at “You Only Live Twice.” I totally assumed AC/DC was going to get knocked out first to showcase the Throwbacks valiantly fighting for their points. Chikara is always subverting the obvious for something awesome, even if the obvious would probably be awesome too.

My only complaint is that we still have no reason to see the Odditorium as a serious threat to anybody. Or maybe that’s more preference than problem. Maybe every stable needs its doormat. What would happen if the Odditorium wrestled the Submission Squad? Would the match go on forever with both teams waiting to lose?

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-14h42m00s6Ophidian defeated Movado via Pinfall
The Mysterious Movado a giant, weird dude with a Tigers logo on the seat of his pants. He’s fat and wacky, everyone! He also did a nice job being the big guy for Ophidian to overcome, which he did at 4:39 with a Meteora. Nice short match for everyone here. Ophidian got a win against a huge dude and he made Movado look like a million bucks for four minutes.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-14h45m38s147Jaka defeated the Estonian Thunderfrog via Pinfall
Until the Taylor/Cottonbelly match later in the show, this was the best singles match of Season 14. Estonian Thunderfrog has built a huge following with his ever-increasing skills and hilarious banter. He’s the sort of guy who shouts “Right after I do this!” when the referee tells him to get down from the turnbuckle.

For his part, Jaka has been the most consistent member of the Wrecking Crew from day one. Maybe his ceiling isn’t as high as the Devastation Corporation’s, but Jaka’s never had to go through their growing pains either.

Speaking of the Wrecking Crew, Sidney Bakabella was absent for the third straight show. It’s tough to remember that they’re all held the same weekend. Bakabella has one commitment and he misses three shows. I’ll fill in – THE HEAD IS THE WEAPON!

Overall, this was a good match that suffered a little from some awkward timing between moves and covers. Jaka picked up the win with a prawn hold and feet on the ropes at 9:59.

On a more serious note, am I the only one uncomfortable with Chikara labeling Jake a “savage?” I get the stereotype they’re portraying, but between America’s history with Native Americans and Europe’s colonization of Asia and Africa, “savage” carries a whole lot of troublesome connotations I’m not sure I can get behind.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-14h50m51s204The Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive & Max Smashmaster) defeated 3.0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews) via Pinfall
Back at “Just Shadows in the Fog,” 3.0 defeated the Devastation Corporation in their first defense of the Campeonatos de Parejas. 3.0 is still 3.0, but the Devastation Corporation has improved dramatically. Friends, they look so good. McMassive has gotten much more fluid and Smashmaster is in good enough shape that everyone can pick up the pace.

The sizes, movesets, and attitudes of these teams complement one another perfectly. The result was a great back and forth affair until Smashmaster hit a swanton on Matthews for the win at 9:33.

It looks like we’ve found the team to beat within the Flood.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-15h01m20s100Chuck Taylor defeated Jervis Cottonbelly via Pinfall
Some technical difficulties kicked off the second half as the sound cut out for Cottonbelly’s entrance. Jervis was forced to come out sans music, but he took it in stride. “Who needs music when you have the sound of love?”

This was a comedy match during which wrestling occasionally broke out. The basic idea was Chuck Taylor teaches Jervis Cottonbelly, the world’s sweetest man, how to cheat. Most times, this would be “cheater cheats, sweetheart rejects cheating, match ensues.”

Thankfully, Chikara doesn’t do “most times.”

Cottonbelly not only learns how to cheat (which is pretty adorable in and of itself), but he embraces it. WHOLEHEARTEDLY. In fact, Cottonbelly even involves the audience in an abdominal stretch. The little help from his friends leads to Bryce Remsburg hilariously singing Joe Cocker and Jervis leading a “We all cheated!” chant.

Jervis gets so caught up in the cheating that he forgot about Taylor, who reminded him of his presence with a Superkick at 6:45. I think the lesson here is that cheaters never prosper. Or, more accurately, don’t try to out-cheat Chuck Taylor if this is your first time cheating.

Comedy and character work got most of the attention here, but it was the most entertaining match of the evening by a longshot. Pure brilliance.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-15h11m06s67The Spectral Envoy (Blind Rage, Frightmare, Hallowicked, & UltraMantis Black) defeated the Gekido (Jigsaw, The Shard, & 17) & Missile Assault Ant) via Pinfall
This match may have been advertised as a trios match. Gekido seemed surprised that all four Envoy members were in the ring, so they went to the back and grabbed Missile Assault Ant. If you want evidence that Missile Assault Ant is impressing people, here it is.

Remember last review when I said that Chikara is bulletproof in multi-man matches? I’ll say it again, but slower this time, for emphasis. Bullet. Proof. This match had fast action, great pacing, and a nice finisher barrage, which is very high on the list of Wrestling Tropes I Love.

It was pretty much everything you’d want from an atomicos match without any subplots. Core Spectral Envoy is probably the best trio on the planet and Shard & Jigsaw are one of the best tag teams, so it would be difficult to mess this one up. Spectral Envoy got the win with a Hallowicked swanton to Missile Assault Ant at 11:03.

I was initially worried that Blind Rage’s squash at “Diamonds Are Forever” was just to build him up enough to take the fall here (Can you tell I watch WWE?). However, it makes perfect sense with teams like these for the extra guy to take the fall.

I’m calling this one the MATCH OF THE EVENING, giving Missile Assault Ant a league-leading three MotE points.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-15h16m09s26Eddie Kingston vs. Shynron
After his Inner Turmoil Match with Jimmy Jacobs at “Diamonds Are Forever,” Eddie Kingston was suddenly the most interesting story in Chikara. The Passion of the War King continued in Detroit as Kingston came to the ring decked out in blue jeans and apathy. He repeatedly tried to leave the match, only to be brought back in by Shynron.

Then, as Kingston crawled up the ramp, Jimmy Jacobs came out and whispered into Eddie’s ear. Kingston promptly entered the ring and hit every move on his Wikipedia page before putting Shynron down with a Backfist to the Future at 5:37. Jacobs crossed his heart before leaving. Kingston just looked at his empty hands.

This was a nice match for a variety of reasons. Shynron got to uncork every flip in his arsenal before Kingston cranked up Beef Mo. Shynron looked good, even if Kingston had to bail him out of a couple of almost-misses. More importantly, though, we got Kingston in a rut and Jacobs again imbuing some purpose. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of this story.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-15h23m47s0The Batiri (Kodama & Obariyon) & The Colony (Fire Ant, Silver Ant, & Worker Ant) defeated the Flood (Ares, deviANT, Jimmy Jacobs, Oleg the Usurper, & A Plague Doctor) via Submission
At first glance, it would seem like Chikara would hold a massive advantage in this match. After all, two partnering stables against a random collection of Flood members and an unnamed Plague Doctor doesn’t exactly seem like an even fight. The announcers told us that the tecnicos didn’t know their opponents ahead of time, but even so, it seemed like it would take some shenanigans to sell this as an even bout.

Those shenanigans turned to be “effective booking.”

The match immediately turned into a brawl that spilled to every corner of the arena. Even as a few wrestlers entered the ring, the rest continued to brawl out of sight. The match didn’t feature tags so much as a brawl that spilled different combinations of wrestlers into the ring. It must have been frustrating for the fans in attendance, but it was a brilliant way to neutralize the tecnico cohesion advantage.

Finally, everyone staggered back the ring for a five-on-five, hoss-in-a-battle-royal moment where they regrouped, the calm befoee the storm. One brawl, one finisher barrage (two in one show!), and one Ant Hill later and the Batiri are Seventh Circling deviANT and locking in the Chikara Special for the win at 14:33. If the Batiri weren’t officially tecnicos before, they are now.

Also, props to the Plague Doctor who didn’t do anything until the finisher barrage where he randomly laid out Silver Ant with a Rikishi Driver.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-15h26m47s8Post-Show
The Flood, led by Deucalion, came back out as the technicos left. The losing Flood team kneeled in deference to Deucalion, who extended an outstretched arm towards Jacobs. Jacobs promptly tossed deviANT under the bus, blaming him for the Flood’s loss.

Deucalion picked up deviANT and crushed him with a Chokebreaker. The You Have Failed Me trope might be worn out in television and film, but this is unexplored territory for professional wrestling. deviANT was removed from the Chikara Roster page, all but confirming his death.

Even though Chikara picked up big tag victories tonight, wins by Jaka and the Devastation Corporation didn’t leave the Flood feeling too chumpish. And even if they did, the death of deviANT definitely justifies a weekend of struggles for the Flood.

Overall
I thought this was Chikara’s strongest show of the year so far, certainly in terms of the wrestling. It had crazy tag matches, great storytelling, and far and away the best comedy match of the year.

Better still, they gave purpose to the Flood’s struggles in Chicago, moving forward, or at least avoiding a step back, in the story. I think we got the idea that Deucalion was evil after Kobald, but there’s nothing wrong with driving that home while showing that Chikara isn’t going to roll over for the Flood. Hopefully, the story takes a big step forward during the July shows and that Delirious and Soldier Ant get in the mix soon.

I’m sorry I doubted you, Chikara. I think I’ve learned my lesson to save any judgments until the entire weekend’s shows are finished.

Next up are “The Living Daylights” and “The World Is Not Enough,” held on July 19 and 20. Hurry up, SmartMark and get them released!

Should I Buy It?
For the Wrestling? Yes. God, yes.
For the History? Sure. Most people aren’t big deviANT fans, but it’s kind of a big deal when a member of the Chikara roster is killed.
For the Storytelling? Absolutely. Kingston’s saga continues and the Flood gets some mortuary motivation.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-15h27m33s211

RIP deviANT (2012-2014) When I saw you only had one antenna, I felt bad about forgetting to offer it back. Now, I see you don’t need it.

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

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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