Now that Season 14 is in the books, it seems like a good time to look back and reflect on Chikara’s year that was. 2014 saw Chikara’s resurrection and return. That alone was a huge deal, but was it worth it? Did Chikara deliver the goods this year?
Generally, yes they did. Wait, that didn’t sound right…Generally, YES!
With a few minor exceptions, Chikara brought the heat all year. I don’t know if it was worth the absence, but I can tell you that I’m far less inclined to complain about Chikara’s “lost year” than I would have been before. The in-ring product was good to great and Chikara gave us a story I never thought professional wrestling could deliver. Fan favorites were killed and never returned. “POWs” were brought back, changed. Years of stories were paid off. I didn’t predict any of it because I couldn’t even imagine pro wrestling doing these things.
So, Season 14 delivered quality wrestling, novelty, and serialized storytelling on a scale previously reserved for HBO. It mostly worked. Everything made sense, was usually well-paced, and made an emotional impact on the viewer.
My negatives for the final season are few and far between. Plus, I’d feel stupid complaining about anything when most of my previous complaints were eventually revealed to be part of the story. The only unresolved issue was how the Flood expected to kill Chikara. How were they going to do destroy the promotion? By winning matches somehow? Claiming all the championships? Killing Chikara’s wrestlers? If the first two, how would that destroy the company? If the last one, why wrestle at all? Why not just ambush them all the time? Ultimately, I didn’t know what the Flood’s goal was and I can’t feel suspense without knowing that.
Overall, I’d give the season a solid 8/10 or something like that. I loved it and regret none of the almost immoral amount of time I spent watching it and writing about it.
There’s a lot to be excited about in Season 15. The biggest question is where does the Flood go from here? Deucalion is dead, but that doesn’t have to mean the Flood died with him. Jimmy Jacobs could pick up where Deucalion left off. In fact, his leadership, strategic brilliance, and compassion for his “troops” would probably be a far greater threat to Chikara, at least in some respects. Jigsaw is floating around out there. Soldier Ant has unresolved business with the Colony. The Devastation Corporation has a bull’s-eye on their backs. Kevin Condron will on the warpath. All of those things will happen. The only question is whether they’ll happen as part of a Flood vs. Chikara whole or as their own separate feuds. I’m good with either, as long as Jimmy Jacobs sticks around.
The other question is how or if “dead” wrestlers will return. Chikara is in something of a classic Catch-22 here. They will want to bring back fan favorites, but doing so will undermine their ability to tell meaningful stories, having eliminated the possibility of real consequences. Commenter Will had the incredible idea that all the killed wrestlers would come back, but different or changed. I’d be all about a rudo army of undead luchadors.
The “Tomorrow Never Dies” teaser seems to suggest something different. What if some of them just came back because of their character? Estonian Thunderfrog is a mythical frog-hero with meteorological powers and a giant hammer only (sorta) he can lift. Does it sound like you can kill that guy? I’d buy him reborn in the lightning. What if Kobald just came back? How do you kill a Demon anyways?
The others, admittedly, would be trickier. The Shard was a guy in a mask. DeviANT was an ant. That’s all. Just an ant. Archibald Peck was a marching band leader and Latvian Proud Oak was a tree. There’s no convincing reason for any of these men to come back without significant explanation. Does Evans return as his “cousin” Barrister RD Evans? Or the Mysterious and Handsome Stranger? Or someone new? Or maybe another Archibald Peck appears out of a time displacement? At least there’s no shortage of possibilities for him.
Just some baseless rambling for you. You’re welcome.
I enjoyed Chikara’s Season 14 immensely and can’t wait to see how everything unfolds in Season 15, which kicks off January 25th from Philadelphia, PA.
Without further ado, allow me to present some brief awards for Chikara’s Season 14. Some are semi-serious awards. Some are excuses for jokes or things I still wanted to say. Everything is linked to the original show, so feel free to check out what I’m talking about.
Best Show… “Tomorrow Never Dies”
This award is given with the knowledge that “Tomorrow Never Dies” is nothing without the tireless, and thankless, job of building of the narrative executed by every show between the premiere and the finale. Jeff and I have discussed this as it relates to serialized storytelling. Often, the blowoff gets all the credit when that blowoff doesn’t blow without the slow build throughout the season. I never expected to discuss serialized storytelling in a wrestling post, but here we are.
Honorable Mention: “King of Trios Night 2” “You Only Live Twice”
Worst Show… “Diamonds Are Forever”
The best match of the night might have been in the pre-show. There were children involved in the opener. Two squashes were followed by an immediate DQ, followed by a match where everyone knew who was going to win. That was followed with a great tag match, a match the audience crapped all over, and a Teddy Long-Approved main event. Not all of it flopped and not all of it was Chikara’s fault, but this was the worst show of the year in a walk.
Honorable Mention: “Thunderball”
Match of the Year… Devastation Corporation vs. The Throwbacks at “Tomorrow Never Dies” for the Campeonatos de Parejas
Yes, I am concerned about recency bias, but it was also that good. I know I’m really into a match when I run my hands through my hair like the guy in the blue shirt. I was like that for most of this match.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Jacobs vs. Icarus at “Moonraker” for the Grand Championship, The Throwbacks vs. Pieces of Hate at “The World Is Not Enough” for the Campeonatos de Parejas
Offensive Match of the Year Award… Jimmy Jacobs vs. Icarus at “Moonraker” for the Grand Championship
So, the NFL MVP always goes to the league’s best quarterback, which usually makes the Offensive Player of the Year the league’s best non-QB. The best matches in Chikara are almost always tag matches, so this award goes to the best singles match of the year. This match was engaging and suspenseful and really, really well-wrestled. It was so good that it overcame a grieving crowd to keep me on the edge of my seat. PS: Never kill Archibald Pecks (Archibalds Peck?) until the end of the show.
Comedy Match of the Year… Chuck Taylor vs. Jervis Cottonbelly at “Goldfinger”
This match was both amazing and totally came out of nowhere. The basic premise was that Cheating Expert shows Super Nice Guy how to cheat. Super Nice Guy is delighted by the concept of cheating. Cheating Expert beats Cheating Novice. It was brilliant in its simplicity and it left me wanting more instead of overstaying its welcome.
Honorable Mention: Atomicos Ridiculos at “Moonraker,” Submission Squad vs. The Gentleman’s Club at “King of Trios Night 3,” Various Ashley Remington matches, Chuck Taylor generally
Worst Match of the Year… Worker Ant vs. Arctic Rescue Ant at “The World Is Not Enough”
Yuck. Read more about it at the link above.
Honorable Mention: You think I’m going to comb through sixteen reviews to find the dung pile in this pony of a season? Well, you’re usually right. Not while I’m doing grad school, though! I’ll just mention the last minute of an otherwise amazing Shynron vs. Great Sanada at “King of Trios Night 3” because “no selling” and “poison mist” are not supposed to go together.
Worst Best Match of the Year… The Devastation Corporation vs. The Colony at “Thunderball”
This is the award for weakest match that was also the best match on that evening’s show. The match above was darn good, but it would not have been the Match of the Evening on any other card.
Honorable Mention: Pieces of Hate vs. the Osirian Portal at “The Living Daylights,” (Even though it was one of my personal favorites of the year) and Jimmy Jacobs vs. Silver Ant at “Vivre Et Laisser Mourir” for the dusty finish.
Least Worthy of Match of the Evening… Volgar
MVP… The Throwbacks
Originally, I was going to split this award into a “Storytelling MVP” and “Wrestling MVP.” Then, I realized the Throwbacks would be at or near the top of both of them. Only Fire Ant was involved in as many Matches of the Evening, but the Colony never became a critical part of the season. The Throwbacks, however, won the Campeonatos de Parejas and stayed in the vortex until the end of the season. Furthermore, no one in Chikara seemed to be as angry at the Flood as the Throwbacks. Dasher and Mark constantly brawled with the Flood before and during matches. Everyone else played by the rules, even with the company on the line. You might call that “true tecnico.” I call it “not caring.”
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Jacobs, Devastation Corporation, Eddie Kingston. Here’s the rest of the Match of the Evening tally for everyone involved in at least two.
Missile Assault Ant
Orbit Adventure Ant
Arctic Rescue Ant
Sabermetics MVP… Pieces of Hate
A little concerned that Worker Ant was almost MVP because of volume stats and a great supporting cast? Me too. Let’s sabermetrics this up and get some efficiency stats up in this bitch! Pieces of Hate were in like 50% fewer matches than The Colony or the Throwbacks and they still almost had as many Matches of the Evening. That’s a great MotEP (Match of the Evening Percentage). They would have easily stolen every show if given the opportunity.
Honorable Mention: Missile Assault Ant killed it this year, people.
Most Improved Wrestler… Missile Assault Ant
This was the hardest award to pick because so many people BLEW UP this year. The Devastation Corporation came the furthest, but I think they also had the most to work with. Missile Assault Ant was just a tall guy who shouted his name a lot. A year ago, he was second or third on the list of expected Xtreme Force breakout stars. Now he’s one of the better technical wrestlers in the company and can be counted on to deliver the goods against literally anyone else in Chikara at any time.
Honorable Mention: Devastation Corporation Prime, Flex Rumblecrunch, Proletariat Boar of Moldova
Moment of the Year… The Death of Estonian Thunderfrog at “The World Is Not Enough”
Real talk, people. I cried like four times this year. Sami Zayn made me do it twice, first against Cesaro at NXT Arrival, then the other week on NXT Takeover R-Evolution or however the hell it was typeset. Once… well, that’s personal. All three of them, however, were tears of joy or beauty. The only time I cried out of sheer sadness was when Deucalion snapped Estonian Thunderfrog in half. It was a beautiful and critical part of the story. I know why it had to be done. But still, Estonian Thunderfrog!
Honorable Mention: Deucalion’s reveal and murder of CAWII and Equinox III, The Death of Archibald Peck, Icarus winning the Grand Championship or something?, That look on Eddie Kingston’s face when Juan Francisco’s submission was only mildly uncomfortable, but he tapped because he didn’t care.
Rookie of the Year… Jimmy Jacobs
I was incredibly wrong about Eddie Kingston this year. I said that Kingston was the heart of this feud. I portrayed this season as a battle for Kingston’s soul, waged by Chikara and the Flood. His suffering was Chikara’s. His redemption would be too.
Except that’s not how it turned out. Kingston sort of rejoined Chikara, but his story this season was trying to do what was best for Eddie Kingston. There was redemption in Kingston turning on the Flood, but everything he did, he did for Eddie Kingston. That’s not a problem, but it’s not as “full of heart” as one might think.
The emotion center of the season wasn’t the battle for Chikara. It was the battle of the Flood. Jimmy Jacobs began the year with a promo explaining how no one has seen the horrors he’s seen. When Deucalion started killing people, it was clear what Jacobs meant. We didn’t fear Deucalion because he killed Kobald. We feared him because even Jimmy Jacobs was terrified of him (and he KILLED WRESTLERS). Deucalion was such a monster, however, he lost focus of friend and foe, and Jacobs had to turn on him to protect the Flood from eventual death.
Plus, Jacobs brought quality singles wrestling to a company that doesn’t always have the most of it outside of Chuck Taylor, Silver Ant, and Hallowicked (and now Missile Assault Ant). We’ll see what Jacobs has in store for Chikara (or vice versa) next year, but for now, no newcomer made a bigger impact.
Honorable Mention: Juan Francisco de Coronado, Ashley Remington
Show Title of the Year… “You Only Live Twice”
Could there be any possible better title for the return show of the resurrected company?
Honorable Mention: We’re just listing good Bond titles, right? “The World Is Not Enough,” “Live and Let Die,” “Moonraker,” deciding not to use “Octopussy”
Most Match of the Evening Match of the Year… The Colony: Xtreme Force vs. The Colony
This is the award for the match that was Match of the Evening most often. After teasing us with no Colony vs. Colony matches for Xtreme Force’s entire existence, Chikara finally gave us what we wanted. then again. And then again. These teams faced each other in trios matches at “You Only Live Twice” and “King of Trios Night 1,” as well as a tag match at “Diamonds Are Forever.” You’re not seeing me complain, however, because it was the best match on the card all three nights.
You Suck Award… “Burger Kingston” Guy
Seriously, dude. You suck.