Chikara “A New Start” Review

2015-01-25-ANewStart
Pre-Show Notes
-2300 Arena. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. January 25, 2015.
-Welcome back, Chikara! And welcome, everyone, to Season 15!
-I’m back! I started doing these reviews last year because no one else was and nature abhors a vacuum. There still appears to be a vacuum, so here I am I guess….
-“A New Start” seems like an appropriate title after the “resurrection” of Chikara and the success of their subsequent campaign for survival. It’s an imperfect analogy, but think of the resurrection as the American Revolution and Season 14 as the War of 1812. I think that makes King of Trios the Burning of Washington D.C. and Kingston’s defection as the Battle of Lake Champlain? I’ll show myself out…
-Speaking of Season 14, feel free to check out my reviews from 2014.
-This year’s title theme is Arrested Development, which is a show I’m meaning to get around to SO HARD. Unfortunately, there’s probably several dramas on my queue before my top comedies.
-The sound mixing was not particularly good on the MP4. The announcers were WAY louder than the crowd and the action in the ring. It’s tough to invest emotionally if you don’t feel surrounded by the crowd. At least Chikara’s announcers are fantastic…
-The Camerawork was kind of sketchy as well, although that seemed to be the result of having no good place for the hard-cam, which was set up really far away from the ring.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h32m45s65The Wrecking Crew (The Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch & Max Smashmaster), Jaka & Oleg the Usurper) (w/Sidney Bakabella) defeated the Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & Mark Angelosetti), Jervis Cottonbelly, Princess KimberLee & Shynron via Pinfall
The Wrecking Crew kicking off the new season? Yes, please! And Max Smashmaster has hair now! It’s almost as weird as seeing Kane with hair. To meet Sidney’s open challenge, the Throwbacks recruited the often-squished Jervis Cottonbelly, Rey de Voladores Shynron, and Princess KimberLee. This smells like “Team of Unbooked Tecnicos,” but I’m in. The Devastation Corporation stopped having bad matches early last year, the Throwbacks were my 2014 Chikara MVPs, and the other three can be fantastic when used properly.

Jonathan Barber checked the inflation of Mr. Touchdown’s football to start, which was probably a decent joke on January 25th. On February 10th, not so much. Thankfully, Dasher busted out an old-timey air pump to save the day. Joke status: Rescued.

Dasher didn’t take kindly to the Wrecking Crew stealing their pre-match cheer and cleared the Devastation Corporation from the ring. What followed was the feeling out period that would seem familiar to anyone who has seen a Chikara multi-person match. Interestingly, there were no isolation tactics from the Wrecking Crew. Instead, KimberLee, Shynron, and Jervis took turns getting pummeled by the Wrecking Crew until Dasher got the hot tag.

Dasher stacked the entire Wrecking Crew in the corner before the tecnicos took turns sliding into the rudos. KimberLee crossbodied into home plate, demonstrating that she never played softball growing up. Shynron went corner-to-corner Coast to Coast, demonstrating DAMN, DUDE! That’s insane! KimberLee courageously dumped Max Smashmaster from the ring, but ate an Avalanche Belly to Belly Suplex from Blaster McMassive. Match over.

This was a fun match to start off the year. There’s no reason for the Devastation/Throwbacks rivalry to end soon and this match did a great job continuing that story while incorporating a few loose tecnicos. We also got to see a continuation of the slow face turn of Oleg the Usurper. Sidney continued to run him down throughout the match, even putting him in a timeout for a part of the match. The fans are ready to cheer him, so we’ll see when they decide to pull the trigger.

If I may venture a tiny criticism, it might be time to retire the mid-match chivalry part of Jervis’ routine. At some point, helping KimberLee from the ring isn’t “being a gentleman” as much as promotes the idea that she can’t do it on her own.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h33m23s178Nøkken defeated Ophidian via Pinfall
Both competitors were at two points. The winner earned a shot at the Chikara Grand Championship. The loser got to go home and binge The Americans on Netflix with a pint of ice cream. Did I just call myself a loser?

Ophidian came out with guns a’ blazing, hitting three suicide dives before Nøkken caught the fourth and planted him on his knee. Fool me thrice, shame on you… Nøkken dominated Ophidian, who was weirdly wrestling in a t-shirt, for several minutes. Ophidian mounted a brief comeback until Nøkken put him down with a driver that looks way too much like the Praying Mantis Bomb.

Nøkken earned his title shot. He won’t win, but he’ll be a convincing enough opponent. Just do us a favor, presumably-Icarus, and don’t try to Blu-Ray him. If you can’t do it to Eddie Kingston, you’re not going to be able to do it to Nøkken.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h34m07s0N_R_G (Hype Rockwell & Race Jaxon) defeated The Colony: Xtreme Force (Arctic Rescue Ant & Missile Assault Ant) via Pinfall
N_R_G returns, having impressed last year in the King of Trios Tag Team Gauntlet and an 8-Man Tag Match in “Mookraker.” I’m still not sure of the gimmick, however. Hype STAYS HYPE and Race is kind of sleepy all the time? Regardless, I am glad to see them again.

Missile Assault Ant was tossed from the ring and Race hit his Gunnslinger Backbreaker on Arctic Rescue Ant for the win after what seemed like about a minute. A disappointed Missile Assault Ant refused to help up Arctic Rescue after the match.

It’s a crime to underutilize Missile Assault Ant, but I didn’t mind the match. If N_R_G is here to stay, a decisive win helps them a lot. Arctic Rescue Ant looked like a punk, but he’s the Italy of the Xtreme Axis Powers anyways. Plus, maybe Missile Assault Ant gets featured more heavily? A boy can dream…

My only complaint is Race Jaxon’s yawning. That crap is contagious.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h35m08s211UltraMantis Black defeated Juan Francisco de Coronado via Pinfall
Before the match, UltraMantis pledged to uncover the truth behind the new, “bastardized” Eye of Tyr. Juan Francisco gradually made his way to the ring, eliciting a “Hurry up” chant from the crowd. Also, Coronado thinks the President of the “United Stations” is someone named “Barris Oprah.” I would buy a ticket to the Ecuadome to see Juan Francisco.

UltraMantis snuck in some tailbone-focused offense before Juan Francisco worked over UltraMantis’ arm. Mantis fired back and planted Juan Francisco with Cosmic Doom, but it only earned a two count. Juan Francisco channeled his inner Doug Williams and nailed a gorgeous Chaos Theory for a two of his own.

De Coronado tries to use the ropes, but … ummmm… “controversial” official Derek Sabato saw it and stopped the count. Juan Francisco argued with Sabato until UltraMantis booted de Coronado in the solar plexus and dropped him with a Praying Mantis Bomb for the win. Nice little match for both of them.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h36m02s2Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Jakob Hammermeier & Pinkie Sanchez) & Soldier Ant defeated The Colony (Fire Ant, Silver Ant & Worker Ant) via Submission
This was perhaps the most interesting match of the evening from a storytelling perspective. Soldier Ant, warped and twisted by his time as a Flood POW, took on his old teammates with whom he won the Campeonatos de Parejas and King of Trios. Soldier Ant also seemed to gain superpowers, shrugging off finishers to eliminate Obariyon and Ophidian in the “Tomorrow Never Dies” Cibernetico match.

This one had great back and forth action and frequent tags. The rudos teased some disagreement between Soldier Ant and the BDK, Fire Ant seemed unwilling to cut loose on his former friend, and Worker Ant still looked a step behind everyone else.







Sorry you lost me there for a while, but this match was really, really good. Silver Ant took a hot tag and ripped it up with both Soldier Ant and Pinkie Sanchez. Then Fire Ant flew around. Then Soldier Ant crushed people. Then Pinkie was hilarious. Then Pinkie almost died after some miscommunication on a Beach Break.

A finisher barrage (How do you make heart emoticons?) ended with Soldier Ant and Fire Ant together in the ring. Fire Ant couldn’t bring himself to roundhouse Soldier in the skull. Soldier Ant grabbed Fire Ant by the throat. Soldier looked like he was going to put the match away until Fire Ant saluted. Something stirred deep within Soldier Ant — some remembrance of things past. The moment was ruined by Jakob, who tossed both out of the ring before tapping out Worker Ant with a Sharpshooter variant.

Pathos! Such a combination of storytelling and wrestling quality can only mean that this is your MATCH OF THE EVENING! If you find this surprising based on the participants, Hi! My name is Patches. Welcome to Chikara. I don’t know if this is Soldier Ant’s first step towards rehabilitation or if it’s just a bit of cruel, doomed hope. Either way, this match was brilliantly executed.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h36m24s0Kevin Condron (w/The Lithuanian Snow Troll) defeated Eddie Kingston via Disqualification
If The Colony: Present vs. The Colony: Past isn’t the most interesting story in Chikara right now, this one is. Kevin Condron attacked Eddie Kingston at “Tomorrow Never Dies” before promising revenge on the ambivalent Chikara veterans who did nothing to stop Deucalion from murdering his friends and extracted no penance from Eddie Kingston for aiding and abetting.

Eddie Kingston cut the least sympathetic promo imaginable before the match. 1) He ran down Kevin Condron. 2) He said he doesn’t regret his complicity in the fatal destruction of the GreenHorn Militia, basically using the logic that we all die one day and Eddie “do what he do.” 3) He called Kevin Condron “privileged” for getting upset at the murder of his friends.

Trifecta!

Dear God, this isn’t even borderline psychopathic, right? I hope Eddie Kingston isn’t supposed to be the hero of this story because “asshole, unrepentant murderer” isn’t exactly the sort of protagonist I get behind. Where’s Burger Kingston Guy when we need him? Free pass tonight, dude!

Condron came out first, schlepping Lithuanian Snow Troll with him. Snow Troll has a new mask, which seems to be an interesting combination of “more accurate troll” and “basically a sheep mask.” Condron and Kingston threatened each other with weapons before Kingston mopped the floor with the former Kid Cyclone.

Then the match ended. Somehow, in the span in a couple minutes, they wedged in Snow Troll interference, a ref bump, and a feigned low blow DQ. I think this was supposed to make Condron look smart, but it really just made everyone involved look like a chump.

I’m not even sure it succeeded in its (presumed) storyline goal: resetting Kingston’s three points. Remember last season when Mike Quackenbush used match footage to throw out an Ashley Remington victory when “video evidence” showed that Chuck Taylor had his foot on the ropes? It was a bold, intelligent subversion of lazy “referee’s decision is final” trope. It’d be a shame for Chikara to reverse that precedent.

The more significant problem is that Kevin Condron is being positioned as a narcissistic heel despite his sole possession of the moral high ground. His means aren’t the most praiseworthy, but his cause is just. Eddie Kingston has nothing but selfishness. Chikara has earned my eternal benefit of the doubt, but this was an ugly start to a promising story.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h38m15s44Frightmare & Hallowicked defeated the Batiri (Kodama & Obariyon) via Pinfall
Hallowicked and Frightmare debuted some creepy new post-Eye of Tyr music and gear. For some reason, Gears of War leaps to mind. The Eye seems to have changed their personalities as well. Both were extremely aggressive, with even the high-flying Frightmare demonstrating a more ground-and-pound style.

It was bizarre watching Hallowicked and Frightmare work as rudos, but to no one’s surprise, they were very good at it. The crowd got behind the Batiri, who seem increasingly comfortable as tecnicos. UltraMantis, on commentary with Leonard Chikarason, sold the heck out of both teams’ transformations.

The Batiri got a hot tag and tore things up for a time. The good times didn’t last, however. Hallowicked blasted everyone before an epidemic of false finishes spread like measles in the Wakefield household (topical!). The Batiri hit a Skull Bronzing, but Hallowicked booted one of the Batiri into the Crucifix Bomb for the win.

This was a high-octane match featuring some wonderful storytelling. Hallowicked and Frightmare are good at everything they do and the Batiri are getting better at being faces. After splitting from UltraMantis, Hallowicked and Frightmare had to come out and prove they were more dangerous than ever before. This hard-fought victory here proved just that. Now, can we get a team name so I don’t have to type “Hallowicked and Frightmare” all the time?

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h40m41s238Icarus(c) defeated Chuck Taylor via Submission for the Chikara Grand Championship
In the main event, former FIST-mates and Kings of Trios clashed for the Chikara Grand Championship. Now, Icarus is the “heart of Chikara” and Taylor is still as chaotic neutral as ever.

Taylor brawled with Icarus on the outside before laying several chairs across the floor. Taylor was forced to lie in his bed, however, and was suplexed twice onto his own chair pile. Taylor yelled at a little kid (a proud Chuck Taylor tradition) on his way back to the ring as the crowd erupted in a fevered “Chucky T” chant.

That’s when the match got fun.

Icarus almost bulldozed Bryce Remsburg, but held up at the last minute. Taylor was less concerned and took out Remsburg with a boot. While everyone worried that the match was going to follow Condron/Kingston down the tubes, Taylor blasted Icarus with a fistful of flour. Taylor gloated while Icarus dug into his boots for his own flour and evened the score.

vlcsnap-2015-02-11-16h41m02s189The match reset, but Taylor took advantage of an Icarus mistake and hit the Awful Waffle! 1-2-No! Taylor used a belt distraction to low blow Icarus, but that didn’t get the win either. Taylor shoved Bryce, allowing Icarus to sneak in a belt shot and Pedigree, only for Taylor to kick out at two. Unfortunately for Chucky, Icarus transitioned into the Chikara Special for the win.

The crowd was disappointed that Taylor lost. I was too. But this was a beautiful match that played off the participants’ long history together. Taylor might be better than Icarus (he was and is) but Icarus was and is smarter. Icarus anticipated all of Taylor’s tricks and neutralized them with tricks of his own. I wish Chuck Taylor was Grand Champion too (or Johnny Gargano, for that matter), but we can at least take solace in getting tecnico Icarus’ best work yet.

Overall
For the most part, this was a good show. Kingston/Condron got off to a bumpy start, but there is plenty time to develop that story better. The Colony/Soldier Ant story got deeper and more meaningful. There is potential dissension in The Colony: Xtreme Force and the Wrecking Crew.

If I have one criticism of “A New Start,” it would be that it really doesn’t feel like anything has started yet. Let’s pretend Season 15 is an episode of 7th Heaven. “A New Start” was sorta like the opening credits. It just introduces you to the characters. It doesn’t tell you how they are going to interact in the upcoming episode.

That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m already up to speed, though, so bring on the March shows! Up next (I’ll probably skip National Pro Wrestling Day unless it advances any Chikara stories) are “Out on a Limb” and “Altar Egos” March 7th and 8th.

Should I Buy It?
For the Wrestling? Yes. Every match where the wrestling mattered had good wrestling. That’s me trying to excuse the tag squash and the Kingston/Condron mess.
For the Story? Yeah. The Colony stuff was excellent and I have no doubt that Eddie Kingston’s story will get better.
For the History? Ummmm, not really.

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

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8 thoughts on “Chikara “A New Start” Review

  1. Welcome back! And I think I know why Worker Ant seems like hes a step behind everyone. He uses up all of his energy during his entrance.

  2. My only disagreement here is your dislike of how the Condron/Kingston story is being told… the gray morality of the whole thing is the best part to me. It seems to me that Kingston is letting his ugly side get the better of him because deep down he feels guilty, but he is so entrenched in his ronin warrior character that he feels he can never take a back step. Remember when he wouldn’t show Claudio respect? Claudio technically had the high ground there too, of course. Meanwhile, Condron does have the moral position on the face of things, but he is also heavily manipulating the situation to avoid taking any responsibility and cast blame on anyone but himself. It’s fascinating story in my book, though I thought the DQ end was weak in execution here.

    • Welcome and thanks for commenting! I think we both want the same thing. The only difference between us is where we perceive the story to be. I too tend to enjoy complex stories and a lot of gray morality.

      Condron has a great end, but despicable means. That’s gray. I’m not sure where Kingston’s sympathy is supposed to come from. He lost the title (good start). He moped around and was recruited by The Flood (even better). He helped kill some guys (rock bottom). He turned on The Flood after they delivered on all of their promises (wait, what?). Now he expresses no regret whatsoever for murdering people (yup, psychopath).

      So from my angle, it’s not gray vs. gray, it’s gray vs. black. Plus, the story is being told in such a way that I’m supposed to sympathize with black. I feel like I know what they are trying to do, but they’re telling me what to think instead of telling a story that makes me think what they want me to, if that makes any sense.

    • Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing what their purpose is, beyond “being against UltraMantis” anyways. Incoherence was before my Chikara time. Did they have some special goal or purpose?

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