Chikara “Out on a Limb” Review

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Pre-Show Notes
-The New Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium. Gibbonville, North Carolina. March 7, 2015.
-Welcome! I’m running behind right now since Chikara took forever to release their March shows and because of other stuff I’ve got going on. “Out on a Limb” was the first official Chikara show since “A New Start” in January. I decided not to review National Pro Wrestling Day 2015 due to its somewhat tenuous connection to Chikara. You can check out Kevin Ford’s excellent review here.
– At NPWD, however, the Osirian Portal picked up their third point, leading to our main event tonight. Anyone else feel like the Campeonatos de Parejas has become a bit of an afterthought since the introduction of the Grand Championship?
-I’m not sure what decade this event occurred in. The commentator audio was either coming through a 1920s radio or they were recording over CB. Breaker, breaker, it might be time to go back to SmartMark, over.
-Challenge of the Immortals, the big Season 15 plotline, begins tonight! Long story short, the roster has been divided into 10 teams of four. All 10 teams will face the others twice in tag, trios, or atomicos action. No match type can be repeated when the two teams face each other the second time. Winners get one point, losers get none. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins. Every member of the winning team gets a title shot of their choosing. More details here from the good people/person at Chikara in 15 Minutes or Less. Overall, it seems like a pretty cool way to keep everyone involved and tell some good stories.
-Lastly, we have a new recurring pre-show section. My friend Jeff (of Slazenger1) will be swinging by to drop a little knowledge on us regarding the Arrested Development episodes from which Chikara takes their event titles. There will be Arrested Development spoilers (indicated with bolded text), which I why I’ll put the spoilery parts last. If you are like me and still need to watch AD, skip to the first match!
-Let’s get it on!

Arrest Development with Jeff
These two episodes of Arrested Development (“Out on a Limb” & “Altar Egos”) aired almost one year apart, but in true AD form, they are filled with references to one another. Watching them back-to-back highlights the fun parallels between season 1 and season 2 of this amazing show.

In their respective seasons, they are each the first of back-to-back episodes featuring guest star Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as attorney Maggie Lizer. They also both feature, or refer to GOB’s wife, “Wife of GOB,” played by Amy Poehler, who happens to be a dealer of trained seals.

These episodes are a great example of AD‘s clever use of foreshadowing and callbacks to create satisfyingly silly long-form storytelling. Of course, Chikara’s season 15 titles switched the order of the episodes, but they are so intertwined that they might almost work as well viewed backward.

Fun Bit: Barry Zuckerkorn’s mirror moment.

For AD Aficionados (Spoilers):
In “Out on a Limb” Buster loses a hand and (we’ll find out in the next episode, “Hand to God”), gets a hook. The episode also introduces Skip’s Scramble, and Buster learns that his uncle Oscar is actually his father.

Bonus Arrested Development with Jeff (from “A New Start”)
“A New Start” is from the 4th season, otherwise known as the one produced by Netflix that “resurrected” the show in 2013 (resurrection seems to be a theme for Chikara too, no?). One character on the show translated the phrase to a vanity license plate reading ANUSTART. So there’s that.

vlcsnap-2015-04-07-22h37m18s42Jervis Cottonbelly & Princess KimberLee defeated Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Jakob Hammermeier & Pinkie Sanchez), the Colony (Fire Ant & Worker Ant), and the Wrecking Crew (Flex Rumblecrunch & Jaka) via Pinfall
Nothing like a four-way elimination tag match to get things kicked off. I had no idea that Princess KimberLee was a wrestler, but now that I’ve seen her in action, I’m a fan. Now all we need is for Jervis to stop doing “chivalrous” things that undermine her toughness. If she ever gets sick of having the ropes held for her and being awkwardly “rescued” in the middle of matches, it’s going to turn into an awesome heel turn.

For real, though, this audio is absolutely reprehensible. You can’t listen and watch the match at the same time. Flex is also growing out his hair and it looks good, but weird. Early shenanigans led to a submission centipede that hilariously ended with Jervis tickling Flex and all the other competitors pointing and laughing. The rudos took advantage of the ensuing breakdown to take control of the match, wearing down Worker Ant for a very long time.

After what seemed like forever, Continue reading

Chikara “A New Start” Review

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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. Continue reading

Chikara Season 14 Superlatives

chikara-footer-logoNow 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.

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There’s a lot to be excited about in Season 15. The biggest question is Continue reading

Chikara “Tomorrow Never Dies” Review

TND_340Pre-Show Notes
-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2300 Arena. December 6, 2014.
-2300 Arena is the renamed ECW Arena. I have no nostalgia, however. That was a bit before my wrestling-fan time.
-It’s the season finale!
-Barring the revelation that it was all a dream, the Flood will still be around for Season 15. Some sort of a game-changer is bound to happen tonight, however!
-Tonight’s Bond film is probably the blandest of Pierce Brosnan’s films. It wasn’t as enjoyable as Goldeneye or The World Is Not Enough, but not as terrible as Die Another Day, mostly because very little is as terrible as Die Another Day.
-Stick around for a Slazenger1-less set of Superlatives in a week or so. Consider it a final evaluation of Season 14 combined with the Slammys.
-After that, however, only time will tell if I continue these reviews into Season 15. Kevin Ford over at the amazing Chikara Special seems to be picking back up with things. This project was always more of a “nature abhors a vacuum” sort of thing anyways. These have been a blast, but I can love Chikara without them.
-Without further ado…

2Heidi Lovelace defeated Missile Assault Ant (w/ Arctic Rescue Ant & Orbit Adventure Ant) via Pinfall for the Young Lions Cup
This pre-show podcast match (watch it hereLINK) is to crown the 11th Young Lions Cup Champion. It was a long way to the finals for both of these wrestlers. Lovelace beat Arctic Rescue Ant, Princess KimberLee, Proletariat Boar of Moldova and more to get here while Missile Assault Ant survived the likes of Race Jaxon, Prakash Sabar, and Shynron. The last Young Lions Cup Champion was Mr. Touchdown. Touchdown, however, didn’t get to do much with it other than have a couple of good defenses against ACH and Saturyne.

Speaking of Saturyne, I wonder how she and her abs are doing these days…

Missile Assault Ant isn’t a fan of sportsantship, but Heidi doesn’t back down. Missile took her head off with a boot and took control, aided by his two stablemates. Heidi showed her fighting spirit by shaking off the Triple Northern Lights and kicking out of a dropkick at 1.

Heidi eventually came back and took out Xtreme Force with a dive before shoving Missile Assault Ant into a teammate, setting him up for a spike hurricanrana for the win. I don’t buy Missile Assault Ant losing after Heidi’s first offense of the evening, but I’m not disappointed by the result. Heidi has worked her butt off and that finisher does look vicious. Solid start, kicking off an important show with an important match for an important thing.

3Ashley Remington defeated Juan Francisco de Coronado via Pinfall
Juan Francisco came out with two lovely Ecuadorian ladies sporting the pinnacle of Ecuadorian fashion. As the match began, Bryce told us the match could only be won by pinfall following a German Suplex.

The usual smooth sailin’ chicanery started the match before Juan Francisco took control after Spearing Remington through the ropes onto the floor. The back and forth match stayed relatively high-octane the whole time.

Remington hit a spinning facebuster and went into a cover. Barber refused to count. After some counters, Juan Francisco hit the match’s first German Suplex, but Ashley kicked out at 2. Juan Francisco followed that up with a German Suplex on the apron. Remington came back, however, lifting de Coronado from the apron into the ring in one smooth (believe that or not) motion for the German Suplex win.

This was a fantastic match. If anyone needed a reminder that both of these guys are incredible wrestlers, this was it. They told a beautiful story of two evenly talented guys who really don’t like each other. I also loved all the counters throughout the match. It’s almost as though both men are professionals who might have already wrestled each other twice…

After the match, Continue reading

Chikara “For Your Eyes Only” Review

FYEOPre-Show Notes
-Windsor, Connecticut. Nomad’s Adventure Quest. November 16, 2014.
-Nomad’s Adventure Quest is apparently the name of a thing. How about that?
-This week’s Bond was another Roger Moore joint. Playing the Greek villain was the same guy who played General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back. Nice work, only competent Imperial leader!
-Also… Grand Maester Pycelle? OH MY GOD, PEOPLE, GRAND MAESTER PYCELLE IS GENERAL VEERS!
-Plenty of fallout from the night before. Shard is dead. 17 may or may not be an impostor. My money’s on Gary Sinese!
-Real talk, though, I liked that movie.
-Tonight’s main event is 3.0 challenging for an unprecedented third reign as Campeonatos de Parejas. The Promised Land awaits, but the Throwbacks will certainly have something to say about that!
-In unrelated news, if Chikara needs anyone to write clichéd teasers, I’m cheap. Just saying’…
-Also, is this their first title defense and four months of feuding with the Flood? Damn…

vlcsnap-2014-12-04-17h43m08s168The Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive & Max Smashmaster) defeated Ashley Remington & Jervis Cottonbelly, the Batiri (Kodama & Obariyon), and the Bloc Party (Prakash Sabar & the Proletariat Boar of Moldova) via Pinfall
A four-team tag match and no Los Ice Creams? IT’S LIKE I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU ANYMORE, CHIKARA! The Devastation Corporation sits at two points. I don’t think anyone else has any. Is it time for Devastation Corporation to cash in on that Trios victory? Also, Chikara somehow found someone smaller than Gavin Loudspeaker to referee this match.

There were plenty of shenanigans early that eventually turned into a rare mid-match 8-man brawl. Then back into hug-related shenanigans. Then another brawl. Then a Boar Gore to Jervis, who just can’t catch a break. Cottonbelly and Remington were eliminated first. Boar awesomely stared down Ashley while rolling Jervis out of the ring.

The Bloc Party worked the Batiri over next as the Devastation Corporation made the strategic decision to wait for another elimination. Smart strategy from Bakabella’s gang. Meanwhile, Continue reading

Chikara “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” Review

OHMSSPre-Show Notes
-Haverhill, Massachusetts. Haverhill High School. November 15, 2014.
-If you missed “Moonraker,” Archibald Peck is dead. Anything can happen. Everything is exciting and simultaneously sadder.
-It’s George Lazenby time! Hopefully tonight’s show is closer to the film and further away from Lazenby’s performance…
-“OHMSS” is apparently being held in every high school gym in America. 2001 Conference Champs!
-The shadow hanging over this weekend is the season finale, “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Good money is on this weekend helping set up that event. But hey, sometimes the setup is better than the finish. Here goes!

vlcsnap-2014-12-04-17h24m40s85The Flood (Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Jakob Hammermeier & Nøkken) & Oliver Grimsly) (w/ Slaash & Milo Schnitzler) defeated 3.Cheeri0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews & Jervis Cottonbelly) via Pinfall
Milo Schnitzler handled the introductions and earned Jakob’s disdain by mispronouncing his name. Milo was also sporting hair and a goatee, sort of killing off the “Make You Think About Nazis without Saying Nazi” vibe the BDK had going for it. That’s probably a good thing, by the way. 3.0 came out with old-timey mustaches, which Matthews was not feeling.

Oliver Grimsly was alone representing the Odditorium tonight. Given that they are still on the schneid, it’s possible that Deucalion killed Sinn Bodhi and Qefka in between shows. Grimsly can go, though, so I’m glad he’s here. Jervis got worked over by the rudos as soon as the shenanigans ended.

3.0 got the hot tag and things picked up a couple of notches. Some nice fast pace action ended with Jervis on the receiving end of Jakob’s Knockout Punch. It was a fun little match to kick things off. Everything clicked in the ring and the BDK picked up another strong win, adding to their development as a feature player in the overall feud.

Also, Oliver Grimsly won! Maybe Sinn Bodhi was the problem… After the match, Milo’s showboating got him in trouble with the rest of the BDK. Come on, Milo. There’s no “I” in “Bruderschaft des Kreuzes.” Or “me,” now that I think about it.

vlcsnap-2014-12-04-17h27m15s100Missile Assault Ant defeated Princess KimberLee via Pinfall
Princess KimberLee is back after blowing the roof off of “King of Trios Night 1.” This was mostly an extended squash for Missile Assault Ant, but I really enjoyed it. Chikara usually does intergender matches well, but sometimes there’s this formula for the rudo not taking the woman seriously and she has to “earn” the rudo’s respect throughout the match. Missile Assault Ant was terrifically overconfident throughout the match, but it felt like it was because of his strength advantage rather than his opponent’s gender.

More importantly, Continue reading

Chikara “Moonraker” Review

urlPre-Show Notes
-Richmond, Virginia. Greater Richmond Convention Center. October 26, 2014.
-Jimmy Jacobs challenges Icarus for the Chikara Grand Championship!
-Tonight’s Bond movie was of a Roger Moore persuasion. Apparently Moonraker was really average, but made boatloads of cash. It’s the one in SPACE! I seem to remember playing Nightfire, which shared some settings and character types. It might have been my favorite non-Goldeneye Bond game.
-Real talk: If Jacobs doesn’t win, how or why is the Flood even a thing. Is that too extreme at this point? Doesn’t the Flood have to do something at some point other than kill of a few ancillary wrestlers? Regardless of what happens tonight, this storyline has the feeling of a multi-year arc. I get the feeling that “Tomorrow Never Dies” is going to unload something big on us.

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-10h48m58s165Shynron defeated Missile Assault Ant via Pinfall
This is a rematch from “The World is Not Enough,” where Shynron squashed Missile Assault Ant in two minutes because there is no God. Apparently Shynron lost to Missile Assault Ant in a Young Lions Cup qualifier, meaning this match is actually a rubber match. In a pre-match promo, Shynron said that Missile Assault better have a great ground to air attack because he’s the best flier. They’re called surface-to-air missiles, Shynron. Now I hate you more.

Missile Assault Ant used his strength and technical ability while Shynron used his ability to flip. Missile dominated until Shynron came back with some aerial maneuvers, finally winning with the second rope 630 Senton.

That finisher will never stop being impressive, but Shynron still has a lot of work to do. He was much better in this match than the Silver Ant match at “Thunderball,” but there were lots of times where it seemed like Shynron didn’t quite remember the sequence and left Missile Assault Ant awkwardly waiting to take a move.

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-10h49m38s44 vlcsnap-2014-11-15-10h50m05s66 vlcsnap-2014-11-15-10h50m14s159Archibald Peck, Ice Cream Jr., Mark Angelosetti & Shane Matthews vs. Ashley Remington, Dasher Hatfield, El Hijo del Ice Cream & Scott Parker
So, let’s get this straight: The four wackiest teams and friendships in Chikara are being split onto opposite teams. There is no way this isn’t the best thing ever…

Everyone began against their better half. The Throwbacks had a crazy grappling sequence, 3.0 had a stalemated lockup, Los Ice Creams had an awkwardly long hug, and Ashley Remington and Archibald Peck broke up that hug so they could have an awkwardly long hug of their own. Ashley busted out the gun fingers, accidentally shooting Peck in the stomach! Peck tried to get revenge, but Continue reading