Chikara “Thunderball” Review

0578356001414325080_filepickerPre-Show Notes
-Gibsonville, North Carolina. The New Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium. October 25, 2014.
-I went to North Carolina for the first time two summers ago. Great place, good people.
-You’re welcome.
-It’s the first show after King of Trios 2014! Notable happenings included:
1) The reformation of the BDK under Jakob Hammermeier.
2) Jigsaw departing Gekido and the Flood.
3) The unmasking of Deucalion, revealing a scary killer with no irises.
4) A Devastation Corporation victory, allowing the Flood to leverage that into THINGS!
5) Eddie Kingston paragon interrupted Jimmy Jacobs, quitting the Flood, which he had joined only a month before.
-On an unrelated note, I love Mass Effect.
-Tonight’s Bond movie is a Sean Connery selection. Anything I know about it comes from a Mad Magazine parody entitled “Thunderblah.” I found my dad’s old collection in the attic as a young man.
-Solid crowd tonight. Decent venue too, other than the Confederate flag inlaid on some other flag across the hard camera.
-King of Trios fallout time!

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-10h38m15s111The Spectral Envoy (Frightmare, Hallowicked & UltraMantis Black) defeated the Bloc Party (Mr. Azerbaijan, Prakash Sabar & the Proletariat Boar of Moldova) via Pinfall
Both of these teams are looking for redemption tonight after being eliminated in the first round of King of Trios; Bloc Party by Team UK and the Spectral Envoy by the Flood.

Also, OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS! MR. AZERBAIJAN IS CHUCK TAYLOR! No wonder he won all those Azerbaijan Sexiest Man Contests… Seriously, what a credit to Chucky T that he is able to wrestle in such a completely different style that I never noticed before tonight.

Frightmare was picked on and isolated early, as is his custom. He finally reached his partners, only for both of them to eat Gores from the Proletariat Boar. UltraMantis got beat up until Frightmare toped everyone and sent Mr. Azerbaijan into a Rydeen Bomb for the win.

Solid match. There was little doubt as to the winners, but it was worth the ride.

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-10h39m48s13.0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews) defeated the Aftermath (Chet Sterling & Trevor Lee) via Submission
The Aftermath are a couple of local guys. I can assure you that Trevor Lee will not be local for long. He is ripping it up in PWG right now. 3.0 sits at two points and will earn a title shot with a victory tonight.

The Aftermath attacked 3.0 to start things off. Continue reading

Chikara “King of Trios, Night 3” Review

Chikara-TriosPre-Show
-Palmer Center. Easton, Pennsylvania. September 21, 2014.
-I’m calling my shot! The Flood vs. The Golden Trio in the Finals. The Flood prevails.
-Also, can we get something with AR Fox and Rich Swann tonight? No? Awwww…
-The Throwbacks seem to be calling their 3D “Prime Time” now instead of that assisted Lightning Spiral. Or maybe Leonard Chikarason is just confused. In any case, I’m sticking with the old Prime Time and calling their 3D the “3D.” Makes sense, I hope.

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-16h12m22s10Icarus & The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & Mark Angelosetti) defeated The Flood (Eddie Kingston, Jimmy Jacobs & Volgar) (w/ The Lithuanian Snow Troll) via Submission
Already? Welp, my prediction lasted all of ten seconds. Still, I like the decision. More importantly, what POW is left for Deucalion to use as a distraction?

The Flood came out to the loudest sustained boos I have ever heard in Chikara. It’s a circular testament to both how good Chikara’s storytelling has been this weekend and how much better an engaged crowd can make a promotion’s storytelling.

Icarus, finding the anger and rage he lacked when two of his students were murdered last night, attacked Jimmy Jacobs in the corner, setting off one of the hottest brawls I’ve ever seen. The Flood took control and started working over Dasher, who eventually made the hot tag. Icarus and Eddie Kingston faced off during a great moment interrupted by Spears to both men.

Icarus, as usual, can’t handle a Blue-Ray on Kingston, but hit it with Dasher’s help. 3D! Volgar breaks up the Chikara Special only to fall prey to a 3D and Chikara Special himself. Volgar taps!

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-16h12m59s139After the match, Icarus freed Lithuanian Snow Troll, who celebrated his freedom with a low-blow on Icarus. Continue reading

Chikara “King of Trios, Night 2” Review

Chikara-TriosPre-Show
-Palmer Center. Easton, Pennsylvania. September 20, 2014.
-Rey de Voladores (King of Flyers) returns! The four-way between Kota Ibushi, Jigsaw, El Generico, and Malachi Jackson from 2009 is on my shortlist of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen.
-There’s not much to be said here that wasn’t said before, so let’s break down the remaining teams.
WON’T WINS:
GEKIDO: Internal dissention between Jigsaw and the others
Team UK and Spirit Squad: Do I need to explain?
The Colony: Injury to Worker Ant, already won tournament
MIGHT WINS:
3Peck0
Might win because…Happy, they all deserve it, would be victory for Chikara, sort of unpredictable
Might not because…Maybe too happy, hard to take them over the Flood team
The Flood
Might win because…Deucalion, Jacobs, and Kingston are the big bads of the Flood, lots of potential distractions, story needs the drama a major victory would bring
Might not because…Volgar wins King of Trios
Golden Trio
Might win because…They are the top three guys in Chikara
Might not because…They already have all the gold. what’s the point of more?
Devastation Corporation
Might win because…Big and scary, seem like they are going to be around a while
Might not because…Haven’t been around long enough to “deserve” it, more intriguing Flood option on the table

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-15h44m53s170Shynron defeats Chuck Taylor, Rich Swann, and Tigre Uno via Pinfall in a Rey de Voladores Four Way Elimination Match
I am so excited to see Rey de Voladores back. I’m also excited to see Rich Swann. When he was here in 2011, he was just a flippy dude. Now, he’s one of the better wrestlers in North America. It was also an inspired, if easy, decision to put Taylor and Swann together. They were stablemates in Dragon Gate USA for a while. Swann is greeted by the Chikarmy with his familiar “All night long…” chant.

Taylor cut a hilariously racist promo before the match. I can’t hate this guy. I just can’t. Tigre Uno is here from TNA. All I ask is that Shynron doesn’t win simply because he’s the Chikara guy. If you want to honor the real King of Flyers, either Swann or AR Fox is your winner.

To summarize, there were lots and lots of awesome flips and it was awesome. Taylor was knocked out first by a Swann frog splash. The crowd booed. Swann tapped to a sweet Tigre submission. The crowd booed. Shynron eliminated Tigre with second rope 630 Senton!

You know what? Screw it. Give Shynron the title as long as he uncorks something similarly crazy in the Final. His normal matches don’t always work because he’s all flips. But if you have a mini-tournament based on flippitude? Yeah, that’s his entire life’s purpose. I’m fine with it being validated.

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-15h46m42s2373Peck0 (3.0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews) & Archibald Peck) defeated GEKIDO (17 & The Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw & The Shard)) via Submission
Gekido comes out and Jigsaw seemed depressed due to his brother disowning him the day before. That makes sense, right? My guess is that 17 isn’t very good at pep-talks either.

Speaking of Jigsaw, his nonverbal communication is always off the charts. He’s been one of Chikara’s best storytellers since trouble began to brew between him and Mike Quackenbush. While a mask might restrict facial expressions, they do force a wrestler to become bigger with their body language, which in turn better conveys emotion and tells a better story. Remember El Generico? Nobody better, except probably Shawn Michaels.

Jigsaw wanted to start, but 17 and Shard forced him out. Jigsaw was sad. Shenanigans to start. Even Shard busts out some humor. Both these teams are expert storytellers in their own way.

The crowd chanted at Jigsaw, who looked more and more despondent as the match went on. Even as Jigsaw landed some signature moves on 3Peck0, Continue reading

Chikara “King of Trios, Night 1” Review

Chikara-TriosPre-Show Notes
-Palmer Center. Easton, Pennsylvania. September 19, 2014.
-King of Trios, ladies and gents, the greatest weekend in professional wrestling. Three years of tremendous wrestling, great comedy, and fantastic storytelling.
-Last year, The Spectral Envoy defeated Team Ring of Honor in the Finals to secure the Trios Medals for Chikara, and finally giving fan favorite UltraMantis Black some tangible recognition in Chikara. It was also, in my opinion, the best King of Trios in the history of King of Trios.
-King of Trios is actually what brought me to Chikara in the first place. Between the praise given to the tournament by Brandon Stroud and noticing that the 2009 Tournament featured Bryan Danielson AND Claudio Castagnoli in a trios called Team Uppercut, I knew I had to check it out.
-Tonight, it’s all first round action! Eight trios matches.
-No Bond references this week.
-One day, I am going to go to King of Trios. It probably won’t be for a couple more years, though. Maybe that should be my gift to myself for finishing graduate degree number two?

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-15h26m30s120Team UK (Damian Dunne, Mark Andrews & Pete Dunne) defeated The Bloc Party (Mr. Azerbaijan, Prakash Sabar & The Proletariat Boar of Moldova) via Pinfall
Sean Waltman, occasional Trios participant, was weirdly on commentary for a few matches. He made the requisite jokes about Prakash Sabar, whose gimmick is Arabic X-Pac, and kept apologizing for being speechless. Waltman was a member of Team WWF in 2012 and was defeated by El Generico in the 2011 Rey de Voladores Finals.

Bloc Party controlled most of the match, which included a pretty awesome pump-handle into an Implant DDT. Team UK showed a lot of heart, persevering through a pair of Gores to get the win with a Shooting Start Press. Nothing terribly special, but a nice match to kick things off.

vlcsnap-2014-10-21-15h27m55s222GEKIDO (17 & The Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw & The Shard)) defeated Knight Eye For The Pirate Guy (Jolly Roger & Lance Steel & Princess Kimberlee) via Submission
Great choice for a first round match-up here, especially for those who have followed their rivalry at Wrestling Is Fun! In a pre-show promo, Shard said he has a lot to prove. Jigsaw told him to stay focused. 17 insisted he’s calling the shots for his team, which will certainly not play a role in their defeat.

Interestingly, Jigsaw was in a similar position as he was in 2012 when he was in the tournament with a distracted, vengeful Mike Quackenbush. Also of note, Jigsaw and Jolly Roger are real life brothers. As it turns out, that mattered. Continue reading

Chikara “Vivre Et Laisser Mourir” Review

urlPre-Show Notes
-Centre LGH. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. August 17, 2014.
-Icarus’ first title defense tonight. Does this make the Grand Championship a world championship? Or does it need to be defended across an ocean?
-Our title tonight is the French version of Live and Let Die.
-I’ve never seen a Roger Moore Bond movie.
-Also, Yaphet Kotto!
-The song, on the other hand, I’m all about. Wings, Guns N’ Roses, doesn’t matter. I’m in.
-Yes! A crowd worthy of Chikara tonight! Nice work, Montreal.
-Last chance for Canadian stereotype jokes!

vlcsnap-2014-09-27-11h34m46s238The Colony (Fire Ant & Worker Ant) defeated Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream & Ice Cream Jr.), the McGoths (Bloodlust McGoth & Spooky McGoth), & The Osirian Portal (Amasis & Ophidian) via Pinfall
Chikara has not let up on their fun 4-way openers. The matches are plenty good, and this one was no exception. I’d just like them to have some substance or consequence beyond the scramble for Campeonatos de Parejas points. Osirian Portal had two points and would earn a title shot with a win.

Sadly, Los Ice Creams weren’t at “Quantum of Solace.” One day, I will do Los Ice Creams’ weird arm waving thing. It also seems like the audio and video are out of sync on my Smartmark MP4. If this is their fault, it’d be the first time.

Los Ice Creams and the McGoths were featured heavily in the match. The Colony never even saw the ring for 11 minutes. Their first appearance was part of an awkward sequence where everyone crushed Los Ice Creams the corner. The Colony is the most consistently exciting team in Chikara. How have they bungled them so badly this weekend?

Finally, Los Ice Creams took out the McGoths with a flying butt bump. The Topes win a game! The Topes win a game! As they celebrated, Fire Ant connected with a crossbody, eliminating them. Los Ice Creams are the most consistently entertaining team in Chikara.

Down to the Osirian Portal and the Colony, the finish was hella exciting. Continue reading

Chikara “Permis De Tuer” Review

LTKfrPre-Show Notes
-Centre Horizon. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. August 16, 2014.
-Is there a reason everyone always says both the province and the country when billing wrestlers from Canada? Or maybe the better question is why don’t we do that with our states in America?
-Quebec is actually pronounced like the “Qu” is a “K.” I learned that from a Canadian.
-Permis De Tuer is the French version of License to Kill.
License to Kill? That’s foreboding…
-Did they only sell twenty tickets to this show? The crowd isn’t even two deep around the ring!
-So, Chikara’s never coming back to Quebec… Check.
-I’m saving myself the half hour figuring out match lengths. If that’s important to you, Cagematch and the Internet Wrestling Database are the sites I used.

vlcsnap-2014-09-27-11h11m47s249The Osirian Portal (Amasis & Ophidian) defeated the Sullivan Brothers (Ivan Sullivan & Stefan Sullivan), the Flood (Jaka & Qefka the Quiet) and the Spectral Envoy (Hallowicked & UltraMantis Black) via Pinfall
The show starts with the elimination four-way that seems to be their calling card these days. Does Vegas take bets on Chikara? I don’t care what the odds are. Put your money down on the Odditorium getting knocked out first.

Stefan and Ivan rock the heck out of their overalls, flannel, and camo baseball caps. If there is such a thing as a Canadian hick, that’s what they are going for.

Pay up! Qefka the Quiet was the first eliminated after an errant Jaka headbutt and a Sullivan rollup. The hometown boys get the pin! And the crowd goes wild! Or politely claps…

The Sullivans were eliminated next by an Ophidian Meteora. These Canadian, less racist Briscoes are welcome back any time. There were a lot of redundancies in that sentence, weren’t there? Is there a Canadian version of something that’s more racist? And is anyone more racist than the Briscoes?

Business really picked up when the Osirian Portal and Spectral Envoy squared off. Continue reading

Knapsacking Up: WWE’s “Diva” Problem

It was a dark and stormy night in Minneapolis.

An enraged Demon, hoping to tarnish our noble Hero, was cutting a path of destruction through Hero’s life. Like Job or Luke Skywalker, Hero was being tested. Demon, a product of years of rage and hated, was trying to make our Hero give in to his anger.

Weeks before, Hero’s socially inept, and quite frankly, stupid, Friend had been attacked by the Demon. Friend had been pursuing Woman for weeks, clearly not getting her hints that she was not interested. When she finally agreed to go on a date, Demon attacked, nearly dragging Friend to Literal Christian Hell.

Soon after, Demon set his sights on Woman. Hero managed to save Woman from a terrifying near abduction, earning Hero a kiss from the relieved damsel in distress. Unfortunately, Hero’s injured Friend watched dejectedly nearby, ending their friendship on the spot.

Finally, in Minneapolis, things came to a head. After hearing that Woman was never interested in Friend, our Hero found the most public place he could and slut-shamed Woman, saying that he had traded a bro for a ho and that he wanted her gone since he was disease free and wanted to stay that way.

Meanwhile, everyone in that public space helped castigate Woman, whose two crimes were kissing a man who had saved her life and refusing the advances of someone incredibly below her.

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

Sadly, I was in that public place, which happened to be the Target Center last February for World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) flagship television show, WWE Raw. Our hero was played by John Cena. Kane was the Demon. Eve was the Woman. And Zack Ryder was the man-child and mental midget Friend.

Originally, this was the introduction to an essay entitled “In Defense of Professional Wrestling.” It did not make the final draft, mainly because this is clearly a shitty story that would directly contradict that essay’s thesis.

Wrestling is a storytelling medium. Like all methods of storytelling, is not inherently anything. It is what we make of it and what we demand of it. Through wrestling, I’ve seen acting, choreography, athleticism, storytelling, comedy, and participatory theater that I have not seen or experienced anywhere else.

I’ve also seen it used for sexism, racism, homophobia, jingoism, and pandering to the lowest common denominator. Although the stereotypes about professional wrestling are false, many to most of the negative stereotypes concerning WWE programming are true. WWE has a lot of problems with women.

Let’s investigate, shall we… Continue reading