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

Chikara “The World Is Not Enough” Review

TWINotEnough300Pre-Show Notes
-7.20.2014. Wonderland Ballroom. Revere, Massachusetts.
-This is the second and final Chikara show of July. “The Living Daylights” was held in New York the day before.
-Title match tonight! Plus, Icarus returns to action after missing June with a concussion.
-Wow. That’s a looooooow ceiling… Good thing no one on the card likes to fly. Word is that they were moved from the actual ballroom to the bar for some reason.
-Danielle Matheson did a road diary for this show. It’s amazing and you should read it.
-Is this a bad time to mention that I liked Pierce Brosnan as James Bond? Let’s see if Christmas comes more than once for Chikara fans tonight!

vlcsnap-2014-08-04-15h54m51s1823.0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews) defeated the Odditorium (Oliver Grimsly & Qefka the Quiet) via Pinfall
3.0 had me in tears to start as they made fun of the low ceiling and the sound effect bell-ringing. This was a nice match to start the show, although it felt way shorter than it could or maybe should have been. 3.0 won with the Sweet Taste of Professionalism at 5:35.

The Odditorium continues to be Circus Slaters, not really a threat to anyone. But, that’s pretty obviously not their job this season. If their job is to make their opponents look good, they’ve been doing great work all year. In fact, they probably deserve a raise.

vlcsnap-2014-08-04-15h55m49s238Ashley Remington defeated Archibald Peck via Submission
Yet another thumb war segment ended up on the official MP4. I’m not sure what these are doing on the final cut, but thank goodness the two twenty-something dudes jobbed to the little kids.

Archibald Peck came out and Halperted the hard cam when the low ceiling kept him from finishing his entrance. Ashley Remington was still sailin’ smooth, although we did get to see a little anger flair up before he smoothed it over with a few deep breaths. Remington and Jervis Cottonbelly have somewhat similar shticks, but this was the first time we’ve seen either wrestle another tecnico. If you don’t love Smooth Sailin’, we can’t be friends.

Everyone loving Ashley Remington might be my favorite gag in Chikara right now. Even Bryce Remsburg and Archibald Peck were smitten with Remington, culminating in a three-way hug that included joyful jumping. This GIF, you guys. Everyone, that is, except Chuck Taylor, who Continue reading

Chikara “The Living Daylights” Review

TLDaylights300Pre-Show Notes
-7.19.2014. Stage 48. New York, New York.
-This was the first of Chikara’s two July shows, both held in the Northeast.
-Amasis returned to action after missing all three June shows for “reasons beyond their control.” That’s a quotation, by the way, not an expression of doubt.
-Hopefully, this show won’t be the Timothy Dalton of Season 14. Let’s Go!
(Ed. Note: I was recently alerted to the fact that “George Lazenby” was probably the joke I was looking for there. I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to Mr. Dalton and his family.)

vlcsnap-2014-08-04-15h08m01s173The Batiri (Kodama & Obariyon) defeated the Bloc Party (Mr. Azerbaijan & the Proletariat Boar of Moldova), the Colony (Fire Ant & Worker Ant), & the Flood (Haack & Slaash) via Pinfall
Four team elimination matches are a Chikara staple and with good reason. They always feature good action, some nice storytelling, and are generally just an awesome way to fill out a card with all the dudes who wouldn’t otherwise be on the show.

The Flood was knocked out first by a Worker Ant Pumphandle GTS to Haack at 5:30. Or maybe it was Slaash. I don’t know how differentiate between the two. For the most part, they were just a couple of NPCs to fill out the match.

Bloc Party took control, but Fire Ant pinned Mr. Azerbaijan after a crazy Tornado DDT, eliminating the Bloc Party at 10:34. After a nice tecnico-recognition moment, the Colony went to work earning that third point for a shot at the Campeonatos de Parejas.

It was not to be. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Chikara “Diamonds Are Forever” Review

ChicagoEPPre-Show Notes
-June 21, 2014. Logan Square Auditorium. Chicago, Illinois.
-This is the second Chikara show of the day. “Quantum of Solace,” my very first Chikara show, was held early afternoon.
-While writing my “You Only Live Twice” review, I watched the clip from “Zelda the Great” where Mr. Touchdown murdered Sapphire. First of all, it got very dusty in my house very suddenly. Secondly, I noticed that the surroundings looked familiar. Yes, Sapphire perished this very venue. I’m glad I didn’t know that or else I might not have been as happy to see Latvian Proud Oak.
-Here’s hoping the Titan of Titor, now known as Deucalion, doesn’t toss Silver Ant in a bag and murder him to death tonight. The too long;didn’t click version is that Deucalion is a mythological survivor of the great flood, sort of like a Greek Noah. The Great Flood/The Flood… It’s like someone at Chikara reads books or something.

vlcsnap-2014-07-25-17h09m02s143Chuck Taylor defeated Shynron via Pinfall
A bonus match featuring these two was at the end of the video. Given the sparsely populated crowd, I’m assuming it was the Expansion Pack held between the two shows. Hilarity ensued as Taylor was accidentally introduced to Right Said Fred instead of his normal Harlan County fare. Chucky T wasn’t a fan.

To my great chagrin, a contest-winning eleven year-old joined Leonard Chikarason on commentary. I don’t know if it’s this kid or all eleven year-olds, but he couldn’t enunciate and used the phrase “epic fail.” This is the worst.

Have I mentioned I hate little kids?

Listening to the match was brutal, but watching it was another story. Continue reading

Chikara “You Only Live Twice” Review

livetwiceIntroduction
-May 25, 2014. Palmer Center. Easton, Pennsylvania.
This is why I love professional wrestling. You should probably read this so you understand my wrestling values, if you will.
This is why I love Chikara.
-I didn’t plan on reviewing Chikara’s 2014 shows. However, it’s been a week and Googling “Chikara Diamonds Are Forever Review” returns zero reviews. I like doing things that no one else seems to be.
-You’re not going to get star ratings or hold by hold replays here. I’m going to focus on match quality and how it works with the characters and the stories Chikara is trying to tell. If it sounds good, buy it and watch it! You can find pretty much everything Chikara has ever done on Smartmark Video. They are good people.

ashes-of-chikara-movieThe Ashes of Chikara
The Ashes of Chikara is a feature-length film that tries to bridge the gap between “Aniversario: Never Compromise,” where Chikara was “shut down” by evil Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur, and National Pro Wrestling Day, when Chikara was reborn, repelling The Flood, a group of rudos bent on destroying the last remnants of Chikara.

It’s incredibly ambitious and had the potential to be great. After all, the story of a bunch of evildoers slowly destroying the things we love seems like a great blueprint for drama. Unfortunately, it suffered from horrific execution. Continue reading

A Narrative Review of CHIKARA’s “Quantum of Solace”

quantumsolaceOver a year ago, I wrote about why I love professional wrestling. Two weeks ago, I wrote about why CHIKARA is the best at delivering the things I love. On June 21, I attended CHIKARA’s “Quantum of Solace” at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago.

“Quantum of Solace” wasn’t supposed to exist. CHIKARA originally scheduled one show for Chicago, “Diamonds Are Forever.” However, it sold out so quickly that they added a matinee show with everyone not scheduled to perform that evening. That means it probably wasn’t going to progress the story, but it’s CHIKARA, so it was probably going to be pretty good regardless.

You guys, IT WAS SO AWESOME!

IMG_0659Before & During
After an hour of standing in line, we made it inside and chose our awesome seats, which also hated my camera.

I previously mentioned that CHIKARA tends to be family-friendly. A human pretzel contest and a ten minute selfies-with-wrestlers break certainly proved that true. And when a “Cena sucks!” chant broke out, referee Bryce Remsburg unsuccessfully tried to convince people to substitute “stinks.”

The rest of the crowd seemed to be a mix of pro wrestling interests Continue reading

I AM CHIKARA

You love movies.

Now imagine that every movie is a Michael Bay movie. They’re big. They’re dumb. They’re entertaining to the right audience, but they aren’t exactly what one would call art. A hundred movies are released every year and all of them have Shia LaBoof and robot nutz.

Except you’ve stumbled upon some indie films by some guy named Paul Thomas Anderson. Could you convince anyone that film can be an art form? That it can tell a meaningful story? That it can reveal something about the human condition? That it can make you feel something?

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

I love professional wrestling. And in several days, I’m taking what amounts to a pro wrestling pilgrimage. I’m going to my first CHIKARA show.

If I needed to prove that professional wrestling can be art, about 85% of my evidence would come from CHIKARA or from WWE guys like Cesaro, Sami Zayn, or Luke Harper who once wrestled in CHIKARA.

Just one year ago, it seemed that CHIKARA had died. Continue reading