CHIKARA Pro Wrestling
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
Just in time to stoke the interest in Chikarasaurus Rex: How to Hatch a Dinosaur, I bring a review of CHIKARA’s first iPPV, also available on DVD – High Noon.
If you’ve never heard of CHIKARA, watched the Philly area based promotion, or simply have ignored the tall bean poles with masks, you really, really, really don’t know what you’re missing.
CHIKARA brings a blend of Lucha zaniness, honor and action with a comic book inspired theme, glued together with some of the finest professional wrestling minds around, and based on a fan base that cares, a roster that outperforms its peers, and a product that has remade the image of the sport.
I can watch other promotions and see different levels of technicality (and I mean both ends of the spectrum, if we talk the mainstream) and I can watch shows with ‘names’ and multi-million dollar production values, but every single time I watch CHIKARA, my outright love for the business of professional wrestling is restored.
No other company in the post-modern era brings it like CHIKARA. No other company shows a depth of passion from top to bottom. No other company books, storylines or works like CHIKARA.
Is the product perfect? Maybe not for everyone, but there’s very rarely a bad moment (and I’ve seen a few), and nigh impossible (to paraphrase the Tick!) to find that the CHIKARA brand has failed to deliver.
Whether stips, slow builds or logical progression, CHIKARA works it. High Noon promised the crowning of the Grand Master of CHIKARA, and it delivered. CHIKARA’s first iPPV promised that it would take it to the next level, and it delivered. And CHIKARA’s talent talked the talk, and walked the walk.
Superlatives aren’t just words spewed forth from the next iteration of Brainiac, but should be on the minds of those who watch this show, and CHIKARA’s weekend iPPV (look for details on their site).
But High Noon is in the spotlight, so let’s see what happened, in sort of a random type of order:
One interesting, comedic match was Colt Cabana vs. Archibald Peck.
Peck was the 2011 newcomer of the year in wrestling, taking the band leader concept to new heights, replete with majorette Veronica (who looks splendid in that outfit, and talks a vicious heel streak on YouTube videos. Quite the woman, I must say.)
Another part of Peck’s entourage was a mascot, by the name of Colt Cabunny, who dresses in a bunny costume, takes a tremendous amount of physical and mental abuse (not that bullying should every be called funny, that’s no joke) and the slow build storyline obviously was towards getting another Double C to come to the rescue.
Unfortunately, the WWE took Claudio Castagnolli away, so they had to settle for Colt Cabana.
This match alone is deserving a thousand words, and while every single clichéd comedy routine, every single expectation and pro wrestling staple, everything you could or should imagine comes into play, there’s nothing so enjoyable as seeing two over-the-top comedic wrestlers get it going in the ring, including the hissy fits and the pouting.
Don’t call this an opener or a curtain jerker, because it isn’t.
Sara Del Rey vs Jakob Hammermeier had more than a few storylines going on as well. Whoever it was that suggested the physical transformation of Ms. Del Rey should be taking another look at her, because she’s definitely worked herself into mainstream notice.
Her story over the past year has been a turn on the BDK, and here she takes on the mouthpiece, Hammermeier, who takes the whole Daniel Bryan tie thing to extremes.
He also does the most over-the-top announcing of himself, and there’s nothing more amazing than how he pulled that one off. Watch it…. You won’t be disappointed.
Del Rey never disappoints, and while I’m never a big cross-gender match (did I say that right?) she stomps big time on that Swiss heel.
By the way, what’s up with Jigsaw vs El Generico as a bonus match?
Another unlisted-on-the-back-cover match is Icarus vs Gregory Iron. I remain a huge fan of the Handicapped Hero, and he works well against the long time CHIKARA heel, Icarus, even if he ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time for a save by Gran Akuma.
(Isn’t that grudge building up to Chikarasaurus Rex???)
I hate to overlook anyone, but let’s focus on the remaining big matches:
An early tag match sees The Young Bucks vs The Colony (Fire Ant & Soldier Ant) in an all out Tag Team battle of epic proportions. It’s like The Avengers vs The Justice League or something like that. The Bucks aren’t alien to CHIKARA though, but there’s a great interplay with the announce team, the fans and the attitudes of the Jacksons that showcases what CHIKARA is all about.
But the in-ring is what makes it special.
Sure, there’s comedy afoot with the Ants, but next to The Undertaker and Kane, what masked duo had a better gimmick over the past twenty years? The Ding Dongs? Doom? (ok, but those were both likely more than two decades ago.)
Wow, do I feel old all of a sudden.
This was a classic ‘guest appearance by a tough heel team’ type of match, but the concept of the Capeonatos de Parejas plays out as well, as the Ant team is looking for their third victory in a row, which would qualify them for a Title Shot (at Taylor & Gargano of
EVOLVE Fist fame).
Who wins, who loses? Tune in and find out.
The first flash of brilliance on this DVD is not Green Ant vs Tursas, but darned if this match showed me something that I’ll never see on cable: a true David and Goliath struggle that really meant something, and really played out well.
Tursas is simply huge.
Green Ant is the newcomer to the Colony (although things have changed in the past year, I know…) and has been battling the BDK’s monster for many months .This is the culmination, and the battle plays into the ongoing struggles, plays into the challenge, and plays into a sense of pro wrestling that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Which is terrible.
Not this match, but that it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Those who don’t follow CHIKARA may not “get” that submission move towards the end, but I knew enough to know how important it was that it played out, and how they built that match, and how this match got someone over the right way.
Care to disagree? Watch the match and tell me otherwise.
Another Tag match has tremendous stips, has been building for years, and touts the best of the best of CHIKARA that isn’t vying for the Grand Master title.
The Spectral Envoy (UltraMantis Black & Hallowicked) vs Ares & Tim Donst (BDK!) has a no DQ, and all that sort of stuff backdrop, as the dominating team of 2011 that is not quite dominating takes on the once heel tandem that defies description as being (Hallowicked) one of the most underrated guys in the indies and (UltraMantis Black) one of the most underrated guys in the indies.
I think I said that twice.
Ares is the powerhouse and leader of the crumbling (ok, I’m really not giving anything away now) BDK faction, and Tim Donst is all but tattooing (I’m turning on you) in his promos and actions.
Donst very well could be the Kurt Angle of the Indy world, to the point where an old school booker would bring him in to be that ‘brother’ – although Kurt does have a brother who has wrestled, so that’s sort of a stupid thing to say… even though were talking TNA, so who really thinks stupid in paragraph where I name those letters.
But I Digress….
Top notch action from four guys who can get it on.
The Triumph of UMB is something that plays out as people interfere, as CROSSBONES!!! makes a timely but well appreciated appearance, and later in the show as Mr. Black makes “good” on a promise.
Or do he?
The whole BDK saga, and saga I’ll call it, but not in the vein of the Marvel Saga, which chronicled the early years in a not-so-good way at times, but a saga in the epic stories of the Elder Edda. Classic outsider invasion story where all the storylines mix and match and play out to perfection, and make everyone look Kirbyesque.
(Google Jack Kirby, King of the Comics (Comic Books, that is… don’t be Johnny Carson stupid))
And then….. and then….. and then.
As if Grand Master (Oriental Martial Arts or AD&D Monk reference, who cares, it’s awesome!) wasn’t enough, the build up takes it up ten notches, and the emotion of Eddie Kingston and the drive of Mike Quackenbush and the surrounding stories and the 16 Large Tournament that got us all here, and the bittersweet memory of Larry Sweeney and the whole thing culminating on iPPV.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Kingston’s monologue segment, talking his injured knee, professing his endearing friendship with Larry (Alexander K. Whybrow – the late, great, time-misplaced wrestling tragedy), and delivering an emotional stamp on his journey to get here SIMPLY CANNOT BE SCRIPTED.
I marked out on Kingston like no other speech in a long time. I was stoked for this like no other match in a long time. And then Mike Quackenbush spoke his peace, and the stage was set.
Was this the greatest match ever?
Well, I’m over-the-top for CHIKARA, but it really doesn’t matter that this match didn’t go long enough to gain the attention of that crowd, or technical enough to gain the attention of that crowd, nor did it have the blood for yet another segment of the subculture.
Those who don’t care if they don’t know the faces simply won’t care.
Those who watch the packaging and the delivery and the efforts of both men, with Kingston having the emotion and Quackenbush hungry and desperate for the glory, will appreciate what went on in that ring, like I appreciated it.
It was an awesomely worked match and a well constructed match and a match that delivered as promised, and all the roster had to come out for this one.
The culmination can only be ruined with the finish, but the finish was satisfying.
And the post match delivery – the handing over of the prize, the congrats and the facials, the inclusion of Alex’s friends and family – that’s what brought this higher and higher.
CHIKARA now has a Grand Master.
CHIKARA now is gearing for its second iPPV
CHIKARA has put its name at the highest levels of the indy promotional scene.
And I can’t wait to watch more.