Chikara Grit and Glory

05/18/2008

New Alhambra Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

(reviewed 10/02/2019)

Squad.

Fun promo from Chuck Taylor and Daizee Haze kicking off another show in the ECW Arena.

Chuck Taylor & Daizee Haze vs Sweet n’ Sour, Inc. (Sara Del Rey & Bobby Dempsey)

Fun fun little opener, perfect for a show like this. There’s a bunch of kids in the crowd and they’re real into cheering for the good-natured SDR and Bobby and booing the sneaky rudos. Everybody plays up that dynamic as well as the various size disparities as play here, making for a delightful match. Eventually Bobby takes out Chuck with a cannonball senton before Sara puts Haze away with the butterfly suplex. First point for a team that I wish stuck around in Chikara longer.

PSYCHO vs Gran Akuma

Quick singles match that shows off the skills of these two men better than their matches the day before did. Akuma leaves himself open a little more than I’d like to allow for unfamiliar sequences but in the end he manages to flatten the foreigner with a pop-up tombstone and one hell of a moonsault.

PSYCHO milks the crowd for a reaction afterward and a whole flock of kids spring forth with cries of “you did good!” Very cute.

In the back the Super Smash Bros. open a promo with “hello fellow gamers”, which is just something you cannot say unironically in 2019. Stupefied struggles a bit with his English but they bounce a few game-related memes and catchphrases back and forth in saying that they’re coming for the Campeonatos de Parejas.

Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno & Stupefied) vs The Order of the Neo-Solar Temple (Hydra & Tim Donst)

YEAH, HYDRA AND DONST. They’ll continue tagging in a real different way than they are here but this is the first outing from a duo I loved a whole lot as a kid. This tag is real rough around the edges but fairly fun. Hydra’s got his working boots on, the Smash Bros are better as a team then either of them individually, Donst is better here than he was last night, everyone plays to their comedic gimmicks, etc etc. They’re all still green enough that it’s a problem from time to time but not so much that it ruins anything. The rudo-in-name-only team show off some surprising teamwork and take advantage of some miscommunication from their opponents, allowing Donst to score with the Gator Roll.

Hydra and Donst seem to have made up after their recent troubles but UltraMantis Black soon breaks that up and lavishes all his praise on Donst, shunning his masked monster.

Vin Gerard interrupts an announcement from Bryce Remsburg backstage, dragging the cameraman out into the parking lot for a promo. The Colony keep saying that 2008’s the year of the ants but he’s going to make sure that doesn’t happen. He fumbles through a few more points in threatening to take out Lince Dorado tonight, with this being his weakest promo to date.

Vin Gerard vs Lince Dorado

Lince’s got a bum knee here as Gerard mentioned in his promo, so the rudo goes right after it. An awesome opening spot is followed by some weaker, more obvious work but they eventually get back on track with Gerard getting nastier. They struggle in transition but when these guys have a clear understanding of what they’re doing this is kind of a great match, with Gerard’s heeling and Lince’s selling both being shockingly good. As an added bonus, Louden Noxious and Director of Fun Leonard F. Chikarason are on commentary and work through a bit of an angle, with Louden arguing that if Gerard beats someone who’s already in the Young Lions Cup then he should be added to the tournament as well. Lots of meat to this midcard match, even if this crowd isn’t super hot on it. Lince does what he can on a bad wheel but when he takes too long on the top rope, Gerard yanks him down with a leg snapmare and applies the STF, leading to a referee stoppage.

Begrudgingly, Chikarason gets on the mic and announces that Gerard will be entered into the Young Lions Cup but the rudo doesn’t seem too interested.

Mike Quackenbush, Jorge “Skayde” Rivera, & Turbo vs El Pantera, Claudio Castagnoli, & Sonjay Dutt

Great star-studded tag, the likes of which you’ll only get in Chikara. Between these six guys you get tons and tons of quality matwork, chaining, and highflying, all with the added impact of recent matchups that leave some of these guys looking for revenge. While Quack’s crew is a lot more experienced in teaming together (Skayde having mentored both men and spent lots of time teaming with each), Claudio’s size gives his team a big advantage that allows them to isolate each of their opponents for meaningful stretches of times. Even then you can only keep guys like Quack, Skayde, and Turbo down for so long, so eventually this thing breaks down into a whole bunch of action back and forth. Turbo really shines here in a way he barely got to do last night, spinning circles around the likes of Claudio and Pantera. All of it’s fast and fun, with this being the best Chikara match of this kind since the summer of 2006, if not ever.

Toward the end Turbo pulls out this stunning small package…

…but his skill is surmounted by Swiss size and strength.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN MICHAELS VS THE UNDERTAKER FROM WRESTLEMANIA 25: I hope I don’t offend you too much, presumed wrestling fan reading this blog, by suggesting that there are certain sublime joys of professional wrestling that can only be understand by those who do it. As much as I detest the notion that fans are incapable of understanding specific aspects of ““““the business””””, I do think that it’s impossible to grasp just how good it feels to do certain things in the ring. Here’s an example:

I was always one of the bigger guys around when I took part in backyard wrestling and the Midwest Z-tier indie scene. Being that I was mainly surrounded by smaller men who idolized the likes of Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy (or, if I was lucky, Hayabusa and Mascarita Sagrada), that meant that I often played the base for these would-be highfliers. In particular I got good at basing for these wheelbarrow armdrags two of my friends did, one of whom liked doing it from an electric chair position and one of whom preferred a traditional running approach. We got so good at doing them that we’d do them anywhere and everywhere, not just in the ring. Whether it was our high school cafeteria, basketball courts, parking lots, grassy fields, or theatre stages, we were so in sync that we could twirl and roll through an armdrag anywhere without hurting ourselves or each other, much to the surprise and delight of those around us.

I can hardly describe what that felt like. It was, of course, exhilarating to be so familiar with someone else’s body as to be able to toss them in the air and have them counteract the maneuver and send you soaring before ever touching the ground themselves. Reaching that level of trust and understanding—not just the understanding of another person but understanding the function of a technique and how the two are entwined—is rewarding enough. But wrestling is even more than that. Successfully pulling off even the simplest armdrag is not just a feat of coordination and cooperation but also of the two masquerading as competition. Whenever my friends and I would do these moves we’d leave people around us gasping in fear or whooping with excitement and therein lies the magic at the heart of this whole thing. Being able to convince those who know us well that my best friend just sprang from my shoulders and flung me to my certain doom on the hard wood floor of a stage, being able to do that for even the briefest moment made us feel like gods. The truest joy of being a wrestler is convincing people who know better that the unlikely, that the unthinkable, that the utterly impossible is happening before their very eyes. Accomplishing that feels like nothing else.

That small package spot linked above reminded me of all that, of the dumb party tricks that my wrestling friends and I did to pop various crowds of teenagers ten years ago. The only thing in Shawn/Taker that comes close to doing the same is a mistake. The rest only makes me feel worse.

VERDICT: Better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25

Before his rematch with Shane Storm, Eddie Kingston shares some thoughts backstage:

Shane Storm vs Eddie Kingston

To borrow a sentiment I’ve used to describe another of Kingston’s famous rivalries, this match is a little worse than its predecessor because it’s trying to be a wrestling match. Both guys are about as physical as they were back in January but their efforts to that end are more manufactured than purely malicious. They’re going for signature moves and running through spots, which does make for a bad match necessarily but does make for a less convincing fight. Still, even if this doesn’t measure up to the most brutal match in Chikara history, it’s quite good in its own right. Kingston hasn’t missed a step for missing all those shows and Storm continues to look better in 2008 than he has in a long time. Eventually Kingston again busts open Storm’s nose cutting off an attempt at That Japanese Move and, as with the last match, the masked man is unable to recover. After spiking him on his head with a half and half suplex, Kingston applies a sort of a head and arm choke and the referee has no choice but to stop the match.

Unhappy with this win—because nothing is going to make him happy at this point—Kingston tosses around a few chairs and the ring bell as he stomps to the back. Storm follows him, blood soaking through his mask again, beating at his head in frustration at another loss.

Backstage the Fabulous Three strut their stuff. Mitch Ryder seems convinced that they’re the trio to beat in Chikara. Larry Sweeney says he’s looking forward to tomorrow because he gets better-looking every day but tonight they’re focused on the Colony. Shayne Hawke knows that he and Mitch are undefeated as a team and with Sweeney at their side, they’re taking it all the way to the top.

The Fabulous Three (Larry Sweeney, Mitch Ryder, & Shayne Hawke) vs The Colony (Fire Ant, Soldier Ant, & Worker Ant)

Mostly a fun, shtick-heavy tag that nonetheless feels a little bit off. They run through some of the usual goofs early and they don’t really land with this Philly crowd, thanks to some combination of sloppiness, the failure to establish who these teams are, and the fact that this follows Kingston vs Storm. They don’t really do much to improve from there, either, as most of this ends up being an angle. As the rudos are beating down on Fire Ant, Vin Gerard emerges from the crowd and taunts the ants from the entrance ramp. Soldier Ant runs up and lays him out with an elbow before Chikarason comes over to lecture him, but it doesn’t result in some poor outcome for the Colony. Hawke and Mitch seem to weirdly disappear and the Colony hit Sweeney with the Ant Hill to win. Weird thing.

As with last month, Mitch and Hawke aren’t happy about Sweeney taking the fall in a big match. Hawke again tries to use the outcome as a fulcrum against Sweeney and make himself look better in Mitch’s eyes but Sweeney gets out ahead of that. He challenges the ants to another match in June and urges his partners to put this loss behind them and become stronger as a team in the future. Reluctantly, they all leave together.

Brodie Lee vs Pelle Primeau

They continue to stress that Brodie’s now had a year-long undefeated streak in singles competition. The big rig really rips into him in this quick squash, hitting maybe the most painful whip into the corner I’ve ever seen outside of a Bret Hart match. Boot extends the streak.

Brodie keeps beating on Pelle afterward but before he can do too much, Claudio Castagnoli bursts out of the back and chases a smirking Brodie off.

Incoherence (Delirious & Hallowicked) (c) vs The Osirian Portal (Amasis & Ophidian)

Two out of Three Falls Match for the Campeonatos de Parejas

Ah man, another Incoherence title match. This one is thankfully pretty short and does well to tell something of an interesting story. The tecnicos run wild early thanks to their shtick and skill but before long the Portal goes after the arm Amasis weakened in his match with Hallowicked the night before, allowing them to get ahead. They navigate some textbook armwork well and do a good job of milking the crowd for what they’re worth but make a few big mistakes due to their inexperience. They don’t stop Delirious from making a hot tag and spend too much time celebrating when they do eventually cut him down briefly, allowing him to connect with the Here It Is Driver to take the first fall. The Portal try to make up for lost time in the second fall but they still struggle to account for all the variables, as they leave Delirious all by his lonesome while they try to entrance his partner:

Delirious only gets a nearfall from that but from there it’s elementary. Incoherence cleans up with the super fisherman buster on Amasis, becoming the first team in Campeonatos de Parejas history to retain the titles without dropping a fall. There’s still some of the usual problems with them, like inserting comedy at points in the match where it feels inappropriate, but there’s less of it here than ever before and it’s used in better ways so I can’t complain too much. Easily the best match of their reign so far.

Helios vs Incognito

Rey de Voladores 2008 Finals

Not good. Not quite bad either but not good at the very least. As I mentioned with the last show, Incognito is pretty well checked out on Chikara and now is also suffering from a knee injury that will keep him out of the ring for the next two months. He runs around on it during his entrance to test it but mostly declines to actually push his luck in the match itself. Instead, he busts out a smattering of lucha submissions along with relying on his size for some basic power moves. None of that is bad per se but it feels bad in a tournament literally named for highflying and with an opponent who really can’t work on the mat. Helios does well to bump around for him and supply the lion’s share of flying but there’s only so much a young guy can do with an unfamiliar/injured/unmotivated opponent. Eventually, after about a dozen clotheslines and twice as many weak woos, Incognito wins with a Rivera Cloverleaf in what is sadly not his final Chikara appearance.

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