It’s that time of year where independent wrestling in the USA put on two of the premier tournaments of the year. On the west coast, fans are getting psyched for PWG’s annual BOLA tournament. An awesome experience for those attending live and a great show to look forward to seeing on DVD for the rest of us in about six months time, long after everyone will have found out who won.
Over on the East coast, in Easton, PA, Chikara present their annual King of Trios tournament. And it must be said, well done to Quackenbush and company for having the weekend themed in the style of Pokemon: how did they know that would be back in vogue at this time?
The wrestling world has seen trios wrestling increase in a huge way, with Lucha Underground, New Japan and just today, as of this writing, Ring of Honor having their own trios championships. Even the Swords of Essex have introduced their very own, company-unaffiliated, British Triangle Championships. The King of Trios tournament has a long and historic lineage, which thanks to Chikara’s streaming service Chikaratopia can be viewed in all its glory. From the sublime (Team Uppercut vs The Masters of 1000 Holds from 2009) to the ridiculous (once you’ve seen American Balloon from 2007, it will take you months to unsee him), Chikara has made this event its signature event on the wrestling calendar. This year is the first time it has clashed with BOLA, making the lineups for both tournaments very interesting. While PWG certainly has a lineup full of star power and new blood, the Chikara lineup is not without its impressive names, as I will display for you now.
In this preview, I will break down each match up as has been announced and predict who advances: As far as the rest of the bracket goes, I cannot make any bold predictions. Last year, the bracket for the tournament seemed set. However on the last day, a quick switcheroo was made in order for the match that everyone wanted to see (Bullet Club vs Team AAA) to be the final. So despite the King of Trios Wikipedia page displaying a graphic with the proposed tournament bracket, I will not be following this as it is no way confirmed.
Team #CWC (Cedric Alexander, Drew Gulak and Johnny Gargano) vs The Warriors Three (Oleg the Usurper, Princess KimberLee and ThunderFrog)
Well this is quite the start. Unless you’ve been living under a rock with wrestling-proof tarpaulin over it, you’ll doubtless be aware of the Cruiserweight Classic. Some of the best (and no so much the best in some cases) wrestlers weighing 205 pounds or less in a 32 man tournament. Oh, and it’s being run by the WWE. My how times change. Chikara have taken advantage of this trend by bringing in three of those names. Cedric makes his Chikara hot on the heels of his star making match against Kota Ibushi in the CWC. Drew Gulak is no stranger to the company, being one of the head trainers of the Wrestle Factory and soon to be challenging for the Grand Championship. Johnny Gargano is on his Indy swan song tour before going full time to the Fed and is making his first appearance for Chikara in quite some time, having made his name in the company as part of the hated stable FIST. With a perfect blend of speed and technical wrestling, this would on paper be one of the tournament favourites. There’s just a few things stopping them going forward.
Three of those things are their first round opponents, The Warriors Three. Princess Kimberlee made headlines last year when she won the Grand Championship (and not just in the wrestling press – Rolling Stone wrote an article about it!). She went out of the tournament early last year, but her partners this year are just a tad more fearsome. Oleg the Usurper is always improving and has a great bond with the Chikarmy, while ThunderFrog is still riding a wave of momentum he’s been on since his return at the Young Lion’s Cup tournament, which he still possesses today. While this trio is a big enough obstacle for the CWC is get passed, the other thing stopping their advancement is the fact that Cedric is heading West for BOLA the next day. Unfortunate booking which sadly makes the result of this match inevitable. Warriors Three advance.
Team Original Divas Revolution (Jazz, Mickie James and Victoria) vs Team Shimmer (Candice LeRae, Crazy Mary Dobson and Solo Darling)
This is truly a generational battle. With the “Divas Revolution” being one of the bigger stories in wrestling last year, it seemed natural that Chikara would reach into their bag of tricks when they considered their traditional “blast from the past” team. Mickie James, Jazz and Victoria were always considered to be the better actual wrestlers in their WWE prime, so it should be interesting to see how good they potentially still are. The Shimmer team will certainly enjoy being out there with presumably their idols when they were growing up and they should be a force to be reckoned with themselves. The always impressive Candice LeRae should stand out from the pack here, while a crazy-off between the NXT-bound Mary Dobson and Victoria should be a hoot. I’m not that familiar with Solo Darling other than the fact that she wears a furry tail and gains energy from sugary drinks she brings to ringside. That should fit in well at Chikara. This is a tricky one to call, but I think experience will just win out on this one. Team Original Divas advance.
The Colony (Fire Ant, Silver Ant and Soldier Ant) vs Team Big Deal (The Big Deal, Rick Roland and Sloan Caprice)
The Colony has had many forms in the past, but the unit that has always been strongest is that of Fire, Silver and Soldier Ant. Winners of the King of Trios 2011, this team are clearly one of the big favourites. Their opponents are newcomers to Chikara, but one of the wrestlers is very familiar to all wrestling fans – whether they want to be or not. The Big Deal is the former Hornswoggle, the last ever WWE Cruiserweight champion (have fun with that lineage, future Cruiserweight champ of the New Era!). He came to Chikara at their recent Canadian events alongside his heavies, who did all the work in their debut match before allowing Mr Big to gain the pinfall. This new character is a rather intriguing one for Swoggle, quite a new take on the chickenshit heel type. Roland and Caprice seem quite new to the scene (I presume they are Wrestle Factory students) but they perform their roles well enough so far to disguise their weaknesses. Whether they can keep that going in this match is another matter, as this will be a longer match than they’ve been used and with entirely different wrestlers. During Chikara’s recent live Chikaratopia special, Team Big Deal did a destruction job on the United Nations, so much so that they ended up getting crowd sympathy to the point where the boos reigned down when Deal pinned the huge Boar of Moldova with one foot on his chest. The Colony are a high energy unit and the experience edge is vast, so although Team Big Deal will offset some of the Colony’s offence for a while, I doubt they will withstand it for long. The Colony advance.
Team Sendai Girls (Cassandra Miyagi, Dash Chisako and Meiko Satomura) vs Heidi Lovelace and N_R_G (Hype Rockwell and Race Jaxon)
I’ll state right away – I don’t like N_R_G. They’re just one of those teams that rub me the wrong way. With little experience, they ended up winning the tag titles out of nowhere, yet even the most loyal Chikara fans seem to boo them at some shows. Their partner on the other hand is one of the most charismatic performers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live. Heidi Lovelace is having a stellar year with a brewing feud with friend Kimberlee, as well an impending title shot against Grand Champion Hallowicked.
Their opponents represent one of two Japanese female promotions competing for the trios crown this year, two thirds of whom stole the show at KOT 2012. Chisako and the legendary Satomura made the semi finals that year with Sendai Sachiko and had my personal Match of the Year against Mike Bennett and The Young Bucks. This year, they are joined by Cassandra Miyagi. I’d be foolish in trying to write up much about these ladies, but other than their previous participation in 2012, I know little about them. However I see Heidi doing other things on this weekend, which I will discuss later. Team Sendai Girls advance.
Team Police Squad (Bill Carr, Officer Warren Barksdale and Supercop Dick Justice) vs United Nations (Juan Francisco de Coronado, Prakash Sabar and The Proletariat Boar of Moldova)
Well there’s always going to be a pure comedy match in the first round. The Police Squad is quite the unique tandem. Barksdale is a Wrestle Factory graduate who has been impressing with his commitment to the character (who will arrest his opponents for various reasons) and shows skill and potential despite his lack of experience. It be interesting to see Bill Carr without his regular partner Dan Barry in tow, but Dick Justice is certainly a suitable replacement.
Their opponents are Chikara mainstays who are on quite the journey in the storylines. Recent losses are beginning to get to team captain Juan Francisco de Coronada, who has made it clear to his partners that he will not tolerate any more failures. The Boar and Sabar are slowly turning into crowd favourites, so it seems a break up is inevitable down the line, but maybe not until the second or third day. This match will be highly entertaining if you like comedy wrestling, but I doubt either team have much chance of winning the whole thing. United Nations advance.
The Snake Pit (Amasis, Argus and Ophidian) vs Team JWP (Commander Bolshoi, Hanako Nakamori and Manami Katsu)
Our second female Japanese team also are making their second King of Trios appearance, although only Commander Bolshoi returns from the 2012 team. Much like the Sendai Girls, I know little about the JWP contingent other than the Commander, whose appearance is unique to say the least. If her team is anything like 2012, then should be quite the force to contend with.
Their opponents are two Chikara legends in Amasis and Ophidian, the Osirian Portal, reuniting for King of Trios with Ophidian’s too student, the Gecko-Roman wrestler Argus. This team could be a dark horse, with Argus coming on leaps and bounds since his debut last season as part of Ophidian’s Snake Pit squad. The tag team continuity of the former Campeones de Parejas will give this trios a steady hold of the proceedings, but the Japanese contingent won’t be making that long flight to go home early. Team JWP advance.
Major League Moustache (Dasher Hatfield, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) vs The Batiri (Kobald, Kodama and Obariyon)
Well here’s one I’m really looking forward to. While the likes of Ospreay, Scurll, Sabre Jr, Dunne, Gallagher and Haskins will be representing the UK well in BOLA, our representatives for King of Trios this year come in the form of the new Campeones de Parejas, Moustache Mountain. Trent Seven and Tyler Bate returned to the promotion during the Canada weekend and went home with the three points needed for a title shot. Due to controversy surrounding Los Ice Creams winning the titles in confusing circumstances, the titles were vacated and put on the line in a four team double elimination match at the live Chikaratopia special. Moustache Mountain survived the match intact and won the belts. Chikara veteran Dasher Hatfield has had a tumultuous time of it lately. After his step-cousin Mr Touchdown was caught cheating to win points during Challenge of the Immortals, Hatfield took his team out of the tournament and never forgave Touchdown. From that team, Heidi Lovelace is now forging her own path, while Icarus and Touchdown are now part of the Dark Army of Nazmaldun, an army that includes Major League Moustache’s first round opponents.
The Batiri have always been one of the most well gelled teams that Chikara have produced. They have some insane double team moves and how they’ve been together this long without holding the tag team gold is a mystery. Alongside the resurrected king of all goblins Kobald, this is a formidable trio indeed. However they haven’t had a great run of luck in King of Trios past, having only made it as far as the quarter finals. Dasher is a former finalist, while Seven and Bate made it all the way to the semi finals last year alongside Dan Moloney, before they ran into the Bullet Club. I don’t think any amount of demonic power can stop the power of the moustache on this occasion. Major League Moustache advance.
Arctic Rescue Ant, Missile Assault Man and Worker Ant vs Hallowicked and two as-yet-unannounced partners
The Dark Army of Nazmaldun has come a long way in the past year. When Hallowicked had his head scrambled by the power of the Eye of Tyr, he and Frightmare began worshipping a demon. Hallowicked suddenly spoke perfect English and made his plans clear. He won the Grand Championship in the UK and was promised that he would never lose the title to any man. Cruel irony was met when he was bested for the title by Princess Kimberlee. In the past eight months, Hallowicked managed to obtain the Eye of Tyr from BDK leader Jakob Hammermeier, after he hand tried to use it on Hallowicked once again. For the first time in the history of the storied jewel, the Eye had no effect on Hallowicked. He and Frightmare captured the man who brought the Eye to Chikara in the first place, Ultramantis Black, and used it on him. The result was Mantis being used as the vessel for Nazmaldun himself. Mantis has since used his new powers to convert Icarus, the Batiri and Mr Touchdown. Hallowicked also won back the Grand Championship, ironically on the last date of the U.K. tour like last time. He apparently wants to increase the odds of Nazmaldun’s army to win King of Trios, so has entered himself and two others into the tournament. We won’t find out until the match itself who will be with him, but with the Batiri already in the brackets and Frightmare entering Rey de Voladores, it’s easy to assume that Icarus and Touchdown will be his partners. However with Chikara, just because something is obvious doesn’t mean it will happen. Who knows who could be under Ultramantis’ spell come the weekend.
The opposition are an interesting tandem. Worker Ant recently assembled an ant-heavy team for a recent 7 on 7 match against the Dark Army. Two of the ants be brought to the war were Arctic Rescue and Missile Assault. Arctic has mended fences with the Colony, have been part of the Xtreme Force. One of his partners in that trio was Missile Assault Man (not Ant). MAM has had a torturous existence as of late. Forced to be part of Kevin Condron’s Battleborn, his backstory consistently affects his psyche. Maybe this new team with former allies will help him conquer the demons, just as long as Condron (or Snowflake as he’s now known) doesn’t crop up reminding him of the things he found in his journal.
There is a lot of backstory to this match, with the Colony being a major enemy of the Dark Army. For this match, I foresee Nazmaldun striking the first blow, however later in the tournament I can see Heidi Lovelace costing Hallowicked and challenging him on Day 3 for the title, seeing as she has three points to qualify. But for now, Hallowicked plus two advance.
So there we have it. I hope that explained a lot of what is going on in the wacky world of Chikara and where we stand heading into the tournament. Don’t forget that on top of this, we also have the Rey de Voladores tournament taking place on Days 2 and 3. Entered into it are Frightmare, Anthony Nese, Space Monkey, Wani and one third of last year’s winning King of Trios, Aerostar.
Also on Day 3, the always entertaining tag team gauntlet takes place. Half the teams have already been announced, featuring a lot of Wrestle Factory graduates, so it will be interesting to see if the quality holds up with gauntlets of the past.
Whatever happens, there is always something to find entertaining during King of Trios. Whether it is the dramatic twist of a long term storyline or the tremendous action on display, King of Trios rarely disappoints and his year should be no different. I know most of the eyes reading this will more interested in what’s happening at Battle of Los Angeles, but at least Chikaratopia will have this tournament available to watch within reasonable time. Who knows when you’ll be watching that other tournament?!
Oh, the winning trio? Well as much as the power of Nazmaldun compels me, it’s got to be our boys. Major League Moustache for the win!