With the end of a very exciting year in professional wrestling in general, CHIKARA decided to give a Christmas present to their fans (and potential recruits to the Chikarmy) by releasing a six match ‘best of’ culled from their various shows across the year. Within the six matches, there is a cross section of different wrestlers, and most importantly, different styles, that make up CHIKARA in the year 2015.
I’ve attempted to get into CHIKARA several times, but never had much success. It often feels somewhat akin to comic books – too much narrative has been and gone to make it easy for a newbie to jump on board and ‘get it’. However, CHIKARA runs in seasons, and with the new season due to start in January, it might be the best opportunity to jump on board.
The Wrecking Crew vs Crown & Court
The Wrecking Crew are your proverbial ‘power and paint’ style wrestlers in the vein of Road Warriors/Powers of Pain, whilst their opponents are two men dressed in ice cream theme outfits and a women with silver/light blue hair. Therein lies the random nature of CHIKARA’s offerings. Without much knowledge of the two teams in the grander scheme of things, I instantly realise one thing – The Crown and Court are going to struggle, big time. This is a match in the Challenge of the Immortals tournament, a season wide competition between teams.
Following initial attempts by the Crowd and Court to take the fight to their much bigger opponents, we see Blaster Macmassive drop Princess Kimberlee with a huge clothesline, Max Smashmaster landing a senton for good measure. Kimberlee’s knee becomes the target for the majority of the match, with the Wrecking Crew hitting three kneebreaker/big boot cominations, Smashmaster following each up with a Bossman splash on the middle rope and a big slam. The third Bossman splash is avoided by Kimberlee, allowing her to finally tag out to Ice Cream Jr. – rather than a hot tag, Ice Cream Jr. proceeds to get beaten down pretty much instantaneously as well.
There is a sudden raft of Wrecking Crew miscommunication though, and Los Ice Creams almost steal the win with a roll-up. A Kimberlee kick combination also gets a two count, only for Max Smashmaster to hit a spinning tombstone on El Hijo del Ice Cream. A second one only leads to Smashmaster pulling Hijo up at a two count, and a third leaves Bryce Remsburg (the referee) no choice but to award the match to Crown and Court due to excessive violence. With The Wrecking Crew already well placed in the Challenge of the Immortals, it is sold by the team as an opportunity to wipe out one of their challengers, and it looks like they succeeded. A solid match, though made more interesting due to the storyline behind it. The Wrecking Crew are just really fun.
Shynron vs Mark Andrews (Rey de Voladores final)
A tournament that runs alongside the King of Trios to crown the Rey de Voladores (king of high flyers) saw a final consisting of Shynron, the 2014 champion, and Mark Andrews, a UK wrestler who has appeared in TNA. As both men are faces, there is an initial handshake, followed by the usual trading of holds and pinfalls, until Andrews lands a standing moonsault. Not to be outdone, Shynron uses a headscissors to send Andrews into the turnbuckle and leave him open to a spinning arm drag after a top rope springboard.
This is always going to be about the aerial highspots, and it is Andrews who shows his chops first, capitalising on a dropkick on the outside to land an impressive cannonball senton over the top rope. This leaves him in a position to work over Shynron, locking in a surfboard and scoring a two count with a leg drop. Shynron breaks the offense with an enziguiri, and lands his own spectacular offense of a cartwheel plancha to the outside.
The aerial spots get ramped up towards the finish, as Shynron rolls through a super frankensteiner to nail a standing Spanish fly for a two count. He also manages to hit a springboard ace crusher, only to them miss a spinning splash off of the top rope. Shynron manages to roll away from a shooting star press set-up, and even drops Andrews with a dragon twist for a two count. An attempted superplex is his eventual undoing, as Andrews turns it into a springboard reverse rana, leaving Shynron easy pickings for the shooting star press and a three count. I’m glad to see Andrews win, as I am a big fan of his, but having seen what he is capable of in terms of storytelling in the ring, I felt that this match just lacked something. Impressive, sure, but needed that little extra for me.
Oleg The Usurper vs Dasher Hatfield
Dasher is another wrestler I at least have previous with, whilst I’ve never seen Oleg the Usurper in action. The two men shakes hands before trading various shots in the corner. It is always going to be about Oleg’s power, and after Dasher has him down with several arm drags, Oleg is able to drop his opponent with a big boot. From there, he begins to control the pace, planting Dasher with a back breaker, a rolling senton and a charge into the corner (following four rather superfluous rope runs in the process)
Oleg uses his power to block a suplex attempt with one of his own, but Dasher is able to mount a comeback following a jumping clothesline. A spinning neckbreaker allows him to nail his signature baseball slide into the corner for a two count. Oleg still has enough about him to avoid a double axe handle off of the top and land a superkick for a two count. A chokeslam turns into a Dasher cradle for another two, only for Oleg to land an odd spinning knee face crusher (…it was too odd to describe, and not executed very well) to leave Dasher open for his finisher – a forearm across the forehead if I understood the commentary properly. Dasher has enough wherewithal to duck under Oleg’s legs and plant the big man with an impressive jackhammer for the three count. An OK match, let down a little by Oleg’s methodical manner and occasionally ropy offense.
Jaka vs Eddie Kingston
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Eddie Kingston. I can see what he brings to the table for those who do like him, but his legit tough guy character (if it is one) just bores me a little. I know what to expect, and am very rarely surprised, by a Kingston match. The two big men (Jaka being another member of the Wrecking Crew – no face paint for this one though) begin to brawl and trade strikes as soon as Kingston hits the ring. This leads to Kingston driving Jaka back into the corner with multiple chops a la Kenta Kobashi/Satoshi Kojima. An exploder style suplex and gutwrench powerbomb for a two count continues Eddie Kingston’s tour of Japan.
Jaka avoids a spinning back fist to lock in a backslide, spinning Kingston around into a knee and rocking him with a superkick to the back of the head. The men then continue to trade big blows, a jumping enzguiri and two backdrop drivers allowing Kingston to hit his spinning backfist (a weak looking one) to the back of Jaka’s head, only to get a two count only. A second backfist attempt is avoided, Jaka using a German suplex, spinning wheel kick and choke bomb to grab his own two count.
A bit out of nowhere, Jaka hits a superkick only to be rocked with a Kingston spinning backfist – Kingston falls on top of Jaka and gets the three count. The finish seemed to come out of nowhere, and the match tried too hard to be epic without doing enough of the legwork to make it that way. For someone I’ve not seen before, I did like what I saw of Jaka, so would be at least interested in seeing more of him.
Juan Francisco de Coronado vs Amasis
Coronado is a name that has blossomed to the point of being recognisable outside of CHIKARA. In this match, we see him against Amasis, a regular of CHIKARA over the past several years, and a popular member of the roster. He is a good foil for a natural heel, as Coronado often seems more interested in looking after his hair and mocking the crowd. Amasis uses this to keep Coronado off balance, and eventually hits a big dropkick and a plancha to further cement his ascendancy. However, Coronado is not averse to breaking the rules, and he grabs Bryce Remsburg to block a German suplex and avoid a dropkick, allowing him to hit a dropkick of his own
Two slams keep Coronado in control, only for Amasis to block a charge into the corner and take over once again with a clothesline and a dropkick. An avoided tiger driver also allows Amasis to land a rope assisted tackle. This avoidance is short lived as Coronado kicks Amasis to get out of a backslide attempt and lands a tiger driver for a two count.
Amasis seems to have the match under control after rolling through a German suplex and hitting a big knee and a spinning back fist, only for Coronado to grab a weapon from the bottom of his Ecuadorean flag and nail Amasis in the throat with it. One German suplex later and we have a winner…or do we? Bryce Remsburg checks with the crowd and finds the foreign weapon on Coronado’s person, restarting the match. A man in a wheel chair, one of the main people who got the match restarted, stands and faces up to an irate Coronado to a huge pop, before messing up Coronado’s hair with help from Amasis. A spinning kick to the face does for Coronado, giving the victory to Amasis. A fun match rather than a particularly amazing wrestling contest, made all the better for the character work of Coronado.
The Batiri vs The Gentleman’s Club (Chuck Taylor/Orange Cassidy/Drew Gulak)
In terms of the matches showcased here, this is possible the one that best encapsulates what CHIKARA can offer – fast, fun, frenetic action, with a huge slice of comedy thrown in. In this nine minute match, there is almost too much action to do it justice, but this is to the benefit of the overall match, as there is always something happening that is interesting or engaging.
Following a range of different spots, including Kobald nailing several bum attacks in the corner and Orange Cassidy hitting a (deliberately) ropy looking Old School and big splash off the top rope, it becomes the Chuck Taylor show. A ‘grenade’ is dropped down the trousers of one of the Batiri, and an atomic drop causes an almighty explosion! To show that he can do more than just comedy spots, Taylor then lands a Tope con Hilo over the top rope to wipe out everyone at ringside.
Even as we moved towards the finish, we had enough time to see each man lock the other in a submission hold (the Batiri’s often slightly more dubious in nature, including a double nipple twist for good measure) with the ref inadvertently adding to the leverage during his efforts to break the hold. Orange Cassidy seems to have the match in control, with orange mist and a double chokeslam to Obariyon and Kodama, only to get caught with a big Kobald spear, giving the Batiri a three count victory. A little anticlimactic in terms of the finish, but a really fun match all round.
As a freebie, you can’t really complain about this offering from CHIKARA. It introduces the viewer to a lot of different wrestlers, whilst showcasing the various different styles you might expect to see on a CHIKARA show. The quality of the matches is very hit and miss however, but I think it does enough to make people interested in the overall product and desire to check it out when the new season starts in January.