Picture Credit: The Ringside Perspective
The stars of CHIKARA returned to London after last year’s eventful ‘Afternoon Delight’ to prepare for the Aniversario tour, which starts later this week and sees CHIKARA hit Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow. This time around the place was Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush, a classy little 1900’s dance hall that served as an intimate and unique venue for a wrestling show. Presented in partnership with Fight Club:PRO, the show got under way with Moustache Mountain’s Trent Seven performing MC duties, as a broken toe prevented him from competing in the scheduled main event.
1. Officer Warren Barksdale vs Heidi Lovelace
The first match of the afternoon saw the popular Heidi Lovelace taking on one of CHIKARA’s newer characters, Officer Warren Barksdale, who wrestles in full highway patrol-man uniform and wasted little time in asserting his authority over proceedings. After a big hip-toss left Lovelace dazed, Barksdale suspected she was intoxicated and insisted on administering a field sobriety test. Barksdale proceeded to arrest her and slapped on the hand-cuffs, but at length Heidi was somehow able to fend off the long arm of the law and hit a beautiful Heidi-canrana for the three count! This was a fun opening match that was mostly shenanigans, with an impressive finish as Heidi wrestled while handcuffed.
2. Karate Durling vs Frightmare
Next up, The Kentucky Gentleman Formerly Known As Chuck Taylor (wrestling as Karate Durling this afternoon) took on the dastardly Frightmare in what proved to be a good back-and-forth match. Karate poses, crane kicks and wax on, wax off was the theme of much of the early going, but Frightmare took control of the match in nefarious fashion and went to work on the erstwhile Chucky T. They brawled around ringside and up onto the stage, Frightmare leaping off a chair to hit a hurricanrana. A moment of over confidence, however, cost him the win as Karate Durling caught him on the top-rope before spiking him on top of his head with the Awful Waffle.
3. The Colony (Fire Ant & Soldier Ant) vs The Hunter Brothers (Jim & Lee)
A big ovation for The Colony duo of Fire Ant and Soldier Ant as they made their way to the ring to take on Jim & Lee, The Hunter Brothers, in what proved to be a real enjoyable tag match. Soldier Ant got things started and tested himself on the mat against both of the Hunters, but the brothers managed to put their tag prowess to good use and isolated Soldier, making quick tags and keeping the momentum firmly in their favour. Fire Ant eventually got tagged in and completely turned the tide, the veteran pairing of The Colony going to work and confounding their opponents with some swift tag moves and teased dives. The Hunter Brothers rallied, however, when Jim caught Soldier Ant with a top-rope blockbuster over Lee’s knees for the win.
4. Ophidian vs Pete Dunne
The second half of the show got under way with a well anticipated singles match that saw Ophidian taking on ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne, who’s been tearing it up in the UK throughout 2016. There was little love lost between Dunne and the crowd, who wasted no time in letting Pete know exactly what they thought of him. Dunne’s physicality came to bear in the early going of the match, but his opponent surprised him on numerous occasions with his speed, agility and flexibility, the cobra-like Ophidian managing to slither out of Dunne’s attempts to quickly put him away. At one point Ophidian leapt through the ropes into a hurricanrana on the floor, then caught Dunne perfectly with a Canadian Destroyer, only for ‘The Bruiserweight’ to roll out under the ropes. Ophidian didn’t want to wait for the referee’s count, so he dragged Dunne back inside the ring, only to fall victim to shenanigans. The referee may have noticed Dunne’s feet on the ropes as he went for a pin, but he failed to see the low blow Pete hit Ophidian with, allowing him to hit Drop Dead for the victory in what was a very enjoyable match, in spite of the disappointing finish.
5. Princess Kimber Lee vs Chris Brookes
Also on the receiving end of the crowd’s ire was Chris Brookes, who took it more gracefully than Dunne, but didn’t endear himself with his attitude to the CHIKARA Grand Champion, Princess Kimber Lee. Brookes had an obvious height and strength advantage over the champion, but perhaps took her too lightly when it came to her physicality, which he paid for when Kimber began unloading some big chops and elbows. At the second attempt she managed to get Brookes up for a German suplex, before putting him away with an Alligator Clutch for the three count. This was good fun, the crowd were well into it and the kids in the crowd absolutely loved seeing Kimber get the win.
6. Eddie Kingston vs MK McKinnan
The penultimate match of the evening saw ‘The War King’ Eddie Kingston taking on Fight Club:PRO champion MK McKinnan. Kingston had many supporters in Bush Hall and gave it his all in a well fought match, but it was McKinnan who would ultimately emerge the victor. The turning point came as Kingston tweaked his knee when leaping off the middle-rope for a knee strike and, ever the opportunist, MK pounced and methodically picked apart Kingston’s injured joint. Eddie fought valiantly, carving up McKinnan’s chest with some devastating chops and hitting a huge STO on the ring apron! It wasn’t enough, however, and when MK caught Kingston’s leg and dropped down into a knee bar, the former CHIKARA Grand Champion was forced to tap. This was an excellent match that told a great story, McKinnan isn’t the flashiest of wrestlers, but did a great job of picking his moments here. Meanwhile, I was real pleased to finally see Eddie Kingston wrestle in person. For my money, he’s one of the most underrated guys from the US scene.
7. Tyler Bate, Travis Banks & Drew Gulak vs The Batiri (Obaryon, Kodama & Yenolom Nad)
This was intended to be Moustache Mountain vs The Batiri in regular tag action, but as Trent Seven was injured it got turned into a trios bout, with Travis Banks and Drew Gulak helping form the impromptu Moustache Mountain 2.0 (in spite of Travis lacking somewhat in the moustache department). The Batiri, meanwhile, where joined by Yenelom Nad, who bears a striking resemblence to Dan Moloney. What proceeded was a highly enjoyable trios main event, all six guys put in great performances and I was impressed with Banks and Yenolom, both of whom I was seeing for the first time in person. Gulak wasn’t announced on the card initially, so it was something of a surprise when he appeared to join Bate & Banks, and the crowd reacted accordingly. The Batiri did a good job of controlling things, isolating Banks before Gulak could make the hot tag. Banks & Yenolom got into a huge chop battle that raised the intensity and the match started to break down. Gulak looked to have things won when he caught Kodama out of a leapfrog into a pin for a big near-fall, but it was The Batiri who came out on top after they dismantled Tyler Bate with a series of kneestrikes before putting him away with an electric chair sit-out powerbomb from Yenolom for the finish.
Overall, this was a really fun show with some great talent plying their trade for an appreciative crowd of young and old alike. The main event was a lot of fun, but for my money the matches of the night were Pete Dunne vs Ophidian’s exciting match and the excellent Eddie Kingston vs MK McKinnan encounter. I also really enjoyed Trent Seven in his role as host for the evening, he set the tone well for an afternoon of light-hearted wrestling fun. Great stuff from CHIKARA and Fight Club:PRO, I look forward to hopefully seeing them in London again sometime in the future!
CHIKARA continue their UK tour this Friday in Birmingham with ‘Aniversario: Catching Fire’, all the details can be found over at http://chikarauktour.bigcartel.com