Saturday, June 25, 2011

LIVE EVENT REPORT: CHIKARA IN CHICAGO

THE CASE OF THE BULLETPROOF WALDO
6:24:2011

The Logan Square Auditorium is pretty  perfect for wrestling. Hopefully other companies see the eventual DVD of this show and decide to run there. It's actually kind of classy looking. The section I was sitting in had 60 people or so in it. There were four sections that size, plus people on the stage, plus people standing, so I'd say there was maybe 300 people there. There were more kids and women than at the DGUSA show, which, as you may have read on my blog or rants elsewhere, is a huge positive when it comes to the wrestling experience. Women and kids make wrestling sooooo much better. I'm definitely bringing my wife and son next time. He loves CHIKARA and was super excited when I gave him a super awesome CHIKARA water bottle that I got him for a mere 5 bucks.

I'd also like to point out the tickets were just $20, and it was general admission. The CHIKARA rep that was letting us know how much longer we'd have to wait, and what the rules of the evening were(no swearing, video is no go, pictures are fine) made a joke that there is a stage and folks can sit on it, but they don't have to spend 75 bucks to sit up there, which was a fun crack on those wild DGUSA prices.

My seat was opposite the hard camera and the view was fine. I got to sit next to this dad who brought his son and daughter. They were cool and he bought them replica masks of Green Ant and Hallowicked. He also was sporting a Matt Classic shirt which made him extra neat-o in my book.

After a song from Gavin Loudspeaker about coming back to Chicago, and some changes to the card(GALLI guys didn't make it, neither could Ares for the main event) it was time for some WRESTLING.

THE THROWBACKS vs. THE BATIRI
Sugar Dunkerton is a great guy to have opening a show. He's pumped and has some fun offense. He did some 10-Count head bashes in the corner and has a spot where he dribbles one of the Batiri's heads off the mat. The crowd was really behind him from the get go. Matt Classic had his turn but rolled out of the ring which tagged in Dasher. Classic got angry and sulked over by the stairs where he basically did step ups the entire match. The Batiri are probably one of my favorite tag teams to watch. They're intense and move incredibly well. The make Dunkerton's armdrags look sick the way they flip into them.

Some highlights were Dasher knocking one out of the park and sliding into one of the Batiri's face. The ref  said he was out. Dunkerton and Classic had to step in and change his mind(us fans in Chicago wish they could come to every Cubs game and do the same we need all the help we can get). And some Matt Classic doing an INSANE DIVE off the apron onto his foes. It's worth the DVD alone.

Sadly, the throwbacks lose again, thanks to some selfishness on Matt Classic's part. He was angry because Dasher had tagged in again off of him hitting the floor, and the Batiri capitalized on the distraction, wiping the Throwbacks out and hitting classic with a Blockbuster for the win.

After the match Sugar was pretty upset that his team keeps losing.

OPHIDIAN vs. ISAIAS VELAZQUEZ
The GALLI guys couldn't make it, (I have no idea why not) and so Ophidian wrestled Isaias Velazquez who wrestles locally for Vanguard Wrestling All-Star Alliance. I know he's wrestled Marshe Rocket before, so I'd say that's probably how he got connected to the show. I honestly hadn't seen much of him but he definetly turned a few heads. He's a smug little guy and he's crisp in the ring. They had a fun story where Ophidian would go for the Cobra Clutch and Velazquez would back him into a corner to break it. Then on the third try Ophidian would use the momentum to swing Velazquez into the corner and keep the hold locked on. Decent bout, and I'm happy for the local guy having a good match. Maybe some of the folks who live around Chicago who came to the show and don't go to some of the local wrestling will look him up and give one of their shows a try.

FIST(Gargano & Taylor) vs. THE COLONY(Green Ant & Soldier Ant)
Lots of Chuck Taylor and Gargano fans in the arena. I love the Colony. The first DVD of CHIKARA I ever watched had the Colony on it(Worker Ant and Fire Ant, I believe) and they were probably the biggest reason why I kept watching on and off for the last few years. Oddly enough, I can't actually remember much about this match. Sorry. It's like there was too much awesomeness in the night and I couldn't hold it all in my brain, so this match got pushed out.. I know that they did a good job, though Chuck Taylor looked a little bored to be there, but I honestly can't say much about it.

Non Young Lion's Cup Match
FRIGHTMARE vs. HEIRACON
Frightmare is crazy. He's probably the biggest bundle of energy on the roster. He and Heiracon had an okay match. It seemed a little clunky in spots where they looked a little confused as to what they were going to do. Heiracon looked like he legit hurt his wrist, but it seemed okay towards the end of the match, so I don't know if that played into it. Frightmare took a nasty Lightning Spiral(Masato Yoshino's finish) from Heiracon. Couldn't believe he even kicked out, but he did, and was able to pull out the win.

12 LARGE SUMMIT MATCH
ICARUS vs. SARA DEL REY
Icarus is HATED. So much that the crowd threw their support behind BDK member Sara Del Rey. I have to say, this was probably my second favorite match of the night. The heat was awesome and they worked really well together. They started off with Icarus being sexist douche and wanting to plant a kiss on Death Rey, but she taught him a lesson or two in respect. I'm always weary of inter-gender stuff, because making them feel competitive with out feeling phony is really hard to do. That's not the case here. Sara isn't a little super model, and Icarus isn't a big body builder so they match up perfectly.

The finishing stretch was pretty awesome as no one had a clue who was going to win. Sara countering Icarus' finish into a pin for the win made me jump out of my chair. Can't remember the last time I flipped out and sprung out of my chair, but there I was geeking out for Del Rey pinning Icarus.

Thankfully it wouldn't be the last time I geeked out.

INTERMISSION
Best. Intermission. Ever. Gavin just walked around, talking on the mic to people and pimping all the merchandise. The wrestler's were out interacting with fans and eachother, while some crazy music played. It was an intermission that felt like more show. Fans were hitting the ring to take pictures with Mike Quackenbush for free. I know one kid got was dancing with Ophidian. Jakob stole Gavin's mic at one point and pimped the BDK stuff, especially his Jakob shirt. Also, people in the CHIKARMY got to get in the ring at the end of intermission and take a picture with most of the roster. So that was cool for the fan club folks.

The whole intermission was really one of those moments where the CHIKARA crew shines. They feel genuinely happy to be there and interact with the fans in fun ways. It feels like a party and you get a strong sense of community - almost like going to a comic convention. The atmosphere they create is unlike any wrestling event I've ever been to. Truly awesome.

12 LARGE  SUMMIT MATCH
CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI vs. HALLOWICKED
Claudio is a physical beast. Check the back muscles, folks. They do some nice mat work for a good portion of it. The crowd was doing a lot "HEY" calls at Claudio, who kept telling them to shut up. It was kind of an odd match and for some reason I couldn't get into it. I'm not sure what it was. It may be because people were more into razzing Claudio than cheering Hallowicked, but this fell kind of flat to me. I honestly can't say why.

EDDIE KINGSTON vs. COLT CABANA
Colt was hilarious, throwing phony whirling backfists at Eddie, who wasn't amused by the shenanigans. Kingston kept trying to take it outside the ring and turn it into a brawl but Colt would have none of that, and tried to keep it inside. Cabana took some nasty nasty offense from Kingston during this and he even dished out a boot or two himself. It's a tough line to walk, being funny while still manging to look threatening, and Colt walks it really well in this. Also check out the Backfist at the end because Colt doesn't just take it - he steps into it. It made it look extra nasty and believable for the pinfall, which was a surprise seeing as how Cabana is a Chicago guy.

12 LARGE SUMMIT MATCH
ULTRA MANTIS BLACK vs. FIRE ANT
These guys THROW DOWN. The crowd was digging it, and pretty much behind the Black. This may be my favorite match of his, and it might be the best match of the night. I honestly don't know what to say about it, other than pick up the DVD and check out. These guys go nuts in the ring (and out) and bust out some pretty crazy stuff. Fire Ant was still holding on to his neck when I shook his hand after the show.

MAIN EVENT
DA SOUL TOUCHAZ vs. BRUDERSCHAFT DES KREUZES
This was special. I have been talking up Da Soul Touchaz for a long time. I've seen these guys wrestle in hole in the walls here in Chicago in front of 30 people, 1/3 of them were probably their friends. If they're on a local show, I will go, because they're worth it. So this was a special match for me, getting to see my guys wrestle in front of a big crowd, for a major indy, in the main event against the biggest heels in the company.

They started out brawling around the ring before settling down in the ring. Willie was on the receiving end of a beat down from those dastardly BDK(Jakob replaced Ares, who couldn't make it by the way). When he got the hot tag to Marshe everything went nuts. These guys were just on fire. Eventually Sara Del Rey came down and distracted Bryce all the way to the back, while Claudio came in with a lead pipe. Just as he was about to blast Willie with it, C-RED came down and stole it from him and started laying people out! I jumped out of my seat! C-Red coming back, and helping the guys destroy the BDK was freaking amazing. Then he helped Willie get his balance on the top rope so Da Bomb could do a  FLYING LEG DROP onto Jakob. The ring sounded like it was going to break and it looked like it killed Jakob. When the ref counted 3 I flipped out again.

I honestly can't explain how awesome it felt to see these guys get to tear it up, and I can't remember the last time I was so happy seeing some one win. If you watch the DVD and you see a dude opposite the hard camera  freaking out like the Cubs won the World Series, that's probably me.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:
CHIKARA is the best value for your wrestling dollar. Period. They've found the magical balance of carny and cool. Of comedy and serious business. The stories are pitch perfect, the characters are big and lovable(even Jakob!) and they seem to genuinely love their audience. No other company has such a genuine relationship with their fans than this company. I was just a casual dabbler, but this event has converted me to the cult.

One quick story that I feel sums it up: They had this 2009 poster they were raffling away, that had everyone's autograph. $1 = 1 Ticket. $5 =6 Tickets. The boy who was sitting next to me was eyeballing this poster all night. He was maybe 6 or 7. Anyway, just before the drawing, the extremely nice young woman who was working the gimmick table walked over to the kid and handed him a raffle ticket and said "Hey, I bought you a ticket, good luck."

The kid didn't win, but that was still freaking cool. That's who these people are.

On the way out from the show all the good guys were lined up down the stair well and shook hands with everyone. Some of them seemed genuinely moved that we came to the show. I told Mike Quackenbush this stuff was worth more than 20 bucks and he laughed. I kind of hope he forgot I said that, because I actually like the $20 price tag just fine. But really...yeah, as hard as these guys work at putting on a good show, they should be making a lot more.

I over heard some one asking Quack when they'd be coming back, and he said he had a good feeling that it would be pretty soon. I can't wait. This was the best live wrestling event, I've ever been to.

2 comments:

  1. Good good review! Excellent. I was at the show and couldn't believe how nice everyone - both the fans and the roster - were/are (was also at the Challenger Comics store, too). CHIKARA is an amazing bunch of folks, and with this being my first show I had a heck of a time. Enjoyed reading this!

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  2. This was a great article, thanks for sharing! Chikara is indeed awesome, and the live shows are unbelievable!

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