Sunday, November 13, 2011

They Made Shirts: Chikara High Noon Review

  • Someone made a bunch of "Worst in the World: Icarus Sucks" tee-shirts and passed them around to the front row.
  • Jigsaw went coast to coast on the pre-show en route to a victory against El Generico.
  • Marty Janetty accompanied the Young Bucks to the ring.
  • Sara del Rey got a "Happy birthday" chant which she acknowledged before tossing Jakob Hammermeier around the ring by his hair.
  • Ophidian spit mist in Amasis' eyes, kicked him in the back of the head and continually tried putting him in the Death Grip after the Funky Pharaoh announced he'd have to retire.
  • Derek Sabato got LAID THE FUNK OUT by an errant Tursas splash.
  • Green Ant busted out either the best Chikara Special on Tursas or he broke out a new variation on it.
  • Bryce Remsburg officiated all four matches after intermission.
  • Colt Cabunny ended his reluctant association with The Band via a baton to the head of Archibald Peck.
  • Gran Akuma accidentally kicked Greg Iron in the face after the match with Icarus after the Worst in the World ducked.
  • Crossbones made his return to the ECW Arena by chasing of Hammermeier in the lucha de apuesta.
  • Tim Donst high-tailed it out of the ring area after it was clear the Spectral Envoy had the match won.
  • The locker room emptied out during the Grand Championship match, including such old faces as Dragonfly, Rorschach, Mr. Zero, Hydra (!) and Reckless Youth (!!!).
  • Eddie Kingston won the Chikara Grand Championship via a Backfist to the Future over Mike Quackenbush and was presented the title by Larry Sweeney's brother and friend after the match.

  • "My favorite thing to do is boo Icarus." -- Keith (@RoboDuke)
  • People like to rib me for my fandom of Jigsaw, but it's deserved. Guy sold Generico's Yakuza kick the best I've ever seen anyone do it.
  • The Young Bucks have some snazzy double team moves, the best of which being a neckbreaker by Matt that landed on Nick's knee.
  • The undisputed highlight of the match, though, was Matt Jackson saluting as he was hit by a double-team flapjack by the Ants.
  • Gavin Loudspeaker joining in the pre-match "Sara's Gonna Kill You" chant at Jakob warmed the cockles of my heart.
  • The del Rey/Hammermeier match felt a lot like an intergender match in the traditional terms, only Jakob was the one who wrestled like the stereotypical, old-school woman wrestler.
  • The fans sitting to my right were hooting and hollering like Hulk Hogan just bodyslammed Andre the Giant when Ophidian attacked Amasis. In unrelated news, I hated the fans sitting to my right.
  • Green Ant and Tursas wrestled a similar match to C-Rex, only without all the interference. This wasn't a negative.
  • The Archibald Peck/Colt Cabana match was performance art at such a high level that it should be shown to film school students as an example of great comedy.
  • That being said, Veronica's facial expressions of frustration and disgust at Peck were probably the best thing in that match.
  • No, seriously, I loved the Icarus t-shirts they made. AWESOME.
  • Most impressive bump of the night to me was Gregory Iron going hard into the ring steps.
  • The lucha de apuesta had some of the best ECW-style spots in it since the original ECW's prime ended. CZW, take notes.
  • The Praying Mantis Bomb through the chair that Ares looked like it hurt more than they let on.
  • Mike Quackenbush worked rudo pretty good for a guy who hasn't had to work rudo a whole lot in his career.
  • "You gotta break it off." -- Eddie Kingston, as Quackenbush worked his injured right knee.
  • I loved the synergy of Kingston working over Quack's leg at the end, but appreciated that it didn't figure directly into the finish.
  • The finish and aftermath of the match was the closest I ever came to bawling my eyes out over wrestling in a good way.

Match of the Night
Eddie Kingston vs. Mike Quackenbush, 12 Large Summit Tournament Final for the Chikara Grand Championship - I don't mean to be cliched or go with the easy answer, but the easy answer felt like the right call here. It wasn't just that it was a perfectly told story about an injured student taking on a ruthless-for-the-pupil's-own-good master. It wasn't just that it was the emotion of the night being pitch-perfect. It wasn't just that Kingston really did his part to absorb the crowd and return it with a gutty, viscerally likable performance, to the point where I really believed him when he said that Quack would have to take his leg off in order to make him quit. It wasn't even that the locker room poured out to signify that yes, this was a big friggin' deal. It was all that combined perfectly in one match, with the crowd really playing its part. (The only exception being a "This is wrestling!" chant that broke out... I kinda cringed, I won't lie.)

Quack gets a lot of crap (undeservedly, I might add, but whatever), but he played his role tonight perfectly as well. When he slid out of the ring and grabbed Kingston's bum knee for the first time to drive it into the apron, he had to damn well know that he was going to catch flak from a wrestling crowd that has become conditioned to hate the intentional dismantling of a bad body part, whether it's legal or not. The fact that he went full tilt shows the kind of performer he is. He knew it was the War King's night, and he did his part to amplify that.

There were some really, REALLY good, really smart moves. To segue right into the part where Quack would work the knee saw him slide out of the ring to trip up a running Kingston. After Quack flew off the top knees first to canvas, Kingston did some really cool work-over moves himself, landing a Backfist to the Future to Quack's knee while he was on the top rope at one point. I love precision strikes to body parts where they're not really intended. I also seriously thought Kingston would get the win on an inverted, seated cloverleaf, which was actually really well-executed. I told everyone not to sleep on the War King's technical ability.

In the end though, it was the emotion that took me and made me deem this the best of the night. The crowd reactions, Tommy Dreamer leading the cheers, the cast of wrestlers and alumni all around the ring, the look of determination in King's eyes... it all coalesced to make this match feel as special as it was advertised. In a business where it's increasingly hard to deliver on grandiose promises, Chikara makes it a habit in overdelivering what they sell, and that awesome trait was epitomized in this singular match.

Overall Impressions
I felt that today was going to be special when I saw my pal, photographer and all around awesome dudette Zia handing out the Icarus t-shirts before the show. Only in Chikara could a guy take one terrible back tattoo and turn it into a catchphrase for the fans to use against him, a totally unlikable but still fun persona and independent wrestling phenomenon. In a way, the heckling and taunting of Icarus was a sign that this would be the most Chikara event ever, and a fine representation of the company in its first foray into Internet pay-per-view.

Each and every single match on the card was good, good enough to be the best match on several other cards across any promotion this year. The Young Bucks and Colony put on a tag team clinic, and it was the first match on the main card. Hell, El Generico and Jigsaw left it all in the ring, and they were wrestling for free on Ustream. I hate to keep referencing the podcast I did with Bryce, but when he said that everyone was going to try to have the best match on the card, he wasn't kidding. Everyone went all out, even Jakob with his preening and taunting and ass-kickability that let Sara del Rey have a very happy birthday.

Honestly, this is an event that needs to be viewed by every wrestling fan. Luckily, GFL is offering on demand instant replays, so it'll be there for everyone who wants to check it out on word of mouth. Honestly, if a single cent is spent on watching wrestling in 2011, it should be spent on High Noon. It was that damn good.

Jigsaw d. El Generico (Ustream pre-show)
The Colony (Fire and Soldier Ants) d. The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)
Sara del Rey d. Jakob Hammermeier
Green Ant d. Tursas
Colt Cabana d. Archibald Peck
Icarus d. Gregory Iron
UltraMantis Black and Hallowicked d. Ares and Tursas, Ares surrendered the Eye of Tyr to Mantis
Eddie Kingston d. Mike Quackenbush, Kingston is the first ever Chikara Grand Champion