Thursday, May 30, 2013

All Things Must Pass: Chikara Aniversario: Never Compromise Preview

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Mantis, playing with the property of the gods?
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein

Nothing is certain after birth except death. Even taxes can be evaded if you're dogged enough to find an uninhabited island out of the watchful eye of a government, or adept enough at peacemaking if you can fit in with the North Sentinelese. But death? Yeah, that's inevitable. The Grim Reaper has not been a tangible character in Chikara over the last two years or so, but he's shaped nearly every event on the Chikara calendar in that timeframe. Some of it has been all too real. Larry Sweeney's passing hit King of Trios weekend like a brick in 2011, and I'm not sure anyone is completely over it. Some of it has been planned in the stories, and Aniversario: Never Compromise will have so much of it manifested that I will not be surprised if Thanos himself will be front row center at the Trocadero.

It's the story death that I'm most interested in. We've seen alliances die. Team FIST has disintegrated to the point where Johnny Gargano has dropped off the roster page. The bond between Dasher Hatfield and Sugar Dunkerton met the gallows thanks to Wink Vavasseur, while the one Hatfield formed with Mark Angelosetti is decaying before our very eyes. The Colony has fractured, and even their tangible victory from that King of Trios weekend in 2011 has been assassinated from history, replaced by usurper ants who claim to be X-Treme. Mike Quackenbush was stabbed in the face by Jigsaw, and months later, after receiving an envelope, his presence from the roster page has faded away.

Quack is not the only one who has disappeared from the Chikara roster page without any grand fanfare. As mentioned before, Gargano's gone, and so is Soldier Ant. All three left with storylines dangling. Amasis' return to the roster has definite ties to the crypt. His career was murdered by Ophidian at High Noon, the final death blow after a car accident injured him so badly that most thought he was finished as an active competitor. But he rose from his crypt, dragged the sarcophagus back with him, and is looking to stuff his former friend into it.

Delirious' free will was killed when UltraMantis Black put him under the spell of the Eye of Tyr, and it was a zombie-like trance that lasted until Mantis himself broke the curse when he reclaimed the jewel from the BDK at High Noon. Delirious' response wasn't that of gratitude. He swore to kill Mantis' career, waging a war that is seemingly in a lull. In the interim, Dasher Hatfield, a man as imbued in the fabric of Chikara as Mantis himself, will look to end any machinations Delirious has.

Mantis himself is in a battle for the life of his own identity. The Colony X-Treme Force, in a move that has befit a predecessor group called Gekido, has taken to stealing masks. They took Frightmare's hood, his identity, thus attempting to kill his persona. There's a reason why that crime is met with instant disqualification. In the lucha libre world, that's tantamount to murder.

Tim Donst has suffered spiritual atrophy since last year's beginning-of-summer iPPV, to the point where he is lashing out at the ring announcer. Gavin Loudspeaker did nothing worth the harassment he's gotten. Now, because of Wink Vavasseur's megalomania, he's stuck in a hair-vs.-hair match. Given the disparity in training between the two, Loudspeaker could have a brush with physical death.

Then again, maybe I was wrong. Maybe Wink Vavasseur isn't who he seems, which is a bumbling sandstorm of incompetence and shortsightedness. Maybe there is a physical manifestation of Death in Chikara, and he's sitting in the seat of the current Director of Fun. There's an entire periphery of shadowy figures whom we haven't met yet, and maybe it's for good reason. The timeline has shifted in Chikara, and there's no good reason why mortals, even mortals who have been granted supernatural gifts like Mantis has with the Eye, should be able to have this kind of temporal influence. Maybe these interlopers are supernatural beings, gods even.

If Vavasseur is Death, then maybe John Titor, the man who is reputed to have started all this by traveling back in time, IS Time. Who else could manipulate the unmanipulatable than the entity itself? Vavasseur's father could very well be Fate. Why would the gods be interested in the dealings of mortal men? Is there a reckoning? Has the crisis that was averted when Ozymandias fooled the world have translated into the actual death of Chikara?

There are a lot of rumors and a lot of speculation as to whether Chikara will remain an entity after this show is finished. No tickets are on sale for any shows announced after. There are nasty rumors afoot about the personal lives those behind the scenes. There is a sick sense of dread that this could be the end. But whether the turn is that whoever plays the role of Dr. Manhattan decides to blink humanity out of existence instead of fleeing to a distant solar system, or whether the fight will continue in a post-apocalyptic landscape of Chikara, like Rorschach, the entity of Chikara will never compromise, not even in the face of death.

Because death, you see, is inevitable. "All things must pass" isn't just a cool name for an album, it's a truism. Whether Chikara passes away here or not, the thematic atmosphere of finality and being prepared to deal with the end of life is one that pervades this climactic show as we approach its event horizon. Regardless of what carries on? It is going to make whatever happens on Sunday feel as epic as the end of a soul-consuming graphic novel or a grand-scale television show.

Chikara's Aniversario: Never Compromise will be emanating from the Trocadero in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday. If you're planning to be there live, the address is 1003 Arch Street. Doors open at 3 PM. The event is available on Smart Mark Video On Demand iPPV, starting at 4 PM. The Never Compromise Free Pre-Show starts at 3:30 PM.

In case you want some more reading in preview of this event, check out the following posts: