Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Face of Armageddon: Chikara Aniversario: Never Compromise Review

In my style. Get the replay here.

  • In the pre-show, Mark Angelosetti retained the Young Lions Cup after an amazing sequence that saw Saturyne reverse a super bomb into hurricanrana into a sunset flip finish pin.
  • The Spectral Envoy defeated the Colony: X-Treme Force when Hallowicked tapped Orbit Adventure Ant with the Chikara Special
  • Thanks to help from Kobold, Delirious defeated Dasher Hatfield with the Shadows Over Heck.
  • The Colony defeated the Devastation Corporation as Green Ant tapped out Blaster McMassive with the elevated cloverleaf.
  • In a crazy match that again saw the interference of Kobold, Amasis played off Ophidian's hypnosis, removed his mask, and shoved him in the sarcophagus to win.
  • Thanks to Jakob Hammermeier finally breaking free of Tim Donst's abusive mental grip, Gavin Loudspeaker was able to use a superplex to win the lucha de apuesta and free Donst of his hair.
  • Derek Sabato made an appearance, and tweeted this picture of Wink Vavasseur's father and other members of the Titor Conglomerate. He was chased off by Vavasseur before he could reveal any more about said picture or its purpose.
  • Pieces of Hate defeated 3.0, 2 falls to 1, to win los Campeonatos de Parejas. The Shard caused Shane Matthews to pass out in the ankle lock in the deciding fall.
  • Eddie Kingston and Icarus went to a no-contest when, as Icarus was about to have Kingston pass out in the Chikara Special, Vavasseur had Condor Security storm the ring, destroy the set, and force fans out of the arena as he sat on the stage eating an apple.

General Observations:
  • Scarlett Bordeaux was our host for the pre-show, claiming it was her first time in Philadelphia. It wasn't, as she was there for National Pro Wrestling Day. However, she did dress a LOT more elegantly than when she was seconding Shane Hollister there.
  • Sidney Bakabella came out to cut a promo where he said we'd remember the names of himself and the Devastation Corporation "FOREVER AND FOREVER AND FOREVER AND FOREVER AND..." They are totally embracing the time shift angle.
  • Saturyne came out for the Young Lions Cup match, and I swear, she had at least three or four more abs than when I last saw her.
  • Mark Angelosetti at one point in the match stomped really hard on her midsection. Sound strategy, since if you're going to beat someone with a billion ab muscles, you might as well try to take as many out with singular strikes as possible.
  • There was an exchange out of the corner from a top rope attempt, and it ended up with Saturyne putting Angelosetti into the bottom turnbuckle with an O'Connor Roll, shades of the Queen of Wrestling herself, Sara del Rey.
  • I loved the finish of this match. I loved the match, period. It was the best Saturyne looked ever, and if this is what we're going to get from her going forward, then she's gonna be a huge star sooner rather than later.
  • After the match, Dasher Hatfield, who had accompanied Angelosetti for the match, showed sportsmanship to Saturyne after the match, but Angelosetti busted through the handshake and was visibly angry at his tag partner for consorting with the defeated.
  • I nearly lost my poop when I saw Orbit Adventure Ant make his entrance. Not only was his helmet absurdly and aesthetically pleasing, but his "moonwalking" so so amusing.
  • Frightmare got way up in Missile Assault Ant's grill, daring him to take his mask at that point. Where Chikara wrestlers can be forgiven for their faults in mechanics is attention to story details. That is, if there were glaring weaknesses (I rarely find any, but I am biased).
  • Orbit went into his moonwalking twice during the match. Is it bad that I thought that he should go full speed or moonwalking consistently? Yeah, it probably is.
  • There were more than a few flubs during the show, the first noticeable one being when the Envoy was doing their closing combo move flourish, and there wasn't a single "You screwed up!" chant. Proud of you, Troc crowd.
  • So, Delirious' pants definitely had a space motif. Then, this Twitter account popped up. THE WHEELS, THEY MOVE.
  • I will never not tittle at least a little bit when Delirious gnaws on a random body part, like he did with Hatfield's torso.
  • Kobold appeared and speared Hatfield out of his pants while Delirious distracted the ref. After the Shadows over Heck put Hatfield away, there was an audible "Where was Touchdown?" chant, although I would have rather have seen Sugar Dunkerton.
  • I can't shake the feeling of deja vu whenever I see Green Ant and Max Smashmaster in the same ring. I just don't know why...
  • I know some have cooled on the Colony, but whenever I see them do stuff like Ants Go Marching or the Ant Hill Splash, I still get goosebumps.
  • Bakabella ate a superkick at one point, but unlike other managerial physicality, he actually put his hands on the wrestlers during the match. So, I allowed it.
  • DAT SARCOPHAGUS. It was so cheesy looking, but for a low rent indie promotion, it was perfect.
  • Before the match, there was a section of fans who sang, in full, the "O Whacking Day" song from The Simpsons, which, for those who have lived under a rock or who are too young to remember that episode, was a day when Springfield took up billy clubs and hunted snakes. It was lovely.
  • Ophidian came out actually blocking Amasis' punches and strikes early. I know this sounds pretty counterintuitive, but that was the most innovative thing I saw on the show. In fact, Amasis and Ophidian kept countering each other's moves, more so Ophidian, which made sense because they still knew each other so well.
  • Amasis tried rolling Ophidian out to the sarcophagus, which was located on the stage, but Ophidian kept rolling back into the ring, which led to him drilling Amasis with a stump DDT (think of the thru-ropes DDT Randy Orton alway does, only this one looked a billion times better).
  • Ophidian broke out the cobra clutch in innovative ways, first in a pumphandle slam toss, and second as a seated submission with a Romero special (Mexican surfboard) as the base for it. This was probably the best I've seen Ophidian in the ring since the Portal breakup, by the by.
  • Amasis ended up breaking out a Death Valley driver on the apron. I thought I was desensitized to apron moves, thanks to PWG, but I audibly gasped.
  • And that wasn't even the most insane spot of the night, because Ophidian broke out an Egyptian Destroyer on the sarcophagus lid. I thought that would've been the end of the match, but Amasis rolled down the steps and onto the floor, which I thought was a BRILLIANT way to prolong the match without killing that spot.
  • A wild Kobold appeared once more! Only this time, it was to spear Ophidian in a miscommunication. Oops!
  • Don't mean to sound all smarty-pants, but I kinda figured that Amasis was leading Ophidian on with the hypnosis. But he played along so well.
  • Amasis removing Ophidian's mask was a nice nod to the beginning of the latter's rise to prominence, but him wearing Amasis' old mask? That was a mind-farg. I wonder if it just spoke to Ophidian's own neuroses, or whether it's foreshadowing...
  • Veronica Ticklefeather came out looking so elegant and stunning. The Black Swan is a look that befits her.
  • Jakob Hammermeier hopped on the apron to preen to the crowd, and unprovoked, Donst just knocked him down. He did the same to Steve Weiner during the match too, and he broke Ticklefeather's baton. It was an all out abuse-a-palooza.
  • I laughed out loud when Gavin Loudspeaker tried to give Tim Donst the KICK STUNNER combo and failed futilely. In fact, the entire match played out the way a wrestler vs. announcer match should have until...
  • Hammermeier FINALLY busted out of his funk. The arena melted down for him finally standing up to himself.
  • Look, I know it took a really long time between Hammermeier crotching Donst and Loudspeaker delivering the superplex to win the match. But really, if you take a ring support, a METAL RING SUPPORT HOLDING TOGETHER LARGE CABLES IN TENSION, to the junk, well, you should realistically be dazed for that long as well. Plus, Donst didn't have his whipping boy anymore. A lot of his character is mental.
  • Loudspeaker, after getting the pin, did not move a single inch on his own volition.
  • Donst ended up shaving himself because he thought Bryce Remsburg moved too slowly. Was that him putting a piece of the timeline back to normal?
  • Derek Sabato referenced another guy fired by Wink Vavasseur as the one tipping him off in a phone call. Time to go down another rabbit hole!
  • The four names Sabato named are all masculine, but there was clearly a female in that picture. Maybe she just had weird parents? Or maybe she ended up getting transgendered and it was an old picture? Who knows!
  • The Shard got a quick first fall win over Shane Matthews in the CdP match with a casadora-looking pin while Jigsaw superkicked Scott Parker. It didn't get any easier to follow after that.
  • Surprisingly, the crowd was split between the two teams, which either speaks to the power of Jigsaw's justification for turning rudo, or it means people have been reading Matthews' Twitter account again.
  • Parker was able to finagle out of a top rope move and hit the Sweet Taste of Professionalism from the top for the second fall.
  • Matthews, during the third fall, landed a uranage suplex on Jigsaw on the apron, which only says to me NO PWG YOU CANNOT HAVE ALL THE APRON MOVES. NO. WE WANT SOME BACK EAST TOO.
  • The finishing sequence was crazy with the lengths Jigsaw went to keeping Parker at bay. At first, I thought I would have rather have seen a tap out from Matthews on the ankle lock, but the dude plays (?) a legitimately crazy dude. So yeah, I can see him thinking in his Red Bull-addled stupor that he could get to the ropes even if he was miles away.
  • Marty Jannetty did NOT show up to escort Icarus to the ring (shock of shocks), but he was there in spirit, as Icarus donned something that came from the Rockers' outtake closet.
  • Early in the match, Eddie Kingston had Icarus hard in the Greco-Roman knuckle lock and demanded Bryce to "Ask him." Rudo War King is gonna be so much fun.
  • After being a rudo for so long, I was legitimately shocked to see how much babyface fire Icarus had behind his comebacks, especially the one into Sliced Bread #2.
  • My body was ready to cheer Icarus as Grand Champion after he locked in the Chikara Special (one of the best-looking ones I've EVER seen), but then...

The End Sequence - (It needs its own segment)
  • Wink Vavasseur appeared from the back, disheveled, as if he got into an altercation. With whom? I doubt we'll know anytime soon.
  • Condor Security followed behind, swarming the Trocadero in the greatest numbers I've ever seen them in at least. They swept the ring and removed Bryce Remsburg, Eddie Kingston, and Icarus before moving towards the crowd to get them to leave.
  • More Condors went back towards the stage, toppled the entryway, ripped down the curtain, and even toppled the larger curtain that hid the backstage area from view. When the main curtain came down, it revealed Gavin Loudspeaker was STILL dead, being attended to by Dr. Dave Robel on top of the sarcophagus.
  • The Condors were mashing down barricades, trying to intimidate fans on the floor to leave, but we all stood our ground, chanting "WE WON'T GO! WE WON'T GO!" The house lights flickered on and off, but the crowd didn't start to move towards the exit until Brendan O'Donnell, who took over ring announcing duties after Loudspeaker had become incapacitated, announced that the show was over.
  • As all this was happening, Vavasseur sat, suit torn apart, atop a steel folding chair, eating an apple, as his goons whisked fans from the arena.
  • As I got into the foyer area where the wrestlers were hawking their wares, all the tables were gone, and the counters were bare. There was not a shirt, glossy, mask, or Devastation Corporation wrestling buddy to be seen anywhere. Ghost town.
  • Once every last fan was outside, the Condors locked the doors. One fan, whom it turns out I actually know, rammed into one of the doors so hard that it shattered the glass on it.
  • As the crowd milled around outside on Arch Street, Bryce Remsburg walked by hurriedly, ignoring any calls or greetings. He had a corrugated cardboard box and his duffel bag, and he still was in his Chikara referee gear.
  • The guy who presumably writes the No Private Armies blog was standing around outside at the corner of 10th and Arch. He didn't answer any questions because of the sensitivity of the situation, but Danielle ended up giving him her e-mail address before he scampered across Arch Street to flee the Condors.

So yeah, this is far from the end. It's only the climax. If you actually know your literature, then yeah, you'll know those are two totally different things.

Match of the Night: Fire Ant, Green Ant, and assailANT vs. Blaster McMassive, Max Smashmaster, and Flex Rumblecrunch - True story, when Green Ant came up to the balcony to reprise the first balcony dive he did in that same venue, only on the other side of the building, he passed right in front of me and my friends. We knew it was coming. But it didn't diminish the act of leaping from the balcony onto the three hulking frames of the Devastation Corporation. In 2012, his leap was done for hatred, to show Gekido that he didn't take kindly to them trying to steal his mask. This was out of necessity. The Colony was outweighed by the two established members of the Corporation. Drastic measures had to be taken.

And it was true, the Corporation had the size, and they had Sidney Bakabella on the outside, meddling whenever the Ants got their advantages. But the lengths that the Ants went to take out the Corporation showed that there was still some fight left in tecnicos, all of whom have been put under attack. They worked in tandem, and Fire Ant even took his offensive move chaining to new heights, at one point leaping off Max Smashmaster in a headscissors down to taking out Blaster McMassive with a basement DDT.

For all the skepticism around the Corporation though, they held up their end, especially the new Flex Rumblecrunch, who proved to be at least half as good in the ring as his name was out of it. The show was the "coming out" party for several parties, but none more than the Corporation, who finally showed that they could hang with the luchadors who have set the bar pretty high over the last five or so years. All in all, it was the perfect confluence to make this trios affair the standout match on a standout Chikara anniversary show.

Overall Thoughts: I went in expecting something grandiose and earth-shattering, and I got it, although not in the way I thought it would be. I was expecting the sound clip of changing dimensions in A Link to the Past and to be transported across space and time... at least as well as a company like Chikara could do on their budget. But a paramilitary takeover of the main event just as a new Grand Champion was about to be crowned, with Vavasseur mysteriously in tatters? Yeah, that was not expected, but it was oddly and weirdly satisfying.

I mean, it's hard to call a show that ended with Vavasseur overseeing his carnage while eating an apple, eerily reminiscent of Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned satisfying. I mean, my bud and noted Chikara skeptic Dylan Hales said that if it happened in any other company, that it would've been shit upon. I agree with that, but I don't think any other company would have used that payoff with the kind of build that Chikara used. And believe me, Chikara has been building to this even before the beginning of the BDK angle. That's a long time. A really gosh darn long time. Whether this the end of Chikara as a named entity or whether it's a bump on the road in its lineage, it's certainly not the end of the story. However, it was the moment of catharsis, the climax so to speak, that set up the road to a resolution. The shows that were announced that may or may not happen all pertain around a theme of the George Harrison album All Things Must Pass. Well, there's a lot of passin' that needs to go on.

Up to the point of the main event, which was stopped from happening almost mercifully (I was into Icarus winning in the moment, but would the timeline really have been rent asunder if he had won to an exploding pop? That's the darkest timeline.), but the other seven matches? Yeah, they were, as a body of work, awesome. They each offered something different. Saturyne/Touchdown was an athletic junior indie style contest. The Devastation Corporation/Colony trios match had insane spot after insane spot. Loudspeaker/Donst was all story catharsis. Even the main event was a well-worked, traditional title match that played on all the tropes until Condor Security stormed the joint.

But the cataclysm is what people are going to talk about. It was coming for a long time, and it was something the likes that hasn't been seen since Three Fisted Tales. I passed on going to that because I thought the DGUSA show in November would be the better bet. I was wrong. Personally, I was glad I got to witness Chikara history today, because let me tell you, it was far better than seeing it at home or on DVD.