Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The People's Poop Goblin: Chikara You Only Live Twice Review

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Photo Credit: Zia Hiltey
In the TH Style. Check back to Smart Mark Video for DVD/mp4/VOD availability.

  • Tursas returned to Chikara as a member of the newly-reformed BDK, helping the trio defeat the Spectral Envoy with Ragnarok on Frightmare.
  • The debuting "Smooth Sailing" Ashley Remington defeated Chuck Taylor with the Lasso from El Paso.
  • Mike Quackenbush was named as the new Director of Fun.
  • The Batiri defeated the Odditorium by disqualification when Sinn Bodhi blatantly kicked Kodama in the groin.
  • Juan Francisco de Coronado turned Jervis Cottonbelly's mask around and hit him with an Everest German suplex for the win.
  • The Throwbacks survived the four-corner elimination tag match, last eliminating the Pieces of Hate. Mark Angelosetti got the deciding pin on The Shard after a Certified HOSS™ delay superplex.
  • Jimmy Jacobs defeated Archibald Peck thanks to distraction from his goons wearing plague masks and a leaping ace crusher from the corner.
  • The Colony: Xtreme Force defeated The Colony after Missile Assault Ant hit Fire Ant with a lawn dart on an exposed turnbuckle. After the match, The Colony reclaimed their stolen 2011 King of Trios medals.
  • King of Trios was announced to return this year at the Easton Funplex.
  • Icarus defeated Eddie Kingston with the Chikara Special to become the second ever Grand Champion of Chikara.
  • After the main event, The Flood came out to attack the combined forces of Chikara. Soldier Ant and Delirious were in their possession, brainwashed to attack their former mates. The final big bad, the Titan of Titor, appeared and "killed" Kobald.

General Observations:
  • Apparently, I missed a trios match during the Expansion Match pre-show, where the Baltic Siege took on the Bloc Party, with a new member representing the former Soviet state of Georgia (not the Peach State of Georgia) who was a complete rib on Sean Waltman. Such is life.
  • Gavin Loudspeaker opened the show with this greeting: "It's my privilege to say.... WE'RE BACK!!" I missed you, Chikara.
  • The Funplex was SWARMING with people. I think the crowd doubled the population of Easton for this show.
  • Ares was the first wrestler out for the entire show, and he debuted his new moustache. It looked like he was trying to do bad Tom Selleck cosplay. Conversely, what better way to get the Chikara crowd to hate him even more.
  • UltraMantis Black opened his promo from the aisle by invoking his team's status as the reigning King of Trios, which then brought out the return of another King of Trios winner, Tursas, to attack the Envoy. I think Chikara meant to drive the foreshadowing home for the big announcement later in the show.
  • I may secretly have to root for the BDK, because the group has the POWER OF HOSS. Both Nøkken and Tursas both looked spry and strong during this match. The highlight for either guy happened near the beginning, when Nøkken grabbed Frightmare in a headlock/sleeper and just swung him around like a rag doll. Oh baby. HOSS ME BABY.
  • Hallowicked and Frightmare looked like they were about to bust out a new finisher for the team until they were rudely interrupted. However, the silver lining was the return of RAGNAROK to Chikara. Still the most impressive triple-team finisher I've ever seen, although to be fair, I've only ever seen two other ones (and one of them is The Shield's kinda lame triple powerbomb that's really just a Roman Reigns powerbomb).
  • Bonus match! And one of the competitors was the debuting Dalton Castle, except his name here wasn't Dalton Castle, it was "Smooth Sailing" Ashley Remington. He came down to the ring in a captain's hat (possibly the same one that belongs to Nick Ando) and a lass around each of his arms. Chikara rebrands can be hit or miss, especially when no masks are involved, but right from the start, I was in love with this character.
  • Remington dropkicked Chuck Taylor off the apron, which led to Taylor pouting around the outside of the ring as he's wont to do. However, like a perfect sailing gentleman, Remington held the ropes open for him to invite him back into the ring.
  • Taylor had Remington in the corner choking him, and after he broke the hold, he turned around to referee Justice Jon Barber and shouted "I DON'T KNOW THE RULES."
  • After Remington got the win, his lasses came back out with a fruit basket, which he presented to Taylor. That act sealed it. Ashley Remington is my new favorite wrestling character in perpetuity.
  • Robbie Ellis was formally introduced as Chikara's new owner, and he nearly immediately gave the floor to the new Director of Fun, Mike Quackenbush. Quack gave an impassioned speech about how Chikara was each and every single one of the people in attendance. He even named names, including the wonderfully gifted and insanely talented Danielle Matheson. He also shouted out one of the writers here. I just don't remember which one. He couldn't have been that important, to be honest.
  • Haha, the Batiri got streamers for their entrance instead of toilet paper. They've made it!
  • The Odditorium/Batiri match was the first taste I got of Qefka the Quiet in the ring. As fate would have it, he's a wrestling mime, which is the easiest heel heat-drawing gimmick in the history of the world. I would bet the Young Bucks would be cheered over him.
  • Both Kobald and Sinn Bodhi really stood out as leaders for their teams. This match was the first time the Batiri actually in a position to garner cheers from the crowd, and while a lot of it had to do with their affiliation with Chikara, Kobald did a great job stoking the fires and working as the head of his trio. Conversely, Bodhi's methodical pacing and sheer brutality gave his seemingly silly band of carnies an air of legitimacy.
  • In the brouhaha after the disqualification was called, Kobald gave Qefka the Royal Butterfly, which was almost a sweet tribute to the wrestler the Batiri tormented before she went off to train Divas in the land of Full Sail. Even poop demons miss the Queen of Wrestling.
  • I wish I could recap what Juan Francisco de Coronado said before his match with Jervis Cottonbelly, but the crowd drowned every single word he said out. By far he got the loudest heat of the night.
  • Of all the matches, the JDFC/Cottonbelly match was the one I thought should have gotten more time. Those two wrestlers really get the balance between working the crowd, developing character, and actually working the match. I really liked what I saw, even if it felt truncated.
  • Man, Dasher Hatfield got pretty jacked in the last couple of months, didn't he?
  • Shane Matthews actually got both members of the Gekido in the match into a Boston crab simultaneously, which got the biggest reaction of the elimination tag match until the very end.
  • After 3.0 got eliminated, I almost morbidly wanted to see the Throwbacks get tossed just to see if any friction would develop between the two factions from The Flood. I still think Jigsaw could be a Sting-type figure/sleeper agent for Chikara.
  • Hatfield probably spent like 90% of the match as the face-in-peril. Seriously, he took a gosh-darn beating.
  • Mark Angelosetti with his delayed top rope superplex became the most diminutive member of the Certified HOSS™ club. Seriously, I don't care if The Shard was the only person in the match smaller than he was. That feat took THE POWER OF HOSS.
  • Situational no-selling gets overused in wrestling a lot, but I think one spot where it always fits is if it's used in reaction to being spat on. Archibald Peck's seething anger at getting a loogie from Jimmy Jacobs was among the best uses of it.
  • Something I found quite refreshing - the Peck/Jacobs match was the first one on the entire show that featured one of those gratuitous strike-trading spots meant to get the crowd getting into a "BOO!... YAY!" chorus.
  • However, Peck went crazy with the DDTs and hit 10 of them on Jacobs for a transitional spot. Jake "The Snake" Roberts got a severe chill down his spine (and not because he spent the weekend in Canada either).
  • Missile Assault Ant worked his Twitter gimmick of proclaiming his name with exclamation points into multiple spots during the match. The best instance happened when he had Fire Ant in the corner hitting him with European uppercuts to the tune of MISSILE! ASSAULT! ANT!
  • The double-and-triple team offense in this match was on point from both teams. Seriously, nothing in the last five years is as consistently entertaining as Chikara's multi-person tag matches. I'm getting to the point where the best possible dream match in my mind is The Shield taking on either The Colony, the Spectral Envoy, or even the Baltic Siege.
  • Referee impartiality is an underrated aspect of any match. One thing I hate in WWE is that if a ref doesn't see something happen, but sees the aftermath, he calls for the match reversal even though he never saw the action take place. Dan Yost saw that the middle turnbuckle pad was removed, but he didn't see the actual removal process. So he didn't reverse the decision of the match. Sometimes, the best way to advance a story isn't to have the heels perform outlandish deeds of nefarious villainy, but for the faces to be undone by procedural bureaucracy.
  • The true Ants got their King of Trios medals back after the match though, which is reassuring.
  • Eddie Kingston got a barrage of toilet paper before the Grand Championship match started. He got the toilet paper that used to be reserved for The Batiri. KOBALD 4 GRAND CHAMP!
  • Kingston stepped to young lady in the crowd, and she did not back down whatsoever. That fan has way more gumption than even I would have had, seeing as how I cowered from Kingston's death glare at a Wrestling Is Cool show last year. It just goes to show that courage is not determined by gender whatsoever.
  • The stupid Botchamania fan who goes to every Chikara show in the area actually successfully got the fans to chant fat-shaming shit at Kingston during the match. I have to admit the "Burger Kingston!" chants were funny, but Jesus, can we get off the body type-framing chants, please? Especially since Kingston is actually kinda not fat now?
  • Although I thought the match got a little overwrought at times, the story of Kingston's hubris and Icarus' never-say-die, you-can't-beat-me attitude were spot on, and way more well-done than what the story was at Aniversario.
  • Speaking of throwing back to Aniversario, the Chikara locker room poured out of the back, making the Flood vs. Chikara angle automatically better than WCW vs. the nWo ever was.
  • Icarus' celebration after winning the Grand Championship felt almost as overwrought as the match itself, to the point where fans were actually leaving thinking it was the end of the show. However, I think given what was about to come next, his celebration had to be prolonged. If it wasn't going to end the show, he had to get some kind of extended moment in the Sun during it.
  • I had no idea Delirious was kidnapped (again!... he's always getting kidnapped), but Soldier Ant being brought out actually got me pretty giddy... until it was clear they were brainwashed.
  • Kobald came forth to challenge the MIGHTY TITAN OF TITOR, which cemented his status as biggest folk hero of the show. I actually thought his spear was going to work, until he just ended up in the goozle. The chokebreaker killed him dead, man. Poor Kobald. POOR KOBALD.

Match of the Night: Fire Ant, Worker Ant, and Green Ant vs. Missile Assault Ant, Orbit Adventure Ant, and Arctic Rescue Ant - To be honest, I didn't expect much out of this match going in. It was nothing against the individual workers, but I thought it would've been marked by the same kind of interference and chicanery that kicked off the Envoy/BDK match and finished the Batiri/Odditorium match. That wasn't to say the match finished clean. However, the shenanigans in this match were embedded within a fantastic trios match, the kind which has become one of the signatures of Chikara over the years.

As with any trios match, the teamwork was all on point. It's easy to point out all the high-flying, complex moves performed, mainly because they were visually spectacular. The Xtreme Force triple-team forced snowboard spot on the back of Worker Ant was topped only by a death-defying Ant Hill Splash to the outside. But each team adopted the traditional Southern tag team roles so well. I was super-impressed by how well the Xtreme Force was able to cut the ring in half and work over Worker Ant, in particular. He may have seemed to have a rough match, but he certainly recovered from his flubs in a way that made them seem like they were part of the script.

But the two most impressive individual performers were Green Ant (typically) and Missile Assault Ant (surprisingly). I figured Green Ant would come out on fire, since he has become one of the best wrestlers on the indies and possibly in the country over the last few years. But Missile Assault Ant was the revelation. He did great crowd work, had all the big spots for his team, and generally drove the action on his squad. And the finish of the match was super well-done, taking advantage of the chaos inherent in a typical Chikara trios match to put a fresh spin on a classic heel trope (removing the turnbuckle pad) while keeping it in the flow of the match. On a show where the return of King of Trios was announced, it's appropriate the best match was a classic six-man (ant?) tag.

Overall Thoughts: Just when you think you have the answers, Chikara, like Rowdy Roddy Piper, changes the questions. The Flood wasn't exactly at a loss during the show; the most major defeat suffered by the invading group saw the Throwbacks continue their torrid streak from winning Tag World Grand Prix last night and triumphing in the four-way elimination tag match. But the group already saw its main objective, decimating the Chikara name, go out the window at National Pro Wrestling Day. The fact that they all had to wrestle under the Chikara banner was a defeat to begin their campaign. So the heavy artillery had to be brought out.

Now, Delirious' inclusion within the secret weapon trio was a bit baffling to me, since the last time he was in a Chikara ring, he was fighting a battle under devious terms. Perhaps he was secretly rehabilitated somewhere between the closure at Aniversario last year and the end of Wrestling Is Respect in January. I don't know. However, Soldier Ant as the other hostage was a trump card revelation. I wondered what had become of the erstwhile military mat mite, but, as Friend of the Blog and super-cool wrestling fan type person De O'Brien said initially, The Winter Soldier Ant is a brilliant comic book character type to port into this story in particular.

Speaking of comic characters, the third secret weapon, named mysteriously as The Titan of Titor, apparently, looked an awful lot like some iteration of Bane. I racked my brain to think of who could be behind the mask at first. He was too ripped to be Chris Hero and too tall to be Tim Donst. But then I saw him shrug off a Kobald spear, lift him over his head in goozle position, and just about kill him dead with a chokebreaker. At that point, identity didn't mean as much to me as the raw physical brutality he doled out, and how much that moment cemented Kobald as the newest Chikara folk hero.

He took charge during his trios match like he was a confident, veteran leader rather than the third wheel of the trio. And having Kobald be the one who was laid out in the prime spot made him yet another leading face. IN the span of only three months, Kobald has gone from whimsical poop goblin with the greatest 24/7 Championship victory ever to one of the most celebrated and sympathetic heroes that Chikara has. Well, had at least. The Batiri announced today on their Facebook page that Kobald has "died." I doubt this development will lead to a permanent end for the Poop Demon. Still, he is now a martyr, which will only strengthen his reaction when he heroically comes back (I hope).

And a rebirth calls for new faces to stand up against the rising tides of floodwater. Old heroes had to die in order for new ones to take their places. Eddie Kingston faltering under the pressure of the Chikara Special gave rise to Icarus as the standard bearer for the tecnicos, as weird as that might have sounded at Under the Hood. Archibald Peck finally returned to the timeline to be the first to challenge Jimmy Jacobs. The Throwbacks coalesced and became the tag team they were meant to be. Even Ashley Remington's debut emitted so much promise for the future.

And heroes can't flourish unless they have strong villains against which to battle. Whether Qefka the Quiet executing on the most brilliant heel character ever in the wrestling mime, Tursas returning to create a HOSS VORTEX of certain doom alongside Nøkken, or Missile Assault Ant asserting himself as the alpha of the Impostor Ants, The Flood proved they have ranks strong enough to go toe to toe with Chikara's best.

The characters were only one part of what made the rebirth of Chikara so successful. The story was laid out for the rest of the season. It had moments on which to hang a hat, both positive and negative. The wrestling action was tremendous. And the sense of community felt like it had never gone away. The Chikaraverse proved itself immortal, and the journey towards infinity has been kicked off. This show may be talked about for a long time, even if at its heart would turn out to be transitional in terms of its importance in resolution.