Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Field Report: Live at CHIKARA NYC

The Batiri and The Colony exchange pleasantries
Photo Credit: Bryan Heaton
This past Saturday, Chikara held a show in Hell's Heck's Kitchen in New York City - The Living Daylights, to be exact. Being a born-and-bred Long Islander, I threw on my best Los Ice Creams shirt, jumped on the train (thanks for not striking, LIRR!), and headed out to Stage 48.

Officially, this was my second Chikara show, with the first being the big return at You Only Live Twice in May. Unofficially, I feel like it was the fourth - I was at National Pro Wrestling Day in February, which was a CHIKARA show in everything except for name, and I went to the finals of the Tag World Grand Prix by Wrestling is Fun! the night before YOLT. If I have one major regret in life, it's wearing jorts while in my 30s. If I have a second, it's not listening to my good buddy Mike and getting into CHIKARA before 2014. But time cures all (except the clap, get that checked out, bro), I finally listened to Mike, and here we are meeting up at the show.

Stage 48, if you've never been (and I hadn't), is an interesting choice of venue for a wrestling show. As a concert hall, there are like maybe a dozen seats - everything else is SRO. And out of those dozen seats, maybe three had a decent, relatively unobstructed view. Also, Stage 48 has two levels; looking to get a different perspective on a wrestling show, I chose a spot on the upper level along the railing, basically looking straight down on the ring. It was pretty cool, even if most of my pictures came out blurry due to a combination of a crappy photographer (me) and a crappy camera (an old, laggy iPhone 4).

Full disclosure: I don't take notes at shows because I'm paranoid that when I look down at a notepad I'll miss something awesome. I make no claims to be a Pulitzer-worthy reporter; I just want to go to a fun show and write about it. So here's what went down on Saturday night.

The opening contest was a four-corners elimination tag match, pitting Haack 'n' Slaash against The Batiri, The Bloc Party, and The Colony. A nice little touch that ran through the night - all of the members of The Flood entered from a different location than the Chikara wrestlers proper. I don't know if this has been done at every show (I couldn't really see the entrance at YOLT) but it really adds to the "us vs. them" theme of this season. In-ring action was pretty good in this one, with up to three points on the line towards a shot at los Campeonatos de Parejas. Haack 'n' Slaash were the first team eliminated, after Worker Ant busted out a pump-handle GTS. Mr. Azerbaijan and the Proletariat Boar of Moldova were the next to go, as Fire Ant did his usual lucha madness - reversing a sidewalk slam into not the usual headscissor takedown, but a freaking Stone Cold Stunner. However, The Colony couldn't get the sweep, as the final point and victory in the match went to The Batiri. Despite the frustration Fire Ant showed after being pinned, all four competitors shook hands following the match in a show of respect.

Next up was AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION with the first-ever CHIKARA THUMB WAR, featuring 3.0 and the CHIKArmy. The room was divided in half, and each member of 3.0 picked six people on their side to have a giant thumb war, where the winner would go on to the finals. Mike and I were on the side of the room for Team Big Magic, who was represented in the finals by Armand; Team Jagged was represented by Ashley. Armand won the thumb war in the center of the ring, and both he and Ashley won shirts. Best thumb war I've ever seen.

Back to the action, we were graced by the presence of Ecuador's finest warrior, Juan Francisco de Coronado. His opponent was New York native Eddie Kingston, former Grand Champion who hasn't quite gotten over losing the title. Kingston looked disinterested, showed up in his street clothes, and attempted to leave the match on more than one occasion. JFDC jumped him from behind, leading to Kingston briefly firing up. However, he got caught in a reverse Texas Cloverleaf, and weakly tapped out, then walked away fine. Curious to see what happens with Kingston in the coming weeks.

The action rolled on as we got a grudge match between Silver Ant and Missile Assault Ant. Lots of good action in this one, as the fight spilled to the outside literally right below us. The security railing was VERY thin, and every time a wrestler jumped on top of it I cringed out of fear for them accidentally nutting themselves. When the action returned to the ring, Silver Ant relentlessly went for a submission victory with a sleeperhold/rear naked choke. Sadly for fans of The Colony, the Xtreme Force came out on top here, as Missile Assault Ant was able to roll himself on top while still trapped in the sleeper and pick up the three count.

The last match before intermission was a five-on-five tag match: The Throwbacks, The Baltic Siege, and Jervis Cottonbelly vs. Sinn Bodhi and The Odditorium, Nokken, and Tursas. Let me just say, if you've never seen him up close, Tursas is a MOUNTAIN of a man - just huge. And not that you need to be told, but mimes are creepy, and Qefka is no exception. I do appreciate the strength of Mr. Touchdown, who once again broke out his HOSS DELAYED SUPERPLEX - this time the final five or six of the twenty seconds he held Qefka up for were one-handed. We also had some good-natured tomfoolery from the tecnicos, as Dasher Hatfield congratulated Cottonbelly with a pat on the butt; this led to the purveyor of Gentlemania, the Estonian Thunder Frog, and the Latvian Proud Oak simultaneously grabbing the buttocks of both Angelosetti and Hatfield. The finish of the match saw Sinn Bodhi taking a blind tag and rolling up ThunderFrog with a handful of tights for the three, but the fight was not over. As all ten men brawled, Tursas took out both the Proud Oak and Cottonbelly with chokeslams, and Thunder Frog responded by grabbing the Hammer of Peace and taking out Tursas. Gotta say, seeing five Flood members trying vainly to carry out Tursas made me smile, but I had the benefit of not knowing what was going to happen to the Thunder Frog the next day, possibly in retaliation.

One quick note about the way too short intermission: Why haven't all indie wrestlers sent away for the free Square unit to take credit card payments on their cell phones? Icarus had one, and I wouldn't be surprised if he sold more shirts than others because he was the only one who could take a payment in something other than cash. Hell, I have a Square reader, and I have not used it once! Come on, guys, the 2.5 cents per swipe won't kill you if you make it up in volume!

Back to the second half of the show, and after losing our spot on the railing during intermission Mike and I moved to the lower level. Opening act II was The Osirian Portal taking on The Pieces of Hate in a non-title match. Absolutely fantastic match. For reasons not worth explaining, I really enjoy both these teams, so I was probably the only one in the room not choosing a side, and I think that helped me enjoy this more. Ophidian and Amasis have such good chemistry, and their double team offense is so fluid. Jigsaw is a solid worker who seems to relish being the heel, and The Shard is a scrappy little dude. Pieces of Hate picked up the W after The Osirian Sacrament was thwarted.

CHIKARA Magic Move! Out of the BINGO-style tumbler came the ball with "German suplex" written on it, so if the next match featured a German Suplex EVERYONE WOULD GET A PRIZE.

The next match just so happened to be the rematch of the century: Chuck Taylor vs. "Smooth Sailing" Ashley Remington. Having seen the first match at YOLT, loving everything about it, I had been super-pumped for this one. Of course, Taylor wanted nothing to do with a German suplex - some Kentucky Gentleman! Remington did everything in his power to execute a German (phrasing) in between finger guns and all that jazz. After a hard-fought, entertaining match, Remington managed to hit a German suplex for the win. And, always the nice guy, Remington presented Taylor with a fruit basket that looked DELICIOUS; for witnessing the magic move, each fan received a Chikara sticker on the way out the door.

After RAFFLEMania, we moved on to the main event - Sidney Bakabella's Wrecking Crew vs. The Spectral Envoy in atomicos action. Bakabella brought out the three-man Devastation Corporation and Jaka, while Blind Rage teamed with the most recent Kings of Trios. Remember how before I said Tursas was a mountain of a man? Well, Max Smashmaster is the same thing - and to see that man do a swanton bomb is unreal. Flex Rumblecrunch reminds me a hell of a lot of Billy Zabka - not sure why - and I could see him eventually moving to at least NXT. He's got the kind of look that Vince McMahon seems to love. Towards the end of the match, Bakabella distracted everyone's favorite referee Bryce Remsburg, which allowed Oleg the Usurper to run in and prevent Frightmare from locking in the Chikara Special. However, Oleg's interference wasn't enough, and when he tried again he was kicked out of the ring; Frightmare then used Oleg's helmet to attack Blaster McMassive and lock in the Chikara Special successfully this time for the victory.

And that's the show, folks. A great time, great wrestling, and great guys outside the ring. Looking forward to seeing everyone again at King of Trios (Night 3!) in September.