Monday, September 22, 2014

The Return of the King: Chikara King of Trios '14 Night Three Review

Smooth Sailing didn't appear on the show, but who cares!
Photo Credit: An anonymous Chikara friend whose name I didn't get
TH Style! I highly checking back to Smart Mark Video to see when you can get this show in whatever your desired medium is.

  • The Golden Trio defeated Jimmy Jacobs' Flood team when Volgar tapped out to Icarus' Chikara Special. After the match, Icarus freed the Lithuanian Snow Troll from his chains, only for the Troll to give him a low blow in return.
  • The Devastation Corporation punched its ticket to the finals with a Death Blow on Scott Parker of 3Peck0.
  • Mark Andrews put down Oliver Grimsley with a shooting star press.
  • The Osirian Portal eliminated nearly a third of the field in the Tag Team Gauntlet, but they couldn't overcome Sidney Bakabella's roll of quarters. Oleg the Usurper and Jaka won the Gauntlet thanks to help from their manager as the tenth and final team entered.
  • The Submission Squad defeated the Gentlemen's Club in atomicos action by hitting a Stone Cold Stunner, Rock Bottom, Atomic Leg Drop, and Warrior Splash on the Swamp Monster in quick succession.
  • Shynron overcame the red mist to defeat Seiya Sanada and win the Rey de Voladores title with a 630 senton off the second rope.
  • The Devastation Corporation won the 2014 King of Trios with a Death Blow on Dasher Hatfield.
  • After the match, the Flood laid waste to the Chikara roster and offered an ultimatum to Icarus to hand the Grand Championship to Eddie Kingston. Icarus was able to talk sense into Kingston, and the War King turned on Jacobs, allowing the Chikara roster to beat the Flood back and end the show on a high note.

General Observations:
  • "Smooth Sailing" Ashley Remington made an inexplicable appearance during Gavin Loudspeaker's introduction of the proceedings, and then was absent the rest of the show, which may  have been my only major complaint about the day. Then again, as seen above, I did get a mark photo with him, so it's not all bad.
  • Notable for their attendance: TEDDY HART AND HIS CAT, MR. MONEY. I almost expected them to appear on the show in some capacity, but alas, they did not. For as bad as Hart is nowadays though, even the most hardened soul would have to admit that him as the cat-stroking mastermind behind the Flood would've had so much kitsch value. He spent most of the show sitting next to Green Lantern Fan though. Gross.
  • The Flood team of Jimmy Jacobs, Eddie Kingston, and Volgar came out leading the Lithuanian Snow Troll on a chain leash, much in the same way that the BDK hauled Delirious around during that group's heyday. Someone needs to let these rudo factions know a thing or two about animal cruelty. Or human cruelty. Or Baltic elemental cruelty.
  • I'm so used to the lackadaisical-looking, casually-falling back version of the Samoan drop that when Volgar hit his by throwing his entire weight back with him, I jumped out of my seat. The little things.
  • When did the Throwbacks start using 3D?
  • When the Snow Troll was freed of his shackles and then attacked Icarus, Friend of the Blog Alex Torres made the timely reference to Game of Thrones and called him "Reek." I just hope that his Lil' Snow Troll didn't have to be freed from the rest of his body for the final breaking to happen.
  • 3Peck0 came out with facepaint to try and play mind games with the Devastation Corporation.
  • Max Smashmaster may be the most improved wrestler in Chikara over the last two years. Dude hossed his ass off in this match, both on offense and selling.
  • 3Peck0 at one point had Flex Rumblecrunch up in assisted electric chair position on Archibald Peck's shoulders and they triple-teamed him into a powerbomb. More than a few swanky double-and-triple-team moves got broken out on this show, but that one may  have been the best-looking one.
  • Mark Andrews and Oliver Grimsley broke out some nice mat grappling early on in their match, culminating in Andrews busting out the Lady in the Lake. I don't care how absurd the premise behind that move is, I love it unironically.
  • Andrews' high flying game was on point in this match. I've grown sick of seeing people try to do hurricanranas because they never "close the window" or the guy taking them is just so late on flipping over. However, Andrews' form was perfect, and for his part, Grimsley took it like champ.
  • Paul London and Evan Bourne/Matt Sydal have competition for the best shooting star press, because Andrews hits that move like a bawss. A graceful, majestic bawss, that is.
    1. Los Ice Creams (Ice Cream Jr. and El Hijo del Ice Cream)
    2. Old Fashioned (Jervis Cottonbelly and Marion Fontaine)
    3. N_R_G (Hype Rockwell and Race Jaxon)
    4. Colony: X-Treme Force (Arctic Rescue Ant and Missile [!] Assault [!] Ant [!])
    5. The Batiri (Obariyon and Kodama)
    6. The Osirian Portal (Ophidian and Amasis)
    7. The Bloc Party (Proletariat Boar of Moldova and Prakash Sabar)
    8. The Colony (Silver Ant and Worker Ant)
    9. Pete and Damian Dunne
    10. Oleg the Usurper and Jaka
  • One of Los Ice Creams started doing the chicken taunt to Old Fashioned, and then they started doing it as well, causing the crowd to loudly hum the melody from "The Chicken Dance." That Ice Cream then shouted "HEY, THEY ARE MAKING FUN OF ME!"
  • At one point, the Ice Creams pulled out a sock full of SPRINKLES and spread them around the ring like thumbtacks. Of course, being the gentlemen they are, Old Fashioned took turns cleaning them up. First, Fontaine swept them out of the ring with a push broom. Then Cottonbelly swept them up with a dustpan and brush, and finally, he brought out a SHOP-VAC. I unironically love Old Fashioned with all my heart. Of course, Los Ice Creams got the pin on Cottonbelly while he was vacuuming. I love those dairy deviants as well too.
  • Man, N_R_G is a decent gimmick idea, but those dudes may need some more time at the Wrestle Factory.
  • Things in the gauntlet zoomed by until the Batiri and the Osirian Portal squared off. The beginning of their match in the gauntlet began amusingly since the demons had just dispatched the rogue ants of the Flood. The Portal tried calming them down, but the Batiri just went in hard, calling back to their rudo roots.
  • At one point, the Portal looked over to the sound guy, and he played the REGGAETON HORN of meme-culture fame. I don't know how many people there got it, but I liked it.
  • Amasis spent way too much time between the Batiri match and the final match against the Wrecking Crew on the apron dying. I'm pretty sure Ophidian beat the Bloc Party all by himself.
  • This show was the first time I saw Prakash Sabar in person, and holy poop, his mask was outstanding with the tongue hanging out of it all the time. I so wish that Chikara would've brought Sean Waltman back for this show just to have a singles match between the two.
  • Sidney Bakabella knocking out Ophidian with a roll of quarters was the most perfect way he could have interfered. The attention to detail on some of these characters is so thorough and complete, and it adds to the atmosphere exponentially.
  • For as silly and absurd as the atomicos match between the Submission Squad and Gentlemen's Club started off and ended up, Davey Vega and Drew Gulak going "serious" for a few moments not only served as a nice anchor point for the absurd heights it would go, but it whet my appetite for a future singles match between the two. They both wrestle in Beyond. Hey Denver Colorado, make it happen!
  • Gary the Barn Owl and the Swamp Monster were each team's human/non-human hybrid, so OF COURSE they became BFFs during the match.
  • At one point, Chuck Taylor shoved his infamous grenade down Davey Vega's tights, at which Vega "stopped" the match and monologued about what was going to happen.  Joey O. remarked that it was right out of British comedy The Young Ones, which I've never seen. I'll take his word for it.
  • The match got so out of control after the grenade went off in Vega's drawers that I couldn't really take notes, but it ended with Bryce Remsburg attempting pins on both Gary and the Monster, leading to a familiar exchange between him and Taylor arguing that it was a three, ref. Of course, the roles were reversed, which begged the question, what if Remsburg had actually scored a three? Would it have been thrown out? Would he have been dragged in front of the ethics committee? DOES CHIKARA EVEN HAVE AN ETHICS COMMITTEE?
  • I theorized that the Swamp Monster took the pin because no one was there to keep him misted like in appearances past. A swamp elemental needs to stay damp in order remain as mobile as it can. Dryness, especially for Swampie, is a killer, man.
  • The Rey de Voladores final was my first exposure to Seiya Sanada, and I became a fan almost instantly. He had the flashy offense down, but what won me over were his subtle command of working heel and his presence. Despite his size, his fearsome presence was overwhelming. He, along with Flex Rumblecrunch of all people, were the guys I thought did the best job of menacing without even moving.
  • Shynron's offensive pyrotechnics were on full display here early. He feigned a dive to the outside on Sanada instead catching him off guard with a 619-style kick to the outside and a diving tope con hilo off the apron. Dude later on pulled off a first-rope 450 splash and finished with a second rope 630. He's got hops.
  • This match also featured a lot of big bumps. Both guys took moves from the ring to the outside - Shyron taking a German suplex and Sanada a hurricanrana - which is requisite in a high-flying match. However, the match didn't plod on like it might have in other promotions.
  • The only problem I had with the match wasn't even something I noticed until Brandon Stroud pointed it out on Twitter. I won't go so far as to say that I "can't stand" Shynron (I'm actually a big fan of his) because he didn't sell red mist (which in mist-lore is more dangerous/poisonous than green mist), but it was definitely a rookie mistake not figuring it into his comeback struggle more.
  • Logical inconsistency among the tecnicos in the King of Trios final - what stopped Icarus from charging into the ring while Remsburg was restraining Dasher Hatfield and vice versa? If honor binds a babyface to the ring, then why try to go in in the first place? If the good guys outnumber the ref, why not blow past him to even the score against the rudos? I understand the heart of what went on, but it just came off as dumb-looking.
  • Flaw aside, this match could have occurred at a Starrcade in the '80s. Both teams had their brawling shoes on, and it was hard to follow in a good way with so much chaos brewing at all times.
  • I seriously thought the roof was going to cave in when Icarus kicked out of the Death Blow, which to that point had been perhaps the most protected finisher in Chikara history.
  • Dasher Hatfield, however, wasn't kicking out of no Death Blow, and I understood why.
  • The mood in the room when Icarus handed the belt to Kingston after Jacobs' ultimatum was the closest to total revolt that I had experienced live. I almost thought Icarus was going to get a "WORST IN THE WORLD" chant for old time's sake, but even though his delivery on promos in the past had been shaky, he totally nailed his appeal to Kingston in the aftermath. Kingston returning to the Chikara fold blew the roof off the place, sure, but it was set up by what was Icarus' best tecnico promo to date.

Match of the Night: Davey Vega, Evan Gelistico, Gary the Barn Owl, and Pierre Abernathy vs. Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak, Orange Cassidy, and the Swamp Monster - I know a small but vocal minority (or large majority, I don't know, I'm a writer, not a census taker) probably hated everything about this match, but the Submission Squad's contribution to the weekend cemented them in the Chikara firmament. It was a match that was for Chikara fans, from the beginning all the way to the finish that was cribbed straight from memories of watching the World Wrestling Federation in the '80s and '90s. While in "serious" competition, the Squad more than holds its own, the group showed that it, as a collective, has a mastery of comedic timing and deployment of beats, and the Gentlemen's Club was the perfect group against which they could show their stuff. If they couldn't tickle ribs and create magic with Chuck Taylor across the ring from them, then they had no hope at all.

Whether it was Gary the Barn Owl and the Swamp Monster striking up a friendship that caused them to go against their own teammates, Davey Vega monologuing with everyone else on pause about how he had a live grenade shoved down his pants, referee Bryce Remsburg getting in on the action so much as getting a pin attempt on both Gary and the Monster with Taylor making the count, or even Taylor's antics throughout the match, this atomicos match was jam-packed with amusement, mirth, and merriment. Even the split second where things got "serious" with Vega and Drew Gulak squaring off fit as almost a moment of anti-comic relief in a yuk-fest. I found it hard to take complete notes and transcribe everything that enthralled me during this match because the pace was so frenetic and I couldn't really keep my eyes anywhere but on the action in the ring, but then again, isn't that the mark of a good match?

In a weekend full of the emotional drum getting beaten hard, and on a show where the final moments were refined for maximum catharsis, the comic relief had to be just as bombastic, just as intense. The Squad and the Club provided that bedrock, a refuge for the fans in attendance to laugh, get a respite from the tension in the air, and appreciate eight guys and a plant elemental going out and being unafraid to make themselves look like jackasses for the crowd's amusement. Deriding the clowns can be easy to do, but without them, wrestling shows would provide a totally different and not as worthwhile an experience, and the Submission Squad, Gentlemen's Club, and Remsburg turned in one of the best examples of why a comedic break in the action is not only absolutely necessary, but can be among the finest action not only on a given show, but in a given year.

Overall Thoughts: I've read and heard a lot about Chikara's demise this year, about how it's lost its fastball or that it's not worth the ticket prices it commands. I must live in some kind of bizarro world, because Chikara has been one of the best companies working all year. I've been to three of the five shows it's run in Easton this year. All three - National Pro Wrestling Day, You Only Live Twice, and this one - were full of good-to-great wrestling action, hearty laughs, tremendous character work, and endings that left my knees buckling. This time, no question lay on the horizon that Chikara was going to survive. Jimmy Jacobs and his Flood had gone down the "CAPITULATE OR DIE" road way too often for a permanent closure to be totally believable. It was only a matter of who would be the one to save the day. Would Kid Cyclone lead the Greenhorn Militia out? Would Jakob Hammermeier wield the Eye of Tyr for good instead of evil? Would CHRIS HERO prove that money and art could rebuild even the most burnt of bridges and be the savior?

But the one who would win the day was the focus of a descent into madness for the last year-plus. The Grand Championship consumed Eddie Kingston, but he had forgotten the reason why that title was so important to him on the day he won it in 2011. The title belt is only gold and leather, but Icarus had to remind him that what made it a "her" worth fighting for was the backing of the fans of Chikara. The company can move glacially in its story development, maddeningly gradual even for people who are fans of the slow burn, but its payoffs, especially in Kingston bashing the bejeezus out of Jacobs' face, yield rewards greater than the riches under the Lonely Mountain. I wish I could properly convey to you how weak in the knees and trembling of heart that ending made me, but I can only settle for telling you that the pop elicited from that Easton crowd when Kingston finally turned back was second only to the one at NPWD when Chikara was announced to "reopen."

Despite the relatively happy ending, the rudos were kept strong and formidable. Chikara has always had trouble reining in babyfaces running roughshod towards the ends of story arcs, the BDK angle being the most notable that I can think of. For as dominant as the Germanic invading force was in the beginning, once Kingston pinned Tursas at Cibernetico, it was like the group's mojo dissipated into the cold, Lehigh Valley air, hobbling along in the story for a year as the tecnicos' whipping boys until the survivors were euthanized at High Noon.

Even with the superbly happy ending here, no doubt was left that the Flood was still a formidable force, specifically concentrated in the Wrecking Crew of one Sidney Bakabella, who may have been the star of the night. His Devastation Corporation won the King of Trios tournament, and did so fairly cleanly. His charges Oleg the Usurper and Jaka won the Tag Team Gauntlet with his help. No matter how much momentum the Chikarmed Forces have right now, the battle is not completely won, and that strain may have been the best stroke of storytelling of all.

But even if the Flood/Chikara story went over your head, this show had so much to offer any fan, first time or long time. The Los Ice Creams/Old Fashioned portion of the Tag Gauntlet and the atomico both had laughs for people of all ages. Mark Andrews vs. Oliver Grimsley and the Rey de Voladores final both sated the need for high-flying action. Even devoid of story, the later portion of the Tag Gauntlet and the trios matches were all easy to follow and well-worked.

I could be a biased observer given that Chikara is my favorite promotion of all-time, but the reason is because I have yet to be disappointed with an entire show that the company has produced. King of Trios '14's final night stands up with 2010, '11, and '12 and the grandeur those shows produced. Get this show as soon as you can. Hell, get the whole weekend while you're at it. King of Trios is truly one of the marquee, if not THE marquee wrestling event on the American calendar, and I'm so glad it's back.