Monday, September 7, 2015

I Hate Lucha Ropes: Chikara King of Trios Night Three Review

Hey, it's me and a Princess!
Photo Credit: TH
In the TH style, of course. You will want to get this DVD or VOD to watch, and if the advance word on the first two nights are accurate (and I have every reason to believe they are), you'll want to partake in the whole weekend as well.

  • Team AAA defeated the Devastation Corporation when Aerostar hit Blaster McMassive with a kick-assisted crucifix for the pin.
  • The Bullet Club took out Team Fight Club in the other King of Trios semifinal when AJ Styles and the Young Bucks hit a inverted tombstone/Meltzer Driver sequence for the win.
  • In a special Challenge of the Immortals relevos atomicos match, Crown and Court defeated the Gentlemen's Club when Jervis Cottonbelly tapped Orange Cassidy with an ankle lock and Kimber Lee pinned Chuck Taylor with a hurricanrana simultaneously.
  • After the Battleborn of Lucas Calhoun and Missile Assault Man defeated Colony: X-Treme Force in the eighth match of the tag gauntlet, Kevin Condron ordered MAM to unmask his former partners. When he refused, Condron in rage gave Orbit Adventure Ant the chokebreaker, "killing" him.
  • In the aftermath, the BDK of Nøkken and Pinkie Sanchez won the tag gauntlet by quickly taking out Battleborn.
  • Heidi Lovelace retained the Young Lions Cup by reversing a lax cover by the Proletriat Boar of Moldova into a makeshift backslide.
  • Mark Andrews took out Shynron with a shooting star press to win the Rey de Voladores tournament.
  • In the King of Trios final, Team AAA defeated the Bullet Club when Fenix and Aerostar pinned Nick Jackson after the former hit him with a springboard 450 splash.

General Observations:
  • So basically, to recap the casualties from the prior night, both Sidney Bakabella and Bryce Remsburg were incapacitated. Bakabella had his toupee taken off by Oleg the Usurper, and Remsburg fell victim to a Max Smashmaster moonsault, all in the same match. So Larry Peace and a black-haired bloke whose name I didn't catch did all the reffing, which actually was a good change of pace from the normal Chikara referee chicanery. Peace and the other guy didn't call attention to each other, even if neither was as entertaining as Remsburg. But they also didn't draw the negative attention like Derek Sabato or Justice Jon Barber would have.
  • Also at night two, Fenix let out an audible FUCK YOU to Frightmare after flipping him the double birds. Gavin Loudspeaker, whose voice was pretty much shot the whole day, emphasized the "family-friendly" aspect of the show, and Fenix apologized profusely before Team AAA's match with the Devastation Corporation.
  • DevCorp's gear looked really sharp here. It was a red-black comic book retro theme.
  • Blaster McMassive did a tope con hilo over the goddamn ringpost... onto his teammates. The dedication of doing that spot for a miscommunication tide-turner is high.
  • Y-Not Radio DJ and Chikara superfan Joey O. commented that Aerostar's springboard falling senton to the outside was the ultimate trust fall, so now I can't watch him do that move without thinking of that.
  • I was shocked by how short the AAA/Devastation Corporation match was, but it was jam-packed for the time it ran.
  • After the match, DevCorp attacked the AAA guys, although outside of Fenix holding his ribs during the intros in the finals, it didn't play in too much in the main event.
  • Nick Jackson got the superkick party started early when he threw one at the cameraman during his entrance. I guess he wanted to get everyone involved.
  • Nick had Tyler Bate in a wristlock and then demanded the ref "ASK HIM" (if he wanted to give up). It's still one of my favorite shticks.
  • Tyler Bate showed some real hoss sense picking Matt Jackson into the fireman's carry while giving Nick the giant swing. Fight Club dazzled the entire weekend, and even though their match was truncated at night three, I could see why they got such a great rep.
  • Los Ice Creams started a "Let's Go Yervis" chant for Jervis Cottonbelly. If you don't think they're among the best comedic acts in wrestling going...
  • Orange Cassidy's hangover-based offense is the best. He got in the ring, laid down, and countered everyone trying to take advantage by giving them arm drags from his back before laying down again. The payoff? His teammates gave him sunglasses.
  • Cottonbelly beckoned Chuck Taylor for a hug earlier in the match, but he refused. Later on, Taylor instead would hug Cassidy, which brought over the Swamp Monster to hug it out with Cottonbelly, and then Los Ice Creams to hug each other. Drew Gulak and Princess Kimber Lee were so incensed that everyone was hugging. Gulak shouted "WHY AM I ALWAYS THE THIRD WHEEL?" and then they started kicking everyone.
  • Gulak and Lee did the classic dead weight suplex block spot, only it was Lee who kept blocking the suplex and hitting the payoff at the end. For Chikara crowds used to seeing Sara del Rey and Saturyne and Heidi Lovelace take it to men, it may have been ordinary (which is good), but it was still a nice trope subversion that I hope wasn't lost on the first-timers or casual fans viewing.
  • For posterity's sake, the ten teams in the tag gauntlet: Mr. Touchdown and Dasher Hatfield, Bee Boy and Genetic Grasshopper, Argus and Mascara Purpura, Blue Meanie and Nova/Simon Dean, Scott Parker and Shane Matthews, Pete Dunne and Morgan Webster, Ophidian and Amasis, Luke Calhoun and Missile Assault Man, Orbit Adventure Ant and Arctic Rescue Ant, Pinkie Sanchez and Nøkken
  • Hatfield began the match with his rope-run, go behind, and butt-pat sequence on Bee Boy, forgetting that he was patting the butt of a shoot bee. Thankfully, his hand only felt pain and didn't swell up.
  • Bee Boy and the Grasshopper lasting only one go in the gauntlet was a shock, especially since they migrated north from Australia for the trip. Hopefully, it means they'll be sticking around, because that transportation couldn't have been cheap for just one minor appearance.
  • Nova came out in his Simon Dean jacket, tights, and tension arm exercise band. He definitely got all the mileage out of his gimmicks.
  • Scott Parker and Blue Meanie totally got into a thumb wrestling match in the middle of a pro wrestling match. Frankly, if 3.0 and the bWo were in the ring and it didn't break down into something completely meta and absurd, I would have been disappointed. It featured tags and a submission tease too, although Shane Matthews interrupted the finish just as Meanie was about to get the arm up on the third drop. AT least 3.0 had the good sense to work rudo upon their return.
  • Pete Dunne looked pretty buff compared to the last time I saw him. Joey O. remarked that he looked kinda like Jack Swagger. Thankfully, he didn't concuss anyone accidentally.
  • Yes, team number seven was the reunited OSIRIAN PORTAL. The Challenge of the Immortals has split apart a lot of teams, but I'm glad to see that not everyone who has been split in twain has found enmity in change. Honestly, I want to see the Portal go on a tear in season 16. It's been too long.
  • Kevin Condron came out to second his Battleborn in battle wearing a flower crown made by Friend of the Blog and Femmezuigiri contributor Courtney Rose. Given the events that would unfold a little later on in the gauntlet, she could totally sell those headpieces as "Murder Crowns" and charge a premium for them.
  • So about that "murder," for one, way to ax the Colony: X-Treme Force when they finally got popular. Second, Condron tried getting Missile Assault Man to unmask his former partners because both Lucas Calhoun and himself had to see comrades die, so because the former Ant took the loss the night before, he had to feel the pain too. Third, holy poop, Condron actually got Orbit Adventure Ant up in the chokebreaker. Condron is not a large man, so the visual of him hitting Deucalion's FATALITY was amazing. The act drew chants of "Hypocrite," and apparently, his social media presence afterwards indicated that he was no longer in control of his own actions. Some have speculated he's fallen under the spell of Nazmaldun. However, I'm not so sure...
  • Having Pinkie Sanchez and Nøkken, who also for the first time got cheered thanks to Condron's awesome heat magnetism, come right out and fell the Battleborn felt a bit anti-climactic though.
  • Seasons change, children grow up, fads come and go, but some things always remain the same. Heidi Lovelace being able to take a giant ass-whipping and make it look good is one of those things.
  • Lovelace's pin on Proletariat Boar of Moldova was so quick I almost missed it. She has trouble with the beginnings of matches, but taking the heat and then making the comebacks are her specialty.
  • Honestly, some wrestlers on the scene may do harder moves with more flips than Mark Andrews, but the man makes the moves he does do look silky smooth and artistic. His standing moonsault on Shynron in the beginning of the Rey de Voladores final was Cirque du Soleil quality flippage.
  • The sequence in the corner where Shynron flipped out of a rana on his feet and then hit Andrews with a C-4 on the follow-up was the most picture-perfect highspot I've seen this year, maybe in the whole TWB Era. Like, they couldn't have practiced it any better.
  • Of course, Shynron had to attempt to top himself later with a corkscrew spinning ace crusher, which holy crap, man. Holy crap.
  • After the match, Shynron teased a rudo turn when he grabbed his RdV plaque from 2014 and got in Andrews' face, but they shook hands and squashed the beef anyway. Honestly, an AR-Fox-in-Beyond type heel run for Shynron actually wouldn't be the worst thing in the world...
  • Aerostar legitimately got on top of Fenix's shoulders on the top rope to hit an armdrag Matt. I love many things about lucha libre, but elaborate setups to hit the most basic of moves may be the things I love most.
  • AJ Styles slipped on the ropes and fell on what looked like his jaw on a springboard forearm. Afterwards, he quipped to the crowd in response to the awful "You screwed up!" chant with "I HATE LUCHA ROPES!"
  • Styles' crowd work was on point all night. He kept interacting with the crowd, especially on the apron. His work inside the ring was on-point as usual, but he was very good when he wasn't in the focus. It's those little things that end up enhancing resumes.
  • The action got so crazy at the end it got hard to keep up, but the dives and superkicks and even at one point all three AAA guys had all the Bullet Club in submissions, and it was the requisite amount of insanity for a dream match final of a huge tournament.
  • After the match, Fenix cut a promo thanking the crowd and dedicating the match to Perro Aguayo, Jr. It's amazing how much Perrito meant to the lucha community. Death sucks.

Match of the Night: Shynron vs. Mark Andrews, Rey de Voladores Final - If you were going to crown a "King of the Flyers," you'd want the deciding match to have two wrestlers who had resumes, reputations. You'd want them to break out all their big artillery and hit those shells in tight spaces with big explosions. Basically, you'd want Shynron and Man to the Drews in that ring, and you'd want them on their A-games. Basically, Chikara had the perfect storm for this year's RDV final, and in a show filled with big moments and shining matches, they were able to stand out the brightest.

The amount of times one of the wrestlers in the match fit through a tight window to hit a big spot was astounding in that at times, spotfests of this sort rarely have one perfect connection. The most sterling example saw Andrews attempt a Frankensteiner in the corner, only for Shynron to land on his feet, roll through, turn around, and hit a charging Andrews with a C-4. It was the best example, but it was still only one of the big car crash spots that came off looking like movie stunts. Bodies flew all over the places. Moves were had and moves were countered, and all of them had flips more than the last.

Funny enough, the shakiest looking move in the whole match led up to the finish, but what it lacked in crisp cleanliness, it made up for with the ambition and the big finality. When you can counter a ring-in superplex into a poison rana like Andrews did, you don't need to hit it cleanly for effect. When you can follow it up with perhaps the most beautiful shooting star press in the game, then it's all gravy. On a show where bigger teams took center stage, it was the two skinny little flippy guys who stole the show.

Overall Thoughts: When a promotion dedicates a weekend to multi-wrestler matches, then it had better dedicate itself to putting on the best matches possible in that milieu. Thankfully, Chikara has been presenting tags, trios, and relevos atomicos for over a decade now, and it shone through in all four six-plus wrestler tag matches on the show. The three trios tournament matches all hit fast and hard, and they provided the serious weight to the show. The Challenge of the Immortals match between the Gentlemen's Club and Crown and Court proved that comedic matches could also have some heavy duty work in them. When the backbone of the show is in those big set-pieces matches, and they end up buoying the action, then you've succeeded in your mission.

For some, however, the elephant in the room may have been the deemphasis of Chikara talent in the actual Trios tournament, but at the same time, scant few other promotions in the world would have been able to book a match between the Lucha Underground guys and the Bullet Club, especially since New Japan Pro Wrestling's lucha partnership is with CMLL instead of AAA. If you have the opportunity to provide a dream match like that, you kinda have to take it, and the semifinal matches, though short, provided an exciting route to get to that final. Besides, the Challenge of the Immortals match and the tag team gauntlet provided Chikara flavor, and the latter threw some meaty storyline material into the pool.

The last four King of Trios tournaments have provided some kind of in-house catharsis with the actual frame itself, but this year's event didn't just differ in having the guests rule the roost in the main portion of the proceedings. The major storytelling development wasn't necessarily catharsis as much as it was a climax in the one story not tied up in the Challenge of the Immortals. Kevin Condron took his moment to hijack the gauntlet, and something happened to him. Either he showed his true colors or let the power go right to his head, but either way, he broke out his mold, and I'm not sure he can turn back. That kind of development is made for an event the magnitude of Trios.

The final night of Trios had the big set-piece multi-wrestler matches, the weighty storyline stuff, and strong peripherals to flesh out the card. Seriously, the Mark Andrews/Shynron match was about as tight as a spotfest could be with all the aerial pyrotechnics that one should expect from those two. While other final shows have held more emotional weight, this year's third night had few real low points. It was as solid a wrestling show as one will find all year long, and it certifies that Chikara still has its fastball.