Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The New Chikara Experience

Hatfield is one of the remaining veterans leading a rookie revolution
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Chikarasaurus Rex: Flesh and Stone, went down at the Wrestle Factory this past Saturday afternoon. I went with my son, so I didn't take copious notes for a full review, which is fine. Engaging the kids is a far more worthwhile endeavor, to be honest, which coincidentally is something Chikara excels at. A wrestling company with a multitude of characters in brightly colored hoods and fantastical gimmicks should cater to children to be honest, but one would be surprised at how many companies in a similar milieu ignore kids. Honestly, Chikara's always been a company that wanted its fans to bring the offspring along, and C-Rex wasn't any different. Bryce Remsburg actually let my son speak on the microphone while he was emceeing the pre-show, Dasher Hatfield brought in scores of children during his post-match promo in front of the backdrop, and before the main event, young'uns surrounded the ring to pound the mat to celebrate the main event.

While the family-friendliness remained constant, it was the only thing that I figured would be the same. I hadn't watched a full Chikara show since King of Trios Night Three last year, and the promotion may as well be a different entity at this point. Stables dissolved and wrestlers were "killed." UltraMantis Black broke his retirement, won the Grand Championship, and went back into retirement in a span of six months. Many wrestlers who didn't get proper send-offs were just discarded and not used in favor of the Wrestle Factory grads who were coming more and more into prominence. Add in the slight alienation of holding King of Trios in England instead of Easton1, and it was almost like walking into the ECW Arena for the first time in 2009 again.

I'm happy to report, however, that the new Chikara experience is close to the old one, even if the old guys are disappearing. It felt like a Chikara show, which is the most important thing, and it has everything to do with the new crop of wrestlers. Even they're not all the way there as a collective yet, one can notice the promise in all of them, especially the Xyberhawx. Chikara's cleansing of its Ant infestation has been a major point of contention; only Fire Ant remains. However, the Hawx appear to be a more than adequate replacement as the company's animal avatars. Razerhawk and Sylverhawk were in action, and even though the latter had his match interrupted by a returning Hype Rockwell, they both acquitted themselves well. Merlok was another standout, who was able to keep pace with Hatfield in what was the best match on the show.

The most important positive note is how the show was laid out to give even first-time attendees the gist of the stories going on. Ophidian got mic time to call out Frightmare. Rory Gulak's quest to get the Grand Championship was well-built and recapped throughout the entire show. Missile Assault Man made it a point to grumble about how The Whisper cost him his chance to win the Grand Championship all through their matches. Added in with the engaging gimmicks, especially Everett Connors' Justin Bieber fan shtick, and it was not only an entertaining but accessible show. For a promotion that has volumes of lore, that is the most important thing.

The new faces of Chikara might seem a bit daunting going forward, but the company is still well worth your time and attention. In a sea of companies that draw from the same talent and who have the danger of having their top guys being swooped up by WWE, Chikara's continuity is comforting and its roster of young, hungry talent is refreshing. On entertainment value, the company is still among the best values in indie wrestling, especially if you have young children that you want to get into wrestling.

1 - In retrospect, the selfishness of not being able to be at Trios this year dissipates when looking at the teams Chikara booked for the tournament. If it means making the world of wrestling smaller, then it's a good move, I suppose.