Friday , 29 August 2014

Chikara: While the Dawn is Breaking DVD Review

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As much as Peck and Touchdown over delivered in their feud during 2012, one of the more disappointing feuds had to be Eddie Kingston versus Kevin Steen. Perhaps it’s because of the politics between Ring of Honor and Chikara. Maybe their styles didn’t mesh as well as we hoped. Maybe our expectations were just too darn high. Whatever the reason, Kingston and Steen couldn’t put together that dynamic match to truly showcase why they’re the champions of their respective promotions.

I can’t say the main event of Chikara’s second event, While the Dawn is Breaking , was that match, but it does feel like a proper blow-off happened with Kingston finally hitting a Backfist to Steen’s head to win. Similar to the Green Ant match, there was a lot of focus on Kingston’s knee. One notable spot featured Steen applying the sharpshooter with Steen grabbing the bottom rope, a nice callback to what happened the previous night as Kingston had to tap to Green Ant’s cloverleaf immediately. I appreciated the storyline of focusing on the knee since Steen and Kingston can’t really go all the way in the violence area. Despite the feud ending once and for all in Chikara, I can’t help but wonder what might have been with a full blown rivalry between both companies and the chance to see these two men cut promos on each other. Other than one awkward exchange in New York City, we never got a definitive promo from either man about the other. Given talking is what these two men do almost as well as wrestling, I have to admit some disappointment. Oddly enough, Kingston/Steen III wasn’t even the main event of this show. Perhaps this is attributable to the way Chikara regarded this match, the result of the main event, or the value they place in tag team wrestling.

The value of tag team wrestling in Chikara is paramount. From the Campeonatos de Parejas to all the numerous TWGPs (including its return here in 2013) and King of Trios tournaments, the value of this lost art can be seen on any random Chikara show you pop into your DVD player. For so many years, 3.0 has toiled around. They’re never going to be as outstanding as the Young Bucks, but more than anyone else, Shane Matthews and Scott Parker feel like as much of the Chikara universe as anyone else on  the roster. It was unfortunate they didn’t get a proper title reign last year. Hopefully, they get that chance this year as they defeated Matt and Nick Jackson to win the championships. Matt and Nick were a band-aid meant to cover up some of Chikara’s flaws. As frustrated as I was with some of Chikara’s booking decisions, the Bucks made up for it with incredible title defenses and some great work with Mike Bennett of all people in the King of Trios main event. It was a fitting main event for these two teams. Although the Bucks are a bit toned down in Chikara, they’re as capable of putting emotion in Easton, Pennsylvania as they are in Reseda, California. If this was meant to be their last match in Chikara, then it’s really cool they got to pass along the title to such a deserving team and one that exemplifies everything Chikara is about.

It’s quite rare to see three title matches on one Chikara show. Given the recent introduction of the Grand Championship and the inexplicable decision to house the Young Lion’s Cup in Japan, this was just the second time all three Chikara titles were contested on one show. The opener of While the Dawn is Breaking featured Mark Angelosetti rebuilding himself after a loss the previous night by defeating Saturyne. The one positive for Angelosetti is that he still has the cup, so he wasn’t completely tar and feathered. Having him struggle against Saturyne before ultimately winning clean was a sound booking decision. Saturyne looked the best she ever has in a wrestling ring and is making great strides. She’s still far from perfect, but she appeared to simplify some of her offense, and Angelosetti was a great base. I could see him becoming the next Claudio Castagnoli, especially given some of the power maneuvers he was pulling off in the match. Maybe it was my low expectations, but I really enjoyed what these two brought to the ring. They kicked off the show in really solid fashion. Sadly, Angelosetti’s opponent did not get the same treatment.

How did Chikara follow up Archibald Peck’s monumental victory over Touchdown? By having him win by disqualification in a nothing match with Tim Donst. This match felt like a complete waste compounded by a silly ending. Veronica appeared at ringside in her majorette gear. She got elbowed in the face, but for whatever reason, Donst is bringing her into his flock. My choice of words is no coincidence there folks. Donst has Hammermeier and Veronica under his spell, and his character is nowhere close to flushed out. It’s one of the biggest issues Chikara has going this year as they’ve taken one of their best characters and promo cutters and turned him into a confusing Raven copycat. How ironic Donst is getting into the best shape of his career just as his things start to get muddled and confusing. In relation to the Donst angle, Hammermeier picked up the win in what had to be the worst booked finish of 2013 so far. Akuma was crotched and pinned after six minutes of action that wasn’t exactly keeping my attention anyway. Given Hammermeier’s recent work, I think he bears much of the responsibility. The amount of singles matches I’ve had to watch Hammermeier and Kobald have the last 14 months have been inexplicable. Even more odd is the fact they both won matches on this show.

Dasher Hatfield was Kobald’s victim as the feud between the Batiri is officially on. Delirious made his presence felt and led to the Kobald win. I’m still not sure about this feud because I don’t know what it does for Hatfield. Later on in the show, Sugar Dunkerton talked about another frustrating loss and cut one of the better promos you’ll see in trying to reunite the Throwbacks. Very compelling stuff actually. Hatfield wasn’t interested in what Dunkerton had to say because of the accidental cheating that took place at Under the Hood. A feud between Dunkerton and Hatfield with Mr. Touchdown involved seems to be a far better use of all their time that what’s going on currently.

I mentioned Dunkerton losing in the previous paragraph. F.I.S.T and the Colony continued their never ending feud but with two new iterations. assailANT replaced Soldier Ant while Dunkerton replaced Johnny Gargano. It was about what you would expect, and assailANT even got to win the match with his version of the Chikara Special. Not sure what it says about Dunkerton’s standing when he’s losing to assailANT of all people, but it was good to see Over Enthusastic Ant win for once. Dunkerton and F.I.S.T… something has to give. They’re doing a version of the same finish over and over. Icarus is a heel. He doesn’t need to continue burying Dunkerton to prove what a bad guy he is. The awful haircut asserts that for us. I’d love to see some separation take place and everyone involved given something better to do.

The other six man tag on this show featured Jigsaw and Shard teaming with deviANT to beat Team Frightning. This was slightly better than the other trios match if for no other reason than you had three masters of this format involved. Quack was reluctant to attack Jigsaw despite cutting a promo about having a short temper and discussing his anger about the situation with Jigsaw. I’m assuming a singles match is coming down the road, but it was good to see Shard and Jigsaw again look strong together. deviANT really doesn’t have much of a place in Chikara with combatANT gone and assailANT on the tecnico side. Frightmare, despite winning King of Trios last year, seems to need a grander purpose as so many others in Chikara do.

Soldier Ant is just one of those people. At least he’s mercifully been pulled from the Swarm and will get to lead his own group beginning March 8. Wink Vavaseeur, who was all over this show, told Soldier Ant of his decision and made him salute. It was honestly bottom of the barrel heel authority figure stuff, and that drives me crazy with how cliché and derivative it is. Another promo featured Ophidian calling out Amasis and teasing a potential match down the road between the two. Amasis was in the ring, but Delirious pulled Ophidian away before physical contact was made. Thankfully, there was a lot of good stuff in the second half worth discussing. This wasn’t good as the premiere, but the title matches all delivered. There were two entertaining trios matches which emphasized action over storyline for once (or twice given there’s two match). A good compliment to night one.

Grade: B

Quick results, times, and star ratings:

-Mr. Touchdown retains the Young Lion’s Cup over Saturyne/12:03/***1/4/***1/2

-Jakob Hammermeier defeats Gran Akuma/6:31/**1/4/**

-Archibald Peck defeats Tim Donst by disqualification after a foul/6:35/*1/2/**

-The Colony (Fire Ant, Green Ant, and assailANT) defeats F.I.S.T (Icarus, Chuck Taylor, and Sugar Dunkerton)/17:37/***1/4/***1/2

-Kobald defeats Dasher Hatfield/11:45/**/**

-Gekido(Jigsaw, deviANT and The Shard) defeats Team Frightning (Mike Quackenbush, Hallowicked, and Frightmare)/15:26/***1/2/***1/4

-Eddie Kingston retains the Chikara Grand Championship over Kevin Steen/13:49/***1/4/***1/2

Ophidian calls out Amasis to come to the ring. Ophidian attacks random people who have Amasis masks on. Amasis is in the ring.

-3.0 win their second Campeonatos de Parejas over the Young Bucks/21:05/***1/2/****

For more information in CHIKARA Pro, including tickets and event information, please check their website. While you can purchase DVDs there as well, you can also purchase their DVDs on Smart Mark Video. Something relatively new to Smart Mark Video is video downloads. This is a great way to save on shipping and not have a DVD clogging your shelf (if that’s what you’re concerned about). It’s super easy to purchase and then download on your computer. I could not recommend this service strongly enough whether you’re buying CHIKARA or many other promotions.

To get a great sense of history and participate in discussion of the company, check out their official messageboard. One thing the promotion does really well? Videos. They have frequent (almost daily) updates on their YouTube channel.

As someone who is not nearly the CHIKARA fan as certain others, even I need to look up information and have a good CHIKARA resource. I can can think of no better place to do this and also read exclusive reviews of every CHIKARA show in history than at The CHIKARA Special. Kevin Ford maintains this little blog and also updates a CHIKARA Special Tumblr with news and videos nearly every day.

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About Jerome Cusson

Jerome Cusson has been a professional wrestling fan since late 1994. Having started out as a fan of WWF, he eventually expanded his horizons into WCW and ECW. After the unfortunate deaths of these two companies, Jerome's interest in wrestling nearly came to an end before he discovered independent wrestling. Let the love/hate relationship with wrestling continue.

3 comments

  1. I really like this review format. The move by move breakdowns of a match sort of ruin the experience of buying a DVD for me.

  2. Jericho's Armbar

    Huh. That’s kind of weird that you say Kobald has had so many singles matches, when Jakob has had over twice as many. I love Jakob as much as the next person, but as far as in-ring work, I would still give Kobald the edge. Both wrestlers have very specific roles to play, and at times that can completely belie their skill set.

    Also, it’s amazing that you’re such a good judge of what would be a better use of their time, considering the long-term plan in place, and that everything during this season, though it seems innocuous, will have greater consequences later on. A lot of the fun in Chikara is the getting there, not criticizing without knowing the end game. It’s not like WWE where things are changed on the fly. If things are muddled and confusing for you, it’s probably best to stick with it instead of complaining and pointing out what should be done. For people unfamiliar with what Chikara tries to accomplish, it can be terribly discouraging.

  3. I hope you go back to your old review format as that was a fun one to follow along with. These are fun to read after but just not the same.

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