I find myself in a very different position than the last time I took in a wrestling show from the front row. A year and a half ago, I wrote THIS about my experiences regarding my first live Chikara Pro show. I had planned on writing another self-examining piece about this experience. “The Ghost of You Clings…” took place at 7:00 on Saturday, May 4th in Porterdale, GA. I went with my roommate Amy, her adorable 4 year old daughter Danica and my father. I expect to find some thread to latch onto and unravel some amusing and heart-felt analogy between life and wrestling. I was gonna call it “Front Row 2: This Time, It’s Personal”. You know, because it’s…it’s personal because my father and roommate…you get it. But a strange thing happened. I just had a good time. No life-altering metaphors or any remote worth writing or reading occurred. I just had a blast. Sure, my Dad still needs to be the center of attention and spent a lot of time yelling some very strange things at unsuspecting wrestlers. But I am fairly immune to these things after hanging with him for twenty six years. It’s nothing worse reexamining life over. Besides, I got to see a little girl’s face light up when more ants than she ever thought possible showed up to fight each other. She had an amazing time, as did her mom. Afterwards, she told me, “People, they don’t think wrestling is real. But I’ve seen it. It IS real.”
Before we get to the show rundown, I should mention the awesome non show-related experiences. During intermission, I took Danica around to high five the Chikara guys. Fire Ant, Eddie Kingston, assailANT, Bryce Remsburg, Amasis, etc. I bought her an assailANT button and the mask of her favorite wrestler ever: Green Ant. I don’t why she’s SO into him, but she totally is. We tracked him down near the ring on the opposite side and she got a high five there, too. Every person was super nice, but I have to mention two in particular: assailANT and Eddie Kingston. The big, blue ant was working a merchandise table. He pushed the products he had in front of him but was very affable in doing so and actually got the shy four year old talking a bit. He was exceedingly friendly and effusive in his appreciation for us being there. Kingston came out for a bit before the show started. As he was walking by, I gave him an, “Eddie!” shout. He pointed and waved and was about to continue on but suddenly turned back around to shake my hand, thank me for coming and I wished him luck in his match. It happened so organically that my roommate Amy asked me how I knew him. Several acerbic retorts popped in my head. “At da club.” “We go to the same gym.” “Prison.” “We have the same accountant.” “We met on that episode of Maury I did.” Instead, I told the truth. He didn’t know me. I’m a fan and he was just being a really nice guy. I can’t state enough how kind everyone was. Now, onto the show review!
Depending on how they present this show, The Washington Bullets versus Shane Marx and The Jagged Edge in was either a dark match or the opening contest. It was a Platinum Championship Wrestling showcase, a company who runs the building quite frequently. The place is really small, especially for the sizable crowd in attendance. I’m no good at guessing crowd sizes, but I’d estimate around forty thousand in attendance. It certainly appeared to be Super No Vacancy. Anyway, paint-by-numbers stuff but Misters Marx and Edge got good heat and the Bullets are a well above average duo. The Bullets obliterated one of misters with a backcracker / ace crusher combo in a sweet and simple opener.
Announcer Gavin Loudspeaker, fresh off lodging a legitimate complaint against Tim Donst to Dictator Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur only to be ignored and ridiculed by the DOF, decided to flex his First Amendment rights with a Monkees-inspired song that painted Wink in a less than flattering light to the amusement of everyone in attendance, most of which sympathized with Gavin as we’ve seen Vavasseur make one boneheaded move after another.
Chuck Taylor came out for an unannounced match and potential show opener. He faced off against…Shenron! Er, who? Yes, Shenron was making his Chikara debut, and quite an impressive one at that. He had a couple of very strong lucha moves, even busting out a springboard corkscrew moonsault that Taylor was ultimately able to dodge. Shenron survived Sole Food and dodged the Awful Waffle, countering with a wheelbarrow victory roll for the surprise three count. This was really a treat as I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to see Chuckie T this show. Easily one of the best crowd workers I’ve ever seen in wrestling, he’s one of the guys that is just so dependable in the ring, especially with flyers like Ricochet, Fire Ant and now Shenron, who had those new guy shakes to some of his flips but otherwise came off like a guy who’d been doing this for WAY longer. Kudos to both.
Next up, Jigsaw and The Shard beat Fire Ant and assailANT when Shard pinned assailANT after a vicious top rope double stomp. Everybody was really good in this and, as I expected, they put on a helluva match. I prefer Jigsaw as a good guy for sure, but his pairing with The Shard allows for a little more bad guy believability. The Shard’s a guy that, while he is a very good technical wrestler, I care very little for. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s lack of character or promos or the fact that most moves he borrows from Jigsaw (superkick, Jig N’ Tonic, Gory Bomb) are noticeably sloppier than his own trademark ones. Huh…I guess I can explain it. On the opposing side, assailANT is really starting to grow on me. His character is fleshing out, he’s already got a stable of innovative maneuvers and he’s putting on very good matches. Fire Ant is awesome. No need for dissection there. The Colony brought quite a fight to the Pieces of Hate, with Fire Ant planting Jigsaw with a sheer drop version of Beach Break that would make even the most resilient person squirm a little. However, the tandem offense of Jig and Shard really shined through here, a superkick / cradle brainbuster combo in particular. Really great match all around.
Sugar Dunkerton and Gran Akuma locked up next. Lots of leg work on both sides. Strong crowd interaction. Akuma hit some nice kicks. I really don’t remember Sugar getting any offense in. Actually, I don’t recall much of this match at all. Hmmm. I remember it was good. It wasn’t, like, boring or anything either. I just sincerely don’t remember. That is WEIRD. Anyway, Icarus took a dive for his new BFF Sugar and even pushed Akuma off the top rope to help him win…but the ref saw it and disqualified Sugar. Afterwards, Dunkerton laid into The Ick Man, venting general frustrations, specific grievances and a final personal attack against Icarus, who only recently started treating him fairly. Dunkerton, much like it sounds like Johnny Gargano did the previous night, quit F.I.S.T. and declared himself a free agent. Icarus was dejected and I don’t blame him. Icarus, in his own weird, misguided way, was just trying to help Sugar D to victory. Even for the terrible treatment Dunk has received, his quitting promo was a little too harsh and I actually felt more for Icarus than Sugar in the end. See, I remember the promo specifically in my head but that match is just not rattling around in there.
Amasis and Kobald battled on the floor quite a while before taking it to the ring. Kobald got in some big shots on the outside though, driving Amasis’s back into the ring post, giving him a fisherman’s buster on the hard floor and finally powerbombing him onto the freaking ring apron. If that’s not enough, Kobald continued the attack in ring. He eventually hit a super tombstone piledriver, but even that craziness couldn’t kill the formally funky pharaoh. Amasis got the duke via his rolling elbow in another good match but it made Kobald look kind of like a punk in the process. Myself and many others were surprised that a match featuring the firework spots that it did ended on an abrupt elbow shot. Amasis looks sharp now that he’s back, but he needs a big new move, one that will beat guys away definitively. I recommend a reverse Death Grip of sorts: a wrist-locked guillotine choke. Call in the Snake Stranger or something.
After intermission, a six man tag became an atomico as Green Ant, UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked and Frightmare took on the returning deviant and The Colony: Xtreme Force. Before I get into the match, I have GOT to mention Orbit Adventure Ant’s crazy new ring gear. It’s a space helmet that has a series of glowing rainbow-color lights inside. It. Is. AMAZING. I think I even yelled at him once that we only liked him for his helmet. The match was very tense and at times was very difficult to keep up with. Just as it was hitting into that Dragon Gate level on high gear insanity, the match was over. UltraMantis had removed Missile Assault Ant’s mask! But this wasn’t some act of war. As Mantis went for the Praying Mantis Bomb to put his opponent away for good, MAA slipped out of his mask intentionally, leaving it in UltraMantis’s hands and forcing Bryce to DQ. So yeah, that’s disqualification number two on this show. It was more than a little disheartening that it ended JUST before epic gear, but the finish was executed really well and it was still a good match.
Next up was Tim Donst with his cadre of misguided fools: Jakob Hammermeier, Veronica Fickleleather Ticklefeather and Steve “The Dark Turtle” Weiner. Together, they are The Sad Sacks. That’s not their official name but that’s what I’m calling them. Donst called Weiner something mean, Veronica something meaner and then tried to shave Jakob’s head some more. The electric razor was, much like Donst’s new character, completely lifeless. So it got a little weird. Thankfully Saturyne came out and she and Donst had a pretty good match. As good a match as this version on Donst is having lately anyway. Gavin Loudspeaker came out and got the crowd into cheering on Saturyne. Donst kept focusing on Loudspeaker and tried to put his hands on Gavin, allowing Saturyne to get a really deep school boy for the win. It was more like a school man. Or at least a college boy. Weakest match of the show but by no means was it bad. Donst’s character is just a black hole of half thoughts right now. Afterwards, he laid out Gavin with The Donstitution, a move that still looks less painful than just tripping and falling down. He cut another lock of Gavin’s hair and they carried Gavin to the back because FEAR THE DONSTITUTION. Also Amy wanted me to mention that Donst ate some of Gavin’s hair. It was gross.
When wrestlers become singles champions, you tend to start noticing the flaws in their game a little easier due to a variety of reasons: stronger scrutiny due to their card position, an increased number of singles contests, more pressure, tougher matches, etc. Over time, match blueprints or formulas start to emerge and in some matches you can almost tell what’s coming before it comes. Great wrestlers know what you’re expecting and find ways to change it up, keeping the ability to tell a story intact while also keeping it fresh without repeating oneself too often. Bryan Danielson had this down to an art form in Ring of Honor. Eddie Kingston, though not quite in that same league, has found his formula. It’s almost always the same: Eddie takes control early, his knee gets hurt, the opponent targets his knee instead of a more vital part such as the back and head, Eddie goads them into continuing this trend which allows him to stay fresh for the homestretch when he survives a much-too late onslaught from his opponent and finally puts him down, throwing a variety of big bombs in the process. It’s a simple, effective story told by an absolute master. Eddie Kingston is a dedicated genius and his match with Mark Angelloseti for the Chikara Grand Championship was yet again a phenomenal one. It took two Backfists and a freaking Super Uranage to best Mr. Touchdown. Look, Eddie’s never going to be much physically. It’s literally the only hole in his game. But would he be the same man less twenty pounds? Would the promos be as vitriolic? Would he still wrestle with that chip-on-the-shoulder edge that makes him stand out in the independent scene? I don’t know. I take Eddie for who he is, not what he could be. He’s a champion, he’s a storyteller and he works as hard as anyone in a wrestling ring. Best match of the show in my mind.
The main event saw Scott Parker and Shane Matthews put their Campeonatos de Parejas on the line against Obariyon and Kodama. This was honestly a bit of a disappointment. Everyone did great work but the booking really failed the wrestlers here. Ophidian and Kobald showed up to back up The Batiri, allowing them to ram Scott gut-first into the ring post. He sold like a freaking champ and Gran Akuma came out to help him to the back. After that, everything was completely predictable. Obariyon hit Rapture on Big Magic for a 1-0 lead, Matthews fought them off in a pseudo handicap match and stole the second fall off of a school boy to tie things up. Again, the work was fine but completely obvious to me. After that, Jagged returned and we got a wild ending stretch with a weird but clever finish. Matthews locked the Boston Crab on…uh, I think Kodama. Obariyon then intentionally dropped an elbow on Bryce Remsburg. 3.0 and The Batiri fought some more and once again Shane locked on the Crab. Bryce was still recovering so Scott frantically ran from one side of the ring to the next, fighting off the other green-faced goons until Bryce had time to recover. Ophidian accidentally poison misted an ally, Gran Akuma came out to lend a hand and Bryce finally woke back up to see Matthews tapping out…I think Kodama again? I don’t know, it was all very confusing. 3.0 retained and rejoiced. It was still a good match and the work they did was spot on. It was just booked so obviously that I got impatient in the middle waiting for Shane to tie things up and Jag Man to return. No fault of the wrestlers though. It was a little overbooked but still really fun.
Well that’s it. That’s everything. Whew. It should be obvious by now that you should by this DVD when it hits Smart Mark Video. It was a great show overall and I had a blast. My dad had a blast. My roommate had a blast. Danica was overblasted. She slept the whole way home. But she never took off her Green Ant mask. In hindsight, she may have simply passed out due lack of oxygen. I’m mostly kidding. She told me the next day that she thought she had a dream about wrestling. I told her that it really did happen, that she really met Green Ant and saw lots of crazy matches and had a ton of fun. It’s important to me that Danica gets to believe in tangible things when she’s young. Life is full of ways to crush beliefs. But to believe in something that seems impossible only for it to become reality is the best thrill there is at any age. Santa is a stretch to any kid until those presents show up the morning of December 25th. The tooth fairy seems implausible. Then you wake up, your tooth is gone and she’s left you a dollar. Believing that giant ants can do battle with ghouls and goblins is one thing. Seeing it is something else.