Mike Reviews: CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns – 25/05/2002

Hello You!

Back again with more of my Smart Mark Video On Demand “watch pile”, with a show that I bought for two reasons. Firstly it’s the inaugural CHIKARA event, so I decided to pick it up to see what CHIKARA was like back in the day. In addition, the show also features CM Punk in the main event, and I found the idea of him being part of all this very amusing, so decided to buy the show to see what sort of shenanigans he would get up to in a CHIKARA ring.

For those not au fait, CHIKARA is a company out of the Tri State area that mostly deals in family friendly Lucha Libre inspired wrestling. The best thing I could compare it to would be a comic book movie where the fight scenes are replaced by wrestling matches. As a result CHIKARA can get pretty silly sometimes, but there’s a joviality about it all that I really enjoy and I was a semi-regular viewer of the company’s major shows up until about 4 years ago or so when I fell out of touch with the product.

I’m not expecting much in the way of amazing wrestling here, but every company has to start somewhere and this show certainly has its fair share of the tropes that CHIKARA would go on to be known for.

The event is emanating from Allentown, Pennsylvania

There is no commentary

Opening Match
“The Middle Aged Business Tyrant” Mr. Zero Vs “The High Flying Masked Marvel” Dragonfly”

For some reason the ECW Hat Guy is in the crowd for this of all shows. Zero is dressed like a balding Irwin R Schyster, whilst Dragonfly is your typical Luchadore in a colourful blue and green masked outfit. We get some Lucha styled chain wrestling to start, which moves into the international. Zero goes to the eyes to get a slam, but misses the follow up elbow drop and Dragonfly goes back to a headlock before continuing to shine on Zero with the likes of arm drags and dropkicks.

Zero eventually cuts off Dragonfly with a clothesline and starts working him over with slams and suplexes, stopping to have a sip of his coffee when the situation allows. With things firmly in control, Zero decides to check how his stock options are doing by sticking Dragonfly in a camel clutch and then perusing a copy of the Wallstreet Journal. Wait, you think I’m kidding here? Oh dearest reader, I only wish that I were. Please find below for your edification the evidence of the deed taking place.

Satisfied that his financial options are all in order, Zero puts the paper down momentarily to really cinch in the hold. However, curiosity gets the better of him and he just has to check the newspaper again, whilst also consulting the referee on what he would suggest. Being that the referee has both no knowledge of the FTSE 100 and also kind of wants to get on with the wrestling match that is supposed to be happening right now, he cajoles Zero into putting the paper away, at which point Dragonfly catches Zero with a school boy for two.

Zero goes back to working Dragonfly, even getting a face wash in the corner, with Dragonfly making the odd sporadic comeback only to be then cut off again. Zero knocks Dragonfly out to the floor and then stops to check the newspaper again before heading out. Maybe he was just checking the horoscopes and under his it said “Today if you happen to be in a wrestling match you should follow your opponent to the outside for some brawling should the opportunity arise”? Though such a horoscope would be useful to Zero, I’m not so sure it would be that helpful to others in all honesty. Zero heads out to attack Dragonfly anyway, so he must have read something that made him think it was a good idea.

Mystic Meg looks to have been lying though, as Dragonfly throws Zero face first into the ring post and then sends him back inside for a missile dropkick. Zero sees this coming though and dodges it, getting a two when covering the fallen Dragonfly. Dragonfly finally mounts a proper comeback and DDT’s Zero onto the top rope ala KENTA before getting a springboard bulldog for two. Zero replies with a Blue Thunder Driver for two, but Dragonfly gets an enziguri for a two of his own, before getting a satelitte DDT for another two. Dragonfly misses a charge in the corner and gets thrown across the ring with a release German Suplex. Zero follows up with a face first reverse Michinoku Driver styled slam and that’s enough to hold Dragonfly down for three.

WINNER: MR. ZERO
RATING: **

Silliness aside, this was kind of the definition of “Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling”, with most of the moves being executed well and a decent Face Vs Heel story being told. I do wonder why they put Zero over though, as having the technico win the opener would have been an easy pop and essentially free money for a company in its debut show.

Mike Quackenbush (Head trainer of the CHIKARA wrestling school)comes down to the ring for a promo segment, where he thanks everyone for coming to CHIKARA’s first show and then targets CM Punk, Colt Cabana and Chris Hero, who will be teaming up to face Quackenbush, Don Montoya and Reckless Youth later. This brings CM Punk out to the ring, where he insults the east coast and says that all the women are uglier than they are in the mid-west. He even gets a jab in at Hat Guy, saying that his butt is so big that it’s going to cause the east coast to sink into the ocean. Punk says he likes Quackenbush and wants to offer a hand of friendship, which of course leads to Hero and Cabana coming out for the jump attack. Montoya and Youth come down for the save however and the rudos bail. Punk is clearly having a great time clowning around here. Montoya and Reckless Youth take turn insulting the rudos on the mic and Quackenbush closes by saying the rudos are getting beat tonight. After the technicos leave, Punk grabs the mic and insults the crowd again before leaving.

Match Two
“The Dark Minion of the Underworld” Hallowicked and “The Evil Army Raised from the Grave” Ichabod Slayne Vs Love Bug and Marshall Law

Hallowicked would go on to become CHIKARA’s Champion and is wearing a mask with a spike on it, whilst Slayne has more of a Venom inspired mask going on. In a nice visual, the rudos hang themselves in the Tree of Woe like bats whilst the technicos come down to the ring. Bug and Law kind of have a law enforcement deal going on. The rudos try to double team early on but Bug and Law are able to come in with stereo atomic drops to put a stop to that villainous strategy. Bug and Law shine on the rudos for a while, but eventually the rudos are able to distract the ref and cut Bug off.

They work the formula, with Bug getting worked over in the rudos corner and Law occasionally getting lured into the ring so that Bug can be double teamed. The execution is kind of sloppy, but the psychology and storytelling is there at least, with Hallowicked and Slayne not being afraid to embrace their role of villains. Hallowicked gets too close to Law at one point and gets his clock cleaned, but Slayne is able to prevent Bug from making the tag. Bug eventually gets an Osaka Street Cutter on Hallowicked for a double down and then makes the tag to Law, who runs wild on the rudos with clotheslines and the like.

Law’s stuff looks by far the best in the match, and he delivers a nice shoulder breaker to Slayne with some real snap to it. Bug comes in with a Gun Slinger on Slayne, but Hallowicked breaks the count at two. The rudos flee from Law, but are eventually able to double hot shot him on the top rope, thus sending Law off the apron with a Nestea Plunge. Law’s body made a sickening crack when he hit the floor there, even if it wasn’t a huge fall due to the apron thankfully being quite low down. Still do, that was an impressive bump for a guy that size to be taking. We now get some heat on Law, which doesn’t really feel like it’s required as this match was hardly crying out for the old Rock ‘N’ Roll Express double heat formula. One heat segment was more than adequate and the match is now officially starting to drag.

Thankfully Law doesn’t get beaten up for too long and makes the tag to Bug, but this “hot tag” is considerably tepid when compared to the first one. Tne match kind of falls apart now, with Bug eventually locking in the Billy Goats Curse on Slayne for the submission win.

WINNERS: LOVE BUG AND MARSHALL LAW
RATING: *

This went on for too long and was pretty sloppy in places. On the brightside they worked the tag formula correctly for the most part, it just probably would have been much better to end the match after the first hot tag rather than doing another heat segment.

Match Three
Kid Kruel Vs Zane Madrox

Kid Kruel has a decent body and was not surprisingly signed to a WWE development deal at one stage, though he never made it to the main roster. He endears himself to the crowd by yelling at them and just generally being a jerk. Madrox kind of looks like what would happen if you gene spliced Lance Cade and Adam Pearce. He doesn’t even make it to the ring and just walks out again for whatever reason, despite the fact he’s meant to be the technico. Eventually he comes back with what looks to be a bag of crisps and decides to start the match.

Kruel quickly takes control of things on the mat, but Madrox is able to fight back with a monkey flip and then clotheslines Kruel to the outside. Kruel flips back in and gets a roll up for two, which leads to a fishtails sequence done at half speed. Kruel goes to a Fujiwara arm bar, and stays on the arm with other holds when that doesn’t work. Kruel chokes Madrox on the ropes and yells at the crowd, but Madrox replies with a spine buster followed by a splash for two. Madrox misses a Stinger Splash and that allows Kruel to take him down with a cross arm breaker, but Madrox is able to get his legs on the ropes to break the hold.

Kruel gets a body slam and heads up top for an elbow drop, but a relaxed cover means that Madrox is able to kick out at two. Kruel throws some chops in the corner, nut Madrox gets an up and over before following up with a second rope cross body for two. Madrox gets some chops of his own in the corner, but misses the dreaded Stinger Splash again and gets school boyed for two. Kruel goes to another arm bar, but Madrox refuses to tap so he gets go and tries a back body drop, but Madrox counters that into a DDT and gets a release gut wrench powerbomb.

Madrox gets two more powerbombs, but stupidly doesn’t go to the cover and instead gets a Torture Wrack into a face buster before going back to his bag of crisps so he can offer them to people in the crowd. What an absolute divvy, I hope Kruel breaks his arm off. And indeed my prayers are somewhat answered as Kruel puts the moron in cross arm breaker back inside and Madrox taps, but not before getting crisps all over the canvas.

WINNER: KID KRUEL
RATING: *1/2

Stupidity with the crisps aside, this wasn’t too bad and you could see that Kruel definitely had something about him just in the way he both looked and carried himself.

Match Four
“Wrestling’s Goth Rock Monster” Blind Rage Vs “Part Insect, Part Superhero” Ultra Mantis

Blind Rage is your generic mean dude in face paint and he would work for CHIKARA quite a bit, sporadically leaving now and then. He’s essentially got a Misfits/Vampiro deal going on here, even going as far to use Vampiro’s entrance music from WCW. Mantis is a technico here but would eventually embrace evil to become one of CHIKARA’s most enduring characters, riding the momentum all the way to winning the King of Trios Tournament and the CHIKARA Grand Championship.

We get some chain wrestling to start, which leads to Mantis shining on Rage with arm drags and the like. Rage eventually gets a reverse vertical suplex for two and starts choking away, but Mantis blocks a head butt and gets a nice double under hook suplex. Rage regains control with some front flip senton splashes but runs into a butt-butt from Mantis. Rage gets a flying forearm and then goes back to choking, as he works Mantis over.

Mantis gets a pair of Stinger Splashes but Rage counters the third one into a tilt-a-whirl back breaker before going to a chin lock. Mantis throws some Mongolian Chops and gets a running jumping head butt, but Rage replies with a jaw breaker to bring that flurry to a close. There’s been no real cut off and heat segment here, with both men trading moves instead. I think it needs to settle down into some actual heat for a brief period, just to give fans the chance to get behind Mantis.

Mantis eventually gets another butt-butt and both men trade strikes in the middle of the ring, which leads to Mantis throwing more strikes and getting a Praying Mantis Powerbomb for two. Mantis goes to a double under hook submission hold next ala Masahiro Chono, but Rage refuses to submit. Mantis goes to the Angel’s Wings, but Rage kicks out again. Mantis heads up top, but Rage cuts him off and brings him down with a Splash Mountain Bomb for two. Gory Bomb comes next, and that’s enough to keep Mantis down for three.

WINNER: BLIND RAGE
RATING: *1/2

This one was really just an exhibition of moves, which would be fine in front of the right crowd but this was not the right crowd for it. The moves themselves looked good for the most part though and I can appreciate what they were going for, but I think for this audience it needed to be a little bit more formula.

Main Event
“The Gold Bond Mafia”
CM Punk, Colt Cabana and Chris Hero
Vs
“Black T-Shirt Squad”
Mike Quackenbush, Don Montoya and Reckless Youth

Punk, Cabana and Hero I imagine you’ll all know, although Hero would go by the name Kassius Ohno these days. Quackenbush is a big fan of Lucha Libre and British Catch style wrestling and often employs it in his matches. Montoya debuted in 1995 and was trained by Michael Modest, but outside of that I don’t know much about him. Reckless Youth is a guy that had a big reputation on the indie scene during this period but he just never managed to make it big. These days he’d probably already be signed either to NXT or AEW because that was the calibre of star he was on the indies and someone would have definitely snapped him up in the modern era.

Hero and Quack start us out and it’s some nice chain wrestling, as they go through holds and counter holds with everything being executed well. Quack gets the best of that and tags in Youth whilst Hero tags in Cabana. The rudos keep tagging out though because no one wants to wrestle Youth, but eventually Cabana does get in to wrestle him. Youth and Cabana do some nice wrestling of their own, which sees Youth get the better of things, causing Cabana to tag out to Punk. Montoya comes in to work with Punk, whilst the crowd humorously chants “CM Chump”.

Montoya gets the better of Punk for the most part, working his arm in a wrist lock, but Punk takes Montoya down and rides him like a surfboard before tagging in Hero. Montoya demands that Punk come back in though and he obliges, which leads to Montoya getting some payback by surfing on him, which leads to another round of Quack Vs Hero. They work a knuckle lock and it’s good stuff, with Quack eventually sending Hero outside with a flying head scissors and then following with a plancha. As its Lucha rules, Cabana and Youth can now come in as the legal men and Youth once again gets the better of him to send him scurrying back into his corner for the tag to Punk.

Punk and Montoya go at it again, with Punk trying to use speed to evade his much bigger opponent, eventually cutting him off with some stomps when Montoya gives chase. Punk works Montoya over in the corner with chops and some choking, but he stops to taunt the crowd, which allows Montoya to fight back with some chops of his own, and they are some stiff ones at that. Montoya hangs Punk in the ropes, which leads to Hero accidentally dropkicking his partner when trying to make the save. The technicos stave off a rudo jump attack and then send them out of the ring for some dives, but Montoya gets cut off whilst the referee holds the other two back and that leads us to the heat segment.

The rudos work over Montoya in their half of the ring, cheating whenever the opportunity allows and just generally being villainous jerks. Eventually Montoya manages to pull Punks trunks down and then DDT’s him for two, but Punk is able to cut him off before he can make the tag before waddling out of the ring with his trunks around his ankles. There’s something to be said for watching good wrestlers just goof off and have fun whilst still having a good match because they’re good wrestlers. Punk puts Montoya in a single leg crab, which then leads to every other rudo and technico coming in to apply a hold until everyone is in one big submission move.

Montoya manages to fight his way out of the crab and then charges into everyone to knock them all down for a sextet down. Youth and Cabana recover first and Youth takes him down with a moonsault press, which leads to a trio of ten punches from the technicos. Montoya and Punk trade roll up attempts, with neither being able to pick up the three count and a double clothesline eventually leaves them both down. Youth and Cabana get taken out by Hero and Quack respectively, which leads to the latter two trading pin attempts, with Hero eventually no selling an enziguri and elbowing Quack down for two when Youth saves.

Cabana gets some running high knees in the corner to Youth and follows up with the Colt 45 but Youth is able to kick out at two. Colt tries to sunset flip Youth to the outside, but Youth fights him off and the gets a Tornado DDT off the apron. Montoya gets a suplex on Punk back inside and then follows up with a trio of clotheslines in the corner. Punk replies with a jaw breaker and a cross body from the top, but Montoya is out at two and then gets a gut wrench powerbomb for two when Hero breaks up the pin. Quack comes in the with Acid Drop on Hero, but Hero kicks out at two and then hot shots Quack into the top turnbuckle and gets a big piledriver for a two of his own. Hero heads up top but Montoya cuts him off and throws him out onto Punk on the floor before following with a suicide dive. This leaves Cabana and Quack in the ring, which leads to Quack getting a reverse rana (Though they botched the first attempt) and Youth comes in with a Northern Lights Bomb to pick up the win.

WINNERS: BLACK T-SHIRT SQUAD
RATING: ***

I have to say that watching the last 10 minutes of this one was really annoying because the video kept buffering like crazy. This doesn’t generally happen that often with SMVOD, but when it does it makes getting through a show a real chore. The match itself was a good solid 6 man tag, with all the participants clearly having fun and the crowd feeding off that. The rudos were completely zany and over the top, but it worked for this crowd and the match was fun as a result.

Reckless Youth grabs the mic post-match and puts over the rudos for travelling all the way to the show from the mid-west and invites them into the ring to soak in some cheers. Cabana and Hero accept but Punk is hesitant and doesn’t want to but eventually does. Handshakes and hugs are exchanged and we’re out. That’s a nice positive way to end the first show.

In Conclusion

CHIKARA would go on to have far better shows over the years, and this show wasn’t especially bad or anything but rather just “there”. It was a typical indie show with some younger guys getting some experience working in front of a crowd and a good main event with regular indie names to send everyone home happy.

At $4.99 on Smart Mark Video On Demand it certainly wasn’t a rip off or anything and it’s a neat bit of history if you are a CHIKARA fan and wanted to see how far the company has come over the years. If you’re interested then you can find this show along with many other CHIKARA events on www.smvod.com