June 24, 2011 "The Case Of The Bulletproof Waldo" - Chicago, IL
1. The Batiri (Obariyon, Kodama and Kobald) vs. Matt Classic & The Throwbacks - 4
2. Ophidian vs. Isaias Velazquez - 4
Something great happens when Classic joins the team of The Throwbacks. The best way I can describe it is that Classic's presence really shakes the team up a bit. Dasher was taking the brunt of the punishment in the ring, but the real story comes from Dunkerton's hot-tag. I love seeing this side of Dunkerton. It's almost as if there's a part of him that's awakened as he channels some inner puro power as he takes it to his opponents, including a stiff lariat that looked great. Classic did some step aerobics on the ring stairs for five minutes straight that led to the finish, seeing classic take a neck breaker from Kodama.
Nobody had any idea who Velasquez was as he was greeted with "Who are you?" chants. He's been pro 7 years and is from Chicago and still not over. Poor kid. Fans booed him every time he laid a strike in and he reveled in the disdain. His in-ring is pretty good, but we didn't really get to see a lot of it -- I'm not sure the match even went five minutes. Velazquez hit this really nice face plant on Ophidian from the middle rope, who spiked on his head for the kid. I liked Velasquez -- shame the match was so short.
3. FIST (Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor) vs. The Colony (Solider and Green Ant) - 5
4. Frightmare vs. Hieracon - 3
A little bit of a rematch from the KoT final a few months back doesn't have me complaining. I love these two teams. FIST dominated Soldier early on in the match, isolating him in their corner and working over his entire body. Green Ant's hot tag was good as he came in with tons of energy, taking Gargano and Taylor off their feet with connecting offense. Taylor and Gargano would keep getting the upper hand by executing well-placed double team maneuvers, including an assisted mule kick by Gargano to the face of Soldier. We had a glaring botch when they failed in their attempt to execute an assisted DDT, as Gargano looked out of place. The pacing was the best part of the match by far, starting off slow with mat work and building up. It was pretty damn good.
I suppose if someone were to complain about Gresham (who dons the Hieracon mask), the most common of these complaints would be Gresham's rather robotic nature. Tonight, both guys seemed off. Frightmare didn't connect with some of his offense, and for the first couple of minutes, Gresham looked to be moving in slow motion. The was totally passable, though, seeing as the match just started. Second, the match went seven minutes, but seemed like it went three or four at most. It seemed as though the match really didn't go anywhere at all, sadly, as both of these guys have a ton of potential.
5. Sara Del Rey vs. Icarus - 6
6. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Hallowicked - 6
Damn, I love Del Rey. Damn, everyone hates Icarus. She was taking it to his middle back. Loved her mat game almost as much as I love her. Icarus took it to the outside simply to jaw with the fans, which he's the best at in the company, but Del Rey was owning him with those kicks to the chest~! Crowd was thoroughly behind Sara, which added a cool element to the match as Sara is usually quite the heel in the BDK faction. Icarus hit a really flashy submission in which he balanced himself on his neck and tied up the arm of Del Rey, showing off his technical ability which is something we don't exactly see all the time. Del Rey booted the shit on the back of the head for a great nearfall. This shit is getting hot. Great finishing run for a really fun match showcasing Sara's ability and Icarus' in-ring. DIG IT!
I dug the way this match started. Claudio got the upper-hand by locking on a front chancery on Wicked, who couldn't get out until the crowd started getting behind him. The mat game was British style and I was digging what was unfolding on my screen. These two compliment each other very well. The mat game graduated into a more striking game by Wicked, who hit Claudio with some choice knees in the corner, but Claudio stuck to the ground game as the match continued to unfold. Cheap fin, but I looked passed it. As Wicked went up for another knee in the corner, Claudio evaded the knee to the chin, and flipped Wicked's leg onto the rope and crotched him. This fed into a pin and the fin, which was a bit weak, but the ground game was so solid it was easy to look past it.
7. Ultramantis Black vs. Fire Ant - 5
8. Eddie Kingston vs. Colt Cabana - 4
9. The Soul Touchaz (Acid Jaz, Willie Richardson & Marshe Rockett) vs. The BDK (Tim Donst, Jakob Hammermeier & Tursas) - 6
Mantis got a huge pop here in Chi-town. I noticed that Fire Ant's strikes didn't seem to have as much mustard behind them. His attempted Shining Wizard-like strike looked kind of weak, as did his attempted high kick to Mantis on the outside; however, he hit a great tope con hilo to the outside on Mantis and went splat. That bug got squashed. Fire also took a nice driver on the apron, which further flattened his antennae. His strikes heated up as he hit a nice enzuguiri from the top rope. This match had a nice element of wrestling and counter-wrestling from two of the most popular insects in the company with a great nearfall when Fire ant kicked out out the Cosmic Doom by Mantis, which balanced nicely considering Mantis kicked out of the Beach Break. Good stuff.
So Colt pulls a double shift tonight with a nice pop from his Chicago natives. King got a nice pop, too, leading to a chant-off between the two. Kingston took a brunt of Cabana's offense as Colt worked over King in that comedy Euro style he's so well known for. King spent the majority of the time on defense throughout the match, but got the advantage with the backfist, which saw Colt crumble into a pile of broken rubble. Nice sell to cap off a decent match.
Oh man I knew this main would be hot. We started with a crowd brawl and shit got fly. Willie was stiffer than straight vodka with Donst, but the BDK would isolate Willie, getting some nice heat. Classic tag team wrestling. Rocket got the tag and shit got CRAZZY. Marshe hit a plancha over the top rope on Tursas and looked to hurt his midsection, but Jaz was the real story. I loved hit suplex and face buster on Donst, then C-RED came back! AWW HELL YEAH, pimptastic~! The fin was so hot with Willie's sick leg drop on Jakob. I loved it! This match had that classic tag team element of the face being kept down for the majority of the match, making the super hot tag, and the face team running wild on the heels. Add C-Red's return, and it was pretty magical.
Match Avg: 4.78
June 25, 2011 "A Demon In His Pocket" - Taylor, MI
1. Gregory Iron vs. Icarus - 4
2. Gavin Quinn & The H3RD (Tommy Treznik & Ded Vaughn) vs. Cameron Sky & Too Sweet (Bryce Benjamin & Joey Marx) - 5
3. Vin Gerard vs. Hieracon - 3
I was expecting much, much less from the opener, but what we got wasn't too bad. Iron's tenacity and general showmanship in the ring comes through, especially when he's opposite of the biggest heel in the company, Icarus, who was getting eaten alive by the rabid Michiganders. Icarus didn't get a lot of offense in during this match, which surprised me. This was probably due to the fact that Iron had faced Icarus a few months prior and took the brunt of the offense. Iron spent most of his time on offense and really got to get his time in the spotlight. Good opener.
All six of these guys are CLASH Wrestling originals, who was hosting CHIKARA as they rolled in to Taylor, MI. It was obvious that these guys knew it each other very well, as they didn't miss a beat. I particularly enjoyed the team of Too Sweet, who played their roles as the fiery babyfaces very well and were also quite talented in the ring. Sky still has that awful card-dealer gimmick, but has toned it down a lot. His in-ring is solid, but dude, those trunks have got to go. The team of Vaughn and Treznik are a tandem of a mad scientist and Frankenstein monster-like killer with a mask. Sounds awful, but it works surprisingly. That's the thing that's working for them: with indy wrestling, most guys are known with bland names (like Bryan Danielson, for example). The gimmick is intriguing and the two work well together. Overall, the match really clicked and had a cool lucha element to it that I enjoyed.
Gresham looks to be in better spirits tonight and seems to have a little bit of charisma. Gerard played his role as the depressed maniac well, but the match itself didn't go anywhere. Come to think of it, it was the same type of thing that happened to Gresham last night. Gerard showed some nice intensity, stomping the hell out of Gresham's back before locking on the STF for the win. Wish Gerard would've worked over the back a bit more before locking on the STF, but it came off decently in a match that was a bit bland.
4. The Throwbacks (Sugar Dunkerton & Dasher Hatfield) vs. The BDK (Tim Donst & Jakob Hammermeir) - 4
5. FIST (Johnny Gargano & Chuck Taylor) vs. Hallowicked & Frightmare - 6
6. Mike Quackenbush vs. Ophidian - 7
I can appreciate comedy wrestling, but this went way too long. We had Hatfield and Donst playing basketball in the ring with Dunkerton and Hammermier playing the roles of basketball hoops. It was funny at first, then got bland, then became funny again when Hatfield nailed Hammermier in the face with the ball. The match unfolded in a not-so-stellar way, but I really enjoyed the fin with Hatfield driving Hammermier into the canvas from the top rope brutally, while Dunkerton held Donst on the outside.
I really dug this next match. The chemistry here worked so well. Wicked and Frightmare worked together like lamb and tuna fish (reference...), hitting this really great Yakuza kick/neckbreaker combo. FIST was great here. Their cohesion is some of the best. Both Taylor and Gargano have a fluid way of bringing out the best in each other, and their tandem offense is delish. This was really nothing short of what you'd expect to see out of these vets. Their bits and pieces of offense fed into one another and didn't look overly-cooperative, which is great. I really dug the chemistry and the overall flow of the match.
This next match epitomized what this company is all about. We all know that Quack is probably one of the most adept mat technicians on the indy scene, but Ophidian's skill shouldn't be ignored. Both of these guys busted out some choice maneuvers in the mat wrestling portion of the match. Not one move looked clunky or out of place, and the fluidity and execution was carried out to perfection. The match built and built as the two went to the outside, seeing Quack putting Ophidian on his shoulders and running him into one of the support beams in the building, only to have Ophidian grab hold of said beam and hit a rana on Quack. In the ring, the power game came into play with Quack hitting two versions of the Quackendriver, only to have Ophidian kick out of both. The finish was great and timed perfectly to boot. A CHIKARA MOTYC without question.
7. Ultramantis Black vs. Eddie Kingston - 4
8. The Colony (Green Ant, Soldier Ant and Fire Ant) vs. The BDK (Claudio Castagnoli, Tursas & Sara del Rey) - 6
I really want to see Mantis take this tournament. Not only would the story be great considering his past with Larry Sweeney (although there are multiple men who have a storied past with him in the tournament), but also considering that Mantis hasn't really shined all that much in the ring throughout his nine years. That is in no way a drag on Mantis, but it's well known that his cult following is due to his character and personality, not exactly to his in-ring. A feather in the cap of being the first CHIKARA singles champ would likely overshadow any other lack of titles in his career. This match was strictly ok. The match itself was lacking in that the first part was marred by Vin Gerard's subtle interference. The offense by both was good, such as Mantis' dive off of the apron and Kingston's stiffness, but Mantis did royally screw up a Praying Mantis Bomb, still dropping King on his head. King got pinned, yet had his foot on the rope, forcing the match to be restarted, which did hurt the match because it broke up the flow. King hit a Sliding D on Mantis that didn't look like it connected very well from the camera's vantage point, however, the finish was good, seeing King drop Mantis on his head and hit him with two backfists, but the match was tainted by the bullshit.
The Colony main events another show against the BDK. We got a really great Green Ant showcase. His technical skill was apparent while he tangled it up with Claudio in the ring. Claudio, let's talk about him. He had this great dominating presence in the ring. It was like the Ants couldn't get the full upper-hand on him, as his power and height advantage led to him overcoming anything the Ants put past him. I've said it before, Claudio is by far one of the best big men to work with little men. He can make Mascarita Dorada look like Andre. Green Ant is quickly becoming my favorite member of the trio. His "little engine that could" story with Tursas really wins me over. His selling is improving by leaps and bounds, too. I also loved Soldier's great arm work on Tursas, taking him down in a guillotine choke and then into a cross arm breaker. The dive sequence was screwy as neither Fire or Soldier Ant could get Tursas off of his feet. Fire went for a dive and went SPLAT. The finish was well executed and pushed this match over into the recommendable category.
Match Average: 4.88
June 26, 2011 "The Evil That Lies Within, Part 4" - Lakewood, OH
Adam, his fiancee, and myself drove four hours north to see this show. Yeah, it was worth it. You'll notice the LS (Live Score) and RS (Review Score). This is to differentiate between my reactions to the matches seeing them live and after re-watching them on tape. I will only include the Review Score in the match average at the end to avoid and bias. S'doit.
1. Los Ice Creams vs. The Olsen Twins vs. Aeroform vs. Kobald & Obariyon - LS: 4 RS:4
2. Tursas vs. Dasher Hatfield - LS: 3 RS: 3
3. Cheech Hernandez vs. Shiima Xion - LS: 5 RS: 4
The first match was a typical CHIKARA opener. While it got a bit more time than most openers, it unfolded relatively well. Aeroform were over like a bridge and troubled water. People were popping for Lyndon's karate gestures and Kendrick's... flips. Creams came out and went through their typical shtick with the audience, tearing up one fans sign and jawing with a kid in the second row. Olsen's got a decent pop and had the energy to boot, and The Batiri were over like a lead balloon. Come on, what's not to like except Kobald? The match itself was just fine, but in typical Kobald fashion, he sucked more that Joanie Laurer in her new Vivid release. That aside, all of the other teams played off one another well, including Colin Delany of the Olsen Twins, who received some aid from the child that was being berated by the Creams on the outside. Colin, who is apparently lactose intolerant, was down and out against the Creams until Jimmy Olsen brought the kid from the crowd in to give Colin a Lactaid strip, leading to a Hogan-esque comeback. The kid beat up the Creams and was over with the crowd, much to my enjoyment. Worth the trip alone right there. Again, in-ring wise, not the best, but served it's purpose.
Tursas vs. Hatfield was all kinds of shit. I'm not ragging on Dasher, but his in-ring isn't believable. Absolutely nothing he can conjure up would believably take Tursas off of his feet. The crowd ate him up, though. There's not much to be pointed out in the match other than the valiant effort shown by Hatfield, which was fun to watch unfold. In the end, completely skippable.
This next match was quite the treat. I really dig Xion (or Zema Ion or some shit now) and Cheech impresses me every time he steps through the ropes. This match got a shit-ton of time, too. Xion was heeling it up, jawing with the crowd about his new boss and doing a Hogan pose, while Cheech was gaining more and more fans. The match itself was a bit conservative and played out in a way that wasn't exactly similar to most Xion matches. Again, I think this was chiefly due to the amount of time the match received. Cheech is great, though. He has the technical ability and the flying ability to fit in perfectly with this company, as does Xion, who really showcased that in his match here. A little slow to unfold for my liking, but still a solid outing by both.
4. Sugar Dunkerton vs. Ophidian - LS: 6 RS: 5
5. Hieracon vs. Eddie Kingston - LS: 6 RS: 6
6. The BDK (Jakob Hammermeier & Tim Donst) vs. Hallowicked & UltraMantis Black - RS:5 LS: 5
I dug the hell out of this match live. Dunkerton is clearly the superior teammate in The Throwbacks. He can do comedy (which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't) and he can also throw down and have a great match. I thought to myself live watching this unfold, "There's no way this wouldn't get a recommendable score." While that's not necessarily the case, it was still quite good. Dunks brought that great ring game I was talking about, hitting his offense with that extra oomph that he so often brings. Also, on a side note, dude is tall as hell live, which subconsciously may have something to do with why I think he has a more intimidating factor to his overall game. Ophidian was taking the brunt of his offense by sliding around the ring and making the most out of everything Dunks laid into him. In retrospect, I wouldn't tell someone that they should check this match out exclusively, but if you have the DVD, I wouldn't skip it.
King vs. Hieracon, oh hell yeah. Gresham hasn't had the best weekend by any means, but tonight was his last chance to make up for it, and he did. King brought that hard-hitting style to the match that we all love and adore, but Gresham, despite his vertical challenge, wasn't giving in. He rolled King into all sorts of holds and submissions, leading to my personal favorite thing about Kingston: his selling. He sold the leg like he was coming off a fresh break of the patella, PG-cursing under his breath and making all kinds of awful faces. Gresh made up for his rather shitty performances the two nights prior by making an extra effort here, and it really shined through. I just wish he could get in tune with the crowd and play to them, instead of getting so caught up in the match he basically ignores them. Really good match, though.
I suppose when you see that Hammermier is in a match you'd automatically assume that it's going to be weak sauce. While that may be a fair assumption, this match played out well... then again, it was a tag. Wicked and Mantis have this great chemistry together that makes them a really great team, and Donst is such an asshole in the ring that everyone loves to hate him. This plays well off of Mantis' adoring fan base in that Donst was hated even more for stepping into the ring on an opposing side. The match built well, seeing the upper hand being traded between both teams and reaching a decent sprint with Wicked hitting a really great knee in the corner. I loved my vantage point on this because it looked stiff as hell. Mantis capped off the match with a Praying Mantis Bomb on Hammermier for the win. A good, solid outing by both, and a really good performance by Hammermier.
7. Frightmare vs. Kodama - LS: 6 RS: 5
8. Vin Gerard & FIST (Icarus, Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano) vs. Mike Quackenbush & The Colony ( Green Ant, Soldier Ant & Fire Ant) - LS: 7 RS: 6
I thoroughly dug the YLC match. There's no denying Fright's great in-ring ability, and having that trophy and defending it through the year has made his in-ring and seasoning that much more polished. Kodama is awesome, and you shall bow to the powers of The Batiri collective (except Kobald). This was a really good sprint. I would reiterate my thoughts on the Dunkerton/Ophidian match here in terms of recommending people watch it. Was it the strongest YLC match by Frightmare this year? No, but it was good. Kodama's jumping neck breaker off the top rope is great, no doubt, and Fright's kneecolepsy is one of my favorite things to see. The best part of this match is the height similarity between the two. They're both on the shorter side, so whenever Kodama goes for the lariat and Fright ducks, it doesn't look ridiculous. Compare this when a tall guy, say Claudio, tries it and doesn't even come close to hitting Fright's head, it looks ridiculous. The height similarity gave the match a cooler vibe and let the two play off one another better. A solid outing by both.
The main event had me more excited than Leonard Chikarason playing Runescape on his mom's computer. Icarus got a ridiculous amount of heat for simply existing and having that back tat. Gargano, surprisingly, wasn't as over as I thought he'd be. Yeah, he fits in FIST very well. The technico team was everything you'd think it would be and all four had a great connection with one another. This match got about 18 minutes, and every minute counted. The build here was great as FIST isolated members of the Colony from their team and heeled it up. When the sprint came, it was a sight for sore eyes. FIST had been holding the match to the ground, and once that hot tag hit, it was history. Dives and power moves were popping all over the place. At one moment, all four members of the heel team were laying in a line, leading to Quack double stomping each one of their stomachs. Capped off by a great Ant Hill on Gargano, the match climaxed and had the fans on their feet. What a way to finish the night.
In the end, this was definitely worth the 8 hours on the road, and I can't wait to do it again next year.
Match Average: 4.75
"King of Trios: Night 3" - April 17, 2011 (5.1)
"Creatures from the Tar Swamp" - March 13, 2011 (5)
"A Demon in His Pocket" - June 25, 2011 4.88
"The Case of the Bulletproof Waldo" - June 24, 2011 (4.78)
"King of Trios: Night 2" - April 16, 2011 (4.75)
"The Evil that Lies Within, Part 4" - June 26, 2011 (4.75)
"Chaos in the Sea of Lost Souls" - January 23, 2011 (4.75)
"Anniversario and His Amazing Friends" - May 21, 2011 (4.63)
"King of Trios: Night 1" - April 15, 2011 (4.6)
"Caught in a Cauldron of Hate" - February 19, 2011 (4.5)
"Anniversario: The Legendary Super Powers Show" - May 22, 2011 (4.5)
"Clutch of Doom" - February 20, 2011 (4.25)
"Operation Big Freeze" - March 12, 2011 (4)
"Engulfed in a Fever of Spite" - May 14, 2011 (3.9)