Looking at CHIKARA's The World is Not Enough Event (7.20.14)
Posted by Mike Hammerlock on 07.21.2014
Chikara returned to Boston as the Throwbacks beat the Pieces of Hate for the Campeonatos de Parejas, Archibald Peck and Ashley Remington staged a comedy classic, and the world bid farewell to the Estonian Thunderfrog.
Chikara came back to the metro Boston area on Sunday, July 20 with its "The World is Not Enough" card and I happened to be there front row (with the Oti) to see the action. That means you get a recap. Just to sort things out beforehand, this is not going to be a move-for-move rehash of the show. I wasn't sitting there with a notebook or laptop taking notes. I'm also going to stay away from snowflake ratings because how a match plays in front of a live audience often differs from how it looks through a TV camera. So I'll be handing out letter grades instead.
The event goes down at the Wonderland Ballroom in Revere. Great geographic location, next door to a T station (that's our metro/subway). You get a different kind of crowd in Boston when you're on public transit. Holds true for sporting events and rock ‘n' roll shows too. Boston Garden (because screw its corporate name) wrestling crowds are notoriously better than Worcester Centrum wrestling crowds. Amazing the difference 45 miles and no transit can make. They pack the room, which makes for a loud and boisterous atmosphere. Midway through the show ring announcer Gavin Loudspeaker tells us we have a record-setting attendance of 93,186. I suspect that's slightly off, but who am I to question their math?
There's only one hitch: the Wonderland Ballroom has a low ceiling. I'm talking downright cozy here. The ring barely fits in the room. There's maybe four feet between the top rope and the ceiling, and that's a generous estimate. We will not be seeing an aerial-based show.
Match: 3.0 (Shane Matthews and Scott Parker) vs. the Odditorium (Sir Oliver Grimsly and Qefka the Quiet)
Matthews and Parker enter the ring with a "how the hell are we going to pull off our moves in this thing?" look on their faces. Matthews asks if the ceiling is up to code. Clearly he doesn't know how Revere operates. If you've properly bribed the building inspector, you're up to code. Despite the low overhead, both teams get down to business. The Odditorium guys do the standard slow it down and draw heat segment. Qefka apparently does not like being called a mime, even though he's totally a mime. The guy started the match by doing the classic trapped-in-a-box bit. 3.0 are crisp and fast when they start hitting moves. If they were physically bigger, they'd be playing in the majors. You can tell these guys grew up together. Their quality and timing shows. They adapt nicely to the lack of airspace - snap moves, crossbodies, combo moves. The ring itself has got good action. When a guy gets planted, it sounds like he's been crushed. Matthews and Parker ultimately take the victory. Makes sense since they're clearly the class of this match. Action start, the crowd is pleased.
Match: "The Leader of the Band" Archibald Peck vs. Smooth Sailin' Ashley Remington
Let me jump to the end here. This one is going onto my Match of the Year short list. Archie and Ashley put on an absolute epic comedy match. They gave it time (probably took about 15 minutes) and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. Now back to the start. Everybody loves Ashley Remington. That's his gimmick. Even the ref, Bryce Remsburg, loves him. Archie is blushing like a schoolgirl as Remington gets into the ring. The ceiling poses a particular problem for Archie, who's tall and likes to come off the top rope. He tries to climb the ropes before the match and his head reaches the paneling from the second rope. They start off with a mutual appreciation battle. Facial expressions and gestures don't play as well in arenas, but in a smaller space they're what gets you over. Without so much as a single lock up, these two guys win the crowd. We start chanting for them to hug it out. Remsburg sees his opportunity and jumps on Remington for a hug. Then we demand, and get, a referee sandwich. Remsburg, clearly verklempt from the experience, collapses into a corner.
Finally they tie up. It goes to the ropes. Remsburg counts to 1 and Remington breaks the hold, reminding the crowd he always breaks on 1. That man has class. Another tie up goes to the ropes. Remsburg counts to 1 and Archie breaks the hold, insisting he breaks on 1 too. Then we get a break on 1 battle. Archie eventually trips up and Remsburg counts to 2. Archie can't contain his shame. Eventually Remington and the crowd convince him it's all right that he didn't break on 1. At one point Archie puts Ashley into an armbar and the match stops while everyone admires Ashley's triceps. Apparently the secret is pull-downs with a sharp snap back. The crowd tries to get them into a pushup contest, which Archie clearly wants no part of, but Ashley stays focused on giving good tricep-building advice. Later in the match, Archie goes for a vertical suplex on Remington, realizes he's got no clearance, so he begins to slowly lower himself down to the mat. When Remington's head touches the canvas he snaps over and sells the move like he came off the top rope. It goes for a long two-count near fall. The bits were spectacular the whole match, which Remington won with a submission move. Archie left the ring clearly stoked that he actually got to touch THE Ashley Remington.
Comedy matches are so much tougher than serious matches. Everyone knows what works in serious matches. If you execute, you'll be fine. The chances of falling flat in a comedy match are so much higher. If it doesn't work in the room, you're dead. That's why comedy matches tend to be short. If you can survive a few minutes without losing the crowd, mission accomplished and you've put on a successful filler match. Yet a comedy epic? Peck and Remington probably were the second-longest match of the night. That takes balls - enormous, tungsten balls. You could go to wrestling shows your whole life and never see a comedy match half that good.
Match: Icarus, the Spectral Envoy (Hallowicked and UltraMantis Black) and the Osirian Portal (Ophidian and Amasis) vs. the Devastation Corporation (Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive and Flex Rumblecrunch), Dr. Cube and Kizarny
Yeah, I said Kizarny, not Sinn Bodhi. I have no idea if Nick Cvjetkovich wrestles regularly as Kizarny, but he did on Sunday. Maybe he adds an extra z to it to make his name Kizzarny. See? Totally different. The big news here is Icarus, the Chikara Grand Champion, returned. He got injured when he took the belt of Eddie Kingston in May and hasn't wrestled since. It was a fairly big deal to see him leading Chikara's tecnicos up against a collection of its top rudos (note: Chikara's bad guys have all banded together and call themselves the Flood). The Devastation Corporation guys are the biggest dudes in Chikara. Blaster McMassive barely fit in under the ceiling. The match itself was standard fare. Everybody brawled outside the ring. I got to berate Cube, saying "C'mon Cube, don't you want to be on the winning side?" That's his old Cube Army motto from Kaiju Big Battel, where Gavin Loudspeaker goes by the name Louden Noxious. I don't know if Cube is played by the same guy as 13 years ago. If so, he's a bit more portly these days. I also don't get why he's lost the sinister lab coat for a gaudy suburban sweater.
When they finally get into the ring, the Flood takes over until Icarus gets a hot tag. We almost see Cube get his block knocked off … and we chant for it to happen. In a surprise finish, Smashmaster somehow manages to do a top rope senton onto Icarus for the pin. He was curled up like a pill bug to pull it off, impressive for an hombre his size. Rumblecrunch is asking if that means they now get the title belt. It does not mean that. A groggy Icarus is led into the back by his team. This probably means he won't be able to make a save later in the show. That, folks, is what we call foreshadowing.
Match: Shynron vs. Missile Assault Ant
This is announced as a magic move match. If someone hits the magic move, everyone in the audience wins a prize. I hope it's a car. That's what Oprah would do. Mike Quackenbush declares the magic move is a bottom rope 450 splash. Given the ceiling circumstances, that's more likely than a top rope 450 splash. Missile Assault Ant is part of the Colony: Xtreme Force. Their gig is to be a bit like Pokemon. Mostly they just say their own names. Early on, Missile Assault Ant plants Shynron (aka the Spirit Dragon) on the canvas and mounts the bottom rope. After a few bounces it's clear he doesn't have a clue how he's going to get enough spin for a 450. Then Shynron busts out his moves. He's explosive with crazy hops. I know, sounds like he's a beer, but he's a wrestler. Finally he lays out Missile Assault Ant, climbs the bottom rope and hits a 450 for the win. Short, but fun while it lasted. We all win a sticker. My daughter will like that when I get home. Missile Assault Ant walks out chanting his own name.
Match: The Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw and the Shard) vs. the Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield and Mr. Touchdown) for the Campeonatos de Parejas titles
The Pieces of Hate have held the belts for more than a year, not quite as impressive as it sounds as Chikara was inactive for most of that year. Yet it is officially the longest Campeonatos (aka tag title) reign in Chikara history. A quick note about Chikara tag rules. It's one man in the ring at time. That means if you roll out of the ring, your partner can jump in without being tagged. Love that rule. Really picks up the pace. Both teams are well-oiled machines. Jigsaw reminds the crowd that he's from the Bronx in order to pick up some cheap Red Sox-Yankees heat. It's two out of three falls for the win.
First fall goes to the Pieces of Hate when Jigsaw, whose mask has puzzle pieces for eyes, hits the Jig n'Tonic (a cradle back-to-belly piledriver) on Hatfield. Immediately Jigsaw goes for a submission on Hatfield, who wears a baseball head mask with a handlebar mustache, his gimmick is basically that he's 19th century slugger Dan Brouthers. Hatfield stays in for a long heat segment. Eventually he tags in Touchdown who gives us some redzone offense, but the bad guys take control again. Jigsaw keeps reminding just how good he is and he's not wrong about that. At one point, Hatfield and Jigsaw lay each other out at my feet. I really should have offered Hatfield some water. Don't know what I was thinking. When they get back into the ring Jigsaw sets up for another Jig n'Tonic, but Hatfield counters with a Code Red for the second fall. Then the pace really picks up with near falls all over the place. At one point Hatfield picks up Jigsaw and they knock a fan vent off the ceiling. Yes, they actually tore the roof off the place. Got nowhere else to mention this, so I'll do it here - the Shard is a wee man. Talented, but short. Crowd is hot. Touchdown is flinging himself at the champs with abandon. Finally the Throwbacks get the win and the crowd goes wild. Super fun match. The Oti said it was his favorite of the night.
The downside of a packed house is there's no room to move near the merch tables. Pretty much the whole Chikara roster is here selling their gear. Really nice folks, especially Oleg the Usurper. It's everything we can do just to get down the row to see all the gear. The Batiri are here. They and the Colony did a thumb war segment with a bunch of fans earlier in the show (summary: two kids won and we chanted their names). For those that don't know the Batiri, they're demonic guys with green face paint. They've become faces. They're both short, musclebound and have New York/north Jersey accents. Basically they're twin Glenn Danzigs, which is all kinds of cool. Eventually the Oti gets a t-shirt of Green Ant wrestling an anteater. Would have bought more, but wanted to get out of the merch scrum.
Match: Eddie Kingston vs. Jervis Cottonbelly
Cottonbelly, a masked British dandy, is taped up with a supposed shoulder/chest injury. Kingston clearly isn't into this match. His gig is he's super serious, a hard man with a warrior's code, the last of a dying breed. Cottonbelly is a lighter-hearted character, espousing the virtues of what he calls Gentlemania. Cottonbelly keeps insisting Kingston engage in a match, Kingston keeps turning his back and leaning on the corner ropes. When they mix it up bit and Cottonbelly nearly gets a rollup, Kingston lays him out, but leaves the ring without going for a pin. Two guys in business suits and plague doctor masks come out and attack Cottonbelly.
Then we hear the voice of Jimmy Jacobs (who's apparently in the back or under the ring or hiding behind the bar) telling Kingston that he needs to unleash his wrath, that if he does Jacobs can help him regain the Chikara Grand Champion belt. Jacobs orders Kingston to destroy one of Jacobs' two acolytes in the ring so that Kingston can become Jacobs' one true acolyte. Extra points if Eddie adopts "Damn!" as a catchphrase. Kingston gives in to his inner demons and wipes out an acolyte. Eddie, clearly tormented, exits the ring, tearing off the ring apron. Nope, Jacobs is not under the ring. Kingston walks out of the building. I call out for him to bring me back a roast beef sandwich. Kelly's is right down the street. It's a Revere landmark. When Kingston returns, no roast beef sandwiches. Boo, heel. This was all plot, which means more to those of us following along on the Internet than to the live audience.
Match: Worker Ant vs. Arctic Rescue Ant
Worker Ant used to be part of the Swarm as assailAnt, but was transferred over to the Colony by the former Chikara Director of Fun, Wink Vavasseur, who used a Chikarametrics formula to optimize his ant colonies. I think he got it wrong. Nothing wrong with Worker Ant, but Arctic Rescue Ant has a more energetic style and appealing moveset. Plus, he's Arctic RESCUE Ant. How is that a rudo? Crowd cheers for Worker Ant, because he's technically the tecnico. Perfect fine effort from both, but I'd like to see Arctic Rescue Ant get a face turn, maybe the whole Xtreme Force for that matter. After the match Arctic Rescue Ant is too wiped out to chant his own name, only gets out the first two words. Nice touch.
Match: The Baltic Siege (Estonian Thunderfrog, Latvian Proud Oak, Lithuanian Snow Troll) vs. The Bloc Party (Mr. Azerbaijan, Proletariat Boar of Moldova, Prakash Sabar) with the Polar Baron
I think they announced this as a King of Trios eliminator. The Thundefrog kept trying to sell me a "ThunderBelly" t-shirt of him and Jervis Cottonbelly during intermission. Nice guy, I like him, but I wasn't into a Cottonbelly shirt. We start with a scrum. Lots of action inside and outside the ring. They do some dive spots right into where we're sitting. While the rudos are laid out on the floor, Mr. Azerbaijan unties some guy's shoes. Awesome. Best heel move ever. Mr. Azerbaijan is now my favorite wrestler. The Snow Troll is the first to be eliminated, then Prakash Sabar, then the Proud Oak. This leaves the Thunderfrog by himself, though he's got the Hammer of Peace laying in his corner. Supposedly only he can lift it and, when he strikes the ring with it, he wipes out all the bad guys. He gets a surprise rollup on the Boar to make it 1v1. Eventually the Thunderfrog gets the win without the hammer and the Bloc Party has to raise the Siege's flags as the ultimate humiliation for their loss. Then the Flood hits the ring (Devastation Corporation, Oleg the Usurper, Cube, etc.). They wipe out the Baltic Siege members. After that the monster Deucalion enters (he's big and he wears a steampunky gas mask). He walks over to the prone Thunderfrog, picks him up and breaks him over his knee. I believe this means the Thunderfrog is dead. Feel bad that I didn't buy his t-shirt. His picture is now shaded out on the Chikara site. The Proud Oak and Snow Troll carry away his limp body. I can only assume the hammer is still on the side of the ring inside the Wonderland Ballroom, where it will rest for eternity.
That was an absurd amount of fun. Great crowd and they made the most of the low ceiling. A stronger second half of the card and it would have been a superior indy show. The nice thing about Chikara is it makes no apologies for keeping its tongue in its cheek. Yes, they're here to have a good time. They put talented guys in the ring, but the whole promotion is character driven. It's American lucha and - in a fair and just world - Chikara would have its own Saturday morning variety show on the Cartoon Network (some wrestling, some cartoons, lots of comedy bits). Remington vs. Peck was a blast. Throwbacks vs. Pieces of Hate was a very good match. Does the end of the Estonian Thunderfrog spell doom for the Baltic Siege? Maybe they'll bring in the Baltic sky-god Diveriks, who takes the form of a rabbit when he comes to earth. Bet he could lift that hammer.
Best news of the night. Chikara's coming back to the area in November (Haverhill, MA and South Windsor, CT). Maybe we'll get Icarus vs. Evil Eddie Kingston. It would be nice if someone could get some revenge for the Thunderfrog as well. And if Chikara's rolling into your area anytime soon, make sure to check it out. It's a ticket you'll be happy you bought.