Views from the Hawke's Nest: The Best of Chikara 2002
Posted by TJ Hawke on 07.19.2013
CM Punk's only available match in Chikara...
With Chikara no longer with us, I thought it would be fun to finally dig into my Best of Chikara DVDs, which had been collecting dust on my bookshelf for a while.
5.25.2002 Allentown, PA
Gold Bond Mafia (CM Punk, Chris Hero, & Colt Cabana) vs. Black T-Shirt Squad (Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth, & Don Montoya) from The Renaissance Dawns 2002
Yes, CM Punk and Colt Cabana wrestled in CHIKARA before they ever stepped into a Ring of Honor ring. This is the main event of the first ever CHIKARA show. Punk, Cabana, and Hero drove in from the mid-west for the show. As I understand it, the rest of the show was filled out by Wrestle Factory students.
Quack and Hero started the match. Hero was wearing cargo pants. Youth and Colt then faced off. Colt was much skinnier here, but his natural screen presence was pretty much as sharp as it is now. Youth eventually got the advantage. Don Montoya and Punk tagged in. Montoya is a big boy. Punk has got red hair and basketball shorts here. I wonder if Punk will ever bring back the basketball shorts. Montoya used his size to overpower Punk. Punk tried to irritate Montoya, but he couldn't get any real offense it. Gold Bond Mafia were clearly the rudos here. Hero and Quack tagged back in. Quack managed to send Hero to the floor, and Quack then hit a double jump Spaceman Plancha. Punk and Montoya tagged in. Punk used some rudo tactics to get the advantage. Montoya came back with chops. The tecnicos caused the Mafia to accidentally cause damage to themselves. The Mafia managed to isolate Montoya, and they then got the heat on him. Montoya eventually pantsed Punk and hit a DDT. Punk managed to hold onto Montoya so that Cabana could cut him off again. They did a six person submission spot. Montoya managed to escape, and he took everyone down with a lariat. Reckless took Colt down with a Lionsault. Punk and Montoya traded a couple of pinning combinations. Montoya and Punk took each other down with a double lariat fell to the outside. The match broke down without Montoya ever getting a tag, which seems really sloppy for these guys. Colt hit Reckless with the Colt 45: 1...2...NO! Reckless hit Colt with a tornado DDT to the floor. Montoya and Punk ended up alone in the ring. Punk got a nearfall with a diving cross-body. Montoya hit the Doctor Bomb for a nearfall. Hero hit The Nifty Snake Eyes. Hero hit a piledriver variation: 1...2...NO! Montoya wiped out Hero and Punk with a tope suicida. Quack hit Colt with a reverse hurricanrana, and Reckless then hit Colt with the 2K1 Bomb: 1...2...3!
Reckless Youth put over the Gold Bond Mafia. He said they are much like the Black T-Shirt Squad in their dedication and willingness to travel for little to no pay. Then all six of the wrestlers posed for the photograph you see at the top of the post.
The first word that comes to my mind when I try to describe this match is "cool." I'm sure slight variations of this matchup (or even this exact matchup) happened during this era of independent wrestling, but something about this match just feels unique and special. The fact that CM Punk and Colt Cabana competed in the very first CHIKARA main event is just bizarre to think about. It may seem natural in 2012 to think of Colt Cabana as a "CHIKARA guy," but this would be Cabana's last Chikara match until September 2009 (Punk meanwhile wrestled for CHIKARA once more in 2003. In interviews since that time, Punk has had a penchant for referring to the people who run Chikara as "dorks"). It's also awesome to see Hero and Quack go at it so early when you realize how important their CHIKARA feud would end up being. As for the match itself, it was far from perfect. I was never bored, so the match length (30 minutes and change) was not an issue. Just from a structure standpoint, it was really weird that the rudos did an extended heat segment on Montoya, only for there to never be a hot tag, I would never want to imply that all wrestling should be the same, but the lack of natural payoff to that beatdown seemed to take me and the crowd slightly out of the action. Regardless, I absolutely consider this to be an historical professional wrestling match, and I would say it's mandatory viewing for all wrestling fans (especially for the hardcore CHIKARA or independent wrestling fans). Match Rating: ***1/4
6.14.2002 Allentown, PA
Black T-Shirt Squad (Mike Quackenbush & Reckless Youth) vs. La Parka & Mister ZERO
I imagine it was somewhat of a big deal for La Parka to appear in CHIKARA, especially since CHIKARA was in its infant stages of development. The story was that ZERO was searching for the ideal partner. ZERO was one of the first graduates of the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory.
La Parka and ZERO attacked the Black T-Shirt Squad before the bell. The T-Shirt Squad managed to send their opponents to the floor, and then they wiped them out with stereo tope suicidas. Things settled down, as Reckless and ZERO squared off in the ring. La Parka tagged in and hit Reckless with a diving spinning heel kick. La Parka then danced, because he is La Parka. ZERO got Quack in a submission, and he then read a newspaper. Wresssstling! YAY! ZERO and La Parka worked over Quack. The commentators just noted that Paul Turner, aka long time ROH referee (who appeared on the very first ROH show), was the referee of this match. Quack managed to tag out to Reckless. ZERO and La Parka worked over Reckless briefly, but Reckless escaped and stole ZERO's newspaper. Quack gave ZERO a big running palm strike and a double stomp for a nearfall. Reckless and Quack worked over ZERO for a while. Unlike at the first CHIKARA show, this match used lucha tag rules. La Parka saved ZERO, and he went to work on Reckless. ZERO came into the ring, but Reckless sent him to the floor and hit ZERO with an elbow suicida. La Parka hit Reckless with a corkscrew plancha. Quack hit ZERO with a springboard somersault plancha. Back in the ring, Quack hit ZERO with a diving headbutt. La Parka then botched a split-legged move on Quack. La Parka hit a pair of powerbombs on Quack. La Parka went for the corkscrew moonsault, but Quack avoided it. Quack went for a senton atomico, but La Parka avoided it. ZERO got on the microphone and yelled at La Parka, because he didn't want La Parka getting the win for the team. That seemingly came out of nowhere. Zero attacked La Parka. Paul Turner pulled Zero back, which caused Turner & Zero to fall to the mat. Parka went for a frogsplash, but he connected with Turner by mistake. Reckless wiped out La Parka with a diving plancha. Quack had La Parka defeated with a frog splash, but Paul Turner was still knocked out. Quack accidentally hit Youth with the chair. La Parka then hit Quack with the chair. La Parka got disqualified for that. La Parka then celebrated. As you would.
This was a 22 minute match that felt like it was building for a forty minute match. By that I mean everything that happened before Mister ZERO started arguing with La Parka felt like seeds being planted before an extended heat sequence and then a finishing sequence. In other words, the story of the match was only half done (at best), and then we got a sloppy trainwreck finish where La Parka stood above everyone else. I'm not surprised that La Parka never appeared in CHIKARA again. When you buy this DVD, don't expect much from this match. It was entertaining in bits and pieces, but it did not come together well at all. I imagine it's only on a "Best of" because 2002 didn't have a ton of matches to choose from and because of La Parka's name value. Match Rating: **1/4
6.21.2002 Allentown, PA
Black T-Shirt Squad (Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth, & Don Montoya) & UltraMantis vs. Mister ZERO & Night Shift (Blind Rage, Hallowicked, & Ichabod Slayne)
Slayne is obviously the masked Icarus. Mister ZERO gave Night Shift name tags so he could easily identify them. ZERO thought this match would be a four on three match, but the ring announcer, Bryce Remsburg, then announced that UltraMantis (sans Black) would be teaming with the Squad. This was the match that revealed Mister ZERO as the person who was in charge of Night Shift (who had been defeating the Black T-Shirt Squad by breaking jack-o-lanterns over the tecnicos' heads).
The rudos did not have much success in the early goings. Montoya got a nearfall on Slayne with a spinning heel kick. The tecnicos used the fans to help lock ZERO in an especially painful abdominal stretch. Quack then got hotshotted, which allowed the rudos to isolate him and work him over. The rudos had the advantage on Quack for a good while. Quack finally avoided a double suplex, and he then tagged in all of his team mates. Everyone was in the ring. They did a seven person submission spot, which only UltraMantis wasn't a part of. UltraMantis couldn't find a way to join, so he went back to the apron and asked for a tag. I laughed. Night Shift ended up on the floor, and Youth, Quack, and UltraMantis took them out with stereo tope suicidas. Montoya hit ZERO with Miracle Ecstasy 1...2...NO! ZERO came back with a tornado DDT. UltraMantis hit Rage with the Gibson Driver for a nearfall. Rage came back with a Michinoku Driver Beta, and Quack had to make the save. Slayne hit Quack with Diamond Dust: 1...2...NO! Quack killed Slayne with a Liger Bomb: 1...2...NO! Montoya and Reckless hit Hallowicked with 3-DDT. Slayne then hit Reckless with a jack-o-lantern to the head: 1...2...3!
This was a really fun match. Of the first three matches on this 2002 set, I think this is the match that would best fit in with more recent CHIKARA action. There was a great mix of veterans carrying the action, young boys getting opportunities to shine, and most importantly, the match had plenty of fun. I had never seen Hallowicked, Icarus, or UltraMantis at this stage of their careers before, so it's kind of awesome to see how much they have improved over the years. Also, I need more Reckless Youth in my life. Match Rating: ***1/4
The Wild Cards (Eddie Kingston & BlackJack Marciano) vs. The Senior Assault Team (Lester Crabtree & Melvin Snodgrass) from A Sandwich Called Destiny 2002
This is the Chikara debut for everyone in the match. They were all a part of the second class of the Chikara's Wrestle Factory according to Quack on commentary. Lester Crabtree would later become known as Darkness Crabtree. I'm not sure why he is Lester here.
Crabtree and Melvin are quite old, and they did some geriatric humor to star the match. The Wild Cards quickly ended up on the floor, and The Senior Assault Team hit them with stereo topes. The old guys got distracted by the prune juice salesman on the floor. That distraction allowed the rudos to recover and get the advantage. The Wild Cards worked over for Melvin for a while. Melvin managed to tag in Crabtree. Crabtree hit Kingston with a Sweatigree (a sweater assisted pedigree): 1...2...NO! Kingston came back with a pair of suplexes on Crabtree. Melvin rolled up BlackJack for a nearfall. BlackJack hit Melvin with the Russian Roulette. The Wild Cards double teamed Crabtree for a bit. Kingston then hit him with the Royal Flush: 1...2...3!
Wackiness. I thought this match was pretty amusing, but the real value of this match (in my mind at least) is seeing Kingston's Chikara debut considering he would be one of the most important parts of the promotion for years to come. For that reason, you shouldn't skip this match even though the action alone doesn't warrant a watch. Match Rating: *3/4
Mike Quackenbush, UltraMantis, Dragonfly, & Gran Akuma vs. Mister ZERO & Night Shift (Blind Rage, Hallowicked, & Ichabod Slayne) from A Sandwich Called Destiny 2002
This was Akuma's Chikara show debut. He was in a mask. Icarus was wearing a dress per a stipulation in a previous match. Not too much of note happened in the early goings, as neither team could get an advantage. UltraMantis tried to do something flippy on the ropes, but it did not go well. At one point, all the rudos (besides ZERO) ended up on the floor. All the tecnicos but Dragonfly hit them with slingshot hilos. ZERO then cut off Dragonfly in the ring, and the rudos got the heat on him. At one point, Dragonfly had ZERO in an abdominal stretch in the tecnico corner instead of just leaving the ring. That was stupid. Shortly thereafter, Dragonfly failed to leave the ring when it would have been easy for him to do so. The easiest way to get me to lose interest in a match is to see stupid tecnicos. Finally, Dragonfly avoided a dive from Blind Rage, and he then tagged in to UltraMantis who ran wild for a bit. All the tecnicos started to run through the rudos. There was a seven man submission spot that ended when Quack kicked Slayne in the head. The rudos came back with a quadruple suplex. The tecnicos came back with a quadruple pinning combination. There was a seven man headlock spot that ZERO broke up with a domino DDT. Zero avoided La Magistral from Akuma, and then hit Akuma with a bridging German suplex: 1...2...NO! Akuma came back on ZERO with a diving crossbody, but Hallowicked made the save. Hallowicked reversed an UltraMantis Tiger Driver with a hurricanrana for a nearfall. Slayne got a nearfall on Dragonfly with a Sliced Bread #2. Rage hit Quack with a dragon screw legwhip and then locked in a STF. Quack got to the ropes. The rudos double teamed Quack, but the other tecnicos made the save. The tecnicos quadrupled teamed Hallowicked, but the other rudos made the save. Quack finally hit Slayne with a SUPER TIGER DRIVER: 1...2...3! Damn.
This match really had an interesting story that you rarely see in any other wrestling promotion (at least in America). Basically, each team used teamwork to try to beat the other team, but both teams were so evenly matched that they couldn't put each other way. The only way to beat the team was to make it so that it was 1v1 in the ring, while everyone else was held up on the floor. The first time that happened, ZERO was able to cut off Dragonfly. The second time that happened, Quack was able to kill Slayne. Fun match with some goofy spots. It's hard to repeatedly do quadruple team spots and make them seem organic. Match Rating: ***
Hallowicked vs. DJ Skittlez from Young Lions Cup 2002
This was a match from the first ever Young Lions Cup. It was quarterfinal match.
DJ hit a tope suicida and a delayed vertical suplex early on. This is my first DJ Skittlez match. Hallowicked made a comeback after avoided a diving lariat. Hallowicked was in control for a while. Hallowicked hit a dive over the top rope. Hallowicked continued to dominate the match after that. DJ finally slowed Wicked down with a spinning reverse flapjack. DJ made a big comeback. He got a nearfall with a reverse DDT. Wicked got a nearfall with a Michinoku Driver. DJ then hit the Viagra Driver for a nearfall. Wicked got a nearfall with a Rydeen Bomb. Skittlez then hit the Rainbow Bomb, but Wicked got his foot on the ropes. Wicked came back with a sunset flip powerbomb, and he got his feet on the ropes for the pin: 1...2...3!
I really liked the finish of this match actually. Normally, non-clean finishes annoy me, but I liked the contrast of Skittlez not winning the match because Hallowicked's feet were on the ropes with Hallowicked winning because his feet were on the ropes. The match itself was not tremendously interesting. Hallowicked was in control for a long period of time, but he never really got the crowd invested in him as a heel. The crowd didn't seem to care about Skittlez all that much either. They traded a lot of flat nearfalls before the enjoyable finish, as well. The effort was there, but the final product was found wanting. Match Rating: **1/4
Hallowicked vs. Gran Akuma from Young Lions Cup 2002
It's still weird for me to watch Akuma with a mask on. I guess I have a few more Best Of Chikara DVDs to get used to it. Akuma sent Wicked to the floor. Akuma went for a dive, but Wicked blocked it and cut Akuma off. Wicked was in control for a while. Akuma finally came back with a diving armdrag and a tope con hello. Back in the ring, Akuma made a professional comeback. Akuma hit a diving crossbody, but Wicked rolled through and nearly had Akuma pinned with his feet on the ropes. Akuma came back with a Falcon Arrow and guillotine legdrop for a nearfall. Wicked bounced off the ropes and hit a hurricanrana. He grabbed a handful of ropes on the pin: 1...2...3!
I enjoyed this match more than Hallowicked's tournament match against Skittlez. The 2002 versions of these wrestlers are not lighting the world on fire, but I thought this was a fun, compact match. Normally, I'm really bothered by so much non-clean finishes, but for some reason, Hallowicked using the ropes over and over again is working with me. Wrestling Is Weird. Match Rating: **3/4
UltraMantis vs. Mister ZERO from Young Lions Cup 2002
They did a lot of British influenced stuff early on. Then they traded some strikes. Mantis hit a butterfly suplex. ZERO eventually cut Mantis off, and he worked him over for a while. ZERO tied Mantis up in the Tree of Joey Lawrence. ZERO then took out his newspaper from his briefcase to place it on Mantis's face before he dropkicked him. Mantis finally came back with a STO and a full-nelson slam for a nearfall. Mantis then hit a cut-throat torture-rack backbreaker. Mantis then hit a Killswitch. They then seemingly botched something. ZERO hit the Last Shaven Unicorn Drop: 1...2...3
This was an enjoyable match. Mister ZERO was really quite talented; I didn't get to watch him at all before this DVD. I'm disappointed that Mantis didn't win just because it would be very neat if Mantis and Wicked crossed paths in an important way at such an early stage of Chikara. A rudo vs. rudo final could also be potentially weird. Match Rating: **3/4
Hallowicked vs. Mister ZERO from Young Lions Cup 2002
This is a rudo vs. rudo matchup to determine the first Young Lions Cup holder. My guess is that ZERO will work tecnico in the match, as Hallowicked has been cheating to advance in the tourney.
It looks like ZERO may have already become a face by the time this match happened. The crowd received him (relatively) warmly. Wicked attacked before the bell. The match immediately spilled out onto the floor. The crowd warmed up to ZERO. Wicked got control of the match, and he worked over ZERO for a while. Wicked got a Dragon Sleeper, but ZERO survived it. ZERO avoided a frog splash. ZERO made a comeback. They ended up on the floor after ZERO did a Cactus Jack clothesline. They brawled on the floor. They disappeared in the back and popped back up in the balcony. They were wearing each other's masks. I love it. Wicked tried to throw ZERO off the balcony. Bryce Remsburg tried to get them back to the ring. They ended up back in the ring with their masks on the right heads. The goofy charm of Chikara starting to shine through. Blind Rage showed up at ringside. UltraMantis did as well. The wrestlers traded nearfalls. The whole roster came out to watch at ringside. ZERO hit the Last Shaven Unicorn Drop, but ZERO couldn't make the cover. Wicked got ZERO up on the top rope and hit a super Fisherman Buster: 1...2...3!
This was definitely the best match from the 2002 Young Lions Cup (at least of the available matches). While I'm glad that the match had a clean finish, I have to confess my disappointment that the "Hallowicked using the ropes to win" strategy didn't have some sort of payoff here. I think ZERO surviving one of those attempts or Wicked just being thwarted in some way would have made the story of his tournament more complete. Regardless, this a good match and good finals for a tournament. Match Rating: ***1/4
The 411: While these matches may have been factually (well, as much as an opinion on art can be factual, which is of course not at all...what was I talking about?) the best matches Chikara produced in 2002, this is certainly not a fantastic collection of matches. There are a few matches that I really enjoyed (three of the tag matches and the YLC final), but the other matches are barely worth a watch. Those weak matches certainly don't need to be watched more than once, which means half of this collection does not have any long-term value.I give this collection a slight thumbs up, but this is probably a must own for Chikara fans. This DVD is available for purchase at Smart Mark Video. Remember to check out Kevin Ford's Chikara Special Blog and a Chikara Special Tumblr. Also, check out Murray Peterson's The Dark Match for an exploration of Chikara's storylines.