Views from the Hawke's Nest: The Best of Chikara 2005
Posted by TJ Hawke on 03.18.2014
Bet you didn't think this set would involve DJ Hyde...
Knight Eye for the Pirate Guy (Jolly Roger & Lance Steel) vs. Sweet N’ Sour International (Mano Metalico & Crossbones) from Tag World Grand Prix Night 1 2005
Dave Prazak and Eddie Kingston were on commentary. KEFTPG did some gaga early on at Crossbones’ expense. Steel tried to use his sword on Mano’s metal hand, but it did not work. Mano is YOUR rudo in peril. Mano then cut off Roger with a backbreaker. Roger took him down in the back a bunch. Then everyone involved in the match took turns kicking him in the back. Mano got fed up, and then Roger got worked over for a while. Everyone got involved. Roger caught Mano with an inside cradle: 1…2…3
The Best of 2005 set ominously starts off in a manner that unfortunately reminds me of the 2002/2003 sets. This match was not actively bad, but I cannot for the life think of a reason for it to be on this set. Deej getting kicked in the back repeatedly was amusing at least. I also liked the sword bit. Match Rating: **
Team Osaka Pro (Ebessan & Billy Ken Kid) vs. Team Toryumon (Skayde & Milanito Collection AT) from Tag World Grand Prix Night 3 2005
The match was a lot more serious at the beginning than I expected. Neither team could get a decisive advantage for a while. Skayde and Milanito looked to have an opportunity for stereo dives, but Team Osaka ran away before they dove. The teams started going back and forth. There was a lot of fun stuff. Ebessan and Skayde accidentally teamed up for a bit. They came to their senses, and Skayde took out Ebessan with a slingshot plancha. Milanito and Kid kept going back and forth until Kid hit him with a 450: 1…2…3
I’m probably overrating this a tad, but gosh darn, this was just so enjoyable (especially compared to the majority of the matches on the Best of 2002 and 2003 DVDs). In fact, I would say it has been my favorite Chikara match from the Best Of DVDs so far. Ebessan is so good at what he does. I wish he was stateside more often. Match Rating: ***1/2
Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, & Sabian vs. The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, & Arik Cannon) from Remain in Light 2005
This was the main event on the first show after the 2005 TWGP. Hero infamously turned on Quack in the finals to give Claudio and Cannon the tourney win. The three of them then formed The Kings of Wrestling.
The match started as a brawl all around the ring. They got back into the ring faster than I expected. Eddie Kingston was doing play-by-play. The Kings ended up back on the floor, and the tecnicos did some dives. The match settled down again. The Kings managed to isolated Sabian, and they worked him over for a long time. The Kings of Wrestling are getting so much heat on Sabin that it’s now Winter. Sabian murdered Cannon with a 450 stomp, and Quack then made a big hot tag. The teams started going back and forth. Jigsaw got murded by a pop-up. Quack and Sabian got dumped to the floor. Jigsaw got hit with a sequence of movez, and Hero then locked in the Hangman’s Clutch. Jigsaw passed out.
I thought this was a bit of a mixed bag. I loved the intensity from Quack, and the Kings were the metaphorical well-oiled machine (despite it being their first trios match together as far as I can tell). However, the actual in-ring action really suffered from the absurdly long beatdown of Sabian. I get that the Kings needed to look dominant, but I believe the match suffered as a result. However, there was definitely enough here to earn a recommendation. Match Rating: ***
Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, & Reckless Youth vs. The Kings of Wrestling (Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero, & Arik Cannon) from Aniversario Orange 2005
Quack has had a few battles with the Kings since their last match. Hero and Quack looked like they were about to square off to start the match, but Hero immediately tagged out before that could happen. Both teams were being pretty tentative at the start. Hero and Reckless squared off. It looks like Reckless’ jorts are not in fact jorts. That’s sad. The tecnicos had a fair amount of success early on. They ran a train on Cannon. The Kings eventually cut off Jigsaw and then worked him over. Cannon hit him with Total Anarchy, but I guess that was not his finisher yet. Jigsaw was worked over forEVER. Jigsaw finally escaped and tagged out to Reckless. Reckless made a huge comeback, but then Hero cut him off with a hot shot. Reckless then got worked over. The match almost broke down, but things settled own again with the Kings still getting the heat on Reckless. Reckless avoided KRS-1 and got to the floor. Jigsaw made a comeback. The match broke down. Hero ate a diving Manhattan Drop/Palm Strike combo from Reckless and Quack. Quack and Hero finally squared off. Quack hit him with Paroxysm, but Cannon made the save. Claudio hit Jigsaw low. Jigsaw ate the CC/Cannon doubleteam finisher. Hero locked in Hangman’s Clutch. Jigsaw was passed out, but Quack and Reckless made the save. Reckless and Quack hit Hero and CC with stereo dives. Cannon almost ripped off Jigsaw’s mask, which would have been a DQ. Jigsaw fired up and hit Cannon with a Jig ‘n’ Tonic: 1…2…3!
While Hero, Claudio, and Jigsaw (and probably even Quack quite frankly) were nowhere close to their peak as performers, you truly see how much talent they had at this point. The action was crisp, the tag team psychology was sound, and the match perfectly built to the finish. They even managed to give the tecnicos some measure of revenge on the Kings of Wrestling in a way that clearly did not kill the heat for the Kings. It also needs to be mentioned how great Cannon and Reckless looked in this match. Cannon is someone that clearly was once incredibly motivated in the ring, which makes his later years as a performer more disappointing. Reckless was so damn good, and he looked to be in phenomenal shape. It’s a shame he hasn’t remained in Chikara all this time. Match Rating: ***3/4
Mike Quackenbush, Equinox, Eddie Kingston, & Sabian vs. The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero, Arik Cannon, & Claudio Castagnoli) & Gran Akuma from Young Lions Cup Night 3 2005
There is a lot of talent in this match. I’ve never seen Kingston from this time period. He seems to be having a thing with Claudio at this time. CC tagged in Akuma instead of dealing with him. The beginning of the match was the standard lucha atomicos match with everyone squaring off. The tecnicos got the advantage and did some dives. Back in the ring, Claudio was able to cut off Equinox, and the rudos started to get the heat on him. He was worked over for a bit, but he eventually tagged out to Quack. Quack made a comeback on Hero, but Hero cut him off. The rudos then worked over Quack. That did not last long either though, and Sabian was able to tag in. He briefly made a comeback, but then he got cut off and worked over, too. He eventually tagged out to Kingston, and Kingston made a big comeback. The match broke down. Movez. Quack actually managed to hit Hero with the Hero’s Welcome: 1…2…3!
Wow, I’m surprised to see that Quack pinned Hero in a tag match instead of waiting for a singles encounter. Much like the last match on the 2005 set, this was just a fantastic time. Everyone in Chikara is slowly getting more and more polished in the ring, and their tag matches are really starting to get special. The progress in the quality of Chikara matches is cool to see. Match Rating: ***3/4
Icarus vs. Shane Storm from Young Lions Cup Night 3 2005
This was the finals of the 2005 Young Lions Cup tournament. I actually don’t remember who wins this match. I have not seen much of Shane Storm in Chikara. I was underwhelmed by one of his matches with Quack, and I don’t know if I’ve seen much else. I always despised his performances in later years as STIGMA.
The match started out awkward and clunky. Storm hit a tope suicida, but Icarus cut him off shortly thereafter. Icarus was in control for a bit. Storm hit a big headbutt, but Icarus then hit a dropkick. They did ten count spots after each of those spots. They traded forearms. Icarus went for a moonsault, but Storm avoided it. Storm then hit a middle rope moonsault for a good nearfall. A lot of the roster came to ringside to cheer them on. Icarus hit the pedigree, and then incredibly awkwardly locked in The Wings of Icarus. Storm dragged both of them to the floor. They brawled on the floor and in the crowd. Icarus hit a diving tornado DDT off a giant speaker and onto the stage. The crowd really rallied behind Storm. Storm is not smooth in the ring, but he was clearly over here. Back in the ring, Icarus hit a frog splash, but Storm got his foot on the ropes. Storm avoided Sliced Bread and hit a big German. He then hit THAT Japanese Move and the Last Shaven Unicorn: 1…2…3!
This was clearly a HUGE emotional moment in Chikara’s history that did not come off as well without context. Considering how heavily story line based the company is, it’s disappointing that they don’t have someone do a little backstory before each match. While I did not find the in-ring substance to be anything special (or even all that good, especially on Storm’s end), the match itself worked big time and created an incredibly enjoyable atmosphere. Match Rating: ***1/2
Mike Quackenbush vs. Claudio Castagnoli from Negative Balance 2005
Quack was doing some especially wacky lucha spots early on. It was delightful. Quack went for a dive, but Claudio simply caught him and put him back in the ring. The commentators were getting over how these two have had an issue since Quack eliminated him from CZW’s Best of the Best in 2004 or 2005. I’m not sure which one. I should look it up. It was 2005. Claudio was in control after that and worked Quack over for a while. Out of nowhere, Quack came back with a massive palm strike that sent Claudio to the floor. He followed that up with a double jump senton to the floor. Back in the ring, Quack hit the Black Tornado Slam for a nearfall. Claudio hit a massive uppercut for a nearfall. Claudio hit the Pyramid Bomb for a nearfall. These two have had some beautiful exchanges that looked silky smooth and then there has been some downtime between spots that have been downright awkward. Quack went for a wonky DDT, but Claudio blocked. Quack then got a hurricanrana folding pin: 1…2…3!
There were a couple of awkward moments, but overall this was super enjoyable. Quack and Claudio are pretty much perfect opponents for each other because Claudio is a great heavyweight base for every wacky lucha spot Quack could ever conceive of doing. Then they do all of those spots. It’s delightful. Match Rating: ***1/2
Eddie Kingston vs. Chris Hero from Negative Balance 2005
While Quack and Claudio are perfect opponents for each other, Hero and Kingston have always been awkward in the ring together in my eyes.
Hearing Quack put over Kingston’s work in CZW’s Tournament of Death is surreal. Eddie was in full control early on. Hero tried to walk out, but Leonard F. Chikarason came out and stopped him. Kingston sent him back into the ring. They brawled a bit more. Hero back body dropped him on the floor. That ending sounded rough. Hero was in control after that. Kingston was coming back, but Hero did a convoluted diving dropkick. Hero was back in control, but Eddie eventually made a comeback. He hit a tope suicida. They traded shots in the ring. Eddie was building momentum, but Hero got the Hangman’s Clutch. Eddie made the ropes. Hero hit a big boot, but Eddie came back with a backfist and a Yakuza. The match was getting clunky. Hero hit a weak elbow and then hit Hero’s Welcome for a weaker nearfall. Hero connected on a moonsault for another nearfall. Kingston came back with a ridiculous head-dropping German. Kingston then got a nearfall on a lariat. There was a ref bump. Hero kicked Eddie low and then did a headbutt: 1…2…3
I cannot deny that I did not enjoy this too much. There were a lot of slow and clunky moments, which really undercut the “super serial” nature of the match. The crowd did not get all that hyped for it either, and the attempts at “big moments” in the match fell flat more often than not. It was a great effort by both men though.
I enjoy both of these guys a lot, but I definitely prefer them with other opponents. I’d be curious to check out their stuff in IWA-MS because I’ve heard good things about some of their matches there. Match Rating: **1/2
Claudio Castagnoli vs. KUDO from Son of the International Invasion of the International Invaders – 1st Stage 2005
This was KUDO’s second of six trips to America for Chikara. I wonder how many full-time Japanese performers have that beat.
Claudio got control when he started to go after KUDO’s left leg. Claudio worked over the leg for a while. KUDO came back and hit a buzzsaw kick for a nearfall. Claudio avoided a diving knee stomp and then right back back to work on the now even more injured left leg. KUDO avoided a lariat and came back with some kicks. He was not selling the leg. He hit the diving knee stomp, but Claudio blocked Bryce’s arm from making the third count. Claudio caught him with Swiss Death and then a rolling uppercut. He was knocked out…Bryce called for the bell!
This was a solid match. However, I am always frustrated by matches that are primarily based on working a limb but then do not pay off that work during the closing sequence. Yes, it’s possible to win a real fight by KO after going for a leg submission all match. This is not a real fight though. This is art. If you’re going to attempt to tell a story, give a conclusion to that story. If you want to just out there do movez for ten minutes, that is fine, too. In fact, it’s preferable if you’re not going to complete the story you told for the first two thirds of the match. Match Rating: ***
Jigsaw vs. Hallowicked from Son of the International Invasion from the International Invaders 2nd Stage 2005
According to Larry Sweeney on commentary, this is the first singles match between these two ever. It took a while, but Wicked was eventually able to cut him off by dropping hi on the apron and then hitting a tope con hello. UltraMantis Black then attacked Jigsaw on the floor. Wicked was in control for a while. Jigsaw finally came back and pulled off a super ‘rana. They traded strikes. Wicked got bridged between the apron and the stage after an ezuigiri. Jigsaw then gave him a double stomp. Jigsaw hit two more double stomps, but Wicked got the ropes. He came back and planted Jigsaw with a reverse ‘rana: 1…2…3
This was another solid match on the set. Apparently, this was a big match for these two guys in their Chikara at the time, but I don’t know how well in holds up in comparison to the matches these two would have in later years (not against each other, as I’ve never seen it happen). Match Rating: ***
The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli) vs. Skayde & Milano Collection AT from Son of the International Invasion of the International Invaders 2005
Claudio was wearing Hero's gear for reasons that were not explained. Milano and Skayde were having a ton of success for a while. Milano even simultaneously locked the Kings in figure fours. The Kings recovered and eventually cut off Skayde. They worked him over for a while. Skayde eventually hit both of them with a double facebuster, and Milano then made a hot tag. Time for some movez. The people love movez. The teams went back and forth. It was quite great. Milano eventually hit Hero with a corkscrew Lionsault and then applied the kimura. Icarus and Gran Akuma then ran in to ruin ALL the things and caused a DQ.
Mike Quackenbish, Shane Storm, and Reckless Youth made the save. A bunch more guys showed up. The rudos managed to kick everyone else out besides Reckless. They beat the shit out of him. UltraMantis Black and Hallowicked were also helping them. Hero was about to cut a promo, but the disc moved on to the next match.
That finished sucked so hard. I'll give the match credit for being super entertaining and engaging, but boy did that finish leave a sour taste in my mouth. I would not have put this match on the set given the finish. Match Rating: ***1/4
Chuichiro Arai vs. Larry Sweeney from Little Creatures 2005
This was for Sweeney’s Tex-Arkana Television Title. Things started slowly and shenanigan-free. Consider me sad. Sweeney begged off and and lured Arai into a trap. He sent him head-first into a turnbuckle. Sweeney then got the heat. Arai made a comeback. This match has been dead from the start. Arai kicked out of the ’68 Comeback Special. Arai came back again. Sweeney called for the Fujiwara Armbar, but Arai reversed it into a pinning combination: 1…2…3
This was a super flat match that reminded me of a lot of the matches on the 2002 and 2003 sets. This bored me. Match Rating: *1/2
Jigsaw vs. Hallowicked from Running in the Red 2005
This was a Best 2 out of 3 Falls match. It started slowly until Jigsaw did some nifty armdrags. Jigsaw then went to dive to the floor for a hurricanrana, but they botched it. It sort of looked like a seated senton though, which was more brutal looking at least. Back in the ring, Jigsaw went for a springboard move, but Wicked caught him with a big boot. Wicked then went to work on him. Wicked caught him out of nowhere with a fancy pinning combination: 1…2…3!
Wicked is up one fall to none.
Wicked hit Jigsaw with a yakuza to the back of the head before the second fall started. Wicked was then in control for a while. Wicked hit the Go-to-Sleep Hollow. Wicked then went for La Magistral, but Jigsaw reversed it into his own La Magistral: 1…2…3
They are tied at one fall a piece.
Jigsaw started the third fall with a superkick and then a Fosbury Flop. They went back and forth in the ring. Wicked blocked Jigsaw’s leaping ‘rana and then hit the MOONSAULT DOUBLE STOMP: 1…2…NO! WOW! Jigsaw came back with a ghetto stomp, the leaping ‘rana, and the guillotine legdrop: 1…2…NO! Wicked then murderized Jigsaw with the reverse ‘rana: 1…2…NO! That’s how he beat Jigsaw earlier in the year! Jig ‘n’ Tonic: 1…2…3!
I enjoyed this more than their previous match on the set. The substance of the match (and lack of crazy heat) kind of put a ceiling in my investment in it, but I greatly appreciated the craziness of it all. They pulled out a bunch of nutty spots, and I enjoyed the match quite a bit as a result. Match Rating: ***1/4
Shane Storm vs. Gran Akuma from Running in the Red 2005
This is a MASK vs. MASK match. Thus, this match is a HUGE deal.
Akuma got control after a bit. He started to rip off the mask, but I think he was just trolling him. Akuma went for a coast-to-coast dropkick, but he came up a few inches short. I cackled, because I am an awful human being. Storm came back out of nowhere with a middle rope implant DDT. Akuma came back with a crucifix driver for a nearfall. Storm ate some kicks, but caught one of them and hit an Air Raid Crash. Storm then hit a tope con hello. Back in the ring, Storm hit a Jackhammer for a nearfall. Akuma came back with a springboard swinging DDT. Akuma SWEPT the leg, and Storm fell on his shoulder. Sweeney earlier speculated on commentary that Storm had injured the shoulder. Akuma got a nearfall with a Shining Wizard. Storm got a nearfall with a Falcon Arrow: 1…2…NO! BUT NO ONE KICKS OUT OF THE FALCON ARROW!!?!? Storm reversed a super Yoshi Tonic into a diving Air Raid Crash. Storm had him pinned, but Akuma managed to grab a rope. Bryce had counted to three, and in the confusion, Icarus hit Storm in the balls. The match re-started. Icarus took out Mister ZERO. Akuma hit three consecutive frog splashes: 1…2…NO! Storm came back with a saito suplex. Storm then dropped him on his head with another suplex, but Akuma no-sold it. Akuma drove Storm’s knees into the turnbuck;e and then dropped him on his knees. Storm came right back with a seated dropkick and two straight THAT JAPANESE MOVES: 1…2…3!
Gran Akuma took off his mask after the match. He looked a lot like Gran Akuma.
This match felt like a big deal, and luckily, that helped to carry the match. However, the match had a lot of awkward spots and clunky moments that brought the match down for me. While I have not really seen any Akuma singles matches from this time, I’m inclined to say that Storm is to blame for this match not doing a ton for me. He just does not interest me in the ring at all based on the half dozen matches of his that I’ve seen. Match Rating: ***
The 411: The Best of 2005 was a huge improvement over The Best of Chikara 2002 and The Best of Chikara 2003. While none of the matches reached the "must see" level, I really felt like the set represent Chikara well and made me more interested in Chikara's older product. There is a lot of great action on this set, and I recommend it a lot to Chikara fans and non-fans alike. 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.