This past weekend CHIKARA put on its “Summer Blockbuster” double-header with two big shows filled with international talent and pivotal matches. Last year’s Chikarasaurus Rex was our first live CHIKARA event. It was highlighted by two Dragon Gate vs CHIKARA six man tags and the appearance of Tommy Dreamer, Amazing Kong, and Cheerleader Melissa. This year’s expanded production featured the 12 Large Summit, along with an Ice Ribbon, CMLL and British invasion. A lot has changed in the year for CHIKARA, as the company continues to expand and improve. Here’s how the bigger, badder, better sequel went down:
Night One: Reading, PA
1. 12 Large Summit – Fire Ant defeated Jigsaw by arm lock submission – Much is at stake in every match of the 12 Large Summit, a point-driven round robin tournament to crown CHIKARA’s first singles champion. If that wasn’t apparent during the highly technical opening moments of this bout, it certainly became clear when Fire Ant made his second suicide dive onto Jigsaw, propelling both into the last row of seats.
The match was filled with greatness from the two tournament dark horses. The performance from Jigsaw was particular gutsy as he was just making his return to the ring after a bicep injury. Clearly not 100%, Jigsaw had to wrestle the latter half of the match with virtually one arm. A sick penalty kick and brainbuster combo almost gave him precious victory, but a few arm locks later and Jigsaw had no choice but to submit. Fantastic opener.
2. Gregory Iron ‘defeated’ Jakob Hammermeier by UltraCheatus Black Interference – Aa surprise addition to the show, probably because advertising the hottest prospect in all of wrestling would have risked causing pandemonium in the quaint villa of Reading. Of course, I’m talking about BDK announcer/manager/hype man/wrestler, Jakob Hammermeier. He was set to put on yet another ring classic with young Gregory Iron, but just as #TeamJakob got going, the ref went down and the nefarious Ultra Mantis Black ran in and viciously attacked Jakob with a double-underhook pile driver. Iron gladly took the tainted victory. UMB said he was going to keep attacking the BDK until its absentee founder, Ares, returned and to face him. Jakob laid lifeless in the ring for some time before Tim Donst o/ helped him to the back. Disgraceful.
3. Eddie Kingston defeated Adam Cole with the Backfist to the Future – Adam Cole is not nearly as cool as he thinks he is, at least not without Mia Yim on his arm. He is a pretty good wrestler though, and smart. He brought the fight to the war king, diving on Eddie while he was still making his entrance. Kingston recovered with some strikes while Cole smartly attacked the big man’s knee. After some enjoyable back-and-forth action, Cole was backfisted to the future, hopefully to a time where aviators are in style again.
4. 3.0le! (El Generico, Scott Parker, Shane Matthews) defeated F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano, Icarus) – On a very special episode of CHIKARA, El Generico and Scott Parker confronted Shane Matthews about his growing addiction to Red Bull Energy Drink. There was no: “I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so….scared!” moment. In fact Matthews proved to be a functioning addict, delivering headscissor after headscissor to each member of F.I.S.T. CHIKARA’s most dangerous trio was up to their usual antics, with Icarus ticking off the crowd, Taylor threatening to murder children, and Gargano having unmussable hair. 3.0le! scored the win after some incomprehensible triple team magic.
5. Johnny Kidd defeated Johnny Saint by pinfall in Rd. 4 – After the thoroughly scarring experience of seeing Brittany and Saraya Knight live this past SHIMMER, it was refreshing to see two Brits who actually exemplify the dignity and class the country is known for. It showed in and out of the ring, as they went a bit over three rounds focusing entirely on intricate holds and counter holds, without ever resorting to fisticuffs. The crowd was in awe and you could see half the CHIKARA roster peeking from the curtains at the back of the venue, gleefully looking on. When Kidd scored the sudden victory over the legendary Saint early in the 4th round the crowed leapt to their feet and gave a standing ovation. Classic.
6. Mima Shimoda, Portia Perez, and Tsukasa Fujimoto defeated Daizee Haze, Sara Del Rey, and Makoto with a Deathlake Drive on Haze – International Joshi madness! Like a classic AJW tag match, fan support shifted between one team and the other, depending on who was in the ring at the time. Portia, unmoved by Fujimoto’s unwavering smile, was her usual dickish self. Sara chastised Makoto for just “stand[ing] there and look[ing] pretty.” The lack of cohension between the two teams forced each individual member to break out their best stuff in hopes of securing the win. That meant Haze using her deceptively hard chops, Makoto dropping a double Double-Double-Knee on Shimoda, Fujimoto flying and Fujimoto dying after Sara tried to powerbomb her through the mat. Hell, at one point Portia just tried to eat Makoto’s face. It was nuts. The end came when Shimoda caused a collective gasp in the audience with her brutal Deathlake Drive (avalanche style Tiger suplex) on Haze at a bit over 20 minutes in. Shimoda was way pumped about the win and went around ringside hugging fans.
7. Tursas defeated Green Ant with a top rope splash – Green Ant, fighting for America, and Freedom, and the Red White and Blue, and Lex Luger, and The Patriot, and bus tours, and one-off gear, and 80’s power ballads, seemed to have everything he needed to fell the Viking beast. In fact, he had Tursas reeling on several occasions, with speedy dives and even another ground shaking body slam. But, it was all for naught. At the end of the day, Tursas’ great power and shocking agility crushed the hopes and dreams of all the fans in around this great country with one giant splash. A great victory for the BDK. A great loss for America.
8. 12 Large Summit – Mike Quackenbush defeated Claudio Castagnoli with the CHIKARA Special – Claudio, confident after Tursas’ destruction of the American Dream, tried to prove that he could beat Quackenbush without resorting to any underhanded BDK tactics. It was all of three minutes before Claudio tried to jam a broken novelty American flag into Mike’s head. Double C then rammed Quack’s midsection into the ring posts repeatedly, hoping to ground him. Quack gutted it out thought, and pulled off a rather beautiful top rope Asai moonsault and a Dragonrana. A pop up European uppercut or two later though, and Claudio was primed to take the point. Quack somehow survived a wicked apron-to-ring tossing Riccola Bomb and managed to lock CC in the rudo destroying CHIKARA Special. Claudio had no choice but to tap, giving Reading a happy ending to the bittersweet night.
Night Two: Philadelphia, PA
1. Tsukasa Fujimoto defeated Makoto with the Venus Shoot (Diving Enzuigiri) – Having watched Ice Ribbon several times in its native Japan, it was a bit surreal to see it’s two aces squaring off in The former ECW Arena. The atmosphere was completely different to, say, Korakuen Hall but both women adapted superbly. Fujimoto always carries herself like a champion, and the often tame Makoto really came alive in front of the US crowd. That’s not surprising, given it’s her dream to be a mainstream star in the US. The match was really good, one of the better singles matches I’d seen from either. The audience loved the signature frenetic Ice Ribbon pace and chanted “Please come back,” to both.
2. Archibald Peck (w/ Veronica) defeated Dasher Hatfield with a Reverse Styles Clash – We’ve talked about how amazing Archibald Peck is ad nauseam. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the second “Don’t Stop Believing” hit the P.A. Dasher Hatfield, the toughest of Throwbacks, focused on using extra-legal maneuvers like the “Wet Wily” and the “Wedgie Stretch” to keep the fleet-footed Peck grounded. The deciding factor in this match, however, was Veronica. With her glittery curled hair and purple bedazzled body suit, she looked like she had just come from a Prince video shoot. Fitting given her title is “The Beautiful One.” True to the song she thwacked Dasher in the back with her baton, allowing Peck to hit his finisher and score another big singles win. The beautiful ones, they hurt you every time.
3. Daizee Haze defeated Mima Shimoda with a Roll Up – CHIKARA put on another US vs Japan Joshi dream match, but this one was a bit different. Unlike Manami Toyota or Toshie Uematsu, Mima Shimoda is pure evil. As part of the LCO, Las Cachorras Orientales, Mima and her partner Etsuko Mita terrorized mutiple feds across two decades. Shimoda was as known for her wrestling as she was for swinging chairs and making women bleed[1. See the LCO take on Ayako Hamada and AKINO in a bloody brawl here.]. “Killah” Haze is no rookie when it comes to nastyness, but Mita’s game is just on another level. She clawed, stretched, gouged, and choked every bit of Haze until the crowd almost felt sorry for her. Perhaps Haze used this as motivation to reverse a suplex from Shimoda and score an upset win. Shimoda was not happy about this, at all. As Haze turned to make her way to the back, Shimoda kicked her off of the apron, flung her in to the guardrail and murdered her with a flying chair shot. Never turn your back on the LCO, even if you’re BDK.
4. The Spectral Envoy (Ultramantis Black, Hallowicked, Frightmare) defeated 3.0le! (El Generico, Scott Parker, Shane Matthews) with Ultramantis Black with a Praying Mantis Bomb on El Generico – The intervention worked! Shane Matthews seemed back to his old self again, free of Performance Enhancing Energy Drinks (maybe Generico can help Kellie Skater get clean of #rooroids too). The match was quite amusing, with Generico effectively ‘working’ Hallowicked’s pumpkin stem at several points. Frightmare cast “Fear” on everyone, forcing them all to the floor for some diving. Near the end, Tim Donst interfered and took out Frightmare, but it did not effect the outcome of the match. Ultramantis ended up alone with Generico and powerbombed him for the win. A sign of respect was shown between the two team captains before UMB noticed that the BDK had hurt one of his soldiers.
5. F.I.S.T. (Gargano and Taylor) defeated Atlantis and Rey Bucanero by DQ – F.I.S.T.’s originally scheduled opponents, some team called ‘Beer Money,’ were unable to make it to the show. The CHIKARA Director of Fun then began drawing tag team names out of a hat. The first team, GHC/IWGP Tag Team Champs Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson were, unfortunately, not in Philadelphia at the time. However, CMLL’s Atlantis and Rey Bucanero were! Their surprise appearance shocked the crowd, and ticked off F.I.S.T. I’m not entirely sure Gargano speaks spanish, but he faked it well enough to taunt Reylantis, aggressively asking them, “¿Cómo estás?” Maybe he was just very concerned with their well-being, after he and Taylor kicked them in the face. It was slick lucha libre vs F.I.S.T. dickery, and dickery won out. While the ref had his back turned Gargano, in a Telenovela worthy performance, pretended that he had been hit with a low blow, getting a DQ call. F.I.S.T. announced that with the win they had secured the 3 points needed to challenge for the Campeonatos de Parejas, now held by Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw.
CHIKARA then announced it would be putting on it’s first iPPV November 13th! CHIKARA’s live shows always run very smoothly and with the buzz they’ve been receiving nationally and internationally, this is an exciting move.
6. 12 Large Summit – Eddie Kingston defeated Jigsaw with an Arm Trap Backdrop Driver – Eddie Kingston and Jigsaw are both graduates of the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory’s 2nd class. This random, awesome, fact was quite relevant to how the match played out. Like famed battles between other classmates, Punk and Cabana, Yamada and Toyota, Misawa and Kawada, the match was long, intense, and neither man was willing to give an inch. The Arena was extremely hot that day, and at one point Jigsaw began chopping and kicking Eddie so hard that sweat flew into the second row. That wasn’t enough. Three superkicks wasn’t enough. A top rope double stomp wasn’t enough. Kingston’s backfist, Backdrop driver, and Sliding D combo wasn’t enough to end the match. With a full spirit meter, Jigsaw hit a CB4 driver for a 2.9999 count on Eddie, which was answered with an Enzuigiri, two Backdrop drivers and, finally, arm capture Backdrop driver to end the match at just under twenty minutes. Epic!
7. Mike Quackenbush and Johnny Saint defeated Colt Cabana and Johnny Kidd with Saint pinning Kidd – The Saint versus Kidd match was one of the highlights of Night One and Cabana and Quackenbush were the perfect wrestlers to add to this British style exhibition. These American students of the game were able to hold their own against the masters of it, but the Brits were always one step ahead and the real contest was between them. This time, it was Saint who was the better gentleman, scoring the win and earning another standing ovation from the crowd. Quackenbush and Saint both thanked the crowd: Mike thanked the fans for being so receptive to the various styles CHIKARA offers and Saint for the warm welcome he’s received both times in Philadelphia.
The CHIKARA video wall then began airing an advertisement for the return of Manami Toyota only for it to be interuptted by….AJA KONG! The crowd starting going crazy as soon as they saw her kickpads. She talked about how she’s offended that CHIKARA thinks Toyota is the face of Joshi. As amazing as that was, things got crazier when logo after logo of Joshi promotions, including Oz Academy, Wave, JWP, Osaka Pro, and Sendai Girls were shown with the words “Joshimania.” It’s hard to believe this is happening, hopefully every wrestling fan in the US who can takes advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity.
8. 12 Large Summit – Sara Del Rey (w/ Daizee Haze) defeated Claudio Castagnoli (w/ Tursas) – And it came to this. The King of Wrestling versus the Queen of Wrestling. BDK was pitted against BDK as part of the CHIKARA singles title tournament. Both Claudio and BDK referee Sabato tried to convince Sara to lay down and give up the point to her ‘leader,’ Sara refused. She had stated earlier that she joined BDK to get the respekt she deserved, and that she would not be disrespected by her own team mate. Claudio responded to her defiance with a slap and the match was under way.
Sara was in the rare spot of facing an opponent bigger and stronger than her. Claudio pushed her around, tossing her by her hair across the ring. Sara used her deadly kicks and knees to even the odds, waylaying Claudio several times with vicious strikes. However, Castagnoli kept the advantage for the most part, responding with thunderous strikes of his own including a decapitating lariat that sent Sara flying through the air. For a while it seemed the bad guys were going to win. In fact Claudio picked Sara off of the mat twice instead of getting what would have surely been a three count. He paid for his arrogance though, as Sara recovered and rolled him up for the victory as the crowd exploded.
Claudio attacked both Sara and Daizee post-match in a pathetic and petulant display. Still, it didn’t change the fact that Sara not only earned respect, but also cemented her spot as one of the top names in CHIKARA. The audience for most of the night was a bit subdued, worn down by the summer heat. However they were electric for the entirety of this match, with every person screaming for Sara. She was by far the most beloved person in The Arena that night, a shocking change considering her recent villainous history. However, it is understandable considering Sara is an amazing wrestler, the best in the world, and actually deserved every bit of the respect she had demanded. With her biggest hurdle conquered, there should be nothing stopping Sara from becoming CHIKARA’s first ever singles champion. The company would be extremely fortunate to have her as their representative, and wrestling as a whole would benefit from the statement it would make.
Given Rachel Summerlyn recently becoming the face of ACW, and the history Cheerleader Melissa and Mercedes Martinez had as the top stars in RCW, Kana, Makoto, and Syuri main eventing multiple SMASH shows, fans should no longer merely ask for women to be given a chance in promotions. Instead, fans should demand women receive even bigger opportunities and equal billing. There are many women in wrestling that are just as talented and marketable as any male they’ll face, and they should be treated as such.
And that was Chikarasaurus Rex! Both shows were excellent, some of the very best CHIKARA has put on. They benefited greatly from the variety of talent used and the heavier focus on singles matchups. Every match felt meaningful, and all of the wrestlers involved delivered. Another great weekend from a great company. The best part is you can buy it on DVD right now here. You should definitely do that. Until next time!