No Alternative? The CHIKARA interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The first interview in the series is, fittingly, with our favourite wrestling promotion. Both Boss Lady Ray and myself have said that CHIKARA would be our “Desert Island Wrestling” were we to be dumped on a desert island together and forced to choose only one company to be able to watch the rest of our lives. Erstwhile “CHIKARA Director of Fun” Leonard F Chikarason was kind enough to take time out and answer a few questions for us.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to CHIKARA ?
I could go right from the website, www.chikarapro.com, but instead, can sum CHIKARA up as “wrestling for everyone.” WWE purposes themselves as wrestling for the whole family and TNA claims “Wrestling Matters.” If both of these statements were true and awesome, that would be CHIKARA.

What would you say sets CHIKARA apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
As I mentioned before, CHIKARA bring you wrestling for everyone without insulting any group. From what I hear, the live non-TV/PPV WWE and TNA shows are fun, but the wrestling you may see there is just nowhere near as entertaining as CHIKARA provides at each and every show.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
Unfortunately, WWE is what the majority of the mainstream world sees as “Wrestling” even though THEY don’t see themselves that way. I’ve been a fan of wrestling since 1984 and probably will never stop watching WWE out of habit. Not really sure what to think of TNA.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does CHIKARA stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
I think you answered your own question. Nothing makes me go for my channel changer quicker than a Divas match on WWE. The cornerstones of CHIKARA’s women’s division are Daizee Haze & Sara Del Rey, the later of which is the only women in the 12 Large Summit to determine the first ever CHIKARA singles champion.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into CHIKARA ? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
I’m torn on seeing anyone from CHIKARA leave. Many wrestlers in CHIKARA I’ve become friends with over the last six years and would miss them, but would be great full to see them get a shot in the “big leagues.” People like Brodie Lee, Hallowicked or Claudio Castagnoli would be the first three off the top of my head that would be huge no matter where they wrestled.
As for someone from WWE or TNA coming to CHIKARA, I can list your Evan Bourne’s and Sin Cara’s but in all seriousness, I would LOVE to see John Cena in CHIKARA.

Where can people find out more about CHIKARA online
CHIKARA has one of the strongest internet presences in all of wrestling. Your main hub would be, of course, www.chikarapro.com, where you can find any and all information about upcoming events merchandise and more. Our roster section now also links to most of the CHIKARA wrestlers on Twitter. Our own Twitter is @ChikaraPro and you can find our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/chikaraoffice, which is updated with new content every single weekday. Also, you can friend us, poke us or whatever you do on Facebook to us at www.facebook.com/pages/CHIKARA/53425196299.

What do you have coming up?
The weekend of July 30th and 31st is CHIKARAsaurus Rex – King of Sequel in Reading, PA and Philadelphia, PA respectively. In addition to all the CHIKARA regulars and several 12 Large Summit tournament matches, we have visitors from England in Johnny Saint and Johnny Kid, Japan in Ice Ribbon standouts Makoto & Tsukasa Fujimoto and Japanese and Mexico super star, Mima Shimoda. Also, many of our friends such as El Generico and Colt Cabana are making their return as well.
As for DVDs, Smart Mark Video turns our shows around in record time, usually within 2 weeks of the show. They even went as far as having all three nights of King of Trios 2011 available the very next day! Check em out at www.smartmarkvideo.com!

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an CHIKARA show?
As mentioned above, we have TONS of introductory videos on our YouTube page. (Sidekick Andrew edit: this is true, in fact we listed a few of the matches available for free here but I’ll link this one because it’s really worth a watch)

Any last words for the readers?
Thank you giving me to the time to let your readers know what CHIKARA can show wrestling fans. We ask you support not only CHIKARA but all wrestling where ever and whenever you can!

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GUEST POST: Never Mind the Majors, Here’s the Independents!

Never Mind The Majors? Seems a bit harsh...

Sidekick Andrew: Disappointment with the wrestling business. It happens to us all from time to time, but it seems to be pretty wide spread amongst internet wrestling fans at the moment. A combination of the usual post-Wrestlemania slump, the Orton-Christian title change and a general feeling of malaise are combining to make people swear off wrestling more and more. As such, we want to help people realise that there is much, much more to wrestling than the two companies you can see on telly. Independent wrestling might take a bit more effort to access, but it can reward you far more than another WWE PPV that you might well regret afterwards.

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that both Boss Lady Ray and myself feel that the WWE do plenty of things well – they have a style of show that works for them and they do big budget wrestling spectaculars better than anyone else. The current CM Punk story for example has been really popular here in the bunker. However, we do appreciate that a lot of people are feeling slightly burned out when it comes to WWE, and that’s where this series will hopefully be of use. (BTW, you’ll notice I only mentioned WWE in this paragraph. TNA is still pants)

As an introduction to this series, regular reader Charles Hahn has kindly written a piece about the subject for us. Make him feel welcome and comment afterwards will you? Cheers…

I mentioned a while ago that I wanted to do some writing about the wonderful world of wrestling, as I am very good at alliteration. When I mentioned that I had nowhere to put said writing, the fine folks at Wrestlegasm graciously offered me the chance for a guest post. I, being a fan of the site, immediately accepted.

That is when I realized that, while it is relatively easy to come up with a concept for a piece, it is very difficult to expand that idea into a full article. I thought about letting Ray and Andrew (super weird calling him that, I know him much better as apsouthern) that I was a big dumb lazy failure.

Then this happened:

Then, 2 weeks later, this happened:

Then as I was in the midst of writing this, this happened:

Now I don’t think I’m exaggerating too much when I say that these things caused the internet to LOSE IT’S COLLECTIVE MIND. While I believe the reaction was a tad much, I can surely understand the ever growing frustration with pro wrestling. I read things like, “That’s it, I’m taking a break from wrestling.” “I can’t believe I spend money on this.” And worst of all, “Wrestling sucks right now.”

I am going to be honest, that last one shocked me. That’s when I realized, the majority of wrestling fans see WWE as not the biggest company in the world, but as wrestling itself. They think it’s WWE or nothing. Well, I guess TNA is fairly visible, but who really wants to watch TNA?

Well I’m here to tell you something folks. WWE isn’t wrestling. If you are tired of Randy Orton, John Cena, and continual mediocrity, you do not have to give up on something you love.

One month ago (at the time of writing), I got up at 4:30 in the morning, left my house, and drove for 7 hours and through 6 states, to go to a tiny arena in Philadelphia. In that arena were 700 other people. They were there to watch pro wrestling. And they got it. They got 3 nights Of energy, emotion, and pure joy. This wasn’t WWE. This wasn’t TNA. This was a promotion called CHIKARA. If you read Matt Jones’ excellent post about the wrestling nirvana that was King of Trios, you know just how incredible it was. Hell, if you’ve read more than one post on this site you know how great Chikara is. I spent that weekend around people who were wrestling fanatics. I watched some of the best matches I have ever seen. I saw a man slam a giant. I watched people fly. I shook hands with legends. I saw people openly crying in the memory of a man they had never met before. Ultramantis Black said I was awesome. Yeah, it was amazing.

But this isn’t just about CHIKARA. This is about Ring Of Honor, the company that produced one of the most skilled wrestlers EVER. This is about Pro Wrestling Guerilla, a crew of fantastic Californians who haved cranked out years worth of consistent greatness. This is about any promotion that puts out great wrestling. This is about the guys who aren’t big enough, guys who don’t have the right look, but go out every night and do their absolute damndest to tear it up and give the people who love wrestling something to love.

WWE has been accused of trying to kill the word wrestling. TNA says “Wrestling matters,” and don’t deliver. There are people losing hope for something they have loved since childhood. But they shouldn’t.

Great wrestling isn’t hard to find friends. You just have to look a little bit harder.

Sidekick Andrew: And there you have it folks, if you’re fed up with the WWE and TNA models of professional wrestling, that’s perfectly understandable. But please don’t assume that all wrestling suddenly sucks. Independent wrestling is a very different beast. I usually compare the WWE/Indie Wrestling situations to the differences between seeing a huge gig in a stadium with an internationally succesful rock band such as the Rolling Stones, or seeing a small punk band in a tiny club. On the one hand you will get a more impressive show at the Stones gig, but you as a person won’t matter. At the punk show you’ll be able to interact with the band… heckle… maybe meet the guys afterwards – and they’ll be appreciative of each and every member of the audience.

Using Charlie’s piece as a starting point, we are going to be running a series of posts introducing you to a few indie promotions that you might want to check out. CHIKARA in particular got me through a period of disillusion with professional wrestling at the time Chris Benoit went a bit mental, hopefully at least one of the companies we profile can help you do the same. Keep an eye out later this week for the first interview in the series.

A Song for Whoever: Layla & Sean Waltman Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: You know when you’re with a group of friends and there’s a couple causing a scene? They try to play down their obvious conflict but it’s no good. Everyone else can see something messy has gone down before they arrived.  Weeks go by and it keeps happening. They’re not happy and everyone knows it, even before they do. The more this happens the more the group starts quietly wondering if a break-up is on the cards. If they break up, who will they stay friends with? Awkward.

Eventually they start confiding in other members of the group. They’re in couples counselling trying to make a go of things, but only one of them really wants to go. That person just wants out and is treating the other like something they’ve stepped in hoping they’ll break up with them. The other’s holding on for fear of being alone and because they still feel the spark that brought them together in the first place.

This song is for Layla. Michelle might have heightened your profile and helped you improve your in-ring skills, but you’ve got all the charm and charisma to go it alone. She’s treating you like an absolute muppet. Let her go, cry your tears and move on. You deserve a better BFF. (Yes, I’m volunteering.)

SIDEKICK ANDREW: I’ll keep this short, my subject has already been covered better than I could by Matt Jones in his guest post earlier this week. However, if you’re desperate for more hot, steaming Sidekick Andrew Song for Whoever action you can always check this special Bonus Track.

Anyway, on the off chance you didn’t read Matt’s King of Trios post (for shame!) one of the things to come out of last weekend’s tournament was the resurgence of the 1-2-3 Kid Sean “X-Pac” Waltman. As Matt rightly said, Waltman had become a by-word for all that was wrong in wrestling over the last few years: drug abuse, nepotism and politicking – not to mention risible sex tapes and gatecrashing reality TV shows.

Sean's the one on the right by the way...

Given all this, booking him for family friendly CHIKARA’s biggest show of the year seemed to be a pretty big risk. Would he turn up? Would he be sober? Would he be able to wrestle? Could he stay family friendly? The answer to all these questions has been a resounding “yes” according to every person in attendance. Not only was Waltman humble and seemingly incredibly appreciative of the opportunity and the reaction he was given, he put on what most reviewers are calling the match of the weekend (if not the year) against El Generico.

So this one’s for you Mr Waltman – if anyone’s earned this song it’s you.

GUEST POST: King of Trios – A journey into the heart of hilarious high-flying wrestling

Sidekick Andrew: As we may have mentioned in passing briefly (here, here, here, and here for example) it was CHIKARA’s annual King of Trios tournament this past weekend. Now, being based on the slightly more civilised side of the Atlantic, it wasn’t possible for us to attend personally; but we did manage to secure the services of a special reporter for the weekend. Matt Jones (follow him on twitter, like him on Facebook and buy his t-shirt… something like that.) Enjoy the article: feel free to comment and be nice, or there’ll be trouble. Oh, and don’t forget to click the link at the bottom of the article and buy the DVDs – I’ve a feeling you won’t regret it

PS. Images are Matt’s own, unless otherwise stated

Riding in a cab through dingy South Philadelphia, it looks like somewhere to go if you had a deep-seeded desire to get mugged. For someone who hasn’t been to a major city in a while it looks like something out of a Batman comic.

But in this odd location a throng of very friendly strangers line up outside the reformatted bingo hall that was the ECW arena (now called the Asylum Arena). Walking in, the place is almost unrecognizable if you’ve only seen the dingy 1990’s videos of Tommy Dreamer or the Dudley Boys throwing each other off balconies, or of Chris Benoit breaking Sabu’s neck. Actually, given the claustrophobic camera work usually employed, the Arena is bigger than I expected.

Nonetheless, once the passionate fans of a promotion like Chikara file in, the atmosphere becomes absolutely electric. And make no mistake, Chikara’s fans are extremely passionate, and this is their biggest event of the year. To fudge a Hunter S. Thompson quote – In some circles, King of Trios is a far better thing than the Superbowl, the Kentucky Derby, and the lower Oakland roller derby finals all rolled into one.

The show opens with the lights going low and Chikara’s roster coming out around the ring- a tribute to the recently deceased “Sweet n Sour” Larry Sweeney. Some wrestlers like Mike Quackenbush and Eddie Kingston weep openly as the bell tolls ten times. Then the lights go out and a Sweeney video package plays on the big screen. When the lights come back on, a pair of Sweeney’s trademark sunglasses are in the ring, and the fans chant his name. A bittersweet beginning, to be sure, but absolutely necessary. Sweeney touched the hearts of fans and wrestlers alike in his time.

The mood picks up immediately as we’re thrust into the bizarre world of Chikara, where anthropomorphic ants have kickass wrestling matches with old timey baseball players and marching band leaders.

The contest between Team Osaka Pro (Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada and Ultimate Spider Jr.) and The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield, Sugar Dunkerton and Matt Classic) is almost strictly comedy. Kotoge and Dunkerton have a race which ends with the referee ordering free throws for Osaka Pro on an improvised hoop made of Dunkerton’s arms (Kotoge sinks his first, but misses the second). Classic, a send-up of old school wrestlers, admonishes his teammates for their comedy, insists they join him in Hindu squats and spends much of the match performing the Harvard step test à la Bob Backlund. Not to be outdone, Ultimate Spider Jr. gets into the act, using invisible spider webs to perform Irish whips on Dunkerton and Hatfield. Maybe not the most coherent wrestling match ever, but certainly one of the most entertaining spectacles I’ve ever seen.

On the other hand, the match featuring Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw and Manami Toyota taking on The Maximos and TNA’s Amazing Red is almost all action. It’s a little odd seeing a female wrestler like Toyota battling men if you’re not used to it, but she fits right in and performs as well as, or better than, any of her male counterparts. After ten minutes of fast paced wrestling, Jigsaw scores an emotional win for his team with Larry Sweeney’s “12 Large” elbow drop.

The main event of the evening brings it all together in match featuring, unquestionably, the most mainstream performers of the weekend. Team Michinoku Pro is comprised of legends in the industry, particularly in their native Japan- The Great Sasuke, Jinsei Shinzaki and Dick Togo. Their opponents are Team Minnesota- Chikara regulars “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon, North Star Express member Darin Corbin and, in some ways the oddest name in the event, Sean Waltman, better known as X-Pac and performing for the first time since 1996 as the 1-2-3 Kid.

The knowledgeable Chikara fans give every participant a great deal of respect (which visibly moves Kid, who is seen wiping away tears). The match features not only exciting high-flying wrestling and solid mat action, but also some great comedy. In what stands as one of the most surreal moments ever, The Great Sasuke and Corbin engage in perhaps the first ever bout of slow-motion hardcore wrestling.

Corbin is well known for breaking out slow-motion in his matches, but seeing a legend like The Great Sasuke partake defies description. The effects are not limited to Corbin and Sasuke, either. Referee Bryce Remsberg and all the wrestlers on the ring apron get in on the act (Togo’s exaggerated, slow-motion cheering is a highlight), as well as the fans who chant veeeeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyy sloooooooooooooowwwwwwlllllyyy. Soon, Sasuke sets up Corbin on a chair and ascends to the top rope. Upping the ante on the comedy, Corbin’s teammate Cannon suddenly shakes off the slow-motion and screams “Darin, stop screwing around!” to huge laughs from the crowd. Corbin complies, and Sasuke crashes through an empty chair.

Slo-mo wrestling is the best wrestling.

In the end, Togo performs a beautiful flying senton on Corbin and scores the win for his team. The fans give a standing ovation to the participants, chanting all of their names at various times. An amazing match to end a top-notch night of wrestling, but the weekend is just getting started.

Saturday afternoon sees the Fan Conclave, Chikara’s equivalent of WWE’s fan festival Axxess. It’s here where it becomes clear what King of Trios really is- the Woodstock of independent wrestling. Legends rub elbows with relative rookies in the industry and all are available to the fans for pictures and autographs. They are unfailingly friendly, and happily chat with fans in an incredibly positive atmosphere (the exception being F.I.S.T.’s Icarus, the most hated wrestler in Chikara, who wanders through the crowd insulting everyone he sees).

There are numerous heart warming scenes. As my girlfriend takes video of the Ant Colony roaming through the fans, Ophidian of the Osirian Portal limbos in front of her and drops to the ground. He begins reading a note written on nice stationary that I notice begins “Dear Ophidian.” He sits and reads for a few minutes before dropping all of his serpentine movements and wrapping a nearby girl, presumably the author of the note, in a big hug.

And even aside from the chance to meet your favourite ants, snakes and (Ultra)mantises, there’s a lot going on. There’s a chance to commentate on matches, a contest where fans and wrestlers attempt to bodyslam Tursas (and the Colony’s Green Ant begins his transformation into Lex Luger), a dance contest hosted by the Osirian Portal, and a concert by Stan Bush. Nobody enjoys it more than “Rock and Roll Ring Announcer” Gavin Loudspeaker, who dances and thrashes around when Bush plays “The Touch.”

A few hours later, the second night of action begins, which sees surprises, thrilling victories and bitter defeats.

One of the most engaging contests of the entire weekend is the first qualifier for the Rey De Voladores, which features El Generico, Zach Sabre Jr, Marshe Rockett of Da Soul Touchaz and the BDK’s Pinkie Sanchez (who sports both some of the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen and some incredibly gnarly back acne). The referee for the match is BDK’s Derek Sabato who’s biased officiating allows Sanchez to eliminate Sabre and Rockett. Sanchez has the victory in hand when Chikara’s Director of Fun, Wink Vavasseur enters the arena. Wink forces Sabato to wear a standard Chikara referee shirt, symbolically stating that the BDK will no longer have their own referee. The crowd bursts into the biggest cheers of the weekend, so far, when Generico then drills Sanchez with his BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! (picture a top rope brainbuster, driving the opponent head-first into the top turnbuckle). Sabato begrudgingly counts a slow three, but he could count to 100 – Sanchez is out cold.

The BDK’s night doesn’t get any better as their team of Tim Donst, Jakob Hammermeir and Delirious, accompanied by Tursas, face off against the Colony. In a thrilling, come from behind victory, Green Ant completes his transformation into Lex Luger as he finally succeeds in bodyslamming Tursas (causing Gavin Loudspeaker to literally leap into the air with excitement) and forces Hammermeir to submit to a torture rack backbreaker.

Other notable contests include a heart-wrenching and hard hitting tribute bout to Sweeney by Eddie Kingston and Arik Cannon, a sensational main event where Team Michinoku Pro defeat Quackenbush, Toyota and Jigsaw, and the 1-2-3 Kid winning the other Rey de Voladores qualifier, setting up a match with Generico for the final day.

The crowd seems a little thicker on the final day, with more little kids. Or perhaps it’s simply that a new vendor is here selling a wide variety of wrestling masks, making them much more visible. In addition to the handful of youngsters with Fire Ant, Jigsaw and Osirian Portal masks from the first two days, there’s now a cadre of kiddies running around in brightly coloured Rey Mysterio masks. The cutest, though, is a father and son both in El Generico masks.

No time is wasted as the semi-final matches are held immediately. The match between fan favourites The Colony and The Osirian Portal conflicts the crowd. When the standard duelling chants of “LET’S GO PORTAL!/CO-LO-NY” begin, many fans are chanting both names. The Colony picks up the victory (via a spectacular top-rope neckbreaker) and advance to the finals.

The crowd is remarkably respectful and sympathetic. Handshakes before and after matches, clean breaks and stalemates are all met with cheers. The fans get into the show and cheer their favourites after losses as would little kids- they want to let them know its okay and that they still support them. Chikara is also likely the only place you’ll ever hear wrestling fans chant “SAY YOU’RE SORRY!” as they do during the Colt Cabana vs. Archibald Peck match. Hell, the fans even chant “Holy Poop!” instead of “Holy Shit!” because of the kids present.

The Colony’s opponents in the finals will be F.I.S.T., the 2009 winners, who manage to eke out a victory over Team Michinoku Pro. Chuck Taylor blinds Sasuke with baby powder and rolls him up for a pin (which one imagines was a real “mark-out” moment for Taylor). Icarus hate is at an all time high. One spirited fan in particular screams at Icarus to tap out every time he’s in a submission move, as well as when he’s performing a submission, or is just standing at ringside. He also earns several chants of “PLEASE RETIRE!”

The Rey De Voladores final is a hard hitting and exciting affair that has fans on their feet as Kid and Generico exchange deadly manoeuvres and nearfalls. After kicking out of a top rope version of Kid’s X-Factor, Generico hits the BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAHH!!!!! for the win, and the roof nearly blows off the arena. Kid is completely overwhelmed as fans chant his name. He takes to the microphone and pays tribute to Generico, Chikara itself and the fans. He notes some of the questionable things he’s done in his career, and the fans chant “WE FORGIVE YOU!” He announces that this will likely be his last year in wrestling, and that this may have even been his last match. If it was, he says, he couldn’t think of a better opponent or better fans to go out on. He’s given a long and loud standing ovation from the crowd, and then another from the wrestlers in the back that can be heard all through the arena.

For Sean Waltman, King of Trios meant redemption. After all, he doesn’t exactly have a great reputation among fans. It wasn’t long ago that he was so hated in wrestling that a term was invented to describe it (“X-Pac Heat” – when fans hate the performer, as opposed to the character, and don’t want to see him anymore; some fans say Icarus has the same sort of heat). He’s been seen as a talented performer who pissed it away with drugs and other poor decisions. He was that guy from the sex tape with Chyna, who politicked his way to the top of the industry with his Kliq buddies and never gave anything back- a selfish failure. Some fans were speculating, based on past behaviour, that he wouldn’t even show up for the event.

But at King of Trios a strange thing happened: the man became the Kid, and the kid became a man. Waltman busted his ass in three great matches. He put over his opponent in the ring and on the microphone. He paid tearful tribute to the fans and the company. And if that was Sean Waltman’s last wrestling match, he certainly went out with a lot of class.

That’s a hell of an accomplishment for someone who’s name has so often been used in the same sentence as “Chyna’s gigantic clitoris.” Well done, Kid.

Speaking of redemption, that’s what the King of Trios final is all about. After losing in the finals of the tournament last year, and then losing Green Ant to an arm injury, 2010 was a dismal year for the Colony. The crowd (other than a handful of 3rd row, die-hard F.I.S.T. loyalists) desperately want the Ants to win this one.

After all the comedy and Lex Luger parodies of the weekend, the main event is old school wrestling booking at its finest. F.I.S.T. ground the Ants early on, with Chuck Taylor bashing Green Ant’s arm with a chair during a fracas. That arm becomes the target and F.I.S.T. pound on it mercilessly. The Ants rally, however, and take advantage after Taylor’s baby powder to the face backfires and hit his teammate Johnny Gargano. The match goes back and forth many times, manipulating the crowd with multiple false finishes, bringing their excitement to a fever pitch. Finally, after twenty minutes of tremendous action, the Ants unleash unheard-of offense – a top rope version of their Antapault move. They launch Green Ant ludicrously high into the air for a splash on Icarus that wins them the match and the tournament.

The crowd explodes into cheers: justice has been done. But it’s about more than that. The fans have been feeling the wrestlers’ pain all weekend. As mentioned, they’ve offered sympathy to favourites like Team Quackenbush, The Spectral Envoy or Team Michinoku Pro after their in-ring losses. Moreover, they’ve offered their sympathy for real life losses, as in Kingston and Cannon’s tribute match. After all that, it’s not just the Colony (and Generico, for that matter) who deserve this victory- the fans do too.

After the show is over, there’s one thought that sticks out in my head- Monday Night Raw is going to suck in comparison to this. I’ve been to a show that was family friendly, yet engaging for fans of all ages. A show that saw long suffering heroes finally vindicated as they faced impossible odds. I saw one of wrestling’s pariahs redeem himself, and several legends put over the next generation as they wind down to retirement.

For fans like me, watching the WWE can be an angsty experience. We fret and we fuss over who deserves better, who’s holding the young generation down, who could help the whole company out if they would just be booked to show more weakness, etc etc. These concerns are miniscule, if they exist at all in Chikara. It’s a whole different animal. It’s ridiculous and fun and over the top, but very old school as well (not just Matt Classic either).

Wrestling fans, you owe it to yourselves to check out Chikara. There’s no better wrestling product for kids, but between the humour and the action they can appeal to anyone. Give them a chance. Maybe we’ll see you at King of Trios next year.

Sidekick Andrew: All three nights of King of Trios 2011 are available at www.smartmarkvideo.com – in just another example of awesomeness, the DVDs were released within 24 hours of Sunday’s final! We’ve ordered our here in the Bunker, we suggest you do the same.

CHIKARA King of Trios: Bryce Remsburg interview

Not sure if I’ve quite managed to get this across over the last couple of days, but I’m really excited about the CHIKARA King of Trios this year. Actually, I’m really excited about it every year, but the line-up is especially strong this time around

One of the (many) things I love about CHIKARA is that every last person involved just seems to “get it.” Whether its The Batiri offering the bronzed skulls of The Colony for sale on Craigslist or the guy who decided to update the Paypal account to list WMDCorp, nothing is left to chance.

This also goes for the referees, in particular Bryce Remsburg – a graduate of the first class at the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory and probably the best known referee on the independent circuit. Remsburg can sell a move better than most wrestlers, a skill which makes him an integral part of any match he officiates. Bryce was kind enough to answer a few questions for us in our third EXCLUSIVE (yes, still all caps, like MATTHEW used to be) King of Trios interview.

Bryce Remsburg, thanks for the opportunity for an interview. Could you briefly introduce yourself for readers that might not be familiar with you?
I am just a dude who loves me some wrestling from Philly. I referee, commentate, and it is my opinion that I make an excellent wedding date.

How would you explain CHIKARA to someone who may not have seen any of the shows before?
CHIKARA is everything wrestling should be: athletic, colorful, compelling, and overall FUN. Its a comic book come to life, and it takes spandex playfighting to a whole new level.

King of Trios is the biggest show of the CHIKARA year, possibly the largest in the world of professional wrestling. How big a deal is it for you to be part of the show again this year?
It is my privilege. This is the one weekend a year the wrestling world is watching us, and we all know it. Everyone is set to make an amazing lasting impression with our best foot forward. It is without question our big show, without all the acromegaly.

Who are you most looking forward to officiating for during the tournament?
A 10 year kid who lost his mind when the 1-2-3 Kid pinned Razor Ramon will be standing in a ring with him tomorrow night. 28 year old Bryce has not fully processed this yet, for fear of imploding before the tournament concludes.

If you could pick a fantasy Trio of any three wrestlers, alive or dead, who would you pick?
Hmmm… I would like to think the trio of Andy Kaufman, Orange Cassidy, and Max Moon would be entirely unbeatable, NAY, invincible. Sidekick Andrew: Is there any indie wrestler who doesn’t love Orange Cassidy? Not sure I see the appeal myself…

CHIKARA’s DVD covers are incredibly popular with fans due to their comic book homages. If you could be a comic book character who would it be?
I would be Guy Who Doesn’t Read Comics Man. He never loses, and gets to make out with all the pretty ladies. I do enjoy our DVD covers though.

Of all the CHIKARA DVDs you’ve appeared on, which you recommend as really showing Bryce at his best?
Oh heavens, my dance movez (the z means its real) are on display in our Season 10 premiere, “Chaos In the Sea of Lost Souls“. This will erase all doubt that I make an excellent wedding date.



Overdone Tough Enough question: other than the obvious Alicia Fox vs Melina 5* epic, what is your favourite match of all time?
Wow, I gotta say, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart from WrestleMania X has a special place in my heart. No pun intended. Okay, maybe a little one.

As we are also interviewing Jakob Hammermeier for the blog, which member of the BDK do you respect the most?
Meh, I say an all-way tie for none of them. Definitely not that used car salesman moron Derek Sabato. Sidekick Andrew: would you buy a used car from this man?

You’re also part of the improv comedy group Secret Pants – if you could choose any member of the CHIKARA roster to join you for a sketch who would it be?
Well, Colt Cabana has performed with us, and that was great. But I think I’d like to see Eddie Kingston in a sketch comedy universe. The thought of it is funny already.

You’re also one of the favourites at the CHIKARA Commentation Station – who has been your favourite commentating partner over the years?
Probably UltraMantis Black. He has an uncanny knack for catching me offguard and making me crack up. Also, he smells nice. Sidekick Andrew: My UltraMantis Black crush is pretty out in the open, but *SWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON*

Any final words for the Wrestlegasm readers?
Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, and if you don’t come to King of Trios, we’re gonna club a baby seal. No pressure. Now that I’ve completed my Wrestlegasm interview, I may need a cigarette. See what I did there?!

And on that seal-clubbing, post-coital cigarette advocating note, I would like to say a big thank you to Bryce for the interview. Alongside Jakob Hammermeier and Green Ant, that wraps up our (wait for it…) Trio of interviews. Get it? Trio? Hahahaha!

CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament is being held on April 15, 16 & 17 at the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia, and quite frankly if you’re in a position to attend and you don’t then I’m not sure I want to know you. As well as the CHIKARA and BDK regulars such as Mike Quackenbush, and my man-crush Ultramantis Black, there will also be Japanese legends Manami Toyota, Dick Togo, Jinsei Shinzaki and The Great Sasuke, as well as ex-WWE star the 1-2-3 Kid.

Tickets are still available at the official CHIKARA store as well as DVDs of the previous tournaments, every last one of which is worth watching.

CHIKARA King of Trios: Green Ant interview

You should all be aware of just how much we love CHIKARA and the King of Trios tournament here in The Bunker by now. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but every time I watch this video I get goosebumps.

As such big fans, we’re always happy to do anything we can to help promote CHIKARA, and following on from our EXCLUSIVE interview with Jakob Hammermeier yesterday, today we bring you an EXCLUSIVE interview with perhaps his fiercest rival, Green Ant. Yep, still not getting bored with typing EXCLUSIVE 😀

Green Ant, thanks for the opportunity for an interview. Could you briefly introduce yourself for readers that might not be familiar with you?
Sure! I’m a member of a trio of wrestling (“ENTERTAINING”?) ants known as the Colony. My partners are the HOT PROPERTY Fire Ant and the Militant Mat Mite, Soldier Ant. We’re pretty great.

How would you explain CHIKARA to someone who may not have seen any of the shows before?
Well first I would probably direct them to the Youtube channel and the official seller of CHIKARA DVDs, www.smartmarkvideo.com because I’m a professional like that. But if I had to describe what we do, I guess I’d have to say that CHIKARA is professional wrestling done right with a slightly wacky edge. Some people look at CHIKARA and get the impression that we’re strictly a comedy promotion, but that’s certainly not the case. They judge the book by its cover, and I guess it’s kind of understandable since the cover probably had giant wrestling ants fighting Egyptian time travelers on it.

King of Trios is the biggest show of the CHIKARA year, possibly the largest in the world of professional wrestling. How big a deal is it for you to be competing this year?
Oh, it’s a huge deal. It’s the biggest weekend of my year and it’s constantly on my mind. Last year was my first time participating in the tournament, and ever since then I’ve been waiting for the next opportunity to prove that the Colony is the best trio CHIKARA, or the world, has to offer. I’m constantly training with my partners and trying to get better, and this weekend we get to put our skills to the test against a ridiculously stacked group of 16 trios. The world’s eyes are on us, and that’s heavy stuff. Also it’s like a real-life version of King Of Fighters and that’s awesome.

So I see...

Who are you most looking forward to facing during the tournament?
That’s kind of a tough one since the brackets are kept secret until the tournament is already in motion. I’m definitely hoping to face off with the BDK trio of Timothy Donst, Delirious, and most importantly, Jakob Hammermeier. I’m not sure if you saw the Creatures From The Tar Swamp show in Brooklyn, NY, but I’ve got some issues to work out with young Jakob. And of course there’s what happened last year in the finals of King Of Trios 2010, when the BDK quadrant of Tursas, Castagnoli, Ares, and Derek Sabato robbed me and my partners. They showed no respect for true competition and stole victory from us when we wanted to win more than anything in the world. However, this year is different. This year, we don’t WANT to win, we NEED to win. So Donst, Delirious, and Hammermeier, if the stars align and you end up across the ring from The Colony, you can throw every trick in your little scrapbook at us. We’ll be ready. [Sidekick Andrew: Scrapbook? Oh yes, *that* scrapbook…]

If you could pick a fantasy Trio of any three wrestlers, alive or dead, who would you pick?
Early 90’s Sting, Antonino Rocca, Kazushi Sakuraba

CHIKARA’s DVD covers are incredibly popular with fans due to their comic book homages. If you could be a comic book character who would it be?
I think I’m in one of those old CHIKARA comic books, so I’d say ME, Green Ant. If I had to choose someone else, I’m going to say THE MASK from the old Dark Horse comics. Don’t ask me why, haha.

Of all the CHIKARA DVDs you’ve appeared on, which you recommend as an introduction to Green Ant?
Definitely King Of Trios 2010, Night Three. Even though the finals didn’t have the outcome we wanted, I think that show is a great example of how hard my partners and I fight and how seriously we take what we do. Plus I jump off a really high ant-tower onto a Japanese guy.

Overdone Tough Enough question: other than the obvious Alicia Fox vs Melina 5* epic, what is your favourite match of all time?
I’m actually partial to the less-publicized rematch, Melina vs. Alicia Foxx II. Some people say it didn’t have the same magic as the first classic, but I just blame that on it being in such a large building. The sound went up, as they say. So yeah, Melina vs. Alicia Foxx TWO.

As we are also interviewing Jakob Hammermeier for the blog, which member of the BDK do you respect the most?
Blah. It’s hard to say I respect any of them after what they’ve shown us month in and month out. I respect Claudio Castagnoli’s ABILITIES the most since he was my trainer before all this BDK nonsense. I respect Jakob the least 🙂

Question from Boss Lady Ray: What are your thoughts on interspecies marriage?
Hmm. I’m pretty open minded, so I’d have to say I support it. Hopefully Jakob Hammermeier can find a nice donkey or something to settle down with. [BOSS LADY RAY: Clearly that marriage proposal was too subtle.]

Question from one of our regular readers, Charlie: How does it feel to be picked out to wrestle against Mike Quackenbush in opening wrestling clinics at Clutch of Doom and Michigan’s Brain?
It’s an awesome thing, and I hope to get more time in the ring one on one with Mike Quackenbush. I don’t feel like I’ve really showed what I can do on the mat just yet. I love that CHIKARA is a place where every style of professional wrestling can shine, and you can see every style represented on the same show in the same ring. So yeah, I hope to show more of what I can do on the mat. Thanks, reader!

Any final words for the Wrestlegasm readers?
No matter where you are on this earth, you need to find your way to Philadelphia this weekend. In my honest opinion, King Of Trios is consistantly the most exciting weekend of wrestling shows year in and year out. I’d also like to say that I really appreciate you guys helping to get the word out there about CHIKARA.

As I said above Mr Ant, always a pleasure. CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament is being held on April 15, 16 & 17 at the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia, and quite frankly if you’re in a position to attend and you don’t then I’m not sure I want to know you. As well as the CHIKARA and BDK regulars such as Mike Quackenbush, Claudio Castagnoli (and my man-crush Ultramantis Black), there will also be Japanese legends Manami Toyota, Dick Togo, Jinsei Shinzaki and The Great Sasuke, as well as ex-WWE star the 1-2-3 Kid. (Sorry about the mistake yesterday, I could be professional and edit it out, but I know I’m not flawless. Claudio is in Japan this weekend instead.)

Tickets are still available at the official CHIKARA store as well as DVDs of the previous tournaments, every last one of which is worth watching.

In case you were wondering, the word of the day is still “EEP”

CHIKARA King of Trios: Jakob Hammermeier interview

As the more observant among you will have realised by now, this weekend is a pretty big deal in the indie wrestling calendar as CHIKARA hold their annual King of Trios tournament in Philadelphia. 16 teams, 48 wrestlers – all competing over three days of what will be, if previous years are anything to go by, amazing wrestling.

Excited as we are here in the bunker for this tournament, unfortunately we will be stuck back in the rainy UK. However, we do have a couple of readers attending (that we are insanely jealous of) and now we have an EXCLUSIVE interview with a wrestler making his debut King of Trios in-ring appearance, Jakob Hammermeier. And yes, the word “exclusive” really does deserve to be in bold and upper case. Hey, if I was writing this in a school exercise book I’d have underlined it three times… in red.

Jakob Hammermeier, thanks for the opportunity for an interview. Could you briefly introduce yourself for readers that might not be familiar with you?
Guten Tag! ( first of all pardon my English. I’ve just recently became relatively fluent within the past year or so.) So I’m Jakob Hammermeier, wrestler/announcer for the BDK in Chikara Pro (although were working on getting that named changed to BDK Pro) [Sidekick Andrew: Who are the BDK you ask? See below…]

How would you explain CHIKARA to someone who may not have seen any of the shows before?
Chikara (name change pending), is the future und the alternative of/in professional wrestling. It encompasses everything that made you fall in love with pro wrestling as a child, and then throws in a blend different wrestling styles, dashes of comedic and pop culture references all of which are depicted by dedicated, creative, innovative, and colorful athletes. Something entertaining for everyone of all ages.

King of Trios is the biggest show of the CHIKARA year, possibly the largest in the world of professional wrestling. How big a deal is it for you to be competing this year?
It is an amazing honor to compete in the same competition that mein trainers have dominated in the past. I can’t wait to make them proud!

Who are you most looking forward to facing during the tournament?
The team who is going to get 2nd place after we win!

If you could pick a fantasy Trio of any three wrestlers, alive or dead, who would you pick?
Ares, Claudio Castanoli, und Tursas.

CHIKARA’s DVD covers are incredibly popular with fans due to their comic book homages. If you could be a comic book character who would it be?
Thanos, the Mad Titan. Hands down my favorite comic book character of all time.

Of all the CHIKARA DVDs you’ve appeared on, which you recommend as an introduction to Jakob Hammermeier?
Any of them beginning with “A Touch of Class”. They all represent who I am.

Overdone Tough Enough question: other than the obvious Alicia Fox vs Melina 5* epic, what is your favourite match of all time?
Those would be a four-way tie between C.Castagnoli und Ares vs. The Colony (at Wit, Verve, and a Bit of Nerve), KOT 2010 finals, Tim Donst vs. Player Dos (A Touch of Class) und my most recent victory over Green Ant at (Creatures from the Tar Swamp).

As we are also interviewing Green Ant for the blog, which member of The Colony do you respect the most?
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

If you had to replace one member of the BDK with any other wrestler from the CHIKARA roster, who would it be?
I would never replace any member of the BDK with a member of the Chikara “roster”. But if I had to recruit one extra person it would definitely be the U.S.Ape because I feel that would really demoralize the Chikara roster to see such a symbolic image of U.S.Ape in BDK colors.

How devastated were you when Claudio spurned your hug after granting you a match?
What are you talking about? He totally hugged me back firmly, which says to me; “Great job kid, you’ve earned this, und I couldn’t be more proud of you.” you just couldn’t tell because it’s very subtle. [Sidekick Andrew: I guess I was wrong, but feel free to judge for yourselves below]

Any final words for the Wrestlegasm readers?
Everybody come out to King of Trios und bring out an extra $20.00 and buy my new shirt!!!! It’s super well done and looks sharp. (it also will make you live longer!) Danke for the interview!
Im namen der Bruderschaft
Jakob Hammermeier

Nein, danke schön Herr Hammermeier. CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament is being held on April 15, 16 & 17 at the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia, and quite frankly if you’re in a position to attend and you don’t then I’m not sure I want to know you. As well as the CHIKARA and BDK regulars such as Mike Quackenbush, Claudio Castagnoli (and my man-crush Ultramantis Black), there will also be Japanese legends Manami Toyota, Dick Togo, Jinsei Shinzaki and The Great Sasuke, as well as ex-WWE star the 1-2-3 Kid.

Tickets are still available at the official CHIKARA store as well as DVDs of the previous tournaments, every last one of which is worth watching.

In the immortal words of Boss Lady Ray: “EEP”

Wrestlegasm Birthday Giveaway Posts: 1. Chis Sabin

When we had the idea for the birthday giveaway, Boss Lady Ray suggested that we offer the winner a special Wrestlegasm post about the wrestler of their choice. This sounded like a great idea at the time, but I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation worrying about which wrestler would be chosen. Obviously my main fear was that the winner would choose Matt Hardy, and I always get in trouble when I write about Matt Hardy. Of course, I could have asked past guest writer Brandi to write about him, but that didn’t end too well last time either.

shudder...

Fortunately our winner was Sarah F, a reader of more refined tastes who (to my relief) was kind enough to inform me via twitter that she “pretty much hate[s] the Hardys.” Instead she picked a wrestler that I like, but don’t get as much chance to watch as I would like.

Yep, Sarah picked ex-TNA X Division and Tag Team Champion Chis Sabin. My feelings on TNA are pretty well documented, but to recap: the main reason I loathe them so much is that they have some really great wrestlers and misuse them. As such, I miss out on seeing these wrestlers because I find TNA frankly embarrassing to watch. Wrestlers such as Generation Me, Brian Kendrick, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Desmond Wolfe, Douglas Williams, Samoa Joe, Mickie James, Daffney (if they ever bring her back), Tara, Winter, Alex Shelley and of course Chis Sabin: all great wrestlers that you could easily build a great promotion around, if you weren’t too busy throwing money away on worn out has-beens and drug addled rednecks.

But I digress. For those of you who might not know him, Chis Sabin is one half of the Motor City Machine Guns tag team along with Alex Shelley (although, for what it’s worth, in my incredibly masculine and totally hetero opinion, Shelley is definitely the prettier of the two) This video below, despite the quite annoying music, should give you a quick idea what they’re about…

I have to confess to not knowing as much about Chis Sabin as I would like, so let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about him. Hmm… apparently he took his name from a Final Fantasy character, so he’s presumably a gamer. Also, he’s in a band with Alex Shelley, Petey Williams and A.N. Other non-wrestler bloke so he likes music. Erm… Ooh, he used to work at Subway! I knew I recognised this guy…

The other thing to note about Chis Sabin is that he seems inordinately fond of his right hand (please, feel free to insert your own smutty joke here). Seriously, every time you see him he points it out to the crowd. “Look at me! I have a right hand! Yippee!”

So, what have we learnt today. Well, we have learnt that Chis Sabin likes his hand, video games and music. We have learnt that he really likes mustard and that he’s a pretty great wrestler. We’ve also learnt that he was in CHIKARA King of Trios once upon a time back in 2007.

Perhaps most importantly for me, I’ve learnt that the Motor City Machine Guns had a great match against Dragon Gate Stars Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi that is definitely a perfect way to end this slightly paltry post. Congratulations Sarah, hope you at least enjoy the video…

Bugger! Hang on… apparently it’s Chris, not Chis. Stupid TNA…