Monday, May 16, 2011

Our New Project

An examination of 1984 Mid South Wrestling.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Issue

New Issue of ODESSA STEPS.

Not a hoax. Not an imaginary story.

Debuting at the Baltimore Comic-Con.

Article by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims in the issue.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Out with the Old Year, In with the New Year

Mike Quackenbush gets the upper hand on Buck Hawke from the December12 CHIKARA show in Easton PA. Photo courtesy Lyle C. Williams.

As the saying goes, "Nothing in life is certain except Death and Taxes." A third thing is that one or twice a year, we're going to a sit-down interview with CHIKARA founder "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush. This time, it's a look back at an adventurous 2008 CHIKARA season, which saw the company run shows around the world and a look ahead to the start of their upcoming eighth campaign. This interview was conducted via email in early January 2009.

Q: How would you category 2008 for CHIKARA, both as a company and as a
product? It was undoubtedly your biggest year, but was it also your "best"
year (however you would rate that)?

A: I think when the book is closed on CHIKARA, people will look back on
Season 7 as a real high point for us. We've really shown the diversity of our
performers, the diversity of our brand, and we've brought a whole new type of
storytelling to the table that no other American wrestling company has ever
come close to touching. Creatively, it was a real success, even if our
accountant has contrary feelings on the matter.

Q: With a number of trips to New England, the Midwest tour and Tag World
Grand Prix in Germany, CHIKARA did a lot of expanding. How would you judge
running out-of-market in 2008?

A: The out-of-market experiments, by and large, were not successful. As a
result, it is fair to assume there will be less experiments along those lines in 2009.

Q: You went through a number of venue changes in 2008, losing Hellertown
(which some would say was CHIKARA's best-ever venue), gaining Easton and
now apparently losing Framingham. Have you scouted a new Boston-area
location for 2009? Might there be any new Pennsylvania venues coming up?

A: No and No.

Q: 2008 saw a number of "theme" shows for CHIKARA, including King of Trios,
Loteria Lethal and the return of Tag World Grand Prix. Will we continue to see
these types of events in 2009?

A: I think we've cultivated a fun group of sign-post events over the years,
from the Young Lions Cup (which began back in 2002) to the Global Gauntlet we
introduced just a few months ago. Some might get put away in the creative
attic for a while until we're ready to dust them off again, but for the most
part, I think you'll see the same amount from year to year.

Q: Tangentially, 2008 saw CHIKARA's first cage match and 2009 will see its
first ladder match. Can we look forward to more "first time" stipulations

A: I think you can always count on us to defy expectations and deliver
pleasant surprises. Apart from that, who can say

Q: You just announced King of Trios for 2009 and it's a smaller version than in
2008. Was this an economic decision mainly or do you think the tournament
last year might have been a little too big, with all the participants?

A: The decision was purely financial. The two biggest measurable jumps
CHIKARA has ever made in terms of notoriety are directly tied to the first
giant-sized Tag World Grand Prix (in 2005) and the first giant-sized King of Trios
(last year). So I wouldn't say "too big." That sort of thing, to many fans, is
our calling card.

Q: One of the highlights of the CHIKARA calendar year in 2008 was the Fan Conclave
held during King of Trios weekend. Is this likely to return in 2009, either at KOT
or some other point during the year?

A: This was just finalized. There will be one this calendar year, and it will be free
admission for members of the CHIKARMY. We're working on the details
and the regular admission price this month.

Q: Another highlight, particularly for the long-time CHIKARA fans, was the
"legends" Battle Royale in Easton. Could this become an annual tradition
or is there a danger of mining nostalgia once too often? As entertaining as
the match was, there were certainly people who weren't in it that many
people were hoping to see come back for the match.

A: Wow, even in a business where the prosaic is often described as
"phenomenal," that might be the most liberal application of the term "legend"
ever. That being said, we don't exactly ignore our past. We tend to celebrate it.
With due modesty. Our retired performers have all retired with good reason, and
none are in a position to entertain the idea of a comeback, no matter who
"clamors" for it.

Q: There are shows this year in January and February, months that used to
be part of CHIKARA's off-season. What made you decide to run shows this
year and not take the time off?

A: The consensus is that we have really built a great deal of momentum
throughout Season 7, and there was some question as to whether or not we might
lose that momentum with our traditional holiday break. You can see which side
won that debate.

Q: There were some old faces that left CHIKARA during 2008 and some new ones
that debuted. A fluid roster is always going to be part of the wrestling business.
re there any roster change in 2008 that pleased or saddened you more than another?

A: I'm very glad to have my friend Jigsaw back at my side, obviously. We have a great
chemistry together, and I think if not for a terrible concussion that derailed our
momentum in Ring of Honor a year or so back, more people would have had the chance
to see that firsthand.
Over the last 2 years, our roster has really been galvanized into the strongest core
crew we've ever had. There have been people on the CHIKARA roster that really
weren't team players, and now, in January of 2009, you don't see those people on
our roster pages any more. If you want to put forth the kind of cutting edge product that
we do, if you want to take the challenge of shattering the status quo in independent
wrestling seriously, if you want to show real character evolution, real transformation,
and do it with a continuity and style that is typically reserved for broadcast or print
mediums, you need a group of people that understand the value in being a team player
to do it. I travel up and down the independents, not just in the US, but everywhere,
and I'm entirely sincere when I tell you that I am part of the best crew working today,
and that crew only comes together under the banner of CHIKARA.

Q: CHIKARA made some waves today [January 5] with the announcement of
a new ticket structure, taking effect at King of Trios. A number of people have said
they have no problem with the increase in prices (given the economy the way it is),
but felt that they bought/renewed their CHIKARMY card under the assumption
that things would continue under the old system. Should the new price structure
have been announced before the CHIKARMY renewals, so people knew what they
were buying? Or did this decision come after the renewal period had begun?

A: To be frank, the number of complaints we've received about this is two, as
far as I know. Two out of 107 members of the fan club. And all the renewal
members have been given the option of a refund if they feel put out by the
change in ticket prices. Things change rapidly in our business. Sometimes you
have to be able to make lemonade from the lemons life serves you. If you look at
our track record, CHIKARA practically specializes in that.

Q: CHIKARA has always been known as a fan-friendly promotion that has
avoided being lumped in with notoriously "indy sleaze" companies that seem
to gouge their fans for every last dollar. Again, a small promotion like CHIKARA
needs to do what it has to in this economy, but are you worried that people might
see the company as stooping to the level of those other companies?

A: What sets us apart from these other companies, is that we always do right
by our fans. It's that simple. Independent wrestling is a strange universe,
wherein you might find companies drowning in their own stupidity, mired in
ignorance, clinging fast to outdated precepts and obsolete rhetoric, or in the
middle of an unending "con" on the dumb marks of the world. But CHIKARA is not
one of those companies. The very suggestion of it is rather irritating to me, honestly.
One thing we do not usually discuss publicly is the work we do, and have
done since 2003, with dozens of non-profit organizations. Even today,
CHIKARA makes donations on a monthly basis to 19 non-profit organizations that help
the mentally and physically handicapped, as well as disadvantaged children,
in all the communities where we regularly perform - Philadelphia, Easton, and
to a lesser extent these days, Reading. The way our company is incorporated,
we don't even see a tax benefit from doing this. Whether the economy is good
or bad, we do it every month, and have, for more than six years.
Some groups think they should milk this type of charity every chance they get -
they splash it all over their press releases, some even make TV specials about it to
toot their own horns and pound their chests for all to witness. That's not us. We don't do
it to be thanked, we don't do it to "babyface" ourselves. The positive changes we
bring about - in our communities, and in the influence we are having on the wrestling
industry - occur quietly. Anyone who really sees CHIKARA for what it is, and what it
does, would find it laughable that we'd be "stooping to the level of those other companies,"
or deserving of the label "sleaze."

CHIKARA Pro Wrestling returns to action January 25 in Philadelphia,February 20
in Reading PA and February 21 in Easton PA. For ticket information,check out For CHIKARA talk, head to

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Talking Baseball, Insect Style

In preparation of CHIKARA's second New England tour this week, ODESSA STEPS MAGAZINE wrestling editor DOCTOR ALQUIMIA had a chance to sit down and chat with an old friend, the diabolical genius Ultra Mantis Black, leader of The Order of the Neo-Solar Temple. Many people know of his prowess in the wrestling ring, but not everyone might be aware of his fondness for the National Pastime. They chatted (via email) recently about the recent World Series win by his Philadelphia Phillies, as well as some squared circle issues.

Q: Were you optimistic of the Phillies' chances for post-season success when the playoffs started? Almost none of the "baseball experts" picked them to make it to the Series, let alone win it.

A: Surely you jest! My dear, close personal friend J-Roll had dubbed the Fightins' "the team to beat" at the start of the 2007 season. Clearly his premonitions were merely following the metaphysical clock of a leap year.

Q: Were you expecting Tampa Bay to put up a bigger fight? Did you think the Phillies' pitching would be able to cool off Upton and Longoria and the rest of the Rays' hitters?

A: Tampa Bay, you see, is located in an inferior hemisphere - Florida. The temperatures are much too high and the people much too old for The Order's tastes. Therefore it was evident that their bats could simply not perform in the harsh, rugged, and handsome environment of Philadelphia. In addition, they were clearly cursed from the get-go when management foolishly decided to drop the "Devil" portion of their moniker.

Q: What were you thinking during Game Five of the World Series as the rains came down and then when the game was postponed?

A: "Intoxicating! The sacred tribal raindance of The Order is a success!" These words were of course formed in a word bubble over my head, Charlie Brown style.

Q: Were you around for the Phillies' World Series appearance in 1980, 83 or 1993? If so, how did the celebrations compare to those (not that there was much celebrating for the latter two)?

A: I was. As well as for the 1950 series of course. To be fair, my dear, close personal friend Tug McGraw, rest his soul, had a far more memorable post-victory pitcher's mound leap than the more forgettable post-victory pitcher's mound kneeldown of Bradley Lidge.

Q: Rumor has it there was a sighting of someone in an UMB mask partying in downtown Philadelphia after Game Five and the Phillies had won the Series? Can you confirm or deny?

A: I cannot be held responsible for any damage done to any businesses or automobiles during this time.

Q: Did being an evil insect overlord prevent you from going to the parade?

A: No man or beast could have prevented me from such. In fact, after the parade I was privileged enough to share a sparkling apple cider with my dear, close personal friends Jayson Werth and Pat the Bat, who we like to call "Bait". But that my friends is a story for another day.

Q: Onto wrestling matters. It's well-known that Vin Gerard and the Unstable are not popular in the tecnico lockerroom. How are they received by the rudos? Were you pleased to be picked for the Cibernetico, since it would give you a chance for more revenge on Hydra and Tim Donst?

A: The Cibernetico??!! Are you quite sure? I have not had the chance to check my answering service lately but surely there must be some mistake! I don't trust anyone inside or outside of a CHIKARA lockerroom but I do know that The Order is not yet finished with those treasonous snakes Hydra and Donst.

Q: How would you describe two-ought-ought-eight for the Order? Your ranks swelled but were then depleted by the actions of Tim Donst, Mike Quackenbush and your former protege Hydra.

A: We had our ups, we had our downs. We shared some laughs, we made some frowns.

Q: With the Order down to "just" you and Crossbones, will you be looking to expand in 2009?

A: The Order is always looking for new proteges, prophets, and soothsayers. Crossbones and I have determined that the best of course of action to meet our needs is to conduct some sort of televised "Star Search"-esque competition. We have already recruited one celebrity judge - the close, personal friend Mr. Jamie Farr.

Q: How has your relationship changed with the Golden Palamino Larry Sweeney, now that he is a tecnico?

A: I am merely the Palomino's spiritual advisor. He comes to me in times of crisis and I offer him my council. What he chooses to do with my advice is his own prerogative. Who are you to question his decisions?!

Q: There are rumors of that "CHIKARA stars of yesteryear" could be returning next month. Might this be any of your former acquaintances?

A: If you are speaking of former senior official Paul Turner, well I simply am not at liberty to divulge that information. The world is a weird, wild place.

Thanks to Ultra Mantis Black for the time. You can find his Myspace page here. CHIKARA returns to action this weekend in Framingham MA on Saturday and Wallingford CT on Sunday. For ticket information, go here. To talk about all things CHIKARA, go to the CHIKARA FANS website.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is it that time of year again already?

Continuing what we hope will now be a yearly tradition, here's a few minutes with Mike Quackenbush, as CHIKARA gets ready for their Aniversario shows next weekend in Massachusetts and Connecticut. This weekend, the promotion will run shows in their traditional venues in Hellertown, PA and Philadelphia. The following interview was conducted few weeks ago via e-mail.

Q: Can you tell yet how successful King of Trios 20007 was for the
company, either financially or aesthetically? Or is it still too soon

MQ: I think of it as a success for one chief reason: On February 28th,
there were 84 wrestlers booked to appear, and over the next few days,
all 84 of them showed up and did their thing. There are some 8-man
tournaments that can't manage to get everyone together, so I think this
was a big accomplishment. Financially, it was a disaster that we'll
probably spend the rest of the year trying to make up for. The biggest
tournament of all time also comes with the biggest price tag of all time.

Q: Were you surprised by any of the wrestlers at KOT who were making
CHIKARA debuts? The fans certainly became enamored almost
immediately with
Da Soul Touchaz and The Kartel, to name two teams.

MQ: Not really. I knew what we were getting into in almost every instance.
I was pleasantly surprised by Sha Samuels and Terry Frazier, who were
two of the five participants that I had not personally seen or wrestled
myself. I had seen Martin Stone before (in my European travels), and his
reputation is well-earned.

Q: How did you think the Fan Conclave at King of Trios turned out? Is it
something worth
repeating at future events?

MQ: I had very little to do with the Fan Conclave, but what I saw seemed
like good clean fun in the mighty CHIKARA manner. I would hope we'll try
it again at some point. Before which, we had all better log some serious
time playing Fire Pro Returns.

Q: CHIKARA is getting ready to debut in a new market (Massachusetts) and
a fairly
new one (Connecticut) soon. How did you pick these markets? Will
there be more new
markets coming in 2008?

MQ: Our Wallingford test-run last year was a real success for the company,
so returning there is a natural. If Framingham goes as well as Wallingford
did last year, I think it will encourage us to branch out even farther
(we've been to Vermont in years past as well.) Any potential new market
expansions hinge solely on the success or failure of our New England
Aniversario weekend.

Q: As a follow-up, how did you decide to hold the Aniversario shows in
these new markets instead of having them in Hellertown and Philadelphia?

MQ: We're never content to rest on our laurels, or maintain the status
quo. CHIKARA is an ever-changing beast. Maybe this year we'll drop the
Cibernetico. Maybe we'll bring back the Tag World. Every year the format,
if there even is one, evolves.

Q:This year has seen a growing relationship with KAIJU, with their stars
on CHIKARA shows and some CHIKARA talent on their shows. Do you see
as "kindred spirits in wackiness?"

MQ: Certainly. We're like estranged cousins.

Q: Have you seen any results yet from being on Italian TV? More
international DVD sales and/or hits to the website(s)?

MQ: There has been a slight delay in the Italian TV deal, but the first
four episodes are heading back overseas shortly. There were some format
issues that needed to be worked out. Overall though, our international
profile has grown tremendously in the first 2 quarters of 2008. Things
like our Create-A-Wrestler contest really tell the tale, when more than
50% of the responses we hear come from non-U.S. residents.

Q: A hot topic for the fans online lately has been this CHIKARA
Welterweight title that's been defended in Mexico recently and won by
recent opponent of yours, Cassandro? What's the deal with this belt?
could we possibly see a visit from Cassandro in a CHIKARA ring?

MQ: It is entirely possible that Cassandro will come to CHIKARA in 2008.
I am glad that the Welterweight title turned up. We also rechristened a
WCW cruiserweight belt the "CHIKARA Middleweight Internet championship"
some years ago, and left it under a shrub in the outskirts of Mexico
City, so I expect to see that around Valiente's waist sooner or later.
I mean, that was the plan all along.

Q: On a related subject, do you have any more international defenses
planned for the NWA Jr title? Perhaps even another trip to Japan,
you might get to fight a human and not a kappa demon?

MQ: Now that New Japan and the NWA are together again, that is certainly
possible. There was talk about sending an NWA rep to Best of the Super
Junior. Evidently, that spot went to Jimmy Rave. Hopefully, I can hang
onto that belt until next year's tournament. I think if I had the chance
to do a J-Cup or BOSJ, then there really would be nothing left for me to
accomplish as a wrestler. I don't know what more I could ask for. That
being said, I never get tired of wrestling with my students and proteges,
and seeing them develop into fully-realized wrestlers.

Q: Where did the idea for the CHIKARA comic book come from? I know
many of
the CHIKARA regulars are comics readers.

MQ: It's a bit of a vanity project, in many ways. To have our own comic
book, I mean. It's meant to serve as a live event program, and obviously
intended to appeal to the many fellow comic fans out there. I think it has
the potential to function in our Universe in a really unique way - like
that old Von Erich family comic book - only with better quality paper and
fewer Iron Claws. By the end of the year, I think fans will begin to see
what an important role it's going to play, and maybe then the first issue
will sell briskly and get out of my basement. Or maybe we better look into
variant, holographic embossed covers featuring Cable and Darkhawk.
Upcoming CHIKARA shows include May 17 in Hellertown PA, May 18 in Philadelphia, May 23 in Framingham MA and May 24 in Wallingford CT. For more information, go to or visit the Chikara Fans message board.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chico vs Sweet and Sour

Fight Sport Midwest announced today that the long-awaited rematch between Larry Sweeney and Bryan Alvarez will be taking place.... in CHIKARA.

November 18th, in Philadelphia, for the last CHIKARA show of the year.

Expect a large influx of EMPIRE members for the show.

No word on if Bryan will be seconded by Vinnie V.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Up at the BEAT

an article about CHIKARA's wacky comic book-themed DVD covers.