Thursday, September 27, 2007
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
Friday, August 10, 2007
All men may be created equal, but that cannot be said for wrestling fans. Just as a Lucha company is different from a Japanese company is different from WWE, so to are the fans of particular companies around the world.
I learned this first-hand this week. After seeing shows in the Northeast and in the Mid-Atlantic for years, I got an up-close look at old-fashioned Southern Wrestling and their fans.
Our story begins in the
Like many indy shows, the show was not held in an area, but in a National Guard Armory. One, unfortunately on this night, that did not have air-conditioning. And, being the first day of a 100 degree heatwave in the area, the atmosphere was stifling and most of the crowd could be seen making frequent trips to the snack bar for drinks or fanning themselves with the evening’s programs.
The show had a mixture of wrestlers on it. Some, as mentioned above, were Internet favorites, some were legends (Gypsy Joe, Bill Dundee), some were regional stars (Jamie Dundee, Bull Pain) and some were local workers I admittedly had never seen before (LA Warren, The Prophet).
The crowd, like the ones I would see later in the week in
The most unusual thing seen that night was probably the match scheduled to be Castagnoli vs. Necro Butcher. Word was that there was a locker room incident involving the Butcher and the card had to be shuffled. So, Claudio, all 6’5” of him ended up wrestling former WWE talent Zach Gowen. Yes, Zach Gowen. Sadly, we did not get to see Claudio execute a one-legged Giant Swing, which would have been something to behold. Instead, the match was more about Claudio not getting along with special guest referee Gypsy Joe and it ended up being a schmozz when Claudio attacked Joe and just left the ring.
When the night was over (which admittedly came early for me, thanks to the heat and a seven-hour drive that day), a few hundred fans went home happy as Ryder won the main event by DQ over Todd Morton. But this was just the beginning.
Wednesday night was my first trip to see Ohio Valley Wrestling. I had been getting OVW tapes since the “glory days” of the company under Jim Cornette, when the shows were built around Doug Basham, The Damaja and Nick Dinsmore. Interestingly enough, while the product in the ring these days might not match that era, the company is still doing quite well, filling up Davis Arena every week for TV and having successful spot shows all over the area.
I was told to get there by 6 o’clock for the doors to open at 6:30. I came a few minutes before 6:00 and there were already a couple hundred people queued up in line outside the building (in an industrial park on the outskirts of
After an all-too-long wait in the blistering sun, the crowd went in and the show began in a short time. Thankfully, Davis Arena has air conditioning. Like the night before, the crowd was boisterous, loudly cheering and booing, although not always for the designated babyfaces and heels. There was a strong continent opposed to former Spirit Squadder Johnny Jeter and the recently-arrived (from the Indy scene) Colt Cabana perhaps had the most cheers, but had one extremely-loud non-fan.
OVW, being a developmental territory, is not going to be full of five-star matches (if you’re one who goes for that sort of thing). The workers are learning, getting on-the-job training in front of live fans and television cameras. You could tell there were varying levels of skills on display, especially with former RAW performers like Armando Estrada and Eugene (the former Nick Dinsmore, still doing his “special” gimmick) on the show. On the other end of the spectrum, you had young guys, obviously green, not quite hitting all their marks or not quite exactly nailing a particular move.
One new wrinkle for OVW booking is the addition of the Derby City Wrestling show the next night. This allows them to shoot angles that carry over to the show. On this night, an angle between the James Boys (KC James and Cassidy Riley) and the new babyface team of Jeter and Christian York led to a main event match on OVW that resulted in a rematch the next night on DCW.
Many of the fans in the building Wednesday night were back the next night for DCW. Since the TV tapings for DCW were only about a month old, there was not the same level of attendance (plus, the weather, still hazardous to one’s health) as the night before, but it looks like almost everyone there had been there the night before.
Obviously, the DCW workers are even less-polished as their OVW counterparts, which doesn’t diminish their willingness to learn or try in the ring. As someone who watches a lot of CHIKARA (another promotion full of young workers fresh out of wrestling school), there are always varying levels of quality you can find in the ring when you have green wrestlers still learning their way. Good fans can forgive miscues in the ring if they can tell that the effort is there. Also, the ring-work is very basic and sound. It would seem odd to a fan of Northeast wrestling that the first highspot (a straightforward plancha) didn’t occur until the fifth match on the card.
Again, there did not appear to be many “smart” fans in the crowd, which doesn’t stop DCW from running an extremely-inside angle. Ted “The Trailer” McNailer is currently having what could be called a one-sided feud with wrestling newsletter writer Bryan Alvarez. McNailer has been cutting promos on Alvarez, who has been reviewing the DCW TV show in his Figure Four Weekly publication. But, as of this writing, it is not building towards anything, as Alvarez, a part-time wrestler, says he has no desire to go all the way to
The one drawback with running very fundamental matches is their repetitiveness. On this night, they were in the middle of running the DCW Tag Team Title Tournament. So, the crowd saw four tag matches that were very formulaic and even saw the same spots in a couple of the matches. Had there not been four of them in a row, it would not have been so plain. They also had the misfortune of running an injury angle (with Sweet Stevie) and later having a real injury take place a few matches later (with the J-Man), but those things happen.
Again, like the night before, everyone in the crowd appeared to have a good time and went home happy. Of course, you can have small expectations for your entertainment when you’re not paying anything for it. (yes, attendance at both TV tapings is free.)
All of this goes to show that the obvious that there are many different kinds of wrestling out there and if you are just a fan of one kind, maybe you should try going outside the box for a new kind of entertainment to watch. If you’re a Northeast fan, try some Southern wrestling and vice versa. Fandom shouldn’t be limited to one particular kind of person.xxx
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
While looking through my archives today, I came upon this flyer that I picked up in Tiajuana when I saw a Lucha Show there in July 2000. I was in SD for Comicon and this was the first time I finally got to see Lucha in person (thanks again to Eric from Hollywood Book and Poster). This is what all you comics folks missed by always going to the Eisners every year.
Monday, June 18, 2007
A PLAGUE WIND FILL’D WITH INSECTS
a malevolent convesation with UltraMantis Black
[Editor’s note: It had been a long time since we heard from our old friend Dr. Alquimia. For those that don’t remember, we had been contracted to publish his comic book, but a number of suspicious incidents led to problems with the first issue. After we published that issue back in 2001, some more odd things happened (too numerous to mention) and we suspended publication of the book until we could talk to Dr. Alquimia himself. Well, until a few days ago, we had been unable to contact him for over five years. Shockingly, we received an email from him (or someone claiming to be him), asking if we could publish an interview he had just conducted. After we confirmed it was indeed him, we agreed and hope that this return of the Master of the Egyptian Art will not be short-lived. We still want to chronicle his adventures and hope to have news on this matter during the summer comic book convention season. Sadly, but not surprisingly, it appears that, since the last time we saw him, Dr. Alquimia has returned to his rudo roots.]
The great English visionary William Blake once said, “Active Evil is better than Passive Good.” And, to the great consternation of tecnicos everywhere, I am proud to say that I am once again both Active and Evil. I must humble apologize to my former tag team partner, El Caido, for ever abandoning my rudo ways. I hope that I will be able to earn back both his trust at some point.
But that is neither here nor there. I have not returned today to sing my own praises (hard as that may be), but to extol the virtues of another man who walks the path less chosen, the leader of the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple, UltraMantis Black.
The evil insect mastermind graciously took a few minutes out of scheming and plotting nefarious conspiracies to talk to me about his career, current plans and assorted other Machiavellian pursuits.
DA: When you began your wrestling career, you were a tecnico. What made you turn to the dark side?
UMB: I prefer to call it the light-deprived side. If I remember correctly, it had something to do with a holly-go-lightly chap known as Mister ZERO and a heated dispute over shoes and socks. I suppose it all snowballed from there although, at this point, I can't really point to any logical reason for my rudo-wing leanings.
DA: Is this when you stopped wearing boots and started working barefoot? (I apologize for only having seen a few of your tecnico matches, but noticed that you did wear footwear at the time.)
UMB: Ah, this was not the precise moment when I began this practice; however it was indeed a turning point in the journey toward my enlightenment. Most footwear is merely a tool of the multinational corporations to keep us subservient and poor -- blind to the blight of the sprawling civilization around us and the unfair wage system which keeps us in chains. No gods, no masters.
DA: Do you have any evil role models, in wrestling or in popular culture? Kevin Sullivan? Curtis Ieukea? Lex Luthor? Dr. Doom?
UMB: Hmm. When I think of evil I think of Wal-Mart, the John Birch Society, and [former] US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. So I can not say I am influenced at all by such. However, it is interesting that you reference Kevin Sullivan. I find myself quite influenced by his work in, what they call, "the old
DA: Do you have a favorite “giant insect” movie”? BEGINNING OF THE END with the giant grasshoppers? I’d think you would have a fondness for THE DEADLY MANTIS.
UMB: The 1954 classic THEM!, featuring a young James Whitmore and the legendary and wonderful Edmund Gwenn, star of the unforgettable MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET.
DA: In addition to your wrestling training at the Chikara Wrestle Factory, have you ever studied the Praying Mantis Kung Fu style?
UMB: I have a background in Krav Maga. I also enjoy listening to the music of Red Sovine when I take long car rides, often pretending to be navigating my big rig heading for Bear on I-10 about a mile out of
DA: How and where did you discover the man-monster Hydra? Is he at all connected to the infamous Marvel Comics evil spy organization HYDRA, once led by the nefarious Baron Wolfgang von Strucker?
UMB: You are speaking of "comical books" characters, yes? Such frivolities are meaningless to The Order. But back to the question at hand, Hydra was born of fire -- a great oceanic fire, one similar to that which engulfed the engine of Oceanic Flight 815 one fateful day. Hydra is what I like to call a young, virile monster-in-training. A "twink" if you will. I foresee much greatness in Hydra's future if he remains under my guidance and continues to walk in the Shining Path of the Order.
DA: What do you think of Hydra’s chances in the upcoming Young Lions’ Cup?
UMB: I'm going to be brutally honest here -- his chances are not good. With that said, Hydra's goals are unrelated to that of gold, riches, and trophies. Hydra fights in service to The Order and while we have yet to reveal the exact nature of our own goals to the viewers, we are quite secure in our belief that our cause is a just one. However, one never knows what will happen in such tournaments. For example, if the entire roster were to be afflicted with a horrible case of food poisoning, and Hydra -- a man-monster known for his all air and water diet -- was to remain unscathed, well then I believe his chances would improve vastly.
DA: Is there an insect rivalry between you and the members of the Colony?
UMB: As my friends The West Coast Rap All-Stars so eloquently once put it – “we're all in the same gang.”
DA: Were you able to have an “evil genius” summit with Kaiju’s Dr. Cube last month when you both were in
UMB: Unfortunately, no. However, Cubey has my number and he knows I anxiously await his call. Perhaps the good doctor would enjoy a delightful evening out in the Village together. I'm thinking a nice dinner of risotto and gazpacho at the Yaffa Cafe on St. Mark's, catch a show at the Winter Garden (have you seen MAMMA MIA yet??), and perhaps a nightcap of all-night canasta playing at my friend King's house.
DA: Have you patterned your commentating style on any one person? Would you say your style is more Gordon Solie or something more modern?
UMB: Solie, Lance Russell, Bob Caudle, Mid South-era Jim Ross. I always thought Ken Resnick was a good interview. David Crockett for purposes of unintentional humor only, of course.
DA: Do you have a favorite commentary partner? You seem to have quite the rapport with “Sweet and Sour” Larry Sweeney on the stick.
UMB: “The Palomino” is a true golden god amongst men. The man is a verbal Van Gogh. He paints such vivid aural pictures with his words. A genuine treat to share the commentary table with him!
DA: You know evil and you know baseball. Who is the most evil player in the show today: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Shilling or someone else?
UMB: True evil is every anabolic junkie who besmirched the game with their dope shooting-enhanced on-field performances. And Billy Wagner.
I once again would like to thank the incredibly insidious insect UltraMantis Black for generously speaking to your not-so-humble servant. You can be sure the next time I see him at the International Brotherhood of Rudos, the first one is on me.
CHIKARA’s annual Young Lions Cup takes place this weekend, June 22-24, in
Saturday, May 26, 2007
|Delete & Prev | Delete & Next|
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Anniversary Party
CHIKARA Pro Wrestling Celebrates their Fifth Year with a Pair of Shows
There are all kinds of wrestling companies out there on the independent scene. Some are based on the traditional old school territorial model and some are modeled on Japanese organizations. There are those that approach the business very sternly (like Ring of Honor) and those that do not. CHIKARA Pro Wrestling is one that decidedly does not.
If there was one word to describe CHIKARA, there is probably no better word that “wacky.” In addition to the usual collection of babyface and heel wrestlers, you can find the following workers have competed under the CHIKARA banner: a colony of ants, a mechanical mummy, a giant chipmunk, an 80-year old grappler, an evil farmer with an ear of corn for a head, ice cream clowns and wooden training dummy come to life named Ken the Box.
CHIKARA is the closest thing we have in American to Mexican pro wrestling, better known as Lucha Libre. The promotion is full of masked wrestlers who fly all over the ring doing all kind of flips, dives and crazy submission maneuvers. It seems that the motto of Lucha is “the crazier, the better” and the same can certainly be said for CHIKARA.
Leading up to CHIKARA’s two Anniversary shows this weekend, we had a chance to do an e-interview with Mike Quackenbush, who co-founded the promotion back in 2002, about a variety of topics relating to the company’s past, present and future.
Q: When we did an interview right before CHIKARA started in 2002, you said the following. Do you think you succeeded in this goal?
"CHIKARA will, by design, bend and break the imagined parameters of American independent wrestling. When we say the "wrestling renaissance is at hand," that's not just some slogan we dreamed up, without any real meaning. CHIKARA will usher in a period of tremendous creative growth, maybe not for the circuit, but certainly within the confines of the company. We will toss preconceived notions about the way an indy show should be done, the way indy characters should be presented, the way indy matches need to be wrestled. This will be true to a fresh creative vision, without compromise, and if we succeed or fail, it will be on our terms alone."
A: I absolutely do. And it's the mantra that defines what we're still doing today, in 2007.
Q: I was at CHIKARA's first show in
Northeast again until recently, haven't been to another one since then. How has CHIKARA's product evolved over the five years?
A: I think it took us a year or two to really decide on a single direction, and to pursue it relentlessly. There was definitely a time in the early days when we weren't sure if we would survive another month, if we'd get to the next show, and seeing the bigger picture under those circumstances can be nearly impossible. These days, we know exactly who our fans are, we know exactly what we're trying to accomplish, and for the most part, that's what we try to do.
Q: What has been the
A: I think our February tournaments are often the
Q: Has there been a gimmick proposed that you thought was too "wacky" even for CHIKARA?
A: Sometimes I get emails from guys that work for other companies, and they write things like "I've come up with this great CHIKARA gimmick!" And I laugh at all of them. Because it's not something you just invent. It's not something pulled out of thin air. It's a manifestation of some part of the man under the mask. Bruce Wayne can only be Batman. Bruce Wayne can't be the Red Tornado.
Q: How was it working with Tiger Mask a few weeks ago (May 11, 2007), in the match where you won the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Title? As a longtime puroresu fan, it must have pretty cool.
A: It certainly was. I made sure I got all my Tiger Mask dream spots in there, and he seemed to really enjoy the process and the match.
Q: How did the working arrangement between CHIKARA and Ring of Honor come about?
A: I think between Chris [Hero] and Claudio [Castagnoli] having worked their main shows for so long, and having sent CHIKARA talent to FIP [Full Impact Pro Wrestling] (where they seem to cultivate new talent), we won over all the right people to open the door.
Q: On a similar note, how did the deal come about to wrestle on the musical festival THE WARPED TOUR?
A: Pure luck. Our friend, Mike Rotch, hooked it up. We didn't know them, they didn't know us. Mike just made sure we were in the right spot at the right time.
Q: Has the new indy wrestling paradigm (where revenue seemingly comes from DVD sales and house shows may be loss leaders) changed the business and CHIKARA specifically?
A: That's very true. If not for DVD revenue, we would have gone under almost two years back. It's a whole new ball game. This is the information age we live in, and promoters that came up in the business pre-internet (re: industrial age) are less and less equipped to take advantage of what's out there today.
Q: What's the secret origin of the comic book cover homages that grace the CHIKARA DVD releases? Any one famous cover you haven't done yet?
A: Just a nod to our superhero roots. There's a Dark Knight cover in our immediate future that has been a long time coming.
Q: Are you ever going to do a third book, to complete the trilogy?
A: Not currently. The books I've been slaving over the last few years are totally unrelated to [Quack’s first two books] "Headquarters" and "Secret Identity."
CHIKARA Pro Wrestling returns to action this weekend Saturday, May 26, in
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Can wrestling's dark ages be over?
One new promotion surely hopes so
Okay, what do you nowadays if you're a wrestling fan? And I mean, an actual fan of wrestling, not "sports entertainment." Are you contend with the dribs and drabs that you get Monday and Thursday nights? Are you satisfied that, after sitting through a garbage match with tables, chairs and fire extinguishers, a bikini match between silicone-enhanced bleach blondes, mind-numbing skits and twenty-minute interviews, you get three-to-five minutes of actual wrestling action?
Now, take that feeling and multiple it by 1000. That's what you imagine the average wrestler must feel, watching at home, seeing their dreams of making the big time being flushed down the toilet. Not the just-off-the-street ex-football player who now wants to be in the business after watching Steve Austin and the Rock for the last two years. No, I'm talking about the Indy wrestler who has toiled for years in high school gyms and armories and county fairs. These are the people who have dedicated themselves to their craft, not just their industry.
Some of them, honestly, have given up. They saw the writing on the wall and said "This was good while it lasted, but there's no future for someone like me now." But others, when confronted with that fight or flight mechanism we all have, decided to do something about it.
All of which, in a roundabout way, brings up to the industry's newest promotion, CHIKARA (which means power in Japanese), started by two of the East Coast's best-known Indy wrestlers, Reckless Youth and Mike Quackenbush. CHIKARA will debut Saturday night, May 25, in Allentown.
Here's part of an interview done recently with Mike Quackenbush:
Q: As an Indy veteran, what made you want to start your own company?
A: For Reckless and I, the reason was boredom. The scene is boring to us right now. There are very few companies we want to work for, and it seems like everyone is doing the same crap, and doing it poorly. It seemed like the time was right to step up to the plate.
Q: Was that a difficult decision, given the downturn in the industry?
A: I think the downturn in the business right now is primarily affecting the sports entertainment facet of the industry. Look at Lucha in Tijuana right now; it's never been hotter. In a global sense, American pro wrestling is in a slump, not pro wrestling as a whole. The Indies will always struggle in a sense, and we knew that coming in, so we're prepared for the fact that the best we can do is put on fun shows that satisfy us, because there's no real money to be made on the independents, regardless of month, year, or decade.
Q: Why did you go with a non-traditional approach to the promotion?
A: To be honest, it's because the "traditional" approach stinks. Every Indy out there is trying to be the most "extreme," or, help me, "x-treme." Everyone wants to be the most hardcore, or most alternative, or most hard-hitting. All the pretenders want to be #2 behind McMahon, they want to be the second rate ECW or FMW or All Japan or Smoky Mountain, or whatever. There really isn't an original idea out there within the parameters of the "traditional" approach. CHIKARA will, by design, bend and break the imagined parameters of American independent wrestling. When we say the "wrestling renaissance is at hand," that's not just some slogan we dreamed up, without any real meaning. CHIKARA will usher in a period of tremendous creative growth, maybe not for the circuit, but certainly within the confines of the company. We will toss preconceived notions about the way an indy show should be done, the way indy characters should be presented, the way indy matches need to be wrestled. This will be true to a fresh creative vision, without compromise, and if we succeed or fail, it will be on our terms alone.
Among those scheduled to appear at CHIKARA's first show on Saturday, in addition to Reckless and Quackenbush, are fellow Black T-Shirt member Don Montoya, Chris Hero and the first graduates of the CHIKARA Wrestling Factory school.
And in June, the company's sister promotion, KIRUKYU, also makes it debut. KIRYOKU promises to showcase women's wrestling with a Puroresu and Lucha flavor, without the T&A of traditional American wrestling.
For more information, you can go to the CHIKARA homepage at www.chikarapro.com and KIRYOKU at www.kiryokupro.com.
I'll be attending the show, so you can look for a first-hand report about this new promotion sometime in the coming weeks. If their claims are correct, fans won't have to rely solely on imported tapes to get their fill of quality wrestling action. And won't that be a welcome change for what we all have been reduced to as of late.
Odessa Steps Magazine