Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chikara Flashback

In preparation for our interview with "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush, here's an article Mark wrote back in 2002. It was leading up to Chikara's first show in May 2002. It originally appeared on and

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 and KIRYOKU at

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.

Mark Coale
Odessa Steps Magazine