Shore's Blog: A look back at 2012 CHIKARA King of Trios weekend
By Chris Shore
For those who do not know, King of Trios is CHIKARA's biggest event of the year. It is a three day, six man, tag team tournament, with a interactive fan event on Saturday that they call the Fan Conclave. I have wanted to attend King of Trio since learning about CHIKARA and seeing them live in 2011. I was hopeful I would be able to make it this year, and thanks to several people, I was able to make it happen. I expected to have a good time, but I was not prepared for exactly how much fun I would have.
First though, I have a quick comment for those who might be reading this and have not seen CHIKARA and may look them up. CHIKARA is a very different promotion. If you take a random wrestling fan and drop them into a random indy promotion, they will probably enjoy the show as long as the wrestling is good. I'm not so sure that sentence is true for CHIKARA, but I also do not think that is a bad thing.
CHIKARA has great wrestling, no question. They bring in great US indy wrestlers, like Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano, and The Young Bucks, plus they have homegrown several talents that are starting to be recognized by bigger companies, like CHIKARA original Jigsaw, who recently just wrestled a match from TNA. In addition, CHIKARA brings in many Japanese wrestlers and groups during special events, like this weekend when wrestlers from SENDAI Girls' Pro Wrestling, JWP, and Osaka Pro participated. The wrestling this weekend was beyond compare in the United States for match after match.
The thing is, CHIKARA has taken the "the story is everything" creed to its extreme conclusion with how matches are setup. Logic is often thrown out the window in the ring. The results, while wildly entertaining--such as when a Duck Duck Goose game broke out in one match on Sunday--can leave those who desire pure* wrestling upset at the comedy and flippant feel of matches. (*Note: We could argue all day about what "pure" wrestling is, or if it even exists. I needed a word and I think most of you get my point).
But, as the Young Bucks said in my Dot Net Member's exclusive interview (which will be posted tomorrow), those who would be upset by the CHIKARA style need to, "lighten up." I saw Tommy Dreamer, a guy who has probably taken pro wrestling way too seriously at points in his life, use a remote control to, not once but twice, stop time in the middle of a match. I saw Mike Bennett, Maria, and the Young Bucks, all of them TV stars, do a Rock Band spoof while holding two Japanese women in leg locks. And for those who would say, "Yeah, but that won't draw money," let me share this truth with you: I would pay to see it again.
That is not to say the style is not without its problems. Sometimes, the spots in a match are so elaborate that it shocks you out of the suspension of disbelief. It's akin to watching a TV show and seeing an actor ask for his line under his breath, and then deliver it in a perfect performance. The shock of being reminded that what you are watching was put together and isn't happening organically not only takes the shine off, but it can sometimes be hard to get sucked back in again.
The problem also occurs when a match sets the bar too high for the next match, or the different match doesn't "fit" into the theme of the show. On night two, Eddie Kingston defended the CHIKARA Grand Championship in a war of a match that seemed far too serious for the feel of the rest of the night. And while the match wasn't anything special, that difference in style made it the only match on any night that saw a very lively crowd sit on its hands for a large part of it. On night three, Jigsaw and Tadasuke put on a great match that suffered to find traction with the crowd after the eight man tag match before it.
My point is this: if you even think you might like what you read here, then check CHIKARA out, They are a good promotion that deserves to be rewarded for their hard work. You probably will not like every single thing they do, but that sentence is true of every company out there. Yes they are weird, but weird is not only OK sometimes, but a lot of times, it is loads of fun.
For the show itself, let me first say that booking the three Japanese teams may have been the smartest thing CHIKARA did. By the end of the third night, the six women and five men--not to mention the Japanese legend Minami Toyota--had worked their way into the fans' hearts. The team from JWP had a woman in a mask with a clown nose, and another woman who put Matt Classic (a/k/a Colt Cabana) in the torture rack. The men from Osaka Pro put on the finest comedy matches I have ever seen. And I'm not sure I can find the right words to describe the Sendai Girls athleticism and skill. Their match with Bennett and the Bucks was the match of the weekend.
We all have our favorite wrestlers from "back in the day," and CHIKARA found a fun and entertaining way to bring back those stars for one-offs. The Powers of Pain, Meng, Tommy Dreamer, Jerry Lynn, 2 Cold Scorpio, Marty Jannetty, Demolition, 123 Kid, and Tatanka all appeared, and the list goes on and on. And because of CHIKARA's style, it didn't seem out of place for these guys to act silly and just be entertaining without having to put their bodies under undue stress.
The Fan Conclave, which has a full report of its own was just one of the ways CHIKARA showed love for the fans. Every night had some of their crew coming out and asking trivia questions that moved people to the front of the line. The CHIKARA fan club, known as the CHIKARMY, was also allowed to enter first, a nice perk considering the line snaked around the building. But more than any of that, it was the approachability of so many of the wrestlers there. You believed the wrestlers were having the same amount of fun as you.
There were several surprises from a talent standpoint. Mike Bennett, a guy who is constantly hounded by fans for being a poor wrestler, killed all of those arguments by going out and showing an incredibly wide range by competing in four different styles of matches. "Mr. Touchdown" Mark Angeloetti is a break out star waiting to happen. The kid has a great look, is very athletic, and oozes charisma. The Batiri have also improved significantly since the last time I saw them live last year.
In short, I highly recommend this DVD when it comes out. I do not know if the show will translate as well on screen as it did live, but if it's half as good you will not be sorry. CHIKARA is doing a wider swing in their travels now, leaving the Northeast at least once a year, so look for them in your area and give them a look. I had very high expectations for King of Trios, and they did not fail to meet them.
Perhaps the best moment was the last. It was apparent from early in the weekend that the Spectral Envoy was going to win the tournament. It was even more obvious that the crowd was going to go nuts when it happened. And yet, even with it being so obvious, the moment itself was incredible. Fans were literally hugging each other like their team had just won the Super Bowl. That's great storytelling. And that's great wrestling.
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