Monday, April 30, 2012

My First Chikara Experience

First in line!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For years, I've listened to Chad hype the independent wrestling company Chikara.  Years I tell you.  He even drove 15 hours once to watch a series of shows in Pennsylvania.  I'll be honest, having watched just a bit of it on DVD, I didn't understand the appeal of driving all that way.  The shows were a bit campy in my estimation and while entertaining, lacked a wrestling company feel that I had been accustomed to.

But fast forward 6 years and my exposure to indy wrestling has exploded.  Besides working with All American Pro Wrestling for the last year, I've also been to several other shows, including ROH and Dragon Gate.  Then on Saturday, April 28 I attended my first Chikara show.  A day later, I was at my second show.  And what an experience.

My fellow AAPW comrades Adam Testa and Drew Robbins loaded up in my Prius (hopefully Daniel Bryan reads this) and headed to Chicago Ridge.  It was an estimated 5 and half to six hour drive, but we made it in about 4 and half.  We met AAPW Executive Producer Chris Hagstrom and Chad outside the building, ready to embark on two days of wrestling bliss.  Three shows, two towns, many countless memories.

Mr. Touchdown and me
Chikara opened the weekend up with "Hot Off the Griddle."  I must tell you I was really impressed not just with the talent in the ring, but the way they all interacted with the fans outside the ring.  I posed for pictures with the Colony (a group of wrestling ants), Mr. Touchdown (a wrestling football player), and Chuck Taylor (one half of the new campeones de parejas).  Not one of them asked for any money or for fans to buy their merchandise.  They were there and took the time to thank the fans for being a part of the show.

Without bashing ROH too much, I can't say the same about them.  Photos with their stars were $10 each. After the price of admission for three shows, travel, hotel, food, and other merchandise; I decided that was not a good deal.

The wrestling from both companies was solid.  This was booked as a Synergy event, and talent from both companies appeared on each other's cards.  El Generico for example wrestled on both shows, in the main event of Hot Off the Griddle he was pinned by the Queen of Wrestling, Sara Del Rey.  What an amazing contest that ended up being.  I will write and vlog more in the near future about that match and the topic of men vs. women in the ring.  Kevin Steen took Chikara Grand Champion Eddie Kingston to the limit in a match that the champ won by disqualification.  Steen definitely knows who to work the crowd, as many of the Rudos (heels) do.  Chuck Taylor for instance hurled Chad's cousin's bottle of Gatorade across the arena.  The kid was devastated.   A couple of other highlights from first day: Mixed Marital Archie, the Throwbacks, and the Colony.  All very entertaining and not too campy or over the top like I thought Chikara might be.

After the double shot Saturday afternoon and evening we headed about 40 minutes away to Indiana where we booked a hotel.  After a few hours sleep we headed south to Lafayette for day two of Chikara and the Contaminated Cowl event.  Because Lafayette is a much smaller town than Chicago Ridge, this show was in an old movie theater.  It was quite an intimate feel to it as well as we were so close to the ring that when guys were on the floor brawling we could reach out and touch them.

Chuck Taylor & me
It was another solid day of wrestling action, this time just by the men and women of Chikara though.  I got to get a pic with Mixed Martial Archie and watch FIST members (Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano) become two time campeones de parejas (a first for Chikara).  Chris got his hat tossed into the crowd, Chad's show was stolen and elbow dropped in the main event, and Adam had his shoe thrown across the room too.  Adam also tried to show respect to his team, 3.0 and offer up some Red Bull and Slim Jims, only to see the beverage dumped in the ring.  We interacted after the show again with the likes of Dasher Hatfield, who did 10 Questions with us a while back, Arik Cannon, and Chuck Taylor.

I'm so very glad I made this trip.  Not only did I get to witness Chikara live and in person for the first time ever, I had a great time with my friends. The saying getting there is half the fun is an understatement.  This is only the tip of the iceberg, there were so many memorable moments.  My hope now is that Chikara will head a bit further south in the future, maybe St. Louis or even southern Illinois.  How about it Quack?  Also, I hope that Darkness Crabtree and Dragon Dragon make a comeback too.

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  1. I think you'll find that all of the things you said are consistently true with the product. It's one thing to watch all the shows on DVD, but it's a whole other experience live. You really fall in love with it after your first show. I've been going since 2009. When King of Trios is announced, make sure you get there by hook or by crook. It's the most amazing thing to see live in all of Indy wrestling. Even just checking the site when they start announcing the teams is something. When they announced Sean Waltman returning as the 1-2-3 Kid I lost my shit. Then when I saw him put on that amazing match with El Generico on night 3 you better believe it was one of the most memorable things I've ever seen as Wrestling fan. Anyway...I've rambled long enough! I'm glad you finally decided to give CHIKARA a go!

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