DDS ace photographer Gregory Davis was on hand for this year’s edition of CHIKARA‘s annual, massive, King of Trios weekend. 2012′s KOT was all about the Queens though, as seven Joshi came to CHIKARA and demolished preconceptions, gender barriers and, most enjoyably, Matt Classic. Tsubasa Kuragaki told me she’s looking forward to returning to America again soon. Until then you can enjoy Greg’s shots of three days of wrestling excellence. You can also order the shows via SmartMarkVideo.com.
Absolute Intense Wrestling’s fifth annual Nightmare Before X-Mas show, while not implicitly Christmas-themed, did have its fair share of presents, surprises and joy. Most notably in the form of surprise visits from Jason Gory and Matt Cross, not one but TWO Colt Cabana matches, ACH’s first (and please, not last!) AIW appearance, showings from both Beyond Wrestling and St. Louis Anarchy, and Dave “Potato Dawson” getting the ever-loving crap beat out of him by Johnny Gargano. And that is only the tip of the pro-wrestling iceberg.
There were two pre-show matches, both of which I arrived in plenty of time to see and document properly this time.
A. Luis Diamante defeated Jason Gory – The first pre-show match saw Luis Diamante, representing Da Latin Crime Syndicate against surprise visitor Jason Gory, representing the Dead Wrestler Society from PWO. Gory got a pretty solid reaction on his way out to the ring, as I think we were all pretty surprised to see him there. The match itself wasn’t terribly long but had a lot of solid action, including some big top-rope moves from Gory. Unfortunately, one of those top-rope moves cost Gory the win when Diamante moved out of Gory’s landing zone.
B. Jarek 1:20 defeated Mazerati Rick – It was recently announced that AIW and Beyond have entered into a partnership; talent from Beyond will be at all future AIW shows. I for one am very excited about this. This particular show saw obvious crowd favorite Jarek 1:20 take on Mazerati Rick. Jarek spent most of the match having the heck beat out of him by Rick. Jarek only gained the upper hand after yelling “TIME FREEZE” while Rick was on crouched on the top turnbuckle. This froze everyone in the ring minus Jarek himself. He hauled himself to his feet, caught his breath, and turned time on again. Instead of laying helplessly on the mat, he dropkicked Rick in midair and pinned him for three. I cannot get over my love for Jarek’s magician persona and the way he plays it.
1. The Duke defeated Jock Sampson via countout – The show proper opened with Jock Sampson’s in-ring debut against The Duke. He stepped into the ring with a rope, cowbells and a chorus of boos. He took the mic for a moment just to threaten to kill everyone’s family if anyone started a “Galifianakis” chant. Naturally, a “Galifianakis” chant started almost immediately. The Duke came out shortly thereafter. It didn’t take much action for Galifian—I mean Sampson to exit the ring and attempt to run away like a bitch. Duke wouldn’t let him things continued at ringside, though it lead to Duke getting thrown into the barricade. Sampson hopped into the ring and onto the turnbuckle to announce that “I am the best of all time!” to which the crowd responded by starting an even more insulting look-a-like chant. Sampson tried to keep his momentum going with a big leap off the top rope, but Duke was able to move out of the way. Duke came back with a spinebuster and then sent Sampson over the rope with a lariat. Jock Sampson pouted at ringside and got counted out. He then grabbed his rope and cowbells and took after Duke with them. After beating him up for a few moments, Husk—I mean Sampson went on the mic to complain that he actually won the match, because throwing him over the top rope was a disqualification. He called us a bunch of virgins as a final salvo and stomped backstage.
2. ACH, Mat Fitchett, and Davey Vega defeated The Submission Squad (Evan Gelistico, Gary Jay, and Pierre Abernathy) - St. Louis Anarchy Offer Match – This was one of the matches I was most looking forward to. It took exactly one match to turn me into an ACH fan, which was him versus AR Fox at Beyond. If you haven’t seen that match yet, what are you doing here, go watch it. I’ll wait.
Just based on that one match alone I knew we were going to be in for a treat. Putting him with Fitchett and Vega, however, was perfection. ACH was a boss with the hugest leap I’ve ever seen in my life. And I don’t mean distance, although he did make it most of the way to the other side of the ring, but I mean height. I mean really high. I mean ten feet into the air and if that’s an exaggeration, it’s not by much.
Fitchett was also pretty boss, though he spent a great deal of time getting kicked around by various members of the Submission Squad and being victimized by “Stiff Ginger” Gary Jay’s particularly sharp chops. He had a gorgeous Fosbury Flop onto everybody at ringside and a beautiful Shooting Star Press towards the end of the match. That, in conjunction with ACH’s gigantic Frog Splash, lead the good guys to victory .
I’ve only recently become aware of the St. Louis Anarchy company, and I have to tell you, I’ve never been more sad that I don’t live in Missouri.
CHIKARA’s three-day dream slam of Japanese Women’s Wrestling, JoshiMania, had its first show last Friday at the historic ECW Arena. The event delivered an authentic Joshi Puroresu experience to American fans, with the added bonus of bringing stars from several different Joshi promotions. CHIKARA advertised this event as being a “Once in a Lifetime” opportunity for fans to see this sort of action without having to fly to Japan first. CHIKARA didn’t lie. Here’s how the weekend started:
JoshiMania Night One
December 2nd, 2011 ECW Arena – Philadelphia, PA
Kaori Yoneyama,Hanako Nakamori, and Tsubasa Kuragaki defeated Archibald Peck and Los Ice Creams via submission as Kuragaki putting both Peck and El Hijo del Ice Cream in a Torture
GAMI defeated Sawako Shimono with Top Rope Elbow
Tim Donst defeated Green Ant with From Dusk ’til Donst
Ayako Hamada and Cherry defeated Mayumi Ozaki and Mio Shirai via AP Cross from Hamada on Mio
Manami Toyota defeated Toshie Uematsu via Japanese Cyclone Suplex
Campeonatos de Parejas Title Match: FIST (Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor) (c) defeated The Colony (Fire Ant and Soldier Ant) 2 falls to 1
Sara Del Rey defeated Aja Kong
The first thing, and perhaps only thing, you need to know about JoshiMania Night One is this: Tsubasa Kuragaki put Archibald Peck and one of the Ice Creams in a torture rack at the same time. The same time. Having the laws of physics challenged by one of the lesser known Joshi stars in the opening match set the bar fairly high for the rest of the evening. Japanese female wrestlers are known for their pride and competitive nature. The JWP women made it known from the outset they hoped to dominate this weekend (too bad the brilliant team of Peck and the Ice Creams were in the middle of that).
Of course, as everyone who has read our articles on her over at Diva Dirt knows 1, Manami Toyota is not satisfied unless she has put on the very best match on the show. That probably went double this Friday as Toyota was presented with the Diva Dirt Legacy award before her match with Toshie Uematsu. Toyota showed not only that she deserved the award for her past achievements, but also for her continuing performance and growth as a wrestler. Toyota has said that she felt invigorated by her trips to CHIKARA over the past year, and the new maneuvers she flaunted during JoshiMania were an example. Toshie, on her final tour of the US before her retirement early next year, was amazing as well. She showed once again that her larger than life character never overshadows her pure wrestling ability. It was an excellent match, perhaps the best either had had in the US.
Hoping not to be outdone by their guests, CHIKARA’s FIST and The Colony put on an exciting title bout. The ants showed off some JB Angels-esque fire while FIST resorted to L.C.O.-esque dickery. Dick won out, FIST retained, and Stargano remains a top champion in two of the United States’ finest wrestling promotions.
And then there was the much anticipated battle between Aja Kong and Sara Del Rey. As the most terrifying forces on their respective continents, the two death queens had been on a collision course for years. Somehow, Philadelphia managed to survive the inevitable crash.
Kong showed a lack of respect for Sara early on, refusing to shake hands. Sara returned the favor by barreling head first at her idol when the bell rang. The match was dark and unyielding. Sara kicked Kong as hard as she’s kicked anyone. Kong delighted in leaving handprints on the Death Rey’s chest, her thudding chops shaking the Queen to the core. After several minutes, but before either pulled out their MDK-level moves, Sara was able to dodge a Uraken and score a surprise pin on Kong to take the huge victory. A hard-fought battle for both, but each faced even tougher ones as JoshiMania went on.
It was the tag team contest between the team of Ayako Hamada and Cherry against the team of Mio Shirai and Mayumi Ozaki that proved to be the best of the night. While all women were familiar with one another,they don’t share any extensive history2. Still The beautiful and devious team of Mio and Ozaki worked very, very well together. The veteran Ozaki brought out her top shelf stuff this weekend, not that Ayako Hamada gave her a choice in the matter. Ayako was excited, and a bit nervous, about her CHIKARA debut. Of course, she performed to her usual standard of excellence.
The match also contained a revelation: Mio Shirai is a fucking star. Her mix of personality, style, humor, and sadistic violence won over the crowd. She helped make this semi-random tag flow gracefully. Mio showed she could keep up with two all-time greats in Oz and Hamada, and here’s hoping her success in the US pays dividends for her when she returns to Japan.
And that was Night One. A fantastic night of wrestling, no doubt, but JoshiMania was just getting started. You can already purchase the DVDs for all three nights at Smart Mark Video. While you wait on those to ship, enjoy the rest of the photos below the cut.
But just one more thing! Dig, if you will, this picture of The Beautiful One, Veronica, as she lays into a fan that she felt was a bit too bold. Maybe she’s just too demanding? She’s never satisfied with those in attendance. I took the photo as I wondered, “Why do they scream at each other?”
This past weekend CHIKARA put on its “Summer Blockbuster” double-header with two big shows filled with international talent and pivotal matches. Last year’s Chikarasaurus Rex was our first live CHIKARA event. It was highlighted by two Dragon Gate vs CHIKARA six man tags and the appearance of Tommy Dreamer, Amazing Kong, and Cheerleader Melissa. This year’s expanded production featured the 12 Large Summit, along with an Ice Ribbon, CMLL and British invasion. A lot has changed in the year for CHIKARA, as the company continues to expand and improve. Here’s how the bigger, badder, better sequel went down:
Night One: Reading, PA
1. 12 Large Summit – Fire Ant defeated Jigsaw by arm lock submission – Much is at stake in every match of the 12 Large Summit, a point-driven round robin tournament to crown CHIKARA’s first singles champion. If that wasn’t apparent during the highly technical opening moments of this bout, it certainly became clear when Fire Ant made his second suicide dive onto Jigsaw, propelling both into the last row of seats.
The match was filled with greatness from the two tournament dark horses. The performance from Jigsaw was particular gutsy as he was just making his return to the ring after a bicep injury. Clearly not 100%, Jigsaw had to wrestle the latter half of the match with virtually one arm. A sick penalty kick and brainbuster combo almost gave him precious victory, but a few arm locks later and Jigsaw had no choice but to submit. Fantastic opener.
After making a name for himself in Canada and climbing atop several major promotions in the US, Kenny Omega’s one man quest to change the world of professional wrestling only seems to just be getting started. While he’s racked up accolades on both sides of the Pacific, lately he has set his sights on reaching the top of the puroresu mountain, and is now easily one of Japan’s most beloved foreign wrestlers. Whether he’s in the hard hitting wrestling rings of Ring of Honor and New Japan, or the more light-hearted DDT and PWG, Omega has the athleticism, charisma, talent, and looks to be the top wrestler in any company he sets foot in. We caught up with Kenny just after a valiant, but unsuccessful, bid in the Best of the Super Junior’s tournament (which his partner, Kota Ibushi won). Please, enjoy this interview with a true international star, Kenny Omega.
First things first: We’ve heard your hair is the source of your power. Any truth to this?
My hair and I as a unit are very comparable to the mythical Samson. It generates power, boosts my confidence, and radiates testosterone more than any illegal steroid. It’s so brimming with raw energy that it even produces white flakes as a by-product of its nuclear nature. Not to fear though, these flakes are 100% safe and even substitute as a healthy salt alternative.
Speaking of fantastic hair, in PWG you formed the aptly named team of “Men of Low Moral Fiber” with Chuck Taylor. What was that like, and are you hurt that he has moved on and formed “The Fightin’ Taylor Boys?” Are you willing to become “Omega-Taylor?”
The fans demanded change, so we unleashed a neo “Greaser” style to the forefront with a ton of character depth. I think over time fans grew to like, (even love) our discriminatory nature. Even those discriminated against couldn’t help but appreciate our antics! As for any new faction he may be in…it sounds too family friendly for my tastes. I’ll pass.
You were Heavyweight Champion in PWG as well as JAPW Heavyweight champion for nearly a year. What did those two title reigns mean to you.
Those title reigns were at one point my ‘final goal’ in wrestling. My thought process was kind of like – If I could ever become champion for those promotions, then I could retire happily. Of course, one thing leads to another, East Coast wasn’t enough so I had to test the West Coast. That wasn’t enough so I travelled overseas and so forth… Deadly snow ball effect if I do say so myself.
You recently won the JAPW Jr. Heavyweight title from wrestling legend Jyushin “Thunder” Lyger on the New Japan invasion tour. Tell us about that match and how you felt about the big tour overall.
I’ve always been proud to have be accepted by fans as a NJPW athlete. To be a title contender, however, was something that I never predicted for myself. Defeating Lyger capped off a momentous experience that may only happen once in a lifetime. It was a great tour and I really do hope we may revisit the US sometime soon!
In recent years you’ve focused more of your wrestling in Japan. What makes the country special to you?
I feel like the talent pool is at its deepest there and that I’m tested on an athletic level the most. Also, the support from my fans is astounding which motivates me to always push my own boundaries and bring Mr. 400% every time.
In DDT you’re currently part of the “Golden Lovers” with Kota Ibushi. How alike are you and Ibushi? What keeps the “love” in that partnership going?
Ibushi and I aren’t very alike at all. It’s more accurate to use the old expression, “opposites attract”. He’s the more cool and calm type, where I’m fiery and high tension. He’s the Tony Jaa and I’m Jackie Chan. Athletically, we have the same credentials, but our attitudes are much more varied. I think the “love” we have in each other is based on trust and a common goal. That would be marriage. Second to that would be to become the best. We know what we want to do and that to sync with each other in perfection is the best way to do it.
October 10, 2010, you and Ibushi defeated Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. As an outside team, from DDT, please tell us how it felt representing DDT on such a big stage and in holding such prestigious titles.
It was a huge deal at the time for such a thing to happen. For us, it felt like we’d now be taken seriously as the “World’s Finest”. Yes, that was a Batman/ Superman reference. (I’d like to think I’m the Batman in this scenario.)
That match was also voted Tokyo Sports Match of the Year for 2010, which marked the first time any foreign wrestler had won MOTY since June 5, 1992 Stan Hansen vs Toshiaki Kawada for All Japan. How did you find out that your match had won, and what was your reaction?
To be honest, the knowledge you’d dropped on me was the first I’d ever heard of it! At the time though, an official from Tokyo Sports did tell me that it was the first time Junior Heavyweights had ever won the award. All around, it’s definitely an incredible honor, one that will stand forever as a life highlight of mine.
What were thoughts on Ibushi finally winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title? Are you hoping to win it someday?
I’m one half proud, one half jealous. Though we’re friends, and though we’re lovers, a part of me still recognizes him as a “rival”. I don’t want to be Ibushi’s second best or to even accomplish what he did after the fact. I want to create my own legacy and show everyone that I’m the real leader of the team
Please, tell us about the phenomenal wrestler known as YOSHIHIKO1.What has he brought to DDT that former inanimate wrestlers, like ladder and Kitty-chan, have not?
He has the innate ability to accurately mimic the most legendary wrestlers of all time. In some cases, he has the ability to enhance previous maneuvers to make them even more devastating than ever before (e.g. The Infinite Destroyer). Clearly a being of higher cerebral capacity, when wrestling against YOSHIHIKO, it almost feels like you’re the puppet, and he’s the puppet master.
What sort of multi-discipline crosstraining do you perform in order to maintain your title of “King of the Anywhere Match2?”
Picture Stallone’s training in Rocky IV and then picture that in almost every feasable Anywhere Match location. I still get the stink eye from parents when I hog the ball pit at my local McDonald’s.
In Japan you have also worked for a number women’s promotions like Ice Ribbon and NEO. What is it about Kenny Omega that screams, “He’d make a good Joshi?” Any favorite female opponents?
I think what makes Joshi appealing in general is its raw emotion that can be seen within the matches. In a lot of ways, I wrestle more like a joshi than a male I think. It’s really a natural, but un-natural fit! As for favorite opponents, I have endless respect for Natsuki *Taiyo and am hoping to one day work with the Shirai Sisters again3!
Your epic Street Fighter IV entrance video mentally defeats most of your opponents before the match even starts. Should we expect you as a DLC character for Super Street Fighter IV X-Treme Turbo Edition?
Maybe the Super Duper Street Fighter IV Hyper Fighting Turbo Extreme Tournament Arcade We-want-another-fifteen-dollars Edition.
On a scale of Dan to Ryu, where does your Hadouken rate?
I’ve been known to throw it at an upward angle as an anti-air at times so maybe…. Sakura?!
With 10 years in wrestling you have made a name for yourself in various companies in Canada, the US and Japan, what future goals have you set for yourself? Is there anywhere you haven’t wrestled that you’d like to?
I’d love to make one more big accomplishment as a Junior and eventually challenge the Heavyweight division! Also, a side-project of mine (or hope, or goal) is to wrestle in places that don’t have a whole lot of wrestling. I want to spark an interest and help build pro-wrestling from the ground up. Off the top of my head, Korea, China, Thailand all strike me as interesting, yet challenging areas to pursue pro-wrestling.
Name one wrestler, one fictional character, and one object you haven’t faced that you’d like to in the future?
Fictional Character: My Girlfriend
Object: Whatever it is that prevents Shigesato Itoi from making another Mother/Earthbound game!
You’ve said it the past that you wanted to “revolutionize wrestling.” How do you feel you’ve done that so far?
I feel like I’ve shown glimmers of a much larger-scaled idea. I’m hoping that in the future, with more support from promoters, I can really show what’s been going on in my Dr. Frankenstein brain.
Whom do the ladies prefer, yourself or Ibushi? Whom does Danshoku Dino prefer?
Ibushi and I have a fairly healthy split, though Dino certainly loves him some bootay, so I’m in a little bit of trouble… (Though he has said that Ibushi is a better unwilling kisser than me.) :-(
Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
Thanks for bearing with the interview – I hope it was as much fun to read as it was to write! Until next time!
To find out more about Kenny Omega check him out on Facebook. Also, see Kenny and Ibushi take on Devitt and Taguchi in this epic confrontation:
This is massive. Chris, Greg, and Ayzali took an incredible amount of pictures of CHIKARA this weekend. Nearly 360, covering every angle of CHIKARA’s return to Chicago as well as their appearance the next night near Detroit. Chris also provided a write-up of the Chi-Town show. Enjoy these shots and share with your fellow CHIKArmy members!
CHIKARA: The Case of the Bullet-Proof Waldo – 6/24/2011 Chicago, IL.
1. The Batiri: Obaryion, Kodama, and Kobold def. The Throwbacks: Sugar Dunkerton, Dasher Hatfield, and Matt Classic with a Blockbuster – A back and forth match until a miscommunication between Classic and Dasher led to Kodama pinning Classic.
2. Ophidian def. Isaiahs Velasquez with the Cobra Clutch - A fine match which saw Ophidian gain the win by blocking a superkick with astonishing skill and locking on a bridging Cobra Clutch for the submission win.
3. FIST: Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano def. The Colony: Solider Ant and Green Ant with the Hertz Donut – An excellent match that capped off with some hard-hitting double team action by FIST and Gargano’s Hertz Donut for the pin on Solider Ant.
4. Young Lions Cup holder Frightmare def. Hieracon with a rollup in a Non-Title Match - Hieracon came close, but Frightmare survived a crossface and Lightning Spiral and secured the pin.
For a man who gets “Worst in the World” chanted at him on a regular basis, CHIKARA’s Icarus doesn’t seem to be lacking in self-confidence, or success. While fans may think he’s only the 4th most valuable member of the F.I.S.T. trio, in reality he’s the one who has survived the endless battle of CHIKARA the longest. Names bigger and more loved have come and gone, yet Icarus remains. Having won both King of Trios and Campeonatos de Parejas, and now in the tournament to crown the first ever CHIKARA singles champion, Icarus is on his way to going down as one of the companies’ all time greats. We caught up with him as he prepares to start his campaign int he 12 Large Summit with a match against the formidable Sara Del Rey.
For anyone that doesn’t know, please tell us who trained you.
I was trained by Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, and David Xanatos.
You’ve been in CHIKARA for 9 years now and the fans still hate your guts. How do you put up with it?
I have big ears and often times funny hair. I’ve also managed to stay better looking then 98% of the general population my whole life. I am used to people hating me. It never bothers me in the least. Some people spend wasted lives looking for approval. I’ve accepted hate and therefore accepted myself. The ones who hate are insecure thumbsuckers whose Daddies didn’t hug them enough.
The Warm-up jacket. Fans don’t want you to take it off, yet you always do. Is it to show off your impressive physique, or is to just shove it in their faces?
Neither. I take it off cause it gets rather hot. Also, the zipper can be dangerous to my very chiseled, yet baby smooth, chest.
F.I.S.T. are former King of Trios champions, and you were the runners-up this year. Before losing to The Colony in the finals, you had very impressive wins over Team Osaka Pro and Team Michinoku Pro. Please tell us your thoughts on those victories.
The Osaka gents took us to limits the modern day man will never know. Kotega, Harada, and Spider are some very impressive chaps. Men who fight with valor and integrity could never beat them. Men who blur the rules line go on to the semi finals. If you don’t own King of Trios Night 2 pick that up. That match alone is worth the money.
The Michinoku guys are legends for a reason. They showed us the meaning of the words “heart” and “dedication.” F.I.S.T. Showed them the meaning of “Win at All Costs”
You have another big match this weekend with the BDK’s Sara Del Rey. However, you’ve been very dismissive of her, in spite of the fact that she’s killed men, and women, bigger and tougher than you. Do you want to retract your statement about how you were going to spend an easy weekend “beating up a chick?”
My therapist says I’m “massaginistic.” Sara Del Rey is strong, tough, and relentless. However Icarus is sly, cunning, and has a strong hatred towards women. I retract no statement.
Night two of CHIKARA King of Trios managed to top Night One in pretty much every way, which is saying a lot (you can read full results here). The night started with a fantastic match between Mr. Archibald Peck and Colt Cabana. Peck, who may or not be making waves in ROH as Barrister R.D. Evans and known as the King of ACW as Robert Evans, is the complete star pro wrestling star. Much like Cabana, he holds any audience in the palm of his hand, and the over-the-top band major gimmick only enhances it.
Match of the night probably belongs to Team FIST vs Osaka Pro. It was an incredible 20 minutes that managed to bring the entire crowd to their feet, and it was just the second match! Great work from all involved. FIST showed they could hang with some of the most innovative and athletic in Japan, while at the same time completely pissing the crowd off with their antics. It’s a fine line to walk, but few do it better.
The two four ways for the high-flyer mini-tournament were both great. Zack Sabre Jr. was very British, Pinkie Sanchez was very jerkish, and the 1-2-3 Kid was very 1990s-ish, in the good way.