CHIKARA Primer: A Beginner’s Guide to Wrestling’s Funnest Promotion

May 23rd, 2012 Posted by Gavok

With all the wrestling I watch, my favorite company by far is CHIKARA. I’ve talked about it for years and have done posts about their DVD covers and my own experiences at their shows. Every now and then, I get people asking me about where to start or what to expect. With the company celebrating its 10 year anniversary, I thought it would be good to do a write-up of what the world of CHIKARA is all about for beginners.

CHIKARA is a Philadelphia-based independent wrestling company that’s both a promotion and a school known as the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory. The students learn a mix of different wrestling styles from around the world, with a strong emphasis on the Mexican luchador aspects. The shows are locked into a “family friendly” label, meaning no cursing or general lewdness to the point that when something seriously impressive happens, the fans are wont to chant, “HOLY POOP!” The in-ring antics tend to have a real comic book edge to it all, with colorful, masked competitors with over-the-top gimmicks and a share of fourth-wall-breaking comedy. It’s the kind of show where this would happen on a semi-regular basis.

Despite reveling in fun and goofiness, the shows tend to tell strong, long-running stories that any new fan could pick up on. CHIKARA treats every year’s worth of shows as a season, usually giving closure to major arcs by the time they reach the finale. Seeds for future storylines come in various subtle and unique forms, existing sometimes years before they’re brought into action.

While students and graduates are the core of the roster, they also include people from other ends of the indies and tend to include lots of foreign talent for flavor. Everyone tends to be labeled “tecnico” (good guy) or “rudo” (bad guy), with the insinuation that those two groups train exclusively together. They tend to do just over two dozen shows a year, usually with multiple shows over the course of a weekend, and always release them soon after (24 hours to two weeks, depending), available from Smart Mark Video in the form of DVD, online stream or MP4 download. Recently, they’ve started doing internet pay-per-views and have one coming up on Saturday, June 2nd.

They also sponsor YouTube sensation and internet wrestling fan staple Botchamania.

How it Started

In 2002, indy wrestlers “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush and “Reckless Youth” Tom Carter decided to start their own wrestling school, partially based on their distaste for there being no school that catered to anything international. Hence, they started up the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory in Philly. Their first class was made up of five students: Hallowicked, Ichabod Slayne (later Icarus), UltraMantis (later UltraMantis Black), Mr. ZERO and Dragonfly. The question came up of where these guys were supposed to compete. On May 25, 2002, they held their first show for the sake of showcasing the new guys, while including other indy names like CM Punk, Chris Hero and Colt Cabana.

Since then, the school’s been churning out groups of graduates every year or so. Early on, Tom Carter left the fold and Hero took his spot as instructor. The Wrestle Factory occasionally factors into the story, usually in terms of how the wrestler’s mask is something that they had to have earned through paying their dues and completing their training. To remove one’s mask or perform in one without earning the right is considered a prime insult.

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The CHIKARA Video Game! …oh, and King of Trios 2010

April 26th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Last night I got back from yet another three days of awesome CHIKARA King of Trios action. For those out of the loop, CHIKARA is an amazing and super-fun indy wrestling federation that I follow the way hippies follow Phish. Every year, they do a tournament of sixteen teams of three, stretched over three shows in a weekend. Like every year, I had a complete blast.

I got to see a 6’8″ masked viking crush a midget dragon. I got to see the legendary Curry Man team up with CHIKARA team Los Ice Creams. I went to the fan conclave, where I got to defeat a guy dressed as a Ninja Turtle in Connect Four, sing “New York, New York” on karaoke with a turn-of-the-century baseball player (worth noting: Soldier Ant covering his ears in agony), and have a prom photo taken with wrestlers Jimmy “Equinox” Olsen and Jigsaw as I’m instructed to cradle a half-finished jug of orange juice in my arms like a baby and look at it “like a proud father”. On the last night of the show, Tommy Dreamer made a surprise appearance to put over the company and challenge Eddie Kingston to a match for next month.

But one of the biggest thrills I got came from the end of intermission. You see, these days, CHIKARA is being dominated by a stable of wrestlers called Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (“Brotherhood of the Cross”, BDK for short), made up of those who are angry at the company for one reason or another… as well as a giant viking guy. They’re such a force to be reckoned with that it seems like the tecnicos (good guys) and rudos (bad guys) will have to eventually join forces. Yet before intermission could end, the lights went out and this appeared on the big screens.

If you’re wondering, the wrestlers in the foreground are Worker Ant, Private Eye, Sumie Sakai, USApe, Mr. Zero, Blind Rage, Lance Steel, and Jervis Cottonbelly. I’m so down for this.

Nothing much is up so far on the CHIKARA: Rudo Resurrection website, but hopefully not for too long.

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The CHIKARA Comic-to-DVD Cover Gallery

May 31st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

For the past couple years, I’d take a second every once and a while to talk about CHIKARA, an indy wrestling organization based out of Philadelphia. Founded by wrestler and head trainer Mike Quackenbush, it’s a school that turned into its own federation. With seven years under its belt, it’s grown to have its own cult following and for good reason.

I regularly bring guests to their shows, tending to take those along who know little or nothing to do with wrestling. They always have a blast. Where else can you see a mute sea monster in a muscle suit team up with a amateur wrestling Rocky Balboa against two clown-like figures dressed up like ice cream people? And not only that, but the wrestling is actually GOOD! It’s routinely funny and the storytelling is top notch.

Back when I first got into it, I did a post about how a bunch of the DVD covers are homages to notable comic book covers. As time went on, the article became a bit popular, but I lost track after a while and kept putting off an update. Now, I think it’s time not to pick up from after I left off, but to redo it from beginning to end. Here we go!

Kids Eat Free On Tuesday & Pick Up Or Delivery
Based on: Flash #123
Features: Mike Quackenbush… and Mike Quackenbush

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Tim Donst. For Reals This Time!

July 24th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

This has been a rather bad week for me, especially on the writing front. I haven’t been able to post much due to a variety of things, but one of them is that I’m writing like 50 projects at once. A new Deadshot’s Tophat installment, a thing on Booster Gold, a thing on Two-Face, a new Ruin the Moment compilation, another compilation of CHIKARA covers based on comics, something on Dark Knight and a bunch of other things I won’t mention in fear of being incriminated when I don’t get around to finishing them.

When my indecision was driving me absolutely cross-eyed, CHIKARA’s own Tim Donst showed up to slap some sense into me. He was interested in an interview. God bless him.

Now, you may be saying, “Say, didn’t you interview Tim Donst already?” Well, yes and no. Months back, I tried, but young Timothy was in a rather unique situation. Due to a knock on the head and some brainwashing, Tim had become a member of UltraMantis Black’s sinister group, the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple. That worked out in regards to how the abbreviation “ONST” makes up most of his name, but it kind of soured my interview. Rather than getting any real answers, I just had UltraMantis Black answering on Tim’s behalf. The scoundrel.

Ah! But it was merely a ruse. Tim Donst wasn’t brainwashed after all. He was just a spy, working to gain UltraMantis’ trust and exploit it for information. With his work done, he escaped the Order’s clutches unscathed and went back to his patriotic and wholesome ways.

Only, while a member of the Order, Tim struck up a bizarre friendship with Hydra, the Starscream/Beast Man to UltraMantis’ Megatron/Skeletor. The two of them acquired the three consecutive wins necessary to garner a title shot against the tag champs. But after the truth about Tim’s behavior was revealed, UltraMantis was less than pleased.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for Hydra to turn against UltraMantis and form a level of BFFitude between an American icon and a sea creature unseen since Captain America and Namor! In fact, all we need is Fire Ant and we have the CHIKARA version of the Invaders!

On to the interview!

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Gavok Talks to Tim Donst… Sort of. Kind of. Not Really.

May 17th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

CHIKARA is getting set for another group of shows, so once again I’m capitalizing by badgering one of their wrestlers. This time, it’s Tim Donst, an American icon who mixes the best traits of Rick Steiner, Rocky Balboa and Dan Hibiki into one red-blooded grappling machine.

As coincidence would have it, my very first CHIKARA show was also young Donst’s first match. Being my first experience with the wacky fed, I was more enamored with the antics of the masked cultists calling themselves the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple, his opponents in a six-man tag match, and paid Tim little mind. Months later, I watched his performance as a singles wrestler at Young Lions Cup V and saw potential in his unique amateur/pro wrestling hybrid style. He just needed an extra, undefined something.

Then came the infamous match against that big bully Eddie Kingston, where the outclassed and overly punished Tim Donst stood up against Kingston’s never-ending in-ring torment and fought back, winning the hearts of the fans in attendance. With his newfound gusto, Tim gained respect in his following matches, no matter whether he won or lost. He even got the last laugh against Kingston by pinning him in a tag match.

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All King of Trio’d Out

March 4th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

You may have noticed that for the past week or so, I haven’t said a damn word on this site. That’s because last Friday I went off to Philadelphia for the three day CHIKARA wrestling show known as King of Trios ’08. What a blast.

Me hanging out with Stupefied, El Generico and Player Uno. This should be the new Mount Rushmore.

King of Trios was the biggest tournament in wrestling history, featuring 28 sets of three-man tag teams. The first two days would feature 14 teams each, whittled down to four teams after ten matches and two byes. By the third night, they’re down to eight teams, with several non-tournament matches added on. Follow that? It doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that there were 31 matches over the course of three days and it was rocktastical.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any disappointments in the roster. CHIKARA top guys Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli are in Japan, so they missed out. Plus some of the more memorable guest stars from last year like Yago, Dino and American Balloon weren’t returning. Despite that, we had some of the reliable mainstays, surprisingly entertaining new guys and some bizarre surprises.

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