Wrestling Memory Lane: Claudio Castagnoli, the Kings of Wrestling and My Favorite Storyline

October 27th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

As of this writing, we’re fresh from the finish of Bragging Rights, the latest PPV in WWE’s overcrowded schedule. A lot of the event centered around Wade Barrett holding John Cena in his thrall against his will. It’s another chapter in what’s been a really good run for Barrett’s short-termed WWE legacy. I thought the show NXT was a fantastic concept, followed by an interesting second season (as long as you ignore the trainwreck final episode) and a hilarious self-aware third season where the commentators are open to how awful the show is. The Nexus storyline has been top-notch outside of random unfortunate instances that you can’t blame on the writing. Injuries, stupid firings, temporary deportation and even the stupid ending of Summerslam was improvised from time restraints.

Now it’s in an entertaining stage where John Cena is forced to follow orders from Wade Barrett or get fired. Wade has been demeaning him on a weekly basis, but it’s showing more ripples than just Barrett vs. Cena. Wade has been alienating himself from his Nexus peers by focusing far more on himself than the team. Cena is beginning to raise the ire of his friends in the locker room because he’d rather attack them based on Wade’s orders than be a jobless millionaire. A lot of it is borrowed from the Shawn Michaels/JBL storyline from a couple years ago, but it’s stronger here. For one, the villain is a man in his first year in the company, rising up and only getting better, as opposed to being a dude long past his prime like JBL.

But there was another “forced lackey” storyline this kept making me think of and the more I look back on it, the more I realize it was one of my all-time favorite wrestling storylines. When I think of my favorite angles, I think of things like Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Rick “The Model” Martel or Ric Flair vs. Mr. Perfect or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock (and by that I mean joining all their different feuds into one overarching story). The one in question isn’t even a WWE story, WCW, TNA or even ECW. No, it’s from the wonderful world of CHIKARA.

Since CHIKARA is far from mainstream, I thought I’d take some time to go over the angle for the uninformed.

Readers might recall that CHIKARA is my indy wrestling fed of choice. I’ve talked about CHIKARA a lot here and I’ve stated the wackiness of the product, but it isn’t completely dependent on it. Sure, they have storylines like a wrestling knight whose tag team partner is a younger version of himself pulled out of the timeline and they end up feuding and have a match where the loser is thrown in a time machine. They would have a tag team named 2.0 change their gimmicks and become the Badd Boyz, leading to a Badd Boyz vs. 2.0 match where the Boyz win by count-out due to 2.0 not showing up. There was a time when two wrestlers had a no-time-limit falls-count-anywhere match that went outside until the cameraman lost track of it and it continued to the next night’s show at another venue where there was finally a winner (23 hours and 36 minutes, longest match ever). Not to mention the time a tag match took forever to start up because two of the guys were too busy having arguments about the Sega CD.

Thing is, not everything is goofy in CHIKARA and even when they are silly, the booking is really good. They like to build each year up as a season with a basic main storyline with enough of an ending during the finale that would lead to the next year’s big angle. Our storyline here is one that mainly takes place during the year of 2007, but with more than enough lead-up and aftermath. It focuses on this man, Claudio Castagnoli.

The 6’5″ Swiss powerhouse could be argued to be one of the best performers in the world. It’s still a complete wonder why he isn’t tearing things up in the WWE right now, considering he’s a total package. He’s got size, strength, speed, agility, good psychology, a good look and loads of charisma. As a heel, he’s an egotistical, bullying Swiss banker with more money than you. As a face, he’s the chillest dude you’ve ever met. I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

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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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Off-Topic: Fun with Hate

July 13th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Today I went to yet another CHIKARA show. When all the fun was over, I walked outside to find an ice cream truck. Since it was hot as hell in the arena, I indulged in a vanilla cone with sprinkles. As I’m enjoying it, I find wrestler Vin Gerard just lounging around by the entrance.

Gerard’s story is this: he used to be Equinox, a masked luchador with sloppy high-flying skills that hung around the undercard until being unmasked. He was exposed as being Vin Gerard, a drop-out of the CHIKARA Wrestlefactory who decided to sneak onto the roster by pretending to be a Mexican export. He was ostracized by his peers and fell down a downward spiral of anger and black eyeshadow. Basically, he’s emo.

The thing is, he uses this twist to give what may be one of the most genius pieces of wrestling merchandise I have ever seen. Sometimes wrestlers will give you a signed 8-by-10 of themselves for a couple bucks. Not Vin. No, for a couple bucks, you get a H8-by-10. He will sign a picture of himself, make it out to you and list just why he hates you.

I couldn’t pass this up and paid him with my free hand. By this point, the sun has already melted my ice cream to the point that it’s covered my hand and is dripping on the sidewalk. Ergo…

What a guy.

And on another note, during intermission, me and CHIKARA newcomer Steve “The Turtle” Weiner (whose theme is that awful/awesome song from the TMNT Coming Out of Our Shells Tour) did a happening duet of one of Coach Z’s greatest hits. Truly, this man is my kindred spirit.

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