Chikara ‘Tag World Grand Prix’ Night 1
18th of February, 2005
Chikara is a company aimed at families and fans of great wrestling, with a combination of whacky gimmicks and great wrestling. Some of the whacky gimmicks include Darkness Crabtree, a wrestler over 100 years old in a mask, Knight Eye for the Pirate Guy, a tag team that has a Pirate in Jolly Roger and a Knight who has travelled from the 1600’s in a time machine and many others. The great wrestlers include two I’d say are in the top 5 for best in the world in Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush, Eddie Kingston, Jigsaw, Sabian, Arik Cannon, Claudio Castagnoli and Gran Akuma among others. This show is the first night of action in their huge tag tournament, which spanned over 3 days and contained 32 teams (largest tag tourney ever).
I’ll quickly get this out of the way, Chikara is also a wrestling school and if you’re going to be a wrestling, I suggest training there. It’ll be hard finding two better trainers than Hero and Quak (plus Skayde on occasion). Check out Chikara’s website for more.
Round 1: Team F.I.S.T vs. Mana and John Cabbie
Mana is a big Samoan guy and he pulls out a lot of impressive high impact moves, but I get the feeling I get is that he’d not be too good in a singles match. What he does here though is a good enough to get the fans and the viewer at home hyped for the rest of the night. Team F.I.S.T are the smarter of the two teams and that’s why they’re the victorious team. Sure, they take a lot of punishment from Mana but by wrestling smart, they are able to take him out for long enough so they can finish off Cabbie. Crowd is a little disappointed though since Mana had gotten over pretty well.
Round 1: Ring Crew Express vs. Davey Andrews and Shane Hagadorn
This starts out like a fun match to start, but unlike the last match they aren’t able to keep the fun going. It’s pretty weird to see a game of dodgeball played in a wrestling match, but I suppose anything’s possible these days. It’s pretty entertaining for what it is though and Hagadorn takes a stiff shot to the face. When the ROH Trainees hit their heat session, they can’t really carry it well. It would’ve been better to keep up with some entertaining spots and just throwing the formula out the window, but the route they decide to go is not the best one. They always have room for improvement I guess though.
Round 1: Knight Eye for the Pirate Guy vs. Mano Metalico and Crossbones
Now this one is more like the first match in that they’re able to keep the fun going all match. In this case, the main fun comes from Jolly Roger and Lance Steel, but Metalico and Crossbones do some good stuff too. The main point thing that Knight Eye does that sticks out as a highlight is their Joust double team, where Steel mounts Roger’s back, like a piggyback, then they charge at their opponent in the corner with Steel’s fist outstretched. It’s not the sickest looking, but is cool nonetheless. Roger using a standing leg lock and looking into the crowd with a telescope is also pretty fun. Crossbones also has really good agility and speed for a big men, busting out a great combination of kicks. The match may not be a ***** classic, but it’s a really fun match.
Round 1: Ebessan and Billy Ken Kid vs. Darkness Crabtree and Shirley Doe
No matter how fun all the previous matches have been, nothing will match up to the exchanges between Ebessan and Darkness Crabtree. Ebessan is the king of comedy and Crabtree is 2nd in that area, so you can guess how good this was going to be. We know an Ebessan comedy match is not complete without the slow motion sequence and even though it has been done time after time, it has not gotten old. They do some really good psychology with the Shining Ebezard as well, with Crabtree switching to which knee he was kneeled on so Ebessan can’t hit it. To top it though, Crabtree gets his medication and fires up and takes it to Billy Ken Kid. When they lose effect though and when he has to take more, he has a heart attack, but an elbow drop of all things revives him. The finish is very smart as well, with Crabtree doing his block of the Shining Ebezard and Ebessan telling him to look the other way, giving him the chance to hit the Shining Ebezard. The match is comedy gold and one of the reasons to get the show.
Round 1: Arik Cannon and Claudio Castagnoli vs. Allison Danger and Alere Little Feather
For a match where everyone knows the women have no chance of winning, this would’ve been pretty good, but Danger’s offence looked hardly believable, unlike Alere’s or Mickie Knuckle’s offence from the next night. Cannon and Claudio get what they can get out of it though and make the match good enough. They’re neck work is pretty good, with the highlight being a hair pull Neckbreaker from Cannon. The women get some hope spots in and the fans buy them, which is pretty weird. Ultimately they can’t get the win though and Cannon and Castagnoli debut their finisher, the Glimmering Warlock (Cannon’s finisher the Shining Enzuguri)/Pyramid Bomb (Castagnoli’s finisher, a cross-armed powerbomb). Words do not really do it justice; it’s seriously one of the best double teams going today.
Round 1: Jigsaw and Sabian vs. Ravage and Rorschach
There’s nothing really wrong with this match, but it really does lack the fun the previous matches had. The other problem is that after the previous matches, the crowd is deflated and these guys are left with a somewhat dead crowd. I also read that there were some guys criticizing Ravage’s work really badly and stuff like that, but the thing is he did really well in this match. To my knowledge he is not far into his career and had one sequence where things didn’t go too well and then the fans gave him shit. The match had a few highlights though, including a Tornado DDT from Sabian, who is quickly developing into one of the top juniors in the States. I’ve got no problem with the match, as there were no real big flaws and they did the best they could with the circumstances given.
Round 1: Jimmy Jacobs and Danny Daniels vs. Din Mak and Matt Bomboy
The main story here is that Mak and Bomboy can hang with Jacobs and Daniels, but due to their feuding in the past, it may cost them. Bomboy definitely impresses most in this match, doing some great shoot style stuff. Jacobs and Daniels are their awesome selves, but I’m used to those guys and know what they’re capable of, I didn’t know what Bomboy was capable of. That’s not to leave Mak out though, as he also has his fair share of good stuff. In the end after an impressive performance though, Mak and Bomboy just can’t get along and all hope of winning the match goes out the door when they have a little miscommunication. Looking at this match, I definitely need to check out their I Quit match from the Chikara ‘Fear of Music’ show.
Round 1: Super Dragon and B-Boy vs. Wonderman (woman?) and Ken the Box
What’s interesting about this match is the build to it. Team PWG are scheduled to face a mystery team and names would be drawn out of a hat by the Chikara president. Of all people the first name is Bob Saget, and the bastard no showed. Next name is Doomsday Danny Rose. Next person is former tag partner Adam Flash, which is called by a member of the crowd before his name was drawn out. To whoever that is, props to you for knowing your stuff. But since they’re drunk, they can’t get paid so they back out. Next name is Wonderman. Now he acts like one who bats for the other team, so we don’t know whether it’s Wonderman or Wonderwoman. Next name of all people is KEN TEH MUTHA FUCKIN’ BOX~!!!!!11111oneoneoneoneeleveneleven. And now we have the weirdest match in wrestling history.
Ken the Box can’t even get in the ring, so he’s left shuffling on the outside. After a while of Team PWG pounding on Wonderman, he’s able to outsmart them but grabbing them on the ass and sending them to the outside. Once on the outside Ken lets loose with a series of punches, with Dragon even doing a 360 sell job. Words cannot do the sequence justice. In the end though, these two have no chance against two of the indies biggest names in Dragon and B-Boy, and are able to put Wonderman away with a sweet double team double stomp from the top rope. Much like a lot of other matches, not a great wrestling match but the entertainment value is off the charts.
Round 2: Arik Cannon and Claudio Castagnoli vs. Team F.I.S.T
This is interesting because both are teams people expected to make it to Night 3, but only one can make it. Now despite F.I.S.T having the experience as a team, from the get go it is established they are fighting from behind. It may be due to Cannon and CC not taking the high impact offence that F.I.S.T took from Mana or that Cannon and CC completely outclass F.I.S.T in the one on one compartment and when cutting off the ring can easily dominate F.I.S.T. When working over Icarus they make sure it has lasting effects throughout the match, as CC’s array of European Uppercuts will definitely take a toll and they’re giant swing sequence, including a Full Nelson giant swing from CC, are moves to take have a lasting effect.
Although the giant swing sequence may take the long term toll on Icarus, it also gets Cannon and CC dizzy enough that Icarus was able to make the tag. Once in, Akuma fights off Cannon and CC as best as he can, but one of his finishers in the Yoshie Tonic doesn’t even get the win. F.I.S.T came in all guns blazing at the beginning and had the advantage taken away, and once Akuma mounts the offence this time he has it taken away from him almost straight away, much like earlier. So in the end, F.I.S.T have been totally outclassed by a team on their first night of teaming and all that is left for Icarus to do is to fall to the Glimmering Warlock/Pyramid Bomb (which I will call ‘Swiss Anarchy’ until it is given an official name) double team. ***
Round 2: Jigsaw and Sabian vs. Ring Crew Express
After watching this match you know that RCE aren’t just a comedy act and can hold their own in the ring. Dunn’s sequence with Sabian is pretty damn good and the impression I had watching for the first time was “Damn, they really can wrestle well”. Sadly the opening parts of the match are ruined by a section of fans going back and forth with duelling chants. I usually don’t mind these things but it was really hard to concentrate on the match due to the small facility and the chants coming through really loud, despite not many fans being involved. Like I said though, I usually like the things but it wasn’t really the match for it.
The final sequence is also pretty good, which is what you’d expect from the match, unlike RCE’s great wrestling skills (and maybe even Sabian’s if you’ve only seen his stuff from 2003-early 2004). Jigsaw proves pretty gutsy and tries a 450 with an extremely low ceiling (lower than Daniels/Aries 2/3 Falls) and gets his legs caught in under him when trying to land on his feet. He was lucky he wasn’t injured (one of a few spots over the weekend where Jigsaw was lucky he wasn’t injured, but not due to him being sloppy). They do a nice job of playing off RCE’s earlier win over the ROH Trainees in the Electric Senton, but it is survived. Jigsaw and Sabian pull out the hard fought win though, in a definite challenge.
Round 2: Jimmy Jacobs and Danny Daniels vs. Knight Eye for the Pirate Guy
Are Jacobs and Daniels the bigger names than Roger and Steel? Yes they are, but one smart thing Chikara did here was put Knight Eye over the bigger named wrestlers, getting over their own talent and making them seem like bigger threats. Smart, yet simple booking. Unlike the 2 previous matches which have had more of a wrestling emphasis, this one returns to the fun and it works really well. Jacobs does a nice bit of heel work to start, wanting a dance off with Roger but then sucker punching him.
The Joust is also pulled out in this match, which Jacobs and Daniels sell like death. On the subject of Daniels though, he didn’t really stand out in his two matches. Jacobs was really the main one entertaining the fans, with Daniels just being laid back. If this were to be your first taste of Daniels, don’t pass judgement and check out his IWA MS stuff, since it’s all good (especially the stuff with Hero). Knight Eye end up pulling out a big win, perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament so far (one could argue Cannon’s and CC’s victory was big considering the experience F.I.S.T have as a team, but from that match you could tell F.I.S.T were outclassed, so you have to give it to this match) and Steel makes Jacobs tap to an extremely painful looking Boston Crab.
Round 2: Super Dragon and B-Boy vs. Ebessan and Billy Ken Kid
Ebessan begins his road to proving to the fans that he’s just not a comedy act. Dragon and B-Boy prove to be great heels in this match and get Ebessan’s stuff over major. One spot where B-Boy and Ebessan did the old shoulder block of pride thing, which went into B-Boy dropping down and Ebessan yelling “You stupid” and stomping him in the head got Ebessan over as a pretty smart wrestler. The next spot though got Ebessan over has a cocky wrestler, blocking a B-Boy kick and saying “No, no, no, no” only to get hit with a hard Enzuguri.
When Ebessan is worked over by Team PWG, he hangs very well with them and survives their vicious strikes. He may be dressed as a clown but the man can wrestle. Dragon and B-Boy also take many short cuts to ensure the crowd hates them. On the indies when you’re a great wrestler it’s hard to get fans to boo you, but guys like Dragon and B-Boy are able to do it tremendously. It’s especially hard for Dragon because of his reputation and his aura he has in the ring. Dragon’s mannerisms in this match are top notch and are pretty much a “f*ck you” to those who criticize his ability to get over a match due to his mask. Whenever he’s in the ring pounding on Ebessan he has this demeanour that says “I’m wrestling a clown? Give me a break”.
Once Ebessan is able to tag out to BKK is when the match gets really good. BKK unleashes with his amazing array of offence which shows why he’s one of the most underrated juniors in Japan. The ending exchange is also great for the reason that they don’t use a lot of death moves and everything is sold really well. The problem with Team PWG is that they are unable to unleash a finishing move at any time. Dragon’s Psycho Driver I and II, Barry White Driver and even Top Rope Double Stomp to the Head (which I’ll call the ‘Murder Death Kill Double Stomp’ when recapping Dragon matches from now on) and B-Boy’s Shining Wizard are nowhere to be seen. Ebessan’s Ebessan Du Shei and Billy Ken Kid’s version of the Air Raid Crash are used though and even though they don’t win them the match, they go a long way in winning it for them.
The reason why the Osaka Pro duo are successful is because they were the smarter team. Team PWG came in all cocky, carrying the head of Ken the Box and underestimating Team Osaka Pro. Osaka Pro didn’t underestimate Team PWG and that’s why they come out on top. It’s fitting that BKK uses a Backslide to win the match, a hold that helped defend his Osaka Pro Tag Titles along with Tigers Mask against TAKA Michinoku and Shiryu (Kaz Hayashi), another match where he was involved in an uphill battle and was going to have a hard time winning. When watching this match and you still consider Ebessan a comedy wrestler, well you’re a complete idiot. ****