Moments Ago: Ring of Honor and Chikara

This weekend I attended Chikara’s Young Lions Cup V shows. You can read my reviews of these shows here for Night One, here for Night Two, and here for Night Three. Chikara presents a unique form of wrestling entertainment, and this weekend was one of the best times I have ever had watching wrestling. The other great times watching wrestling are usually Ring of Honor shows. I thought to myself while writing my Chikara reviews, “How would the typical Ring of Honor fan enjoy a Chikara show?”

The short answer to this question is: they would love it. Ring of Honor fans love great wrestling and Chikara is certainly great wrestling. Ring of Honor and Chikara also have a lot of overlapping fans, so they must enjoy both. This week’s Moments Ago is going to take a look at some comparisons between these two Pennsylvania based proprietors of pro-wrestling.

Big Andy Mac’s Big Andy Links

Has been suspended this week, most of the new content on the site is devoted to one topic, and while that is far and away the biggest story of the week, I want to maintain my column’s focus on independent wrestling and I also think that every wrestling fan needs a little something different, maybe to take your mind off of things.

Except, there are three things I do want to mention though and they are from my RoHbot compatriot, Pulse Glazer.

RoH results from Dayton, OH

Ring of Honor’s Second PPV taping

A Modest Response with his look at the top five RoH matches of the year.

Now Onto the Column!

Ring of Honor and Chikara’s relationship seems to be growing stronger. Many Chikara talents have been appearing on RoH shows. This goes beyond RoH regulars that also compete for Chikara like Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli. It also goes beyond people cast in a different light in both groups, ala “Sweet and Sour” Larry Sweeney. Chikara stars like Jigsaw, Hallowicked, Gran Akuma, and the man that RoH fans have been clamoring for: “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush. So here is a comparison between the two federations.

In Ring Product

One has to keep in mind that Chikara is primarily a medium for the students of the Chikara Wrestle Factory to hone their craft, but it is also a forum for wrestlers from around the country to show their skills and get experience with some of the top independent wrestlers going today. Ring of Honor, in the meantime, is the pinnacle of independent wrestling. It is truly where the best go to both improve and compete against the best.

The major difference between the two federations, however, is in the style of wrestling presented. Both wrestling companies are a hybrid of American and international styles. Chikara focuses on a synthesis of Lucha Libre and standard American style, but still with a hint of Puroresu and British Lancashire styles thrown on top. Ring of Honor has many times over been described as American Puroresu since day one. While it has evolved into its own product the ties with Japanese wrestling are undeniable. Ring of Honor also has elements of Lucha Libre and British style wrestling.

Now, Ring of Honor, thus far this year, has been turning in classic match after classic match. Almost every show produces a match of the year candidate. The same may not be able to be said of Chikara, but their profile is much lower and many of their matches are not seen by as wide an audience. More than half of the matches this weekend in Chikara would not seem out of place on a Ring of Honor card. Most of the matches that would seem out of place was not due to lack of quality though, leading to another major difference between Ring of Honor and Chikara.

Chikara has a much larger focus on the lighter and more comedic side of wrestling, which I dare so almost all fans could use at this moment. Chikara has wrestlers like Moscow, the communist bovine and Los Ice Creams which are grapplers that immediately imply a more light-hearted match. That is not to say they are not still good wrestlers, just not as serious as say a Bryan Danielson or a KENTA. Ring of Honor does have its share of comedy with likes of Colt Cabana, who of course is no longer there, but current roster members like Delirious and El Generico, plus the unintentional hilarity of the Briscoe promos keep the comedic quotient high in RoH.

So, while Chikara and RoH have their differences, there are a lot of things that are similar. This is one of the many reasons that RoH fans should do their best to try and support Chikara and make their crowds larger.

Crowds

This is the area where Chikara and Ring of Honor differ most. Ring of Honor typically packs in nearly 1000 screaming fans to each of their shows, rabid for the in ring action they are about to see. Chikara has a smaller more respectful audience with a far higher percentage of children.

Chikara labels themselves family friendly entertainment and the crowds arrive accordingly. Ring of Honor’s crowds, as I mentioned are quite rabid and the curses do indeed fly. If I could find the medium between the large energetic crowds of Ring of Honor and the polite fans of Chikara I would be a happy wrestling fan. Though I think you have to take one or the other.

Home Releases

Chikara has pretty nice looking DVDs. Much of this is due to their partnership with SmartMark Video. The venues they run do not have special lighting so they falter there, but it in no way takes away from the action. The editing is slick and the commentary is very entertaining. One of the unique things about Chikara’s commentary is that it is performed by the wrestlers themselves. Larry Sweeney, Ultra Mantis Black, Bryce Remsburg, Mike Quackenbush, and Director of Fun Leonard F. Chikarason handle the lion’s share of the commentary. Chikara home releases are certainly worth picking up if you cannot make it to a live show.

Ring of Honor has some of the most well produced DVDs in all of independent wrestling. Their recent improvements have made their live evens truly professional looking and that certainly translates over to DVD. The commentary track generated by Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are an acquired taste by some, but I have always found them quite enjoyable. They are knowledgeable and most importantly know when to be quiet and let the action speak for itself.

Web Shows

This is the battle of the Video Wire and the Chikara Podcast A-Go-Go. Chikara has the advantage in this department. They are far more regular than the Video Wire. The Video Wire may be slightly more informative at times, but both are very similar. Both companies have understood the importance of the internet and have used it to raise their profile.

In Conclusion

While many may consider Ring of Honor to be far superior to any independent federation out there, there are still other wrestling companies that produce worthwhile entertainment. Give the smaller companies a chance and you might find something within your budget just down the road that you can enjoy. Independent wrestling is the primordial soup from which the stars of tomorrow are birthed now that the territory system is dead. Many of the wrestlers you see on your screen today got their start wrestling independents. Whether it was John Cena in California’s UPW, MVP on the indies of Florida like Full Impact Pro, or even Paul London and Brian Kendrick that first made their name in Ring of Honor, not to mention all of the stars of TNA that were plucked from the independent scene, all wrestlers had to start somewhere. Go to your local indy and help support independent professional wrestling.

I’ll see you next time

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