CHIKARA King of Trios 2011 Night One
April 15th, 2011
Asylum Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 15th, 2011
Asylum Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
One of the most anticipated tournaments in wrestling every year is CHIKARA's annual King of Trios event, a 16 three-person team tournament spread out over three days every April. Every year this event gets a ton of praise from everyone in attendance and is one of CHIKARA's top selling DVDs, so I figured it was about time I went ahead and checked out this tournament. I've followed CHIKARA on and off for about a year and a half now and saw probably 6 or 7 of their 2010 shows on DVD, but I haven't followed them as closely as I do other indy promotions so you'll have to forgive me if I'm not up-to-speed with some of the storylines, feuds, or wrestlers. Some of the teams for this year's tournament include an all-Minnesotan team of Sean Waltman, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin, a Michinoku Pro contingent team consisting of the Great Sasuke, Dick Togo, and Jinsei Shinzaki as well as the rag-tag team of Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, and Joshi legend Manami Toyota to go along with many other teams of CHIKARA and US indy wrestling regulars. All three shows got a lot of praise as usual, so let's get started with night one.
We open the DVD with a touching opening video tribute to the late Larry Sweeney, who sadly took his own life a few weeks before this event took place. Sweeney was a beloved man on the independent circuit, especially in CHIKARA, and he rightfully gets a 10 bell salute before the show begins as all of the wrestlers surround the ring and pound the mat while the entire audience chants Sweeney's name. This leads us into an excellent graphics package to hype the tournament, which is very professional looking and makes this show really look legit.
Your hosts are Bryce Remsburg, Gavin Loudspeaker, and a revolving doors of color commentators.
Backstage El Generico and 3.0 argue over who the team leader is in a funny little segment.
3.0le (El Generico/Shane Matthews/Scott Parker) vs. The Osirian Portal (Amasis/Ophidian/Hieracon)
This should be a solid opener as I'm familiar with all six guys here and the Osirian Portal in particular are an incredibly entertaining stable of wrestlers that have become a viral video hit with their hypnotizing of their opponents routine. Ophidian and Matthews start us off as Ophidian taunts Shane with some acrobatic maneuvers. Generico and Hieracon (the newest member of the Portal) tag in quickly and do a nice exchange of armdrags. Standing dropkick gets Hieracon a quick two and Generico's partners encourage him to pull off Hieracon's mask, the biggest no-no in CHIKARA. Generico teases poking him in the eye but shakes his hand instead, only to poke him in the eye anyways which pops the crowd like you wouldn't believe. Generico runs off like he just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and hides underneath a table at ringside. Very light-hearted opening contest as you can tell, and as soon as I type that the whole thing breaks down into a sweet dance contest between the two teams, complete with cheesy dance music playing and all. Generico does the Macarena and the crowd is eating this all up like they're watching a Benoit-Guerrero mat classic, and so am I. The comedy continues with a hand-holding wave between the wrestlers and the audience and if you aren't smiling at this match by now, you need to lighten up. Things finally settle down to something resembling a wrestling match again as Generico gets worked over in the Portal's corner. He gets the hot tag to Shane Matthews and both members of 3.0 double-team Hieracon. Ophidian tries to break it up and gets speared in mid-air for a near fall. He eats an exploder suplex into the turnbuckle from Generico and then gets covered again for another close near fall, but Hieracon makes the save. Ophidian comes back with a big moonsault on Parker but his pin attempt is broken up as well. Matthews eats a Gory bomb and a double-stomp from the Portal but Generico breaks it up. Hieracon wipes out the rest of 3.0le with a moonsault to the floor with Amasis and Ophidian hit simultaneous top-rope splashes and get the win at 18:12. This match just flew by and was a great choice for the opener. Wacky, entertaining fun to start the tournament off and save room for other matches to go the crazy high-spot route. **½
Backstage Team Australia promises to upset F.I.S.T. in the first round tonight and win the entire tournament. Nice of CHIKARA to bring in some Australian talent that doesn't get a lot of international exposure.
F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor/Johnny Gargano/Icarus) vs. Team Australia (Tama Williams/Percy T/Kabel)
The Team Australia members are from the NHPW promotion in Perth and are all making their debuts on US soil. Percy T looks like your stereotypical pale and skinny indy kid while Kabel looks like an Australian version of Kane complete with mask while Williams actually has a good look, looking like a larger more muscular version of Paul London. Gargano and Percy start us off with some nice feeling out moves. Kabel tags in next and is apparently known as the biggest wrestler in Australia. He tosses Icarus around a bit with ease. Taylor tags in and gets double-teamed a bit by Team Australia until FIST returns the favor on Percy T. Percy gets worked over for a while by FIST and the heels taunt their opponents and the crowd while continuing the beatdown. He eats a pair of ace crushers from Gargano and Taylor for a near fall. Percy nails Icarus with a neckbreaker though and gets the lukewarm tag to the big giant Kabel, who cleans house on FIST with ease. Kabel and Percy hit a sloppy Doomsday Device on Icarus and Tama follows it up with a nice frog splash that gets Team Australia a close two count. Taylor hits the Sole Food on Percy and Gargano finishes him off with a facebuster for the win at 11:13. Crowd didn't seem to care for the Australians much despise FIST's heel antics through out the match, but Tama Williams looked impressive and I'd like to see more of him down the line. **
Backstage Tim Donst cuts a promo about being chosen as the leader of the BDK team this year and his choices of Delirious and Jakob Hammermeier as his partners this year. Donst has seemingly become more confident in his promo cutting skills since the last time I saw him.
Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Tim Donst/Delirious/Jakob Hammermeier) vs. Da Soul Touchaz (Willie Richardson/Acid Jaz/Marshe Rockett)
BDK is like CHIKARA's version of the NWO, a stable that has slowly taken over almost every aspect of the promotion since it's creation, only they're far more entertaining and devious than the NWO ever was. Da Soul Touchaz somehow remain hugely over with the CHIKARA fans despite continuing to use Soulja Boy as their theme music. Eddie Kingston has joined the commentary team so things immediately become more amusing to listen to. Big Willie overpowers Hammermeier quickly and he runs off to tag Delirious in. Delirious has become extremely interesting again in CHIKARA for the first time in years since turning heel and changing his ring gear up. He tries chopping away at Willie but his strikes have little effect on the big man. Willie hits a big dropkick for a near fall and tags Rockett in who hits a leg lariat on Delirious for a near fall of his own. Donst tags in next and delivers the dreaded purple nurple to Rockett. It's always fun to see someone with a great wrestling background like Donst use over-the-top heel tactics like that. Hammermeier tags back in and tries for a Razor's Edge but Rockett counters out and hits him with a big Yakuza kick, tagging in Acid Jaz in the process. Delirious and Donst double team Jaz for a bit and rip his doo rag off, drawing the crowd's boos. Donst nails Jaz with a trio of rolling gut wrench suplexes but Acid gets the shoulder up just barely. Donst tries a powerbomb but Jaz sprays water in his face and gets the tag to Willie, who plays possum and draws Donst in for a big delayed suplex. Jakob gets tossed in and finally gets his comeuppance, eating a super sitout spinebuster off the top rope while Jaz tosses Rockett over the top rope to take out Delirious with a nasty senton. Donst distracts the ref with a chair, allowing the big Tursas at ringside to interfere and slam Jaz to the mat, draping Jakob over him for the cheap win at 11:23. Decent little match here with the BDK solidifying their roles as one of the heel teams to beat in the tournament thanks to Tursas' interference. Would have liked to have seen Da Soul Touchaz go a bit further in the tournament, but oh well. **
After the match Delirious is confronted by the Spectral Envoy and for a moment seems to recognize his old friends and looks to snap out of the hypnotic state BDK has put him in, but the other members of BDK quickly attack the Envoy and put a stop to any possible reunion.
Mike Quackenbush/Jigsaw/Manami Toyota vs. Amazing Red/Joel Maximo/Wil Maximo
This match got a lot of praise from the live crowd, and with these six it's bound to be entertaining. Manami Toyota is making her return to CHIKARA after an extremely successful pair of shows she worked for the company last September. Toyota gets a great reaction from the crowd again. Jose Maximo, one of the original SAT members, retired last summer and has since been replaced by Wil Maximo, who I believe is their cousin (as is Red). Jigsaw and Wil start us off with some nice hold exchanges. They trade bit kicks to the head and Jigsaw follows Wil out to the floor with a tope suicida, transitioning right into a DDT on the floor. Red and Quack are in next and Red gets a magistrate cradle for a two count. Toyota tags in next and hits a big dropkick to Red's back before wiping out Wil with a Yakuza kick and locking in the Muta lock! No comedy to be found here, just pure high-impact wrestling that's almost too fast to call. The Maximos and Red draw some boos by triple-teaming Jigsaw and knocking Toyota to the floor, hitting a trio of stereo kicks to Jigsaw's head for a near fall. Jigsaw eats a 'rana but gets the tag to Quack, who's fired up and hits some lightning fast kicks on Red followed by a DDT on the ring apron. A springboard splash gets Quack a near fall but one of the Maximos breaks it up. Toyota hits a missile dropkick off the top on Wil and Jigsaw follows it with a bridging German suplex but Red breaks it up and hits a spinning DDT on Jigsaw that has so many revolutions I'm getting dizzy just watching it. Red misses a pair of roundhouse kicks and eats one to the face from Quack, who turns around just in time to be met Joel with a back-to-belly piledriver that drops him right on his damn head! Oh MAN that was nasty. Luckily Toyota breaks it up at two. Jigsaw hits a double-stomp off the top, Quack follows it with a swanton bomb, and Toyota tops it all off with a big moonsault on Joel, but Red breaks it up at two. Jigsaw takes a nasty assisted ace crusher from Red and the Maximos and then eats a delayed German suplex from Wil all in rapid succession, but somehow Jigsaw kicks out. Toyota leaps from the top rope with a cross body to wipe out Red while one of the Maximos attempts the Spanish Fly on Jigsaw, but Quack breaks it up. Quack hits him with the '68 Comeback Special, one of Larry Sweeney's old finishers and Jigsaw follows it up with the 12 Large Elbow off the top, another one of Sweeney's trademarks, which is enough to get them the three count and the win at 10:11. Non-stop action from these six but I'm a bit pissed they only got ten minutes here, we certainly could have cut some time off a few of the other comedy-oriented matches for this. Still, this was an excellent six person tag match that provided fast-paced action and paid loving tribute to the late Larry Sweeney. Best match of the tournament so far. ***½
Backstage Team Dragon Gate introduce themselves.
Team Dragon Gate (Akira Tozawa/Super Shisa/KAGETORA) vs. The Spectral Envoy (Hallowicked/Ultramantis Black/Frightmare)
Great to see some of the lesser known Dragon Gate guys like Shisa and KAGETORA get a chance to shine here tonight in their continental United States debut alongside the always excellent Akira Tozawa. Akira and Frightmare start us off as Mike Quackenbush joins the commentary team. Frightmare hits a hurricanrana that sends Tozawa to the floor and teases a suicide dive, but Tozawa jumps into a fan's lap in the front row to hide. Ultramantis and KAGETORA tag in now, and Mantis is hugely over with the CHIKARA fans as he armdrags KAGETORA around the ring a bit until Hallowicked and Shisa tag in. Hallowicked gets sent to the floor by a drokick and Frightmare and Ultramantis double-team him for a bit in their corner. Shisa comes back though and locks a double abdominal stretch on both Mantis and Frightmare! Tozawa nails a dropkick on Frightmare and KAGETORA tags back in to take advantage of him. Quack puts over Shisa with a story about Jorge "Skayde" Rivera thinking the world of him, which is surprising considering the big falling out Rivera had with Quack and CHIKARA last year, with Mike even noting that he "doesn't appear for this company anymore". Shisa locks Frightmare into a Mexican surfboard and Tozawa tags back in. Frightmare and Hallowicked fight him off and send Tozawa and KAGETORA to the floor where Frightmare follows them out with a somersault senton. Hallowicked nails Shisa with a running knee in the corner and then hits him with a Rydien bomb for a two count. Things break down from here and tags are pretty much out the window as KAGETORA nails Ultramantis with a series of kicks to the back of his head. Ultramantis counters with the Cosmic Doom (Michinoku driver), but KAGETORA kicks out at two somehow. Ultramantis eats a bicycle kick and a huge Saito suplex from Tozawa, but Mantis kicks out as well. Tozawa misses the springboard diving headbutt (to this day I still have never seen him hit that move successfully) and he eats a three-man Doomsday Device from the Spectral Envoy for two. Shisa hits Frightmare with a headscissors off the top and Tozawa tries the springboard diving headbutt again, and actually manages to hit it this time! By god, he's finally done it! The Dragon Gate team all over Frightmare now, with Tozawa wiping him out with a delayed German suplex before diving out to the floor and taking down Ultramantis and Hallowicked with the tope! Shisa finishes off Firghtmare with the Yoshi Tonic (Canadian Destroyer to you TNA fans, though Shisa invented it) to give Team Dragon Gate the win at 13:34. This was a whole lot of fast-paced fun and successfully managed to show off Super Shisa and KAGETORA's talents in their US debuts. Tons of expertly executed high-impact move sequences in this one as well. ***
Team Osaka Pro (Atsushi Kotoge/Daisuke Harada/Ultimate Spider Jr.) vs. The Throwbacks (Matt Classic/Dasher Hatfield/Sugar Dunkerton)
Classic is Colt Cabana's alternate masked persona and you can really see the size difference between him and a lot of the CHIKARA regulars. Kotoge, Harada, and Spider are all from the great Osaka Pro promotion in Japan, and all three are extremely talented men who I've become a big fan of over the last year. Dunkerton and Kotoge start us off and immediately Dunkerton wants to challenge him to a foot race, so they do a running of the ropes sequence with referee Bryce Resmburg even counting them down for the foot race which Kotoge wins pretty clearly. This could probably be a pretty good wrestling match if they wanted it to be, but they go the comedy route here again. The ref calls a "foul" on Dunkerton and gives Kotoge Sugar's basketball for a pair of foul shouts through Sugar's arms (complete with Dasher Hatfield trying to wave his arms behind Sugar for the distraction) and the crowd is eating all of this up. Dasher and Spider tag in now and actually do a bit of wrestling, trading armdrags and hip-tosses. Spider "shoots" an imaginary web at Dasher and Sugar and both men sell it like expert mimes, getting thrown into one another by Spider's webs. Matt Classic is not amused by Spider's antics though and refuses to sell the imaginary spider web! The gall of that man! Classic tugs the imaginary spider web back and catches Spider in a big bear hug before he bails to the floor. Classic locks the old Iron Claw onto Harada's head and credit to Harada as he sells it like death. Classic gives both Harada and Kotoge a big double suplex but he eats a missile dropkick moments later from Spider. Spider hits a variation on RVD's Rolling Thunder for a two count but Dasher breaks it up. Harada hits a slingshot splash to the Throwbacks on the floor and Kotoge follows him out with a nice somersault senton. Matt Classic teases a dive himself but settles for an axe-handle off the apron, which Spider, the fans, and the commentators all sell like he just did a corkscrew moonsault plancha. Dunkerton hits a nice piledriver on Kotoge back in the ring but Harada breaks the cover up and sends a stiff knee into Sugar's face. Dasher gives Harada a Death Valley Driver but Spider breaks that cover up as well so Dasher gives him a Jack-Hammer, but Spider kicks out as well. Classic attempts a devastating splash from the bottom rope (my god!) but Spider rolls out of the way and then rolls him up with a magistrate cradle for the win at 17:04. Another extended comedy match, but as usual the comedy here was really well done and this never came off as boring or cheesy. A bit long-winded but more wacky fun as only CHIKARA can deliver. **½
The Colony (Fire Ant/Soldier Ant/Green Ant) vs. Sinn Bodhi/Obariyon/Kodama
This match is being refereed by Derek Sabato, the BDK's own personal referee and the big angle here is whether or not he'll screw The Colony again as he did in the finals of last year's King of Trios tournament, when he cost them the match with a fast-count for the BDK. Soldier Ant and Obariyon start us off with some basic early match feeling out stuff until Soldier hits the saluting headscissors on him and tags Fire Ant in. Kodama comes in and he and Fire Ant do a nice sequence of counters and armdrags. Green Ant tags in and locks a cradle submission in on Kodama who fights it off quickly and tags Sinn Bodhi (better known to WWE fans as Kizarny) in. I've never really seen the appeal of Bodhi or why Jake Roberts chose to menter him, but I'm always willing to have my mind changed. All three members of The Colony hit a trio of simultaneous dropkicks on Bodhi in the corner. Lots of traditional heel tactics from the team of Bodhi and the Batiri, which is kind of amusing given their bizarre appearances. Green Ant takes a beatdown from the heels for several minutes until he finally gets the hot tag to both teammates, who clean house on the Batiri and Bodhi. Fire Ant gets catapulted out of the ring with a senton and wipes out all three of his opponents and the crowd comes alive a bit for the finishing stretch. Green Ant blocks a split-legged moonsault back inside and locks a Texas cloverleaf on one of the members of the Batiri. Fire Ant takes out Bodhi with a big senton over the top rope to the outside floor while Soldier Ant and Obariyon trade forearms in the ring. A TKO-Stunner combo from Soldier Ant gets a close two count, but Obariyon kicks out. The Colony finish off Obariyon with the Ant Hill triple-team move at 16:32 for the win. Surprising to see the BDK ref count the three there, but you had to figure The Colony would make it out of the first round atleast. The work here was good, but the crowd was a bit complacent for most of it and the whole thing came off a bit dull as a result. **¾
Team Michinoku Pro (Great Sasuke/Dick Togo/Jinsei Shinzai) vs. Team Minnesota (1-2-3 Kid/Arik Cannon/Darin Corbin)
Sean Waltman is making his CHIKARA debut tonight, and he's doing so in the 1-2-3 Kid persona for the first time in nearly fifteen years, which was one of the main selling points on this whole show for me, being a longtime fan of Waltman's. Waltman even shaved his beard to appear more Kid-like, and he does look great here, much better than he did in TNA. It's great to see Shinzaki as well, as he's fallen on hard times recently when his home and noodles restaurant in Japan were destroyed by the tragic earthquake in March. Sasuke is wearing tights instead of his trademark robe, which just looks weird. Kid and Shinzaki get in the ring and the crowd begins chanting "1995!", referencing the great matches these two had that year in the WWF. Waltman gets on the mic and says "This is what it's all about" before apologizing for not cutting his hair into a mullet to complete the 1-2-3 Kid look. Cannon and Togo start us off instead, as this is Togo's final trio of shows in the US in lieu of his promised retirement in June. They trade a few moves and Corbin and Sasuke tag in and do an amusing "slow-motion" sequence, which Sasuke plays along with greatly. The fans, ref, and commentators all play along as well as it really seems like you're watching this match in slow motion and it's a simply hilarious visual, especially referee Bryce Resmburg's facial reactions to it all. Kid and Shinzaki are back in next and Kid does his old rope-flip into an armdrag sequence he used to use, complete with vintage 1-2-3 Kid karate chop hand-motions and all. Not to be outdone Shinzaki does his trademark walking-of-the-ropes spot, a move Undertaker could never perform with even half the grace or balance as Jinsei can. Corbin tags in and Team Michinoku team up on him in their corner. Togo hits a huge slingshot senton on Corbin but he fights both Togo and Sasuke off and tags Kid back in. Kid goes for the Bronco Buster but Sasuke moves out of the way and Cannon tags back in and delivers a snap suplex for a two count. He locks a standing texas clover-leaf on Sasuke and then transitions right into a variation on the Muta lock. Sasuke fights him off with a spin kick and tags Shinzaki, who springboards in with a tomahawk chop. Togo and Cannon trade stiff chops until Togo nails him with a superkick. Cannon fires right back with one of his own though and a brainbuster gets a near fall. Blockbuster off the top gets Sasuke a near fall on Corbin and he bails out of the ring to bring a chair into the ring. Surprising to see Sasuke apparently losing his cool, but then they go right back into another slow-motion sequence. Sasuke is better at the slow motion stuff than Corbin is! Corbin gets set up on a chair and Sasuke goes to the top for a swanton bomb but Corbin moves and Sasuke goes right through the chair! The action spills out to the floor now and the Kid flies off the top rope with a somersault, wiping everyone out. Kid misses a senton on Sasuke back in the ring and gets rolled up for a close two. He nails Sasuke with the X-Factor but Shinzaki breaks the pin up at two. Togo hits a combo DDT/STO on Cannon and Corbin and Sasuke goes for afterwards on the floor but misses and lands back-first on the concrete! Togo leaps off the top rope back inside but Corbin hits him in mid-air with an ace crusher! Togo counters by locking him into the crossface while Sasuke locks Kid into the straight-jacket stranglehold. Togo nails Corbin with the pedigree and then finishes him off with his signature back senton off the top to give his team the win at 22:51. A great way to cap off the first night of the tournament, the performances from Kid and the Michinoku Pro guys were incredible given their combined ages at this point. Corbin and Cannon seemed out of place, but everyone tried hard and the last five minutes were down-right excellent, so all-in-all a great main event. ***½
After the match Waltman gets on the mic and tells the crowd to give it up for the Michinoku Pro guys, leading them in a chant. Waltman gets a lot of shit from wrestling fans, but he was a class act, a gentleman, and a huge success over this weekend of shows according to all reports, having even left a heartfelt note to all of the CHIKARA wrestlers when he left thanking them for what he described as one of the best weekends of his entire life.
Bottom Line: CHIKARA kicks off the 2011 King of Trios with a fun night of six man tag team action and hilarious comedy wrestling, just as you'd expect from them. While there isn't anything on the show that really stands out as a must-see contest, there are several very good and well worked matches here and nothing is truly bad on the entire show. A very good start to this year's tournament and a show worth checking out. Thumbs Up.