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Tape Review: Chikara Pro "Young Lions Cup, Night 3," July 24, 2005, with Hero, Quackenbush, Castognoli, Cannon

Aug 12, 2005 - 9:53:00 AM
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By Chris Vetter, Torch Contributor

Chikara Pro, the comedy & lucha libre wrestling promotion from Pennsylvania, has two big events each year – the Grand Prix Tag Tournament in February, and the Young Lion’s Cup Tournament in July. This year, the YLC was held over three days in July. Each of the first two days consisted of six singles matches, with the winners moving to a six-way elimination match. The winner of Friday’s bracket (Icarus) and Saturday’s bracket (Shane Storm) met in the finals.

This tape is the final night of the three-day tournament, from Sunday, July 24, 2005, in Pittston, Penn. The lighting is good, Smart Mark Video taped the event, and commentary is provided by Eddie Kingston, ref Bryce Remsburg, and Larry Sweeney. There appears to be maybe 150 fans in the crowd.

The Young Lion’s Cup is open specifically to wrestlers at or under age 25. If you are looking for top-level workrate like Ring of Honor or Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, you might not enjoy this action. But if you enjoy some silliness and antics in your matches, and some fun lucha action, you should give Chikara a try.

The tape opened with a promo by The Prophet, a goth character with long black hair. So-so promo, as he promises to win tonight.

(1) Lance Steel defeats The Prophet at 6:43. The Prophet, who made a 20-hour trek from Minnesota to participate in this tournament, immediately drew good heel heat, as he prayed in the ring and looked to the sky. Lance Steel is a time-displaced knight from several hundred years ago; no seriously, that’s his gimmick. He wears a blue & red outfit and a helmet.

They traded armbars. The Prophet chopped Steel in the chest, but Steel wears a chestplate, and the move hurt The Prophet’s hand. The Prophet hit an inverted DDT for a nearfall, some spine kicks, and he worked on Steel’s neck. Steel came back with some chops, and he applied a Boston Crab, and Prophet tapped out. Pretty basic opener.

(2) Allison Danger & Allere Little Feather & Mickie Knuckles defeat Darkness Crabtree & Crossbones & Dr. Cheung at 12:22. The faces are all women. Knuckles is a hard hitter from IWA-Mid South. Danger has competed a lot in ROH, but she’s a face in Chikara. Among the heels, Darkness Crabtree wears a mask; his gimmick is he’s an 80-year-old man; he walks like an old guy. Both Crossbones and Dr. Cheung also wear masks, and Dr. Cheung still looks pretty green.

Crabtree and Allere start with some standing switches, and Crabtree grinds up against her. “He’s a creepy old man,” Kingston said on commentary. Allere hit Crabtree with an Alf doll. No, seriously. Knuckles beats up Dr. Cheung with some stiff clubbing forearms, and Dr. Cheung bailed. Danger hit a neckbreaker on Crossbones, and the heels bailed to regroup. Kingston said that Crabtree “wrestled Frank Gotch in his debut match.” Funny.

Allere hit a Doomsday Crossbody Block on Crabtree. Crossbones stomped on Allere, and the heels took turns working her over. Crossbones put her in a modified Sharpshooter at 8:30. Dr. Cheung hit a Stinger Splash and pulled Allere’s hair. Allere made the hot tag to Knuckles at 10:30, and she clobbered Dr. Cheung with a roaring forearm.

Crossbones came back with a hard kick directly Knuckles’ face. Danger hit a second-rope DDT on Crabtree. Knuckles then hit Crabtree with a German Suplex for the pin. The heels took a minute trying to revive Crabtree. The last few minutes were really good; I enjoy watching Knuckles beat up men.

Another promo aired, as the three women talked about how they don’t need to be in bra & panties matches to get over. “We are the new generation of women’s wrestling,” Danger said. Good promo.

(3) Vries Kastelein defeats Larry “Sweet N’ Sour” Sweeney via countout at 9:49. Vries is apparently from WXW in Germany; he wears a black top and dark red shorts, and he has red hair. Sweeney is incredibly over as a heel, to the point that he gets a lot of cheers. Sweeney has the ICW-ICWA “Tex-Archana” title, which he reportedly defends across the South; the announcers make it clear that this is a phantom title, and no one has ever seen footage of Sweeney winning this title.

Sweeney stalls and struts to open the match. Vries hit an armdrag and a European Uppercut. Sweeney lands several blows to the throat and neck, then some Dibiase Falling Punches. Vries came back with a Tornado DDT, and both men are down at 7:30. Vries hit a modified Fisherman’s Suplex, and Sweeney rolled to the floor, walked around the building, and got counted out on purpose. Vries went to confront him after the match, but Sweeney beat him up with his ICW-ICWA title. Solid match.

(4) Hallowicked & Blind Rage defeat Darin Corbin & Ryan Cruz and Shane Hagadorn & Davey Andrews and Retail Dragon & Discount Tiger at 14:48 in a four-team elimination match. Darin Corbin, with red hair, and Cruz, the Matt Hardy-lookalike, are among the best tag teams in the Midwest. Hagadorn & Andrews, the ROH students, still dress in all black, and they are heels. Hagadorn has shaven streaks in his hair now. Retail Dragon is dressed like Ultimo Dragon, but he wore a Wal-Mart jacket. Discount Tiger is someone dressed in a tiger mascot outfit, like a high school mascot; this is hardly “serious” wrestling gear. But this is what fans have come to expect from Chikara!

Blind Rage and Hallowicked are both tagged in early, so they do some silly slow-motion offense. Darin Corbin checks in, and he hit Blind Rage with an armdrag and a dropkick. Hagadorn & Andrews worked over Retail Dragon. Andrews unloaded some stiff forearms on Dragon. The Tiger got in and hit a Thesz Press at 6:30. Retail Dragon hit an unbelievable Springboard 450 Splash to the floor on several wrestlers. However, Andrews put Discount Tiger in an armhold, and the Tiger tapped out at 7:37.

The match picks up from here, as the action is more serious. Cruz hit a double-knee shot to Andrews’ chin. Andrews hit Corbin with a German Suplex for a nearfall. Darin came back with some stiff forearms, chops, and a running knee on Andrews. Cruz hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Hagadorn for a nearfall. Cruz then pinned Hagadorn with a rollup at 10:37. Kingston on commentary speculates that there is some legit tension between Cruz & Corbin and the ROH students.

Blind Rage hit a spine kick on Cruz, then a Lionsault for a nearfall. Hallowicked choked Cruz with the tail of Discount Tiger (which fell off earlier in the match.) Cruz hit a nice spin kick on Hallowicked, and both are down at 12:30. Cruz got back in, and he nailed a uranage backbreaker over his knee. Hallowicked came back with a sit-down powerbomb on Corbin for a nearfall. The heels hit a Gory Special into a Diamond Cutter on Corbin for a nearfall. Hallowicked then pinned Corbin with a second-rope suplex. Good match; some good wrestling to go with the silliness.

Eddie Kingston cuts a promo backstage. He turned face last night, saving Mickie Knuckles from a beatdown by Chris Hero. Kingston makes it clear he is not a ‘good guy’ by any means, but he’s not going to put up with Hero’s antics. Excellent promo.

(5) Mike Quackenbush & Equinox & Sabian & Eddie Kingston defeat Arik Cannon & Chris Hero & Claudio Castognoli & Gran Akuma at 20:14. Very good match, and best of the show. Equinox, who I saw for the first time on a tape in May, is small, wearing a red & blue outfit and mask. Sabian is a small black man, but he’s really fun to watch. I’m a big fan of Gran Akuma, who wears a mask; he has a good physique and a nice set of kicks in his offense. The announcers are a bit surprised that the relatively unknown Equinox is in such a big match. Larry Sweeney & Blind Rage are on commentary.

Kingston and Akuma opened the match, and they shoved each other, then traded some hard kicks to the spine. Cannon and Sabian entered, and they traded some quick mat holds, then Sabian hit a headscissors takedown. Claudio and Equinox enter the ring, and Claudio – who is a legit 6-foot-3-inches – towers over Equinox. “He might be a bit out of his league,” Rage said of Equinox. Equinox hit some fancy armdrags and a springboard press.

Hero and Quackenbush enter at 5:30 and they have some quick offense. Suddenly, all eight are in the ring, with some cool, well-choreographed quick offense. Quack hit a springboard plancha. Kingston hit a dive through the ropes on the heels. Back in the ring, Claudio worked over Equinox. The heels make several quick tags, beating down Equinox, with Akuma landing a hard kick to Equinox’ head. Claudio gave Equinox a Samoan Drop, tossing him all the way across the ring. Quack made the hot tag at 11:30, and he hit Hero with a back body drop.

Claudio picked up Quack, and he held him for a vertical suplex for 48 seconds before dropping him. Wow; that’s some strength! Hero entered and he hit Quack with a senton for a nearfall. Sabian tagged in, but the heels immediately started working him over, as Claudio nailed some of his hard European Uppercuts. Cannon hit a Wrist-Clutch Exploder on Sabian. In a really cool spot, the four heels hit simultaneous basement dropkicks on Sabian at 15:30.

Sabian turned a wheelbarrow into a Diamond Cutter on Hero and he made the hot tag at 17:30 to Kingston, who hit a double clothesline. Kingston hit a back suplex on Gran Akuma. Sabian hit a split-legged moonsault on Hero. Akuma hit a Code Red/sudden swinging sunset flip on Kingston. Suddenly, Quackenbush hit Hero with the Hero’s Welcome/spinning faceplant and pinned him. This was classic Chikara; great lucha action from start to finish.

After the match, Quack got on the mic and taunted Hero about losing to his own move. Kingston challenges Hero to a match on Aug. 13; Hero reluctantly accepts. Kingston promises the match will be a bloodbath. Kingston and Quack – longtime enemies in Chikara – hug after the match.

(6) Matt Turner & Anthony Franco defeat Cloudy & Cheech at 12:16 in a street fight. Franco has dyed his hair blonde. Turner & Franco (two more ROH students) no longer wear black trunks; they now don blue jeans, and it reminds me of the Smokin’ Gunns, and they are faces. Cloudy & Cheech have been part of the “Special K b-team” for a year or so. I like Cheech. All four brawl immediately, and it’s clear there is some bad blood here. There is brawling both in and out of the ring.

Matt Turner and Cheech brawl into the upper deck! Cheech got crotched on the guardrail that overlooks the lower level. Turner suplexed Cheech onto the floor in the second tier. Meanwhile, Cheech is working over Franco’s leg around a ringpost. The heels hit simultaneous Shining Wizards on Franco for a nearfall. Turner hit Cloudy with a Divorce Court Armbreaker, then he stomped on the arm.

Cheech hit a cool pumphandle back suplex on Turner. Franco NAILED Cloudy with a headbutt at 7:00 that popped the crowd. Ugly sound on that headbutt. All four brawled in the ring. Cheech hit a Shooting Star Press to break up a pin. The faces hit Cheech with a Spike Brainbuster for a nearfall at 10:00. Cloudy hit a 619 on Turner. The crowd is insanely hot. Franco hit a second-rope tombstone on Cloudy, and Turner covered Cloudy for the pin. “That was a street fight; that was no wrestling match,” an announcer said. Wow, that’s the best the ROH students have looked yet.

After the match, the other ROH students, Davey Andrews and Shane Hagadorn come out to shake hands with Turner & Franco, but they quite predictably turn on them and beat them up.

(7) Shane Storm defeats Icarus at 13:18 to win the Young Lion’s Cup tournament. Storm is chubby, wears a mask, and he is a construction worker; when he holds up a stop sign, it ‘freezes’ his opponent in place. (Hey, it’s Chikara.) Icarus has long, stringy hair. (On commentary once, CM Punk yelled, “Prazak, that woman has no boobs.”) Both Storm and Icarus cut pre-match promos in the back. Here, Larry Sweeney is on commentary, and he does an excellent job on play-by-play.

The match started with an intense lockup, and they trade stiff forearms. Storm hit a Stinger Splash, and they brawled to the floor. Storm held up the stop sign; it froze Icarus in place. Storm then gave the sign to a fan in the crowd; Storm entered the ring and hit a dive through the ropes on the frozen Icarus.

Back in the ring, Icarus hit a Catapult Senton, a nice dropkick to Storm’s head, a Camel Clutch, and a basement dropkick to the face. The crowd rallied behind Storm. They traded headbutts. Wrestlers started to come to ringside at 7:00, one at a time, to have a ringside seat for the match; it really made it seem like this match was important!

Storm hit a backbody drop and a spin kick. Icarus hit a DDT but he missed a moonsault. Storm hit a somewhat sloppy moonsault. Icarus hit a Pedigree, then he applied a headscissorslock. They brawled to the floor again at 10:30, and they entered the crowd. Icarus dove off a speaker onto Storm, then turned it into a Tornado DDT. Back in the ring, Icarus hit a frogsplash, but Storm got a foot on the ropes to break up the pin. The crowd is hot. Storm hit a Shining Wizard then a faceplant and scored the pin.

Sweeney was awesome on commentary, shouting, “Oh my God, he did it. He did it. Shane Storm is the champion.” All the wrestlers poured into the ring and picked up Storm and put him on their shoulders. A really cool moment, and a neat way to end the show.

Final thoughts: Tape runs two hours, 46 minutes. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big Shane Storm fan. However, this match was well-booked and he busted his ass in this big match. The wrestlers coming to ringside to watch, and the post-match celebration, made this match a big deal. The eight-man tag was every bit as good as I hoped, and it tops this card. The ROH students are soooo much better than when I first saw them in October 2004. Franco & Turner had an incredible match.

The early matches were so-so, but the last four matches were all lots of fun. One of my earlier complaints about Chikara was the commentary of Kingston & Sweeney was two heels in the booth. Here, Sweeney did a great job calling it down the middle, and the rotation of Sweeney, Ref Bryce Remsburg, Blind Rage and Kingston really worked for me.

Chikara is not for everyone. But if you’ve never seen one of their shows before, this is a good place to start. This tape gets a thumbs up, and can be purchased at www.smartmarkvideo.com.


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