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Tape Review: Chikara, "International Invasion, First Stage," Sept. 16, 2005, with Hero, Quackenbush, Castognoli, KUDO

Dec 6, 2005 - 2:31:00 PM
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By Chris Vetter, Torch Contributor

Chikara Pro presented “Son of the International Invasion of International Invaders – 1st Stage” on Sept. 16, 2005, in Reading, Penn. The long title refers to the main event, a six-man lucha-style tag. One team is comprised of a Mexican wrestler and two Japanese wrestlers, taking on three American wrestlers.

The crowd here is about 70, which is fairly typical for Chikara shows.

The tape opens with one promo after another. Allison Danger promised to get her revenge on Sumie Sakai. Eddie Kingston talked about his hatred for Chris Hero, focusing more on Hero than on his opponent for this show, Gran Akuma. Outlaw Adam Knight listed his credentials in the ring. Larry Sweeney told us how wonderful he is. Icarus said he will take the Young Lion’s Cup, which rightfully belongs to him. Milano & Arai & Skayde cut a promo, none of it in English.

I like these vignettes – they give the viewer a sense of all the wonderful, weird, fun personalities in Chikara. I wish they could mix these in between all the matches, rather than tape all of them and put them all together in one spot – the beginning of the tape. Larry Sweeney is on commentary early, but this becomes a rotating position, as Chris Hero, Reckless Youth, referee Bryce Remsburg and Eddie Kingston each do at least one match in the booth.

(1) Lance Steel & Lance Steel defeat Dr. Cheung & Darkness Crabtree at 8:46. All comedy stuff, but I didn’t find it all that funny… this humor wears thin quickly. All four men here wear masks. Crabtree is an octogenarian, moving slowly around the ring. Lance Steel… as his gimmick goes… is a time-displaced knight from the 16th century. So the two Lance Steels are actually the same person, plucked from different points in the space-time continuum. Dr. Cheung has a poor physique.

Crabtree walks the ropes slowly. The heels tried to do Lance Steel’s joust move, but Crabtree collapsed. Dr. Cheung chopped Steel in the chest, but Steel’s chestplate hurt Cheung’s hand. Steel applied a Sharpshooter on Crabtree, who looked like he was having a heart attack. Crabtree tapped out. Silliness, but I didn’t find it entertaining.

(2) Sumie Sakai defeats Allison Danger at 6:24. Solid women’s action. Reckless Youth is on commentary, and he flat-out states his distain for women’s wrestling… so why did he draw this match? Danger hit a shoulder tackle and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Sakai stalled on the floor. Sakai put Danger in a Fujiwara armbar, and she bit Danger on the arm when the ref was out of position!

Sakai did her spots where she pulled Danger’s hair, only to let go on the four count. The crowd enjoys this. They traded rollups. Sakai hit a nice Northern Lights suplex, but she missed a Frogsplash. Danger hit a Northern Lights Suplex. Sakai hit a 619, then a missile dropkick. Out of nowhere, Sakai kissed Danger on the lips; this froze Danger, and Sakai rolled up Danger for the pin. Reckless Youth popped for the finish.

(3) Larry “Sweet N’ Sour” Sweeney defeats “Gentleman” Jervis Cottonbelly at 6:39. This is Jervis’ Chikara debut. He has ugly yellow pants, a black top, and as his name suggests, a white stomach on his outfit. Like most Chikara wrestlers, he wears a mask. Sweeney has his ICW/ICWA Tex Archana TV Title, a phantom title he won, and reportedly defends regularly, in the South.

Sweeney hit a spine kick, and they do some very basic arm reversals. Sweeney hit some punches to the face and a butterfly suplex, then a second-rope elbow drop for a nearfally. Cottonbelly got in a crossbody block for a nearfall. Sweeney did a folding press rollup for the clean pin. Flat match; Jervis is really, really, really green, and Sweeney (who I enjoy watching) basically walked him through this match. Cottonbelly is upset that Sweeney didn’t shake his hand after the match.

(4) Rorschach defeats Shiima Xion at 6:10. So-so match. Rorschach wears a mask; I don’t get what his character is. Xion comes from Pittsburgh’s IWC promotion; he is a Filipino model, with big, pouffy hair. Xion tied up Rorschach’s legs, and Xion reached for a bottle of hair spray to touch up his hair. Funny. Rorschach hit some chops. Shiima hit a dropkick. Rorschach hit a flying double knees to the chest.

They traded punches and Xion hit a standing neckbreaker. Rorschach hit a T-Bone Suplex for a nearfall at 5:30, then a standing powerbomb. Rorschach tied up Xion’s arms and cranked forward on Xion, in a move the announcers called “The Rorschach lock,” and Xion tapped out. Basic stuff.

...Ok, the student matches are over with, now on to the matches that made me buy this tape…

(5) Gran Akuma defeats Eddie Kingston at 9:17. Good match. Akuma is my favorite Chikara student. Chris Hero is on commentary, and Kingston is glaring at him. Kingston hit a doublestomp and some chops. Akuma twisted Kingston’s left leg and he applied a modified Figure Four Leglock, but Kingston reached the ropes. Akuma hit a dropkick on Kingston’s knee and a spine kick, then he got in a Figure Four at 4:00.

Kingston hit a standing powerbomb, but he sold his injured knee. Akuma took over with a nice crucifix bomb for a nearfall, some Kawada Kicks, a “Yoshi Tonic”/Code Red, and some spin kicks to the chest. Kingston came back with some chops. Akuma put Kingston in a leg submission hold, and Kingston tapped out. I enjoyed this match.

(6) Chris Hero defeats Adam Knight at 10:58. My first time seeing Knight, who is a legit 6’3 and perhaps 270 pounds (I’m guessing based on how much bigger he is than Hero.) Knight does the cowboy gimmick, but his outfit is an ugly blue singlet with gold trim, and he has a poor physique. Kingston is on commentary, and he mumbles about his dislike for Hero throughout the match.

They traded armholds, and Hero hit some chops. Knight hit some armdrags, chops and a clothesline in the corner. Hero threw some punches and he choked Knight. Hero hit a cravat twisting neckbreaker for a nearfall at 6:30. He jawed with Kingston, then he hit a senton. Knight came back with a spinebuster for a nearfall at 9:00, then a hard clothesline for a nearfall.

Hero hit a top-rope doublestomp, then a roaring forearm. Hero applied the Hangman’s Clutch/modified STF, and Knight tapped out. Fairly basic match, slightly above average.

(7) Claudio Castognoli defeats KUDO at 9:28. Very good match for the time given. They opened with some nice mat wrestling, and KUDO hit a standing dropkick and spin kicks to the chest. Claudio caught KUDO’s leg on one of the kicks, and he hit a Dragon Screw Legwhip. Claudio began to work over KUDO’s knee, and he put him in a modified Indian Deathlock. Claudio hit a basement dropkick to the face for a nearfall and some stiff forearms.

KUDO hit an enziguri, and he tied Claudio up in the ropes at 5:30. KUDO hit a Tajiri-style spin kick for a nearfall, then a running double knees shot to the chest. KUDO missed his finisher, a top-rope double knee drop. Claudio went back to work on KUDO’s knee, and he applied a modified STF, but KUDO reached the ropes.

KUDO hit a series of kicks to Claudio’s head for a nearfall. KUDO nailed his flying double knees to the chest for a believable nearfall at 9:00. Claudio fired back with a flying European Uppercut. He then hit a roaring European Uppercut that sent KUDO flying! The referee checked KUDO, and he determined that KUDO was knocked out, and he stopped the match. Good action, and they really got over that Castognoli’s European Uppercuts are a lethal maneuver.

(8) Shane Storm defeats Icarus at 9:19 to retain the Young Lions Cup. Solid, slightly above average match. Storm wears a colorful mask; he is a construction worker, and he’s really popular here. Icarus has long stringy hair, and I just don’t buy him as a heel. The Young Lions Cup is essentially a title belt; it can be defended, and lost, by its holder.

Icarus speared him, and they brawled on the floor. Storm hit a big senton in the ring, but he missed a dive to the floor. Icarus hit a dropkick for a nearfall and a senton. Storm hit a Stinger Splash. Icarus hit a lungblower and an elbow drop for a nearfall at 4:30. Storm hit a back suplex, and both men were down. They traded stiff forearms and Storm hit a second-rope moonsault for a nearfall. Storm then hit a Goldberg Jackhammer for a nearfall. The crowd was hot.

Icarus hit a flip bulldog/sliced bread #2 for a nearfall, but he missed a Frogsplash. Storm hit a German Suplex, but he missed his “That Japanese Move”/Shining Wizard. Icarus hit a Pedigree and he applied a headscissorslock. Storm escaped it and he hit an Air Raid Crash/Kryptonite Krunch off the second rope for the pin. Solid, above-average match, but not as good as their match a couple months earlier in the finals of the Young Lion Cup Tournament.

NOTE: Storm’s theme song is Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle.” Eddie Kingston, on commentary, sings along with it after the match is over. Unintentionally hilarious!

(9) Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw & Reckless Youth defeat Skayde & Milano Collection AT & Chuichiro Arai at 18:31. It is awesome matches like this, that I order Chikara tapes. Milano wore his white trunks with red & green stripes to represent Italy; he is much bigger than everyone else in this match. My first time seeing Arai, who wore black & red pants.

Quackenbush and Skayde started and they traded quick arm reversals. This is all fast lucha reversals – armdrags, kipups, a variety of headscissor takedowns, etc. Jigsaw and Milano square off, and Milano tied him in the ropes, then hit a hard dropkick on Jigsaw. Arai and Reckless tag in at 5:30, and Reckless applied some nice armlock submission holds, then he put Arai in a Sharpshooter.

Arai hit some headbutts… apparently he is supposed to have hard headbutts. Quack is so smooth, so natural in the ring, as he hit some armdrags on Milano, then tied up Milano’s leg behind Quack’s head. Jigsaw hit a crossbody block on two of his opponents. The foreign team hit three simultaneous dives on the U.S. team at 13:00. Milano hit some big chops on Jigsaw, and his team began to work over Jigsaw. Reckless & Quack hit double dives to the floor at 18:00. In the ring, Jigsaw picked up Arai and hit him with a “Jig N Tonic,” essentially an inverted Pedigree, for the pin. Fun, fast-paced match, with action I’m not seeing anywhere else right now.

After the match, Reckless Youth got on the mic and thanked the fans for coming, and he applauded Skayde and Milano, and all six guys exchanged hugs in the ring. Neat, classy end to this show.

Final thoughts: Tape runs 2 hours, 26 minutes. I enjoy Chikara. Sure, the workrate is not going to match the quality in ROH or PWG. But the storylines are fun and simple, and it looks like these are fun shows to attend and be part of the crowd.

On this tape, the undercard was not good. Of the first four matches, the women’s match is the only one worth viewing again. The main event is best of the night, with KUDO-Claudio just edging out Akuma-Kingston for second-best.

I’ve said this before: Chikara is not for everyone. Some people won’t like their humor, or their family-friendly style, or their focus on Lucha action. To me, those are all draws, not drawbacks. Check out this promotion at www.chikarapro.com and purchase this tape at www. Smartmarkvideo.com for $15.


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