(1) Team ROH beat Team Sendai Girls around 11:00. The show opened with one of the two King of Trios Semi-Finals matches between Team ROH and Team Sendai Girls. I'm one of those viewers who is always interested to see how the women look in the ring with men and, wow, did Team Sendai Girls impress with their aerial and mat wrestling techniques.
During the match, Team ROH busted out a Rock Band spoof with Maria acting like she was singing, the Young Bucks on guitar/drums, and Mike Bennett on another guitar... all the while holding two members of Team Sendai Girls in dual leg locks. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to CHIKARA. That silliness aside (I actually didn't care for it too much), almost all of the double-team moves were very crisp and I love how Team ROH didn't hold much back, including their superkicks and the final sequence before the finish (triple superkick, 450 splash, and Moonsault. Ouch).
Overall, this was a fun way to get the crowd invested to start the show accompanied by enthusiastic commentary. "Please come back!" chants were given to the losing team and I wholeheartedly agree. (**1/2)
- F.I.S.T. cut a promo and vowed to not use any staplers in their Semi-Finals match. But, they may use one in the Finals. Hilarious. Fun promo for the Friends In Similar Tights.
(2) Spectral Envoy beat F.I.S.T. around 15:00. The next King of Trios Semi-Finals match got underway after some great banter between the heels and crowd. I could listen to these guys all night. It's such a change of pace in wrestling to see guys have fun with what they're doing without caring about the repercussions. Icarus's Best in the World shirt gave me a laugh as well. Anyways, there was actual wrestling in this match, too, and it was quite good. Plus, the Spectral Envoy played the underdog role very well with Ultramantis Black wowing in the ring much to the crowd's delight. A dose of Chuck Taylor on commentary was hilarious as well.
In summary, I laughed a lot during this match just in case you didn't figure that out already. Every hot tag sequence for the Envoy was superbly done as well with the crowd digging the fast-paced action. Great nearfalls after the Awful Waffle from Taylor to Ultramantis and another when the ref was pulled out making a potential three count for the Envoy. Surprisingly, the DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Champ Johnny Gargano took the pinfall after Ultramantis hit the Cosmic Doom for the three count. (***)
- Sugar Dunkerton got a great reaction after more comedy post-match, as he sarcastically told F.I.S.T. that they "should've cheated" after a failed powder to the face spot before the finish. The crowd called them "Losers" as Chuck Taylor yelled at Dunkerton when he tried to help Gargano to his feet.
(3) Ophidian beat Saturyne around 10:00. Did I mention that I really enjoy seeing women wrestle when given the chance? Especially against men as I mentioned in the first match. It showcases what they can do in the ring, and seeing them fly all over the ring reminds me of seeing that style growing up. (Note to CHIKARA - bring Bull Nakano out of retirement, will ya?). I've seen Saturyne's name a lot throughout the last year, but had yet to see her in action. She was pretty impressive here, so I look forward to seeing more of her. She had an unfortunate slip on the top rope about midway through the match (the recovery was solid, though) and some spots seemed a bit clunky throughout. Fan reception wasn't that great, either, but it was still a fun match while it lasted and Saturyne played the underdog who doesn't quit exceptionally well. Ophidian won via submission. (**)
- Tim Donst & Jakob Hammermeier were interviewed post-match and talked about how they were going to win the upcoming 10-team Gauntlet. Those are my Cliff notes at least. Hammermeier's German accent was fantastic and gut-wrenchingly funny as well.
(4) 1-2-3 Kid & Marty Jannetty won a 10-team tag gauntlet around 25:00. The first match consisted of The Colony (Fire Ant & Green Ant) besiegen Tim Donst & Jakob Hammermeier. (See what I did there? I think that's German for defeating. If not, whoops.) The Devastation Corp was out next and pretty much cleared out the following teams with little fanfare: Art Garfunkel & Paul Simone, Jolly Roger & Lance Steel, and Johnny Miagi & Ralph Macchio, Jr. Then, Demolition (Ax & Smash) came down to a huge reaction and were eventually the ones to take out the Devastation Corp. This was followed up by a fun moment when the Faces of Pain sans Meng came out for a WrestleMania 5 classic staredown. Eventually, the Faces of Pain eliminated Demolition. Marty Jannetty & 1-2-3 Kid then took out the Faces of Pain and Los Ice Creams (Ice Cream Jr. & El Hijo del Ice Cream) for the finish. (*1/2)
- I honestly didn't care for this gauntlet much. It was a blast to see a WrestleMania 5 re-match between The Faces of Pain and Demolition, but even the final two teams weren't anything spectacular. A funny moment on commentary came when someone (there were so many that I can't recall who) asked if he was dreaming when Demolition's music hit. Jannetty and Kid did great, though, considering the miles on their bodies and carried the match as best they could. They definitely gave 100 percent, as did everyone else involved. It just didn't do much for me.
(5) Team Osaka Pro & 3.0 won an eight-man tag match around 20:00. Up next was Team 3.0 & Team Osaka Pro vs. Colt Cabana, The Swamp Monster, Darkness Crabtree, and Yohnel Sanders (w/The Gentleman's Club). Holy crap was this entertaining. I can't even explain all the fun spots in this match, but I'll do my best in the following list:
(1) A chicken was on commentary.
(2) Colt Cabana gave six men the reverse Boston crab at once.
(3) Darkness Crabtree "died" and then came back to life via smelling salt.
(4) Colt Cabana was pinned by the referee at one point.
This match could have easily been offensive to the Asian community and to the elderly viewers out there, but the match was so good at knowing it wasn't to be taken seriously that it was an absolute blast to watch. Also of note, there was a game of "Duck, Duck, Goose" during the match. No joke. That was one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a wrestling ring. Period. (N/A. This was a comedy match at it's finest and my current match of the year in terms of pure entertainment. Find this and watch it now.)
(6) Commando Bolshoi & Tsubasa Kuragaki beat Kaori Yoneyama & Manami Toyota around 15:00. A match that I was looking forward to was Commando & Kuragaki taking on Yoneyama & Manami Toyota. This was a very good tag match. All four women worked a great match and made each hot tag count. I'm always happy watching CHIKARA tag matches because they still make hot tags count despite the rule where when someone goes out of the ring, one of their partners can come right in legally. Anyways, between the power of Commando and the high-flying of Tsubasa you had a nice mesh of styles. I don't know much about Kaori, but she looks good as well Toyota was brilliant as always. Her ring psychology is off the charts. Not to mention how colorful all their attire is. Crazy. Regardless, another fun match that was one of the highlights of the entire show. (***)
(7) Tadasuke beat Jigsaw around 8:00. Next was Tadasuke of Osaka Pro vs. Jigsaw before the main event. This wasn't too bad, but it wasn't anything spectacular either. Jigsaw was incredible with his selling throughout, though. The match didn't go very long and didn't really get out of first gear, but it was in a good place on the card where the crowd could settle down a bit before the big KoT Finals. How Jigsaw isn't with TNA at least is a mystery to me. Tadasuke was very impressive as well as I haven't seen any of his work previously. The knockout finish was interesting and a change of pace, too. (**)
- Lastly, the main event, the 2012 King of Trios Finals. The fans did a drumroll on the ring apron prior to the entrance of The Spectral Envoy (Ultramantis Black, Hallowicked, and Frightmare) and Team Ring of Honor (The Young Bucks & "The Prodigy" Mike Bennett w/"The 1st Lady of ROH" Maria Kanellis).
(8) Spectral Envoy beat Team ROH around 20:00 to win King of Trios 2012. Man, this was a great match. The energy of the fans put it over the top with some fantastic false finishes and despite some interference, it actually didn't take away from the match much (It just stacked the deck more for the Spectral Envoy). Some of the best spots were one of the Young Bucks superkicking Maria by accident, who took it like a champ, and a huge superplex off the top rope to the outside on to about 12 guys by Ultramantis Black. There was also a nasty spot with the double-piledriver on Ultramantis courtesy of the Young Bucks on the ramp.
The energy of the crowd was fantastic for this as they really hit their peak at the right time. This show in general has been solid with the wrestling improving throughout the course of the night, yet this bout truly was the main event. The crowd went ballistic when Crossbones made his appearance to neutralize the Batari, including Delirious, from interfering in the match. Despite the craziness at the end, the right team won and the fans loved it. The story made it that much better. The Spectral Envoy won via submission to win the tourney. (****)
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a great show. I'm giving it an 8.0. I'm always a fan of the KoT and while I thought that 2011 was a bit better (just comparing both final nights, not as a whole), I'd give this a very solid recommendation, especially if you're already a fan of CHIKARA. The eight-man tag match and KoT Finals put this easily from at 7.0 or 8.0 alone. Oddly enough the women's tag match up until the finals I thought was the best match of the night. But, between the comedy, commentary, and big-match feel that the finals brought, you couldn't go wrong. A side note on the commentary - all nine guys who did commentary throughout were great, especially Dasher Hatfield. He had a...unique style and I love how each match had someone different.
One thing that did bring down the show a bit for me was the setting. There weren't any signs that I could see with the CHIKARA name or logo and even the ramp looked very bland. Those are minor nit-picks though as I'm not the guy handling CHIKARA's checkbook. It just would've been nice to see a bit more flair. On the positive side, pre-match screens looked amazing and being a comic book fan myself, those types of graphics were a pleasant sight before each match. The crowd seemed smaller than last year, but they were into the show for most of the duration minus a few matches
I'd strongly suggest checking this show out and without seeing Nights One or Two, I still enjoyed it and strongly doubt seeing those in advance would have made much of a difference. Pick this one up over at SmartMarkVideo.com for only $12 or $15 (Downloadable MP4 or DVD).
Agree? Disagree? Keep the debate rolling on Twitter - @TheCommonFan
Jimmy occasionally writes a Retrospective/Perspectives of of the Common Fan column for the Pro Wrestling Torch on nostalgia/independent scenes and can be found on Sean Radican's Wrestling Community Audio page/show yapping about independent wrestling from time to time. He also blogs about gaming, sports, movies, and other entertainment mediums via his website, www.potcf.blogspot.com. Speaking of which, be sure to "Like" the Radican's Wrestling Community Page! www.facebook.com/SeanRadicanRWC.
[Photos courtesy of Chikara Special and Dragon Driver Wrestling]
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