On Saturday, May 18th, I had the great fortune of being in attendance for the Chikara Tag World Grand Prix in my hometown of Chicago, sitting front row for my first ever experience with the promotion and excited as could be. I must admit that I've only been aware of Chikara for about eight months now, but thanks to the wonderful cSs Commentariat, I was convinced that I needed to see them live after enjoying a few videos on YouTube. I brought my little marble pad to take notes because I knew that I wanted to do a fan post about the event.
The Tag World Grand Prix hadn't been done in four years, as ring announcer Gavin Loudspeaker informed us during his introduction, but it was a massive event, so it had to be broken up into two stages, an afternoon card and an evening card, with the evening card boasting two bonus singles matches in addition to the conclusion of the TWGP. A sixteen team, single elimination tournament was guaranteed to have a lot of great moments. Overall I watched 17 (technically 16) matches over the course of about six and a half hours. I don't want to fully spoil the first round results for everyone, so bear with me as I offer my overall impression first.
Before the show started, I was able to buy Colt Cabana's "I * Colt" shirt (finally) and I had the pleasure of shaking his hand. I bought Estonian Thunder Frog's shirt, which he thanked me in his best Eastern European accent followed by a hug. I also shook Bryce Remsburg's hand finally and had him sign my event poster. Let it be known here that everyone involved with Chikara was super nice and should be commended on being so friendly and engaging.
Chikara is truly a sight to behold. Behind all the gimmicks, masks, comedy, and other absurdities lies some truly amazing wrestlers who are dedicated to the sport and put on a great show. I knew that Chikara advertised itself as a "family friendly/all ages" atmosphere, which I foolishly thought would be kind of corny and diminish the overall experience, but I could not have been more wrong. There was something for everyone but I can safely say that all the fans connected with the whole show.
I hate to make this comparison, but it struck me Sunday morning: WWE needs to take notes from Chikara on how to run a PG show. WWE's version of PG is largely boring as it is "sports entertainment". Hell, it seems like WWE is forgetting the "Wrestling" part of World Wrestling Entertainment. Sure, WWE doesn't really acknowledge its competition (except to sign their talent), but for a company that has so much money and so many resources (and lots of talent), they could surely do a better job of making a PG show that's entertaining on a more consistent basis, especially in regards to the actual wrestling.
::steps off soap box::
Now, without further ado I present the first round match-ups, results, and reactions. Keep in mind that this was my first time seeing a lot of these performers, so I didn't know much about them or their gimmicks.
Match 1- The Baltic Siege (The Estonian Thunderfrog & Latvian Proud Oak) vs The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson)
The Baltic Siege came out to a huge pop, with Thunder Frog carrying his version of Thor's hammer (which came into play later). Holy cow the roof almost came off of the building because everyone was so excited to see The Young Bucks. The match was fast-paced and featured many great spots, including the Bucks trying (and failing) to use Thunder Frog's hammer against him and another massive pop when Baltic Siege did a leapfrog into the corner on the Bucks. The tide turned quickly after that as the Bucks landed a spike tombstone on Thunder Frog to end the match.
Winner- The Young Bucks
Match 2- The Colony: X-treme Force (Orbit Adventure Ant and DeviANT) vs The Spectral Envoy (Frightmare and Hallowicked)
The match started off with a bang when the Spectral Envoy came out second and immediately stormed the ring to attack X-treme Force. Frightmare was a ball of energy, flying all over the ring and throwing himself at both DeviANT and Orbit Adventure Ant constantly. The match featured a lot of Lucha spots from Frightmare and some sound technical work from Hallowicked. They had control the entire match until Orbit Adventure Ant had Frightmare on the ground and removed his mask and got the pin. Referee Bryce Remsburg noticed the mask on the mat and reversed the decision, giving the Spectral Envoy the victory.
Winner- Spectral Envoy via Disqualification
Match 3- The Batiri (Kodama and Obariyon) vs The Bravado Brothers (Lancelot and Harlem)
This was another high energy match with a lot of great technical wrestling by the Bravados and plenty of quick Lucha action by the Batiri. Control of the match went back and forth between both teams but when the Bravados were in charge, they looked unstoppable. The Batiri managed to counter and find ways to keep them off balance though and used their quickness to slow down Lancelot and Harlem. It worked well enough at the end when Kodama landed a top rope spike DDT on Lancelot for the victory.
Winner- The Batiri
Match 4- Zero Gravity (CJ Esparza and Brett Gakiya) vs The Day Walkers (Alex Castle and Matt Cage) w/Gangrel
Apparently Castle and Cage had a gimmick change recently because they were advertised as the Kentucky Buffet but came out with vampire overlord extraordinaire Gangrel as the Day Walkers. The crowd went nuts when he came out first and did his blood spit thing. The match was another fast paced one, with Zero Gravity living up to their name and flying every which way. If they could've reached the ceiling, I think they would've dove from a support beam. There were a lot of back and forth moments, with Castle and Cage hitting a power move then Zero Gravity landing a quick strike in response. Cage finally stopped the tide by super kicking Esparza into Castle doing a bridging belly to back suplex for the win.
Winner- The Day Walkers
Match 5- Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream, Jr) vs The Colony (Fire Ant and Green Ant)
Although there had been some comedic moments in the previous matches, this match was hilarious due to the antics of Los Ice Creams. When they weren't being funny, they were wrestling a great match with the Colony and giving them everything they could handle. Even though it was mostly comedic, it slowed everything down just enough after the four consecutive fast-paced matches while still delivering great action. The Colony managed to isolate Ice Cream, Jr long enough to deliver a top rope splash and get the victory.
Winner- The Colony
Match 6- Devastation Corporation (Max Smashmaster and Blaster McMassive) vs Gary the Barn Owl and Pierre Abernathy
This was originally supposed to be the Heart Throbs vs Devastation Corporation, but the Heart Throbs couldn't make it to the event, so it quickly became a squash match (literally) with Devastation Corporation obliterating Gary the Barn Owl after tossing Abernathy out of the ring.
Winner- Devastation Corporation
Match 7- AC/DC (Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin) vs Heidi Lovelace and Saturyne
Two things stuck out about this match. First being the hilarity from AC/DC trying to not inappropriately touch Heidi and Saturyne while still trying to figure out how to wrestle them. Lot's of juvenile laughs ensued throughout the match, but it was done very well and in good taste, especially when Heidi and Saturyne took the fight to the men and didn't back down. The second thing was Darin's slow-motion gimmick. I didn't know that that was his thing, but BAH GAWD it had me in stitches and the crowd was really into it. The match was fantastic until the end when Saturyne botched a springboard cross body and face planted on the mat. Cannon did a good job of recovering and quickly transitioning into the BRAINBUSTAH for the victory.
Match 8- Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw and The Shard) vs Da Soul Touchaz (Acid Jazz and Marshe Rockett)
This match was fairly slow but had a hot crowd because Jigsaw and The Shard were reviled and Da Soul Touchaz were the hometown heroes. More sound wrestling at its finest and lots of smack talking to the crowd by Jigsaw. Acid Jazz managed to screw up his ankle at one point, so Pieces of Hate exploited that to the bitter end, with The Shard capturing Jazz in the Ankle Lock for the victory.
Winner- Pieces of Hate
So that was that, if you want more results, let me know because there were a lot of other great moments throughout the event, including DC flying into the crowd, clipping a kid, and the kid getting up and dusting himself off to a huge pop from the crowd. If you've never been to Chikara and they're coming to a town near you, go, you won't regret it.