On May 25th, 2014, exactly 12 years after their first show, Chikara is back. This is good news. No, this is great news. For the wrestling fan who has found their love of wrestling in the eight months without Chikara this couldn’t have come a day sooner. As WWE fails to understand the wants of their most dedicated fans and TNA continues to fail to understand the basic idea of good business, the return of Chikara is the greatest thing. I can’t wait for Chikara to return.
Which isn’t to say that it is all sunshine and roses. At the end of the long eight months I find myself with more questions than answers. I know that this was designed, that this was a story and that Chikara had to tell this story to get to where they wanted to go. I know all of this, but I still have one question: why?
Before we get further into that let’s catch everyone up with the story and how we got here:
(I’m going to do this bullet point style to try and avoid this post being 10,000 words.)
- Worldwide Media Development (WMD) bought Chikara. WMD was a subsidiary of the Titor Conglomerate.
- The Titor Conglomerate were bad dudes. They were owned by the Vavasseur family and employed their own private army, Condor Security.
- WMD inserted Conrad Vavasseur’s son, Wink, as the Director of Fun in Chikara. Wink was kind of a bumbling idiot, but he caused a lot of trouble in Chikara including removing Soldier Ant from the Colony and placing him in Gekido which made him go AWOL. He has not been seen since. He also brought in the Colony: Xtreme Force who may or may not have been somehow aligned with Condor Security.
- Archibald Peck traveled in time. A lot.
- Mike Quackenbush was given a package with information about the Vavasseur family at Wrestlecon from the No Private Army blog. He was fired shortly after. At some point (I assume) Quack gave this information to Derek Sabato.
- On June 2nd at Never Compromise, Sabato unveiled this information to the world. The photo he revealed showed Conrad Vavasseur’s link to Elohim City and some sort of Nazi extremist religious group.
- At this point the entire locker room was thrown out except for the participants in the main event (Icarus and Kingston) and, oddly, Archibald Peck. Before the match could end Condor Security hit the ring and threw everyone out. Thus ending Chikara.
- It was then announced that many of Chikara’s assets were up for auction including the ring entrance, lights and Campeonatos de Parejas. All future Chikara shows were canceled.
- While many Chikara wrestlers and personalities gave up, Icarus refused to. He set up the #IAmChikara movement which featured rallies around Pennsylvania and New York. People showed up to these rallies even though there was no wrestling and no promise of what would happen. Some fans who attended rallies were later harassed by Condor Security including phone calls and home visits. Scary stuff.
- Meanwhile, the Ashes videos started being posted. They featured Icarus’ quest to get the band back together, the Colony’s search for Soldier Ant/relationship with AssailANT and 3.0’s search for Archibald Peck.
- During one of Icarus’ rallies a fan named Thom was kidnapped by Condor Security. A video was posted that said in order to get him back fans needed to go back to the same place and compete in what turned out to be a scavenger hunt.
- The scavenger hunt took them all across the city of Philadelphia and featured many guest stars from the world of Chikara. At the end there was an envelope that they were supposed to turn over to Condor in exchange for Thom. (I should note that the Condor guys were wearing masks with long noses like an ant eater here.) Icarus exchanged this for a lookalike envelope and Thom was returned. Inside the REAL envelope was information that revealed that Titor planned to build another Elohim City Nazi-religious cult place in Easton on the grounds of the Funplex.
- The reveal of this information caused Titor to wipe their hands of this experiment and put up the Chikara name for sale.
- MEANWHILE, the Wrestling Is companies that picked up some of where Chikara left off began to get picked off.
- (Not) Dr. Cube shut down Wrestling is Awesome.
- The BDK shut down Wrestling is Cool.
- Sinn Bodhi shut down Wrestling is Art.
- Gekido shut down Wrestling is Intense.
- A combination of the above shut down Wrestling is Respect.
- Sometime in December Robbie Ellis bought Chikara. Robbie Ellis is a former Chikara wrestler/art dealer. He acquired it saying “a different type of art, but art nonetheless.”
- The super-evil group tried to shutdown Wrestling is Fun!, but Icarus rallied the troops to stop them.
- However, on National Pro Wrestling Day the evil supergroup promised it would bring it’s full force to shut it down and kill Chikara for good.
- 3.0, in the Ashes video, found Archibald Peck, but he said it was too late and Chikara had already lost. They were in the future in Parts Unknown and there was only one way to get back. Meanwhile, Icarus seemed to finally raise all the troops.
- During the main event of National Pro Wrestling Day, the evil supergroup hit the ring and tried to shut down the show. They brought everyone: Dr. Cube, Gekido, Sinn Bodhi, BDK, Devastation Corporation and Condor Security. (The long nosed masked guys from the scavenger hunt, one of which ended up being Jimmy Jacobs.)
- However, Chikara brought everyone too with even the Submission Squad pitching in to help. The fight was ongoing when 3.0 and Archibald Peck arrived in a Delorean (thus traveling through time) and evened the odds. The bad guys ran away, Chikara was coming back on 5/25/14 and everyone was happy.
If you haven’t already go ahead and watch it. Fun starts at 1:57
It was a great, great ending and a moment of pure joy. It was so happy that long time enemies Archibald Peck and Mr. Touchdown hugged. All was right in the world and Chikara is coming back. Yay.
I am seriously happy about this so know that everything that I don’t like and every question that I have is asked with love.
Isn’t it kind of wrong to advertise shows in places you’ve never been with no intention of ever going there? The tickets weren’t on sale so I don’t think this was a bad promotional tactic, but (to me) people in places you go all the time would be more likely to understand their show being canceled. Chikara fans in South Dakota and other places were legitimately excited over the idea of Chikara finally coming to their town. The idea that we were supposed to know that those shows weren’t real because Chikara has never been there kind of makes them seem small time, no?
I’ve listened to Mike Quackenbush in a bunch of interviews and for the most part I agree with him 100% and I can even understand why he told this story from his perspective. What I don’t understand is if the idea of this is to “grow Chikara” and get them out there to a bigger audience then why do things like the scavenger hunt that only appeal to the most hardcore fans in the greater Philadelphia area? I consider myself a big Chikara fan and I live in Milwaukee. I couldn’t do anything, but sit back and wait for this thing to play out. I couldn’t even go to a Wrestling Is show because the midwest company ran Southern Illinois. Did they forget that Chicago is one of their hottest markets? I know Wrestling Is is the minor league baseball to Chikara’s MLB, but still. We want to play too.
Why take away the magic? The magic of Chikara only works when there is a ring involved. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. The videos, the blog posts are a diversion until we get that show with the ring and Chikara willingly took it away from us for eight months. I fully believe that the magic will still be there when it comes back, but I guess I just don’t fully understand why they’d take it away for so long. Let’s compare this on Chikara’s level. Chikara is a live action comic book, right? Well, what if your favorite comic book just stopped printing for eight months? And all you got during that eight months was comic strips in the newspaper once or twice a month? Would that be enough?
(Allow me to make Chikara’s argument back: Chikara is the Avengers. You don’t get the Avengers for eight months, but you do get stand alone issues of Captain America, Thor and Iron Man that tie into the story. Why wouldn’t that be enough?
My reply: Because I want the Avengers!)
In the lead-up to Never Compromise and in the immediate post-script there was a TON of interest in what was going on. Tons of speculation (my blog, Ole Wrestling, basically made it’s name in that period) and tons of chatter about what the heck was going on, but instead of capitalizing on that we just had to wait… and wait. The first Ashes video wasn’t until July 22nd and that was just a prelude. The first real one was August 19th. The first Icarus rally was July 20th and it was just like “I’m not giving up yet, stick with me.” And then there was more waiting. I know that to sell the reality of this situation they needed to give it time, but… why did they have to?
This is a business question and I know that Chikara doesn’t really think of itself like that so maybe I am stupid for asking it, but I think it needs to be asked anyway: Why skip Wrestlemania weekend? Last year was the biggest crowd in Chikara history. This year could’ve been even greater with all of the buzz surrounding the shutdown. Maybe not even “Chikara”, but an Icarus run “rebel show”. It could’ve continued the story and made them a lot of money. The same can be said in some way about King Of Trios.
Another business related question that maybe Chikara should be asking itself: What about the wrestlers? I know that Chikara doesn’t support anyone enough to be their full time job, but that is still a bunch of money that your guys didn’t get. Even if they were only making $25 that is still a bunch of merch table money your guys didn’t get a chance to see. Wrestling Is didn’t have the crowds that Chikara did. Is this why Tim Donst isn’t with them anymore? Is this why Jakob Hammermeir has been MIA for the most part? Is telling this story really worth losing one of your best guys? Or pissing off some of your other guys?
I know that the story isn’t over yet, but I just have to ask this anyways: Is that it? The cause of the Wrestling Is shutdowns was nobody fought back? Doesn’t that make those wrestlers on those shows look kind of stupid? What’s the deal with the bad guy supergroup? Is Jimmy Jacobs a Condor guy? How can we possibly reconcile that with everything we know? Was the scavenger hunt the end of the Titor storyline? These people took away our thing and they just walk away? Or are they in charge of the shutdowns? If so, did losing a single battle cause all these guys to quit and let Chikara come back? Because while that was a very special moment that doesn’t make eight months seem worth it to me. Again, I know it’s not over and “wait and see” and all that, but by May 25th it’ll be almost an entire year of waiting. I think we’re all sick of waiting.
But it’s not like we haven’t had reveals. We’ve had reveals, but many of them seem… lacking. Robbie Ellis as the new owner, AssailANT as the new Worker Ant, Icarus as the new Quackenbush, Jimmy Jacobs as a Condor guy(?); these are all interesting developments, but the bar has just been set so high that I don’t know if it’s enough and to be honest I don’t know what would be.
I want to point back to a Alan Moore quote right now because it feels right in the way that I’m feeling about all this:
Life is messy, inconsistent, and it’s seldom when anything ever really gets resolved.
I don’t believe this is what’s happening, but it’s definitely how I feel sometimes (which is not a feeling I like to have about my favorite thing). The events of National Pro Wrestling Day were probably the most well done thing I’ve seen in wrestling in a long time and are everything that I love about Chikara, but they should only be the groundwork for what is to come. After taking our thing away for so long Chikara needs to come back bigger and better than ever before. I hope they will. I believe they will.
Honestly, I hope in a few months I look back at this post and laugh at my lack of faith. In fact, I can’t wait for it.