Last Sunday I ordered the stream of CHIKARA’s return show. I had a blast watching and reviewing You Only Live Twice. To my surprise the wrestling and stories is not what caught my eye during the broadcast. What I enjoyed the most though were the advertisements that ran in between the matches. They were colorful and fun, a perfect mirror of the promotion itself. The ads were also unique in that they were not just shilling upcoming shows or t-shirts but videogames. Not just any videogames but a puzzle game and a choose your own adventure for mobile devices! I’m a sucker for choose your own adventures so I of course I had to buy it. I had a blast playing it and will share more detailed thoughts later in the column. I also discovered that company did not stop at games. Chikara’s merchandise page lists a full length film and an e-book as other unusual products not often seen in the wrestling world. So, without any further exposition let’s check two of them out.
This is the choose your own adventure game that CHIKARA put out. The game starts off with the reader being thrust into a blackout at the Palmer Center in Easton, PA. What the reader’s first choice is will determine what character you will play as. I went with the option to explore the roof and ended up as Fire Ant. My adventure as Fire Ant had me encountering a strange extra-terrestrial ship. I will not spoil what happens beyond that point but will say it is wacky and very amusing.
Overall, the game is an interesting thing for a wrestling company to do with its characters. As a whole, we only see wrestling characters in the ring or backstage. That leaves their character development a little static. By using wrestling personalities in something like a choose your own adventure game it allows for fans to said personality in a different light, even if the story is non-canonical. I also believe that it reminds fans that the product is not always action driven and investing in the characters is just as important as watching a dude get dropped on his head.
This a compilation and expansion of the From Ashes videos that prefaced CHIKARA’s return this May. The film chronicles what happens to the wrestlers after the promotion is closed and how they adjust to life without it. The acting isn’t De Niro quality but everyone does their job very well and the story is very uplifting. A montage near the end of the movie gave me major goose bumps.
From what I know this movie is the first of its kind, a continuation of a storyline outside the squared circle. Several exciting possibilities arise this. Much like the game I wrote about earlier a film allows for a promotion to further develop characters and stories. Since the story is being expanded that means that larger questions can asked of the audience and explored thoroughly. That puts wrestling into a very new category, that of a serious medium. Image this, by using a film or web series fans could see how events at the arena effect the smaller details of their favorite wrestler’s life. It could be used to expand the relationship between manager and wrestler or tag team partners. If a promotion really wanted to be ambitious they could even do a series of prequels to explore a wrestler’s earlier in character life.
I originally wanted to write about these products just to plug them because I enjoyed them and thought readers of the site would as well. The more I pondered about them though I realized the possibilities they represent for wrestling story telling. Both the videogame and film medium can enhance the way we sympathize with our favorite wrestlers. In the same light they can also expand the depth and quality of storylines beyond the limited form now seen on television. Granted I may be reaching for the stars with my thoughts but I sincerely do hope they come to fruition one day because wrestling would be so much richer an experience if they did.