CHIKARA just released their new DVD on November 6th entitled "Best of CHIKARA". 9 of CHIKARA's best CHIKARA Matches are reviewed, including Mike Quackenbush and Claudio Castagnoli's encounter at Negative Balance.|
WARNING: These ratings are based on how entertained I was during these matches. That means these matches could get 5-Stars based on amazing comedy and some OK wrestling. So serious raters... beware...
The DVD opens up with the old opening of the CHIKARA Podcast A-Go-Go, highlighting some of CHIARA Most Famous Moments. We end with a reverse rana, and instead of going to Mike Quackenbush and Wiggly in an elevator"� we join Chris Hero and Larry Sweeney on commentary for a Trios Match at the New Alhambra.
Shane Storm, Jigsaw and Mike Quackenbush (Tecnicos/Faces) vs. The Kings of Wrestling (Claudio Castagnoli, Icarus and Gran Akuma) (Rudos/Heels) (From Young Lions Cup IV Night 3 in Philly, PA 06/25/2006)
Akuma and Shane Storm open the match with a series of exchanged rest-holds. Storm executes a snap hurricanrana on Akuma, launching him out of the ring, thus Lucha tagging Claudio in. Storm tags Jigsaw in and the two plays with the crowd a bit. Jigsaw takes control after some nice modified arm drags, one of them sending Castagnoli to the outside. Akuma runs in and takes advantage of Jigsaw's back being turned. Icarus comes in to make it 2 on 1, but Storm comes in for the save. Nice London Bridges head-scissors/headlock takedown from Jigsaw to Akuma and Icarus. Icarus and Akuma stagger on their feet as all three Tecnicos (Jigsaw/Shane Storm/Mike Quackenbush) are ready to charge. Double Monkey Flip/Tope Con Hilo combo happens and it looked awesome.
The Tecnicos are cleaning house, and we finally see Quack and Claudio. The crowd is into it, but Claudio cheap shots Quack after faking a handshake. Quack out-does Claudio and gives him an arm-drag right after letting him out of a hurricanrana. Claudio has Quack in the corner and slaps his chest. He gloats to the crowd because he finally outsmarted Mike Quackenbush. Not so fast, Claudio. Quack then executes the Quacken-Rana (Inverted Headscissors Takedown). With Claudio on the outside of the ring, this gives Quack a chance to gloat himself. Quack climbs to the top and is about to dive onto Claudio. But, Claudio, that sly little mongrel he is, steps aside not even giving Quack a chance to jump off the rope. Seeing an alternative route, Quack hops from one set of ropes to the next, and takes Claudio down with a flipping senton. Running back into the ring, Quack runs to the Tecnicos Corner.
Akuma and Icarus help Claudio recoup. Jigsaw and Akuma now faceoff and exchange some stiff kicks. It seems that FIST has Jigsaw right where they want him, but after a series of reversals, all 3 men are down. Jigsaw gets rid of Claudio, arm-dragging him to the outside, but can't fight off Team FIST after taking two sentons in a row. Icarus tries to take off Jigsaw's mask, but doesn't want to get disqualified. The three trade off beating on Jigsaw. We see a Cattle Mutilation from Akuma on Jigsaw. Awesome. Jigsaw almost gets the hot tag, but is stopped by Icarus' sickening DDT. Though it only got a 2 count, it still did serious damage. Jigsaw takes a Trio Facebuster and is kicked to the arena floor. Storm runs in and tries to revive the Tecnicos' spirit, but only gets beat down. Akuma starts to work on Storm's left leg with a series of kicks and locks. Claudio and Akuma assist Icarus with a stiff dropkick. They then launch Icarus 10 feet into the air for a great looking senton. Storm rolls out the ring, and in comes Quack.
Castagnoli cuts him off and gives him a Pounce. The three now trade off on beating Quackenbush. We are teased with Quack hulking up, but Claudio cuts it short with a clothesline. Storm gets the tag in and FINALLY turns the tables. With everyone besides Jigsaw and Icarus on the outside brawling, Jigsaw is going to seek some revenge on Icarus. Icarus only gets two after reverse DDT because of a Quacken-Save. Quack gives Icarus the QD3, but is saved by Castagnoli. Storm gets a near fall after a reverse Air-Raid Crash, and Akuma tries to win the match after a 450 Splash. It's done FLAWLESSLY, and only gets two due to a save from Jig and Quack. Storm smacks Akuma with That Japanese Move and the pin gets broken up by Claudio and Icarus after two! This is intense.
The three try and put Quack away with a European Uppercut/Powerbomb/Back-Cracker 3-Man Combo. Even months after his back surgery, Quack STILL kicks out! The crowd is shocked as are the Rudos. Akuma takes out Storm, Jigsaw takes out Akuma, and Claudio launches Jigsaw through the roof with an uppercut. Quack sees his chance to capitalize. After a series of reversals, he slaps on the La Quackica and turns it into a crucifix pin. The finish is her"� NO. Claudio kicks out! Quack, Claudio, Akuma and Storm brawl to the floor, and leave Icarus and Jigsaw in the ring. After reversing each other's finishers multiple times, Icarus sets Jigsaw up for the Pedigree. Jigsaw rolls out of it and catches Icarus' foot. Icarus, with nowhere to go, slips off Jigsaw's mask. (In Lucha-Libre, taking off your opponents mask results in automatic disqualification.)
Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw and Shane Storm beat The Kings of Wrestling (Team FIST and Claudio Castagnoli) after Icarus took Jigsaw's mask off. (*** 1/2) This was a solid enough match to have this type of ending. It seemed to drag on a bit, but not in a bad way.
Shane Storm vs. Chris Hero (From The Crushing Weight of Mainstream Ignorance in Hellertown, PA on 07/22/2006)
This match is coming off what was said to be one of the best cards of the year. The two trade off the upperhand tricky move after tricky move, but Hero gets the last laugh after a Yakuza Kick on the outside of the ring. The crowd consists of about 60-70 people, all of which are chanting "HEEEEERO!"�. Hero shows up the crowd every single time by executing a jerk move to Storm, one being a head butt. Storm almost has the upperhand, but is taken back down with a snap suplex. He follows it with a reverse senton for a two count. The fight spills outside and Hero manhandles Storm with slams and a double stomp to the midsection. Hero can't believe Storm kicked out after those two moves, and the crowd chanting Storm. Hero has been large and in charge basically all of the match, and is just toying with Storm now. Storm lifts the knees, reversing a senton, giving Storm the momentum he needed. Storm has Hero down with an arm-drag outside the ring, and then a Headscissors onto the hard tile floor. Storm is really playing off a head injury, possibly after the head butt and other jerk moves from Hero. This almost lead to his downfall after a Cravate Facebuster near fall. Storm reversed the Hero's Welcome into some forearms and takes Hero down to the ground. Sunset Flip gives Storm a 2 Count and he follows it up with a German Suplex for another 2 fall. Storm looks exhausted and broken down. Hero cuts off Storm's That Japanese Move with a vicious forearm and rolls him up for the win.
Chris Hero beat Shane Storm after a stiff forearm to the face. (** ¾) This match lacked enthusiasm on Shane Storm's part. His forearms looked sloppy and weak, and they were only getting weaker and weaker as the match progressed. Strange match to put on a Best of DVD.
Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) vs. Milano Collection A.T. & Skayde (Tag World Grand Prix Finals to decide the first Campeones de Parejas. Tag World Grand Prix Night 3 in Philadelphia, PA on 02/06/2006)
Hero and Milano open the finals match with some classic chain wrestling. The crowd is pretty full, and most of them are behind Milano and Skayde. After being bested my Milano with a submission hold, Hero backs off and strategizes with Castagnoli. Milano is in KOW's Corner and invites Hero to hit him. He ducks out of the way and Hero knocks Castagnoli off the apron. Milano ties up Hero in the ropes and gives him a dropkick to the face. Hero and Castagnoli strategize, and we now have Castagnoli and Skayde chain wrestling. This is a different style of chain wrestling though; I'd describe it as European Locks into Lucha Trickery Submissions. Some interesting moves and pins ensue, as well as arm-drags. Quackenbush on commentary describes Skayde tonight as "On His Game"�, and I couldn't agree with him anymore. Awesome sequence of different variations of arm-drags from Skayde which lead to a rollup and a near fall. Castagnoli tags in Hero and they take advantage of the 5-Second Rule, and Skayde is double teamed. Hero breaks down Skayde for a bit and tags in Claudio. The Kings of Wrestling had such great chemistry, they tagged at the perfect moments and their double team moves were flawless. They shine their light even brighter when they gave Skayde an assisted rolling shoulder block in the corner. Though it was very effective, it only resulted in a 2 count. Skayde reverses another one of their double team moves and gets the hot tag. Milano cleans house and is gaining more and more fans every time he gets in the ring. The tides change yet again after Claudio gave Milano a reverse suplex. Hero gets knocked out after a Milano superkick into a twisting senton legdrop into the AT Lock! Claudio tries to break it but Milano won't let go. Skayde sends Claudio to the outside leaving Hero to suffer. He escapes and rolls out the ring and the fans are going nuts. Another near ending happens next when both men slap submissions on the Kings of Wrestling. They both escape, and somehow are in charge. They execute a double Ricola Bomb on Skayde after a sitout spinning leg lock bomb (move name anyone?) from Castagnoli. And THIS"� this is the end my friends.
The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) defeated Milano Collection A.T. and Skayde after the Kings of Wrestling gave Skayde double team Ricola Bomb. (****) Anticipation, high spots, crazy arm-drags, great teamwork. You name it, this match had it. Skayde's moves could have flowed a little more fluent, but for being 42 years old at that time; I wouldn't expect much more from his performance. If anything, he overshot my expectations by a long shot.
Sumie Sakai, Daizee Haze and Mickie Knuckles vs. Allison Danger, Ranmoru and Rain (Tag World Grand Prix Night 3 in Philadelphia, PA on 07/26/2006)
Mickie Knuckles and Allison Danger start the match off with some nice chain-holds with Mickie giving some sick arm-wrenches. The holds evolve to forearms and punches, and goes onto head butts! Both of the ladies feel the need to tag out, and we get a new faceoff with Haze and Rain. God stuff went and passed, and led to a Sumie Sakai/Ranmoru martial arts standoff. Very Matrixy stuff happens here, which isn't necessarily bad, but it's somewhat slow"� so it's kinda bad. More forearm/kicks/head butt wars follow between Knuckles and Ranmoru. Mickie Knuckles takes advantage when she sees Ranmoru and Rain outside, and takes em out with a suicide dive. Daizee Haze cross bodied the three, and that leaves Sumie and Allison all alone. Sumie goes for a school boy (school girl?), but Allison reverses it with a pin of her own for the 3-Count!
Allison Danger, Ranmoru, and Rain defeated Sumie Sakai, Daizee Haze, and Mickie Knuckles when Danger pinned Sakai (** ¾.) This match was good, but it looked a bit too repetitive to actually pull me in. Don't get me wrong, it's watchable and enjoyable, it just doesn't have the "it"� factor
Hallowicked vs. Jigsaw (International Invaders Weekend in Pittston, PA on 09/17/2005)
This match is old school. They're wrestling in a building I've never seen before, and Jigsaw is wearing a singlet with pants over it. Nonetheless, it looks like a fantastic atmosphere. The match opens up with Hallowicked trying to manhandle Jigsaw, bringing him to the corner giving him some chops and kicks. This is apparently, according to Sweeney on commentary, Young Lions Cup Champion 2 vs. Young Lions Cup Champion 3. The two have won the tournament a year apart, and are very equal. They try to out-do each other with every move, but they end up in a face-off. Hallowicked runs out to the ring to converse with his manager, Ultramantis Black! (Hallowicked used to be part of the Dark Breed, teaming with Ultramantis Black) Jigsaw takes "�Wicked down with some hurricanranas and chops. He follows "�Wicked after he tumbles to the outside, and is tripped up on the apron landing face first. Jigsaw is choked by Ultramantis' cane, and is thrown into the ring and kicks out after a two. Hallowicked is in control for a bit after Ultramantis Black's cheating ways. The crowd slow claps for Jig, and he now has the power. The power to FIGHT. Jig reverses a kick with an enzeguri, and a chop battle follows. Near fall after Hallowicked gives Jigsaw a Yakuza Kick and a monstrous Powerbomb. Jigsaw manages to pull off three double stomps, and would've gotten a three if Hallowicked hadn't put his foot on the rope. With some help from Ultramantis Black's distracting POWERS, Hallowicked gives Jigsaw a reverse rana. 1, 2, 3. Game over.
Hallowicked beat Jigsaw when Hallowicked gave Jigsaw a reverse rana. (*** ½) This was enjoyable for the fact that the crowd was so funny. The match was short, but it was sweet. They had some funny spots, and some awesome looking high spots. Jigsaw's Double Stomp from the turnbuckle to the stage was pretty cool, as were the other two that followed. Heel Hallowicked is freaking awesome, and this match made me want to buy some DVDs with the Dark Breed on it.
Angel de Fuego, Equinox and The Colony (Solider Ant and Fire Ant) vs. Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr.), Crossbones and Rorschach (From Young Lions Cup IV in Philadelphia, PA on 06/25/2006)
It's good to see Fuego and Rorschach back in a CHIKARA Ring. All 8 men trade off with some nice high spots including a good looking corkscrew over the top rope dive from Fuego and a healthy funny spot with Solider Ant and Crossbones. Our first "longer than 10 seconds"� face off is between Ice Cream tags out to Ice Cream Jr. after gaining full control of Equinox and the match. Ice Cream Jr. tags out to Rorschach and they give Equinox a double axe handle smash. Equinox rolls out the ring and Fire Ant Lucha tags himself in. The tiny Fire Ant tried to duke it out with Crossbones and gets his butt whooped. The Rudos just trade off on beating the Tecnicos for quite some time. As Larry Sweeney put it, The Rudos have been in charge for a "good number of minutes"�. Fire Ant is hot tagged in and gets Rorschach into a headlock, which leads to another headlock, and another. And ANOTHER. Headlocks up until Soldier Ant, who tops off the headlock line with a Saluting DDT. 8 Man SUPER SPOT!!! A mix of the Rudos and Tecnicos are next to a large poll in the building, when out of nowhere Fire Ant climbs UP, and dives DOWN. Hijo del Ice Cream and Equinox battle it out in the ring, and Equinox receives an atomic drop. Hijo Del Ice Cream gets a sack, of thumb tacks"� oh no"� don't tell me"� THEY'RE SPRINKLES!!! RAINBOW JIMMIES!! Hijo tries to powerbomb Equinox onto the sprinkles but he rolls through it. Equinox pulls off a Hurricanrana, sending Hijo del Ice Cream right into the SPRINKLES! OH NO! Hijo is convulsing and can't take the pain! Equinox goes for the pin and gets the 3. Ice Cream Jr. runs in to check on his brother to see if he's ok, and we move onto our next match.
Angel de Fuego, Equinox and The Colony (Solider Ant and Fire Ant) beat Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr.), Crossbones and Rorschach when Equinox gave Hijo del Ice Cream a hurricanrana onto the Rainbow Sprinkles. (*** 1/2)I couldn't stop laughing about the rainbow sprinkles for a good while. The comedy in this match is what got the 4-Stars, because the wrestling was so-so. Fuego botched a spot and ruined a series of moves that was supposed to follow. This was Los Ice Creams' debut match, and they impressed me, no doubt. They know how to work a crowd and improvise on spots.
Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli) ""vs- North Star Express (Darin Corbin/Ryan Cruiz) (Tag World Grand Prix Night 3 in Philadelphia, PA on 07/26/2006)
The Kings of Wrestling come down both sporting Chris Hero's gear. But that didn't match up to North Star's entrance, their music is O-MAZING (I believe it's called "Boom Boom Boom Boom). The crowd is really behind NSE, who is lead to the ring by JJ Dillon. This match basically glorified The Kings of Wrestling's double team abilities. Castagnoli and Hero were alternating on beating the poo out of Corbin, until Corbin makes the supah-hawt tag to Cruz! Cruz mops the ring w/ the KOW only to be brought down by Hero. The tables once again turned when JJ Dillon tripped Hero. The NSE have the upper-hand and it actually looked like they might have been able to pull it off"� but KOW got back on top. NSE countered Hero's splash with an ace-crusher, and got a real hot 2-Count. Crowd in Philly is really behind NSE here. BUT, it doesn't matter what the fans want, because The Kings of Wrestling finish the match with a double-sitting powerbomb. BATISTA STYLE!
The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) defeated North Star Express with a double-sitting powerbomb. (****) Awesome, awesome match. This match had anticipation, lots of close falls, and it actually made me think the North Star Express could pull off the win.
Mike Quackenbush vs. Claudio Castagnoli (Negative Balance in Philadelphia, PA on 08/13/2005)
I'm gonna drop a little CHIKARA Trivia right here. This being one of CHIKARA's most famous matches, I'll give some background. The feud between the Kings of Wrestling and Mike Quackenbush (and sometimes Co.) started at Tag World Grand Prix Night 3, 2005. The Kings of Wrestling (at that time limited to only Claudio Castagnoli and Arik Cannon) met up with the Superfriends (Mike Quackenbush and Chris Hero) in the finals of the tournament. Chris Hero turned on Quack that night, giving him the Rubix Cube (the move that injured Mike Quackenbush's back, who later received career-threatening back surgery). From that moment on, Quackenbush wasn't going to let Chris Hero and the Kings of Wrestling get away with what they did to him at Tag World Grand Prix.
I walk into reviewing this match seeing it well over 5 times already. Every single time these two go one on one for a wrestling match, it's always something special and memorable, and their encounter at Negative Balance was no different. The match starts off with the two going nose to nose, trash talking each other pushing each other around with their heads. Quack rolls out of a couple of Castagnoli's moves, and the mind games continue. Quack pulls of an AMAZING Monkey Flip facebuster. Castagnoli rolls out of the ring after a top rope arm-drag and a satellite head-scissors. Quack targets Castagnoli and dives over the top rope for a cross body block. Castagnoli, being the machine that he is, catches Quack in mid-air and tosses him back into the ring. The crowd here in the New Alhambra is going crazy! These two are doing moves that I've never seen done before. Claudio pours some cold water on the fans and slows the pace down; working on Quackenbush's inured back. A 22 Second Stalling Suplex is just one of the moves Castagnoli used to break Quack down. Claudio is looking for a suplex from the top rope, but Quack won't let it happen. Claudio takes a page out of Quack's book and gives him a palm strike. Quack rolls through a overhead slam off the turnbuckle, palm strikes Claudio to the outside of the ring. POWERFUL. Once again, Quack sees his target, locks on, and gives Claudio a springboard swanton and lands on his feet. Quackenbush gets Claudio in the corner and hits him with a windmill chop. Quack takes Castagnoli down with a Black Tornado Slam, turns it into a pin and gets a 2 Count. Quack flips out of a Tombstone onto his feet, and gets the Uppercut from Hell! 2 Count. Castagnoli tries to top it off with the Ricola Bomb, but Quack flips him through. Quack gets slammed to the ground after a successful attempt of the Ricola Bomb, and kicks out at 2! Quack finishes Castagnoli off with a snap hurricanrana bomb!
Mike Quackenbush beat Claudio Castagnoli after Quackenbush gave Castagnoli a snap hurricanrana. (****) This match with the other two 4-Star matches are worth the $10.00 alone. Hell, they're even worth $20.00. More crazy moves from these two, and yet another classic encounter. Keep em' coming.
Eddie Kingston vs. Larry Sweeney (Crushing Weight of Mainstream Ignorance in Hellertown, PA on 07/22/2006)
This one starts off quick and stiff, with Kingston getting to Sweeney before he could even get into the ring. A feud that has escalated all year long led to this match. Sweeney has control after he picks up the pieces from being caught off guard. Sweeney is cheating, using his wrist tape as a choking aid, and exposing the steel on the turnbuckle. King is almost out after a sleeperhold, but he hulks up and picks Sweeney off the ground. He backs into the corner and Sweeney's back crashes into the exposed steel. Despite taking a shot to the back, Sweeney still has the upperhand. King couldn't manage to take charge of the match, but did manage to kick out of a flying forearm from the second rope. The two have a chop war, and Kingston wins after Sweeny goes down. King now has the upperhand after a Northern Lights Suplex. Sweeney catapults King into the corner with the exposed steel. Kingston is dead weight. Sweeney can't even piledrive him. Sweeney finally piledrives Kingston and goes for the 3. King puts his foot on the rope, breaking the pin. Sweeney takes 3 Lariats and kicks out. Sweeney takes a first spinning back fist, but ducks the second. He goes for the Piledriver, and Kingston flips him and sits down on his shoulders, hooks the legs for the 3 Count and the win.
Eddie Kingston beat Larry Sweeney after Kingston reversed Sweeney's Piledriver into a pin. (*** ½) This would have been a WHOLE lot better if you actually got to see a video on why these two hate each other. This was a great match, very stiff, and it ended just right so that their feud wasn't old by the end and they could build off of it.
1. Shane Storm/Jigsaw/Mike Quackenbush vs. Icarus/Gran Akuma/Claudio Castagnoli- *** 1/2
2. Shane Storm vs. Chris Hero- ** 3/4
3. Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) vs. Milano Collection A.T. & Skayde- ****
4. Allison Danger, Ranmoru, and Rain vs. Sumie Sakai, Daizee Haze, and Mickie Knuckles- ** 3/4
5. Hallowicked vs. Jigsaw- *** 1/2
6. Angel de Fuego, Equinox and The Colony (Solider Ant and Fire Ant) vs. Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr.), Crossbones and Rorschach- *** 1/2
7. Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli) –vs- North Star Express (Darin Corbin/Ryan Cruiz)- ****
8. Mike Quackenbush vs. Claudio Castagnoli- ****
9. Eddie Kingston vs. Larry Sweeney- *** 1/2
Overall Thoughts: This DVD was amazing. I watched these matches and wondered if the next match was going to dissapoint, and none of them did. So for $9.95 at your local FYE, you can support CHIKARA and pick up some great enjoyment for you and your family, or you and your girlfriend. Not only do you get a Best of CHIKARA DVD, you also get a CHIKARA Trading Card.