Friday, August 26, 2011

C'mon, Irene: Chikara Young Lions Cup IX Preview

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Is Green Ant this year's YLC Champion?
Hurricane Irene, she's a real bitch, isn't she?

Already truncated from three days down to two this year, Chikara's annual Young Lions Cup Tournament has gotten the shortening treatment down to one day thanks to the burgeoning menace that is this year's major hurricane. So, instead of two days of mirth, merriment and new wrestlers making splashes to the Easton audience, the entire proceedings will be compressed into one day at the Palmer Center, Saturday at 4:30 PM (note the change in time from your tickets). Tickets for both days will be honored, and if you can't make it, or you have tickets to BOTH events, then you can get a refund by contacting the promotion at their website.

The only thing that's been announced so far is that all scheduled Cup tournament matches will happen. Other matches, like the 12 Large Summit tournament matches, the Countdown Showdown and the like, don't have clear statuses, although the Website lists other bouts to take place in addition to the seven match tournament to crown a new Young Lions Cup Champion.

So, what's the deal with this tournament anyway? Frightmare is still the Champion, and he's not even involved, right? Well, to understand the nature of the Cup would be to understand why they hold a YLC every year. The Cup is defended as a regular Championship among anyone in the promotion who is under the age of 25. The stipulation is that once you've held the title, you can't challenge back for it, and each "year" is an iteration of it. It's a title that embodies youth, hungriness and the constant turnover that happens in the wrestling business. Frightmare's reign is considered a great success since he went wire to wire as the YLC VIII Champ. Player Dos, for example, wasn't as lucky, as his reign was ended in January of 2010 by Tim Donst.

The tournament format, as foreshadowed by the initial decrease in days, has changed. In years past, it was set up as a 24-man fray with 12 "qualifier" matches, two big six-man eliminator matches and then a final on the third day. This year, there are only 16 men in the tourney. There will be four quarterfinal four-way elimination matches and then one-on-one matches from there on out - two semifinals and one final. The four matches shake out as such:

Green Ant vs. Will-o-the-Wisp II (there was a first one?) vs. Robbie Eagles vs. Kobold

Greg Iron vs. Chase Owens vs. Wil Maximo vs. Jakob Hammermeir

Nick Jackson vs. Mark Andrews vs. Tadasuke vs. Sean South

Archibald Peck vs. MK McKinnan vs. Milo Shizo vs. Mat Fitchett

That is an impressive list from the guys that I do know. The guys I don't? Well, that's a big reason why I look forward to YLC weekend each year. There's always an introduction to people you normally don't get to see. Mike Quackenbush is very much a student of the game, and he's always looking to bring in new talent, whether it's people known to the wrestling world like Manami Toyota or those who are wild cards, like Sindarin or Kaio last year (the former having appeared off and on for NWA Hollywood) and this year, folks like Sean South and Mat Fitchett.

Let's break down each match though as best as I can. The first match, there are roster regulars Green Ant and Kobold. Both are known quantities. In fact, with the Flex Express angle behind him, I'd say not only is Greenie a heavy favorite in this match, but in the entire tournament as well. Kobold is probably the least exposed member of the Chikara roster, but he's under the evil influence of the Batiri, so you can expect some shenanigans on his behalf. Will-o-the-Wisp II is a complete unknown to me, although he does have a neat looking mask. Robbie Eagles is from the Land Down Under, and as you can expect from his last name, he is related to current SHIMMER Champion and hiatused-Chikara roster member Madison Eagles. He's her brother-in-law. That pedigree bodes well for him, and hopefully, he'll be a better representation of the Australian males than Kabel and Percy T were at King of Trios. I expect Green Ant to win this match, but look out for Kobold, as he looks to stake his claim as more than just "Evil Midget Hydra."

Match two has three known names in it. Greg Iron was the new hotness in indie wrestling after CM Punk put him over after an AAW show in Berwyn. He truly is an inspiration, becoming a cult favorite despite being limited by cerebral palsy. His main roadblock in this match will be Jakob Hammermeir, or to be more specific, Hammermeir and the rest of his BDK backing. We actually saw seeds be planted for their tension at Chikarasaurus Rex, Night 1, when in the surprise match, Iron and Hammermeir locked up. Iron got laid out by the BDK after a ref bump, but won the match thanks to UltraMantis Black saving him from the announce table. I figure these two will be the main focus of the match. I see either Iron winning despite shenanigans or Hammermeir winning because of them. That's not to say that Wil Maximo or Chase Owens are dogmeat. Maximo impressed me enough King of Trios weekend. He's a serviceable high-flying type, and he'll provide some fireworks. Owens is someone that I'm completely new to.

The toughest match in which to pick a winner is the third one. Nick Jackson seems like he's the obvious choice because he's the most known one, but then again, that hasn't always been Chikara's MO. Tadasuke is making his first appearance for the promotion since King of Trios '10 when he teamed with Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada. He's known to bring the pain, and is a counterbalance to Jackson's high flying style. That being said, both Jackson and Tadasuke both like to play the villain, which could be a good thing for Sean South and Mark Andrews, both guys who are unknown quantities to me. If I had to flip a coin, I'd say Tadasuke takes this match, but again, I have no clue.

Finally, there's the last match. Archibald Peck is the marquee name here, although technically, he's too old for the competition. That being said, he gave a call to his lawyer, the Barrister RD Evans (totally two different people, I swear!) and argued that in metric years, he was eligible to compete on the count that he is Canadian and they go by the metric system. I think picking him in this match might be a bit too easy though. The problem is, I don't know enough about the other three guys in the match - Milo Shizo (a Delirious protege/clone), MK McKinnan (British star), Mat Fitchett (appeared for ACW and given rave reviews by Brandon Stroud) - to make an educated guess.

Regardless of how those matches turn out, I really feel like this is going to be a fun, if compacted, event. The stock of the guys I can vouch for is pretty high, especially with natives such as Green Ant and Marchie Archie populating the ranks. If you're in the area, and you want to do something before you get blown away by Hurricane Irene, stop by Easton and buy a ticket. I think the Cup this year is going to have a special atmosphere given how chaotic things are surrounding it.

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography

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