Monday, August 1, 2011

Sara del Rey and a World of Sport: Chikarasaurus Rex 2011 Review

Sara del Rey don't take no crap from no one
Photo Credit: John Hyperion/Dirty Dirty Sheets Tumblr

On a weekend that was supposed to belong to a scrappy Ant fighting for the good ol' United States of America and two old-timey English wrestlers come to amaze and marvel with their expert execution of counters, submissions and good, clean chain wrestling, it was a Queen who stole the show. I'm not saying that the other two things didn't dazzle and amaze. I'll admit I was a bit nonplussed at the finish to the former, but I was totally amazed and astounded by the latter. Hell, and if I wrote this review in a moment of stopped time between match 7 and the main event on Night 2, then the weekend would have played to seed. But yeah, about that main event... it belonged to Sara del Rey, and in effect, she seized the entire weekend for herself. And no, I am totally not complaining about. That being said though, there was a whole mess of great action leading up to the final match, and it was pretty snazzy, or in terms of Chikara, par for the course.

Night One started in Reading at the Goodwill Fire Association Hall. Much like the Palmer Center in Easton, it had a really intimate feel to it. There are no guard barriers; the front row is situated ten feet from the ring apron. It was so close that we could notice (and skeeve out, by the way) at Mima Shimoda hocking a loogie on the floor, which was linoleum, by the way. I liked that it was all contained in one room rather than in Easton, where it was on a basketball court that was half shut off. It's a neat little venue, even if it was a little dingy with very rude concession staff.

Our first match of the evening was a 12 Large Summit contest. Jigsaw, making his return after a biceps injury, took on Fire Ant in what turned out to be a very spry, very well-worked opener. It kicked off with a nice display of chain wrestling, almost setting the tone for the evening. Maybe they were looking to impress the English Johnnies with their knowledge of grappling. It ended with Fire landing an arm drag on Jig, which led into the heart of the match, Jigsaw selling the arm that had just healed. The rest of the match's narrative centered around this, and it made for some really good theater. At one point in the match, I thought things were getting a little testy for a match between two fan-favorites. Jig teased a brainbuster, but his arm couldn't support the weight and Fire countered slickly into an Ace crusher and then into a brainbuster of his own for two. Jig made a slight comeback after that, getting in position for the Jig 'n Tonic, but Fire reversed into a cross armbreaker on the weak arm. Jig tapped out, and Fire Ant gained three points. Afterwards, sportsmanship abounded.

Next out was Jakob Hammermeir, who came out in his ring garb. He quickly made an announcement for himself, describing himself as "handi-capable". Hmmm... he rushed to the back and then came back out, preening and gloating all the way. Say what you want about him, but I respect the hell out of Jakob because he, like Icarus, puts so much effort into getting people to hate him, and it all works. His opponent for the evening was none other than Gregory Iron, which got a big reaction from the crowd. I think the intros to the match were longer than the match itself though, really short. Iron started out like a house on fire, but there was a shockingly early ref bump, which Jakob took advantage of with some cheating. Then, shortly thereafter, UltraMantis Black came out from the Commentation Station and hit Jakob with the Praying Mantis Bomb. He threw Iron on top, and bam, decision in something like two minutes. Afterwards, Mantis commented that he'd do the same thing to the rest of the BDK until Ares stopped running and hiding from him.

Third match of the evening pitted Eddie Kingston against Adam Cole, who showed more personality and panache in his 30 second walk to the ring than he has in his entire ROH career to date. If you're surprised by this, then I have beachfront property to sell you in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Cole actually did a really good job heeling it up here. He kept doing big moves and then screaming "I'M ADAM COLE!" afterwards, which elicited "If he says that one more time, I'm screaming MATT DAMON at him" from my Twitter pal and TWB superfan IronyNOW. Actually, the antics started before the opening bell, as Cole Pearl Harbored Kingston as he was making his entrance into the arena, which the War King quickly turned the tide on. Once the action began, it was Kingston pretty much hammering Cole until Panama's Finest was able to get a clean shot on Kingston's traditionally injured knee. HE works that injury into a lot of matches, I wonder if he's got a legit history there that he plays up? Either way, it led into maybe my favorite spot of the night, where Cole had Kingston locked in the Figure 8 (think a Figure 4, only done off to the side) and then raked his nose. I love arcane heel tactics like that. If he had only broken out a fishhook later on in that match, I might have changed allegiances. Even when Kingston was on offense, he was selling the leg, most evident when he couldn't hold the bridge on a Northern Lights suplex. Anyway, despite the leg injury, Kingston got the duke with a Sliding D and a Backfist to the Future on a seated Cole. Afterwards, they got a cup of ice to put on his knee from concessions. I wonder how many times they had to ask the surly old ladies behind the counter for it? No, I'm not bitter.

Final match before intermission was a doozy, a trios match between Team FIST (Icarus, Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor) and Team ¡3.Olé! (El Generico, Scott Parker and Shane Matthews). If you know anything about Chikara, you had to have had the feeling that this match would be insanely silly, insanely fun and insanely action packed. You'd have been right too. Pre-match saw some infighting between Parker and Matthews over a can of Red Bull. Apparently, Matthews has a problem, and there may be a Red Bull intervention staged at a later card, but that's just my gut feeling. Icarus didn't tease the jacket coming off for nearly as long as he'd do at King of Trios, but once it did come off, it got an elbow drop from Parker. Taylor countered with threatening to cut El Generico's t-shirt with a pair of scissors, which yielded an elbow drop on Taylor's t-shirt. This was all in the first couple of minutes after the bell rang. God, I love Chikara.

Once the action started, it was pretty high-octane stuff. Matthews busted out some attempts at his big moves, but was thwarted. The faces got a lot of the advantage early on. 3.0 has a lot of really cool tag team offense. They've got some of the best teamwork offense in the game today, and I'm glad that we kinda get them exclusively in Chikara when they visit down South of Quebec. Generico got to show John Morrison how to properly do a split-legged move off the top with a moonsault. At one point a little later, Matthews took a cheap shot at Taylor's throat, and when he was called out on it by Nick Papageorgio, he remarked "Karate! That's called karate!" This led into the heels getting the advantage and a long face-in-peril sequence on Generico. At one point, Matthews tried to get into the ring to help his teammate, and Papageorgio held him back, to which the crazy Canadian replied "You're deceptively strong!" See, it's banter like this that makes 3.0 so awesome to watch.

Generico dead-weighting on a powerbomb attempt and getting the hot tag on the subsequent counter lead into the match's third act, which was pretty insane. Matthews went into his headscissors-o-rama on FIST, and then all three members of the tecnico trio locked in Boston crabs on their counterparts. Matthews went for a powerbomb pin, but it was broken up and FIST went onto their advantage, which featured Taylor leapfrogging over a charging Parker that led into Gargano doing his slingshot spear from the apron. Generico teased a BRAINBUSTAAAAAHHHH~! on Icarus, but Taylor ripped him from the top and hit him with Sole Food. He was then taken out with a corner EXPLODAAAAHHH~!, which led right into eating a face bomb/Codebreaker combo from 3.0 for the win. Really, really fun trios match, which by my estimation was the best part of the first half. The winning trio then posed for pictures in ring with fans during the break.

After the intermission, we were treated to our first entree into the World of Sport, as Johnny Kidd, making his American debut, took on the man that I bet more than half the arena wished were their grandfather, Johnny Saint. The match was separated into six rounds of five minutes apiece, which is how they did things back in the day on the iconic British sports program on ITV. Both men were greeted very warmly, and the crowd was super into the match. That warmed my cold black heart, because I was a bit worried whether the crowd would get into a match that didn't feature any high spots, head drops or big impact strikes. Instead, the crowd ate up every top wristlock, every reversal, every little wink and nod to the absurdity of wrestling without making fun of it . It was terrific.

Round one featured a full nelson back-and-forth, and Saint really kicked his game off in high gear. Basically, if you've never seen Saint work, the crux of his in-ring game is performing magicians' escapes from submission holds and reversing them into ones of his own. It really is fascinating to watch. Kidd is similar, but he relies more on his slyness rather than his creativity when escaping holds. Case in point, towards the end of round two, Kidd had Saint in a seated wishbone lock. Saint reversed it and had Kidd in one of his own. Kidd pointed over Saint's shoulder, basically to say "LOOK!", and as Saint turned his head, Kidd just got right up and dusted himself off.

I could try to describe more of the action in detail, but I feel like this the kind of match that needs to be experienced, not described. Chain wrestling can come off as boring in the written word, and to the untrained eye, or at least the eye of a shithead indie wrestling fan who goes to ROH shows and boos any attempt at doing this style over HEAD DROPZ N FLIPZ GUISE, it can look boring. But there's a sublime beauty inherently embedded in the DNA of good chain wrestling. For those who appreciate it, there's nothing better than seeing the cat and mouse and the safe acrobatics that come with a good round of catch-as-catch-can brilliance, especially when laid down by masters such as Kidd and Saint. That isn't to say that all other styles aren't beautiful, or that this is the best, or that you're dumb if you don't like chain wrestling (although it is symptomatic of some short-sighted, read: shitheaded, fans that they hate this when it subs in for their usual 20 MOVEZ in 2 minutes desires). I'm sounding really pretentious here, and for that I'm sorry. However, I really like seeing this kind of action from time to time.

Kidd ended up winning with a, according to the Chikara Pro site, kneeling frog press out of an Irish whip in the fourth round, but I'm of the school of thought that the result in this particular match was immaterial in comparison to the actual body of work. If you seek out the DVDs for this weekend, I'd do it if just for this match and the Night Two tag match alone.

How could they follow up that match? Well, they tried with the six woman expo between the BDK Ladies and Makoto against Team Mima Shimoda, which also featured Tsukasa Fujimoto and Portia Perez. Tried is the operative word here, because this match was flat for a few reasons. One, there were no real defined roles in the match. Ostensibly, Team Mima was the babyface trio, mainly because of the presence of both del Rey and Daizee Haze on the other team. That really didn't stop Mima or Perez from working total rudo during the match. In fact, I'd say the only one who worked face was poor Makoto, who got beaten like she owed the other team money. When Makoto made her hot tag to Haze, the crowd was dead silent, mainly because no one wanted to pop for her (yet...). The match was mainly centered around del Rey and Mima going at it, which sounded better in theory. It wasn't Sara's fault either.

Mima Shimoda was one of the names I was looking forward to watching during this weekend, and sadly, all I could think of watching her in the ring was "Man, I wish it was Manami Toyota instead of Mima." There was just something off about her in-ring. I couldn't put my finger on it. I hate to continually compare her to Toyota here, but it was like she was way, way, WAY less fun than her other joshi counterpart. I dunno. I wanted to like this match, but it came off as very disjointed. Mima got the duke over Haze with a Tiger superplex.

Match seven was the long-awaited Flex Express match, Green Ant taking on Tursas. During the introductions, Greenie removed his original mask to reveal a red-white-and-blue mask to match his Old Glory-themed Colony ring wear. We got the scoop from friend of TWB and shutterbug extraordinaire Zia Hiltey that he was being rechristened US Ant for the evening. Derek Sabato reffed the affair... which meant there were going to be shenanigans abounding. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The match started off with Jakob going for a sneak attack, which US Ant thwarted. Tursas tried to use it as a way to get the jump, but US Ant was savvy enough to thwart that too. It wasn't long before the action spilled out into the outside ring area as well as well into the crowd. Sabato let the extracurriculars go, like Tursas choking US Ant with the American flag around the ring post, as long as it favored the BDK behemoth. US Ant was able to mount a bit of a comeback, felling the giant with two splashes from the top rope. There were a few countout teases, harkening back to how the original Lex Express angle ended with the SummerSlam countout victory for Luger. Tursas got back to his feet and proceeded to start wrecking shit like a man of his size is wont to do. He took US Ant from the apron and superplexed him into the ring, afterwards taunting him with "You wanna fight? You wanna fight me? You're gonna DIE!" For as tightly as I had my mark hat on during the match, I had to admit that that was an awesome, awesome visual.

One thing I didn't understand was Sabato going into a standing ten count for US Ant when he'd be laying on the canvas by himself. I thought I had missed the point where they announced it to be a Last Man Standing match. From here, they started going into Rocky (the movie, not the wrestler) territory with the Ant making some valiant comebacks that were squelched right away by the Finnish giant. To his credit, Ant's bumping here really sold that sizzle. He is my favorite worker in the Colony by a large margin, and it's not like I hate the other two for their ring game either. Tursas really played into the whole spirit of the angle by going for the Banzai Drop on a couple of occasions. The first one led into US Ant trying to wrangle Tursas into the Torture Rack, which would have literally blown the roof off the Goodwill Fire Association. Seriously, the roof would have flown into the air and landed somewhere on the PA 12 highway. After the second missed Banzai, US Ant segued into a cross armbreaker, which was countered by Tursas with a smush into the corner.

From here, I think I have to give Tursas some props for being a huge guy who isn't afraid to fly or look good doing it either. He went into a moonsault that he missed, but it was damn impressive looking. It's one thing to be a big dude, but to be a big dude who can move? Major respect. Off the miss, Ant bodyslammed him, and the place exploded. Tursas fell out of the ring, to which Sabato kept his full attention. Ant tried to exit, but he was blocked at every attempt, so he went around to other parts of the ring to exit...

...only to be whacked in the back of the head twice by Jakob with a tennis racket that he pulled out from Tursas' fur entrance overcoat. Tursas got back into the ring and proceeded to hit US Ant with a Border Toss, and then after a cocky let-up at 2, a top rope splash that won the match for the Finnish evildoer. Afterwards, he spat on the Stars 'n Stripes before he left. The crowd clapped for US Ant's valiant effort.

I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed at this finish. I mean, I get that the story's not over yet, probably not even close to being over with the referee shenanigans and the rampant interference, but still, I was hoping to see Chikara do with this whole angle what the WWF failed to do... deliver a cool resolution to the bus trip across the country. That being said, I can't hate on it, because it was a brilliantly executed wrestling match with a great story and some damn fine performances from everyone involved, including Sabato and Jakob.

Finally, Night One's main event was upon us, another 12 Large Summit match between Mike Quackenbush and Claudio Castagnoli. Just like in the opener, there was some World of Sport-style chain wrestling going on after a short opening dominance by Claudio, although it wasn't nearly as good-spirited as the grappling between Fire Ant and Jigsaw. I wanna write about the officiating here for a moment and how it played in the match. Just as Sabato was instrumental in the story of the last match, I think Justice Jon Barber's refereeing played a role in this story too, albeit a smaller, subtler one. With Bryce Remsburg being absent for the proceedings (he had a wedding to go to on the Left Coast), it allowed for the other officials to have more time in the sun. Barber is definitely the least experienced of the troupe, and he played that up so well in this match, whether intentionally or not. The best would be when Claudio would blatantly cheat, and he'd feebly admonish him, almost afraid to do anything but say "You can't do that, Claudio!" or "C'mon, stop! Please?" He really was the perfect choice to officiate this match in Bryce's absence.

The action spilled to the outside, as most of the matches did that night, and between taking ranas and ramming Quack into the ringposts, Claudio took to breaking people's miniature American flags in half (which were handed out pre-show for the Flex Express match). He kept a wooden shard from one of his conquests and hid it in his trunks, doing his best to stab Quack with it whenever Barber's line of sight was obstructed or distracted. When Barber found out and grabbed the shard from Claudio, someone in the crowd yelled "DQ!" Then, in his best Lenny Leonard (the Simpsons character, not the DGUSA announcer) voice, Claudio retorted "Shut up!" That was pretty awesome.

The interruption didn't cost Claudio that much momentum as he kept toying with the smaller Quack, dropping him gut first on his knee via a military press and ending a short-lived comeback with a huge bicycle kick. Quack made another comeback that culminated in a Chikara Special attempt, but Claudio got the ropes, leading into a blocked tornado DDT -> Swiss Death -> UFO with a LONG no hands spin sequence. Quack countered a Ricola bomb into a la casadora pin, but he couldn't block the second one, which Claudio performed while standing on the apron facing the ring. He could only muster a two-count. He went for another Swiss Death, but Quack countered it by standing on the top of Claudio's chest, backflipping and wrangling him into the Chikara Special right in the middle of the ring. Claudio tapped out, and Quack sent the crowd home happy with another awesome match to top off the card.

Night One wasn't without its bumps, notably the women's match and the decision to an otherwise outstanding tilt between US Ant and Tursas, but hey, not even Chikara can attain perfection all the time. Plus, there was still another whole night of action to go Sunday in Philadelphia.

The opener for this slate was the two Ice Ribbon imports, Makoto and Fujimoto, doing battle in singles competition. My disappointment in the previous night's match really tempered my excitement for this match, because I really wanted to see them do well, especially Makoto. Joshi girls are notorious for being super stiff, and the beating she took from Mima especially the night before made me cringe a little bit, even though I knew in my heart that Makoto more than likely enjoyed it in a perverse way. That was sort of validated in this match, as both women came out stiffing each other with smiles on their faces, after they removed streamers that got stuck in the rafters before the match began. I had never heard a wrestling crowd mark so loudly for debris removal in my life. Seriously though, back to the action, I've never seen any two people enjoy beating the crap out of each other in a worked match than I did these two. Normally, you'd think shit like that would be a turnoff, but here, I was somewhat charmed in my own perverse way. You had to think these were two women who were working in America their first time, and as big as wrestling is in Japan, it's big in a different way over here.

They ran through a bunch of spots they did the night before, only with more emphasis because they weren't being overshadowed by Mima's domineering presence. Makoto draped Fujimoto over the top turnbuckle and kicked her, field goal style. Fujimoto was able to land a 619 without the Internet combusting in hatred over such a contrived move, and then sweetly followed up with a rolling clutch pin attempt. Fujimoto got the win with a pseudo-springboard-off-the-turnbuckle enzugiri in what was a largely satisfying and redemptive opener for the gals of Ice Ribbon. Brandon Stroud is onto something with this promotion, I think.

Second into the card was a comedic matchup between Archibald Peck and Dasher Hatfield, two of the funniest (in a good way) acts in all of wrestling. The two met nose to nose in the middle of the ring before they were patted down by Barber. Peck removed his glove and swung at Dasher's face, duel-style. The only thing was Dasher ducked, and Peck smacked Barber right in the face with his glove, leading right into a roll-up attempt by the Old Timey King of Swing. After throwing a temper tantrum into the ropes, Marchie Archie accused Dasher of having a pirate hook while Barber was patting him down. Then when it came to Peck getting patted down, he "accidentally" mule kicked Barber. Poor kid got the business all match.

I remarked before the match that this was a classic jock vs. band geek match, and they totally played it up, with Dasher using the Wet Willy as an offensive maneuver, and later on, a wedgie as a potential submission hold with the crowd chanting "TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP!" Again, I love Chikara. Barber got nailed a third time by Archie accidentally, after that time, skulking out of the ring like he was never there. He then accused everyone short of Darkness Crabtree of knocking the easily intimidated official to the ground. Peck got the duke with his Unchained Melody, an inverted tombstone-style Styles Clash, after using Barber as a shield from an impending Dasher attack. As far as comedic matches go, you can't get much better than this one. Very well-played.

Next up, Mima Shimoda against Daizee Haze. Again, Mima straight up heeled her ass off during the match, which again was weird given that there was no inkling that anyone from the BDK would ever be cheered against anyone other than a member of their own faction, at least to that point. It started from get-go one, when it was Mima who pulled out the handshake fake into an attack. Haze got a bit of advantage early with a suicide dive, but it was basically a clinic in Mima stiffing the crap out of her the entire time. Haze would get the win with a roll-up, but the story was more in the after-match beatdown... by Mima. Playing up the sore loser heel schtick, Mima destroyed Daizee, finishing her off by throwing her HARD into the guardrails. Yeesh. It was so bad that Gavin Loudspeaker after the match did the whole "give it up for Daizee Haze" spiel he does for defeated babyfaces. Maybe that was the first clue...

Just like Night One, Team ¡3.Olé! finished off the first half of this card, this time against the Spectral Envoy of UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked and the infectiously fun Frightmare. While making their intro, Parker grabbed Mantis' staff from the timekeeper's table and remarked at it before giving it back. He then went into the ring and told Mantis "Hey, I like your stick!" Again, I love Chikara. Hell, if there's anyone better at in-match banter than 3.0, someone let me know, because I'm not aware of them. Okay, maybe Archibald Peck or perhaps Robert Evans. And no, they're definitely not the same person. Matt Classic told me himself. Not to be outdone by his tag partner, Matthews beckoned to Generico to pull Hallowicked's horn while he had him in a headlock, which Generico did to the chagrin of the referee.

Matthews went for his HEADSCISSORS schtick early in the match on Hallowicked to no avail, being greeted by an elbow instead. His second attempt was greeted by a clothesline. Third time was the charm, as he ran the ropes twice to get his move off on Wicked. Mantis entered the ring and ate a headscissors of his own, but when Frightmare got into the ring, it was he who was the executor of the move on Matthews in a nice little twist.

There was a lot of back and forth and some really cool spots in this match. Again, 3.0 is such a fun tag team, and they showed their double-team-o-rama style here in full display. Mantis showed his wrestling chops too, hitting a slick arm drag into a pin attempt at one point. Towards the end of the match, Frightmare hit a nice looking tope con giro on Generico to the outside, but he inexplicably didn't get up afterwards. A moment later, I saw Tim Donst wielding a steel chair, having just nailed Frightmare with it on the ground. The BDK then assembled in the entry way, distracting everyone except for Mantis and Generico in the ring, as Mantis hit the Praying Mantis Bomb for the win. Afterwards, the combined forces scared off the BDK back to the back.

After intermission was our surprise match of the evening. First in the ring were Gargano and Taylor of FIST, awaiting their opponents. Loudspeaker announced that their scheduled opponents didn't show, so they brought out the hat (albeit a Chikara hat instead of Bryce's traditional Phillies hat, since of course, Bryce wasn't there). The first team picked out was Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson, but they predictably weren't in the back. The second team was announced as Rey Bucanero and Atlantis. We all expected Sabato to run back without them, because they usually go three or four deep, but to my surprise, the lights went down and yes, the lucha veterans came out from the back to a very surprisingly tepid reaction. I'm not sure whether the crowd was taken aback by the abruptness of their entry or whether they just didn't know CMLL all that well to know who they were, but they got a disappointing reaction from where I sat.

Taylor put his antics into overdrive from jump, trying to start a chant for himself, and then later, after selling his own headbutt more than Bucanero did, chastising Gargano for not being totally ready for the tag, yelling "WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING WATER FOR?" Gargano and R-Truth are now inexorably linked as the answer to the trivia question "Which two wrestlers were admonished in 2011 for drinking water during a match?" I think that's good company, don't you?

I thought the two luchadors acquitted themselves well. I was into them, but it seemed like I was the only one, which is odd because Chikara fans usually go nuts for guest stars from South of the Border. Was it that these two really didn't click with the crowd? I dunno, I thought they were great, but then again, I've proven time and time again that I can be out of touch with what fans at large like. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing is up to you. Anyway, I loved their tag offense, spotlighted by two really cool spots. One came with Gargano draped across Atlantis' knees, catapult style, with Bucanero coming off the top with a senton elbow. The second one was towards the end Atlantis launched Bucanero out of the ring and into Taylor. Right after that, while Sabato was distracted, Gargano feigned like he was just kicked in the balls by Atlantis, dropping to the canvas holding his crotch. Despite not seeing any evidence other than Gargano's acting, Sabato disqualified the visiting luchadors. Crowd was dead for the finish, which was par for the course for the match, sadly. Afterwards, the duo got a "Please come back!" chant, which hopefully means they will come back and get a little better heat next time.

After the match, Loudspeaker made the announcement that Chikara was coming to iPPV for the first time with their November 13th return to The Arena in Philly, High Noon. I imagine that it'll be the card where the 12 Large Summit will conclude, which is as fine a time as any for the first foray into live Internet streaming. Very excite! Very very excite, although I probably won't need to buy a stream. Cuz I'll be there. Duh.

Next up, Jigsaw and Kingston did battle in what many called the match of the night (not me, but I loved it regardless though) in a 12 Large Summit tilt. There was a test of strength early, where Kingston got in a nearfall, playing up the weakness in Jig's biceps. Jig would return the favor by targeting King's gimpy knee a little later on in the match, turning it into dueling injured limbs. Jig had maybe the most creative spot in that back 'n forth when he did a yakuza kick in King's knee while it was draped over the ropes.

The action spilled to the outside, and here's where the most superfluous run in of all time happened. Vin Gerard came out, presumably to wreck Kingston's shit, when he's stopped by a Jigsaw superkick before he could do anything. I feel like it was just something to try and add heat to the feud between King and Gerard, but it just came off as so unnecessary, the only real black mark on the match. This segued into King's big advantage in the match with a bunch of big moves that netted him a two count. Jig countered back with a bunch of big moves, culminating in a top rope double stomp, the move which Jig beat King with way back at Open the Freedom Gate in late '09. It netted a two-count.

The match from here really went into indie-rific territory, with a lot of big moves, strike trading and kicking out of finishers. That being said, I thought it still kept a lot of its composure and psychology if that makes any sense. I never got the feeling once that I was watching Davey Richards and Kenny Omega throw all semblance of selling out the window just to do moves to each other for the last five minutes of a long match. I think that's where the whole "DR is good in his style!" argument gets thrown out the window, because I see guys like King, Jig, Generico and Kevin Steen work a similar style and still have some idea that hey, this is a hard-hitting match and we're supposed to act hurt. Okay, side-track over.

Jig set Kingston up for a Coast to Coast in the big finish, but he fanned when King moved last second. This led into the finishing sequence of Backdrop Driver, Backfist to the Future, two-count and Backdrop Driver pin hold to give the War King three points. Afterwards, the two embraced and held up the Chikara logo tablecloth that was on the timekeeper's table. After the two left, Loudspeaker predictably announced that the DVDs for the weekend's shows would be available Monday (which is TODAY~!), which I expected because this was where they first did that offer last year. Smart Mark really is good at what they do.

The World of Sport tag match was next, although this one didn't have any rounds, just a straight-up, American rules tag match. Kidd's teammate was Colt Cabana, while Saint's was Quack. The review for this match may be a bit sparse, because I didn't take a whole lot of notes during it. That didn't mean sometime between Saturday and Sunday, the style got boring and I didn't care. That was the opposite. The fact that it was a tag match added so many more layers to the affair, and it made it that much harder for me to take notes and still take in the action in the ring, which again was rich, plentiful, layered and above all else, fun.

There were some spots repeated from Saturday, but the old dogs did bust out some new tricks. I thought a lot of what worked to make this match feel more unique than the one the night before was the addition of Cabana and Quack to the affair. Not only did they have great rapport with each other, but they also did well with their British counterparts as well. Cabana was a scream on the apron too, saying stuff like "Just like I taught you, Johnny" when Kidd was trying to counter out of various holds. I think the most amazing thing was that the match went 26+ minutes, and Saint and Kidd were in there for just as much time, if not more, than their American counterparts. After going 21+ the night before... I am in awe. Seriously, these guys were such a welcome addition to the Chikaraverse this past weekend, and they totally exceeded my expectations. Saint and Quack got the win when Saint pinned Kidd with a reverse rolling prawn hold. After the match, both Quack and Saint got on the mic and thanked the fans. That still bugs me, because it should be us thanking them, but hey, these guys were genuinely touched, and I'm glad that my enjoyment of what they put out helped them get some enjoyment back. It's an unvicious circle, guys!

After everyone cleared the ring, they played another video on the big screen, promising the return of Manami Toyota. I got excited because I've kinda fallen in love with Toyota over the last year, and any chance I get to see her back in the States is golden. But then the feed cut out, and when it came back in? Aja. Fucking. Kong. Promising death and destruction and to take Toyota and turn her into a Smart Car. It was the first of what I hope are many promos for Joshi-Mania in December. Quack definitely is serious about this education in joshi he's giving us here, although I have a suggestion. Kong's awesome. Toyota's awesome. Ice Ribbon is awesome. The SHIMMER guests (Ayumi Kurihara etc.) would be awesome. Bringing in domestic women like Rachel Summerlyn, Portia Perez, Nicole Matthews and even Mercedes Martinez would be awesome. Mima Shimoda? Please leave her at home, thanks.

Now, if the event had ended there, it would have been awesome, another feather in Chikara's cap. However, the main event, for me at least, and judging by the crowd reactions everyone else too, shifted it into overdrive. Sara del Rey, seconded by Daizee Haze, and Claudio Castagnoli, accompanied by Tursas, in the 12 Large Series would close the show, refereed by Derek Sabato. Judging by the look Death Rey had on her face, she wasn't going to reenact the Finger Poke of Doom. Of course, Claudio ordered her to lay down, but she was like "no thx, gonna kill u now lol not jk". Claudio responded by shoving and slapping her, but then del Rey followed up by dominating the shit out of Claudio from jump. And The Arena exploded. She went for the Royal Butterfly way too early, but she didn't break serve until Tursas tripped her up on a rope-run.

From there, Claudio had his fun working del Rey over like a woman's wrestler, circa 1950 would, with gratuitous hair pulls and tosses, all the while with Sabato looking on like he was watching Johnny Saint putting Johnny Kidd in a top wristlock. Of course, this didn't stop the crowd from chanting "LET'S GO SARA!", which elicited mock chants from the Swiss Stalwart as he was working del Rey over. At one point, Claudio tried to pin del Rey by holding her down to the mat by her jaw. That didn't set well at all with anyone in the arena outside of Tursas and maybe Sabato. Her feistiness shone through on a few occasions, getting some flash pins between the Claudio offense, but her comebacks were short lived each time. She did initiate some limb work, dodging a corner spear and causing Claudio to go chest first into the ring post. She then almost caused the roof to cave in when she did a koppo kick off the apron onto Tursas.

From there, she started to work the arm, hitting a crossbody and then locking Claudio in a cross armbreaker. He got to the ropes and then nailed her with a bicycle kick upon recovery. After a UFO though, he was back on the defensive, missing a corner splash and then eating three koppos from del Rey, back into another sequence where she tenaciously kept going for the cross armbreaker, a move that was super over all match long. Claudio again got to the ropes and mounted a comeback that ended in a Ricola Bomb. He cockily grabbed her up from the pin attempt at 2, repeating it after a hard European uppercut. He didn't get a chance to do a third move, because del Rey got a surprise backslide and a successful three count. The place came UNGLUED. For a moment, I think everyone in the former ECW Arena was a feminist.

After the match, I'm guessing the expulsion of del Rey and Haze from the BDK was complete as Claudio sneak attacked the Queen of Wrestling with a bicycle kick to the back of the head. Then, when Haze went in the ring to confront him, she was met with a HUGE chokeslam with Claudio's good arm. After barking at Sabato for fucking up the match, they left, and the former ladies of the Bruderschaft got a standing ovation.

After seeing this match, everything made sense. It was almost like the matches from before with Mima were put in some kind of post-The Sixth Sense light that revealed that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time maybe del Rey and Haze were both faces the entire weekend. Of course, I still had major problems with Mima's in-ring, so it wasn't like I could go back and bump up my opinions of the offending matches, but hey, at least there was now a rhyme and reason associated.

All things told, I think that Chikarasaurus weekend is definitely a must-get on DVD if you didn't attend live. Most of the action is good, believe me, but it's must see if just for the World of Sport stuff, both Jigsaw matches, both Generico/3.0 matches and ESPECIALLY for Sara del Rey becoming the biggest babyface in all of Chikara in the span of one main event match.

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