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Ford’s CHIKARA Best of 2016 Review

March 17, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Ford
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Ford’s CHIKARA Best of 2016 Review  

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Disc One

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The Snake Pit (Ophidian, Shynron & Argus) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant, Silver Ant & Worker Ant)
“Five Senses” – Philadelphia, PA – 1.30.2016

Shynron and Fire Ant trade wristlocks to start. Fire Ant puts him in a standing Octopus stretch which he turns into a headscissors. He rolls up from the mat into a quesadora armdrag. Shynron gets onto Fire Ant’s shoulders and legdrags Fire Ant across the ring. He vertical suplexes him for two. Shynon sweeps out Fire Ant’s legs and gets two with a standing shooting star press.. He and Ophidian hit a moonsault/somersault senton combo and Fire Ant rolls to the floor. Worker Ant powers Ophidian to the corner. Ophidian lays in some shots to Worker Ant while ducking his offense. Worker Ant cuts him off with a forearm to the face. He misses a corner back elbow. Ophidian brings him down with a headscissors from the apron. Ophidian throws some spin kicks to Worker Ant, taking down with a spinwheel variant for two. Worker Ant scoop slams Ophidian. As Worker Ant tries to shake the cobwebs from his head, Argus attacks puts on a Tazzmission. Silver Ant dropkicks Argus to free his partner. Angry, Argus slaps Silver Ant in the face three times. Silver Ant dishes it right back, throwing in some chops and forearms for good measure. Argus ducks a chop and unloads with three of his own. He kicks Silver Ant against the ropes. Silver Ant reverses a whip and shoulder blocks Argus to the mat. He does it a second time and gets a two count. Argus doesn’t budge from Silver Ant’s running shoulder blocks that follow. He bounces off the ropes and knocks down Silver Ant himself. He belly-to-back suplexes Silver Ant. Fire Ant comes in and receives one himself. Argus muscles over the larger Worker Ant as well, and the Snake Pit land triple dives onto the Colony outside. Ophidian drives his knees into Silver Ant’s chest back in the ring. Double knees off the top get him two as Worker Ant breaks the pin. Worker Ant calls for the GTS. Ophidian turns it into the Death Grip. Worker Ant swings him into a uranage slam. Argus gives Worker Ant a belly-to-back suplex. Fire Ant throws some kicks before dropping Argus with a brainbuster. Shynron saves Argus from Fire Ant’s grasp. Shynron flips through his tornado DDT attempt. A standing Spanish Fly gets him two as Silver Ant breaks the cover. Silver Ant catches Shynron’s back handspring and gives him a backbreaker and German suplex for two. He brings down Shynron in a Fujiwara armbar. Ophidian comes off the top with double knees to break it. Worker Ant gives Ophidian a bicycle kick. Argus tornado kicks Worker Ant in the arm. Fire Ant high crossbody’s onto Argus. He looks for the Yahtzee Kick but is cut off by a bicycle kick from Ophidian. Shynron goes for a Pele kick but Silver Ant catches him with an ankle lock. Ophidian frees him with an enzuigiri. Silver Ant turns Shynron and Ophidian inside out with stereo clotheslines. Ophidian unloads with strikes and kicks on Fire Ant. Fire Ant cuts him off with an enzuigiri and leaping knee strike. After the Yahtzee Kick. Worker Ant passes Ophidian to Silver Ant for a powerbomb. The Ant Hill is broken up by Argus. He gives Fire Ant a gutbuster before attacking Silver Ant and Worker Ant in opposite corner. Silver Ant catches him with a tiger feint kick. Worker Ant cannonball sentons Argus. Argus eats the Ants Marching dropkick. Shynron sweeps out Fire Ant’s legs. He headscissors Worker Ant into Fire Ant. Silver Ant comes off the top with a dropkick to Shynron. Shynron dropkicks the entire Colony. He gives Fire Ant and Silver Ant a double back handspring Ace Crusher. Worker Ant tries the GTS. Shynron fights free. Worker Ant catches his kick but he Pele kicks Fire Ant and Silver Ant at the same time. Worker Ant powerbombs Shynron mid-air to stop his coast-to-coast dropkick. Shynron then falls to the Ant Hill giving the Colony the win at 19:34. These two teams had an exciting, action packed match. This rehabbed the Colony who had been all but absent as a team for a year, put over the Snake Pit as a force to be reckoned with, and showed how much Argus has improved, all in one fell swoop. It was like a Dragon Gate six man where the action just kept building until it ended. I expected this to be good but it crushed my expectations. Hats off to everyone. ***¾

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Princess KimberLee vs. Mickie James
“National Pro Wrestling Day 2016” – Reading, PA – 2.6.2016

An aggressive lock-up ends in a stalemate. KimberLee grabs a wristlock, holding on when James tries rolling out. James cartwheels before taking KimberLee down in a wristdrag. She takes over KimberLee in a firewoman’s carry for two, and holds onto the wrist. KimberLee transitions into a side headlock. James shoves KimberLee to the corner and breaks cleanly. A double knuckle lock battle leads to KimberLee delivering a delayed vertical suplex to James. KimberLee backs James to the corner to escape a waistlock. James shows respect with a fist bump before rushing her with a forearm to the back of the head! She kicks KimberLee in the stomach and chokes her on the bottom rope. James throws some knees in the corner. KimberLee evades a charging knee and puts on an Anaconda Vise in the ropes. KimberLee goes to the second rope, but James yanks her down and KimberLee crashes on the mat. James pushes her feet into KimberLee’s back while outstretching her arms. KimberLee gets to her feet, so James kicks her away. James sends KimberLee face first into three of the corners. On the fourth, KimberLee puts on the breaks and rams James’ face repeatedly into the top turnbuckle. James elbows out of a German suplex attempt. KimberLee enzuigiri’s James for two. After trading some nearfalls, James kicks KimberLee in the chin. James takes off her belt. Bryce goes to disposes of it. James shoves KimberLee into Bryce. Bryce falls out of the ring and James spikes KimberLee with an Implant DDT. There’s no referee to make the count. KimberLee regains some composure. James tries for a Frankensteiner. KimberLee powerbombs her into the Alligator Clutch for the pin at 11:37. Mickie James did a great job turning the crowd on her and keeping them engaged from the turn until the end. I also like the subtle tease of the powerbomb into the Clutch early on. By and large this stayed in first gear, but this win is a nice feather in the cap for KimberLee. **¾

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Shynron vs. “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti
“Disk” – Philadelphia, PA – 4.2.2016

This is a rematch from “Colony Collapse.” Angelosetti grounds Shynron in a waistlock. He keeps hold as Shynron rolls, but Shynron eventually gets free. Angelosetti tries grounding Shynron in a double knuckle luck. After getting his shoulders up, Shynron rolls up Angelosetti. From a wheelbarrow position he brings down Angelosetti in a headlock. Angelosetti reverses, but Shynron grabs a headscissors. Angelosetti escapes. They cartwheel away from one another and reach a stalemate. Shynron nips right back up when Angelosetti shoulder blocks him down. Angelosetti slams Shynron and gives him multiple splashes. Shynron gets his knees up to block a running splash. Shynron sweeps out Angelosetti’s legs and hits a corkscrew senton for two. He comes off the top rope with a swinging headscissors. Angelosetti bandera’s him to the apron and brings him across the ring with a vertical suplex into the corner! He lands his big splash for two. Shynron gets in some kicks from the apron, but when he charges, Angelosetti shuts him down with an Overbomb. Shynron sneaks in a bodyscissors and rolls Angelosetti to his shoulders for two. After a basement enzuigiri he goes to the apron. He slingshots in with a headscissors, sending Angelosetti outside. Shynron follows with a kickflip, tumbleweed senton. Back inside, Shynron tries another slingshot maneuver. Angelosetti catches Shynron and hangs him up in a tree of woe. After some shoulder blocks, he backflips to prepare for a running shoulder block and accidentally knocks down referee Troy Nelson! While Angelosetti is checking on Nelson, Shynron hits Angelosetti with the Dragon Twist. He lands a 450 splash off the middle rope, but there’s no referee to count. Shynron goes for a back handspring move but Angelosetti spears him on the rebound. Shynron avoids a corner spear. Angelosetti swats away some of Shynron’s kicks, but takes a Pele kick as he sits on the top turnbuckle. Angelosetti catches Shynron on his shoulders and brings him down with a super Ace Crusher! He makes the cover. Referee Troy Nelson calls for the bell at 11:12, disqualifying Angelosetti for knocking down, awarding the match to Shynron. Angelosetti leaves, visibly upset with the decision. This was a really excellent match, with some fun counter wrestling and impressive offense from both guys. The top rope Ace Crusher from Angelosetti was especially awesome, and it’s a shame we got the false DQ finish instead of an actual pinfall. I get that they’re telling a story with Angelosetti, but given how hard they worked I wish we could have had a clean ending here. ***

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The Osirian Portal (Amasis & Ophidian) vs. TDT (Mathieu St. Jacques & Thomas Dubois)
“The Distant Future” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.7.2016

This is a rematch from “Phone Home.” The Osirian Portal attack TDT as soon as they enter the ring. Amasis unleashes kicks on St. Jacques while Ophidian throws forearms and chops at Dubois. TDT switch the Portal around looking for double German suplexes. The Portal land on their feet but get sent to the apron. They come back in and send TDT out with running crossbody’s. Amasis suicide dives onto both of them. TDT takes down Amasis. Dubois catches Ophidian’s dive attempt. St. Jacques gives Ophidian a running forearm into an apron powerbomb from Dubois. St. Jacques gives Amasis a backbreaker on the apron. In the ring Amasis is left to fight the TDT alone, which proves to be futile. Ophidian crawls into the ring during the beatdown, but is quickly disposed of. Amasis rolls out after kicking out of a spinebuster from St. Jacques. A dazed Ophidian makes his way into the ring and reverses a toss from St. Jacques, sending him to the floor. He throws some kicks to Dubois. He comes off the top where Dubois catches him with a backbreaker. Dubois follows up with four more backbreakers and a knee strike off the middle rope from St. Jacques. Amsis comes back in, throwing punches at both of TDT. They cut him off with a tandem running shoulder block. They toss Amasis out with Ophidian, and the TDT land stereo suicide dives. In the ring, Dubois kicks Amasis into a piledriver from St. Jacques for two. They go for the combo again with the roles reversed. Ophidian catches St. Jacques with a knee from the apron. Dubois throws Amasis into Ophidian. TDT try a bucket toss into the corner. Amasis fights out and delivers double blockbusters. Amasis pescado’s out onto Dubois on the floor while Ophidian hits St. Jacques with Meteora. Ophidian then dives onto Dubois. Amasis lands a top rope double stomp onto St. Jacques for two. The Portal try the assisted Egyptian Destroyer on St. Jacques. Dubois makes the save. St. Jacques gives Ophidian a waterwheel slam into the corner while Dubois gives Amasis a Razor’s Edge into the other corner. TDT then double Beele Amasis onto Ophidian. St. Jacques pins Amasis but only gets two. TDT set him up for the Doomsday Device. Ophidian crotches St. Jacques on the top rope. Amasis uses a Frankensteiner to take Dubois to the floor. The Portal bring down St. Jacques with the Pyramid suplex. Dubois tried to interrupt, but they took him down with a bicycle kick into a German suplex. The assisted Egyptian Destroyer on Dubois gets the Portal a very close two count! As the Portal await Dubois to recover, St. Jacques sneaks in a double Saito suplex. The Portal recover quickly and take St. Jacques down with stereo bicycle kicks. They deliver stereo superkicks to Dubois. They then hit the assisted Egyptian Destroyer on St. Jacques onto Dubois. Dubois then takes a second assisted butterfly Egyptian Destroyer for the pin at 13:51. I gushed the initial encounter these two teams had in April, and while I enjoyed this quite a bit, it felt too much like a rehash. I think when TDT debuted people didn’t really expect how they could fit into the CHIKARA ecosystem, and having a match that was different from the “CHIKARA style” was a perfect introduction.. While I was excited for the rematch, I didn’t want the same match again, but more so for them to expound upon what was already achieved. While I appreciate the callback to the finish from the first match and the feeling of genuine disdain between the teams, the lack of freshening up from the initial encounter knocks this down a peg in my book, but nevertheless was still a very good match. ***¼

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Fire Ant vs. Ophidian
“Aniversario: The Two Towers” – North Shields, England – 5.29.2016

The opening sequence sees a lot of fast strikes and kicks from Ophidian that Fire Ant evades. Fire Ant catapults Ophidian into a Tornado clutch which Ophidian counters into a crucifix. Ophidian maneuvers his way into the Death Grip. Fire Ant switches him around, looking for a suplex or brainbuster. Ophidian reapplies the Death Grip. Fire Ant switches him around again, but this time Ophidian small packages him for two. He also gets two with a Gedo clutch. Fire Ant tries a backslide. Ophidian rolls out and backslides Fire Ant with a back bridge for two. Ophidian cracks him in the face with a bicycle kick for two. A second bicycle kick has the same effect. Fire Ant takes to the corner. Ophidian drives his knees into Fire Ant’s chest twice. He comes off the top with Meteora, and Fire Ant gets his shoulder up. Ophidian looks for his Egyptian Destroyer. Fire Ant escapes. Ophidian enzuigiri’s Fire Ant to the floor and follows with a headscissors from a headstand off the ring apron. Ophidian headstands on the apron again. Fire Ant knocks him down with a tiger feint kick. He reenters the ring and suicide dives onto Ophidian. Back in the ring Fire Ant lands a high crossbody. A running forearm leads to a tornado DDT for two. He forearms Ophidian in opposite corners. He strings some chest strikes and a knee strike to the face together. He goes to the corner, where Ophidian follows in with a yakuza kick. In the opposite corner Fire Ant catches Ophidian with a Yoshi Tonic for two. Ophidian rolls to the apron. He and Fire Ant trade shots on the apron. Ophidian ducks a knee strike. He grabs a nerve hold and pulls Fire Ant up to the middle turnbuckle. He goes for a super Egyptian Destroyer but Fire Ant stops Ophidian with an antzuigiri. He brings down Ophidian with a super Frankensteiner. Ophidian fires up. He ducks a clothesline and grabs a grounded Death Grip. Fire Ant makes it to his feet and drives Ophidian head first into the corner to free himself. He baits Ophidian into the Yahtzee Kick and spikes him with a Frankensteiner. A brainbuster gets Fire Ant a close nearfall. The Beach Break puts Ophidian away at 12:32, erasing Ophidian’s points and giving Fire Ant his second. The Colony and Osirian Portal always worked well in the past so it’s no surprise that these two would have a great singles match altogether. Ophidian fought hard right from the get go knowing he had a tough opponent to beat to keep his three points, and it made for a really entertaining back-and-forth match where the stakes felt high. The early brainbuster tease coming around in the end after Ophidian got the Death Grip locked on was a great way to bring the match full circle. This was excellent, as expected. ***¼

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Grand Championship
Princess KimberLee vs. Hallowicked

“Aniversario: The Lost World” – Glasgow, Scotland – 5.30.2016

KimberLee has been champion since 12.5.2015 and this is her sixth defense. KimberLee limps on her way to the ring, caused by the damage the Nightmare Warriors have done to her leg over the course of the three previous events. Bryce even double checks with her before ringing the bell that she is still up for the fight; she confirms.

Hallowicked spouts off and KimberLee rocks him with forearms to the chest and kicks to the leg in response. He hits to the floor, causing the fans to call him a chicken. Inside he goes for the leg, but KimberLee counters with an Oklahoma roll. She ducks another attack and kicks Hallowicked in the back. He once again hiis the floor. KimberLee grabs a wristlock when he enters the ring. When Hallowicked grabs her leg, she enzuigiri’s him to the corner. She throws forearm strikes and chops, moving him across the ring with her strikes. She shoulder blocks her in the stomach and places her on the top turnbuckle. She comes down with a swinging Frankensteiner and a German suplex! Hallowicked retreats to the floor. From the floor he trips KimberLee and jams her leg into the apron. This leads to Hallowicked working over KimberLee’s leg with an outside toe hold. She pummels Hallowicked’s back, but he drives his shoulder blade into her knee cap to cut her off and go back to work. He goes for Never Wake Up. KimberLee weaves out of the lock and throws some kicks to Hallowicked. She sets up for the CHIKARA Special but Hallowicked pounds on her leg before she can even begin to apply it. KimberLee fights out of another toe hold, but unfortunately, she couldn’t support her weight when going to the ropes, and Hallowicked is easily able to go back to the leg. He twists on her bad foot. She uses her good leg and some forearms to escape and chops Hallowicked against the ropes. He weaves underneath her Irish whip attempt and dropkicks her leg out. KimberLee evades a corner attack and brings Hallowicked down for the CHIKARA Special. Hallowicked wiggles free and fervently kicks at KimberLee’s hurt leg. He snapmares KimberLee into a back kick and locks on a Stump Puller. She uses her good leg and kicks Hallowicked to the corner. She has a hard time basing for some kicks to the chest but does so nonetheless. Hallowicked cuts her off with a shoulder block to the stomach. KimberLee avoids a step-up enzuigiri and kicks Hallowicked until he falls and gets his leg stuck in the ropes. Bryce frees him and Hallowicked tumbles to the floor. Back inside Hallowicked misses a knee strike in the corner. KimberLee goes after his know hurt knee, kicking at it with her good foot. She German suplexes Hallowicked four times, bridging the final suplex for a two count. She goes for another German suplex. Hallowicked kicks out her knee to block. He hits Go 2 Sleepy Hollow but hurts his knee in doing so. He takes too much time to recover and only earns a two count. He goes for Never Wake Up. KimberLee counters with an inside cradle for two. She also gets two with a crucifix pin. She goes for the Alligator Clutch but Hallowicked scoots out. She bicycle kicks Hallowicked in the back of the head into the turnbuckles for two. He gets the better of her in the corner and takes her off the top with a super snapmare. Hallowicked then lands a Swanton Bomb onto her leg for two. In disbelief, Hallowicked cracks her with a yakuza kick, and again KimberLee gets her shoulder up. Hallowicked tells KimberLee to stay down as he drops her with a Rydeen Bomb, although KimberLee does not listen and again gets her shoulder up. He misses an elbow in the corner. KimberLee throws some kicks and tries spinning Hallowicked down into the CHIKARA Special. Hallowicked stops her with a Stretch Muffler. She converts that into the CHIKARA Special, but Frightmare is distracting Bryce, who misses Hallowicked tapping out. KimberLee disposes of Frightmare with a kick. Hallowicked cracks KimberLee with a yakuza kick and hits Never Wake Up for the pin and the championship at 18:57.

The story told was easy and effective; Hallowicked went after KimberLee’s leg, his own leg got hurt and he got a taste of his own medicine, and he avoided the CHIKARA Special like the plague since it’s how he lost to KimberLee in the first place. So why the distraction? Sure, it gives KimberLee an “out” and makes Hallowicked seem more detestable. But isn’t a hurt leg a built-in out? Aren’t we conditioned to dislike Hallowicked already? Did these goals need to be reached in a main event championship match where a title change was going to occur? The one thing it did accomplish was show that the CHIKARA Special is indeed Hallowicked’s Achilles’ heel, but I think they did an effective job portraying that even before the visual submission. Despite my disliking for the distraction finish, the story was strong, the wrestling was good, and the crowd was hot, so I’d consider it a success. ***½

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No Disqualification
“Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado

Special Guest Referee: Dasher Hatfield
“Tightrope” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.11.2016

Coronado shoves Angelosetti away, leading to both men pummeling one another on the mat. Angelosetti shoves Coronado to the floor after a hard clothesline. Back inside Angelosetti tosses Coronado overhead with a leg-capture suplex twice, Back on the floor, Coronado cuts off Angelosetti by pulling up the mats and hitting Angelosetti with them. He then bodyslams Angelosetti on the exposed concrete twice. He sends Angelosetti back first into the ring post, but then both men knock each other down with simultaneous clotheslines. Coronado grabs his flag when they go back into the ring. While Angelosetti is able to tackle him into the corner, Coronado cuts off his final running shoulder tackle by driving the flag into Angelosetti’s throat. He then chokes Angelosetti with the flag pole. Angelosetti turns things around and grabs the flag. He decides against breaking the flag over Coronado’s back, trying to show Hatfield he’s a changed man, and ends up taking an enzuigiri from Coronado. Coronado drags in a piece of the mats from the floor into the ring. He rolls up Angelosetti in the mat rendering him immobile. Coronado legdrops him, then brings out a bag from under the ring. He grabs a pair of scissors and cuts the top turnbuckle off of one of the corners. He unwraps Angelosetti and delivers some forearm shots to the lower back. Angelosetti is able to duck a clothesline and unload a flying clothesline of his own. Angelosetti gives Coronado a running spinebuster, but as they leave the corner, Coronado rips off the turnbuckle pad, exposing that corner. Coronado rolls Angelosetti into the Coronado Clutch. Angelosetti rolls forward, sending Coronado outside. He follows outside and gives Coronado a reverse suplex on the floor. As Angelosetti brings Coronado into the ring Prakash Sabar enters the match. Hatfield puts him out of the ring, but The Proletariat Boar of Moldova sneaks in and Gore’s Angelosetti! It’s only enough to get Coronado a two count. They go to the apron where Coronado tries to German suplex Angelosetti. Angelosetti resists, but Coronado ends up spearing him to the floor! Coronado brings a chair into the ring. Both men fight over it. With neither man getting the chair, they drop it and trade forearm strikes. Angelosetti ducks a chair shot and spikes Coronado with a spinebuster for two. After a small package, Coronado knocks down Angelosetti with a dropkick. With joy, Coronado tries to hit Angelosetti in the back with the chair. He avoids it and goes for the Flea Flicker. Coronado escapes, jabs the chair into Angelosetti’s ribs, then hits him across the back with it. He tells Angelosetti that he is all alone as he cracks him with the chair once again. A third chair shot connects. Coronado follows up all the damage to Angelosetti’s back with a Tiger Driver. Somehow, Angelosetti is able to kick out. Angelosetti ducks a chairshot and the chair ricochet’s off the ropes into Coronado’s face. Angelosetti hits the Flea Flicker for two. Angelosetti goes for a tackle. Coronado drops him face first into the corner with the exposed buckle! Coronado German suplexes Angelosetti five times in a row, but doesn’t keep the bridge. Hatfield checks for a knockout but Angelosetti refuses to stay down. Coronado gives him a piledriver. Not interested in going for a pin, he lifts Angelosetti’s body in the corner, but Angelosetti crumbles. Coronado tells Hatfield to get back when he tries checking on Angelosetti. He tells Hatfield that he will not stop the match. Coronado props up a chair in the corner and sits Angelosetti down so that it’s much easier to drag Angelosetti to the top turnbuckle. He hooks him for a super Tiger Driver, but Angelosetti wills his way out of the double lock. He maneuvers Coronado onto his shoulders and brings him down with the Grand Slam, a staple of Hatfield’s! That gets Angelosetti the pin at 24:23.

I can’t help but be reminded of Angelosetti’s terrific No DQ match with Archibald Peck in February 2013. Like that match, this paid off on all the puzzle pieces laid out in previous matches, as the commentary team did an excellent job of pointing out. While Coronado came off as mean spirited, hell bent on doing harm to Angelosetti, beating him with weapons ad nauseum, Angelosetti never once used a weapon and ended up using Hatfield’s finishing move to win, the move of a man who he has been looking to make amends with since November. A more poetic ending I could not think off. Both Touchdown and Coronado played their roles to perfection. This match gave Coronado his star making performance, and probably the best singles match he’s had since his Grand Championship match with Icarus. This great feud-ending encounter is almost enough for me to forgive some of the more frustrating moments this feud produced. Almost.

This is my pick for the best CHIKARA match of 2016. ****

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Princess KimberLee vs. Heidi Lovelace
“No One’s First, and You’re Next” – Philadelphia, PA – 8.21.2016

The winner of this match will have three points and a shot at the Grand Championship. The two women charge at the bell with stereo running forearm strikes. Lovelace ends a chop exchange with an STO. KimberLee reverses an Irish whip and kicks Lovelace in the side of the head. Lovelace fires up with forearms in the corner. They each hit a running forearm strike in opposite corners. Lovelace traps KimberLee’s foot in the ropes and kicks at it. Lovelace works over the leg on the mat. Although KimberLee is able to get some chops in, her leg crumples underneath her when she goes for the ropes. Lovelace pulls up on the back of KimberLee’s leg to apply pressure. Although KimberLee fights her off, Lovelace simply kicks her leg out to maintain the advantage. She drives KimberLee’s knee into the mat repeatedly. KimberLee utilizes one of Lovelace’s pet moves, using her legs to drive Lovelace face first into the middle turnbuckle. Lovelace throws some leg kicks. KimberLee responds with kicks from her good leg, including a roundhouse kick. A couple of clotheslines take down Lovelace for a two count. After a palm strike, Lovelace tries a back handspring maneuver. KimberLee catches her on the rebound with a German suplex for two. KimberLee drops her with a tombstone for two. KimberLee carefully gets to the second rope. Lovelace palm strikes KimberLee again to halt her. She sets up for the super Frankensteiner, but KimberLee counters with a super powerbomb! When Lovelace kicks out, KimberLee locks on the Coronation, a modified bow and arrow stretch which she used to defeat Lovelace in March. Lovelace manages to grab the ropes to escape. She dumps KimberLee on her head with five Saito suplexes. KimberLee fires up. Lovelace gives her a knee strike, a superkick, a standing enzuigiri, and the Heidi-Can-Rana for two! Lovelace comes off the top with a senton splash. KimberLee kicks out, but Lovelace locks on the CHIKARA Special. KimberLee taps at 11:32! I think the story in this match was stronger than their match from March, mostly because they left the “friendship” stuff aside and just beat each other up. That said, Heidi aping KimberLee’s move was a nice touch. You could feel how important it was for each of them to win, with KimberLee wanting to get her title back, and Heidi wanting to validate herself and get another shot at the gold. The story with KimberLee’s leg was executed well, as was the call back to the finish of their prior match. Part of me questioned this being the main event, with a big title match and the Nazmaldun’s Army vs. Ants story, but this fit the main event billing just fine. ***½

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King of Trios 2016 First Round Match
Team CWC (Drew Gulak, Johnny Gargano & Cedric Alexander) vs. Warriors 3 (Princess KimberLee, ThunderFrog & Oleg the Usurper)

“King of Trios 2016, Night 1” – Easton, PA – 9.2.2016

Like all Cruiserweight Classic matches, this starts with handshakes and referee Bryce Remsburg ensuring everybody knows the rules. None of the CWC teammates can lift the ThunderFrog’s hammer, so ThunderFrog lifts it for them and places it in the corner. We start with teacher vs. student with Gulak vs. KimberLee. Gulak escapes an ankle pick and gutwrench suplexes KimberLee. Gulak headstands his way out of a headscissors. KimberLee tries a vertical suplex, only for Gulak to counter into a small package. KimberLee tries a couple pinning combinations before dropkicking Gulak to the floor. Alexander picks up the pace with KimberLee, sending her out with a satellitle headscissors. ThunderFrog knocks Alexander down with some forearm strikes and a Blue Thunder Bomb. ThunderFrog looks to dive onto Alexander when Gargano cuts him off with a slingshot spear. Oleg uses his backside to escape a waistlock. Gargano rocks him with left handed jabs and chop. Oleg is able to catch him with a backbreaker, following up with a running somersault senton for two. ThunderFrog is caught in the corner with a roll into a roundhouse kick from Gargano. ThunderFrog takes the WASSUP! headbutt from Alexander. Team CWC still can’t move ThunderFrog’s Hammer of Peace. ThunderFrog picks it up and flings Gargano and Gulak off of the hammer. Alexander grabs the hammer and suffers the same fate. KimberLee is charmed by ThunderFrog’s power. She seems ready to accept a kiss from him when Team CWC hit him with triple superkicks. They beat down ThunderFrog in their corner. ThunderFrog backdrops his way out of a piledriver from Gulak. KimberLee cleans house with roundhouse kicks. She pump kicks Alexander and gives Gulak a brainbuster. She gives Gulak a sit-out powerbomb for two. When Gulak goes outside, she follows with a rolling somersault senton. Gargano suicide dives onto KimberLee. ThunderFrog comes off the top with a double axe handle to Gargano and Gulak. Alexander cuts off Oleg’s momentum off the ropes with a springboard clothesline, then lays out everybody on the floor with a tope con hilo. Oleg stops him on the top rope, bringing him down with an avalanche chokeslam. A suplex chain is won by Team CWC. Team CWC delivers a triumvirate of five knuckle shuffles before setting up for triple Attitude Adjustments. The Warriors Three fight out, but end up taking triple Pedigrees for two. ThunderFrog stacks up Alexander and Gargano in the corner before giving Gulak the stampede. He gives Alexander and Gargano a cannonball senton before ascending the ropes. Gulak gets his feet up to block the Froggy Splash. Alexander hits a springboard Complete Shot. Gargano then hits a slingshot DDT. Gulak comes off the top with a diving lariat. KimberLee picks up Gulak off of ThunderFrog into a German suplex, then German suplexes Gulak’s partners as well. Gulak O’Connor rolls KimberLee into the Gu-Lock. Alexander and Gargano take out Oleg and ThunderFrog so they can’t save her. KimberLee however is able to reverse the hold. Gulak picks her up into the Lawn Dart from Gargano. Alexander drills her with the Lumbar Check. Oleg jumps in to break the cover. Oleg looks to chokeslam Gulak and Alexander. Gargano superkicks Oleg, but Oleg responds with a Usurper kick. He takes out Alexander with a kick. Gulak blisters Oleg with overhand chops before hitting the ropes. Oleg splashes Gulak against the ropes. Alexander dropkicks Oleg in the corner before landing a brainbuster. The Big Fat Kill gets a two count after the nearfall after the brainbuster does not work out. Alexander misses Overtime and Oleg blasts him with Off With His Head for the pin at 22:27. If you take out the WWE nonsense, this was a very good match. Both team were well oiled-machines and I don’t know if the ThunderFrog or Oleg have ever looked better than in this bout. The win for the Warriors Three felt well deserved, albeit assumed, and even with that assumption a lot of people bit when Gulak had the Gu-Lock on KimberLee. This was definitely the right choice to end the evening. ***¾

Disc 2

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Rey de Voladores Qualifier – Elimination Match
Frightmare vs. Anthony Nese vs. Candice LeRae vs. Space Monkey

“King of Trios 2016, Night 2” – Easton, PA – 9.3.2016

Frightmare immediately blasts LeRae with a yakuza kick. He Pele kicks Monkey to the floor. Nese evades his offense, stringing together a pair of kicks and a knee strike. Nese sweeps out Frightmare’s legs while also baseball slide kicking Monkey on the floor. Nese cartwheels to the floor and superkicks Frightmare. LeRae suicide dives into a tornado DDT on LeRae. Monkey climbs the ropes and hits a sky twister press onto all three opponents. In the ring, he eats a banana while holding LeRae in a bodyscissors, picking the nits out of her hair. Although LeRae elbows her way out, she slips on the banana peel Monkey throws into the ring. Monkey hits a standing moonsault for two. Frightmare ruins the fun by attacking Monkey and disposing of LeRae. He yakuza kicks Monkey twice and gets two with his own standing moonsault. LeRae gets in some desperation shots. Nese makes the save and punches Frightmare to the corner. He O’Connor Rolls Monkey and German suplexes Frightmare for a double pin attempt, getting two in both instances. Nese doesn’t want to hit LeRae, but she gives him a forearm. She holds onto Nese’s hand while she runs the ropes and takes Frightmare off the apron with a Frankensteiner! She tries a Frankensteiner on Nese. He catches her mid-move but puts her down. LeRae kicks his knee out. Nese rolls her up into a one-armed powerbomb to the floor onto Monkey and Frightmare! In the ring, Monkey bits Nese’s hand to escape his grasp. Monkey drives his feet into Frightmare’s face, then monkey flips him into Nese. He whips Frightmare in the face with his own tail. Nese ducks a tail whip and uppercuts Monkey. He pump-handles Monkey into a reverse piledriver for the elimination at 8:58. Frightmare spikes Nese with a crucifix driver for two. LeRae small packages Frightmare for two. She has a violence party on Frightmare in the corner, then somersault sentons off the apron onto Nese. Back in the ring she gives Frightmare the Ballsplex twice. On the third try, Frightmare fights her off and hits a clothesline. The Friggin’ Sweet Driver from Frightmare eliminates LeRae at 10:55. Frightmare tope con hilo’s onto Nese on the floor. He sends Nese face first into a ring post. Back inside Nese is able to take down Frightmare with a spinwheel kick. He muscles Frightmare onto the top rope and delivers a knee strike to the side of the head for two. Frightmare goes for Kneecolepsy when he recovers. Nese moves and pump-handles Frightmare into the reverse piledriver for two. Nese climbs the ropes. He jumps down when he sees Frightmare get back to his feet. Frightmare hits a running yakuza kick for two. Nese catches Frightmare ascending the ropes with an uppercut punch and a gamengiri. Frightmare knocks Nese down into a tree of woe, but Nese sits up and brings Frightmare down with a spider German suplex. Nese then goes for the 450 splash and misses. Frightmare hits Kneecolepsy for the win at 15:04. In CHIKARA, it is completely ridiculous for any male competitor to be hesitant to wrestle a female competitor, and the crowds boos towards Nese showed just that. That aside, all four competitors had a good showing, but the action never totally came together. In a way it was designed for everyone to showcase their strongest qualities, which they did, but with no narrative tying any of it together. I suppose for a Rey de Voladores match I can be forgiving about the lack of narrative. **¾

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King of Trios 2016 Final Round
Team JWP (Command Bolshoi, Hanako Nakamori & Manami Katsu) vs. Team SENDAI Girls (Meiko Satomura, DASH Chisako & Cassandra Miyagi)

“King of Trios 2016, Night 3” – Easton, PA – 9.4.2016

Katsu is still in rough shape from the semi-finals and is helped to the ring by Bolshoi and Nakamori. Team JWP attack the SENDAI Girls at the bell. Nakamori and Miyagi hair mare one another. Nakamori boots Miyagi in the corner. Miyagi responds with a facebuster and running boot to the side of the head. Nakamori snapmares her into a back and front kick, getting two with a legdrop. Bolshoi pops up after Miyagi’s dropkicks and throws Miyagi to her corner. Satomura and Bolshoi trade holds. Satomura takes down Bolshoi with knee strikes, ending with a hard knee strike out of a headstand to the mid-section. Satomura wins a test of strength. She gets in some shots to Bolshoi’s legs before Miyagi flings Bolshoi across the ring and delivers two running dropkicks. Bolshoi cuts her off with a running forearm and suplex. Fed up, she double stomps Miyagi. Katsu and Miyagi trade shots, with Katsu getting the better of Miyagi, turning her into a half crab. Bolshoi adds to the pressure with a Camel Clutch. Miyagi escapes a bulldog from Katsu. Chisako wastes no time coming in with a dropkick. Miyagi hits a slingshot senton for two. Her and Katsu go back to trading blows. Katsu stops a quesadora with a wheelbarrow suplex for two. Nakamori throws boots to Miyagi. Chisako knee strikes her from the apron. Chisako and Miyagi’s double clothesline attempt is thwarted by Nakamori’s own double clothesline and a London Bridge. Nakamori wins a running boot exchange and gets two with a fisherwoman’s suplex. Miyagi avoids Nakamori’s flying knee and deposits her with a Cradle Shock for two. Chisako enters with a missile dropkick to Nakamori, which accidentally hurts her knee. That said, she’s still able to dropkick Nakamori in the corner. Chisako gets two with an Ace Crusher. She tries a frog splash, but Nakamori gets her feet up. Nakamori taunts Chisako as she throws an assorted arsenal of kicks. Miyagi stops Nakamori on the top rope while Satomura clears the apron of her partners. Chisako comes up top and brings Nakamori down with an Avalanche Ace Crusher! Bolshoi miraculously jumps in from the floor to break the cover. She German suplexes Chisako. Nakamori hits a Shining Wizard for two. Although Bolshoi kicks Chisako’s bad knee, Chisako is able to string a Northern lights suplex into a Gourd buster. Bolshoi evades an attack and cinches on an Achilles Lock, transitioning into an ankle lock. Katsu and Nakamori hold Satomura and Miyagi back. Bolshoi transitions into a leg-capture Dragon sleeper. Satomura fights Katsu off with a forearm and saves Chisako. Satomura blasts Bolshoi with a spinwheel kick after sending Katsu and Nakamori to the floor. Bolshoi counters Satomura’s Death Valley Driver into a grounded Octopus. Satomura gets the ropes to escape. She accidentally forearms Chisako. Nakamori and Katsu knee strike Satomura on the ropes before Bolshoi hits the tiger feint kick. A tiger suplex rom Bolshoi only gets two. Katsu also gets two with a flying elbow drop, thanks to Miyagi’s assistance. Satomura cracks Katsu with a kick to the back of the head and goes for a sleeper. Nakamori kicks Satomura, but Satomura holds on! A kick to the head saves Katsu, but Satomura kicks Nakamori in the head right back. Katsu forces herself off the mat after a chest kick from Satomura, so Satomura throws a few more for good measure. Satomura DDT’s Katsu and hits the cartwheel double knees to the back for two. Bolshoi and Nakamori stop Satomura from hitting Katsu with the Death Valley Driver. Team JWP triple German suplex the SENDAI Girls. Katsu does the deal with a Falcon Arrow on Satomura for two. Katsu admirably throws forearms to Katsu, but after getting crushed by two dropkicks from Chisako and Miyagi, as well as them clearing out Bolshoi and Nakamori for Satomura, Satomura gets the pin with a Death Valley Driver on Katsu in 23:12 to become the first ever Queen of Trios. The story here was simple: each team member had someone in bad shape going in, each team was aware of that, and did their damndest to exploit the frail opponent while protecting their own weakened teammate. SENDAI Girls did a better job in doing so, and won. This is a match most people wanted to see somewhere in the tournament and thus were hot for the entire thing. Things got really heated in the end and the build to Satomura’s finisher was really well executed. I have a lot of issues with zero CHIKARA talent winning anything of note this entire weekend, and the whole Queen of Trios concept feels incredibly ham-fisted, but there’s no denying the quality of this bout. ***¾

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Grand Championship
Hallowicked vs. Drew Gulak

“The Black Goodbye” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.17.2016

Hallowicked has been champion since 5.30.2016 and this is his second defense. UltraMantis Black is in his corner. An aggressive lock-up leads to Gulak grounding Hallowicked, holding him down by dropping his knee across Hallowicked’s left arm and pulling his head up against it. Gulak rides Hallowicked after Hallowicked escapes, headbutting him and using the bottom rope to add more to a stomp. Hallowicked shoulder blocks Gulak after Gulak escapes a side headlock. Gulak takes him over, bringing us to a stalemate. Although Hallowicked has the power advantage at first, Gulak flips Hallowicked over in a double wristlock. Hallowicked flips him over into a cross armbreaker attempt. Gulak clasps his hands together to stop Hallowicked. Gulak converts into a figure four leg hold. Hallowicked baits Gulak into a double wrist clutch drag. Hallowicked pulls on Gulak’s ankle. Gulak goes for a sleeper with bodyscissors, and Hallowicked grabs the ropes to escape before it’s applied for long. Hallowicked suplexes Gulak out of the corner. He grabs a hammerlock. Gulak gets to the ropes this time. Gulak nearly headstands out of Hallowicked’s headscissors, but Hallowicked strikes him in the kidneys and transitions to a side headlock. Gulak escapes and brings down Hallowicked with a Thesz Press. He reapplies the cross armbreaker. Hallowicked picks up Gulak enough to drop him onto mat and break the hold. Gulak brings Hallowicked to the apron where he lands a vertical suplex! Hallowicked takes some time to recover. Gulak puts him in the Gu-Lock in the ropes, releasing on the count of four to avoid disqualification. Hallowicked reverses a whip into the post, then sends Gulak face first into two more ring posts. In the ring, Hallowicked hits a slingshot senton and cranks on Gulak’s neck. Gulak pulls Hallowicked up and over before dropkicking him into the ropes. He looks for the Torture Scorpion but loses the leck lock. He forearms Hallowicked across his nose before pinning him for two. Hallowicked stands up while Gulak is on his neck and drives him into the mat. Hallowicked then looks for the CHIKARA Special. Gulak counters into the Stretch Muffler. Hallowicked grabs the ropes. Gulak dropkicks Hallowicked as he comes off the ropes. He powerbombs Hallowicked. When that gets two, he turns Hallowicked over into a high-angle Boston Crab. Hallowicked rolls out. He drops Gulak with the Rydeen Bomb for two. Gulak overhand chops Hallowicked against the ropes. He rolls under Hallowicked’s yakuza kick into a sunset flip for two. Gulak wants the Gotch style piledriver, but settles for a powerbomb. Hallowicked turns it into his own cradle. Gulak escapes Never Wake Up and gets the Gu-Lock on! Hallowicked reaches back to get the bottom rope. Gulak goads Hallowicked into a step-up enzuigiri. Gulak tries another powerbomb into a folding press. This time Hallowicked has it scouted and drills Gulak with Never Wake Up for the pin at 19:56. This was exceptional. Gulak came off as a real threat to Hallowicked with his aggression, wrestling ability, and wherewithal to not give Hallowicked any wiggle room. It’s as if Gulak cost himself the match with his insistence on the folding press out of powerbomb, as that’s how Hallowicked was able to maneuver him into his unstoppable finisher. This was easily the match of the night, one of the best matches to take place in the Wrestle Factory, and another example of why Gulak is amongst the top wrestlers in the world and Hallowicked is one of the most underrated. ****

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Missile Assault Man vs. Jigsaw
“Cruise Control” – Haverhill, MA – 10.8.2016

After some posturing, Missile gets in the first shots, rocking Jigsaw with a flurry of uppercuts. He ducks a kick from Jigsaw and takes him down with a rolling Death Valley Driver. A diving basement uppercut gets Missile a two count. Jigsaw pulls him into a chop. He grounds Missile with a snapmare and double stomps his chest. Jigsaw puts on a sleeper with a bodyscissors, but Missile crawls to the ropes to escape. Jigsaw chops Missile before dropkicking him out. Missile responds in kind. He follows Jigsaw to the floor. Jigsaw takes over outside, bringing Missile back into the ring with a chinlock. After some shots, Jigsaw tries a top rope double stomp. He misses, allowing Missile to come back with uppercuts and a Jon Woo dropkick for two. He also gets two with a brainbuster. Jigsaw pummels Missile’s neck before hitting his own brainbuster for two. Missile shoulders Jigsaw in the corner. He ends up driving his shoulder into the ring post. Jigsaw superkicks Missile down into a slump before hitting a coast-to-coast dropkick. Missile kicks out. After recovering, both men knock each other down with stereo pump kicks. A kick and strike exchange sees Missile take Jigsaw down with repeated uppercuts. Jigsaw cuts off his charge with a chop. Missile tries a backslide to counter a second chop. Jigsaw turns it into a small package for the win at 11:48. This felt like a breakout performance for Missile, who got to control a good portion of the match, and came off as an equal to a Gen 1 original. Watching these two beat each other up was a lot of fun, and even if the finish seemed abrupt, the damage Jigsaw did to Missile’s neck and shoulder justifies it in my mind. ***¼

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Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado
“Counting Backwards” – Philadelphia, PA – 11.5.2016

Sabre takes control early by digging his knee into Coronado’s left leg. Coronado is quick enough to avoid a toe hold. Sabre brings Coronado down in a wristlock. Coronado comes back up and gets on his own toe and ankle hold. Sabre converts, putting Coronado into a surfboard after painfully manipulating his legs. He twists on Coronado’s fingers before releasing the hold. Coronado escapes Sabre’s cravate with an overhead wristlock. Sabre takes him down in a headscissors. Coronado switches into a jackknife pin for two. He grapevines Coronado’s leg, almost switching into the Coronado Clutch, but Sabre rolls forward to avoid that fate. Sabre uses his legs to trip Coronado into a leg capture crossface. He outstretches both of Coronado’s arms, sitting down on his back to add more pressure. Coronado prawn holds Sabre for two. Sabre defiantly escapes a hammerlock. Coronado is caught with a running chest kick against the ropes. Sabre goes for double knees onto Coronado’s outstretched arm, but Coronado notices and moves. With Sabre’s knees crashing into the mat, Coronado smiles as he begins to target his attack on Sabre’s left knee. Sabre rocks Coronado with an uppercut. He pump-handles Coronado’s arm over his shoulder before his leg gives out. He uses his good leg to boot Coronado’s arm in the corner. Coronado snaps Sabre’s leg backwards, then gets two with a fisherman’s suplex. Coronado grabs the leg, but Sabre uses his own legs to drag Coronado to the mat and hook his arm. He twists his legs to add incredible pressure to Coronado’s arms. Coronado tries to fight back. Sabre uses his right leg to kick away at Coronado’s shoulders and bring him down in a shoulder lock. He and Coronado end up rolling each other in pin attempts. Coronado brings Sabre down with a dragonscrew leg whip. Sabre ends a strike exchange with a schoolboy roll-up. Coronado ducks a pair of high kicks and enzuigiri’s Sabre to the corner. Sabre uppercuts him as he comes to the corner. Coronado catches an uppercut in mid-air, bringing down Sabre in a backslide, then picks him up into a Tiger Driver for two. Coronado goes to the ropes to escape a full nelson. Sabre kicks his bad arm, then hits a half-nelson suplex for two. Sabre goes for the Penalty Kick. Coronado catches the leg and puts on the Coronado Clutch! Sabre rolls forward to escape. He throws Coronado in a suplex before hitting the Penalty Kick. Coronado kicks out just in time. Sabre twists up Coronado’s arm in the Jim Breaks Special. He and Coronado collide face to face when Sabre lifts him up. Coronado dropkicks Sabre and goes for a figure four leg lock. Sabre tries to hold Coronado’s leg to stop him, but Coronado gets the hold applied. Coronado taunts him, so Sabre grabs his arm and re-applies the Breaks Special. Coronado rakes Sabre’s eyes before breaking his lock. Sabre ducks an enzuigiri. He puts on a modified Fujiwara armbar, and Coronado gets his foot on the ropes to escape. Coronado holds onto the top rope to avoid a whip. He takes some uppercuts. Coronado tries a German suplex. Sabre counters with a prawn hold. Coronado turns that into the Coronado Clutch. Sabre rolls Coronado into the European Clutch for two. As Sabre charges, Coronado clips out his damaged leg. Her German suplexes Sabre for two. Sabre holds an armbar out of it. He turns a Tiger Driver into a cross armbreaker attempt. Coronado once again counters into the Coronado Clutch. Sabre taps out at 21:43! This match received a lot of buzz, and rightfully so. This more or less elevated Coronado’s stature, not just by defeating a man the caliber of Zack Sabre, Jr., but showcasing his technical finesse against someone of Sabre’s skill level. While a few things (like Sabre ignoring his hurt leg when it was convenient to do so) could have been tweaked, and ultimately Coronado’s match against Touchdown was better, this will be the match people point to as Coronado’s breakout performance. ***¾

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Grand Championship
Hallowicked vs. Ophidian

“Like Phantoms, Forever” – Philadelphia, PA – 11.5.2016

Hallowicked has been champion since 5.30.2016 and this is his fourth defense. UltraMantis Black is in his corner. Ophidian bicycle kicks Hallowicked to the corner right at the bell and unloads with forearm strikes. Despite two yakuza kicks from Hallowicked, Ophidian fights right back with a bicycle kick and more forearm strikes. Ophidian catches the third kick and takes Hallowicked down in the corner with an enzuigiri. He lands running double knees. Hallowicked stops him on the top. Ophidian rolls through the super snapmare and delivers two sets of double knees in the corner. Hallowicked rolls to avoid a potential Meteora. Two more double knee strikes give Ophidian the opportunity to deliver Meteora on the second try. Hallowicked goes outside, but Ophidian follows with a tope con hilo. Hallowicked takes control with a Rydeen Bomb on the ring apron and a yakuza kick! In the ring he hooks Ophidian for Never Wake Up. Ophidian unwraps the arms but holds onto Hallowicked’s wrist. He snaps Hallowicked’s arm and neck across the top rope. He drives his body weight onto Hallowicked’s arm before adding a scissors. Hallowicked grabs the bottom rope to break it. Ophidian hooks him in a Magistral cradle for two. Hallowicked reverses an Irish Whip and catches Ophidian with a backbreaker. Ophidian doesn’t take much damage. He headbutts Hallowicked’s arm before flipping him out of an arm wringer twice. Ophidian slips under a yakuza kick. He trips Hallowicked by his leg and stomps his knee into the canvas. Hallowicked pummels on Ophidian’s back. Ophidian uses the ropes for a Duat Driver. He nurses his back before turning Hallowicked over for a two count. Ophidian catches Hallowicked in the corner with the Death Grip! Hallowicked drives Ophidian into the corner to escape. Ophidian headstands in the corner and Hallowicked yakuza kicks him to the outside. Hallowicked pops Ophidian up and into the wall back first! Hallowicked is happy to leave Ophidian laying on the floor for a count out, but the cobra supernova makes it back in the ring just in time! When he does, Hallowicked hooks him for Never Wake Up. Ophidian maneuvers into the Death Grip! Hallowicked backing him to the corner does not work, as Ophidian holds onto the clutch and re-applies his bodyscissors when Hallowicked tries. Hallowicked leaves the ring, but Ophidian keeps the hold on! Hallowicked goes to run Ophidian into the guardrail and ends up sending Hallowicked face first into post. Unfortunately for Ophidian, this makes Hallowicked dead weight. He calls for help from the CHIKARMY to assist in getting him back inside the ring! Back in the ring, Ophidian applies the Death Grip. Hallowicked swings him around for Never Wake Up. Ophidian drops flat and comes back up, hoping for the Egyptian Destroyer. Hallowicked stops that and tries Never Wake Up again. Ophidian headbutts Hallowicked in the chest many times. He catapults up into the Egyptian Destroyer! Hallowicked gets his shoulder up just before the count. Ophidian tries to hypnotize Hallowicked. It doesn’t work. He kicks Ophidian twice before the super snapmare is executed. Go 2 Sleepy Hollow and the Rydeen Bomb follow for two! He places Ophidian on the top turnbuckle. Ophidian fights back and gets on a Cobra Clutch. Hallowicked breaks it and hits a super variant on Never Wake Up for the pin at 21:50. The story leading up to this match is that Ophidian is the one who would give Hallowicked his biggest challenge yet and they did an excellent job of showing this. Hallowicked’s offense wasn’t as effective as it’s been on opponents past, Ophidian on multiple occasions escaped from Never Wake Up, he was relentless in applying the Death Grip, and the Egyptian Destroyer brought him incredibly close to victory. The crowd responded exactly how they should have. The fact that fans assisted Ophidian back into the ring to avoid a count out was a nice touch, and shows that they understood how important a win for Ophidan would be. While they each did an admirable job working over a body part, it could’ve been more focus with no detriment to the overall story. That’s a minor complaint though, as the atmosphere they created resulted in an emotional and important battle. ****

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Lucha de Apuesta; Mask vs. Mask
Amasis vs. Frightmare

“Temple of Doom” – Chicago, IL – 12.3.2016

Frightmare charges and is met with a knee strike from Amasis. Amasis follows up with a tope con hilo to the floor. He hits the 450 Splash but Frightmare kicks out at two. The Tenchi Crash and That Move I Beat Moses With yield the same result. Frightmare goes to Amasis’ eye holes before laying in forearm strikes. Amasis responds with some of his own. Amasis sole butt kicks Frightmare before hitting a Pele kick. Frightmare dodges the 540 kick by leaving the ring. Amasis tries a running knee but Frightmare runs out of the way. Frightmare hits the Friggin’ Sweet Driver on the floor near the entrance! Amasis crawls back in right before the twenty count. Frightmare stomps on Amasis’ spine and grabs a chinlock. Amasis kicks Frightmare away, but he comes back with a double stomp to Amasis’ back for two. He throws a number of kicks to Amasis’ back before landing a standing moonsault for two. Frightmare drives his knees into Amasis’ neck and shoulders in the corner. The chinlock is reapplied after multiple headbutts to the back. Amasis kicks Frightmare away again. This time, he avooids the double stomp and spikes Frightmare with a leaping DDT for two. Amasis fights through his back pain to compose himself, but it gave Frightmare time to come back with a yakuza kick and a pair of sentons to the back. He comes off the top with a Swanton bomb to Amasis’ back for two. Amasis fights off another chinlock but gets kicked in the ribs. Frightmare tosses him outside where he drives his back into the ring post and ring apron. In the ring, Amasis turns things around by turning Frightmare around in a corner and stringing some strikes together. He takes a yakuza kick in the opposite corner, but Amasis comes in on the other side with a forearm. Frightmare stuns him with a reverse Frankensteiner! He tries for a Crucifix Driver. Amasis instead spins out Frightmare face first onto the canvas. The two men collide with kicks mid-ring, knocking one another down. Amasis strikes first, dropkicking Frightmare into the turnbuckles and bringing him out with a spinebuster for two. Amasis does the deal with a slingshot Falcon Arrow. His back in pain, he cradles Frightmare’s legs for a two count. Frightmare avoids a corner dropkick, and Amasis collides with referee Bryce Remsburg instead! Frightmare rips part of Amasis’ mask, but Amasis is still able to hit a front flip DDT! Amasis tends to Bryce since Bryce can’t count the pin. Frightmare rips away at Amasis’ mask and kicks him in the groin! He hits a second Friggin’ Sweet Driver. Bryce crawls over to make the count, but it only gets a one count! Frightmare front kicks Amasis into Kneecolepsy for two. Frightmare goes to the top rope. Amasis hits an enzuigiri before following him up. Amasis brings Frightmare down with a superplex. After another Falcon Arrow, he pulls Frightmare towards the turnbuckles and climbs up. He fights through the back pain to hit the 450 splash. Frightmare kicks out. Amasis tells Frightmare it’s over as he charges to the corner. Frightmare stops him with a boot. He comes off the second rope with a back cracker. After two Kneecolepsy’s, Bryce yells at Frightmare, telling him he’s flirting with Castigo de Excesivo. Amasis stops Bryce from admonishing Frightmare. Frightmare punts Amasis before hitting Kneecolepsy for the pin at 19:33. There was a large disconnect between the opening moments of the match and how the rest of the match fleshed out. Amasis going for bombs early is fine in theory if Frightmare responded accordingly after the fact. Frightmare working over Amasis’ back is a sound strategy, but in a match that’s supposed to be so personal it doesn’t fit the theme, especially after Amasis’ balls to the wall showing in the early going. The only thing that opening flurry ended up accomplishing was adding to the total number of nearfalls, and making Amasis’ second 450 splash later on in the match less impactful. The big moves, kick outs, and referee bump mean something if there’s a story thread to connect to them. Without passion or meaning, they don’t register, and I don’t think they did here. The hatred between the competitors didn’t feel genuine. They tried very hard to will this into a classic, and to me the puzzle lacked a few key pieces. Your mileage may vary here, but I come away feeling that both men put in great effort to a flawed outline. I really wonder how much differently I would feel about the match had Amasis not gone nuts at the start, or if the match took a very different direction after the fact. **½

Mike Quackenbush vs. Drew Gulak
“Supremacy” – Chicago, IL – 12.3.2016

Gulak takes Quackenbush over in a suplex while holding onto a double knuckle lock. Quackenbush catapults up into a monkey flip, all while keeping his fingers interlaced with Gulak’s. Gulak uses his legs to bring down Quackenbush in a figure four leg submission. He kneels on Quackenbush’s back while his legs are locked, but Quackenbush is able to grab the bottom rope to escape. Quackenbush uses a headscissors to escape Gulak’s side headlock. Gulak pops out of the headscissors, delivers a forearm to Quackenbush’s chest and applies a front facelock. Quackenbush takes down Gulak by his neck and rolls him into a sunset cradle for two. Gulak tries a standing chinlock, but Quackenbush grabs a toe and ankle hold instead. Gulak clobbers Quackenbush in the side of the head twice. Frustrated, Quackenbush hits him twice with forearms and brings him up in a side headlock. Quackenbush almost counters a backdrop with a sunset flip, but Gulak rolls under that and gets his own pin attempt. Quackenbush sits down to avoid being whipped to the corner. Gulak pulls him up but Quackenbush sends him to the corner. Gulak bandera’s to the apron and comes off the top with a flying clothesline. He then slams Quackenbush into the ropes thrice! Gulak hooks Quackenbush in the Trailblazer. Quackenbush grabs the ropes, but Gulak quickly pulls him back and puts on a bow and arrow stretch. Quackenbush escapes, but is clearly in pain. Gulak kicks at Quackenbush’s leg. Quackenbush catches one of his legs, taking out Gulak with a dragonscrew and a spinning toe hold. Gulak pummels Quackenbush repeatedly with forearms in order to get back to his feet. Gulak gutwrenches Quackenbush up into a Gory Stretch, pushing Quackenbush’s shoulders and elbows together. Gulak takes him down and gets a nearfall, grabbing a side chinlock after the kickout. He Jon Woo dropkicks Quackenbush to the corner upon releasing the hold. A second dropkick only gets a two count. Gulak uses the bottom rope for leverage on three consecutive stomps. Quackenbush gets in multiple shots to the chest, ending with a high impact clothesline off the ropes. He sits down with another spinning toe hold and applies an Indian Death Lock. He slaps Gulak in the face and releases the hold. He palm strikes Gulak repeatedly in the chest before tries an Octopus Stretch. He brings down Gulak in a mouse trip pin instead for another two count. They go to the ring apron where Gulak eggs on Quackenbush to hit him. Gulak headbutts Quackenbush in the chest and head before giving him a backbreaker on the apron! Despite the immense pain, Quackenbush makes it back into the ring before the twenty count. He headbutts Gulak in the stomach. Gulak catches him coming off the ropes with a slam. He then applies a crossface, adding some elbows to the side of the head as well. Quackenbush rolls Gulak onto his shoulders for two. Gulak tries to dive off the top with a clothesline. Quackenbush scouts it and when Gulak hits the mat, Quackenbush gives him the Black Tornado Slam for two. Quackenbush goes up and over in the corner. He uses his legs to bring Gulak down, leading into a series of pin attempts which ends with Gulak catching Quackenbush in a sunset flip out of a leapfrog. Quackenbush catches Gulak on the middle rope with a palm strike. He looks for Quackendriver I, but Gulak slips out and puts him in the Gu-Lock! Quackenbush taps out at 19:43. This was fantastic. Of course the counter wrestling was excellent, but it was the aggression and emotion from both men that made this so much fun to watch. Even little things like Gulak kicking at Quackenbush’s leg in the same way Kingston did in the“High Noon” match were a nice touch, even potentially coincidental. The action escalated to the right crescendo and was an awesome, memorable match for Gulak to exit CHIKARA on. The last match of CHIKARA’s calendar year is also one of their best of the year. ****

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Like with all Best Of compilations, you can debate the match listing and state whether or not a certain match belongs, or if one match you really loved was sadly omitted, but at the end of the day, this is a great compilation and absolutely worth checking out if you don’t watch CHIKARA with any regularity. You can purchase the compilation on DVD or Blu-Ray from CHIKARA's store.