It’s been a pretty heady week or so in WWE. The Royal Rumble left a pretty sore taste in the mouths of the vast majority of fans, those in attendance at that show in particular. Daniel Bryan is quite obviously poised for something huge, and whilst that may come sooner than we think wrestling fans can be impatient. They wanted their hero to conquer in Pittsburgh last Sunday, but instead they got 40+ year old animal that has been on hiatus for nigh on four years. Our hero waits a little longer.
Thrown on top of this on Wednesday was the news that the other would-be-hero, CM Punk has taken a leave of absence from the company. Who knows if this is definite, for good, or all just one big story, but as things stand the Second City Saint is out. His issues echo those of many readers of this glorious site. My inner optimist hopes that it’s all a smokescreen and WrestleMania XXX will be the climax to end all climaxes, but my inner realist hopes Punk enjoys his Blackhawks games (Go Pens.)
So the WWE world looks a little gloomy right now. Never fear however, as the rest of the wrestling universe is on the verge of something big, something huge, something titanic. By the time you read this it could all quite possibly have come to a head. Today, Saturday February 2nd, is the second annual National Pro Wrestling Day, and it comes to you live from (right here in) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Whilst that is fun enough, and the announced names are full of awesome, there is something else at stake. I’m talking of course about Chikara, and the possible resolution/resurrection of the most fun wrestling company in the world. Let’s look at the event itself first.
First things first, it’s all for a good cause. Entrance to the event may be free, but donations (both at the show and online) are encouraged with all money going to the Against Malaria Foundation. You don’t need me to tell you how crappy malaria is, but 3000 deaths a day might sum it up. It is all an attempt to show the non-wrestling world the positive side of the game. Whenever wrestling is in the news, it’s usually because of some sort of scandal or arrest. NPWD is all about the positive aspect of pro graps. As I type almost $2000 have been raised, so here’s hoping the goal of $5000 is reached today.
What about the talent? Man, there’s a whole host of great independent wrestling talent already announced for the day. The nominal main event features Colt Cabana against Drew Gulak in a Best Two out of Three Falls match. Colt Cabana is as big a name outside of WWE as it gets, and Gulak can grapple with the best of them. The rest of the card fills me with more intrigue though. The man that Tim Donst refuses to believe is human, Hallowicked, takes on Michael Bennett in a repeat of the final fall in King of Trios 2012. Bennett has improved immeasurably since his arrival in Ring of Honor, even since that Trios final, so this should be a cracker.
Eddie Kingston, still to this day the Chikara Grand Champion, takes on Francis O’Rourke in what should be a tough as tough gets scrap, good old-fashioned style. Sonjay Dutt and Eric Corvis collide, as well as Juan Francisco de Coronada and Shynron. Shynron exploded on the scene last year, and is the latest in a string of high-flying daredevils on the independent scene. It’ll be a doozy. Elsewhere we have Heidi Lovelace taking on Joe Pittman, as well The Baltic Siege colliding with the Bloc Party in a battle of the Soviet Union. Yes, you read that correct. Also slated to appear are Fire and Green Ant, Los Ice Creams and Gavin Loudspeaker, plus the guarantee of some surprise appearances.
As good as all that is however, it is the fate of Chikara that dominates conversation going in to the event. The majority of the talent on show are from the Chikara/Wrestling Is… promotions. The Ashes video series has kept the Chikara flame alive as each of the Wrestling Is… promotions have been laid to waste, and there is almost certainly something big bubbling under the surface. (Side note: Even if you aren’t familiar with the story I suggest you check out the Ashes video series. It shows just why Chikara is so unique and so vital in professional wrestling).
Icarus has been going from old roster member to old roster member, appealing for help in the fight for Chikara’s future. He’s been knocked back one by one, with the exception of Hallowicked and The Colony. Eddie Kingston, Mike Quackenbush and others have shown little pieces of remembrance though, and the flame is still alive. The Colony have also been on the search for their missing third, Soldier Ant. Heck, 3.0 found Parts Unkown. One of the last videos, entitled ‘Torch’, proclaimed that the end is now. The various Wrestling Is… promotions have been destroyed by big heels from the history of Chikara. Good is going to do battle with evil. It would seem that National Pro Wrestling Day is the natural venue for this fight.
In the professional wrestling world today, Chikara is absolutely vital. Pro graps is an art form that is frequently po-faced and Chikara provides a modicum of joy in a serious universe. In a landscape where one company rules large over the rest, and that company seems hell-bent on forcing unwanted characters down the throats of many, an alternative is more important than many realize. Looking at the alternatives now, nothing stands out like Chikara did and like Chikara does. Nothing.
It’s not just about the fun side of things though. The Ashes video series is just the latest in a great history of respecting the mental abilities of the fans. In many ways, Chikara is the anti-WWE. Stories aren’t dropped mere weeks after beginning. Characters who essentially blood-feuded don’t just all of sudden get on because they are both faces now. Especially towards the end, good and bad began to blur, but even so the actions of individuals made sense. Each character in Chikara had its place, and each one respected reality. Yes, I’m talking about a world with fighting ice creams, but the reality I speak of is the reality in the professional wrestling world. That reality needs Chikara.
Maybe National Pro Wrestling Day won’t be the end of the beginning for Chikara. Maybe it’ll just be a great show that raises money for a good cause. But much like myself and many others expecting Daniel Bryan to be in the Rumble despite it obviously not happening, I can’t help but watch tonight expecting something of a resurrection.
That’ll do for now. If you have any more queries regarding today, head to the NPWD website. I’ve said this many times in my almost-one-year tenure here, but there is a wonderful world of wrestling outside of WWE. Today is a celebration of that, with the possibility of a big step in the best wrestling story in recent memory. Tune in. I’ll tweet bits and pieces during the show, so check that out with the handle @pingvinorkestra. If you are in the area, go. It’s going to be a cracker.