Chikara Presents Top Banana

The sometimes acclaimed, sometimes panned, always divisive Chikara Pro wrapped up their current season. As a one time hardcore fan I haven’t watched much since the shut down storyline. Not counting the King of Trios tournament which is one of their few events that has less story and more ‘here’s wrestling’ attitude, I can count the shows I’ve seen on one hand. However the results of Top Banana made me curious.

The Snake Pit (Argus, Ophidian & Shynron) defeat Battleborn (Lucas Calhoun, Missile Assault Man & Snowflake)
Frightmare defeats Silver Ant
The Batiri (Kobald, Kodama & Obariyon) defeat The Gentleman’s Club (Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak & Orange Cassidy)
Juan Francisco de Coronado won the Torneo Cibernetico 16 Man Elimination Match
Dasher Hatfield eliminated Mr. Azerbaijan
Hype Rockwell eliminated Pakistani Sabar
Pinkie Sanchez eliminated Hype Rockwell
Pinkie Sanchez eliminated Amasis
Jakob Hammermeier eliminated Worker Ant
Jakob Hammermeier eliminated The Estonian FarmerFrog
Heidi Lovelace eliminated Jakob Hammermeier
Dasher Hatfield eliminated The Proletariat Boar Of Moldova
Wani eliminated Race Jaxon
Oleg The Usurper eliminated Wani
Mark Angelosetti eliminated Oleg The Usurper
Juan Francisco de Coronado eliminated Heidi Lovelace
Dasher Hatfield eliminated Pinkie Sanchez
Dasher Hatfield was Counted Out
Juan Francisco de Coronado beat Mark Angelosetti

Fire Ant (w/ Silver Ant) vs. Soldier Ant (w/ Jakob Hammermeier) ended in a No Contest
Crown And Court (Jervis Cottonbelly, Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream & Ice Cream Jr.) & Princess Kimberlee) defeat The Wrecking Crew (Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch, Jaka & Max Smashmaster) in a Challenge Of The Immortals Final Eight Man Tag Team Match
Hallowicked (c) defeats Eddie Kingston and Icarus in a Three Way Match to retain the CHIKARA Grand Championship
Kimber Lee defeats Hallowicked (c) to win the CHIKARA Grand Championship

Chikara has always been the PG family friendly comic company with these big storylines and crazy characters but like most long running comic books, shows and franchises they hit a point that splintered the fanbase. I remember first watching them wrestle in a tiny community center in front of ten or twelve people to the pre-shutdown shows seeing them wrestle in larger arena in front of a couple thousand people. Their shutdown storyline, a larger and complicated story, coupled with rocky return where favorite characters ‘died’ bled fans. This show, is somewhat of a reset. Sure new storylines arose leading into season 16 and some storylines finished, but the tone of the company seems to have reverted to something more familiar. Thats not to say its a vast improvement. One of Chikaras biggest criticisms is that its only for Chikara fans or people patient enough to wade through the plots. There is plenty of that here.

The show started with their bread and butter, trios action, but despite the talent involved its kind of a lackluster encounter. Little sloppy in places and a few confusing plot points sprinkled in. The next match up, a singles contest, was pretty good and a video package and promo set up the main points but it was unneeded as the match was solid without the cliffnotes. The second trios match between the Gentlemans Club and the full reunited Batiri (Kobald apparently resurrected a few shows again. He ‘died’ on the first Chikara show of season 14) had that air of classic Chikara with added dumb effects for Chuck Taylors grenade stunt. So far, only okay. I was somewhat disappointed with the Torneo Cibernetico which is a very cool match in concept and I have enjoyed all the ones I’ve seen but this would be on the bottom. When it followed the rules it was solid but when it broke down it was ugly. The ending, like the ending of last years, was tainted once more with plot. The once more break down of the Throwbacks. I think back to the year Kingston won, Sara Del Rey won, and Tim Donsts victory in the ROH vs Chikara Cibernetico as my favorites but I wonder if I would have liked it as much if I had not known some of what was going on. One big critique I saw for the show was about the Ants match. The match is definitely one of those things only long time fans could really like. Luckily I was familiar enough with everything not to get turned off. I can understand why anyone else would and as far as a match goes it was just alright but as an ending of a storyline, it was the only real choice. That or remove Soldier Ant off but they chose to reunite the Colony. It was fine, and I can’t be mad. Excpet that it took them this long. I can wonder why people who hate Chikara feel the need to comment. Its been over a decade, they ain’t changing and the Ants been around for a long while.

While that Soldier Ant vs Fire Ant match is something that needed to happen, even if it took too long, it did not show any true forward moving progress from Chikara. It was the matches afterwards that showed that old spark. I haven’t followed the Challenge of the Immortals tournament but I got the jist. A double round robin among stables assembled by team captains. I saw the draft early in the year when Princess KimberLee, relatively new to Chikara (did the previous King of Trios and worked at their now defunct Wrestling Is Fun promotion) picked a jobber unit of the perennial losers Los Ice Creams. A team who were last capable back when Icarus and Gran Akuma were tag champs wrestling mostly in front of a dozen people. Also lovable jobber Jervis Cottonbelly. Didn’t think they’d make it to the finals after losing a bunch but thanks to some Throwbacks drama and a turn around in luck they did to take on the Wrecking Crew of Devastation Corp and Jaka who have run roughshod for a while. These guys are big! The odds on favorites to make it to the finals. I saw very few of these matches but the promo package about Lee’s Crown & Court and the reaction of the crowd (I estimate at least a thousand, probably more) was delightful. They were behind them and many wearing non-Chikara issued shirts in support. KimberLee giving her tiara to a young fan in the audience was a cute moment. The match had an air of drama and suspense before it started and then it amplified. Its your classic underdog story and KimberLee looked like a star. I had seen KimberLee in dozens of matches but none presented her in such a spotlight and with an air of a big star like this. She took one of the most vicious Corner Powerbombs I ever seen, she hit German supelxes on been all men twice her size. She won. Crown & Court won. They all got their golden opportunity prizes. There could be no follow up to this.

Actually there was. The Grand Championship put on the line by the last three Gen-1 originals. The current champion Hallowicked, the former champion Icarus, and the inaugural champion Eddie Kingston-the best known wrestler on the roster. I won’t get into why their primary championship has only been around for four years but the belt is their top belt. This was a very good triple threat match. Hallowicked is a very underrated wrestler. If he was not masked and had a different gimmick I think he’d have made it far. In this match he was what people would call the glue that holds a match together. Icarus was pretty good and Kingston brings a lot, overall a better match then anything on the card but lacked the crowd energy of a few previous matches. Fans were burned out with the previous matches outcomes. That energy would come back quick when KimberLee cashed in on Hallowicked minutes after he retained. A short match later and KimberLee became only the fourth Grand Champion. The first non Chikara trained champion. The first woman to hold a major indy’s top title. A few other ladies won top indy belts but none on this level. The outcome even got covered in Rolling Stone. This victory marked somethings Chikara really seemed to lack for a while and struggled to regain-optimism and fun.

I don’t know if I’ll check out the shows next year outside King of Trios but I’m a little more interested now.

About CM Towns

I like comics, wrestling, and other junk.
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