365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
For all the people who have talked about how pro wrestling is influenced by comic books, I bring you CHIKARA Pro. In its 18 years of existence, this promotion based out of Pennsylvania provided something new in American wrestling: a roster full of colorful characters — many of them masked — and an in-ring style influenced heavily by lucha libre with some dollops of Japanese wrestling mixed in as well.
There was a time, in the late 2000s and early 2010s, that CHIKARA was one of the hottest promotions in all of independent wrestling. Today’s selection, a tag match between the Osirian Portal and The Colony from January 25, 2009, is part of that stretch in time. Many of CHIKARA’s core roster members were trained there and have gone on to stardom in the wrestling world. The list of in-house alumni includes Orange Cassidy, Drew Gulak, Eddie Kingston, Lince Dorado. Chris Hero and Cesaro were mainstays for years, as were names like El Generico, Kevin Steen (now Owens) … the list could go on for a while.
CHIKARA closed down in the summer of 2020, after multiple allegations were made against the promotion and individuals who worked there as part of the #SpeakingOut movement. In the wake of those allegations, Ophidian — one of the four wrestlers in today’s match — announced his retirement from wrestling.
You can watch this match on IWTV.
CHIKARA’s tag titles, Los Campeonatos de Parejas, are on the line here. These championships were the top prize for years; CHIKARA didn’t even introduce a main singles title until the end of 2011. Los Campeonatos title matches usually were two out of three falls and did not come easy. A team had to have three points to challenge, which meant winning three matches or falls in a row. Lose once, and it was back to zero.
The challengers here are part of The Colony: a stable of masked wrestlers who portrayed characters that were part of an ant colony. Such a concept would be Wrestlecrap-worthy for most promotions but, in he often wacky world of CHIKARA, it worked. Fire Ant and Soldier Ant have assembled a whopping seven points as contenders — the most of any team in promotion history at the time. Due to their high point total, the Colony got the chance to choose the match stipulations and decided the match would be decided in a single fall.
Speaking of wild gimmicks, the champions — Amasis and Ophidian — have Ancient Egyptian influences, with Amasis the “funky pharaoh” and Ophidian acting like a serpent. You might have seen a video of some of their antics that went viral in 2011:
With a standard one-fall format instead of two out of three, there’s a greater sense of urgency. The match is not perfect and takes a few minutes to hit its stride. The CHIKARA style is also, admittedly, not for everyone. Some people can’t get past the gimmicks, some heavily choreographed segments and the liberal amount of comedy in many of the matches. Here, for example, the Portal go for the hypnosis trick in the video linked above, only to have Soldier Ant use his “military discipline” to resist, salute and grab Ophidian so that Fire Ant delivers a splash across the serpent.
Even if CHIKARA is not your taste, there is plenty to like in this match. Fire Ant busts out some nice high-flying moves. I particularly enjoyed when Soldier Ant has Amasis secured in a rear waistlock, with Amasis grabbing the ropes. Fire Ant walks up his partner’s back, leaps off the shoulders of Amasis and down on to Ophidian at ringside. Old-school tag fans, and wrestlers who work tag matches, should pay attention to the portion of the match where the Portal isolate Soldier Ant. They do a fine job cutting the ring in half, and finding non-traditional ways to cut off Soldier Ant and make tags.
Tag matches in CHIKARA are fought under lucha rules but even those guidelines become theoretical down the stretch with all four men frequently in the ring at once. Amidst all the complicated sequences and flying, a rugged lariat by Amasis stands out. There’s a spectacular near-fall where the champions hit 450 splashes in stereo. Speaking of great false finishes, another comes when Fire Ant drills Ophidian with a Beach Break, and on the ensuing pin attempt, Ophidian’s foot barely reaches the bottom rope in a peak example of placement and positioning.
The mach culminates with its biggest spot. Fire Ant sets Ophidian on the top turnbuckle, but before he can execute, Ophidian counters with a Destroyer off the top. This is sold as it should be as a killer, and Ophidian finishes it via Cobra Clutch with a bodyscissors.
Final Rating: 6.3
CHIKARA had some amazingly devoted fans and also plenty of detractors. If you’ve never watched this promotion or the comedy antics turn you off, I still suggest giving this a watch. Shenanigans aside, it is a very good tag match.
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