CHIKARA Tag World Grand Prix Night 1 on February 18, 2005
Riverside Beneficial Association Building – Reading, Pensylvania
The Tag World Grand Prix is a tournament that sees four blocks (A, B, C, D) with 32 teams spanning 2 nights of first and second round matches, as the teams that survive will then meet on the third night.
Block B First Round Match: Team FIST (Gran Akuma & Icarus) vs. Team WXW (John Cabbie & Mana The Polynesian Warrior)***
Very effective opener. Wish it could have gone double the length, but we’ve got a lot to get through tonight. Team FIST worked wonderfully together chopping down the force that was Mana. Cabbie was a good hand in building the match up while Mana was on the outskirts waiting for power moves. Mana even kicked out of a double pin sending FIST flying. The finishing stretch was aces with Cabbie accidentally superkicking Mana only for Akuma to be dropped onto Mana on the floor. This led to Icarus hitting a modified flapjack for the win. Team FIST advance.
Block C First Round Match: Davey Andrews & Shane Hagadorn vs. Dunn & Marcos***1/4
The Ring Crew Express in Dunn and Marcos take on ROH students in Andrews and Hagadorn. Another wild matchup early on in the night. They put up an ROH turnbuckle pad, making it the “ROH corner”. This was bundles of fun as ROH trainees would assert themselves as higher-level company jocks. They’re here to dominate from the REAL WRESTLING company of ROH. They’d work over Dunn and Marcos, building to a great hot tag which then bridged into good near falls with a buster and DDT. Wooden floors without mats make dives look and sound so much more deadly. Another A+ finish with Ring Crew hitting an assisted senton on Hagadorn for the win as one of them would go on to hit a plancha on Andrews during the cover — creating an awesome visual.
Block A First Round Match: Knight Eye For The Pirate Guy (Jolly Roger & Lance Steel) vs. Sweet 'n' Sour International (Crossbones & Mano Metalico)**3/4
What a freaking clash of personalities this is! Knight Eye are like a Koko B. Ware/parachute color palette/Kairi Hojo/Lancelot combo where as Crossbones and Mano are dark spooky skeleton boys. Oh my god! This might be the most fun I’ve ever had watching CHIKARA, not that it’s never fun, but this was combined everything great about the company with ‘wrestling theater’ type characters, while still producing a decent enough match in terms of work. It got to the point where Roger and Steel convinced Crossbones and referee Bryce Remsburg to kick the hell out of Mano’s back which led to him promptly no selling and kicking it into gear for the finish. Knight Eye pulled out multiple shout out moves to pirates/knights worldwide including a DOUBLE CHARGE and standing on the back while looking through a scope. It took a fluke to beat Sweet ‘n’ Sour International as Roger pinned Mano after a small package. ***** fun.
Block D First Round Match: Big Daddy (Darkness Crabtree & Shirley Doe) vs. Team Osaka Pro (Billy Ken Kid & Ebessan)***
Quite the brilliant, brief tag team comedy match. Shirley Doe threw out a Takayama name drop while hitting a knee, but aside that, this was the Darkness Crabtree show. It’s one of the best senior citizen characters in wrestling history (yes, there are more…) but none the less he had wonderful chemistry with Ebessan in particular, as they provided a slow motion sequence. The trick there is that once Crabtree took his pills, he was able to run at normal speed, even hitting an arm drag and rana. Unfortunately, Crabtree took too many pills, as he had a heart attack. After some CPR, he was back up and in position for the shining wizard — Ebessan got him to look the other way, proceeding to win for Osaka Pro, advancing on in the tournament. Lots of fun, super good comedy match. Ken Kid and Doe helped balance things out at times.
Block B First Round Match: Arik Cannon & Claudio Castagnoli vs. You Can Call Me Al (Alere Little Feather & Allison Danger)**1/4
Pretty messy all around, but overall this was a decent intergender addition to the tournament. One note is that it’s insane how much of a difference it makes for Double C on the indies in terms of his height. He towers over nearly everyone. Danger was the workhorse of the pair, she’d get dirty with the arm drags chain wrestling, whatever. Little Feather from WXW took some absolutely mental bumps. Whether she was dumped on her head, doing spots off the top rope, or the finish that we’ll get to — she was a trooper as she was able to hide her fairly weak wrestling ability in a trade for being demolished. Cannon wasn’t all too impressive though he just returned from his collarbone injury at the time. Claudio stood out like a sore thumb in all the good ways. A enzuigiri to the head and a Ricola Bomb put away Danger. Cannon/Double C advance.
Block C First Round Match: Jigsaw & Sabian vs. Ravage & Rorschach***
Young Jigsaw and Sabian (BLK Jeez) team up on the condition that Sabian is the next challenger for the Young Lion’s Cup. Ravage is a member of Sweet ‘n’ Sour International whereas Rorschach looks like a generic Halloween kids mask get-up that would be Slimed on a Nick show. Another solid match, one of the better ones thus far. Sabian had his arm worked on as he never forgot to sell — he’d also use a DDT for a momentum move without spending his arm, as well as having been a great partner for Jigsaw. They felt like the most well-oiled machine team thus far. Not many highlights though Jigsaw and Rorschach were former tag partners, bringing that beef into this match, with tremendous counters capped off by a leg trap suplex on Jigsaw that nearly broke his neck — the sell was amazing with Jigsaw spreading his legs out of the impact. Jigsaw and Sabian locked in double submissions for the victory.
Block A First Round Match: Team IWA (Din Mak & Mat Bomboy) vs. Team IWA Mid-South (Danny Daniels & Jimmy Jacobs)**
Jimmy Jacobs said “Crockett Cup 2005” in the IWA-MS pre-match promo. ***** already for that. What wasn’t quite ***** was this, it was the weakest match of the show so far. It reeked of geeks…..and Jimmy Jacobs bay bay. It was forgetful with the only highlights being *already regurgitated talking point* Jacobs. Mak and Bomboy couldn’t get along “under the promotional banner” therefore Bomboy gave Mak an “I’m sorry, I love you” superkick. Jacobs pinned Mak after a huge top rope senton. Whatever.
Block D First Round Match: Glenn Spectre & Mokujin Ken vs. Team PWG (B-Boy & Super Dragon)***1/2
When I was pitched CHIKARA 2005, I never thought we would reach this level of greatness. I don’t even know how to rate this, so I’ll just call it one of the best spectacles of all the times~! We ran through a gauntlet of there-not-there opponents picked out of a hat only for Ken the Box from Japan to appear alongside WONDERMAN Glenn Spectre. Ken the Box never entered the ring but holds the accolade of knocking Super Dragon on his ass the hardest out of anyone, ever! B-Boy was also knocked out. That would serve as an obvious disadvantage to poor Wonderman, who would fall victim to a SD curb stomp and a quadruple stomp from both as Team PWG moves on. I have a new favorite CHIKARA match, me thinks.
Block B Second Round Match: Arik Cannon & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Team FIST (Gran Akuma & Icarus)**3/4
Solid match to kick off the second round. I don’t think this was bad, but it just flashed by without much to remember except for Claudio once again stealing all the spotlight. Whether it was being a tremendous base for lucha offense from FIST or hitting uppercuts in a frenzy — or hitting two giant swings on Icarus, this was the Double C Show. This shoves Cannon to the side, who admittedly hasn’t done much for me thus far, but he did shine with some insane chops and a crazy double arm rope hung facebuster. The enzuigiri/Ricola Bomb combo was hit on Akuma for the win to advance.
Block C Second Round Match: Dunn & Marcos vs. Jigsaw & Sabian***1/4
Easily the second best match of the night so far. Everything clicked in a strong showing for both teams. They clicked in a way that exceeded any other chemistry — it felt like a fight at times as they’re scratching and clawing to advance. This was elevated by an awesome crowd; during the feeling out process, there was a huge 50/50 chant. We still got fun sequences such as Jigsaw and one of them (sometimes I can’t read the tights, okay) doing a left high five, right high five, and two hand high five feeling out process. We got a NASTY spot with a Jigsaw Romero stretch/Sabian stomp. That still wasn’t enough as Dunn and Marcos would push through only to be put away with Jig-and-Tonic as they advance. A lot of fun, well worked, and a highlight of the show.
Block A Second Round Match: Knight Eye For The Pirate Guy (Jolly Roger & Lance Steel) vs. Team IWA Mid-South (Danny Daniels & Jimmy Jacobs)**1/2
If I watched this match a la carte I’d possibly enjoy it more, but boy is this tournament ever starting to blur together. This is only night one that goes 3+ hours. It’s all the same 10-12 minute matches with not a lot of substance, typically one stand out worker, and a memorable spot or two. Here it was a great tiered submission spot with all four having something locked on. This was fine, but like I said, it’s like someone erased it from my memory. Always going to love any type of Knight Eye For The Pirate Guy match. The finish ruled though. Jacobs was bleeding in an accidental Hart-Austin WM 13 spot. Jacobs tapped to a Steel Boston Crab.
Block D Second Round Match: Team Osaka Pro (Billy Ken Kid & Ebessan) vs. Team PWG (B-Boy & Super Dragon)**3/4
A solid enough main event that was nearly double the match time of any other match that night. I was confused as to how this built and why it needed so much time, but I’m disappointed I didn’t like it more. We got tons of Ebessan and Super Dragon interaction though, including grappling and Dragon no selling him only to be hit with comeuppance in the form of a shining wizard. The match became bloated numerous times to the point where it was just working on Ebessan, but that turned out fine because it resulted in a loud Ken Kid hot tag reaction, eventually bridging into a few well done near falls on both sides. Ken Kid executed the landslide on B-Boy for the win. In an upset, Team Osaka Pro advance to Sunday! 100% a product of this being such a long show with so many matches. I guarantee I’ll like it even just a little bit more if I ever visit it standalone.
CHIKARA TAG WORLD GRAND PRIX NIGHT 1 ON FEBRUARY 18, 2005
Average - 5.5/10
CHIKARA Tag World Grand Prix 2005 Night 1 suffered from shoving so much of the same into the A-B-C-D block format. I'll take quality over quantity any day, but there can be an argument made for consistency in bunches. Here that wasn't the case, with remarkably average matches across the board sans Super Dragon's once in a lifetime moment with Ken the Robot, the opener, Jigsaw-Sabian and Ring Crew Express' runs, alongside a fun comedy match with Big Daddy vs. Osaka Pro. A skippable show, but if you're in it for the long haul like I am, stay tuned to the other nights of the Grand Prix.