Rhys Review: CHIKARA Aniversario UK Tour 2016 – Newport, Wales (20/5/2016)

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Alright, everyone! It’s been a while, huh? Even though it has been a little over a month since my last article, it’s felt more like several months with the way my uni assignments went. But they are all done for this year, second year complete! Now I get to enjoy the finer things in life, and as you may know by now, one of mine is professional wrestling. In this case, it was going to see the first night of CHIKARA‘s 2016 UK Tour at The Neon in Newport. Last year was CHIKARA’s first time touring our plot of land where I managed to cover their first show in Wales. After that very much enjoyable experience, I jumped at the chance to see their return show to Wales, and with this show, a lot more faces I recognised were a part of the card.

So before I get on with this particular review, I need to talk about the venue, since this again is a new place I’d not had a chance to visit, which was ‘The Neon‘. A third venue in Newport that I’ve been to, and with all due respect to the others I have been to thus far, this was by far the best venue. It was more of a nightclub type of place and had a very similar vibe that Cardiff’s Tramshed gave off. Except this time, we had chairs! It was also awkward seeing male stripper advertisements in the main entrance with a few young kids staring at that. Have fun explaining that to them parents. “Are they wrestlers, mammy?”, I really wished I heard one of them say that. But it was a nice vibe to it, and the drinks weren’t even that expensive, considering it is nightclub themed. Granted I only drank diet coke there and I’ve had worse prices, so it was alright from the usual club prices.

The turnout was fairly nice with adults mostly being the audience for the night, with a few straggled families. So it would be just my luck that those families with the always noisy kiddies sat not too far behind where I was – just when you think you escape them. There was someone behind who was quite annoying throughout the show. It was odd because he sounded American, like full on stereotypical accent and all, and to add to the stereotype, he was quite loud, even with his inside voice. He would occasionally make unnecessary jabs at some of the home soil talent and make annoying comments that got to me more than they should have. Still if he had a good time, I can’t complain. Plus, if he actually was American and not putting on an act of some kind, he may have very well been part of the CHIKARA team, so maybe that’s just his way of dealing with new information. Maybe it’s just me in thinking that; I don’t know, probably just me.

But enough gawking! The show started with an introduction with the… presenter? Is that what I should call him? Either way I couldn’t remember his name so it makes this whole thing pointless. He seemed very charismatic in getting people hyped and making a few jokes here and there. We were also introduced to the announcer, Josh, and one of the referees for the night, Shay. You know, that Shay who won the Attack! Pro 24/7 Championship last month? That Shay. Also that plug was necessary as we were told that not only talent from CHIKARA would be on the card, but also people from Attack! Pro Wrestling as well. And not just them, but also Dragon Pro Wrestling! In fact, the opening match itself was a special Dragon Pro feature match for their top prize, the All Wales Championship! CHIKARA has had a good relationship with the folks at Attack for a little while now so mentioning them was expected and still nice to hear. But for them to go out of the way to make this small connection with Dragon Pro is such an amazing thing to see. There were even a large number of Dragon Pro trainees helping out with the merch stands and as ring crew through-out the show. But I’ll start to talk about the actual match now.

Opening Match
Dragon Pro Wrestling All Wales Championship
Fatal Four Way
Big Grizzly retained against Danny Jones, Matt Horgan and Panda Cub

This match was a very nice way to kick off what was a great show as the action was engaging throughout and didn’t seem to fizzle out much either. We had the All Wales Champion, Big Grizzly, showcasing his heavy hitting, powerhouse style showing a lot of attitude to everyone else involved in his business. The ever-evolving Danny Jones mixing in his usual party time style while bringing in new things as he is known to do. The freshest face in the match, Matt Horgan, has been impressing many since his recent appearances at Dragon Pro, even winning the Dragon Pro Tag Team Championship alongside fellow New Breed member, Owen Wall. I couldn’t review their last show due to uni issues so that may have seemed out of nowhere to those who don’t follow up on all things Dragon Pro. Still, he had a nice showing for himself bringing a hybrid of styles while boasting to everyone in the crowd about his greatness and such. And there’s crowd favourite, one of the former Dragon Pro Tag Team Champions, Panda Cub, who seemed to fit in well with CHIKARA’s comic-book-style with his high risk, high reward offense. He pulled out many crazy moves, one of which was an over the top rope dive that nearly hit a fan in the front row. He also managed to pull off his Frog/Panda Splash off the top rope while also rotating a full 180 degrees, which seeing was like poetry in motion. Despite all of their efforts, Big Grizzly ended up retaining after hitting his Pop-Up Sit-down Powerbomb finish on Horgan for the pinfall victory.

So yeah, Dragon Pro showed to all of the people who showed up that they should not be overlooked. They hold shows as well and it’s a shame not as many people known about them as they may like. Still, they are ever growing, and this small showcase at this CHIKARA show can do nothing but good things for them. So yeah, I can’t help but be over the moon for everyone involved.

Fatal Four Way
Chris Brookes defeated Officer Warren Barksdale, Travis Banks and Frightmare

Another four-way match was up next, which felt odd considering we just had one, except it wasn’t as odd seeing as this match had a much different feel to the one prior. This bout was more played up for laughs at the start, mainly involving Officer Warren for trying to fine Chris Brookes for low blowing Banks when the ref didn’t see it happen. He’d also get hit in the nether region by Brookes and would later play to getting hit so hard that his voice reached dog whistle levels of high pitch. Chris’ dirty ways didn’t stop there as he also, at one point, spat water into Warren’s face. A class guy, that Chris Brookes. Still, this match was a fun one with the already mentioned comedic style of Barksdale and the filthy style of Brookes. Frightmare was also doing crazy risks throughout the match, while Banks had a little bit of everything, ranging between some high flying and ever impressive powerhouse manoeuvres. The end came after an ever impressive finishing move by Banks to Frightmare, so impressive that I cannot tell you what it was – it was that impressive – mainly because I wasn’t too sure what it was. Despite this though, as Banks tried to get the pin, Chris Brooke snuck in and rolled up Travis to get the pinfall victory. Not many people were happy about this, except for himself I’m sure.

The Batiri (Obariyon and Kodama) defeated The Facesmashers (Dan Moloney and Wild Boar)

I heard another jab from Mr. Murica behind me about how everyone was barely the height of a sitting stool. I mean sure, they aren’t the tallest guys in the match, but they were still incredibly intimidating. That’s what this match was throughout, even before the introductions finished, Boar and Moloney attacked the CHIKARA regulars and carried on with their vicious assault for a lot of the match while getting in the occasional dirty tactics while they distracted the ref. Though not too far into the match, it seemed Boar’s nose was busted a little, but that didn’t stop him from getting ever more vicious with his opponents. This match could have gone either way between these two teams as they showed lots of aggression and power in their move pools, but in the end, it was the visiting Batiri that got the win after some type of Alabama Slam move into a lifting knee strike on Boar for the win.

Obariyon and Kodama seemed very humbled to have had the match with everyone there as they were bowing and returning a few high fives from some of the people in the front row. But before they left, they went back to the run, and randomly grabbed Moloney and dragged him to the back, which was a very odd thing to do. Maybe they took him as their prize for winning the match or something. Either way, I don’t want to imagine what happened behind closed curtains between all of them, nothing creepy I hope.

Before the next match began, Shay left while another ref took over, which prompted the American heckler behind me to make a jab about child labour laws – keep it classy, Murica. I’ll try not to talk about him as much now, it’s honestly not worth it.

Pete Dunne defeated Eddie Kingston

I expected this match to be a hard hitting bout between these two, and I was not disappointed. I can tell things would have been incredibly awkward if Shay was reffing this match. Hey, the guy’s smart. Leave when the time is right else we’d get a Jaws re-enactment only with a top-knot instead of a shark chasing after him. Even though I’m sure that’s happening anyway, over in Attack. The match started with a lock-up that went on for a while, even holding the lock on the floor, leading to them going outside the ring. As the match went on we saw/heard gunshot-like chops from Eddie to Pete and a few top knot puns from the older fans in the crowd. One of the best parts for me was hearing a child behind me yelling at Pete to, quite simply, “Shut up,” which Pete responded to by threatening the kid, which the little one sheepishly said nothing back in response. HAH! Kind of odd that of all the older people making jabs at Pete’s hairstyle choice, that it took a small kid to get to him so much. Granted, I don’t blame him one bit, the kid was being too annoying for his own good. And there’s your usual ‘Rhys hates kids’ comment on the article, can’t have a review without one of those somewhere.

Towards the middle of the match, Eddie’s eye seemed to be messed up as he had trouble seeing the things around him. Still despite that, he put on a great showing as one would expect as both would constantly beat each other up with their moves and strikes getting more heavy as the match went on. Though maybe the eye problem proved too much for Kingston as in the end, Pete hit his finisher to get the pinfall win. Eddie had to be helped to the back by a ref so it seemed there was more to his eye being hurt than one would have thought. Hopefully it doesn’t affect him for the rest of the tour.

Not all that much happened during intermission other than many fans trying to grab selfies with the talent in bizarre situations, as was instructed by the presenter – still can’t remember his name, sorry. He had a beard, that’s about it I’m afraid. I just bought another drink and carried on drawing the wrestling ring, which I started before the show began. It’s for a project I hope to do for my third year film, so be prepared to hear uni talk during wrestling reviews for a little while, not that I don’t talk about that anyway.

Four Corners Match
Ophidian defeats Heidi Lovelace, Mike Bird and Bugg Nevans

All four combatants got nice receptions from the people, with Bugg Nevans, formerly Stewie Scrivens, formerly Rick Beanbag, formerly Scoot Tatum and lastly, formerly Chuck Taylor, who seems to be in some sort of identity crisis right now, wanting Josh to call him ‘Bareback’ Bugg Nevans, which got a non-PG chant of “Lets go bareback!” from most of the crowd. Gosh people, don’t say such things, this was a family-friendly show, key word being WAS. Their rowdy natures were making me blush something fierce! ANYWAY! This four-way (DON’T!) was different from the others since it was treated like a tag match having two of the four competitors on the apron while the other two in the ring could tag either in whenever they want. Heidi and Mike started off with some chain wrestling and both would later tag out to the others as Ophidian and Bareback (NOPE!!!) did something similar while speeding things up with Ophidian’s CHIKARA style of high flying manoeuvres. As the match went on, things went typically crazy with the four as action would spill to the outside with a few dives being done here and there. Heidi was showing she could handle herself just fine with the other larger men, dishing out as much offense on them as they did to her, especially when she was hit with a truly sickening knee to the head. In the end though, it was Ophidian who charmed his way to victory, that was a snake pun, it was bad, I know. But he hit some unique pinning manoeuvre that Heidi was too late to break out of as he got the win from it. After all was said and done, Heidi, Mike and Ophidian raised each other’s arms up in celebration for a very fine match.

Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) defeated The Colony (Fire Ant & Solider Ant)

Okay, so let me just say, I honestly did not expect much going into this match compared to the other matches on the card. But by the end of it, I can honestly say this was my match of the show. It started off slow between Tyler and Solider with them doing some comedy shtick with Solider saluting all the people in the match and everyone in the crowd, eventually getting dizzy from it all, but it soon picked up when the opposite partners tagged in. From that point on, the subtle humour moments of the match fit very well together while also making for some beyond impressive feats of skills. One instance had both moustaches using a delayed vertical suplex on one of the ants with both of them tagging in an out while passing the delay between each other. There was also a crazy chokeslam spot which originally had Bate standing on a knelt Trent, he would get a chokeslam by an ant on the other ant’s shoulders on top on the knelt Trent. These moments were both clever for the ring work while also being oddly humorous. In the end, it was Moustache Mountain that won the match after a Piledriver by Trent onto one of the Ants, which he rolled to Tyler who hit the Small Package Driver finisher for the pinfall. Yup, that was definitely a fun match that everyone seemed to enjoy, even all four men were happy as they shook hands and gave each other salutes.

Main Event
CHIKARA Grand Championship
Princess KimberLee retained against Nixon Newell

To end this show, we had a match for CHIKARA’s top prize, and it was between the Welsh Valleys’ own Nixon Newell, and CHIKARA’s resident of royalty, the defending Grand Champion, Princess Kimber Lee, or Princess KimberLee rather, the lack of a space makes a huge difference. Still, this match was a truly great way to close what was a great show as both women were going all out on each other. Kimber wanting to prove why she’s the top champion of CHIKARA, and Nixon wanting to pull off a huge upset.

The match itself was done very nicely with both starting a chain exchange, not long followed after by a pinfall exchange that got the crowd invested. There were also sickening chops by both, as well as a few stiff kicks, mainly from the Princess. Nixon seemed to enjoy getting kicked at one point though as she audibly yelled “AND AGAIN, SWEETHEART!”, ’cause you know how those Valley girls are. Or you should know, since the Rhondda Cynon Taff, which this site is themed in, IS part of the Valleys after all. After this full on war between these two incredible ladies, it was the Princess who sealed the deal by countering a manoeuvre from Nixon into a Powerbomb for the pinfall victory.

One thing I feel the need to mention is how from all the past wrestling shows I have been to thus far; this show main evented with the women. Sure some places have them as the Co-Main event, which is still better than most other places, but this was the match that closed the show. Granted it’s mainly because their main champion is also female, but that makes this match all the more meaningful. With this current increased focus on women in the world of professional wrestling, it’s great to see places like Chikara putting so much faith in the women that appear for their shows. Many independent promotions have been doing this for a while, but they are putting even more focus on it now that the mainstream world of wrestling has FINALLY realized, after many, MANY years of neglect and mistreatment, that the women can be just as big a draw as the men can. And they truly deserve it as the women here were just as impressive to watch as the men were. Heidi made proof of this earlier in the night, and both KimberLee and Nixon added to that in this main event match.

KimberLee hugged Nixon and raised up her arm as a sign of respect with everyone in the crowd clapping in respect for the brilliant match that ended this truly brilliant show.

So yeah, overall CHIKARA once again did a fine job in their return to the UK, and while Night One was over, the tour hasn’t stopped yet. So, if you are interested in seeing any of their other shows, they have a few more. 

Birmingham – Friday 27th May, Manchester – Saturday 28th May, Newcastle – Sunday 29th May, and Glasgow – Monday 30th May, so if you are in the area and fancy watching some truly entertaining wrestling, have a look into going to any of these shows. I’ll link to the website where you can buy the tickets for those shows. And get them before they sell out, much like the shows in Wolverhampton and London did last weekend.

Also make sure to check out Fight Club: Pro, who were gracious enough in hosting this show. The show could not have run as smoothly without their help. And of course check out Attack! Pro and Dragon Pro for other Welsh based promotions that are worth checking out. Though for the sake of not bombarding you with too many links, I’ll just throw up CHIKARA’s stuff.

To close off, all I can say is that I for one cannot wait till we hear from CHIKARA’s 2017 UK Tour, because if any indication from the last two years has shown, it’s going to happen, it HAS to.

Chikara Social Media Stuff
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CHIKARAPRO/
Twitter(s) – @CHIKARApro and @CHIKARA_UK
Chikara UK Tour 2016 Cartel – http://chikarauktour.bigcartel.com/ 

Image: chikarapro

Related Article: Rhys Review: ATTACK! Pro Wrestling – How Do You Learn To Fall Off A 20FT Ladder? (3/4/2016)

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