Sunday, October 7, 2012

Zodiac Crimes

Chikara had its one North Carolina show in 2012 about 45 minutes from where I live today, so I felt I needed to go, its being my new year's resolution to get to as many live shows as possible this year. I have ambivalent feelings about Chikara, on one hand, loving its colorful and comic take on pro wrestling, on the other, not loving its tendency to remake pro wrestling in the image of an eight-year-old's birthday party--minus the magician, yellow cake, and pony rides. Still, on the whole, I'm a fan of its rowdy and eccentric cast of characters, namely Jigsaw (not on today's card), Dasher Hatfield, Sugar Dunkerton, the antennaed Colony, and the Halloween-themed Spectral Envoy. My friend Elizabeth agreed to go with me, reminding me that she is the first and so far only one of my friends to attend two wrestling shows with me, most of the others either conveniently having other engagements (always, coincidentally) or having exhausted their interest in my odd little hobby with the one event.

We left early, knowing the tickets were general admission, arrived a good fifteen or twenty minutes before the door was scheduled to open, and still found a long line of faithful fans stretching into the parking lot of the New Mid Atlantic Sportatorium, where most of the CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling shows occur. So we wound up in crappy seats, close to the door, thus continually blocked as audience members entered late or waddled off to the concession stand for more nachos. Mostly my photos focus on one ring post and the backs of Chikara crew members, who repeatedly blocked my view of the action. Even so, I had a great time, and would happily go to another Chikara show, if I can figure out just how early I need to arrive to get at the front of the line for good seats.

The show was titled "Zodiac Crimes." There were seven bouts in all, with no intermission. The originally scheduled card got scrapped at the last minute because Frightmare, one of the Spectral Envoy, had been injured and was unable to perform. The first match, however, featured, as advertised, North Carolina boys (and frequent performers at Ring of Honor) the Bravado Brothers, who misspent the audience's good will towards the local talent by fighting dirty against the more affable Dasher Hatfield and Mark "Mr. Touchdown" Angelosetti. The Bravados were soundly trounced. Next, Gran Akuma fought Ophidian, an Egyptian serpent-god entity. The snake won. A ladies match followed, unaffected by the card change, featuring North Carolina blonde heel Amber O'Neal against the intergalactic high flyer Saturyne. A new featured performer, The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger--"part history, part sage, part Mexican"--defeated a local challenger, Walter Eaton. 

The fifth match presented an interesting dramatic situation, two tag teams, each with a babyface and a heel, who spent as much time fighting their teammates as fighting the opposition. Big lovable German Jakob Hammermeister (who seems as "German" as El Generico is "Mexican") constantly tried to win the approval of his surly partner Tim Donst, who repaid his efforts with constant abuse and humiliation. At one point, Donst threatened a toddler sitting next to Elizabeth and me simply because the tyke's parents had dressed it in a Hammermeister T-shirt, forcing Hammermeister to rescue the kid and give it a consolatory kiss. (I have to wonder what trauma this bit of kayfabe business will cause the kid in later years.) Donst and Hammermeister battled against Soldier Ant and his quarrelsome partner deviANT. Ultimately, Donst submitted Soldier Ant for the win, causing deviANT to berate and belittle the soldier, after which Donst forced Hammermeister to kneel before him and then belted him. On other occasions, I have, of course, seen tag team partners who didn't get along, but I had never seen two pairs of dysfunctional teammates pitted against each other.

By far the most entertaining wrestler of the show was Sugar Dunkerton, whom I know from one Chikara DVD I own, but mostly from a number of Beyond Wrestling videos. His moves and charisma were spectacular, with little dependence on costuming and superhero backstory for effect (he wears a purple basketball uniform, number "69"--and a humongous afro). Even though he was the most lively part of the whole show, Dunkerton lost to his unpopular opponent, assailANT.

The main event was a five against five battle, the sort of chaotic angle that personally I find too confusing to enjoy, as a rule. In this case, the ten men in the ring made the match comprehensible for me, and several spots brought a semblance of order to the bedlam, some of which were as surrealistically synchronized as a water ballet, although significantly more brutal. The heels were Chuck Taylor, Icarus, The Shard, and the green-faced demon team of Obariyon and Kodama. The good guys were Chikara founder Mike Quackenbush, UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked, and The Colony's Fire Ant and Green Ant. It was a long, Rubik's-cube-like fight, dominated by Taylor and Icarus, the standouts among the heels, and the daredevilry of the five amazing babyfaces, who pulled a victory when Quackenbush submitted Icarus. All in all, a pretty awesome show.

Zodiac Crimes in Gibsonville, North Carolina

Dasher Hatfield's entrance

Mark Angelosetti with trophy and pigskin

Lance Bravado choking Angelosetti

Angelosetti beating Bravado outside the ring

Gran Akuma and Ophidian slug it out

The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger's entrance

Tim Donst slugs Soldier Ant

Soldier Ant getting a corner 10-count on Donst

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