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Jan 28

Holds to Astonish – Mike Quackenbush

Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2017 by Al in Podcast, Wrestling

As mentioned on our last episode, Paul and I sat down this week to talk with Mike Quackenbush, the creative mind behind the heavily comic book influenced independent wrestling promotion Chikara Pro. We had a great discussion, taking in the upcoming National Pro Wrestling Day; the shifts Mike’s seen in Chikara over the past few years both in terms of the wrestlers they’ve trained and the business and distribution models independent promotions have adopted; the crossover between wrestling and comic books; the 2015 and 2016 Chikara UK tours; their 2013/2014 shutdown angle and accompanying ARG; the ins and outs of IDW’s Revolution and much more besides.

The episode is here, or here on Mixcloud, or you can stream it through the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. We’ll be back with a regular episode of House to Astonish next week (probably), so keep an eye out for that. And remember, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, and one of our t-shirts is for a good couple of years at least.


Sep 17

King of Trios 2016

Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

Okay.  So.  That idea of rewatching the whole Chikara 2015 season turns out to run into a fairly obvious problem: it means finding time to watch both the new shows and the old shows on top of finding the time to, you know, do anything else, and it should be pretty obvious from the rate of progress that this isn’t going to work.  Let’s acknowledge reality on that one.  And instead, let’s do the just-completed 2016 King of Trios tournament.

King of Trios is a 16-team elimination tournament run over three nights (and I originally intended to spread it over three posts, but then figured that I’d just do a huge one).  It’s Chikara’s biggest weekend of the year, at least in terms of attendance, guest stars, and interest from outside the normal fanbase.  For much the same reasons, it’s not necessarily built around Chikara storylines, although there are usually a few turning points for ongoing plots.  The tournament winner is frequently an outsider team that plays no further part in storylines (as with last year’s winners, who were visiting from the Mexican promotion AAA).


Jun 6

Chikara – July 2015

Posted on Monday, June 6, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

So then, this last week Al and I were at the Chikara show in Glasgow, which was the last date of their UK tour and isn’t yet available to buy (though you can pre-order it, if you want).  It’s a great show, and they’re right – wrestling, or at least good wrestling, is indeed best experienced live, because of the atmosphere, because the little things in the way of crowd interaction are so much more effective in person, and because things that can be fairly routine on video get a renewed impact live.

At any rate, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these 2015 re-watch posts, and it strikes me a better way of doing this is to cover a whole weekend at the same time, since in some ways that’s kind of the booking unit for the big picture in Chikara.  So here are the two July shows…

15.14: “Storming the Castle”

It’s Saturday 25 July 2015, and it’s been a little over a month since the last show.  We’re at somewhere called Nomad’s Adventure Quest in South Windsor, Connecticut, which is apparently some sort of combination laser tag centre, video arcade and sports complex.  It’s a moderately sized hall, nicely lit, pretty full.  The main event of this one is somewhat important in the big picture; the rest, to be honest, is mostly burning through matches for the Challenge of the Immortals tournament, which, being a double round robin between ten teams, means there are a lot of matches to be got through.


Apr 25

Holds to Astonish – Episode 2

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2016 by Al in Podcast, Wrestling

It’s been long-promised (warned of?), but now it’s here – Paul and I are taking a short detour into the world of comic book-influenced wrestling promotion Chikara Pro, catching up with commentator (and fellow comics podcaster) Leonard F Chikarason about Chikara’s upcoming UK tour, its new base of operations at the Wrestle Factory, its current Grand Champion Princess KimberLee and lots more besides. If you’re just here for comics and not up for wrestling chat, feel free to skip and come back in a few weeks, when we will be back to our regularly (un)scheduled broadcast.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think in the comments below, on Twitter, over email or via our Facebook fan page, and remember, we’ve got super-fabulous shirts on our Redbubble store.


Mar 30

Chikara 15.13: “Shock and Aww”

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

Yes, I know I said I was going to start skipping the lesser shows, and I know I haven’t skipped one yet.  But Shock and Aww is an important show in Chikara’s 2015 season, for reasons which will shortly become clear.  It also has a ludicrously catchy theme tune.  (“Wrestling is so much fun!  Shock and aww!  Shock and aww!”)  Anyway, we can at least start skipping past some of the less important matches.

It’s 14 June 2015, the day after the previous show.  We’re in the Bethel Park Family Center in Indianapolis.  It’s basically a basketball court.  There’s a decent size crowd, though you wouldn’t know it from the hard cam, which somehow contrives to keep most of them out of shot.

1.  Challenge of the Immortals: The Arcane Horde v. Crown & Court.


Mar 4

Chikara 15.12: “Sword of Destiny”

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

So.  We’re now far enough behind that I’m going to start skipping the less important shows in order to keep somewhat in touch.  But this one is worth covering, because it’s a bit of an epic – it comes with two dark matches recorded at a meet-and-greet in the afternoon, and introduces a new gimmick that will start cropping up on almost all Chikara’s shows going forward.

It’s 13 June 2015, and we’re in the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago.  They come here every year (in fact, they’ll go back in October).  It’s a rather nice ballroom type venue.

Pre-show Match 1.  Missile Assault Ant v Arik Cannon.


Jan 19

Chikara 15.11: “Aniversario: A New Attitude”

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

Chikara’s birthday was on 25 May 2002, which it celebrates every year with Aniversario – sometimes a show, sometimes a weekend tour, it varies.  It’s one of the fixtures in their calendar, but some way behind King of Trios, or for that matter the season finale; it’s more of a well established marker post in the year.  Frankly, the Challenge of the Immortals tournament format that dominated 2015 doesn’t lend itself to a major show at this point, since virtually every story is building to something much further down the line.  The result is a relatively normal looking card, but with a bigger than normal crowd.

When and where: It’s 24 May 2015 (the day after the previous show), and we’re in the Palmer Center in Easton, Pennsylvania.  This is essentially Chikara’s home venue, if you leave aside their actual training facility.  It’s a community centre gym, but a pretty substantial one.  We’ll be back here for King of Trios later in the year.  It’s a sell out.  There’s a prominent advert at the back of the hall for Electric Monkey energy drink, which is a real thing, and is product placement.  Remember that, it’ll be coming up in a bit.

1.  Elimination match: N_R_G (Race Jaxon & Hype Rockwell) v. The Battle Hive (Amasis & Worker Ant) v. The Nightmare Warriors (Frightmare & Silver Ant) v. Kevin Condron & ???.


Jan 2

Chikara 15.10: “Back to Skull”

Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

This is the first of a series of mini-shows held in the Wrestle Factory, Chikara’s training school in Philadelphia.  They more or less replaced the local shows that Chikara used to run under the banner “Wrestling Is Fun”.  WIF was, at least in part, a device to let Chikara run shows during the period when the company itself was supposedly shut down (since it was supposedly a separate company), and with that storyline completed, it’s served its purpose.  In 2015, with so many tournament matches to get through, pretty much everything had to be classified as an official show.  This one was chucked in as a bonus if you bought “Aniversario”, the major show that took place the next night.  It does have some material that’s important to storylines, though, which is why I’m not skipping past it.

When and where: It’s 23 May 2015.   As mentioned, we’re in the Wrestle Factory – more accurately, the new Wrestle Factory, because they’ve just relocated.  It’s small, but there’s lighting, there’s a proper entrance set, and the walls are lined with banners for the ten Challenge of the Immortals teams.

1.  Amasis v. Missile Assault Ant (more…)

Dec 16

Chikara 15.9: “Spring Breakout”

Posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 by Paul in Wrestling

Preamble: In the real world, the Chikara 2015 schedule is now over.  But here on the blog, we’re following along a good few months behind.  It’s been nearly a month since the last show, when Hallowicked defeated Icarus to win the title.  Usually Chikara does several shows in a weekend, but “Spring Breakout” is a one-off.  This one is storyline heavy, since it has to pick up on the characters who weren’t on the UK tour, and it’s the last chance to set up the matches for “Aniversario”, one of the big shows of the year, which is in a few weeks time.

When and where: It’s 2 May 2015 and we’re in St Joseph’s School in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  It’s a school hall, but a pretty decent one as indie wrestling venues go.  No proper lighting, but hey, it has sound and a stage.  Chikara play it fairly regularly, and they’ll be back later in the year.

1.  Challenge of the Immortals: BDK v. Crown & Court (more…)

Nov 11

Chikara 15.8 – “Afternoon Delight”

Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 by Paul in Wrestling

Preamble: This is the final show in the four-date UK tour, which I have taken an inordinately long time to cover even compared to the original plan.  So I thought it might be an idea to wrap it up.  The storyline pace will pick up after this, partly thanks to characters who weren’t on the tour re-entering the storylines after an eight-hour absence, and partly because the shows will be more spread out, which means there’s more scope for each one to advance the plot.  This is the show that Al went to, by the way, so bonus spotting opportunities there for fans of the podcast.

When and where: It’s 6 April 2015, and we’re in London, England, as a pre-show video package of the tourist sights is keen to stress.  More specifically, we’re at the Garage, which is basically a music venue.  Which means it has decent lighting and sound.  It’s packed.

1.  Challenge of the Immortals: Battle Hive v United Nations. (more…)