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Torch DVD Review
CHIKARA: Best of 2008 (Disc 1)
Released by Smart Mark Video (www.SmartMarkVideo.com)
By Sean Radican, Torch Columnist
I will be posting reviews of each disc of the four-disc "CHIKRA: Best of 2008" release from SmartMarkVideo.com. CHIKARA is a fun promotion that features some really good matches each and every year, but doesn't necessarily always get the attention it deserves from independent wrestling fans. This is a collection of the best matches coming out of the small, but fun promotion booked by Mike Quackenbush from 2008. This fed isn't for everyone, as some of the wrestlers don't have great physiques and look minor league at best, but if you like innovative wrestling filled with great exchanges with some comedy and strong style wrestling mixed in, you definitely will want to add this set to your collection, which is an inexpensive way to see the highlights from CHIKARA from last year without a big financial investment.
(1) Eddie Kingston vs. Shane Storm. Jan. 28, 2008. Two Eyebrows.
This was a match that started slow, but built to a nice conclusion. Kingston played the bully here against the underdog Storm, who ended up bleeding through his mask, which added to the drama of the contest. The fans really got into the match towards the end as well after being quiet for awhile. (**3/4)
(2) Team IWS (El Generico & Player Uno & Stupified vs. F1rst Family (Arik Cannon & Darin Corbin & Ryan Cruz). March 1, 2008. King of Trios: Night 2.
I really liked this match and the crowd ate it up as well. The teamwork of Cannon & Corbin was particularly impressive, especially down the stretch where they managed to pull off an incredible sequence of maneuvers all over the ring. There are several matches from the King of Trios features on the first disc of this set, but this one stood out given that it touched on all of the things that make CHIKARA a lot of fun to watch. Player Uno's gimmick where he can be controlled like a videogame is a lot of fun as well. (***1/2)
(3) F.I.S.T. (Gran Akuma & Chuck Taylor & Icarus) vs. Soul Touchaz (Willie "da Bomb" Richardson & Acid Jaz & Marshe Rockett). March 1, 2008. King of Trios: Night 2 I enjoyed the work of the Soul Touchaz here, as they had two guys who could work fast and a big man in Richardson who filled his spot in the match and then got out of the way of the other two men on his team. Richardson's "big man" spots were a lot of fun here as he tossed Akuma, Taylor, and Icarus around like rag dolls after getting the hot tag. Taylor got the win in the end for his team with the awful waffle, which is a really cool looking finisher. (***1/4)
(4) Mike Quackenbush & Skayde & Shane Storm vs. Team Mexico (El Pantera & Lince Dorado & Incognito). March 3, 2008. King of Trios: Night. 3 There were some great spots here as both teams went at a rapid-fire pace after some nice exchanges early on. Quackenbush and Skayde pulled off some really nice teamwork here as well. Lince Dorado also stood out for his high-flying and chain wrestling prowess. Quackenbush & Skayde & Storm's elimination also came as a surprise to me, as I had forgotten the results of this tournament. (***)
(5)Team Japan (Kudo & Miyawaki & Susumu) vs. BLK Out (Eddie Kingston & Joker & Ruckus) King of Trios: Night 3.
They started out with a lot of hard-hitting action, which built to a stiff exchange between Kingston and Miyawaki that ended with everyone down and out on the mat. Kingston also had some standout exchanges against Kudo and Susumu. Kingston ended up getting the win after hitting a sick backfist on Susumu. This was the weakest match so far and I'm not quite sure why this made the compilation as it didn't stand out as special compared to the other match on this disc so far. (**1/2)
(6)Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brodie Lee. April 20, 2008. Passion & Persistence.
Castagnoli had the advantage early, but Lee fired back and gained the upper hand. Lee tried to soften up Castagnoli for a big boot, but couldn't land it, which ignited Castagnoli's comeback. Castagnoli accidentally bicycle kicked the ref. Castagnoli hit the Ricola bomb on Lee a few minutes later and another ref came in and counted the pin. The first ref woke up and awarded the decision to Lee. The ref's argued as Castagnoli tried to sort things out, which allowed Lee enough time to recover and nail him with a big boot. This was a logical way to build to a rematch between the two down the line with Castagnoli getting a cheap DQ. (**3/4)
(7) Mike Quackenbush & Skayde & Turbo vs. Claudio Castagnoli & Sonjay Dutt & Pantera. May, 18, 2008. Grit/Glory.
This match featured a team captained by Quackenbush taking on a team captained by Castagnoli. The action was fantastic early on with a lot of chain wrestling and Lucha style exchanges. Quackenbush had some fantastic exchanges with Dutt and then Castagnoli that ignited the crowd at the former ECW arena. Dutt was featured nicely hear and hit a springboard on turbo where he went over him and then kicked him backwards right in the head. Dutt then did the flair strut, which was pretty funny. They did an awesome spot where Quackenbush, Skayde, and Turbo hit triple arm drags on their opponents and then hit three different dives to the outside at the same time. Castagnoli works really well with smaller opponents and that was no exception here, as he made Turbo, his smallest opponent, look really dangerous before beating him after a pop-up European uppercut. (***1/2)
Overall thoughts on disc 1: The first disc in CHIKARA: Best of 2008 was filled with mostly six man tags. They varied in quality, but almost all of them made for compelling viewing. My favorite matches on this disc were Team IWA vs. F1rst Family and Quackenbush & Skayde & Turbo vs. Castagnoli & Dutt & Pantera. Almost all of the matches here were taped in the former ECW arena and the fans there were really into the product, which comes off great in that venue.
I didn't see many great six man tags in 2008, so I'm glad I had a chance to sit down and watch a number of really good tag matches filled with innovative spots and fun exchanges. I love the Lucha influence here as well. These guys transition so well and these matches remind me a lot of the undercards on WCW PPVs and Monday Nitro where guys were given time to blow the crowd away with innovative wrestling.
I've only made a small dent in this release and I can't wait to watch more. I'll be back with a review of disc 2 in the near future.
You can purchase CHIKARA: Best of 2008 by clicking here
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