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Chikara and the art of extended storytelling

On February 1, National Pro Wrestling Day aired live from Easton, Pennsylvania. A free live card aired free on Youtube for international audiences, the second annual event raised money for the Against Malaria Foundation, an organization that buys and brings nets to countries that need them. But for fans of Chikara, the independent pro wrestling organization that apparently shut its doors in June 2013, it was also offered the chance of rebirth.

Once one of the company's top villains, Icarus is now the face of Chikara, the star that helped bring it back from the brink of destruction.
Photo by Mike Kalasnik, released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

As reported by the Cedar Rapids Pro Wrestling Examiner then, Chikara’s final internet pay-per-view event ended with dozens of security guards tearing apart the ring and set as company head Wink Vavasseur ate an apple on the sidelines. But in the aftermath of that event, long time villain Icarus declared his love for the promotion. He set out to find the culprits behind the company’s fall and rally the fan base behind Chikara. He did so by doing random public appearances, giving out t-shirts and signing petitions.

Within a few weeks, a web series called “Ashes” began. Without ever stating it, the show started using two to three minute segments to continue the stories of Icarus, The Colony, 3.0 and other Chikara talents. Clearly inspired by the flashbacks and flash-forwards of the ABC television series “Lost”, the series made it clear to fans online that something still brewed behind the scenes at the former Chikara promotion and the various “Wrestling Is” organizations that spun out from it.

As “Ashes” continued to air, villains from Chikara past started to reappear at the various “Wrestling Is” shows. The Gekido, the BDK, Sinn Bohdi and his freak show, the Wrecking Crew and even Kaiju Big Battel’s Dr. Cube destroyed several of the smaller promotions.

The “Ashes” videos picked up from once a month early on to once a week through January to daily in the week leading to National Pro Wrestling Day. To the fans paying attention, it was clear that National Pro Wrestling Day would bring a climax to the Chikara death story.

That end came during the Wrestling is Heart match that main evented National Pro Wrestling Day. Heidi Lovelace battled the much larger Joe Pittman for the La Copa Idola, the promotion’s top title. When Lovelace locked in the Chikara Special submission, the villains of Chikara past all hit the ring. Around two dozen men stormed the ring, destroyed both Lovelace and Pittman and stood for the destruction of this event as well.

Even on the stream, it was clear just how terrifying a force this alliance of villains. The leader of the group revealed himself to be breakout Midwest star Jimmy Jacobs, a figure that has worked Ring of Honor and dozens of indies but rarely Chikara. The St. Louis-based Submission Squad formed the first line of defense against them, but the four men were little match for the onslaught of Jacobs’ forces.

Icarus, The Colony (including former Gekido member AssailANT), Dasher Hatfield, and a pair of unknown new stars stood as the last line of defense against their enemies. Jacobs promised to destroy them, but Icarus revealed his own master plan. The hooded minions of Dr. Cube unmasked to reveal the Osirian Portal, Ultramantis Black, Mr. Touchdown, The Batiri, Los Ice Creams and other longtime Chikara wrestlers. Archibald Peck and 3.0, last seen in the time lost Parts Unknown, drove up in a Delorean to add their strength to the Chikara numbers. As the live fans chanted Chikara loudly, the heroes rallied against Jacobs’ forces. The villains ran for the hills. Icarus brought a sign to the camera with “5-25-14” on it, declaring, “Tell the world, we’re back.” The stream went blank, but only for a few minutes. A bonus match was added as the fervor died down, a ten man Chikara tag match.

Fans waited nine months to see the resolution to the sudden destruction of Chikara. Free for the world, they saw the rebirth of the promotion—but they did not see the end of the story. While the saga of Chikara’s loss has ended, the company still has questions left unanswered. Mike Quackenbush, founder of the company, didn’t make an appearance (though his cane was seen hooking and dragging Gekido member 17 backstage). Chikara Grand Champion Eddie Kingston wrestled earlier in the night but didn’t appear to support his former home promotion. While Jimmy Jacobs and his allies were routed, the reasons behind Jacobs’ hatred for Chikara remains unknown, as does his connections to the Titor Conglomerate and the various invaders that make up his current alliance. A now deleted post on his gallery’s Facebook wall seems to mark longtime job talent Robbie Ellis as Chikara’s new owner, but what the Seattle-based star will bring to the company is unknown.

After nine months of unanswered questions, Chikara has answered one major one: the date of their return. But so much is left to be answered. Those questions promise to keep Chikara’s compelling narrative alive for many month to come.

National Pro Wrestling Day is still available for viewing free on the Wrestling Is Youtube page. Subscribe to the Cedar Rapids Pro Wrestling Examiner for more updates.