I think it's safe to say at this point that 2015 will go down for me as the year that I discovered CHIKARA. With my most recent order, I've now purchased every Best of set from 2005-2012. I honestly never thought I'd get this into CHIKARA, but it happened and I'm certainly glad it did. So, to give a little background and foreshadowing - I've been up, down, and all around in my CHIKARA binge since January. I began with Best of 09 & 10 then purchased 11 & 12 then the 12 Large Tourney & Best of 07. Now, I'm here with the Best of 2005 in my DVD player and the Best of 2006 & 2008 on my shelf ready to be watched & reviewed after this so settle in! Nine discs of CHIKARA action are going to be reviewed in the coming months and we start here with this two disc "Best of 2005" set that can be purchased from Smart Mark Video.
1) Knight Eye For The Pirate Guy vs. Mano Metalico & Crossbones - Tag World Grand Prix 2005 Night One - 2/18/05
This wasn't a match that you would expect to be on a Best of set although it was still quite fun. If you've ever seen any of the men involved, you know that they are the big characters and do their fair share of comedy. That was displayed here well and it didn't last long so I can't complain however as said before, it's not something I'd put on a Best of Compilation. Eddie Kingston & Dave Prazak on commentary was fun to listen to.
Match rating - **
2) Team Toryumon X vs. Team Osaka Pro - Tag World Grand Prix 2005 Night Three - 2/20/05
I expected more comedy here, but we ended up getting quite the exciting tag match with some great action. Considering that Ebessan is involved, there was indeed some comedy however they didn't over do it. The team of Skayde & Milano put on a real show with Team Toryumon X holding their own as well. Solid tag team bout.
Match rating - **3/4
3) Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, & Arik Cannon) vs. Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, & Sabian - Remain in Light - 3/18/05
Now we get into some really good stuff. KINGS OF WRESTLING! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! Well, I'm clapping unlike the fans in attendance because KOW were such phenomenal heels here. After an early wild exchange between both teams as the match started in chaos, things settled down and KOW isolated the smaller man in Sabian. The insane opening sequence of events played to Quack's team's strength so when the pace slowed KOW just kept it plodding and brutal as they slowly took apart the face team. The ending was just what you'd expect as the babyfaces made a comeback which led to more crazy, fast paced stuff. In the end, Hero chokes out Jigsaw with his variation of the STF. Jigsaw never gave up.
Match rating - ***1/4
4) Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, & Arik Cannon) vs. Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, & Reckless Youth - Anniversario Orange - 5/21/05
More quality work from KOW. The intensity level was even higher here as they worked in an even more vicious heel form. It was almost to the point that me, a huge fan of them, wanted to cheer for the face team. They're THAT good at what they do. Same formation as the last match in that they had a fairly long heat segment with the face team only get a few flurries here and there. They did a great job of teasing things breaking down as we saw Quack pie face Claudio from the apron which led to a shoving match. This made it feel like even more of an explosion when that closing sequence hit. Speaking of that finishing sequence, it wasn't just awesome action, they also made a call back to last night with Hero locking Jig in the STF however this time Quack was able to break it up before the ref called for the bell due to a knockout. Great trios match in which I got my first look at Indy legend Reckless Youth.
Match rating - ***1/2
5) Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Arik Cannon, & Gran Akuma) vs. Mike Quackenbush, Sabian, Eddie Kingston, & Equinox - Young Lions Cup III Night 3 - 7/24/05
Another multi-man here which reminds me of something I meant to mention earlier. The cover of the DVD features the quote "If you think of a wrestling match as a blank canvas and each wrestler is a color in your paint palette, imagine how much more diverse a painting made with 6 or 8 colors can be than a painting made with just two." Cool shit! None the less, the big story here aside from the on-going dominance of KOW was Eddie Kingston finally getting back in the ring and if he'd be able to control himself. They did a good job of portraying that as he ended up getting the hot tag near the end of the match. This had alot of action and not so long of a heat segment as the previous trios matches did. Several little flurries by the face team with Kingston springboarding Sabian to the outside onto KOW and Quack hitting a huge front flip off the top rope. Quack rolls up Hero for the win out of nowhere which was a good way of advancing the problems between those two.
Match rating - ***
6) Icarus vs. Shane Storm - Young Lions Cup III Night 3 - 7/24/05
This completely caught me off guard. With all the six man's on this disc, I did not at all expect this match to be the best one, but that's exactly what it was. This was the finals in the third annual Young Lions Cup which made for a big time feel as the match went on. In the early going, Storm got control via use of comedy as he let a fan hold a stop sign that "hypnotized" Icarus and allowed Storm to nail a big dive. Icarus would regain control soon however and begin working over Storm. Things really picked up after a headbutt exchange between the two men that led to a stalemate. I think this is when everyone, including myself, realized how serious this match was to both men. From that point, this match went up several notches. Multiple members of the roster came down to ringside to support, the crowd got hotter & hotter, the action reached its peak and the nearfalls were epic. Icarus & Storm end up on the stage where Icarus jumps off a speaker and hits a tornado DDT. The action spills back into the ring and the drama is high as the two trade moves & counters. Storm ends up picking up the win with That Japanese Move and the crowd leaps to it's feet. Great match!
Match rating - ***3/4
7) Mike Quackenbush vs. Claudio Castagnoli - Negative Balance - 8/23/05
Here we have another chapter in the Quack/Claudio series and one of the only bouts between that I haven't seen. This was one of those matches where they pretty much just went through all their major spots which was super entertaining to watch. I've seen these two have better bouts in the form of their IWA MS and CZW BOTB encounters however this is definitely their best match in CHIKARA. Very fun stuff despite not being the MOTY candidate I expected thanks to big reviews.
Match rating - ***1/2
8) Chris Hero vs. Eddie Kingston - Negative Balance - 8/23/05
I've always had mixed feelings on the long and storied Hero/Kingston rivalry. While I do enjoy it, I'm not as wild about it as others so I guess you could say I'm impartial on the subject. Despite that, I can admit that sure as hell know how to put together a strong style match that feels like a real fight. Everything here was done very well aside from what I feel has always kept their matches from reaching that next level. That being the atmosphere. This crowd was better than the crowd for their CZW match in 2007, two years after this, however it wasn't the type of audience you would hope for in a match that's structured like this. I think this bout would have worked extremely well in front of a PWG style audience as they react to every big movement whereas it took a good bit to get this audience really into it. Everything these guys did was fantastic though. Stiff strikes, brutal throws, intensity. It's all here. A more vocal crowd and a few minutes trimmed off and this could have exceeded four stars. Still worth a look despite not reaching it's full potential.
Match rating - ***1/2
9) Claudio Castagnoli vs. KUDO - International Invasion Stage 1 - 9/16/05
This was a ton of fun. Claudio works the leg of the DDT standout, KUDO which makes alot of sense considering he's a smaller guy who kicks & flies. He does this in a variety of ways including a vicious brake's special using only KUDO's leg that HAS to be seen. This all leads to KUDO making his comeback. He goes for his big double knee of the top rope finisher, CLAUDIO MOVES AND KUDO LANDS ON HIS LEGS! Claudio immediately starts kicking at that same leg he had been working over. This leads to another KUDO comeback where he reverses out of an uppercut, delivers a variety of kicks and nails Claudio with his finisher. It wasn't enough to put away the Swissman and KUDO paid for it as he gets knocked out could with two repeated uppercuts. Short but sweet.
Match rating - ***1/4
10) Jigsaw vs. Hallowicked - International Invasion Stage 2 - 9/17/05
This was a first time match up that came to be after an issue back at the Young Lions Cup earlier in the year. I learned this from the get go thanks to Larry Sweeney on commentary. Not only is he funny, he's also informative! RIP 12 Large! This match gets going and these two work well together despite never meeting priorly in singles action. They delivered some cool spots including Jigsaw hitting a double stomp off the top turnbuckle onto Hallowicked who was bridged across the ring apron and the stage. Hallowicked goes for his signature snap off hurricanrana only for Jigsaw to counter out! That ruled! Jigsaw is setting up to finish this one off when Ultramantis Black gets on the ring apron. Mantis gets knocked down by Jig. Hallowicked is waiting as Jig turns around. SNAP REVERSE HURRICANRANA! JIGSAW IS DEAD! Hallowicked wins. That was a STRONG finish. I really want to see these two face off again after this and based off that finish, I'm guessing we will.
Match rating - ***
11) Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Milano Collection AT & Skayde - International Invasion Stage 2 - 9/17/05
This is the perfect match up on paper so I'm stoked for this. Hero & Claudio were in the silly phase of their partnership at this point as Claudio dressed in Hero's tights as a way of showing his adoration for his partner. This garnered a "GET OUT OF HERO'S PANTS, CLAUDIO!" remark from a fan that didn't get much reaction except from me because I got a kick out of it. None the less, the goofiness translated into Milano & Skayde completely outdoing KOW in the entire first half of the match. From lucha to submissions, KOW kept getting outwrestled. They had both of them in a double figure four for fucks sake! Claudio & Hero were finally able to get the advantage by using their team working abilities. One thing I loved here is that they didn't let the heat segment go on for too long. I felt like they kind of overdid it in the trios matches earlier on this set so I was happy to see they changed it up a bit here. The eventual hot tag comes for the face team of Milano & Skayde, I can't remember who got it (sorry!). This leads to an awesome finishing run. Dives, a sick moonsault variation from Milano, and a number of other cool things that made the crowd pop. There were some great counters during this match as well. Things were building up fantastically with several false finishes when out comes Gran Akuma & Icarus to break up a pin. This one ends in a DQ which sucks because the match was just heating up however the angle that followed was awesome. Huge brawl between the top faces & heels. I'm guessing this is what set up the Cibernetico match from 05 that I've heard so much about and needless to say, I really want to see it after that post match breakdown.
Match rating - ***1/2
12) Larry Sweeney vs. Chuichiro Arai - Tex Arkana TV Title Match - Little Creatures - 10/21/05
This was a pretty basic bout here. It was well done though so that obviously counts for something. Sweeney works the shoulder early on and makes Arai keep working for a comeback which he never really gets. Expected this to be kind of like a prolonged squash until Arai scored the pin out of nowhere. The finish to this was sweet as Sweeney continued working on the shoulder/neck like he'd been doing all match by nailing Arai with a shoulder breaker on the knee. He then calls for a Fujiwara armbar, goes for it, and gets caught in a cradle which allows Arai to score the victory.
Match rating - **1/2
13) Jigsaw vs. Hallowicked - 2/3 Falls Match - Running in the Red - 11/13/05
Oh yeah! Rematch time! AND it's 2/3 Falls! Man, I thought these two did some crazy stuff in their previous encounter, but it turns out that they were just getting started. From the opening bell, the action was highly entertaining as these two rarely have a match that isn't. Hallowicked scores the first fall with a pinning combination. A few minutes later it looks like Hallowicked is going to sweep this match with two falls in a row as he nails Jig with Go to Sleepy Hollow. He goes for the pin and Jig catches him in a pinning combination for the 2nd fall! From here they go into the insane stuff. It's just alot of crazy bumps and nearfalls that brings the crowd to their feet. Jig goes for a hurricarana off the top and fails thus taking a vicious bump onto his head which allows Hallowicked to go for a deathdefying moonsault double stomp that nearly killed Jigsaw. Jeez! Hallowicked hits the snap reverserana that looks even more sick than in the last match. 1..2... JIG KICKS OUT! Love the callbacks to the previous match! Jigsaw finally nails the hurricanrana he went for early on and they counter each other a few times before Hallowicked ends up in the Jigatonic position. HE NAILS IT! 1..2..3! Jigsaw gets the win. This was just too much fun. Some may say I'm overrating this, but between the awesome spots and callbacks to previous happenings, I think this deserves the rating I'm giving it because I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Match rating - ***3/4
14) Shane Storm vs. Gran Akuma - Mask vs Mask - Running in The Red - 11/13/05
Before this match even got underway, I realized how historical it was. Considering I've already watched the Best Of set's for 2009-2012, I know who's gonna come out on the losing end of this however it's still something I'm highly interested in seeing since it's such a huge moment in CHIKARA history as one of it's all time greats loses his mask. With the stakes being so high, both men gave it their all as you would expect plus for the second time on this DVD, Shane Storm really surprised me. He hung right in there and delivered a great match with Akuma that almost made me get lost in it similar to the way his match with Icarus did. Storm ends up getting a three count only for Bryce to realize that Akuma's hand was on the rope behind his back. The match gets restarted, but not before Icarus lowblows Shane Storm. Akuma heads up top - FROGSPLASH! ANOTHER FROGSPLASH! Pin--no, ANOTHER FROGSPLASH! Three frogsplashes later he covers Storm - 1...2..STORM KICKS OUT! Epic stuff there. I wasn't sure about the false finish and the match restarting however they proved me wrong by delivering an awesome final few moments. Storm hits That Japanese Move twice for the victory. Akuma reluctantly unmasks as Icarus throws a towel over his face. As mentioned before, big moment in the history of CHIKARA here and I'm glad to now have it in my collection. The match itself wasn't anything out of this world although it was still a good contest with several moments that will bring you out of your seat.
Match rating - ***1/4
Overall thoughts: Another CHIKARA set in the books. This may be the weakest one I've gotten however it does allow me to realize how much they've grown over the years. This was in their third year as a promotion and with that in mind, it was great stuff. I discovered some lost gems that I never knew existed in Jigsaw/Hallowicked and Icarus/Storm. The six man's were all very good as well. This set covered many of the major stories/feuds of 2005 however I do wish they would've included the Cibernetico match. Considering it's well over an hour long I can understand why it wasn't though. I'm planning to buy that show soon anyway because it seems like the only BIG match that wasn't included here. So, this isn't something I'd recommend to new fans of CHIKARA however if you've been a fan for awhile and some of the stuff here interests you, I'd give it a look. It's $15 and you get two discs of good wrestling.
Next up in my CHIKARA quest is the Best of 2006. Be on the lookout for my review of that set in the coming month!
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