Drop kicks and headlocks dazzled the audience of CHIKARA’s King of Trios three-day tournament.
WrestleMania may have cost $60 to watch on pay-per-view, but it was not the only wrestling extravaganza in April.
CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament was held from April 15-17 and featured plenty of action for a student-friendly price.
Located at the Asylum Arena on 7 W. Ritner St., the King of Trios consisted of 16 teams of three wrestlers competing to be crowned champions.
“King of Trios is CHIKARA’s Super Bowl,” said FIST team member Chuck Taylor. “It brings together some of the best wrestlers on the planet for one amazing weekend of events. Nowhere else can you see wrestlers from so many different promotions and countries on one show.”
As adrenaline flowed throughout the sold-out crowd, strobe lights and flashing cameras blinded attendees who flocked to merchandise stands for rare DVDs, videos and posters of classic grappling lore.
Fans greeted each other as neighbors living in the wrestling community.
“CHIKARA is a unique brand of fan-friendly entertainment,” said promoter of Evolve Wrestling and Dragon Gate USA Gabe Sapolsky. “It is like nothing you will ever see.”
The evening began with a 10-bell salute in honor of local manager extraordinaire “Sweet and Sour” Larry Sweeney, who committed suicide on April 11 after battling bipolar disorder for several years.
The unpredictable essence of CHIKARA was on full display during the opening contest, which featured a dance party, the Macarena and a multi-man arm bar that connected from mid-ring to the entire front row.
El Generico and 3.0 suffered defeat at the hands of the Egyptian time-traveling Osirian Portal after a cavalcade of lightening quick flips, kicks and splashes.
“My favorite moment was when the match stopped mid-pin in order for a break dance competition,” attendee Sean Murray said. “CHIKARA wrestling is the WWE meets Three Stooges. It is the perfect blend of comedy and wholesome sports entertainment that society needs more of.”
Almost as compelling as the in-ring action, the crowd contributed to the exciting experience by insulting referees, cheering for their favorite athletes and chanting phrases such as “Olé,” “Cheat” and “Guys from Cleveland.”
During the Team Dragon Gate versus the Spectral Envoy match, a fan gave his water bottle to a competitor who appeared thirsty, showing the level of respect CHIKARA fans have for professional wrestlers.
“Don’t tell the management, but my favorite part of Trios weekend was drinking after the shows with all the guys I never get the chance to see,” Taylor said. “The guys always hit a great dive bar on South Street with karaoke after the shows. You should have seen me drinking Yuengling and singing Bon Jovi with Temple grad Bryce Remsburg Friday and Saturday night.”
The most popular match occurred right before intermission as internationally renowned luchadores the Maximo Brothers and their cousin the Amazing Red tangled with Jigsaw, CHIKARA founder Mike Quackenbush, and legendary Japanese female wrestler, Manami Toyota.
Dazzling her foes with flying dropkicks and a breath-taking body press from the top turnbuckle to the concrete floor, Toyota earned the adoration of the crowd who chanted, “This is awesome.”
“My favorite match was Quack, Jigsaw and Toyota against Red and the Maximos,” attendee Marty Kay said. “I have been following Toyota’s career for 20 years. She is still high-flying and good looking.”
The rest of round one’s results included FIST defeating Team Australia, Team BDK’s upset against Da Soul Touchaz, Team Toyota pinning the Maximos, Team Dragon Gate demolishing the Spectral Envoy, Team Osaka Pro taking the Throwbacks to school, the Colony playing “Taps” for the Dark Army, and Team Michinoku closing out the night with a victory against Team Minnesota.
In addition to three nights of moonsaults and piledrivers, on April 16, CHIKARA presented the fourth annual Fan Conclave.
Autograph signings, guest commentaries, meet-and-greets, a body-slam challenge and a concert by pop-rock singer Stan Bush occurred during the festival.
“The fan conclave is a great chance for all the fans to interact with the wrestlers and buy tons of merchandise,” Taylor said. “There are always different activities for the fans to experience.”
“CHIKARA embraces what wrestling should be fun,” senior referee Remsburg said. “There is something for everyone, and many nonfans have been converted by CHIKARA. Besides, if spending a weekend watching dudes in spandex do flips is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”
John Corrigan can be reached at email@example.com.