Category Archives: Chikaratopia

Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli vs.Cheech & Cloudy (Chikara – 06/24/2007)

Forget all this noise about ROH missing the boat on Cedric Alexander or Tommaso Ciampa. The guys they really missed the boat on are Cheech & Cloudy. I’m not being facetious. Alexander is a good wrestler but what does he really offer that is unique and that you cannot get elsewhere? Now, which U.S. based wrestlers could replicate the handful of unique lucha arm drags Cloudy pulled off rather flawlessly in this match? It is not an exaggeration that Cloudy – and to a lesser extent, Cheech – performed moves in this match that others simply weren’t doing in 2007. Heck, I am not sure many guys are doing these great lucha arm drags in the U.S. now! Beyond that, they incorporated their awesome offense into a standard baby face southern tag routine almost seamlessly. That ability to simultaneously innovate and utilize valuable time tested tag team concepts in this match made Cloudy and Cheech really stand out. I’ll take the guys that bring something truly unique to the table over the guys that are very solid but who do not add anything significant of value that cannot be gotten elsewhere

Obviously, they are in the ring with some pretty good opponents. Not just any pretty good opponents, but a pair of opponents uniquely suited to complement their strengths. Both Hero and Claudio are fine bases and they put that skill to work here. I thought Claudio was clearly the better of the two but this match made me realize that I much prefer the ring work of goofy/stooging Hero of the mid-2000’s to the verbose Hero of present day. The early match comedy spot that involves crisscross spots, covers, and a confused/exhausted Hero continuing to the do the spots after Cheech had stopped was broad but effective comedy. The only subpar portion of the match I felt was the opening couple of minutes. In particular, Cheech was very mechanical to the point of being slow while running through basic chain wrestling sequences. I usually value the opening minutes of a match as much or more than any other portion but in this case the match definitely improved as it went along. Claudio’s power spots and his ability to base for anything Cloudy or Cheech tried were equally impressive. The faces spread their high spots out throughout the match, but kept enough for a big ending which included an unexpected although very well executed Dragonrana by Cheech.

This is probably one of those matches that seems better than it might otherwise in a different context. I am not sure this would have hit me the same way if it happened in Mexico in 2007. At the same time, I am not ready to say that it definitely would not have. The high spots are generally high quality – for 2007 and for now – and all hit cleanly. The match is also structured well and doesn’t run too long. Those are sort of “context free” positive attributes. A really fun 15-minute match and a definite watch if you subscribe to Chikaratopia. [*** ½]

(05/17/2008) Claudo Castagnoli vs. Jorge Rivera (Chikara)

A fun match that once again hammers home just how much WWE is missing out on using Claudio as a base. He is so good taking all of Rivera’s creative lucha arm drags. He also adds in a couple of his own. The match straddled the line of feeling like an exhibition. There wasn’t a lot to sink your teeth into besides the moves, but it probably was never met to be anything more than that. Claudio’s non-lucha offense was only “okay”. Another takeaway is how criminally underutilized Skayde was in Mexico during his career. At one point I thought of him as a luchador who seemed better than he actually was just because of his U.S. exposure. I no longer feel that way and his work here is a good example of why. He hits some ridiculously complicated and clever moves that you don’t see many (any in some cases?) other luchadores do. Not only that, every move was spot on in execution. Rivera is as smooth as they come and its a shame he never found a longterm home in Mexico with a sustained push. [***]

(05/28/2016) Mike Quackenbush vs. Johnny Kidd, ‘World of Sport’ Rules (Chikara)

Quack does not have a match on record after WrestleMania weekend 2013 and was essentially in semi-retirement. I think the reason usually given for that was back injuries. I know he walked around with a cane for a while but I think that was probably more of a gimmick than anything. In any event, its been a long time since Quack wrestled an official match (assuming he hasn’t wrestled under a mask at points in between) but the idea was that he was a big fan of Kidd and wanted to wrestle him one last time before his upcoming retirement. They had a singles match in wXw back in 2009 and wrestled on opposite side of a tag match in Chikara in 2011, as well.

I am naturally leery of modern matches billed as “World of Sport Rules” matches because that’s a style and concept from a bygone era that is not easily replicated. This match, however, was very good and one of the most fun matches I’ve watched in 2016. The big reason this match succeeded where many other modern WOS-style matches fail is that Kidd actually worked WOS shows when he was younger. For his part, Quack has always appeared to be enamored with hold-centric styles (lucha, British wrestling) and it is very apparent watching this match that he “gets” what made the WOS style tick. They work eight 3-minute rounds. Tim questioned the 3-minute periods initially (as opposed to 5-minutes) but it ended up being the exact right choice. Every round had a different wrinkle to it and because they were only 3-minutes, they never had to kill time to finish off a round. They did all the standard spots guys do when trying to wrestle the British golden era style but they also did a lot of other ones as well. They hit on that balance of levity and impressive athleticism that in my (admittedly limited) exposure to WOS seems to be found in all the good WOS matches. The falls were handled well and the whole presentation (Chikara is always great at presenting things in the best light) was top notch. No, this isn’t a top-end WOS style match, but it is maybe the best modern effort I’ve seen. It was also a ton of fun. I am not sure I have watched any match from 2016 that was this easy and fun to sit through. The match offered something different and it did it well. It is rare that you get both of those things from the same match. [*** 3/4]