Sunday night, two wrestling companies had shenanigans taking place in the main events of their shows. WWE’s Night of Champions saw John Cena and CM Punk battle to a draw after they both pinned each other. The finish was changed from a Cena victory to a draw after the decision was reversed. It obfuscated the issue between the two in order to prolong their feud presumably into Hell in a Cell.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]Meanwhile, Chikara’s King of Trios event ended with mass chaos surrounding the main event. Team ROH, containing the Young Bucks and Mike Bennett, faced off against the Spectral Envoy, UltraMantis Black, Frightmare and Hallowicked, for the most prestigious tournament crown in all of wrestling for my money. The end of the match saw attempted interference from both Bennett’s manager/girlfriend Maria Kanellis and the Envoy’s mortal enemies, a cadre of wrestlers led by Delirious. Both were thwarted in their own way, with Matt Jackson accidentally nailing Kanellis with a superkick and Envoy ally Crossbones appearing to lay waste to the other invaders. With distraction out of the way, Hallowicked was able to make Bennett tap out to claim victory.
On first glance, it might seem like WWE had the “better” finish, but the truth is, it’s far worse than what Chikara put out for this reason – Chikara’s main event had finality, it had closure. When you pay any amount of money, whether it be the $25 for a ticket to a singular King of Trios night or $60 for a WWE pay-per-view in HD, you expect to get some kind of finality, a conclusion, a satisfaction. Very rarely should a finish like that be used on pay-per-view, but WWE does it all the damn time.
To me, it’s a symptom of having too many pay-per-views, but then again, it’s not like WWE actually uses their gobs and gobs of television time to get over stories. Yes, they do run angles, but they’re often horribly paced and rarely ever are contained just on television rather than both on TV and PPV, leaving satisfying conclusions to happen once in awhile. I could wax nostalgically about the old days when there were only four of such types of events on the calendar, but that toothpaste is never going to fit back into the tube again. The only way to keep going is to reorganize time and start doing things right instead of hotshotting all over the place.
Compare that to Chikara, where there’s very little doubt at the end of major events that at least a minor resolution or the end of an act has happened, even if there’s still plenty of story left to tell. It’s jarring. There’s a reason why Chikara has almost universal critical praise from those who follow it. They may not get everything right, but they get it more than WWE does nowadays. It’s because they know how to tell a story and are interested in following things up instead of just throwing stuff to the wall and seeing what sticks.
Obviously, sometimes they have to change on the fly, like when Sara del Rey signed her WWE developmental deal or the year prior when Claudio Castagnoli (now Antonio Cesaro) did the same. Sometimes, they do something that seems puzzling. I don’t want to claim they do everything right all the time, because then I invite people who like to pick nits and throw one singular example of a bad thing they did and think they’re proving me wrong. However, they get it right more than they get it wrong, and they certainly get it right more than WWE, Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor do nowadays.
Some might argue that Chikara is a smaller-scale company and thus has an easier time to succeed. That’s a bogus argument if I’ve ever heard one, but even so, WWE has a precedent of blatantly lifting ideas from a smaller company. I mean, they even went so far as to establish a working relationship with ECW in addition to poaching its talent and lifting ideas from them. Contrary to the connotation of those last few sentences, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it led them to the era that everyone seems to be clamoring for right now, even if some of the people wanting it were barely cognizant of their surroundings at that time.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]The truth is that good booking knows no parameters, and it will work on any level. WWE could stand to take notes from Chikara and how they run things, and maybe they’ll actually start to gain back some of the fans they scared away over the last decade. Obviously, they won’t reach Attitude peaks again without another transcendental star, but the wrestling industry doesn’t need to be at the pinnacle of pop culture to be worthy of watching. However, it does need to be, y’know, good. Right now, WWE’s direction really isn’t good. Chikara’s is.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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