While the biggest December event on the indie calendar, ROH’s Final Battle, is next weekend, you need not look further than the Philadelphia area this weekend for the biggest three days in the minor leagues in this last month of the year. Jersey All-Pro Wrestling and Chikara combine for three epic events to close out their respective feds calendars. If you’re in the area and have a free moment on any of those three days, you might want to check one of these shows out.
[adinserter block=”2″]JAPW kicks the action off Friday in Rahway, NJ for the first of their two night anniversary celebration. The main attraction is a five-way “Best of the Light Heavyweights” match for the JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship. Participating in the match will be the Champ, Azrieal, Bandido, Jr., B-Boy, Kenny Omega and puroresu junior heavy legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger. I saw graphics showing that El Generico was to be involved here too, but I guess he had to pull out. Either way, it should be a phenomenal display of fireworks, especially given the participation from Omega, whose quirky in-ring style makes him fun to watch no matter what the setting is, and the legendary Liger, whose travails in the last two decades have earned him worldwide notoriety.
Also on this card, newly crowned JAPW Heavyweight Champion Brodie Lee will issue an open challenge, TNA’s Rhino battles hardcore icon Nick Gage, and in an indie dream match, Eddie Kingston will wrestle Necro Butcher. I can’t begin to tell you how giddy I’d be to see those two face off against each other. Kingston has gained my respect this year as being a go-to worker, especially in brawls and roughneck settings. His work in Chikara has been outstanding, ranging from taking on Bryan Danielson in Michigan to wrestling Homicide at the last Chikara Philly event. Necro Butcher is one of the last remaining special attraction wrestlers left, and he’s a hell of a fun brawler. I expect buckets of blood, hard-hitting strikes and a crowd-pleasing brouhaha to come from that match.
The next night, JAPW crosses the Delaware River to invade the former ECW Arena in Philly, and boy, did they save their best offering for this card. Headlining the event will be Jushin Liger again, only this time, he’ll be taking on “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush. If you’re a fan of Chikara or the indies in general, you SHOULD be salivating. If Kingston/Necro was a brawler dream match, then this is a junior heavyweight dream match TO THE EXTREME. Liger was one of the innovators of the ’90s, and Quack is clearly an innovator in this century. Again, if you’ve been privy to Chikara, or even other venues such as IWA-Mid South, CZW or even some of the West Coast feds, you’d know what I’m selling. I’d be utterly shocked if this match didn’t end up as a strong Match of the Year candidate.
As if that weren’t enough, if Brodie Lee survives Friday night with his title, he’ll defend it against Rhino the next night. That’s one of the neat things about JAPW; they regularly get TNA talent, and unlike in TNA, they get a stage to shine and show their talents rather than have to put them on the backburner for Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff’s lame attempts at booking swerves and heel-domination tactics. I expect this to be another all-out war. Speaking of TNA talent, Jay Lethal will make an appearance on this card to take on Omega in what should be a fun matchup. Also, Sara del Rey, the Bryan Danielson of women’s wrestling, will take on a heretofore unknown challenger for her Women’s Championship. Her opponent will be decided on the Friday card, although both competitors in that contenders match are still secret.
[adinserter block=”1″]Finally, on Sunday, Chikara will deliver its season finale, Reality Is Relative, in Reading, PA. Having been to seven Chikara cards and watched yet another one on DVD (with three more in my queue still), I can say that if you go to this event, you will have a great time. Chikara is batting 1.000 this year with entertainment and wrestling quality, which is unheard of if you only follow WWE or TNA. The main event will feature maybe the climactic battle of the entire war between the Chikara faithful and the villainous invaders of the BDK. Claudio Castagnoli and Ares, the Campeones de Parejas from said villainous cabal of usurpers, will defend those titles against Quack and his most apt pupil, Jigsaw. This match should have everything that makes a main event work. Titles are at stake, the heat will be off the charts, the work inside the ring should be tight and there’s a lot of history between the two teams. I’ll be surprised if the Chikara team can pull the upset off, but at this point, anything can happen.
Also on the card, Kingston will continue his personal war against the BDK as he takes on its biggest member, the 6’8″ 350 lbs.+ Tursas. In a fed where most wrestlers are the size of beanpoles, Tursas as a monster is a big deal and believable. Knocking him down was a huge story in itself, and not only did Eddie Kingston do just that at their annual torneo cibernetico (an eight man elimination tag match with a distinct “batting order”), he got the first pinfall on the giant since his debut. Now, he’s looking to give him his first singles defeat, and momentum is on the War King’s side. Also, UltraMantis Black will battle Hallowicked and Brodie Lee, a busy man this weekend, will team up with the diminutive Grizzly Redwood in a grudge match against personal favorites of mine, Dasher Hatfield and Sugar Dunkerton, the Throwbacks.
If you’re in the Philadelphia area, then you should definitely think about going to one of these shows. Seriously, there are Match of the Year candidates all over the place, matches that will get crowds riled up and just fun all around. If you don’t live in the Philly area and can’t make a road trip, well, Smart Mark Video will be glad to send you DVDs of the events, if not sooner than later. But no matter what, this weekend will be a pretty big deal in indie wrestling, and the best way to keep the spirit of wrestling alive is to support your local indies. I know I do, and my fandom has been enriched because of it.
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.