I met Mike Quackenbush on Saturday for the first time. It wasn’t a chance meeting; it was at the Chikara Fan Conclave in conjunction with its King of Trios tournament. Quack was milling about, greeting the fans and making sure everything was running smoothly.
I corralled him and got a picture with him. He was super nice and very humble about everything; he even complimented my choice of shirt for the day, a Chuck Taylor shirt with a grenade pictured in the style of LOST‘s Dharma Initiative logo. Anyway, I thanked him for bringing over all these guest stars, legends like Manami Toyota and the Michinoku Pro team and the 1-2-3 Kid.
[adinserter block=”2″]At that point, he slyly gave me a look and told me something. He said that many people told him that when he broke into the business, people told him that he’d have to strip away his fandom to work in the business and promote in it as well (for those not in the know, Quack not only wrestles for Chikara, but he’s the head booker/promoter/auteur as well). He went onto elaborate that he never believed that and that at heart, he was still a fan of the business. It was the reason he was allowed to put together such cards and to run Chikara. From the look in his eyes, I could tell he was telling the truth. But he didn’t need to say it to me, because I knew he was telling the truth just by the kind of promotion he runs.
Nothing more exemplified his dedication and the dedication of the men and women who wrestle for him than that King of Trios weekend. Chikara knocked it out of the park, and a lot of it had to do with the sheer fact that everyone looked like they were having fun, like they were fans of the business. It’s an attitude that seemingly starts from the top.
And dare I say, that’s something missing in a lot of companies.
There’s a reason why I almost never, ever have a cross word to say about Chikara, and there’s a reason why I came out of King of Trios weekend amazed, astounded and of the opinion that it was the best wrestling weekend I’ve ever experienced. It’s because everything is rooted in the spirit of fun. Yes, there are serious storylines, but it’s a fed where you’re just as likely to see a match break down into a dance contest as you are a five star mat classic. This past weekend had all of that, and it featured a great mix of Chikara’s excellent talent as well as a top-notch lineup of guest stars.
As much as the native wrestlers, many of whom were trained by Quackenbush, gave the atmosphere its flavor, but the guest stars were engulfed in that spirit as well. It was in the way Manami Toyota smiled during her advantages or on the apron while leading cheers for her teammates. It was in the way that Great Sasuke played along without batting an eyelash when Darin Corbin went into his trademark SUPER SLOW MOTION sequence. It was in the way that 1-2-3 Kid acted the entire weekend, contrite, respectful, but most of all playful.
[adinserter block=”1″]And that attitude comes from the top. Quackenbush books cards like a wrestling fan. He lays out matches like an old school wrestling fan (not one who’s been brainwashed by Vince Russo‘s poisonous mentality). Everything he does is done with the wrestling fan in mind. There are nods to history and there are eyes moving towards the future. It’s a mix of the comfort of nostalgia and the excitement of change. And thrown in is a healthy dose of fan service.
Many people will talk about the matches of King of Trios, the tributes to Larry Sweeney, the Fan Conclave and how Chikara is the best in wrestling. Hell, I’ve done that all in the last few days on my own blog. However, I think the man at the top deserves a shout out. Mike Quackenbush works hard to make Chikara what it is today, and he does it because he’s a wrestling fan. For a guy to keep his innocence and remain a fan, in spite of dealing with the stressful and sometimes seedy underbelly of pro wrestling, is incredible. Here’s to you, Mike Quackenbush.
And thank you.
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.
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com