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ARTICLE: Tracing the Mythology of The CHIKARA Special

Posted: March 30, 2020

The story of a submission hold that would become quintessential to, and synonymous with, CHIKARA starts with the men who served as head trainers at the Wrestle Factory in 2003: Mike Quackenbush, and Chris Hero. They formed a tag team known as the "Super Friends," drawing inspiration from the iconography of both the Flash and Superman.

The Super Friends were successful for a year and a half, until April 2005. At that year’s Tag World Grand Prix, the Super Friends advanced it to the finals, where they would face the team of Arik Cannon and Claudio Castagnoli. In said match, Hero would betray Quackenbush, joining with Cannon and Castagnoli, thus forming the first iteration of the "Kings of Wrestling."

For two years, Quackenbush would feud with the Kings of Wrestling, until a climax was reached at Aniversario? on May 26, 2007. After taking a winding route, at last, Hero vs. Quackenbush was set to take place. Quackenbush, not yet known as “The Master of A Thousand Holds” in those days, had a worthy adversary in Hero, who knew all of Quackenbush’s favorite holds. The two fought a match of ‘who will slip up first’ until Quackenbush debuted a new submission hold, in the match’s final moment. Neither Chris Hero nor anyone else, had ever seen the hold before and left with no counter, Hero had no option but to tap out.

From then on, Quackenbush dubbed the hold The CHIKARA Special, and proceeded to teach it to everyone he could, in order to thwart Hero.

For the remainder of the season, The CHIKARA Special proved to be Hero’s kryptonite. Any of his opponents that could lock it on would force Hero to submit. But when Hero lost to the bumbling luchador, Equinox, it was the final straw for Hero. The two were set to battle at the 2007 event "The Sordid Perils of Everyday Existence," but Hero would turn the match into a Lucha de Apuesta. The wager? If Hero lost, his head would be shaved. If Equinox lost, he would be forced to unmask.

As the match came to a close, it seemed Equinox would once again claim victory via the CHIKARA Special. However, in a moment that stunned everyone, especially Mike Quackenbush watching from Commentation Station, Hero countered The CHIKARA Special. Quackenbush demanded to know how Hero knew the reversal while Hero gave Quackenbush a cheeky wave and picked up the win.

Having lost, Equinox was unmasked and revealed to be Wrestle Factory drop out, Vin Gerard. Gerard had bought a colorful mask, learned some Spanish, and convinced trainer Jorge Rivera, a.k.a. “Skayde”, into vouching for him.. The tecnicos shunned Gerard for his deception, causing him to become a bitter rudo for the remainder of his wrestling career.

Hero would go on to lose to his one-time partner, Claudio Castagnoli and was subsequently vanquished. However, Quackenbush was still perturbed. Someone in the tecnico locker room had betrayed him, in leaking the counter to the CHIKARA Special to the rudos. The devious UltraMantis Black implied on an episode of Podcast-A-Go-Go that he knew how Hero had learned the secret, but swore he would never tell a soul.

April 2008. At "Deuces Wild," a rookie Tim Donst was dropped on his head by UltraMantis Black’s lethal move, the "Praying Mantis Bomb," and then helped to the back by Mantis and his "Order of the Neo Solar Temple" cult. It was revealed that after the head injury, Donst suffered retrograde amnesia. As a result, it was put into his head that he had ALWAYS been a loyal member of the Neo Solar Temple. Won over by vegan treats and lies, Donst began wearing face paint and became Mantis’ "chosen one," setting him up to enter the Young Lions Cup tournament that very summer.

That same summer, Quackenbush formed a tag team with Factory graduate Shane Storm, a duo sometimes referred to as "Lightning Storm." They quickly accumulated 3 points to challenge for Los Campeonatos de Parejas. But following their 3rd win at the Young Lions Cup VI event, Donst appeared at ringside, and whispered something in Quackenbush’s ear. This caused Quackenbush to react furiously and attack his partner Storm, ending in Storm fleeing the venue.

The next night, Quackenbush explained his actions, stating that he’d been looking for the mole in the tecnico locker room that had leaked the secret of The CHIKARA Special to Hero and the rudos. When Mantis claimed knowledge of the mole, Quackenbush saw an opportunity when Donst was spirited away by Manis’ Neo Solar Temple. When Mantis THOUGHT Donst had lost his memory, Donst and Quackenbush hatched a plan to earn Mantis’ trust. After weeks of earning the Order’s trust, Mantis confessed to Donst who quickly put the info into Quackenbush’s ear. The traitor amongst the tecnicos was none other than: Shane Storm.

In 2007, Storm had gone on a losing streak he seemingly couldn’t break. The slump was so bad, it caused his friend and partner Jigsaw to end their tag team and depart CHIKARA. Following Jigsaw’s departure, Storm went to Mantis for help on how to beat Mantis’ minion, Hydra. Mantis agreed to trade him a win over Hydra, but at a price. That price being: the secret of countering The CHIKARA Special. Desperate for a win, Storm agreed, and beat Hydra after Mantis bewitched him mid-match. Now, also shunned by the tecnicos, Storm gravitated to Vin Gerard, who pushed and prodded Storm and, in a parody of Jigsaw’s unmasking, became the unrelenting rudo, STIGMA.

Even with the counter to the CHIKARA Special made public, the hold remained quite potent, and in 2009, a new twist on the hold was introduced. New Colony member Carpenter Ant debuted the The Inverted CHIKARA Special to win the card-ending circuit match at "Cibernetico Increible." When Quackenbush asked how he knew the move, Carpenter Ant responded with a cryptic “you’d be surprised at what I know”.

It later came out that Quackenbush had invented the Inverted CHIKARA Special specifically for use by one person: Tim Donst. He had given Donst the move, to give Donst an edge going into the Young Lions Cup VI tournament. Quackenbush demanded to know how Carpenter Ant learned the move, to which Donst sarcastically replied, “he’s from the future!” The arrival of a Carpenter Ant, and a robotic-looking wrestler called Vokoder, had in fact been foretold in the pages of CHIKARA's comic book. This did not ring true to Quackenbush's ears. The truth wouldn’t actually come to light until the advent of the Brüderschaft Des Kreuzes, or BDK.

Donst had joined the BDK to further his own ambitions, and taught the Inverted CHIKARA Special to the rest of the group. This included Carpenter Ant, who unmasked himself, to reveal it was the equally disenchanted Pinkie Sanchez. Due to the positioning of the head, wrist, and leg in the inverted variation, the counter that can be used to escape the standard CHIKARA Special is an impossibility. This submission became the group’s signature hold, and gave the BDK dominant momentum for the rest of the year...until the "Dark Cibernetico."

As Team CHIKARA fought Team BDK, Donst looked to apply the Inverted CHIKARA Special on its’ creator, Mike Quackenbush. Quackenbush, however, had decided this time to keep the counter to the inverted variation to himself. This allowed him to turn the tables on an unsuspecting Donst. Having no means of escape, Donst was eliminated via the hold from the Cibernetico. Following the loss, the Inverted CHIKARA Special has been seen far less frequently, while the CHIKARA Special itself has become symbolic of CHIKARA itself, and the wrestlers that wave its flag.

Shortly thereafter, a resilient rookie known as Green Ant would reveal yet another new variation, The CHIKARA Special: Green. This variation traps both legs, and makes use of a Figure 7 shape, first being debuted at the CHIKARA pay-per-view event "High Noon."

The CHIKARA Special would appear again on June 2, 2013, an infamous date in CHIKARA's long lore. Icarus finally got his shot against reigning Grand Champion Eddie Kingston at "Aniversario: Never Compromise." But with the hold locked in and the match won, as referee Bryce Remsburg went to check on Kingston, members of the privatized security force, Condor Security, stormed the ring at the command of Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur. This initiated a year long shutdown of the company, and sparked Icarus’ voyage for redemption. He and Kingston would meet again at "You Only Live Twice," the first CHIKARA event upon returning to battle not just Condor Security and their overlords, the Titor Conglomerate, but a giant cabal of villains known as The Flood. Icarus once again locked on The CHIKARA Special in the title bout, and finally captured the Grand Championship that had eluded him since the 12 Large: Summit tournament.

The submission would once again save the new champion, when unstoppable force Deucalion scorched a path of destruction through CHIKARA. At Season 14’s finale card, "Tomorrow Never Dies, Deucalion entered the steel cage carrying the masks of luchadores he had dispatched with his brutally effective Chokeslam variant. Icarus went to the cage with his Grand Championship, and carrying the Estonian ThunderFrog’s hammer. Icarus would reverse Deucalion’s lethal move directly into The CHIKARA Special to earn a submission, before putting Deucalion out for good with ThunderFrog’s hammer.

Nearly one year to the day later, Princess KimberLee and her team "Crown & Court" would win the season-long "Challenge of the Immortals" tournament. Each team member was handed a Golden Opportunity at "Top Banana." The Princess would quickly cash in her opportunity on then-Grand Champion, Hallowicked. In a whirlwind sequence, the Princess locked on The CHIKARA Special. She walked out as the first female Grand Champion, and the first female to hold the top championship in a male-dominated organization.

The hold would not make an appearance again until King of Trios 2018. All year, Green Ant and Thief Ant fought to earn the respect of Fire Ant, as well as fellow members of The Colony like Worker Ant and Soldier Ant. As the trios tournament progressed, Green Ant would lock in The CHIKARA Special on Travis Huckabee in a modern retelling of CHIKARA’s historic feud, The Colony vs F.I.S.T. The two stables had been inextricably warring through various line-up changes and more than one decade. Green Ant would once again lock the hold on to win the finals of King of Trios, leading to a celebrated victory for the ants, and earning the stamp of approval from Fire Ant to finally be called official members of The Colony.

Even more recently, the CHIKARA Special appeared at King of Trios 2019, but surprisingly, in the Rey de Voladores mini-tournament. Although it tends to spotlight high-flying wrestling, the Rey de Voladores, as well as Alex Zayne, are not immune to The CHIKARA Special. After being consistently treated as inferior by the Herald of The Crucible, Ophidian, up-and-comer The Whisper looked to distinguish himself with an accolade that Ophidian could not claim. The Whisper met Alex Zayne in the finals of the tournament, and after a hard-fought match, locked on The CHIKARA Special. This win made The Whisper the only 2-time Rey de Voladores ("king of flyers,") proving that in one clear way, The Whisper was actually superior to Ophidian. And while The CHIKARA Special, a symbol of CHIKARA, was an overt statement to The Crucible's Herald, The Whisper continues to follow Ophidian's orders.

To celebrate the positive power of pro-wrestling, CHIKARA originated National Pro Wrestling Day years ago. But it was National Pro Wrestling Day 2020 that saw the most recent appearance by this legendary submission hold. For the final bout of his 25th Anniversary Tour, the innovator of the CHIKARA Special, Mike Quackenbush, deployed the time-honored submission hold against one of his very first proteges, Hallowicked. Not unlike it's maiden voyage in our mythology, the CHIKARA Special has proven to be a kryptonite for Hallowicked as well, giving the tecnicos of all experience levels a vaunted weapon against the most dangerous of rudos.

Contributed by Neil May

ARTICLE: The Princess Who Saves Herself

Posted: October 18, 2019
Princess KimberLee of CHIKARA

The enchanting Princess KimberLee first appeared on the CHIKARA radar in 2013, gracing the ring of our sister promotion, Wrestling Is Fun! Though she dabbled in singles competition during her brief tenure there, the Princess primarily accompanied the primary-color-clad tag team of “Knight Eye For the Pirate Guy”, comprised of Lance Steel, and Jolly Roger. She frequently took credit for any and all of the team’s success. In short order, Kim outgrew the humble confines of Wrestling is Fun!

And so, Princess KimberLee made her proper CHIKARA debut as one-third of Knight Eye For the Pirate Guy in 2014, at the massive King of Trios tournament. Her team lost in the opening round to GEKIDO (made up of the imposter 17, Jigsaw and The Shard,) but the Princess proved that she was no damsel in distress. More than either of her teammates, she took the fight directly to the GEKIDO, never taking a back-step or shortcut.

Slowly amassing more and more impressive wins, Princess KimberLee built her reputation through the Young Lions Cup XI, and then at our celebration of National Pro Wrestling Day 2015. As the gigantic, double round-robin “Challenge of the Immortals” emerged on the horizon, KimberLee was one of dozens of wrestlers that vied to be chosen as a team captain, and despite being a relative newcomer when compared to long-tenured veterans like Hallowicked and Fire Ant, Princess KimberLee was chosen.

Each "Challenge of the Immortals" squad would consist of four members - a team captain plus three handpicked partners. The draft for the tournament took place online, and in each round, KimberLee chose last, often leaving her with a diminished pool of options. With many of the most-proven performers plucked from availability, the Princess ended up with the unlikely combination of perennial losers Los Ice Creams with the time-displaced Jervis Cottonbelly. Dubbing them "Crown and Court," KimberLee set her sights on the tournament prize: a Golden Opportunity for every member of the team, and immortalization in the halls of The Wrestle Factory.

In the early going of “Challenge of the Immortals,” the clear underdogs were Kim's "Crown and Court" quartet, and for months, could not manage to post a win. Just a match away from being mathematically eliminated from the tournament, the Princess took it upon herself to inspire Los Ice Creams, and sang to them as a stunned audience looked on. The team embraced, and this pivotal moment sparked a turning of the tide. After enduring a long losing streak, "Crown and Court" started posting up points, hot off three consecutive upset wins over teams that were more heavily-favored to win the round-robin. As the tournament drew to a close, "Crown and Court" improved their place in the standings dramatically, finishing in Third Place, just one position shy of a berth in the finals.

Fate, or more accurately, fair play, intervened before the tournament reached its climax. Point-leading quartet "Dasher's Dugout" forfeit their points at the insistence of team captain Dasher Hatfield; he discovered that at least some of his team's wins were the result of cheating, and because it was not clear how many of his wins were "tainted" he chose to forfeit them all. Thusly, the Third Place team of "Crown and Court" found themselves inserted into the tournament final of "Challenge of the Immortals."

All eyes were on CHIKARA’s Season 15 Finale event called “Top Banana,” held at the ECW Arena in south Philadelphia. There, "Crown and Court" survived an onslaught from Sidney Bakabella's hulking foursome, "The Wrecking Crew" and in the final moments, they mounted a nigh-unthinkable comeback. To those that were witness to the "Challenge of the Immortals" final, the sight of Princess KimberLee tossing men twice her size, with one German Suplex after another, will remain eternally etched in our memories as a genuine, star-making moment. Victorious over the brawn and brute strength of "The Wrecking Crew," KimberLee and her comrades-in-arms were each presented with a Golden Opportunity, to use where and when they wished. Later on that same night, “Top Banana” would feature then-Grand Champion Hallowicked defending the title against both Icarus and Eddie Kingston. After Hallowicked proved his dominance by retaining the belt, an emboldened Princess would march down the aisle, hand her Golden Opportunity to the referee, and cash in immediately. Mere moments later, KimberLee would author one of the most memorable tales in CHIKARA history, by applying the CHIKARA Special submission hold and forcing Hallowicked to both tap out, and relinquish the big, gold belt!

What made this title change so significant, was not just that it made Princess KimberLee the first female Grand Champion of CHIKARA, but the first female wrestler to hold the top title of what many considered to be a "male-dominated" organization. (There is no division by gender, nor by weight class at CHIKARA.) As guaranteed, her team was immortalized with a regal banner that hangs to this day in the halls of The Wrestle Factory. Kim then went on to defend and retain the Grand Championship over the course of the following five months, defeating the likes of Oleg the Usurper and Heidi Lovelace (now better known as WWE’s Ruby Riott) before losing the championship back to Hallowicked in Glasgow, Scotland at "Aniversario: The Lost World."

Following her title loss, Princess KimberLee went on to have a successful year in her new role as a leader in CHIKARA. She continued a friendly rivalry with Heidi Lovelace up until King of Trios 2016. For this run in the tournament, the Princess formed the "Warriors Three," recruiting Oleg the Usurper and the Estonian ThunderFrog as teammates. Together, "Warriors Three" made it to the semi-finals of the tournament, first defeating Team CWC (Johnny Gargano, Cedric Alexander and Drew Gulak) as well as a trio representing the "Original Divas Revolution" (Mickie James, Jazz and Victoria) before finally facing elimination at the hands of Meiko Satomura and her "Team Sendai Girls" (featuring DASH Chisako and Cassandra Miyagi.)

Season 17 saw the Princess haunted by ghosts of her past, and subject to manipulation at the hands of a mysterious interloper. She went on to defeat supposed friends Fire Ant and Solo Darling in grim and violent fashion, before taking a loss to Ophidian. As the season came to a close, it was revealed that the Princess’ sudden shift in behavior was the result of being blackmailed by newcomer, The Whisper. The Whisper claimed to possess damaging information that would irrevocably taint KimberLee's squeaky-clean reputation. When KimberLee reneged on this arrangement by losing to Ophidian, she handed over her tiara to The Whisper, and made her exit from CHIKARA.

Exiled from CHIKARA under the threat of her secret being revealed, Princess KimberLee would find success in a new kingdom. She began making appearances on NXT's Florida circuit, even teaming again with old friend Lovelace (nee Riott,) until officially debuting in June of 2017 under the alias of "Abbey Laith." On July 13th, the Princess entered the Mae Young Classic, the first-ever women’s tournament held by World Wrestling Entertainment. Going into the tournament, Laith had an immediate advantage. Her inescapable pinning combination, the Alligator Clutch, had been passed down from Mildred Burke to tournament name-sake Mae Young, who taught the hold to Wrestle Factory head trainer Mike Quackenbush...who passed it on to Abbey Laith.

The Alligator Clutch would come in handy. After a stunning victory in the first round against Jazzy Gabert, in which Laith was once again the underdog that would overcome the odds, Laith used the Alligator Clutch to win and eliminate Rachel Evers in the second round. Laith advanced to the quarter-finals where her journey came to an end, eliminated by seasoned pro Mercedes Martinez.

Ditching her "Laith" moniker, Princess KimberLee made her grand return to CHIKARA on April 28th, 2018 at "Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes." There, the Princess announced she would enter the Infinite Gauntlet match. Despite a strong showing in the 33-person battle royal, (which included dumping CHIKARA’s resident menace Merlok on his head via German Suplex,) the Infinite Gauntlet match would ultimately be won by the debuting Danjerhawk.

Thereafter, the past she thought she’d buried came right back to haunt her, in the form of La Loteria Letal 2018. This unique tag team tournament randomly pairs up sixteen CHIKARA roster members and esteemed guests. The winning "odd couple" will have defeated three other duos throughout the tournament, thus earning three points (enough to challenge for Los Campeonatos de Parejas.) Princess KimberLee drew the unluckiest of partners: The Whisper.

Despite the Princess’ absolute disdain for her partner, these arch-enemies went on a rampage through the tournament. With the help of more than a few German Suplexes from the Princess, and Whisper’s use of a very familiar finisher, Lance Steel’s pet move the Boston Crab, Princess KimberLee and The Whisper won La Loteria Letal. With their wins and points, they were next in line to challenge The Closers, the powerful pairing of Sloan Caprice and Rick Roland, at the Season 19 Finale. In an effort to save herself from having to team further with The Whisper, KimberLee chose an opportune moment to launch The Whisper with a German Suplex, sending him sailing through the air, but he collided with, and ultimately landed atop, Sloan Caprice. With Caprice's shoulders both touching the mat, the referee counted three and awarded Los Campeonatos to The Whisper and a dubious Princess.

The odd pairing held on to the titles into the new year and Season 20, defending them against former campeones Crummels & Defarge at the Season 20 opener, National Pro Wrestling Day 2019. Despite all of the Princess’ attempts to sabotage their title run and end the partnership, every attempt backfired and she was forced to endure. KimberLee's feelings toward The Whisper were no secret: at "Once Upon a Beginning," Princess KimberLee challenged her championship partner to a one-on-one match. For the only time in CHIKARA history, the reigning Campeones de Parejas would do battle against one another. After nearly breaking the world record for Most German Suplexes In a Match, the Princess put The Whisper down for the count.

The champions continued to in-fight right up until CHIKARA’s "Fright Knight," where Princess KimberLee effectively threw the match, in a clever manner that prevented The Whisper from seeing her crafty play. This allowed their challengers F.I.S.T. (Travis Huckabee and Tony Deppen) to walk out of the Poconos with the two title belts. While KimberLee thought this would free her from further torment by The Whisper, she would receive a rude awakening just 4 weeks later at "Aniversario: The Apes of Wrath."

Ophidian’s clandestine group, revealed to be "The Crucible," comprised of a group of fighters that participated in an illicit, after-hours training program, made a bold move as the anniversary card closed. Physically attacking Princess KimberLee, The Whisper revealed that he had been blackmailing the Princess, pushing her out of CHIKARA and consistently attempting to ruin her career, because of how she had treated his older brother...Lance Steel. Since last being seen in a CHIKARA ring, Steel had acsended to the rank of "Jewel" within the cruel world of Ophidian's "Crucible." The Whisper asserted that the Princess had used Lance Steel as a literal stepping stone on her way to singles fame and the Grand Championship. Looking back on archival footage, there is evidence to support this claim. This physical attack, coupled with a verbal assault and ugly reckoning cast a dark shadow over the entire event.

Princess KimberLee had some time to consider her past actions and how to move forward. After a hard fought battle against Solo Darling at "Chikarasaurus Rex," The Crucible's self-appointed "Herald," Ophidian, took to the ring and made it clear to the Princess how to be forgiven for her past sins. Team with Lance Steel and make a path for his stardom, starting at King of Trios 2019. A sullen Princess agreed to this penance, and in joining Ophidian's trio, unknowingly took the place of The Whisper as a member of the threesome. In an effort to set old wrongs right, KimberLee must fight alongside Lance Steel once again.

Contributed by Neil May

Blog: Sonny Defarge (8.8.18)

Posted: August 08, 2018

To whom it may concern,

Mr. Crummels and myself made a clear declaration of intent from the moment we made our presence known in CHIKARA: be the most effective and prosperous legitimate businessmen to ever take part in professional wrestling. These intentions have never been altered and are more deliberate than ever. And yet, in spite of our unwavering dedication to our own success, the CHIKARMY, as well as members of the CHIKARA roster were surprised by our actions at Egg Monsters From Mars.

This, quite honestly, tickles me.

The fact that The Beast Warriors are taking our actions as personal attacks is even more humorous. We, as unbiased businessmen, share allegiance with none but our business partners. And some business partners simply have deeper pockets than others.

At this present moment The Beast Warriors, rather than reflecting on their present blessings, have chosen to reflect on past misfortunes. They now stand in the way of the future successes of Mr. Crummels and myself by opposing the two of us at Chikarasaurus Rex. In light of this Saturday's match, I must remind The Beast Warriors that the business in which we've invested ourselves, after all, is called: Professional Wrestling. It is not called "personal wrestling." To this end, no matter how big or strong they may be, the cunning, intelligence and wit of the Crummels and Defarge Business Empire™ will surely lead us to victory. They insist on taking our actions as a personal attack? Then we have no choice now but to deliver to them a very professional beating.

(Legitimate Businessman Extraordinaire)