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Opinion

Cook: Two Strikes, CHIKARA’s Out

In the wake of allegations against Mike Quackenbush, CHIKARA has been shut down. Steve Cook offers his perspective on wrestling’s (former) fun zone.

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In the wake of allegations against Mike Quackenbush, CHIKARA has been shut down. Steve Cook offers his perspective on wrestling’s (former) fun zone.

CHIKARA was supposed to be a different world from pro wrestling.

It was many things to many different people. For parents, it was a family friendly show that they could feel comfortable taking their children to. There wasn’t blood & guts or offensive language or stories to deal with. For kids, it was a fun world of outlandish characters, many with colorful costumes & cool masks. As for people in their 20s without kids, as I was during the time CHIKARA became an Internet favorite, it featured some really fun wrestling matches with some interesting storylines.

I have some very fond memories of CHIKARA. When they finally came close enough to my residence in 2012, I went to a show with a fellow offtheteam.com poster. It was a great time, and an opportunity to see some of my favorite wrestlers that I hadn’t seen live before. The wrestlers were very friendly, I even remember striking up a conversation with Dasher Hatfield due to my Reds hat. I also remember the venue being nice enough to serve mixed drinks. It was a good night of wrestling.

I also remember hearing Larry Csonka’s stories about his daughter’s love of CHIKARA. She wasn’t much into the other five hundred wrestling promotions that Larry would review for 411, but CHIKARA really struck her fancy. If only I had a car capable of making the trip down to Kingsport, Tennessee, my first meeting with the Csonkas could have been at a CHIKARA show. Sadly, I did not. I still don’t, as wrestling writing isn’t the most lucrative of careers unless you’re Matt Brock or Elizabeth Hunter and have written for the same magazine for fifty years.

Unlike most wrestling promotions during the late 2000s & early 2010s, CHIKARA was steadily growing. Their events were getting bigger with each “season”. More and more of pro wrestling’s best made their way to the fed. The King of Trios events were full of wrestlers you never would have expected to see in a CHIKARA ring when Quackenbush & Reckless Youth opened a wrestling school in 2002. Whatever Quackenbush was doing, it was working. He seemed like he had his finger on the pulse of his audience more than any other independent wrestling booker/promoter out there.

Then it all ended. The first time.

June 2, 2013 saw CHIKARA’s fourth iPPV, and their last event for nearly a year. The main event saw CHIKARA’s “Director of Fun” Wink Vavasseur shut down the show, and that was it. No more CHIKARA. Well…kinda. Suddenly, all these “Wrestling Is” promotions popped up. Wrestling Is Cool. Wrestling is Heart. It continued with Intense, Art, Respect, Awesome & Fun. They featured various CHIKARA wrestlers along with local wrestlers from the areas where the feds were promoted.

I can’t tell you a lot about what happened there because I didn’t watch any of them. A large part of it was laziness. Who had the time to follow all of these new promotions? I sure didn’t. I liked CHIKARA, but quite honestly it was easier to fill that void with something other than seven independent wrestling feds.

And as it turns out, once that void gets filled, the previous owner can’t take it back. When CHIKARA came back, I was happy that people had somewhere to work. Did I get back into it? Not really. I had other stuff going on. A lot of us did. It wasn’t out of a place of hate, though I must admit that the circumstances behind CHIKARA’s disappearance seemed a little fishy. I must also admit that I didn’t buy the story fed to wrestling media that it was a big storyline, and felt somewhat insulted by Mike Quackenbush’s insistence at the time that the people that didn’t get it and tuned out weren’t a big loss.

I’ve interacted with Mike Quackenbush a number of times via social media. Can’t say anything bad about the guy from my personal dealings. Very insistent on kayfabe. I was a huge fan of his in-ring work. Dude was as solid a wrestler as there was back in the day. I can’t personally speak on anything past that, but have I heard some weird stories? You betcha.

There were some interesting rumors floating around back in 2013 when CHIKARA closed the first time. Reasons there wasn’t as much money available to CHIKARA. Nothing that was ever confirmed, but, as it turns out, pretty similar to the type of stuff we’re talking about here in 2020. And, to be honest, those stories seem more plausible now as we’re able to connect more dots.

One trend that keeps popping up in this movement: the people that professed to be the most in favor of equality, fairness & inclusiveness keep being revealed as the opposite. CHIKARA was all about Equal Rights & Equal Fights. Kimber Lee even won their Grand Championship at one point. CHIKARA helped influence women to get into the business, gave women a platform, and trained a number of women.

Now, we find out that CHIKARA wasn’t as different from the rest of pro wrestling as we thought. On-screen, it was a magical world where the strangest things could happen in a pro wrestling ring and it all made sense to its audience. Off-screen…well, things were strange, but not in a magical way. A lot of the same things we’ve been hearing about the past few days happened there, and the owner was either the cause or part of the problem. No matter how well-spoken or knowledgeable Mike Quackenbush may be, it’s going to be tough for him to squirm his way out of this one.

CHIKARA is dead. Presumably for good this time.

While its creator & some of his students may have been bad actors, the company still produced a lot of great talent. Hopefully that great talent will be able to produce something better for the wrestling business going forward. Now that people are Speaking Out and being heard, hopefully CHIKARA’s demise can lead to something like what Mike Quackenbush claimed his promotion to be all along.

Wrestling needs a fun place.


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Opinion

King: Plotting The Return Of Randy Orton To WWE

Chris King is back with his look at the best scenario to bring Randy Orton back to WWE, and the perfect opponent for his first big match back.

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Chris King is back with his look at the best scenario to bring Randy Orton back to WWE, and the perfect opponent for his first big match back.

I wanted to bring everyone’s attention to a superstar that’s being overshadowed right now, ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton. After RKBRO lost the Raw Tag Team Championships to The Uso’s, Orton vanished from the company. There was speculation about his serious back injury and, it wasn’t until The Viper’s wife herself posted a candid picture of Orton after successful surgery.

While the focus in WWE right now is either on The Bloodline, Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy, or the returning Cody Rhodes, I felt this was a good time to start plotting The Viper’s return to WWE.

Randy Orton’s Return to WWE

On the Raw-After-Mania ‘The American Nightmare’ opens the show after a tough battle over Roman Reigns to win the WWE Championship. Rhodes with tears in his eyes is giving an emotional promo about his family’s legacy, and how much this title means to him. The WWE Universe is chanting “You Deserve It,” and out comes Finn Balor flanked by The Judgement Day.

‘The Prince’ starts by congratulating the new champion for dethroning ‘The Tribal Chief’ but, now he wants his title shot. Rhodes being the resilient hero accepts Balor’s challenge for the main event. The American Nightmare and The Prince are putting on a clinic of a match, delivering multiple finishers but unable to put the other away. Judgement Day starts to interfere when Orton’s music blares throughout the arena. Orton takes out the heels and helps his former protege. Rhodes capitalizes and hits Crossroads for the 1.2.3.

The former Legacy members are celebrating and embracing with a hug as Rhodes goes to raise his newly-won title. In the blink of an eye, The Viper strikes and takes out Rhodes with an RKO Outta Nowhere! The champion is knocked out as Orton hoists the title above his head while trash-talking his now rival. Orton violently throws Rhodes out of the ring and delivers a nasty-looking draping DDT onto the floor.

The Build–And Culmination–of Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

Orton stares giving 2009 vibes as Rhodes’ head raises, so The Viper runs and delivers a punt kick. WWE officials come out and break things up and the champion is stretchered out of the arena. The show closes with Orton grinning over the destruction he has caused to his former protege. Over the next few months, Orton and Rhodes enter into an extremely personal rivalry over the coveted prize. We finally make it to SummerSlam where both men agree to raise the stakes and do war inside HELL IN A CELL!!!!

This is how I would book The Viper’s return to WWE. If you feel like this should be written differently, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Opinion

AJ’s Phenomenal Opinion: Bray Wyatt

So everyone loves Bray’s return right? Right? Well the McDonald’s Sprite spicy opinions of AJ…may feel differently.

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Well, just because my work schedule changed, doesn’t mean I’m not going to drop some opinions of mine, of which, I haven’t done too bad with. I got Three out of Five for my returns right a few months back and this is going to be about the last entry on that previous list. I knew for a fact that Bray Wyatt would return to the WWE in some way shape or form and time for some… controversy.

As my favorite ratings winner of 83 Weeks once said, Controversy Creates Cash and boy HOWDY… Do I have something to get off my chest here so sit back, order some Chairshot Merch and lets get on with Adam’s… Rants for a bit.

Initial Thoughts

Bray coming in and making a return to the WWE was an inevitability. Death, Taxes and I guess WWE Returns are always guaranteed anymore and maybe we could get some new creativity with a supernatural gimmick. Bray has always had that supernatural to him ever since he had the Wyatt Family in Erik Rowan, the late Luke Harper and in the end, Braun Strowman. The Wyatt’s had a control like no other and were beloved for a moment in the WWE.

Bray did a lot to make sure things were in motion but for some reason any massive feud he had, he failed. Following a bunch of injuries to the rest of his family and even releases later on, he seemed to at least get some traction going for him. WWE Champion, somehow got Randy Orton with him, Universal Championships and got those big match wins that eluded him in the Wyatt Family beginnings. Let me also say this as well, I actually liked the Firefly Funhouse Match with Cena as a “This is Your Life” match of sorts. I was tickled and entertained… Then much like Bray in character, something changed.

Dark and Terrible Lurk with Fiends

We had a lot to figure out during the Pandemic. Like A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT. Through it all though, WWE figured it out but the person that helped these types of ideas, soured them drastically. Lets go back to the WWE Championship run in 2017. Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble that year and he wouldn’t betray Bray, right? Well he does and Mania for the two is set, Orton against Wyatt for the WWE Championship and it was… terrible. Random images of maggots and decay (Not the IMPACT Stable) popping up into the ring as the match goes on and Randy still wins. Through head game attempts, Bray comes up short in the big match moment. That’s odd but maybe it will be a bigger pictu– and Jinder Mahal wins the Championship. Okay.

Wyatt returns as this Mister Rogers character and has a darkness inside of him with The Fiend. Now we had this amazing theory or maybe that’s what happened but the story was, anyone The Fiend fought, they revert back to their best selves. The Miz returned to be the A Lister, the guy who grabs a microphone that you love to hate. Finn Balor doesn’t have the Demon Gimmick anymore because after his loss, he’s the Prince again. The cocky guy that walks around because he is the best, he gives no care in the world. Seth Rollins, who he took the WWE Universal Championship from, went from a dorky sweetheart back to the asshole taking every opportunity that he could get because he’s that much of a weasel and when he lost… He lost to Goldberg. The one guy that has been the same since 1997. Drums, Pyro Bath, Spear, Jackhammer, “Who’s Next?” and during that time, he sucked at points. One of those Rollins matches was in a Hell In A Cell match, the red cage with the red lighting. Match ending with a Stoppage from the referee… INSIDE OF A HELL IN A CELL (I think Sean Waltman said it best… Why did the match stop? It’s supposed to be Hell?) and it’s one of the rare times that I agreed with wrestling’s favorite Uncle… That was Negative Stars for a match.

After Goldberg, he didn’t have a commanding presence. He recruited Alexa Bliss who was already over whether she was a Heel or Face and made everything so unbelievably… boring. Alexa had to carry that idiotic demon gimmick and doll, not having anything really supernatural. Just some wrestling and Brock Lesnar cleaning up everything faster than a Chop Shop in main events and segments. He tried to return and make his grand return, beating the Universal Champion Braun Strowman at Summerslam just to falter a literal week later to Roman Reigns, who proceeded to never look back from that win. Bray gets fired after and no more supernatural ideas. Undertaker isn’t around really and retires, Kane is a mayor. Paul Bearer is no longer with us and everything is just… normal.

Wyatt’s Six (Reasons I Tune Out)

In 2022, Vince retires seemingly from everything and Triple H is at the helm, could he bring balance to everything? He makes a bunch of returns that people love seeing. Johnny Gargano, Dakota Kai, Tegan Nox, Bronson Reed, Dexter Lumus just to name a few and of course, the big one that everyone wanted. Bray Wyatt.

Bray makes this heartfelt return and everything seems great. We get him as him, he makes this weird build to a Wyatt 6, assuming we think it’s the Firefly Funhouse and he’s just talking, building. Alright well who is going to be these six figures because they are more than just puppets this time around. A masked man named Uncle Howdy that people think is Vincent Marseglia or maybe a bearded Bo Dallas who is Bray’s real life brother and he……… pops in and out to confuse people. Okay… (1)

Alexa might return to the 6 because of all the segments and gets darker and a heel. Alright that is perfectly fine but, WHY IS VINCENT DALLAS HERE AGAIN TO JUST INTERFERE WITH RANDOM THINGS? Okay… fine. (2) Alexa has a Women’s Championship match against Bianca Belair, that will make sense of thi– it’s a clean finish… Why is it clean? No Howdy, No Wyatt just a random VHS tape like I’m watching The Ring about her being dark after the match. Okay…… (3)

Oh Wyatt finally gets a feud for his return. I almost forgot about that! Who will be this first victim? LA Knight.

…Okay…… (4)

Maybe this will be good. They are both great on the microphone, maybe Bray has new moves that he can do and I know all too well how good LA Knight is, I have been an Eli Drake/Shaun Ricker fan for years. This could be a great match that they have, they announced it for the Royal Rumble so it’s going to be big and it’s a… Pitch Black Match presented by Mountain Dew.

O…okay…… (5)

The Royal Rumble is upon us, the Men’s Rumble starts the show and we all have adrenaline in our soul for it and now is this weird Pitch Black Match and it’s not a cinematic match. It’s in the ring, No Count Outs and No Disqualifications. LA Knight comes out in his iconic Yellow Attire and Wyatt is talking… with a mask on. The lights turn off and the ropes are glowing a neon greenish-yellow… with an announce table spot that… has Nickelodeon Slime inside of it when they break it? Okay fine… I knew the match was going to be dumb and gimmicky from the Mountain Dew Sponsorship. Bray wins, yay. LA Knight comes back with a Kendo Stick and… we get invulnerable Bray again… they don’t hurt. Lets go to this crash pad and Bo Marseglia shows up from somewhere and just elbow drops him from maybe fifteen to twenty feet with pyro and the Firefly Funhouse Puppets appear at the top, to watch a fire… And there is number six…

Actual Thoughts on Current Bray Wyatt, Post Rumble

I absolutely hate it.


This was awful. You build whatever insignificant thought process of the Wyatt 6 has going for it when Uncle Howdy does the best Cap’n Shane O elbow drop for a hellfire effect. At least the pyro was better than the AEW Explosion Match I guess…

Regardless, how does LA Knight come out of all of this moving forward? He lost an idiotic gimmick match and looks presumed dead. This just makes me think that whoever in whatever interview said Bray Wyatt is a creative mastermind needs to put whatever they have down before we hear about their T.O.D. posted somewhere. This Pitch Black Match is somehow worse than that Rollins Hell in a Cell Match and that takes talent. At least a good amount of alcohol lulled that from my brain but this made me remember that and enjoy the thought of that match happening with its finish. The best way I can picture how this was pitched was Burnt Dogshit, wrapped in a Kerosine Blanket with… sorry had to look at what I wrote, not putting that on websites but… people saw a Creative Quesadilla and when we got the actual product, it gave Salmonella poisoning and E Coli at the same time.

I really don’t want to see another Bray Wyatt match… again. Whoever gave him creative, take it away immediately. As much steam as Bray Wyatt gets in promos or possible matches in the past, the only steaming he gets at the end, is steaming piles of shit. You can say, he’s getting paid millions where I’m a little troll on the internet with typing power and I really don’t care but to me, Triple H… you finally got your first failing grade with something in your leadership role in WWE.


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