Retro Review: CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns (5/25/02)

CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns
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CHIKARA has always been an innovator of independent wrestling, founded in 2002 by Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth, and Don Montoya, it was only in 2020 that it closed its doors to the world. We thought it would be interesting to watch their first ever show, CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns, which took place in Allentown, Pennsylvania in front of a capacity crowd of roughly 150 fans. It should be noted that this match card showcased the First Class of CHIKARA (Ultramantis, Mister Zero, Dragonfly, Hallowicked, and Ichabod Slayne) and they did not disappoint. Mike Quackenbush and Bryce Remsberg were on commentary, talking through it from a retrospective approach. So, this is a match-by-match review of CHIKARA Renaissance Dawn.

Singles match
Mister Zero defeated Dragonfly
First impressions of both wrestlers were that they just stood out; were both unique and required more viewing to understand what they were. Mister Zero wearing a mask resembling an office worker with glasses, walking to the ring with a mug of coffee and Dragonfly resembling, well, a dragon fly. They both locked up trading control. Highlight spots of the match were a beautiful dropkick by Dragonfly and many attempts of a victory roll. Mister Zero brought a very unique offense, such as a camel clutch, but at the same time reading the newspaper and even talking to the referee about the news, which was hilarious. Dragonfly also displayed a real aerial threat with a jumping uppercut, followed by a tilt and whirl head scissors before finishing off with a springboard bulldog. The match finished with a nasty looking German suplex and a Last Shaven Unicorn drop for the three count. In general, this match showcased both students’ skills and as the first ever CHIKARA bout, it really shows what CHIKARA is all about. A good way to kick off CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns.

A promo then came from Mike Quackenbush, calling out Gold Bond Mafia and resulting in the announcement of the main event, being Gold Bond Mafia (CM Punk, Chris Hero & Colt Cabana) vs The Black T-Shirt Squad (Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth and Don Montoya).

Tag Team Match
The Beauty And The Beast (Love Bug & Marshall Law) defeated The Night Shift (Hallowicked & Ichabod Slayne)
This match showcased two CHIKARA students, that being Hallowicked and Ichabod Slayne. For most of the match, The Night Shift wore down Love Bug, which only built up to the moment for the hot tag to Marshall Law. Love Bug hit a beautiful stunner on Hallowicked. Then, Marshall Law was tagged in and ran rampage on The Night Shift before being stopped by Ichabod Slayne before Night Shift took control with multiple stomps to the downed Marshall Law. The match ended with Love Bug locking in a reverse Boston crab on Ichabod Slayne for the submission win. This match felt a bit disjointed and the finish was a bit sudden, possibly due to the inexperience of The Night Shift. The match was solid but nothing compared to the matches that Hallowicked and Icarus would wrestle in the future.

Singles Match
Kid Kruel defeated. Zane Madrox
This next match included no students, which was refreshing; these were two new wrestlers to watch and both wrestlers out-shone themselves. According to Quackenbush, this was Madrox’s first ever match, which was impressive because he performed so well. Highlights of the match were a very clean monkey flip by Madrox to Kruel and a very hard-hitting elbow drop by Kruel to return the favor. The match finished, again, abruptly; with Kruel locking in an armbar to get the submission win. This match was short and succinct and introduced the crowd to two talented independent wrestlers.

Singles Match
Blind Rage vs. Ultramantis
For the seasoned CHIKARA fans, this next match is between two legends of CHIKARA and two more students of the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory. It was Blind Rage Vs. Ultramantis. First off, Ultramantis’ attire was amazing and, like Quackenbush, mentioned was a clear tribute to Kamen Rider and Ultraman from Japan. This match really showed these two wrestlers have potential. Ultramantis performed high-speed lucha moves, such as a springboard arm drag, but Blind Rage then replied with his own offence – such as multiple rolling sentons to a lying Ultramantis, as well a textbook tilt ‘a’ whirl backbreaker. Blind Rage also executed a smooth and quick DDT to get momentum. The match finished with Blind Rage hitting a Gory bomb for the 1,2,3. It was smooth and could was a real contender for match of the night. Both wrestlers were quick but that did not compromise their quality at all.

Six Man Tag Team Match
The Gold Bond Mafia (Chris Hero, CM Punk & Colt Cabana) vs. The Black T-Shirt Squad (Don Montoya, Mike Quackenbush & Reckless Youth)
The main event of CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns, and CHIKARA’s first ever main event, was precisely that: a main event. This match pitted the The Black T-Shirt Squad Vs. Gold Bond Mafia. Throughout the match, it seemed there were 3 main match ups throughout; Colt Cabana vs Reckless Youth, Mike Quackenbush vs Chris Hero and Don Montoya vs CM Punk. Everyone pulled their weight and the match went just over 30 minutes long, but it did not feel that long – such was the enjoyment factor. The match started off very slow, with grappling and mat wrestling to start but slowly it built up in intensity which brought upon some amazing spots, such as Don Montoya diving to the outside; Reckless Youth performing an assai Moonsault to Colt Cabana and an amazing exchange of moves between Quackenbush and Hero, which ended with Hero hitting a brutal looking piledriver. The match built to a crescendo, with Quackenbush hitting a frankenstiener on Colt Cabana and then Reckless Youth nailed his driver finisher for the win. After the match, Reckless Youth then talked to the crowd and thanked Gold Bond Mafia; even calling them the “new shining stars of the independents” and he was not wrong at all.

Final Evaluation
In conclusion, this show set the precedent of CHIKARA and was the start of something special which would last nearly 19 years. The match of the night was the main event because of the different combinations of match ups we had in the match. Performer of the night was Don Montoya, as he simply exceeded every expectation. CHIKARA The Renaissance Dawns is a must-watch for any indie wrestling fan who wants to watch history.

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