Professional wrestling is returning to Richmond next month, but in a way most people have never experienced, even if you’re a diehard fan. On Sunday, October 26th, Philadelphia based promotion CHIKARA will make its Richmond debut at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in the mid-afternoon for its “Moonraker” event, which is sure to wow even a great wrestling city like Richmond.
Professional wrestling is returning to Richmond next month, but in a way most people have never experienced, even if you’re a diehard fan. On Sunday, October 26th, Philadelphia based promotion CHIKARA will make its Richmond debut at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in the mid-afternoon for its “Moonraker” event, which is sure to wow even a great wrestling city like Richmond. No matter what style of wrestling you’ve been exposed to over the years (WWE, NWA/WCW, ECW, et cetera), CHIKARA is going to deliver a product that is not only completely unique from top to bottom, but also one of the most enjoyable you’ll ever see.
CHIKARA, which is Japanese for strength, was formed in 2002 in Pennsylvania by journeymen Mike Quackenbush and Reckless Youth in order to showcase the talent emerging from their new wrestling school, the Wrestle Factory, as well as show some of the top wrestlers from the independent scene in a completely different light. Since 2002, this federation has developed a solid fan base despite operating in one of the most competitive areas for pro wrestling in the world. In the alphabet soup world of independent wrestling, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Over the past twelve years, though, CHIKARA have not only been able to build a steady, cult-like following, but have also set themselves apart as arguably one of the top three independent promotions in the country.
So what makes CHIKARA so unique? The CHIKARA style of wrestling is heavily influenced by lucha libre, or Mexican wrestling, so you will see a lot of quick sequences full of acrobatic maneuvers as well as an abundance of colorful masks. You can find traces of these things in other promotions, but what you can’t find elsewhere is the characters and storylines that CHIKARA offers. The gimmicks in CHIKARA are some of the most unique in the professional world, and CHIKARA, above all other promotions, really embrace that pro wrestling is a fantasy show of sorts and the closest you’ll get to having comic books recreated in real life. For an example of the pageantry of CHIKARA, look no further than their roster page which has pictures of colorful (and wonderfully silly) characters such as Dasher Hatfield, Jervis Cottonbelly, The Colony, and Archibald Peck. CHIKARA’s unique performance can also be perfectly summed up in the hilarious video “Most illegal Thing I’ve Seen in the History of Wrestling!” that went viral a few years ago, despite being taken down multiple times.
I mentioned comic books and CHIKARA is a company almost catered for fans of the nerdy medium. The storylines are often modeled after comic book story arcs, and a good chunk of the characters themselves definitely take on a superhero persona/mindset with their characters. The comic book connection really becomes apparent when you look at the DVD covers for past events. You can check out a pretty in-depth look at some of the more apparent comic book/DVD connections CHIKARA has had over the years by taking a look at this page. The comic books references aren’t all, though, as the promotion has also used a time-travelling plot device (complete with a DeLorean). Plus, from looking at the event names in 2014, someone there is clearly a big James Bond fan.
CHIKARA isn’t just some trivial wrestling federation, though. Over the years, they have featured many appearances by current WWE stars during their time on the independent scene. Daniel Bryan (then known as Bryan Danielson), Sin Cara (Incognito), and Luke Harper (Brodie Lee) themselves all competed in several CHIKARA events over the years. If you look to WWE’s developmental system NXT, you’ll find more with Adrian Neville (PAC), Solomon Crowe (Sami Callihan), and even referee Drake Wuertz (Drake Younger) performing in the promotion. Perhaps the two biggest stalwarts of CHIKARA that you can now find in WWE would be Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli, one half of the first CHIKARA tag team champions) and NXT’s Sami Zayn (allegedly the everyman luchador El Generico). CHIKARA definitely has an eye for talent and a penchant for getting the best wrestlers to perform on their shows.
If you’re a wrestling fan, there’s no way you won’t enjoy when CHIKARA comes to town, especially if you were a fan of Richmond Lucha Libre/Lucha RVA. Even if you’re not, I guarantee you the hilarious spectacle of it all, mixed with the great action, will be better than anything you’re doing that Sunday night. CHIKARA’s coming, Richmond, and after you see them once, you’ll know why they’ve been one of the most talked-about promotions of the past decade.
Tickets to CHIKARA’s Moonraker show at the Greater Richmond Convention Center start at $20 and can be purchased by clicking here.