In September 2012, a friend and I drove over 1,200 kms to see a 3-day professional wrestling tournament. This was not just any tournament though, this was Chikara Pro’s King of Trios. 16 triads vying for the prestigious title in Easton, Pennsylvania. It collected some of the best independent wrestlers in the world going toe to toe. This might not sound like your idea of a wonderful vacation, but it was certainly mine.
I was very excited to see the young talents that were on the cards that are now the up and coming stars of the major promotions like NJPW, WWE and AEW. Names like Johnny Gargano, Orange Cassidy and the Young Bucks. At the same time, we got to see some legends in their twilight years like Sean Waltman (X-Pac, Syxx), Demolition, Tito Santana, Powers of Pain, and Tatanka.
The wrestling was certainly impressive and I learned some names of young talents to watch that I’d never known before, but there were two very special unplanned events that occurred that made this trip even more spectacular. The first happened as we passed by New York City. If you’ve never driven in NYC, there seems to be 12 lanes with exits heading every which way. As I was driving, I was not sure where I was to go and I chose the very worst possible exit. Next thing you know, we are heading down Park Place and turning on to Broadway as we ventured into the heart of the city trying desperately to get back to the Lincoln Tunnel and back on the highway. My friend couldn’t resist the moment and hung out the window snapping pictures making sure everyone knew we were certainly tourists. I was thrilled for him as he had never been to NYC before but I was rattled to say the least. We came out unscathed, but my blood pressure is still a little high since this incident.
The next was a special part of the wrestling festivities that we weren’t originally going to be attending. For the uninitiated to Chikara Pro Wrestling, you have to understand that this is a fully family affair. Kids under 12 get in free, many of the wrestlers’ wear masks as a tribute to lucha libre and make it more fun for all while any kind of vulgarity or foul language is not tolerated. The good guys (technicos) had names like the tag team of Los Ice Creams (Ice Cream Jr, and El Hijo Del Ice Cream which means Son of Ice Cream), a trio of ants known as the Colony consisting of Fire Ant, Green Ant and Soldier Any and an old-time baseball player who wore a baseball mask with a big moustache named Dasher Hatfield. The bad guys (rudos) had names like Mr. Touchdown who dressed as a high school football player. He was a cocky, rude jock who called everybody “nerd” and would challenge you to any type of sporting event. There was a group of evil ants who were known as the Swarm with names like DeviANT, AssailANT and CombatANT.
On the Saturday afternoon of the weekend, they held what was called the fan conclave. All the wrestlers stayed in character for two hours and it was held in the community rec center where the event was taking place. You could get autographs, photos and buy t-shirts which is customary at all these events. It’s how the wrestlers make the majority of their money. Aside from this though they had Mr. Touchdown setup with a kid’s soccer net and he would challenge anyone to try and score on him. He had a football and would play 1 on 1 with kids as their fathers or another wrestler threw a pass and he defended it. If they missed or he blocked it, he’d taunt his opponent with “Nerd!” yet again. They had a large table setup where you could challenge a wrestler to a selection of board games they had. They had an arts and crafts area where the kids were being shown by several wrestlers how to make their own construction paper wrestling masks. The “Rock N Roll” ring announcer Gavin Loudspeaker had an acoustic guitar and was taking requests to play and sing with the kids. It had something for everyone of every age to appreciate and do. This was by far the highlight of the trip for me. It was here that my love of independent pro wrestling was ignited and continues to grow to this day. If this sounds interesting to you, Chikara runs in seasons like a TV show and can be found on Amazon Prime.
If you’ve never been to a local independent wrestling show, I’d encourage you to take one in even if you have a passing interest in wrestling. You’d be surprised how many shows are held in your very own community on a regular basis. Support these men and women as they work extremely hard to hone their craft and makes for a very entertaining and often engaging night out!