The World Is Not Enough: A Chikara Road Diary

As some of you may remember, I love Chikara and will tell anyone about it whether they’re willing to listen or not. Last week I somehow managed to sneak a Chikara show into my boyfriend’s vacation plans, so if you would like to remain spoiler-free for the Boston (and a little bit of the New York) show, I suggest you bookmark this for when you get caught up, or whenever people get tired of talking about The Rock’s fanny pack.

As always, a friendly reminder to follow With Spandex here, the UPROXX mothership here, and me here if you’re so inclined. Show photos were provided by the incomparable Zia Hiltey, who is sincerely one of the nicest, most talented people you could hope to know. We like comments (in theory), and we definitely love when you share stuff around. It keeps With Spandex as a real thing, and I’d like it to stay that way for as long as possible.

Part One: Road Diaries Are Hard

My initial intent was to keep track of each day of my trip, like a wrestling road diary but without Colt Cabana shouting and hurling his asshole at you every few minutes. It didn’t quite work out as planned, so I’m going to try to condense the four days leading up to the show without melting down and referring to Jigsaw as having hands like folded paper cranes or something.

The thing is I feel like I packed so much into each day it’s nearly impossible to retell, let alone make it sound like a relaxing seaside vacation. One of those problems is that I am nearly incapable of relaxing. If at least 63% of my day isn’t fueled by stress things start breaking down and I end up feeling like a lunatic. One of the worst parts of being an adult with a broken brain is that when you’re not focused on fixing things or doing things or dealing with something completely catastrophic, your brain decides to create things to be sad about, so you end up not being able to fall asleep because you’re too busy dwelling on that one embarrassing thing you did when you were six years old and it is the worst thing to ever happen to a human being ever. Sitting on a sunny beach doing nothing sounds like heaven to most people, but the thought is anathema to people like me.

The first day started with me working a condensed shift at my real-life retail job, selling shoes to disinterested teens and finicky old people. Morning shifts mean that business will be slow, we’ll do a lot of returns from people’s rush shopping jobs on the weekend, and spend far too long dealing with the elderly. I don’t know why the mall is a hub for octogenarians, but at times it feels like some shitty alternate ending to Logan’s Run, where instead of people going to Carousel at age 30, they are transported to a suburban mall at 65, left to while out the rest of their days falling asleep in comfortable leather chairs next to the elevator, or telling beleaguered retail workers about how they can never find shoes wide enough ever since they got the gout. There’s a scene in an early Murder She Wrote episode where someone asks Jessica Fletcher if she’s a doctor, and she responds “No, but I’m a writer, so I’m basically qualified.” I might be paraphrasing here, but that’s sometimes how I feel after an opening shift. I’ve heard so much about gout and bunions and all manner of diseases that I’ll never be able to scrub that knowledge (or the sight of them) from my brain.

The other downside to this is old people deciding to casually confront their own mortality. Informing our elder customers of our 14-day return policy usually elicits a “Well, if I’m even around that long!” or a cheerful “If I can make it past two weeks, I’m sure these shoes can too!” It’s jarring to say the least, especially when there’s a crying baby behind them, and Cat’s In The Cradle plays gently in the background like a terrible student film interpretation of the Circle of Life, or that one Live video (essentially the same thing). I chuckle nervously and hand them their receipt, the angel opens her eyes…

Getting on the road is a rush of panic, frantically running around making sure that everything is packed and ready to go. Do I have enough underwear for the trip, what if it rains, should I bring seven pairs of Chuck Taylors even though I’ll be wearing flip flops on the beach just in case? The answer is no, but I still packed five pairs of shoes because my super power is packing too much but never enough of what I actually need. The drive was hassle-free, I got a delicious TLT from Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse, and a fantastic night’s sleep at the Sheraton in Springfield, MA. In the morning we made a quick detour to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden (because hey, why not), then drove straight on to our seaside destination.

Part Two: Fear Is a Shore Thing

Maine is really weird to me. As someone from Nova Scotia, Maine always seemed like the low-rent American version, but with more fried food. It’s not a knock on Maine; it’s similar enough to be comforting, but different enough to simultaneously intriguing and frustrating. Old Orchard Beach is “seven miles of beautiful, sandy beach,” as my boyfriend’s father will tell you. Their family used to go often, so it’s filled with happy adolescent memories for Matthew. It takes a while for me. Growing up as country as possible, but also being within spitting distance of the ocean lent a much different experience for me as a kid.

When I was little we lived in Hants County, but would take fun trips to Martinique Beach, or Parrsboro (always with a stop at the Rock & Mineral Shop), and smaller trips to Dollar Lake. But they were quiet visits, no screaming roller coasters or drunk vacationers drinking maritime-themed alcoholic beverages and shoving their faces full of fried dough. If we just wanted to go in the water, the Shubenacadie River ran right behind our house, so it was just a quick trip down through the woods for swimming and mudsliding, and occasionally finding livestock that had lost its footing close to the edge and washed up in our backyard. Internationally it’s known for its Tidal Bore and having the highest tides in the world, but for people of a certain age we’ll always remember the story of the elderly European tourist who got dragged into the undertow and died. In the winter, massive, dangerous ice floes fill the river, and at night it’s so quiet that you can hear them cracking and crashing into one another. For a few years, the dog belonging to the neighbours opposite us would jump from floe to floe, somehow making his way across the river. It took half an hour to drive him back, but the Boxer was somehow always fine, affable and dopey, and completely unaware of the danger he put himself into. Thinking about all of these places pulls at my heart and makes me the kind of homesick that damn near makes you nauseous, but when I get there, it’s unfathomable that anyone could feel the same way about Old Orchard Beach.

It usually takes about a day of me being the most miserable sod on the planet before I can start to enjoy myself. It’s loud, and the tourists (usually from Massachusetts, but especially from Quebec) are a mix of scummy drunks and upper-middle class white people. It’s loud and it’s brash, with a covered pier of shops and restaurants, a permanent carnival, and a main street of fried-everything takeout installations and at least seven places to buy neon printed tank tops that say things like “SUNS OUT GUNS OUT” and “COOL STORY BRO.” YOLO was maybe the best thing to ever happen to these businesses. Even if I weren’t vegan, I am deathly allergic to shellfish, so the charm of walking down a crowded street filled with cigarette smoke eating fried clam strips is a magic that I’ll never be able to experience.

By the second day I’m usually settled in. The beach is crowded, but if I’ve got a good book, my umbrella, and 100+ SPF sunscreen, I can find a way to tune it out. Last year was a huge step towards learning how to enjoy this relaxation people talk about, so it came a little easier this time. I also prefer reading on the beach because despite my steadfast ties to the ocean, I am terrified of the water. I can’t swim, and waiting so long to learn turned a minor inconvenience into an irrational fear. Learning to swim in the river was hard with the undercurrents (if they could catch and drown a full-grown cow, a small child with the athletic ability of Great Khali never stood a chance), and you had to pay to go to the pool in town. We couldn’t afford much growing up, let alone luxuries like swimming lessons, so I remain landbound into adulthood.

The second issue, which is much sadder but also sadly predictable, is that I haven’t got a stitch to wear. Finding bathing suits or bikinis to fit are usually a $60+ expenditure, which is insane and I refuse to pay that on principle alone. Being a person who also possesses a heaping dose of body issues with a dollop of dysmorphia, the idea of being that exposed is almost as scary as being in the deep end of the pool without a flotation device. But the beach is a funny thing. We’re bombarded with products that will help get us “bikini-ready,” articles and magazine covers devoted to getting into swimsuit shape. But the thing is, that shape doesn’t actually matter when you’re there. Function overrides form, and people become less concerned about stretchmarks or how their swimsuits sit on their hips, and more about whether or not they can tan effectively, or move in the water, or just forget everything because they’re having fun. That’s never really happened to me before, but there’s something empowering about seeing that many people simply not care about how they look. If I could, I would take that aspect of Old Orchard Beach with me wherever I go.

Emboldened by my observances on the first beach day, I took a mini-adventure to find a swim top (a herculean feat, I can promise you), and $12 and a drive back from Scarbourough later I was holding my breath and jumping into a breaking wave. I wish I could say it was fun right off the bat, but it was cold and scary and sometimes the waves would get higher than my head and I still see them when I close my eyes sometimes? I feel like that last part might not be a good thing, but it was a rough go, and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t. But if I could conquer one fear, why not go for as many as possible? I don’t like being underwater, I hate getting water in my ears (having tube sin my ears as a kid has made me especially paranoid), and I hate my face getting wet. These are very real weird things about me that I probably shouldn’t be confessing in a wrestling feature, but you need to know that taking the step from reading about the birth of highways in the USA to playing in the waves like a normal, well-adjusted person is A Very Big Deal.

I stayed in the ocean for hours that day, until the tide was almost fully in, and the waves carried me past the sandbar and into the shoal. I ate Thai takeout from a restaurant housed in a fancied-up trailer, and fell asleep with a half-finished glass of PBR on the nightstand and Chopped on the dinky motel television.

It’s been a long time since I’ve slept that well.

Part Three: Conflict and Victory

As a reminder, I don’t review indie shows. Because I didn’t get to write the Best and Worst of Impact because I was having life-altering adventures and also insanely good vegan Chinese food, there’s this kneejerk reaction to Best and Worst everything. I half expected myself to start shouting at strangers, Besting the cashier at Rite-Aid for keeping the pennies from my change, and definitely Worsting the customer before me for having a XXX neck tattoo. But I will write about my experiences, and try to convey the love I have for some of these guys as best I can.

As a secondary reminder, I wrote a brief Chikara Primer here, so if you’re coming into this with no knowledge of what I took forever to get to, read that first.

I ended up missing about the first half hour of the show because folks, let’s get some real talks going here: traffic in Revere is the worst traffic I have ever seen. Roundabouts? Really? We took a wrong turn (because oh my god how could we not), and it took half an hour to get to our “two-minute away” destination. That was an experience I definitely never want to relive, especially as it did prevent me from booing the living daylights out of Shane Matthews. I also did not get to see the creepy mime (Hi Qefka!), which makes me sad because I’ve come to terms with the creepiness, and find him incredibly endearing. According to friend and first-time Chikara attendee Marc Normandin, the room loved 3.0. Man, I firmly believe in that tote bag that told me to be the change I want to see in the world, and Revere traffic prevented me from doing that, so Worst, Revere Traffic. All the Worsts for you.

We arrived with the Ashley Remington-Archibald Peck match already under way. I…I dunno about Archie these days, if the theme of this piece really is the realest of talks. Archie was always a likable bad guy who did bad things, but we cheered him anyways. His return at National Pro Wrestling Day signaled a slate-cleaning for a lot of people. It was no longer Some Guys vs. Titor with everyone else’s own agendas mixed in. Right now it’s Chikara vs. The Flood, so past bad guys are suddenly the babiest of faces, and we just…go along with it. I’ve been known to love my share of rudos (bad boyz 4 lyfe or whatever), but I think Archie is a prime example of one of the nagging things about this season. He came back with 3.0 (seriously how is that not a heel move), Chikara banded together, and now there’s a clear divide between good guy and bad guy without any real progression to that point. Archie went from one of the most complicated and convoluted storylines last season to…guy who is there? That seems a little off.

Ashley Remington, on the other hand, is the most charming of charmings, and if you’re not won over by his seafoam gear and fruit basket consolation prizes, you absolutely don’t deserve to take a trip on his yacht.

(I would like to take a trip on your yacht please sir I’ve been in the ocean I’m cool I promise)

Marc and his friend Zac, presumably united by their lack of Ks, were nice enough to save us seats. The show was sold out, but luckily I got to sit behind the tallest person there. My view was partially compromised, but there was no one immediately behind me so I could lean and twist and see what I needed to see. The ten-man tag match that followed required a lot of attention. The Flood – Dr. Cube, Sinn Bohdi, and The Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive/Flex Rumblecrunch/Max Smashmaster and their manager Sidney Bakabella) faced the current Chikara Grand Champion Icarus, the Osirian Portal (Amasis and Ophidian), and the Spectral Envoy (Hallowicked and Ultramantis Black). If that already sounds confusing, trust me, it was. I think this tag match failed where the schmoz of a multi-man in Detroit succeeded. Where the Detroit main had little moments of greatness (most of them belonging to Oleg the Usurper), this match felt like kind of a mess. I’d love to watch the replay, especially if Mike Quackenbush remained on commentary with Leonard Chikarason, but from my vantage point there was a lot happening without any real focus. There was a great triple-suplex into the ring, and how Ultramantis got Max Smashmaster up and over without breaking the incredibly low ceiling OR himself is a wonder.

Icarus is the other confusing matter. I am still in the camp of not fully trusting Icarus, but getting the hot tag and dispatching Flood members on his own, while impressive, seemed almost unbelievable. Maybe it’s my broken brain again, not being able to reconcile Icarus in his newfound role of “not an asshole,” but I feel like he unfortunately stood out for all of the wrong reasons. But that’s the thing about the whole match, I think. I am obviously a through and through Spectral Envoy fan, and when any of them are wrestling, I want to see them wrestle. Hallowicked’s praises are still undersung as far as I’m concerned, but it can be hard to stand out when you’re in a stable but everyone is chanting for your great and devious leader. I would love to see Smashmaster (who I have an admitted soft spot for, I’m not even gonna try to pretend I don’t) against UltraMantis one on one. There are people I like watching wrestle on both sides of this match, but it didn’t even feel like any of them were trying to get their shit in and get out, like those disastrous multi-man X-Division matches I write about so often. There was nothing to really get in. They were there, things were happening, but it was contained chaos.

I will take a moment to say that while he’s on the rudo side of things, Sidney Bakabella is brilliant. As far as time-displaced managers go, he’s the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. I really hope this venture of Vince, Jr’s doesn’t work out and this guy gets a chance to shine.

Shynron vs. Missile Assault Ant was short. I know this because I picked this as my bathroom break, and made my way back to my seat while Shynron was running around the room celebrating. If the cameras followed him, I owe Director of Fun Mike Quackenbush an apology for looking so dour and unimpressed in the background. You’re still doing a good job of directing my fun, Mr. Quackensmack.

Then, the match I had been waiting for. The main event of my heart. This one is a bit of a struggle to write about, if only because I was completely engrossed in it from start to finish. As a reminder, my very person/indie wrestler/baseball face is Dasher Hatfield. Dasher is a constant source of joy in my life, most often without even trying. They say that you should never meet your heroes, but those people have never introduced themselves to Dasher. I am accused of putting Chikara on a pedestal a lot, and that’s fair, but at the end of the day people can’t love what I love as much as I love it if all I do is heap negatives upon them. One thing I can never be accused of, however, is overstating what a genuinely kind fellow Dasher is.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have The Shard. He’s a nasty little shit who will stomp on your chest and twist your leg off and I love him. One of the tough things about watching something as character-driven as Chikara is not always totally hating its most hateable foes. By all rights I should. He’s a mean little sucker with almost as many abs as Ricochet, but guys, he’s so good at what he does. There’s a match at the 2012 Cibernetico against Fire Ant that is a) really effing good, and b) pretty much the moment where, for me at least, he went from being more of a background player in the Gekido to oh hello you weird broken glass man come over here and live in my heart forever. One of the things I constantly admire about masked wrestlers is their ability to utilize posturing, voice projection, and body language as their only forms of expression, and this guys gets it. Cibernetico-Anniversario Shard was a golden age for all involved, and by that I mean he was basically perfect and I’ll probably fight you in real life if you disagree.

Also Jigsaw and Mr. Touchdown were there. They’re p. good too.

One of the things I mentioned in the last Chikara piece was how things haven’t really felt like Chikara. Most of the same guys are there, but it doesn’t always have that same feeling. If you watch or go to as many wrestling shows as I do, fandom becomes a game of chasing moments. I didn’t think I’d ever get as teary over a match as Team ROH-Sendai from King of Trios 2012, but then Davey Vega-ACH at the Mohawk happened last October and I was left wishing I were someone who wears waterproof mascara. But I think that’s the end goal for all of us. We can criticize and fantasy book and watch out of habit or even spite, but when you can be truly immersed in a match, when you’re laughing despite yourself, when you’re moved to tears, when you get so lost in the moment you don’t even realise that something is being born in your heart, that’s the thing we’re all searching for. When it’s over you want to nurture it and hold onto it as long and hard as you can because wrestling can be terrible and cruel and sometimes plumb the depths of common decency, and definitely common sense. It’s what keeps us passionate about dumb baby fights and pumpkin men and bellies of cotton. It may have been just another tag match, albeit a very good one, but this, for me, was one of those moments.

Like I said, this part is a struggle. I would be lying if I said that my allegiance in this match was solely in the Throwbacks’ corner. I mean, come on. Pieces of Hate just got the Campeonatos de Parejas back! But, if they had to lose to anyone, the Throwbacks really are the only acceptable victors. I mean, it’s unrealistic that they could just trade the belts back and forth ad infinitum, right? …right? Yes, yes, of course it is. I almost wish this were a bad match so it would be easy to write about, but the thing is, that feeling? It’s hard to replicate, but it’s even harder to describe. I may not have been moved to tears, but this match was nerve-wracking. They all beat the heck out of each other, and while Dasher’s chest didn’t get turned to hamburger meat like it was in Chicago against Gary Jay, but he does have a habit of taking the brunt of a beating, and Pieces of Hate did their best to deliver. I didn’t know who would win, but I cared so much about it, which is the upside to having a place that is so character-driven. I would have been happy either way. I’ll be happy if the Pieces of Hate burn through tag teams in order to build up their three points and challenge again, and I’ll be happy if their story becomes something else. Dasher and Mr. Touchdown went through a lengthy period of disagreement, because let’s face it, TD was kind of a jerk for a while, but they’re family, and now champions, and I’d sit through all that awful Mass traffic to see it all over again.

Part Four: Pride Before A Fall

Intermission was packed. Well, really, the whole place was. A last-minute change from the ballroom downstairs to the much smaller bar upstairs meant more cramped quarters, so making your way through the swarm of people at the merch stand when you could only fit maybe three people between the table and the rows of chairs made it feel like a madhouse. I didn’t even make it to the end of the tables in time to see the Estonian Thunderfrog or Fire Ant, so sadface on that, but I also see most of these guys a lot because I am a spoiled garbage princess who goes to as many shows as she can. I’m also not too fussed because it means people were excited to meet the wrestlers, and more importantly, buy merch. I feel like, given the reactions from the rowd at times, there were a lot of people new to Chikara. Before a match, Dasher and Mr. Touchdown will do a hands-in, usually with a bunch of tiny adorable children, but people seemed a tad confused when Dasher stood there with his hand out. I did, however, do my best to encourage people to get up, because who would leave Dasher hanging? That’s just mean. Also it was the first time I got to do the hands-in, so it made my heart wiggle around a little, partly from love, partly from a wee bit of guilt that I would be okay with the throwbacks not winning.

I’m gonna give a special shout out to UPROXX reader “donuts” for coming out to his first Chikara show. And bringing friends! And buying SO MUCH MERCH:

I know not everyone is in a position to travel to shows, or have the extra money to buy shirts or 8x10s, but when you get to, it makes me the happiest person in the world to see people give Chikara a try, love it, and become fans and supporters of these wrestlers who are so important to me. (Also, buy a Fire Ant shirt.)

The first match back was perennial favourite Jervis Cottonbelly, injured in the New York proceedings the day before, vs. Eddie Kingston. To reiterate, Eddie Kingston has the most compelling story in Chikara right now. Nobody is concerned with time travel or the Eye of Tyr like last year, so while we wait for the story to develop for people like Archibald Peck, Eddie Kingston remains at the forefront. In New York the night before, Juan Francisco de Coronado tapped Kingston out. That sounds like he picked up an impressive win, but Kingston tapped out the moment it was applied because he was so disinterested in his opponent. Again. The Director of Fun is curiously booking him in matches that would seem beneath his station as a tenured roster member, and the longest reigning Grand Champion. Jervis is the truest of Gentleman, and only wanted a fair fight, which Kingston refused to give him. Two of Jimmy Jacobs Acolytes (the dudes in plague doctor masks and shiny suits) waited off to the side, until they were summoned to the ring by the voice of Jacobs. Jacobs wasn’t there, but his representatives stood in the ring as sacrificial lambs (after beating up poor Jervis), while Jacobs instructed Eddie Kingston to destroy them. Jacobs would make Eddie Kingston his own personal Acolyte, and bring him closer to getting the Chikara Grand Championship back.

This is one of those times where I didn’t quite get the crowd. Eddie Kingston started to go after them, but stopped himself. A scene of internal struggle turned to rage and frustration played out before us, but the crowd cheered for the Acolytes’ demise. Kingston grabbed chairs from the audience, and tore his shirt off like he had just been shown a picture of Moammar Ghadafi, but still they wanted to see the Acolytes put down. Now, I’m not crazy about them or their part in the Flood, and I can understand wanting to see them get some sort of comeuppance, but I don’t get wanting Eddie Kingston to give in. Had he done that, he would have picked a side. He would have broken down and given in, and stopped standing for himself as he has this whole time. It would have shattered everything that makes his character, and I don’t think people got that as they were calling for Acolyte blood. As I said last time, what makes Kingston special is his humanity, and I am wholly invested in him keeping it at all costs.

While we’re talking about the crowd, while they seemed completely into wanting to see bad things happen to bad Acolytes, they were…maybe the opposite for Worker Ant vs. Arctic Rescue Ant. I can partially understand that. If you know the rest of the Colony (and Chuck Taylor) are there but not wrestling, that could be frustrating, but a newer crowd also doesn’t have the relationship with Worker Ant that longtime fans might have. I like Worker a lot, but that took some time for me. He was a rudo from the Swarm traded to the Colony for Soldier Ant, and while that was the first step on Worker Ant’s road to redemption, it was the undoing of Soldier Ant. Remember at Under the Hood when Fire and Green did an Anthill with Worker (then AssailANT), and Soldier Ant got upset, and then they all just LEFT HIM? Oh man. I was so mad at all of the ants for that. But now, aside from whatever is happening with Soldier (do we know? Did they just abandon him? Again?), there’s not a lot of Ant-related story. That said, I really hoped people would be as receptive to Worker on his own as they are to the Colony as a whole, but it didn’t quite pan out that way. That’s a shame, but hopefully that’ll change in the future.

By now we had realised that the main event would feature The Baltic Siege, and man, I was so happy for them. It’s no secret how terribly fond I am of the Siege, and here they are main eventing a Chikara show. Not the pre-show, not just a Wrestling Is show, Chikara. For those of you unfamiliar, I declared that I would make the Estonian Thunderfrog everyone’s favourite wrestler, and I really have tried my best to make everyone love the heck out of that dude. I didn’t really have to try that hard – he’s great – but I was just so proud of these Euro weirdos. The change in venue may have affected how this match was supposed to be set up as well. It was advertised as a flag match, but then became a “loser waves the winner’s flag at the end” match. I assume Chikara didn’t say yeah, I want a room with the lowest ceiling possible that smells like kitty litter and strippers, but that’s what they got, and they had to work within those confines. I maybe also secretly love the Polar Baron and his tiny ears even if he is a big jerk and stole the Thunderfrog’s broken hammer at Wrestling is Fun’s Cruel Summer (perhaps one of my favourite Wrestling Is shows to date).

Prior to the show, the Polar Baron told the Bloc Party (the Euro rudos) that if they failed him again, he would leave them behind. We didn’t know going into the show that we would lose two people that day.

The Baltic Siege was victorious, and the Bloc Party sullenly raised the flags of their enemies for the crowd and the cameras to see. But then things changed. And quickly. Out came the guy you might remember as Creepy Albino Kane. Out came the Flood, kneeling in obeisance. Then out came Deucalion. Dread turned to panic as he ignored the Bloc Party, ignored the Lithuanian Snow Troll and the Latvian Proud Oak and focused on the Thunderfrog. See, our favourite froggy and his Hammer of War put Tursas down the night before, and the Flood wanted revenge. Deucalion applied a chokehold, just as he had done to my dear goblin friend Kobald, just as he had done in Detroit, and then the Estonian Thunderfrog was no more.

Watching the Thunderfrog turn into such a fan favourite has been such a joy for me. I adore that guy. Or did, I suppose. He was my favourite podcast guest, just the funniest, weirdest frog/man/thundergod. And now he’s gone. They took Kobald, and now my favourite Froggy. This is where believing in kayfabe is so vital to watching Chikara. It’s easy to get mad at the reality of not seeing your favourite wrestlers and worrying how it will impact their real lives and think that people in charge are monumental jerkfaces and the worst people in the world for booking something that takes your favourites away. But at the end of the day, being immersed in a fantastic world rich with characters who hold steadfast to the fantasy being presented requires you to leave that behind, and trust that if something doesn’t make sense now, it will come together in the end. You can do that with Chikara. I know people who lost their interest or even their trust after the hiatus are less inclined to, but if I can hope for a good show every week when I sit down to watch corporate wrestling that always disappoints me, I can hope for it from the company who have given me the best stories, and the best people.

After the show was this weird blur of celebration with Dasher, catching up with people I missed at intermission, and also the sense of sadness in everyone over the Thunderfrog. Again, I stayed too long after the show, but I got to talk with LFC and Sidney, and be instructed by Eddie Kingston to not say nice things about him again (whoops). Then it was goodbye to Marc and Zac, goodbye to Revere traffic (that took way longer), and hello to Veggie Galaxy to eat delicious vegan food and maybe also my feelings.

The drive home the next day was exhausting. I slept restlessly the night before, and I was tired from packing so much into a few shorts days, and frankly, I was still bummed about the Thunderfrog. Now it’s back to work, back to stress, back to not sleeping. But I’m happy I went. While I had to see the Shard lose his belt, I got to see Dasher win his first one. I was there for the Thunderfrog’s last show, and snagged a mark photo with the Polar Baron before he returns to his frozen totalitarian homeland. I got to see long-distance friends and introduce someone to Chikara and have some really nice, genuine moments.

But man, let me tell you – King of Trios can’t come soon enough.