Since 2002, Chikara has held an annual event as a showcase of talent who are young and/or relatively new to the business of professional wrestling. It's a 24 man tournament that takes place over three days to determine who will be the holder of the Young Lions Cup. The trophy is then defended like a championship until a new tournament is held the following year.
There are three rounds in the Young Lions Cup tournament, with a total of twelve matches in the first round, two matches in the second round, and one match in the third and final round. Here's how it works.
- Night One and Night Two each have six singles matches in the first round. These are traditional one-on-one matches. The winner moves on. The loser is eliminated from the tournament.
- The winners of the first round matches move on to the second round, which is a Six Man Elimination Match. These are the main event matches of Night One and Night Two.
- The winner of the second round match from Night One meets the winner of the second round match from Night Two in the final match in the tournament to determine the Young Lions Cup champion. This final match takes place in the main event of Night Three.
It sounds more complicated than it is. I'm not sure if I understood it until I was there, but it made total sense once I saw it in action. The graph above does a better job of explaining it than words are likely to do (click here to enlarge). It's basically just a three match tournament with the first and final match being regular one-on-one matches, with the one in the middle being a six man elimination match.
There were non-tournament matches on each of the three shows, particularly the final night which only featured one tournament match in the main event.
This show was everything I love about Chikara all wrapped up in a single card - wacky characters, fun stories and great professional wrestling. How many shows feature a wrestler in a cow costume wearing a Soviet tights not once, but twice? By the way, when I say cow costume, I'm not talking about a lucha libre mask like the kind that The Colony wear. I'm talking about a dude wrestling in a giant cow head and a full body costume, complete with tail. Just take a look at this, and while you're at it, have a listen at his incredible entrance theme music.
The way that they've come up with this character is pretty ingenious. The wrestler under the cow head used to perform under the name Create-A-Wrestler, as in the feature found in just about every pro wrestling video game since the Playstation and N64 era. So, they have allowed the fans to literally create their own wrestler and watch him perform in the ring. Moscow the Communist Bovine was the winner in an online poll, and thus the newest character in Chikara was born.
Before the show, I bumped into one of my favorite wrestlers in the world today, "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush. Quack has been a fixture on the independent wrestling scene for many years. He wrestled at the very first indie show I had ever been to back in 1999. Three years after that show, he founded Chikara (with fellow indie legend Reckless Youth), and he's recently started working for Ring Of Honor. The dude is crazy talented. I know that as soon as I hear the opening to Break It Down Again by Tears For Fears, I'm in for a hell of a fun wrestling match.
I met a few of other wrestlers on Night One, including Niles Young and Noel Harlow. By the way, the t-shirt I'm wearing was something I threw together with a t-shirt transfer sheet. It didn't come together exactly the way that I had in mind, but it's Chuck Taylor's head photoshopped over a big dude standing behind the counter at Dunkin' Donuts with a speech bubble of him wishing death on the donuts. I don't know... it seemed funny to me at the time.
Finally, I got to meet Cabana Man Dan, which is one of the greatest wrestling names I have ever heard. Dude is pretty solid in the ring too. I'm looking forward to seeing the direction his career takes from here.
I'm guessing that there was a typo on the original printing of the Night Two tickets. Night Three was at Hellertown, but Night Two was in Barnesville.
Ricochet was the star of the night. He defeated Soldier Ant in his Round One match and went on to win the Round Two six man elimination match to move on to face Chuck Taylor in the third and final round on Sunday to determine the winner of the Young Lions Cup.
During intermission, I got to meet Arik Cannon, who was an excellent dude. He made his name in IWA Mid South and has wrestled at Chikara events in the past. This weekend was my first time seeing him, but I'm sure it won't be the last.
You can also see my custom t-shirt that I wore for Night Two in this photo. It was a parody of the box art of Kid Icarus with Chikara star Icarus in place of the NES character. It's not the most stunning example of graphics arts, but what the hell, it's not like I'm trying to sell these things. It was just something to do for fun.
Speaking of IWA Mid South, I also got to meet The North Star Express. That's Darin Corbin on the left and Ryan Cruz on the right. They come out to the ring to Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom by Vengaboys, which has been stuck in my head ever since. They were individually in the Young Lions Cup tournament and wrestled in singles matches on Night Two, but they returned in Night Three as a tag team that took on The Olsen Twins.
- Trios Match
Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr.) and Amigo Suzuki defeated Team Fist (Icarus and Gran Akuma) and Max Boyer
Chikara Young Lions Cup V: Night Three
American Legion Hall - Hellertown, PA
Today's show was my favorite of the three nights. It included a lot of great tag team matches, including The Kings Of Wrestling beating up on Cheech & Cloudy and Los Ice Creams taking on Icarus and Akuma. The Olsen Twins vs The North Star Express was a fun match between two teams that have a lot in common, but my favorite of the tag team matches was between BLK-OUT and The Colony. It was absolutely incredible.
The main event between Ricochet and Chuck Taylor gets my vote for match of the night. Either one of these guys would have been a good choice to win the tournament. Taylor is one of the best heels in the business (indie or mainstream), and Ricochet is one of the most athletically gifted professional wrestlers I have seen in a very long time. This kid has the potential to be better than Rey Mysterio Jr, and I'm not exaggerating. Check out some of his highlight reels on YouTube. I guarantee they will blow you away.
This is Shayne Hawke. He impressed the hell out of me in his match with Tim Donst and the six man elimination match on Night Two, but his match with Quack was even better than the first two. This dude has a hell of a future in professional wrestling. When we took this photo, he was kind enough to let me wear his Young Lions Cup medallion (his idea).
- Trios Match
The Order Of The Neo Solar Temple (Ultramantis Black, Crossbones and Hydra) defeated Player Uno, Super Xtremo and Moscow the Communist Bovine
- The Olsen Twins (Colin Olsen and Jimmy Olsen) defeated The North Star Express (Darin Corbin and Ryan Cruz)
- Trios Match
ShaneSaw (Shane Storm and Jigsaw) and Hallowicked defeated "Sweet and Sour" Larry Sweeney, Max Boyer and Arik Cannon