The world of professional wrestling is a special place in itself, but many question if it could potentially be better.
Enter Chikara Pro.
In a sport where competitors do everything from execute maneuvers from high altitudes and wear colorful masks and costumes, the Philadelphia based promotion takes things up a notch as their company is vastly becoming a household name with wrestling fans everywhere. Built in a fan friendly environment know for crowd participation, Chikara Pro has played home to many decorated stars who have gone on to have substantial careers in larger organizations, but more impressive is the fact that they have also built a home-grown roster of talent known for being Chikara regulars.
In the wonderful world of Chikara, it seems everyone is treated with equal praise and esteem; something almost unheard of in many other promotions. From the ring announcers to the referees, Chikara talent is regarded and appreciated all around. I was very fortunate to have some time to catch up with one of the most interesting people on Chikara’s roster, referee Larry Peace.
Larry’s presence is felt each time he enters a Chikara ring and the fans chant “Keep the Peace” back at him. He is a near 20 year veteran of the stripes and a regular Chikara favorite who was nice enough to take a few minute to sit down with Fightbooth and answer some of our lingering questions.
What made you fall in love with professional wrestling?
When I was 7 years old my grandfather took me to a WWF live event at the Hershey Park Arena in Hershey, PA that’s where i first saw George “The Animal” Steele and instantly fell in love with pro wrestling. I call this my George “The Animal” Steele moment.
Some wrestling fans don’t realize that becoming a professional referee comes with a lot of hard work and training (just like a wrestler) can you walk our readers through the steps of how you got to wear the stripes?
I started training in November of 1997. I graduated May 8th, 1998 and debuted on April 25th of 98. I went to training 2 days a week. (3 hour round trip) all while I was a senior in high school. Working ring crew..20 years later and I still help with ring crew duties. I was trained by Simon Diamond (Pat Keeney) & Delaware promoter Jim Kettner.
Can you tell us how it feels to work for an amazing company like Chikara?
The fans aka “CHIKARMY” are awesome! They make this unpopular guy feel like the cool kid. 2015 King of Trios hearing 900 plus chant “Keep the peace” was awesome!
What are some of the most memorable matches you have ever officiated?
The finals of KOT 15; Bullet Club vs Team Triple A. Anytime I reffed a Reckless Youth match. When i teamed up with my trainer Simon Diamond to take on ROH Ref Paul Turner & Ty Streets. Christian…Yes from the WWE..versus… I believe he wrestled Glen Osbourne. Christian won the ECWA Heavyweight Title that night. The Chick Magnets last match in Right Coast Pro…all were good experiences.
Who are some of your heroes through the history of professional wrestling?
As far as Refs… Dick Worhle, Mike Chioda, Earl Hebner. Wrestlers… George “The Animal” Steele, Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Bill Apter. Reckless Youth.
I may be crazy, but did I read somewhere that you rap? Bust a line or two!
Yo! In my life I have a chaperone his name is Jesus Christ.. not Mr Brad Stone. You without Christ …you’re like Macaulay Culkin your Home Alone…me with Christ i’m like E.T. i’m gonna phone home….
(Laughs) That is awesome…In regards to the “montreal screw job”, what would you have done in Hebner’s shoes?
My job…so basically what Mr. Hebner did.
Any parting words?
Thank you and always Keep The Peace!
You can follow Larry on Twitter @RefLarryPeace
Fight Booth PW 2016 Awards Recap
And just like that, our 4th annual Fight Booth PW Awards are officially in the can. We’re forever grateful to everyone who took part in this year’s voting process – it truly means the world to us. It goes without saying that this was a most incredible year for the world of professional wrestling and we fully expect things to get even better in 2017 and beyond. Before then, check out who went home with this year’s hardware and why by clicking through any of the links below:
Tag Team of the Year: The Revival
Ring Announcer of the Year: Melissa Santos
Best Television Announcer: Mauro Ranallo
Face of the Year: Finn Balor & Bayley (tie)
Heel of the Year: Kevin Owens
Faction of the Year: Bullet Club
Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto
Most Improved Wrestler: Alexa Bliss
Event of the Year: Wrestle Kingdom 10
Best Gimmick: ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy
Promotion of the Year: NJPW
MVP (Most Valuable to His/Her Promotion): Matt Hardy
Feud of the Year: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks
Best Mic Worker: Chris Jericho
Best Moment of the Year: Daniel Bryan’s Retirement Speech
Match of the Year: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn (NXT TakeOver: Dallas)
Female Wrestler of the Year: Sasha Banks
Male Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles
“Will Work For Food!” Five Wrestlers with Food Based Gimmicks You Will Love
Lately my research into my other stories has led me down a virtual rabbit hole of interesting characters and gimmicks spanning the course of the entire globe. None of these characters are more interesting than the multitude of wrestlers with “food based” gimmicks that most might think would be cheesy (no pun intended) and unappealing, but much to my surprise, these characters actually worked and got their edible gimmicks over in their respective promotions. Here are five superstars you will want to cheer on as they simultaneously help you spoil your dinner.
While not necessarily a food based character in his look, the wrestler once known as Brandel Littlejohn became known as “Cheeseburger” after a segment where wrestler Charlie Haas ribbed him into the nickname during a Ring of Honor segment in 2013. Since then, “Cheeseburger” has flourished, becoming a mainstay in Ring of Honor over the years and even made a recent appearance on Chris Jericho’s “Talk is Jericho” podcast last year. Currently, “Cheeseburger” is working under the New Japan umbrella, proving his talent far surpasses a goofy nickname. Still, “Cheeseburger” is a lot more entertaining than his previous name “Lucha Landa”, though you could call him any silly character name you want to… be it “Scooter”, “Lipstick” or “Gym Membership” and the odds of him getting it over are greatly in his favor.
How can you get an incredibly strange gimmick over? The answer is simple: Dress up the king of the independent wrestling circuit and let him do the rest. Portrayed by one of the most solid wrestlers on this planet, Christopher Daniels, “Curry Man” debuted in 2008 under the TNA wrestling banner. With his finisher, “The Spice Rack”, “Curry Man” was a fun, dancing, entertaining gimmick, teaming up with “Shark Boy” to feud against Team 3D (the Dudley Boys) going into TNA’s Final Destination PPV of that year. Over the years, Daniels has from time to time brought back the “Curry Man” gimmick, but is currently wrestling under his normal “Christopher Daniels” moniker in Ring of Honor and that, in all honesty, makes me ok with the Curry Man costume hanging away in a closet, collecting dust.
A few weeks ago, I delved into the “Hoodslam” promotion incredibly hard and discovered a 6 foot 4 inch superhero trained by WWE superstar Brian Kendrick. Donning a large cereal box mask and an array of costumes ranging from green superhero spandex down to a single pair of “tighty-whitey” underpants, Cereal Man is always poised with his eerily heroic grin and his patented “sugar blasted leg drop” in tow to combat any foe. If you are reading this list, I believe this is the point where you take a break and “Google” this guy immediately.
Shotzi Blackheart a.k.a “Pizza Cat”
Any day I can include Shotzi Blackheart on a list is a good day. Aside from being one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful women in the sport, guaranteed to make your heart swoon, Shotzi Blackheart is a true entertainer, whether she is wrestling, modeling or displaying any of her various talents. We all felt for her when she appeared on the latest season of “Tough Enough” (as Ashley Urbanski) and was forced out of competition due to an irregular heartbeat, but luckily for her fans, she was later medically cleared, returned to Hoodslam and continues her work independently in many top-notch promotions across the country.
In “Hoodslam”, Shotzi has been known to morph into her alter ego “Pizza Cat”, a feline character clad in a mask where the ears are comedic in the sense that instead of normal cat ears, they have been replaced with slices of pizza. The character is a popular mainstay and you can even purchase “Pizza Cat” shirts at any Hoodslam show. Say no more…Shut up and take my money.
Los Ice Creams
Brought to you by the fine folks at Chikara, Los Ice Creams may be the most intriguing part of this list, as they are the only tag team. Clad in colorful masks and looking like something you would see in a low-budget horror film, my first impression was to cringe. About an hour later, after binge watching as many of their matches as I could, I was an immediate fan, so smitten that I found myself on Chikara’s website with my Visa card in hand ready to give them all of my money in exchange for whatever merchandise a company could make for two ice cream related luchadors.
In one match I watched, a showdown with “The Throwbacks,” Los Ice Creams pluck a female fan from the audience and actually make her part of the match, using her as a prop against their opponent and leaving her with a very cool moment to remember. Chikara is well-known for their crowd participation and family oriented shows where the “holy sh*t” chant is one you will never hear and if someone started it, they “regulars” in the crowd would go out of their way to let the fan know the rules of the show. Between characters like Los Ice Creams and the “fun for everyone ages 2 to 99” “board game” promise type of vibe…Chikara is one of those shows I have to attend in 2017.
I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this list of characters who would more than likely help you set the table before abruptly putting you through one. For more great stories or if you have any leads or comments be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms on Twitter.
PW Awards 2016: Event of the Year
Winner: Wrestle Kingdom 10
“There’s just something magical about how Japan presents their big shows. Whether it was PRIDE or DREAM back in the day, anything New Japan or even RIZIN – it’s a incomparable experience. It’s hard to even find words for it. From the video packages to the walk outs to the matches themselves – Wrestle Kingdom 10 was one of the best wrestling events I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying from start to finish. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to witness a spectacle such as this live when it was this good sitting alone on my couch here stateside from the middle of the night to the early morning on NJPWWorld. Goto versus Shibata, Styles vs. Nakamura and Tanahashi vs. Okada III back to back to back to close out the show may be something that can never be topped again. While it’d be silly to expect anything to compare to what we saw last year, it’s still hard not to get goosepimples with Wrestle Kingdom 11 just one sleep away.” – Dave Reno
Runner Up: NXT TakeOver: Dallas
“This was a really tough one to me. There were several that could have qualified. If I told you that there was a show and that a Finn Balor/Samoa Joe match was going to be the 4th best match on the show…what would you say? That was the reality though. Zayn/Nakamura is a legit MOTY candidate. Revival/American Alpha and Bayley/Asuka were both phenomenal. Throw that into a smaller arena with a passionate, but not obnoxious crowd…yep, event of the year.” – Aaron Oster
Honorable Mention: Chikara: King of Trios
“I had the great privilege of actually attending King of Trios this year. I think everyone owes it to themselves to experience a live Chikara show once in their lives, and KoT is a great place for the casual/new Chikara fan, because it is an event where plenty of regular indie faces appear alongside Chikara regulars. It’s family friendly, so it’s a safe space for anyone who is usually concerned about being harassed at a wrestling show. And while it’s helpful to have a basic grasp of how the promotion works, the tournament format of the event helps to create context even if you’re walking in blind. KOT2016 not only had a variety of indie participants from across the world, they crowned their first ever Queen of Trios when Team JWP & Team Sendai Girls faced off in the finals. If you’re looking for a way into the Chikara universe, by all means give KOT2016 your full attention!” – Lady J
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