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February 5, 2016

Chikara: Pro Wrestling's Comic Book Turns the Page

He had previously turned his back on his fellow arthropods – a group known as the Colony ­– and was now supposed to destroy former friend Fire Ant, though judging by the way his tiny antennae was twitching, he was struggling with the task at hand. The crowd surrounding the ring picked up on his hesitation, begged him to remember his past and break free of the bonds that had caused him to go bad. Fire Ant begged too. But given that this was pro wrestling, reason quickly gave way to brute force: An errant blow to the head ended his amnesia, Soldier Ant embraced his opponent and all was right with the world.

Obviously, this did not happen at a Vince McMahon-sanctioned event. Instead, it went down at Top Banana, the season-capping event of Chikara, a Philadelphia-based wrestling promotion where ants and anthropomorphic ice cream cones share the ring with tough-as-nails princesses and all manner of masked marauders. Part badass B-movie, part sugary Saturday morning cartoon, it's wild, weird and everything WWE isn't. And that's precisely the point.

"We wanted to make something different from what we were seeing. It just felt monotonous. Everyone was making the same flavor of wrestling," Chikara founder (and former indie wrestler) Mike Quackenbush says. "I think we were kind of bored. At the end of the Nineties, during the [WWE's] Attitude Era, there was a thought that all characters needed to be written with shades of gray. But clear heroes and villains appeal to me. At a young age, I didn't watch wrestling, but I did read X-Men, I read the Justice League. I wanted to make something like that."

Originally, Quackenbush intended Chikara to be little more than a showcase for the students he was training at the Wrestle Factory, a school he had started with fellow indie grappler Tom "Reckless Youth" Carter. But after debuting in 2002, the promotion began to take on a life of its own, thanks in no small part to the Factory's focus: teaching a truly international style of pro wrestling, heavy on the tough, traditional techniques of Japan and the theatrical acrobatics of Mexican lucha libre. In short, the matches were awesome – but the characters that began to emerge were just as compelling...More?

source: rollingstone.com

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