|Owner Mike Quackenbush|
|Style Lucha libre
Founder(s) Mike Quackenbush Reckless Youth
Chikara (stylized in all capital letters and sometimes referred to as Chikara Pro) is an American professional wrestling promotion based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company takes both the name and logo from the Japanese kanji meaning strength. It was founded in 2002 by professional wrestlers Mike Quackenbush and Reckless Youth, who also served as trainers and in-ring performers.
The company focuses on promoting tag team matches, with emphasis on the high-flying lucha libre style. Two of their major events, the King of Trios tournament, originally held between February and March, but in 2012 moved to September, and Torneo Cibernetico, held between September and November, are centered on multi-man tag team matches. Their other major events include Aniversario, held in May, and the Young Lions Cup tournament, held between June and August. The company crowned its first singles champion in 2011, with the introduction of the Chikara Grand Championship.
Influenced by the lucha libre style, Chikara performers are grouped into tecnicos and rudos (the lucha libre terms for faces and heels respectively). Just as in lucha libre, many performers in the promotion have also performed under masks and with unique gimmicks.
In the summer of 2000, after "Reckless Youth" Tom Carter had been released from his World Wrestling Federation (WWF) developmental deal, he, Mike Quackenbush and Don Montoya started talking about starting a wrestling school, which would teach professional wrestling in various international styles. Originally, the school was to be called "Impact Wrestling" (not to be confused with the later television program of the same name), but when Montoya decided not to put up money for its foundation and left the project, Carter and Quackenbush decided they needed a new name. The Wrestle Factory was founded by Carter and Quackenbush in Allentown, Pennsylvania on January 7, 2002. The first class included UltraMantis, Mister Zero, Dragonfly, Hallowicked, and Ichabod Slayne. In May of the same year, Chikara expanded into a wrestling promotion with the intent of showcasing its students. The first show on May 25, 2002, featured not only the Wrestle Factory students and head trainers, but several other independent wrestlers, including Don Montoya, CM Punk, Colt Cabana, Chris Hero, Love Bug, Marshal Law, and Blind Rage. The main event of the first show featured Quackenbush and Youth joined by Don Montoya as the Black T-shirt Squad defeat the Gold Bond Mafia of Chris Hero, CM Punk, and Colt Cabana. In the early days, Blind Rage, Hallowicked, and Ichabod Slayne formed a stable known as the Night Shift, which became the top group of rudos (or heels) in the company. They frequently feuded with tecnicos (faces) Quackenbush, Youth, and UltraMantis. Notable events of 2002 included an appearance by former WCW star La Parka, who joined Mister ZERO against Quackenbush and Youth, and the opening of the short-lived sister promotion Kiryoku Pro, which highlighted female wrestling.
2002 was also marked by a lawsuit against Chikara for promoting shows out of the Wrestle Factory. Neighborhood activists claimed that the building was not properly zoned for assembly, and that the shows detracted from the "complexion of the community". It was eventually ruled that Chikara provided inadequate parking for their shows, and would not be allowed to promote out of the Wrestle Factory any longer. This deterred Chikara from holding any more shows until October. During the Chikara hiatus, they released tapes of their early shows, titled "The Renaissance Dawns" and "Baila, Parka, Baila", and the wrestlers worked showcase matches in other promotions, such as IWA-MS. Chikara soon reached an agreement with St. John’s Lutheran Church in Allentown to hold shows there, only eight blocks from the Wrestle Factory. Chikara also began a second Wrestle Factory class, but lost trainer Reckless Youth at the beginning of the class, as he left the wrestling business. The first show in St. John's saw the Wildcards (Eddie Kingston and BlackJack Marciano), Gran Akuma, DJ Skittlez, Melvin Snodgrass and Lester Crabtree debut, and shortly after, they were joined by Wrestle Factory graduates Jigsaw and Bryce Remsburg.
Chikara soon debuted a concept that lasts to this day in their promotion, the Chikara Young Lions Cup. Commonly abbreviated as the YLC, the tournament was designed to showcase the best of the Wrestle Factory graduates. It continues to be a showcase of young talent from the independent circuit. Hallowicked defeated Mister ZERO to win the first tournament. Chikara took a two-week break during Christmastime before returning in 2003, establishing a tradition of "seasons" that they maintain today.
In 2004, Chris Hero became a co-trainer at the Chikara Wrestle Factory, replacing Carter. In 2005, Jorge "Skayde" Rivera joined as the third trainer. In March 2005, the school moved from Allentown to the New Alhambra Arena, in Philadelphia. They then took over the training for Combat Zone Wrestling, leading to the school's new name of CZW/Chikara Wrestle Factory. After the schools split in 2007, the training center became once again simply known as the Chikara Wrestle Factory. In 2007, Claudio Castagnoli took over Chris Hero's training duties.
The company's catalog of events are available through Smart Mark Video.
Chikara drew their biggest crowd ever of over 550 at the New Alhambra Arena in Philadelphia to see the finals of King of Trios 2008 on March 2, 2008. That record was broken on January 31, 2010, when their first show of season nine, A Touch of Class, drew over 600 fans. Later that year, on July 25, the record was broken once again at Chikarasaurus Rex: King of Show, which drew 755 fans. The show was released by Smart Mark Video on DVD less than 24 hours after its conclusion.
Chikara also made Internet pay-per-views by the name of "Pod-Per-Views". Chikara also have a weekly internet show by the name of Chikara Podcast-A-Go-Go which contains matches and interviews.
On April 26, 2009, Chikara announced a working agreement with Dragon Gate USA, which saw Chikara wrestlers take part in Dragon Gate USA events.
On April 25, 2010, Chikara announced the release of a video game, titled Rudo Resurrection, for multiple gaming platforms later in the year. After not being heard of again for four years, it was announced on May 2, 2014, that a new developer, Rotary Games, had picked up the rights to the game.
On August 1, 2011, Chikara announced that their first ever live Internet pay-per-view, titled High Noon, would take place November 13, 2011, and would feature the crowning of the first ever Chikara Grand Champion. The event would again break Chikara's attendance record, drawing 864 fans. During 2012, High Noon was followed by the Chikarasaurus Rex: How to Hatch a Dinosaur and Under the Hood iPPV's.
In February 2012, Chikara launched their first ever web comic, written by Joey Esposito and drawn by Alex Cormack, telling the secret origin of Frightmare.
On April 6, 2013, Chikara took part in WrestleCon, held during the WrestleMania 29 weekend in Secaucus, New Jersey, holding an event, which again broke the promotion's attendance record.
Throughout the years, Chikara has worked with several Japanese promotions in bringing their talent over to the United States, including Dragon Gate, Ice Ribbon, JWP Joshi Puroresu, and Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling. In December 2011, Chikara hosted the three-day-long JoshiMania weekend, which featured some of the biggest names in joshi puroresu. Wrestlers such as Aja Kong, Dick Togo, Great Sasuke, Jinsei Shinzaki, Kana, Kaori Yoneyama, Kota Ibushi, and Mayumi Ozaki have made rare American appearances for the promotion, while Manami Toyota has made several appearances for Chikara since July 2010. Since 2010, Chikara has had a close working relationship with the Osaka Pro Wrestling promotion.
On June 2, 2013, Chikara ran an angle at the conclusion of the fourth iPPV, Aniversario: Never Compromise, where the event was shut down by Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur. Following the event, Chikara went inactive, "canceling" all upcoming events, though in reality these events were never scheduled to take place. Chikara held no official events for the rest of 2013, though wrestlers from the promotion did hold a small event on November 2 in Philadelphia's Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park with the storyline that they were trying to revive the promotion. In October 2013, Neon Alley acquired rights to 26 Chikara events, which would start airing on the channel on Sundays as part of the new fall lineup. On February 1, it was announced that Chikara would be returning on May 25, 2014. On February 10, it was announced that The Wrestle Factory would start a new training class at the 2300 Arena on March 1. In April 2015, Chikara made its debut in the United Kingdom with a four-show tour held across England and Wales.
In April 2015, Chikara launched Chikaratopia, an internet streaming service featuring past events. On July 29, the promotion launched a new weekly program, entitled Journey Into Chikara, which would air live on both Chikaratopia and YouTube. In December 2016, Chikara concluded its 16th season. However, when the promotion returned in February 2017, it was announced as the start of season 18. Season 17 had been taped during the break and would be streamed on Chikaratopia.
Chikara Wrestle Factory
Chikara currently runs a wrestling school by the name of the Chikara Wrestle Factory. It was founded in 2002 by Mike Quackenbush and Reckless Youth. After the debut of their first class of students that May, and the birth of the Chikara promotion, Reckless departed the company. Quackenbush trained the second through fifth classes of students by himself, before recruiting Chris Hero to assist him in the summer of 2004. Hero relocated to Pennsylvania to accept the position as co-trainer, and teach at the Allentown-based facility. In March 2007, Chikara Wrestle Factory separated from the CZW training facility. After spending two years away from the Arena, following its closing, The Wrestle Factory returned to the newly renamed 2300 Arena in early 2014. In October 2007, Claudio Castagnoli was promoted from his role as guest trainer to head trainer taking it from Chris Hero. Alongside Quackenbush, he helped aid in the training of the ninth class of students. Castagnoli signed with WWE in August 2011, and departed the Wrestle Factory. As ever, the responsibility for all training classes at the Wrestle Factory belongs to company founder and 20-year pro, Mike Quackenbush. He is assisted by Chuck Taylor, Fire Ant, Green Ant, Hallowicked and Ophidian. The Wrestle Factory offers training to prospective professional wrestlers, managers, valet, and referees, and is based in The Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Former guest instructors include Jorge "Skayde" Rivera, El Pantera, Terry Funk, CM Punk, Marty Jannetty, and many others. It offers training in all styles like pro wrestling, lucha libre, puroresu, Lancashire, catch, among others, claiming to be the only such training center in the United States.
Commercial DVD releases
Big Vision Entertainment releases