On April 28th, a match of tremendous importance is taking place. However, it's also a match that most people have no idea about, because it won't be taking place on cable television or worldwide pay-per-view.
At the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, Illinois, indy promotion CHIKARA is putting on a show entitled Hot Off The Griddle (CHIKARA is known for their quirky, often nonsensical show titles, so don't pay too much attention to that). The show's main event will be for the CHIKARA Grand Championship, and will feature the champion, "The Last Of A Dying Breed" Eddie Kingston, taking on the "invading" challenger, "Mr Wrestling" Kevin Steen.
This column is going to look at that very match. I've recruited LoP's CHIKARA specialist, and someone who isn't a stranger to being on the main page, Uncle Jeff aka Son Of Shockey aka Jimmy Caboose, and he and I will be arguing both sides of the coin. Because Jeff is the CHIKARA specialist, he'll be arguing for why Eddie Kingston should win the match, and I'll be arguing for why Kevin Steen should win the match. I realize that I'm at a huge disadvantage right off the bat, and even before reading his argument, I'm fully expecting Jeff to "win" here. Because he's my "guest", I'm going to allow him to go first. He can introduce himself to those of you that haven't seen/heard his work, either with his own columns in the Columns Forum of LoPForums.com, his work with the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable, or his work with fellow main page writer Romeo's Ring Of Honor Fridays. The floor is yours, Jeff.
Hello, hello, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Michael J. “Jimmy” Caboose, and I hate babies, but I love me my independent professional wrestling, which is why I’m here. You may know me from my infamous bullying of Michael McGillicutty on Twitter, or for my several appearances with Ro on ROH Fridays. Somehow, someway, I ended up back on the main page. So if you end up hating this column, blame Hustle, he wanted this.
Ah, Steen versus Kingston. An indy dream match, at this point, between two fat guys who know how to fight. The AntiChrist of Pro Wrestling versus the Last of a Dying Breed promises to be a slugfest, with personal and company pride – not to mention the CHIKARA Grand Championship – on the line. Both men enter the match with a ton of momentum, but only one can leave with the victory and the belt. While the match itself should be fun, it is the result of the match that will be the most interesting to see.
Steen is probably the more well-known talent, working for the more well-known company, and has a decent championship history. He is, after all, the reigning Pro Wrestling Guerilla World Champion, and has plenty of tag title reigns to his name, as well. He’s also received a large boost in popularity thanks to his return to ROH last year and his feud with El Generico. There are plenty of reasons Steen could walk away the winner of this bout; he has a ton going for him, and another victory and accolade would only add to the legend of Steen.
But does he need it? Does Steen actually deserve to win this match? Maybe, but certainly does not deserve it more than the King of Diamonds, Eddie Kingston. In terms of fame, Kingston is probably just a notch below Steen, a name one would hear when discussing indy wrestling, but maybe not one of the more notable or well-known. After all, he was made to basically look like a chump during his ROH run years ago, and has mainly stayed in the Northeast US to wrestle. Sure, Kingston is relatively popular for his intense promos, but he’s just not quite on Steen’s level. Which, on a slightly different note, makes them perfect representatives for their companies.
ROH is the third-largest wrestling company in the States. This has been true for a while. After WWE and TNA, it has been and will continue to be ROH’s name that gets brought up. Ring of Honor is the top indy company, much like Steen is one of the top indy names. CHIKARA, meanwhile, is popular in its own right, yet isn’t exactly on ROH’s level. It does not have a CM Punk, Samoa Joe, or Daniel Bryan to call its own, a success on a mainstream level that forces you to acknowledge the company they were in before the way ROH does. While CHIKARA has its fans and supporters (like myself) and is growing in popularity with every show, it simply isn’t as recognizable as ROH. And the same could be said of Kingston and his notoriety.
But that could change with this match. Should Kingston win this match, defeating one of indy wrestling’s most popular superstars currently, it could help get him closer to that top tier of indy talent. People would have to recognize him and his abilities should he go over Steen, who has been nigh untouchable as a name for a little bit now. Kingston beating Steen in a barnburner of a match could possibly move him up the ranks as a bona fide star. At the same time, the victory would help legitimize CHIKARA as a wrestling company, giving them a hard-fought and well-earned victory over the “standard-bearer” indy promotion in the States. While CHIKARA may never shake the “Mickey Mouse promotion” moniker, a victory here would give them a little more credibility as a wrestling company.
Kingston, meanwhile, would certainly help bolster his own credentials by beating Steen. Yes, King can wrestle with the best of them, and has had classics with Hero, Claudio, and others, as well as solid bouts with the likes of Akira Tozawa, Arik Cannon, and Colt Cabana. But Kingston’s most recent victories are really only against people CHIKARA fans would know. Vin Gerard. Ophidian. Brodie Lee. Names that don’t exactly ring bells with even the average indy fan. A win over Steen, however? Changes all of that. It gives Kingston’s reign some validity by defeating a prime-time player on the scene, a name recognizable to any indy fan worth his salt. A high-profile successful defense is simply good for Kingston’s reign, especially coming so early in said reign.
Steen and Ring of Honor don’t really have anything to lose here. Both are so entrenched in the indy world that a loss like this won’t really affect them. Steen still has his credentials in PWG and elsewhere to maintain his status. Meanwhile, thanks in part to being bought by Sinclair Broadcasting, ROH isn’t going anywhere whether they win or lose this match. However, this showdown could be a make-or-break situation for Kingston and CHIKARA. Should they prove they can hang with the “big boys” of the indy world, they could be launched into the stratosphere and become a permanent, long-lasting staple in wrestling. Failing here would simply hinder the growth of CHIKARA, and that’s not what anyone wants. Not when CHIKARA provides a true alternative to just about every other wrestling company with its colorful, fun approach to sports entertainment.
Plus, this gives ROH a chance to put over not just a worker, but an entire company, which will only help the camaraderie between the two feds. The ROH brass probably knows they don’t have anything to lose here. The SBC purchase will keep them above water and keep them at the top of the indy food chain. So why not help another company out by giving them a much-needed win? It can only help the indy wrestling community as a whole, really. CHIKARA gets a chance to shine, and ROH gives them that chance. It works out for both sides, which wouldn’t happen if it were the other way around. Should Steen win, it would just be another victory for the ROH machine, a victory it doesn’t need but nevertheless gets in order to establish a dominance it already has.
Also, losing the Grand Championship to Steen of all people would not be the best move for CHIKARA. Steen has been in hot water with the company before, and is currently banned from performing with the company for various actions. Handing the belt to a guy who can’t even compete for the company probably isn’t in anyone’s best interests, and CHIKARA would seem like one huge dope of a company for letting its belt get around the waist of a guy like that.
At the end of the day, Kingston and CHIKARA have too much to gain and lose to not walk away the victors on Saturday. The stakes are high, and Kingston needs to win here. It’ll help expand both his and CHIKARA’s popularity and stature as truly important in the annals of indy wrestling history. ROH? ROH has enough going for it as it is, and can afford a loss here. Kingston and CHIKARA need the win. Need it.
First and foremost, I have to preface my part of this column by saying that I don't think Kevin Steen will win the match. That's a very important point that I need to make and put out there before I say anything else. This is about why I think Steen should win the match. The difference between the two things is pretty wide.
If you ask me, Kevin Steen is the driving force that is keeping the independent wrestling scene afloat right now. I've made my thoughts and opinions on Ring Of Honor crystal clear recently, but it isn't just Ring Of Honor. Other, smaller indy promotions see RoH as the "top dog" of the indy scene, so they try their best to emulate what RoH is doing. That makes what RoH is doing wrong almost like a disease that is infesting indy promotions all over the country. Promoters think their wrestlers should look the same and should use more of the bullshit "No Sell Olympics" that guys like Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards try to earn Gold Medals in with every match they compete in. Steen is different. Steen is a breath of fresh air. He doesn't look like Davey Richards does. In fact, Kevin Steen doesn't look like a pro wrestler at all. He doesn't stand out at all, and that's something that actually does make him stand out. On top of his overall "look", he actually possesses an abundance of charisma, and can get on the mic and captivate an audience with his promos. To "borrow" Eddie Kingston's famous nickname, that means that both Steen and Kingston are the "last of a dying breed" on the indy scene.
Right now, I think Kevin Steen is the most interesting worker on the independent wrestling scene, and that fact is my first reason why he should win the match. Having the CHIKARA Grand Championship on Kevin Steen will not only make for a better storyline (the "outsider" holding the only singles title in the promotion, and the promotion's quest to "get the title back"), but I think it will place more eyeballs on CHIKARA, as a whole. That's not taking anything away from Eddie Kingston. At all. If you've read my columns for a while, you'd know I'm a big fan of Kingston, his character, and especially his mic skills. I just think, at this point in time, Steen would be the "better" man for the job. Steen is basically the CM Punk of the indies right now. You just never know what he's going to say or do next, and because of that, you have to pay attention to him. For CHIKARA, that means you have to pay attention to the CHIKARA Grand Champion. Like I said, it just puts more eyeballs on the promotion, as a whole, and when you're an indy company, that's valuable beyond all words.
Technically, that could be my only reason, and I'd have a strong argument. A relatively-small indy promotion doing something that could give their business a shot in the arm, even if it's only temporary, is a great idea. However, if more reasons are what you need, more reasons are what you'll get. From a strictly in-ring standpoint, I feel Steen is a better worker than Kingston is. That isn't saying Kingston is terrible. It's just saying Steen is better, and therefore, can get in the ring with more opponents to put on better matches for the CHIKARA audience. When you bring new viewers to your product, and you give those new viewers as good an in-ring product as you can, that's how you turn those new viewers into permanent viewers. Like I said earlier, the storyline of an "outsider" owning the CHIKARA Grand Championship sounds like something that could be very interesting, with CHIKARA sending their top guys after Steen in an attempt to "bring the title home". You'd be looking at Steen going up against the likes of Mike Quackenbush, the members of The Colony, Eddie Kingston in his rematch, and even some of the rudos on the roster if CHIKARA puts their faith in them, with guys like Johnny Gargano, Icarus, Ophidian and Chuck Taylor getting a chance to face Steen. On top of everything, you'd be looking at fresh matches, with CHIKARA having banned Steen (as Jeff mentioned earlier). By the way, speaking of that..
I think people are looking too much into it. CHIKARA banned Steen because of past discretions, blah blah blah. That's fine. However.. in case you've missed the entire point of this column.. CHIKARA.. brought Steen.. to a CHIKARA show.. to compete in the main event.. for the CHIKARA Grand Championship. Yeah, let's not worry about the ban, or anything that has taken place in the past. This is a new day for everyone involved.
Once again, I have to go back to what I said in the beginning.. I don't think Kevin Steen will beat Eddie Kingston this weekend. I most certainly do feel that he should, though. There's one major, major point working against me in this argument. Remember how I said that CHIKARA is having the show in Chicago Ridge on the 28th? Yeah, well, RoH is having one in Chicago Ridge on the 28th, as well. Same building. Same day. It's a part of the cross-promotional "Synergy" thingamajig that they're promoting. CHIKARA's show is in the afternoon, with RoH's show being later that night. In case you're wondering.. yes, Steen is scheduled to wrestle on the RoH card. He'll be teaming with Jimmy Jacobs to take on the team of El Generico and BJ Whitmer. No matter what side of the Steen/Kingston fence you're currently sitting on, you have to admit that it would be slightly strange for Kevin Steen to capture the CHIKARA Grand Championship during the afternoon, only to be wrestling in a midcard tag team match that evening. I'm sure some are asking, but no, Kingston isn't scheduled to wrestle at the RoH show, but stranger things have definitely happened before.
If we're going to be talking about Ring Of Honor shows, look at their Border Wars event on May 12th in Toronto. The main event of that show is Davey Richards defending the RoH World Title against none other than Kevin Steen. There are some interesting options that can happen with that match on the horizon..
- Steen beats Kingston, heading into Toronto with as much momentum as possible, and we get a one-on-one war
- Steen beats Kingston, and Kingston shows up in Toronto to cost Steen the match with Richards
- Kingston beats Steen, but Steen bounces back to beat Richards
- Kingston beats Steen, which sends Steen into a funk that only grows when he loses to Richards, too
Of those options, I think the one that benefits both companies the most is the second one, even though that would mean Davey's reign of garbage would have to continue. It would help CHIKARA to get some of their heat back after having their top title dropped to an RoH wrestler. It would help RoH to have their shows with the "anything can happen" feel, especially if it leads to less of the hand-shaking and smiling-for-the-cameras between RoH and CHIKARA, and to more of a real war. The only problem with this option is that the Toronto fans may lose their minds if Richards retains his title, even if by outside interference. The RoH crowds are already turning on Davey in droves, and, oh.. by the way.. Kevin Steen is Canadian. That crowd is going to be rabid and expecting a title change. If they don't get it.. yikes.
For the final time.. I just think both Ring Of Honor and CHIKARA could really benefit from Kevin Steen beating Eddie Kingston this weekend. If everything is put together correctly, and if both companies play their cards right, this could lead to some seriously fun wrestling on both sides over the next few months.
I want to thank Uncle Jeff for dropping by and participating in this column. If you're a fan of indy wrestling in any way, it would definitely behoove you to check out Jeff's columns. He's a fantastic writer, and he loves writing about indy wrestling because it's a lane that he can basically have to himself at LoP, with most everyone else writing about WWE and/or TNA. Read his work. You won't be disappointed. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more Hustle Madness votes to calculate.