We’re back for more CHIKARA, featuring the final episode from the first block of that “secret season”.

The show opens with N_R_G – Race Jaxon and Hype Rockwell – arguing over an accidental collision between the two on a previous show. Race says he’ll be where he should be… as long as Hype stops accidentally hitting him. They agree, but it’s one of those “agree to disagree” kind of deals.

After the opening credits, we get a promo from Ophidian somewhere in Philadelphia. Either the dubbing is off, or my sound is badly out as Ophidian’s movements don’t match his words, as he tells whomever he was speaking to that “whatever happened wasn’t your fault”.

Live in the arena, this looks to be the start of a new taping as our MC, Vlad Radinov, gets an entrance unlike in episode 2.

Hermit Crab vs. Officer Warren Barksdale
Crab actually comes out with a shell on his back, which is an awesome touch. He’s got two points, so a win here would technically get him a title shot. Given his place in the company, this may telegraph a result… Barksdale’s gimmick is straight out of CHiPs – a wrestling highway patrolman – but at least it’s not another ruddy masked man.

Hermit piefaces the officer after a tie-up was ducked, but Barksdale comes back with some headlock takeovers, before rolling up Hermit for a couple of inside cradles for near-falls. A clothesline takes down Crab for a sloppy two-count, before Barksdale gives the Hermit a pat-down before applying a double chicken-wing, then rolling him over into a pinning predicament.

Barksdale runs into a choke from the Hermit Crab, which leads to a pinfall attempt, as does a spinebuster, before he walks the middle rope and drops an elbow. Hey, unlike Martin Kirby, that actually connects! The Officer swats away a series of chops as he sets up for a crucifix bomb, but Cajun Crawdad gets on the apron for a distraction. It works, and Hermit tries to trip up Barksdale… that doesn’t work, so he goes for the Crucifix bomb, only for Crawdad to hit the ring and attach Barksdale with his own handcuffs for the DQ. Well, with the benefit of other reviews, this was the second time Barksdale’s been attacked in 1-on-2- situations, so this is probably leading to Barksdale getting another officer. **

The crabs handcuff the officer and leave the ring – rather than continue a non-kid friendly beating!

Kobald vs. Hiptoss Hank
Kobald had a demented promo backstage where he was talking to himself ahead of what was Hank’s third appearance in as many episodes.

A dropkick takes Hank into the corner straight away, where he’s peppered with palm strikes, then whipped into the other corner. Kobald follows up with some shoulder charges, but Hank makes an attempt at a comeback with some forearms, before his signature move – the hiptoss – is blocked as Hank gets shoved to the mat.

A diving shoulder tackle from Kobald takes down Hank, as does a second, before the Demon’s Toilet (Doink’s old Whoopee Cushion) gets the win). SPLAT. (Not Rating).

Well, it’s nice that CHIKARA’s giving guys squashes to establish them, I guess.

We’re shown clips from the end of a Mask vs. Mask match at December 2016’s Temple of Doom show, where Frightmare beat – and unmasked – Amasis.

Fire Ant vs. Razerhawk
This was Razerhawk’s debut, and he did the old Sin Cara entrance into the ring. Without a trampoline. Or a screw-up.

From the opening lock-up, Ant flipped over Razerhawk and went for a leglock that was countered, with Fire Ant eventually being sent into the corner. Ant came back with a lucha-style roll-up for a near-fall, before some more lucha inspired stuff led to an armdrag and an eventual wheelbarrow roll-up that almost earned Razer a shock win.

Fire Ant flew back with a Superman forearm for a near-fall, before busting out a Johnny Saint-esque submission as he moved into an Octopus hold. Razerhawk looked to go for a Pedigree, but Fire Ant backdropped him and suspended him in mid air before Razer went for a sunset flip for a near-fall.

Razerhawk pushed away a superplex attempt, then dropped down to blast Fire Ant with a clubbing clothesline. A handspring hip attack knocks down the Ant, who came back with an enziguiri as Razerhawk was on the top rope. That superplex followed, as did a PK, before an Air Raid Crash earned the win. A fine debut for Razerhawk, who looked composed and more than able – of course, we don’t know for sure if this is a trainee of a repackaging, but a good start nevertheless. **¾

We go back to the barbershop, where we see someone asking for a makeover… just of his facial hair. No names given, and I didn’t recognise him, so we’ll skip over…

Solo Darling & Team Sea Stars (Ashley Vox & Delmi Exo) vs. Princess Kimber Lee & Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream & Ice Cream Jr)
We start with Solo and Kimber, the latte rolls around to try and avoid a wristlock before Solo just kicks her. A back senton gets our first near-fall before tags bring in Ashley Vox and Ice Cream Jr.

Junior traps Vox in a wristlock, which she switches into a hammerlock, only for that to be turned into a headlock and another wristlock. El Hijo del Ice Cream comes in to help with a double overhead wristlock, before Vox climbs the ropes and flips free. A dropkick gets her a near-fall before Delmi Exo tags in, helping with a double Northern Lights suplex to Hijo for a near-fall.
Hijo takes some boots in the corner before a ‘rana and a facebuster gets Exo a near-fall, before Hijo throws Exo into Vox, as the Ice Creams take over. They swing Exo into Solo Darling in the corner, then hit the same move – the Galleon – as Vox gets slung into a powerbomb from Kimber Lee.

A big boot from Hijo takes down Vox as the Crown and Court trio work over her, with Kimber using a full nelson-with-the-legs (a bit like what Axel Dieter Jr does for those who watch wXw too). Hijo tags in and kicks Vox in the midsection, before he throws her to the outside… which allows Solo Darling to legally come into the match, and take a big boot. Junior comes in to keep wearing down Solo, before she’s thrown out, this time allowing Delmi Exo to come in and get slammed.

Junior forces Exo to the mat with a test of strength, which gave way to a bunch of near-falls and finally a tornado DDT from Exo as Solo Darling gave herself a sugar rush and tagged in. Hijo nonchalantly misses a clothesline before running into a slam from Solo, as Junior tagged in and was taken down with a hip attack. A spear knocks down Hijo for a near-fall, before Vox tagged back in and eventually found her way into a Cold Stone Stunner.

Exo cuts off a Galleon powerbomb by Kimber with a ‘rana, but Lee comes back with a bunch of German suplexes. So many German suplexes, even Brock Lesnar would start wondering “should I switch this up?” Finally Kimber Lee stopped with those Germans, before the camera picks up a masked man in the entrance way… Kimber’s distracted, and she takes a low dropkick from Solo, who rolls her up for the pin. Yay, my favourite finish, but I’d guess they’ll explain who the masked man is. A decent enough trios match, but the heat from Los Ice Creams felt too long for me. **¼

We have a promo from CHIKARA referee Travis Lastnameunnecessary. At the end of the last show, he handed over his shirt to Mike Quackenbush, and it seems that the bullies like Max Smashmaster and the Boar of Moldova have forced Travis to become a wrestler. He’s now Travis Huckabee…

Nytehawk vs. Travis Huckabee
Mike Quackenbush noted on commentary that Travis borrowed some kneepads from Ophidian for this match – completing the look of mid 80s TV jobber. Complete with ring jacket!

The crowd chant “stretch him Travis”, which is an awfully odd thing for a crowd to be saying to a supposed debutant. Nytehawk grabs a hammerlock, but Huckabee counters it and takes him down in a wristlock that almost forced the pin. Huckabee wrenches away at Nytehawk’s arm, before scoring a roll-up for another near-fall.

It’s all Huckabee in the early going, as he dropkicks Nytehawk into the ropes, and just as I type that, Nytehawk kicks him down and scores another two-count from a roll-up. A John Cena-esque fist-drop gets another near-fall, before Huckabee fires back with some back and forth open-hand chops.

A flying knee meets Huckabee’s face, which gets chants of “Cyber Bully”. Those dissipate as Nytehawk leapt to the top rope for a cross body, then locked in a front facelock. Huckabee takes advantage of a telegraphed back body drop as he went back at Nytehawk, landing a double axehandle for a near-fall, then a bridging butterfly suplex for another two-count.

Huckabee hits a piledriver to take down Nytehawk, then goes for a sugar stretch (trapped-leg grounded Octopus), and that forces the submission. Another impressive debut, with this five-minute outing being just about all we needed to establish the act. It’s nice that they didn’t make “hey, I used to be a referee” his gimmick too! **¾

Sonny Defarge & Cornelius Crummels vs. N_R_G (Race Jaxon & Hype Rockwell)
Defarge and Crummels – presently the CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas (tag team champs) – come out here without the belts, so I’m assuming that this “flashback” season will soon show us how they took the belts from Moustache Mountain. Yes, the same ones.

N_R_G remind me a lot of the old High Energy team, at least in terms of their ring gear. There’s no Owen Hart parachute pants here though, and we’re told that they’ve had more than their fair share of internal conflict as of late. Jaxon and Crummels work back and forth, trading headlocks and cravats, before a Jaxon Northern Lights suplex gets a near-fall.

Crummels sneezes into his hand, then chops Jaxon, who replies with a dropkick and a top rope crossbody before tagging in Rockwell. Hype gives Defarge a couple of hiptosses, then a massive shoulder tackle before Crummels eats a big back body drop. Jaxon returns and blasts Crummels with a dropkick in the corner, before N_R_G team up to blast Defarge with a pair of splashes in the corner.

Jaxon leaves the ring and heads to the back for no apparent reason, forcing Rockwell to fend for himself. He’s double-teamed for a while, with a corner splash and a clothesline keeping Hype down for a two-count, before Defarge sneezes in Rockwell’s face as a set-up for a move that ended up as a chop block that sent Hype’s face into Crummel’s knees.

Crummels tries for a step-up monkey flip off the top, but Hype shrugs it off and shoves him onto his partner below. That gets Rockwell a near-fall, as he turfs out Defarge, then Crummels. Hype heads outside too to keep up the fight, heading up to the entrance way, where we see Race Jaxon shove some of the entranceway onto his tag team partner! The tessellating honeycomb-like structure knocks Hype out, and the ref just counts him out, rather than wave the match off. Eventually he hits twenty, and the old timers get the win. Eh, this was alright – as a match it was barely there, but it served two purposes: finally splitting up N_R_G after those teases, and apparently it gave Crummels and Defarge their third win, qualifying them for a tag title shot. *¾

After the match we see ring crew tending to Rockwell, whilst MC Vlad Radinov called for people from the back to help him. All whilst Race Jaxon watched on from above, emotionless after destroying his tag team partnership.

Cue credits, in silence, which was apt given that N_R_G died here, before we’re given another end-of-show video, where we find that Ophidian at the start of the show was talking to Amasis’ mask. He takes the mask and lays it to rest, throwing it in the fire at the bottom of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier statue in Philadelphia.

End scene!

As an episode, I thought this flowed much better than “Orientation”, perhaps because there was much less in the way of wacky carried-over storylines that weren’t being explained. The commentary from Mike Quackenbush is still a little iffy at times, going overboard on calling moves but leaving storyline details out – although as a newbie, I have no idea how much of that is intentional due to the “flashback” nature of this season taking place at the same time as “season 18”’s shows. Still, as a result, we’ve got some new debutants, a break-up with a very clearly-defined bad guy, and lots of intrigue for the next set of episodes. Which (at time of writing) have just dropped!