We’re up to the penultimate episode of the secret season of CHIKARA, and it’s all business here: hair vs. hair and a title match appears on today’s card!

The show opens up with Lucas Calhoun out in the snow, calling Jeremy Leary an imposter. Throughout the season, Leary’s been taking parts of Calhoun’s “character”, and this leads to a challenge to a hair vs. hair match later on.

After the opening credits, we’re taken to Dasher Hatfield and Mr. Touchdown. Hatfield’s got his three points after winning the Infinite Gauntlet, and he’s taking the “golden opportunity” as a tag title shot, rather than a singles match. So add another team to the list of those wanting to challenge Moustache Mountain if they get back. Foreshadowing!

Merlok vs. Nytehawk
This was Merlok’s debut, and my lord he’s a masked, bodysuited hoss. To the point where you’d wonder if he’s better known as someone else, given that they cover up everything. Squash match klaxon! Merlok takes Nytehawk into the corner, then demands that Nytehawk give him his best shot… which came in the form of a couple of dropkicks that barely moved Merlok. What did work was a handspring back elbow, but Nytehawk’s follow-up cross body is caught and turned into a slam as a series of avalanches followed from Merlok.

Another avalanche is missed, but another handspring back elbow is caught, which leads to a bear hug into an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, before a running Samoan drop left Nytehawk laying. A sliding clothesline follows, before Merlok snaps into an Emerald Fusion for the win. SPLAT. A perfect way to debut a monster.

We’ve a backstage promo next from Bruno Meloni – he’s here to save Officer Warren Barksdale, and he’s got another partner with him… Officer Magnum! It’s a dog! A confused-looking dog at that… maybe because Officer Barksdale is a better name for the dog?

The Force (Officer Warren Barksdale & Officer Bruno Meloni) vs. Hiptoss Hank & Benny The Biel
Officer Magnum’s out with them, and I’m sure PETA would be onto CHIKARA if they were watching. The Force are facing a pair of jobbers, so where’s my squash match klaxon again?

A waistlock takedown sees Barksdale work over Hank, as he flowed into a strait jacket hold, before Meloni tags in and hits an axehandle off the top rope. Meloni pats down Hank then brings in Barksdale for a double atomic drop, then a double-team Samoan drop as Benny the Biel runs in for a hiptoss.

The Force land a pair of splashes for a near-fall, but it’s always going to be a one-way street for the Force. Barksdale hits a lariat into the corner on Benny, before Meloni comes in with a running knee lift and a dropkick, eventually landing a DDT off the top rope for a two-count as Hiptoss Hank made the save. Seconds later, the Law and Order – Russian legsweep and clothesline – gets the Force the win. An absolute squash, which is probably how you should have debuted this tandem… who are already teasing dissension.

Next up, Princess Kimberlee, who’s mad about having to face Fire Ant.

Princess Kimberlee vs. Fire Ant
They start out evenly, forcing clean breaks on each other, with Fire Ant forcing Kimberlee to the mat with a knuckle lock… but she bridges up, only to be taken down with a headlock.

A rope running series ends with Kimberlee catching a monkey flip and trying for a hiptoss off the top, but that seems to tweak Fire Ant’s knee, which brings the match to a juddering halt. As referee Bryce Remsburg checks on him, Kimberlee kicks Ant’s leg out of his leg, then immediately shows remorse before going for a release German suplex. The Princess DDT’s the Ant’s knee as she cycles between those and German suplexes… somehow the Ant rolls her up for a near-fall, then stops himself from hitting a PK as both members of this match appear to be conflicted.

Kimberlee takes over again, focusing on Ant’s left leg, and that just led to Ant being unable to run across the ring, crumpling to the mat as he tried to charge at her in the corner. More kicks from Kimberlee gets her a near-fall, but she misses a senton bomb off the top rope, and now Fire Ant goes to work with a PK.

Fire Ant tries to hit a belly-to-back piledriver, but his knee gives way again allowing Kimberlee to hit the Code Red for another near-fall. She tries to follow-up with the Coronation (a modified STF), but the ropes break it up, so Kimberlee just kicks his leg again and again. Finally, Fire Ant avoids one and comes in with a satellite DDT for a two-count, as he tries to shake some life into that beaten down leg.

Ant heads up to the top rope, but his missile dropkick’s turned into a powerbomb for a near-fall, as Kimberlee goes back the kicks, before finally catching Ant in the Coronation for the submission. I enjoyed this one, even if the “conflicted” part of Kimberlee’s character wasn’t all that subtle. Good back and forth, and for once the leg work related to something! ***¼

Crummels and Defarge are backstage now, moaning about Moustache Mountain. There’s one episode left in this season and we still haven’t had a definitive answer about those CHIKARA tag titles… Defarge isn’t happy at Dasher Hatfield and Mr. Touchdown trying to jump their place in the queue, and I don’t blame them!

Cornelius Crummels & Sonny Defarge vs. Travis Huckabee & Solo Darling
Crummels and Defarge are on a five-match win streak, and I sense they’ll get a sixth against Solo and the love-shy Huckabee here.

Some straightforward grappling from Crummels takes Huckabee into the ropes early on, where he apparently sneezes into the former ref for a disgusting spot. Huckabee grabs a full nelson, before the pair go back and forth with wristlocks before both men tag out to keep the theme going. A bulldog off the middle rope takes down Defarge, but Darling struggled to get back to her feet for a tag… and when she does, Crummels just sneezes at her.

A distraction leads to a pratfall for Darling, who gets trapped in the corner for a series of strikes before she makes a tag out to Huckabee… who uses her as a battering ram! Huckabee gets a two-count out of a crossbody, but after taking a diving uppercut, Huckabee’s left laying for the Great Expectations (big splash as Crummels and Defarge went for a vertebreaker on the other) for the win. This was massively flat for me; it got the eviltons a win, but this did nothing for me. **

We’re backstage again with Kimberlee and the Whisper. She tells him that she’s done… but the Whisper’s apparently blackmailing her, and gives her another task.

Hair vs. Hair – Jeremy Leary vs. Lucas Calhoun
All season long these two have been going at it, and this is the blow-off – with Leary coming out in one of Calhoun’s jumpsuits to add some extra spice to this. They start off windmilling each other with punches, before Calhoun edges ahead with a knee strike and a diving lariat.

Leary sidesteps a charge from Calhoun as they go to the outside, with a diving knee off the apron and a 619 on the apron keeping Lucas at bay, and it’s the same kind of pace back inside as Leary strung together some more kicks for a near-fall. Calhoun’s choked across the middle rope, but he comes back and nearly snatches a win with a senton, but Lucas’ own cover seemed to help Leary get the shoulder up.

Leary turns things around again though, getting a two-count out of a diving uppercut, before he grounds Calhoun with a rear chinlock, before he gets too cocky and is dropped with a back suplex. They go back to exchanging right hands, before a monkey flip attempt is neatly turned into a Rocker Dropper by Leary for a near-fall. Calhoun responds with a pumphandle backbreaker for a two-count, before Leary rakes the eyes to avoid a Samoan drop.

Calhoun crotches Leary on the top rope and heads up there for a top rope Samoan drop… and that’s it! Lucas Calhoun gets the win, and the chance to shave Leary’s hair after a match that was alright, if not slow and clunky at points. An enjoyable way to blow-off a season-long storyline, but I’m sad they didn’t drag up the barber from the earlier part of the season to take care of this. **¾

Leary tries to escape his fate, then tells “big brother” to do it. There’s some call backs to what I guess were things from their past, and that makes Calhoun flip-out so much… that he shaves his own head, then tells Leary that he can have everything that comes with being Lucas Calhoun. Those clippers were the dirt worst, as Calhoun barely removed any hair… at least until he came back and figured out what was going wrong. What is it with live haircuts in wrestling?

We get a promo from Ultramantis Black next, as he is cashing in his three points for a shot at the Grand Championship in our main event!

CHIKARA Grand Championship: Hallowicked (c) vs. Ultramantis Black
Mike Quackenbush goes over the storylines that led to this match, but the whole Nazmaldun story just washed over me. I wasn’t following CHIKARA in the past, and to be honest, the summary just feels like Quack’s reading a shopping list rather than giving any background information on their past.

Ultramantis doesn’t take his ring jacket off, and he launches into Hallowicked at the bell, eventually taking the champion to the outside for a tope. Hallowicked is PK’d off the ring steps, as some baseball slides from Mantis keep him on the outside… a weird strategy since titles don’t change by count-out. One of those slides is caught and Hallowicked wraps the legs of Mantis around the ring post, forcing him to beat the count-out… which he does, only for Hallowicked to wrench away on the left leg some more.

A series of knee drops put Hallowicked firmly in control, as a half-crab eventually leads to a rope break as Ultramantis Black is left laying. Hallowicked shoves away referee Bryce Remsburg as the pressure continued on that left leg of the challenger, but Mantis comes back with a jawbreaker to finally get him some separation.

A pair of full nelson slams take down Hallowicked, but Mantis can’t capitalise and make the cover right away. Another full nelson slam follows, and this time Ultramantis can make the cover, but that’s only good for a two-count, so he goes to the Cobra clutch to try and force a submission… but Hallowicked grabs the ropes with ease. Ultramantis goes back to the clutch, but again we get a rope break as the good guys of CHIKARA appear at ringside to will on Mantis. It’d be fun to see who isn’t there to at least narrow down anyone using multiple characters…

We head into the final stretch as Hallowicked countered a Cobra clutch with Go To Sleepy Hollow, before a choke bomb gets another near-fall for the champion. He tries for the Never Wake Up, but Mantis backdrops his way free… after a cobra clutch and a Regalplex, Mantis manages to catch Hallowicked with the Praying Mantis Bomb, and we’ve got a new champion! Easily the best match of the whole season so far, with Ultramantis shrugging off working with one leg (or so it seemed) to dethrone Hallowicked – a result that would probably only be amplified if you’ve been a long-term CHIKARA fan. ****

After Ultramantis Black heads to the back to chants of “you deserve it” (which puts this show as an early 2017 taping), Vlad Radinov does his confetti-throwing sign-off, and then we have the post-show skit, where Solo Darling and Travis Huckabee walk in on Ophidian. She’s excited that Ophidian’s creating a group called the “Furries”… she’s corrected as it’s the “Furies”, but Travis agrees to be a part of it anyway. Comedy… and we’re done!

This episode contained some fluff, with two squash matches, but it’s worth watching for the hair vs. hair match and, of course, the main event. So, with one episode left, we’ve got a new Grand Champion in CHIKARA… but there’s clearly escalating tensions regarding the tag title picture. Will that be resolved in the season finale? Find out!