The final episode of CHIKARA’s secret season had a rather deflating way to solve issues – and a glorious main event.

We open in that barber shop again, with Princess Kimberlee glad that “he’s gone”. Of course, they don’t say who, but we do see the camera focus on a small clock before fading away… and for the final time this season, we get the full CHIKARA intro, and we’re straight into tag team action!

Hermit Crab & Cajun Crawdad vs. The Force (Officer Warren Barksdale & Officer Bruno Meloni)
The Force’s police dog Officer Magnum doesn’t want to come out this time, and the Force’s pre-match pat down sees them get attacked by their crustacean opponents.

A wheelbarrow into a splash gets a couple of pinfall attempts onto Hermit Crab, before a Meloni hammerlock ends with Crawdad going into the corner. Things look to fall apart as Hermit comes in too late to block a double atomic drop, before he takes a double-team Samoan drop and a hiptoss.

The Crustaceans come back with a double chokeslam on Barksdale for a two-count, before a massive back body drop took down Barksdale hard. A Gran Naniwa-esque elbow drop off the middle rope gets Hermit a near-fall, before a wheelbarrow roll-up from Barksdale gets a near-fall of his own to counter the Low Tide. Another Naniwa elbow drop is countered with an armdrag by Barksdale, who managed to tag in Meloni to clear house.

Meloni lands Case Closed – the elbow-drop-assisted reverse DDT – only to get swept to the mat as Hermit catches him in a Boston crab. The Crustaceans help each other for an elevated elbow drop onto Meloni for another near-fall, and somewhere in here Meloni handcuffs Hermit Crab to the ropes. Is that even legal?! Regardless, there’s no DQ as the Force land the Law and Order (STO/Russian legsweep) combo on Crawdad for the win. This felt messy to me – and while I get the gimmick, I don’t get why the handcuff-to-the-ropes spot isn’t a DQ. It certainly would be if the Force were bad guys! **¼

We’ve a backstage promo from Juan Francisco de Coronado ahead of his match with Missile Assault Man. Yes, we’ve got subtitles again, as Juan’s mad at losing his points and having to start at the bottom once again.

Juan Francisco de Coronado vs. Missile Assault Man
Juan takes the match straight to MAM, throwing him into the corner then throwing in a dropkick as Juan looked to get this over in short order.

MAM briefly fights back, only to get taken into the corner again by Juan, before a tiltawhirl breaker earns him a near-fall. Juan takes too long going up top as MAM returns with a European uppercut, then a neckbreaker/backbreaker combo after having trapped Juan in the ropes. More uppercuts follow, but Juan’s enziguiri takes down Missile Assault Man for a near-fall, then tries for a backslide that’s blocked as MAM eventually grabs a Sharpshooter.

After breaking free, Juan goes back and forth on a waistlock before rolling through into the Coronado Clutch (inverted cloverleaf), dragging MAM back into the middle of the ring… but he makes it to the corner and climbs back to his feet before giving Juan almost a spinebuster into the turnbuckles.

A Missile Launcher gets blocked as MAM tried to end it, but Juan slipped out and lands a German suplex with a bridge to earn the win. That was quite a fun outing, not too long, but with plenty of action. ***

Next up, Fire Ant, Ophidian, Obariyon and Icarus are together, saying that they’re going to fight to protect CHIKARA. Icarus looks decidedly nonplussed as the Furies announced their arrival.

Legion of Rot (Hallowicked, Frightmare & Kobald) vs. The Furies (Icarus, Fire Ant & Obariyon)
The Furies start out on top as Obariyon just screams at Kobald in the middle of the ring, before an Icarus springboard gets rid of Kobald as all of the Furies go flying off the top.

Fire Ant misses a PK and takes a Pele kick from Hallowicked as we see some good back and forth from the former champion. A tiltawhirl from Fire Ant gets blocked and turned into a Go to Sleepy Hollow – with a kick to the midsection as a warm up for a dive… but Obariyon comes in to cut it off instead as Kobald apologetically lays into Obariyon. The Wasteland takes down Obariyon as Hallowicked gets just a one-count from that, as Obariyon takes a beating, before a bridging Regalplex gets Kobald another near-fall.

The Furies hit the ring to try and save Obariyon, but the referee stops them – and inadvertantly allows some more double-teaming too – before we finally see a headscissor takedown getting Obariyon some hope. I’m not going to lie, this phase of the match didn’t captivate me at all, aside from the formulaic bad guys stuff of the Legion of Rot pulling their opponents off the apron to prevent a tag.

Kobald scores a near-fall out of an elbow drop, but finally we get another comeback as Obariyon blasts the Legion with boots and knees, before kicking away Hallowicked to make the tag out to Fire Ant! Who then runs into a Sky High powerbomb from Hallowicked. In comes Icarus, who gets kicked into the corner, before stringing together a series of shoulder tackles and a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall.

It’s all Icarus here as a modified Downward Spiral rocks Frightmare, but a Sliced Bread’s blocked as Kobald charges in to hold Icarus for a tandem of enziguiris for another near-fall. The Furies take over as they send the Legion to the outside with dropkicks, then followed up with a trio of topes. Back inside, Icarus connects with a Shiranui, before Fire Ant’s PK and a diving headbutt from Obariyon to Kobald gets the win. This was decent, but even as someone who didn’t know the background storyline, I was left curious as to why this was given away when it was. Was there no other way to build up the Furies for season 18? ***

We’re backstage next with Ophidian, who’s rather unsettled by how Princess Kimberlee has acted recently – especially her lacking compassion and empathy. This all leads to Ophidian calling Kimberlee an enemy rather than a friend, as he’s looking to selfishly start his Grand Championship rise by ending her dreams.

Princess Kimberlee vs. Ophidian
Kimberlee’s going into this with four points, and she’s really conflicted at the challenge she’s issued, given that she could easily have gone for a title match instead.

Kimberlee starts out hot, charging at Ophidian with clotheslines before hitting a crucifix bomb and a kick to the shoulder to take down the masked snake guy. There’s a whole lot of clubbing from the Princess, who pauses to wistfully regret what she’s done… which in turn allows Ophidian to try and make a comeback, only for that to get swiftly cut-off.

It’s all Kimberlee here, as she grabs a half-crab on Ophidian, before switching it into the Axel Dieter Special! Ophidian leans back and almost pins Kimberlee there, but she rolls it into a prawn hold for a near-fall before an overhand chop rocks Kimberlee. She replies with machine-gun chops in the corner as the pair chop back and forth until they decide to exchange forearms in the corner.

A Koji Clutch in the ropes follows, as does a Code Red as Kimberlee continues to obliterate Ophidian, landing a tiltawhirl backbreaker as the crowd launch into a not-at-all-prompted chant of “Why Kim, Why?”. That stalls her for long enough to get rolled up for a near-fall, but she rushes back into Ophidian with a chinlock. Another comeback ends with a missed Quebrada from Ophidian, leading Kimberlee to take him into the corner for yet more stomps.

A Meteora in the corner gets a near-fall, as Kimberlee then moves to a series of release German suplexes, which somehow only got her a two-count. Ophidian replies with a pair of Meteoras in the corner, before another off the top rope almost wins him the match. He segues into a grounded Cobra clutch, but Kimberlee switches it into a cross armbreaker, only for Ophidian to roll back out into the Cobra clutch.

The momentum continues to shift as Kimberlee delivers a pop-up powerbomb as the crowd urged her to walk away… that distraction allowed Ophidian to sneak in with a backslide, adding in a bridge as he takes the slip-on-a-banana-peel win. Quite good, but this was massively one-sided and a performance that I felt didn’t jive well with the earlier Furies story. **½

So, we finally get the conclusion of “what happens to the CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas”… and the answer is: they just vacated the belts because Moustache Mountain hadn’t defended them. LAME.

Our ring announce, Vlad Radinov proclaims this to be the main event of the evening, as Bryce Remsburg holds the tag titles in his hands. Vlad tells us this’ll be a double-elimination match, so the first team to score two pinfalls will win the titles. Needless complication for the win! Oh, apparently this is a “co-main event”, so I’m guessing the taping-out-of-order deal bit them yet again?

CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas: The Closers (Sloan Caprice & Rick Roland) vs. Cornelius Crummels & Sonny Defarge vs. The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & Mr. Touchdown)
This went a shade under 20 minutes, and with the double-pin rules, I’m going to mainly cover the falls – lest we lose our collective minds in a load of broken up covers!

We go over half the match before we get the first fall, with all three teams enjoying spells on top – the Throwbacks seemed to get the upper hand early on, before Hatfield tagged in Rick Roland so he could get sneezed on by Cornelius Crummels, before Roland dished out a Samoan drop/fallaway slam combo for a near-fall on the pair of them.

The Closers combine to hit a double-team powerslam, but the Throwbacks break up the cover, which is a little weird in a double-elimination match. Sloan Caprice takes a sidewalk slam onto the apron from Mr. Touchdown, before Hatfield’s tope clears the rest of the field. Moments later, the Closers land their Deal Breaker onto Touchdown and Defarge (the assisted forward slam and powerbomb), but it’s Dasher Hatfield who breaks this pin up.

A big boot from Roland drops Mr. Touchdown, before Caprice’s suplex gets a near-fall as the Closers firmly stay on top of the Throwbacks. Roland gets a near-fall out of a back body drop, before Caprice misses a top rope senton as Touchdown rolled away to tag in Hatfield, who eventually cleared the apron.

The first fall comes the way of Dasher Hatfield, as a jackhammer gets a three-count over Sloan Caprice – giving the Throwbacks a 1-0 lead… but a Sky High powerbomb from Rick Roland almost levels it, only for Roland to miss a Vader bomb and get rolled up by Crummels as the other old-timers get their first fall. Roland continues the hard hitting with a package powerbomb for a near-fall on Defarge, before Crummels and Defarge take a Deal Breaker as the Closers get their first fall.

It’s sudden death now, but the Closers maintain their advantage, taking Touchdown into the corner for an avalanche, but he manages to avoid further double-teaming as Defarge runs into an inverted slam. Dasher Hatfield perches himself on top and telegraphs himself as he’s caught as Crummels and Defarge hit a monkey flip to send Hatfield to the pile on the floor.

Caprice catches Touchdown for a bucklebomb, before Roland plants him with a full nelson backbreaker… and for some reason the bell rings? It’s Crummels who rung the bell to cause some confusion as Caprice insists that his team won – despite the bell ringing without there even being a pinfall or submission attempt! Defarge runs in and leaps into Caprice, tying himself into the ropes to hold the pair back as Crummels steals a pin on the downed Mr. Touchdown – allowing Crummels and Defarge to win the vacant tag titles! A bit of a weird finish, but this was a fun match in spite of the weird stipulation… it’s just a shame they had to vacate the belts and couldn’t have a proper title match. ***½

Ophidian and Fire Ant are backstage next holding a locker room meeting with Dez Peloton, all of Xyberhawx 2000, Travis Huckabee, Solo Darling, Icarus, Officer Warren Barksdale, Los Ice Creams, and Team Sea Stars. They’re continuing to build out the Furies to defend CHIKARA…

Race Jaxon’s in the promo area next. This is how we’re ending the season?! He’s still a narcissist, and he tells us his story about how he confused the Joker for Doink the Clown – who he saw at WrestleMania X, and that video gets him into wrestling. To cut a long story short, he was captivated by the Rock before recapping how much he’s done in his fledging CHIKARA career, and he’s turning his sights to the CHIKARA Grand Championship. Again, THIS is how we’re ending the season? With a seven minute promo to build to a wacky title match? This was a weird promo that absolutely did not befit Race’s new character, but whatever.

CHIKARA Grand Championship: Race Jaxon vs. Ultramantis Black (c)
SQUASH! So after an eternity of a Race Jaxon promo, he gets killed by Ultramantis Black in less than two minutes.

Ultramantis attacked Jaxon from behind as he was taking off the NRG t-shirt – one he’d put black tape across Hype Rockwell’s silhouette – before booting Jaxon and landing a backcracker. The Cosmic Doom quickly follows for a near-fall, but a full nelson slam and a Cobra clutch soften him up for a release belly-to-back suplex and a trio of Praying Mantis Bombs as Race gets squashed. Well then!

The show ends with Princess Kimberlee leaving the Wrestle Factory, much like Heidi Lovelace did in a prior episode. She’s approached by the Whisper, who’s unhappy that she didn’t do as he wanted her to do earlier – presumably in losing to Ophidian. Kimberlee changes the agreement she had with the Whisper… and quits CHIKARA, throwing down her crown, before walking away, as the whisper pulls out a yo-yo, which had a clock on the side… the same one that we saw at the start in the barber shop vignette.

So… the Whisper was the barber?!

That’s the end of “secret season 17”, a series of shows that were as consumable as they were baffling at points. After having paid only a passing glance to CHIKARA in the past, this was a jumping on point for me, and I must say it’s also probably going to be a jumping off point too. With these shows being presented almost as a TV show (as opposed to the traditional indy wrestling presentation of “a live event that happeend to be taped”), it was the perfect opportunity to throw in a bunch of retrospective video packages to remind fans of storylines and what took us to where we were.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of that, and for a new fan like myself, Mike Quackenbush’s recaps of prior storylines with Nazmaldun and the like just went massively over my head, leaving me feeling uninvested (and frankly, unwilling) to go back and fill in the blanks. As a show, none of CHIKARA’s secret season was unspeakably bad. There were plenty of current and developing storylines that had enough meat on the proverbial bone (sorry vegans!) for you to sink your teeth into and get invested in. Sure, there were little quibbles, like the show clearly being taped out of order which led to us having multiple main events, show-open segments in the middle of a show and such like… plus weird post-production effects where we had blatant digital zoom to try and mimic a multi-camera production.

Don’t get me wrong – CHIKARA is quite the unique company. Heavily inspired by lucha and comic books, there is clearly a market for their brand of wrestling… although it may not be quite as large as it was before the promotion’s sabbatical in 2013. If it’s your kind of thing, CHIKARA’s subscription service, CHIKARAtopia, is worth the money. However, if you’re more into strong matches than what are at times trainee outings, then this is probably something to dip in and out of.