Larry Sweenee tribute2011 would be a year of great triumph for Chikara and abundant sorrow. Larry Sweeney, who last appeared in Chikara as part of the Chikara team in Torneo Cibernetico, took his own life that April. Sweeney suffered from bipolar disorder and had a mental breakdown in 2009 during which period he took a fourteen month hiatus from wrestling. He returned in 2010 for a handful of appearances at Chikara and posted a blog entry on their website at the end of the year that he would return in 2011. Reportedly, he was one of the most liked people at Chikara behind the scenes and his loss touched virtually everyone who worked there. A couple of days after his passing, Chikara was scheduled to begin its popular King of Trios tournament and so a memorial was held for him, his signature sunglasses placed alone in the middle of the ring as a tribute. Many of that night’s competitors wore pink and purple armbands, Sweeney’s signature colors. For their match that evening, Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw used Sweeney’s signature moves to win. When Eddie Kingston came out to perform, his entrance music was “Highwayman” by The Highwaymen, one of Sweeney’s favorite songs. For some time, fans asked for a solo championship title for Chikara. Later that year, the Chikara Grand Champion title was declared with the winner of the 12 Large: Summit to be its first owner. The tournament’s title is a reference to Sweeney’s catchphrase “12 Large, brother” which came from when Sweeney was at an indie wrestling show and asked fellow wrestler The Patriot how he was doing with moving merchandise. The Patriot responded, “I’m up 12 Large, brother” which Sweeney found an amusing way to say he had made twelve dollars. Eddie Kingston would end up taking home the championship defeating Mike Quackenbush.

 

King of Trios 2011Regarding the ongoing battle between Die Bruderschaft des Kreuze and Chikara, the former was on the ropes and only continued to descend. The 12 Large: Summit was based on everyone on the Chikara roster voting for who they wanted to see compete for the championship belt with Claudio Castagnoli and Sara Del Ray the only members of BDK to make it into the twelve slots. That August, Castagnoli was eliminated by Icarus as the former was signed to WWE. It was always Castagnoli’s dream to work in the WWE but Mike Quackenbush has said on numerous occasions his presence is greatly missed in Chikara because Castagnoli always pushed Quackenbush to work harder. Castagnoli would also have to leave his position of co-trainer for the Wrestle Factory, Chuck Taylor, Fire Ant, Green Ant, Hallowicked, and Ophidian stepping up to fill the void left by his absence. Meanwhile, Tursas and Green Ant entered a feud which mirrored that of Lex Luger and Yokozuna from 1993 so far as Green Ant bodyslamming the massive Tursas at King of Trios and winning his match using Luger’s finisher the Torture Rack on Jakob Hammermeier. Green Ant would also go on to begin a “Flex Express” bus tour again mirroring Luger with at one point Luger himself even appearing. Toward the end of the season, Green Ant and Tursas had their final battle when Green Ant defeated his foe using the new submission Chikara Special: Green. About the only major member of BDK still a dominant force was Ares.

 

Chaos in the Sea of Lost Souls

Chaos in the Sea of Lost Souls

Sinn Bodhi was coming after UltraMantis Black for the Eye of Tyr. Black would fight Bodhi but the Batiri would become involved and disqualified their master. The pair would fight again with Bodhi leaving Black beaten, his mask torn apart. Afterward, Black would vow to right his wrongs of the past and formed the Spectral Envoy with Hallowicked and Frightmare (and later, Crossbones). Black targeted the BDK in an effort to draw out their leader Ares, along the way attending to old business by beating Bodhi and the Batiri. Ares feuded with UltraMantis Black where Black couldn’t seem to beat him. It wouldn’t be until about the end of the year Black would put his mask on the line for the Eye of Tyr that he finally defeated Ares and regained the artifact.

 

LAniversario The Legendary Super Powers Showikely the official finale for Chikara’s tenth season, High Noon was Chikara’s first iPPV (internet pay-per-view). While the promotion had in the past done pod-per-views, which could be downloaded online after an event took place, an iPPV was streamed live over the internet. Hosted in the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia (formerly the ECW Arena), the event broke attendance records for the promotion and more people streamed the event live than ROH’s last iPPV around that time. The event was highly praised by the wrestling community, some commenting Chikara’s inaugural iPPV was a superior product to other such promotions like DGUSA and ROH that also employed iPPV. The same month as High Noon, Chikara also introduced a secondary promotion in Wrestling is Fun! (WiF!). While Chikara is an all ages product, WiF! is geared specifically to appeal to children and serves a dual purpose as a training ground for the Wrestle Factory’s latest graduates (though Chikara’s performers also compete). The latter is a concept known as a farm league, or a place where talent can develop their skills to prepare them for the big league. WWE use to employ NXT Wrestling in Florida in such a way before it went defunct in 2013 (the NXT Arrival event in February 2014 ended up being a huge stepping stone for Claudio Castagnoli in his career as Cesaro).