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Chikara: Pro Wrestling Like Never Before

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It’s a comic book come to life.

That’s what Bryce Remsburg says about Chikara, a Philly-based professional wrestling promotion. And he would know, being the league’s senior referee.

“The idea behind any sort of entertainment is that you want to watch and forget about your problems for a few hours,” Remsburg said. “When you go to a Chikara show, you see 5-year-olds and 50-year-olds. We give a lot of tickets to special needs homes. It’s for everybody who wants to have a good time.”

Most people familiar with pro wrestling know it to be staged battles between musclemen; others more knowledgeable understand that wrestling can be a bloody spectacle where its participants frequently use chairs, tables and barbed wire as weapons.

But Chikara is like no other wrestling promotion in the world. Most of its performers are regular sized guys who wrestle a frenetic, fast-paced style of wrestling filled with acrobatic dives and breathtaking maneuvers. It’s much more like Lucha Libre, Mexico’s version of pro wrestling, than its American counterpart.

Like Lucha Libre, a lot of Chikara’s wrestlers wear elaborate masks and flashy costumes that could be straight off of the cover of a Marvel comic book. And many of its performers seem exactly like comic book heroes and villains; UltraMantis Black is an evil insect who wishes to dominate the world and The Colony is a threesome of ants who have taken on human form.

“Wrestling isn’t about Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant anymore,” Remsburg said. “Wrestling’s going to evolve with the times. At Chikara, we want to be forerunners and trendsetters.”

Anyone who has ever attended professional wrestling matches in person knows that it can be a vulgar raunch-fest. But, much like the action in the ring, Chikara strives to be different. One of the first things said by the ring announcer when the card starts warns the audience to not curse or use explicit language. Chikara strives to be a family friendly promotion that anyone can attend – and love.

Chikara was formed in 2002 in Allentown by Mike Quackenbush and Reckless Youth, two longtime independent professional wrestlers known for their high-flying styles. Chikara’s home base bounced around the Lehigh Valley and Reading areas. Eventually, they started to have cards at the New Ahlambra Arena in South Philly. Wrestling fans around the world know this facility as the former home of Extreme Championship Wrestling, a Philly-based promotion which changed professional wrestling forever.

And Remsburg hopes that Chikara will do the same.

“Chikara has a lot of athletics and storytelling,” Remsburg said. “But we know that people come to escape from real life for a few hours and to have a good time. And we think that if people take their friends who don’t know or like wrestling to a Chikara show they’ll have a great time.”

The next Chikara event will be held on Sunday, August 16 at 4 p.m. The show will take place at The Arena, located at 7 W. Ritner Street (near Front and Oregon). Tickets are $15. On top of the Chikara roster, this day’s event will feature Mascarita Dorada, regarded by many as the greatest midget wrestler in the world.