Season Sixteen closed with triumph, as Nazmaldun had finally been banished to the aether, and tragedy, as Amasis was stripped of his mask and forced to leave CHIKARA. In the wake of Supremacy, all had gone quiet. The CHIKArmy patiently awaited the beginning of what we thought would be Season Seventeen: National Pro Wrestling Day 2017.
However, when National Pro Wrestling Day 2017 came, it brought with it a revelation.
It started with ring announcer Vlad Radinov announcing the event as the start of Season Eighteen, which was quickly dismissed as a mistake on his part. After all, who could keep count of the Seasons very easily? As the event went on, there were other things that indicated that not everything was quite as it seemed. Race Jaxon, last seen as part of the fracturing tag team N_R_G, sported a new look and a new attitude to match, with partner Hype Rockwell nowhere to be found. The team of The Force (Officers Warren Barksdale and Bruno Meloni, accompanied by Officer Magnum), who were assumed to be making their debut as a team at the event, suddenly had three points after winning their match. Icarus, last seen under the thrall of Nazmaldun, was back on the side of the angels. The biggest surprise of the afternoon was that UltraMantis Black, having fully recovered from being possessed by Nazmaldun, was in possession of the Grand Championship.
The CHIKArmy were left reeling. Speculation ran high. What had happened? Had reality changed? Had Archibald Peck, who had last been seen Seasons ago, changed the past, causing the future to change? Had the forced collision of the Hammer and the Eye of Tyr after Supremacy caused a rip in time? What had happened to cause such a quantum leap?
It was only at the end of the event that the confusion was dispelled. There was a Season we did not know about. A Secret Season. A Lost Season. The true Season Seventeen. It was promised that all that had led to the changes would be made clear, in time.
Mark Angelosetti, having been released from Nazmaldun’s thrall after the entity was banished from UltraMantis, finally patched things up with Dasher Hatfield, even offering him the four points that he had accumulated as a member of the heXed Men. He did not remember anything that happened after he had been hexed. As Dasher had turned down the accumulated points, Angelosetti put them to use himself, challenging Hallowicked for the Grand Championship. Unfortunately, he would come up short against the Grand Champion.
Hallowicked could no longer hear the voice of Nazmaldun. He had been abandoned by the Lord of Rot, but he and Frightmare had chosen to remain Nazmaldun’s soldiers. Vengeance was vowed upon the betrayers.
In contrast to Angelosetti, UltraMantis remembered everything. Though he had accepted having been Nazmaldun’s vessel as his fate for all of his past sins, he was furious at having been used as such. He first chose to single out Frightmare, as he had brought him into the world and, as he stated, he could take him out of it. During their match, Hallowicked appeared, intending on aiding the last remaining of Nazmaldun’s faithful, but Icarus, released from Nazmaldun’s influence at the same time as Angelosetti, attacked and drove him away before any interference could be done, allowing UltraMantis to win his first match since his injury Seasons ago. His redemption was now underway. Icarus, also in possession of four points accumulated during his time as part of Nazmaldun’s cadre, was later seen perched upon the Wrestle Factory set, observing the Grand Championship match between Hallowicked and Angelosetti.
The Closers (Rick Roland and Sloan Caprice), without The Big Deal for the first time since King of Trios 2016, once again proved that they could win without Deal’s guidance, defeating Fire and Silver Ant of the Colony. Jeremy Leary, having acquired an extreme obsession with hair over the interval, antagonized Lucas Calhoun into a match; they brawled until the match was thrown out by referee Travis, who had been pushed several times by both competitors. After the match ended, Leary would knock out Calhoun with a switchblade comb-loaded fist, then take some of his hair. Team Sea Stars (Delmi Exo and Ashley Vox) began their Season on a high note, defeating Hiptoss Hank and Benny the Beal. Juan Y Wani (Juan Francisco de Coronado and Wani) recovered from their loss at the end of Season Sixteen, making their way back into the point standings at the expensive of two debuting members of Xyberhawx2000, Sylverhawk and Nytehawk.
Princess Kimberlee, inquiring about highlights at the barber shop, mentioned that a lot had happened to her over the interval. She would soon mentor Solo Darling, teaching her how to defeat big men, and appear at the end of a match featuring Darling and the Proletariat Boar of Moldova (who had not been seen since King of Trios 2016) to save referee Travis, who had suffered the wrath of the Boar after throwing the match out.
Missile Assault Man, last seen more than holding his own in the 2016 Cibernetico, posted his first win of the Season, quickly defeating Hiptoss Hank. Heidi Lovelace, who had also had a lot happen to her over the interval, wrestled (and lost) against her good friend Dasher Hatfield. Los Ice Creams‘ (Ice Cream Junior and el Hijo del Ice Cream) chance at regaining the Campeonatos de Parejas, which had been ripped away from them in the previous Season, was once again denied, as Dez Peloton (Donald Kluger and Jasper Tippins) cycled back into the standings at their expense. N_R_G, who had begun to fracture ever since losing the CdP, argued, as Hype believed that they were not on the same page, while Race claimed otherwise. Ophidian, who continued to wear the white and gold that his patrons had blessed him with, battled to a double count-out with Rock Lobster.
Hallowicked, having vowed vengeance upon those he perceived as betraying the cause of Nazmaldun, soon had another opportunity to wreak havoc upon the formerly hexed. Teaming with Frightmare, they defeated Obariyon and Kodama of the Batiri, then attacked their former comrades after the match. Kodama was felled by Never Wake Up and had to be carried to the back, having been seriously injured. Interestingly, Kobald appeared, intending on aiding Obariyon and Kodama against the onslaught, but left before he could help.
After Orientation, referee Travis spoke to Director of Fun Mike Quackenbush, turning in his referee attire. He was ready to leave refereeing behind. He was going to become a wrestler.
Ophidian spoke to an unseen entity, claiming that what had happened to them was not their fault. It was later revealed that he was speaking to the mask of Amasis, which he would later throw in the fire.
N_R_G, arguing once more, agreed to work together…though Race no longer wanted to be hit in the face. Unfortunately, their truce would not last, as Race would abandon Hype during a match with Cornelius Crummels and Sonny DeFarge (the latter having paid a visit to the barber shop earlier in the event, requesting to look more dashing), then return to seemingly assist him in fighting them off, only to violently end their association by pushing part of the Wrestle Factory set down on top of him.
Kobald was in the middle of a crisis. He had been unhexed, and the voice of Nazmaldun was gone from his head. He did not know what to do. Despite that, his first match of the Season saw him quickly defeat Hiptoss Hank.
Barksdale, having had a less than stellar go of it the previous Season, attempted to start off on a high note, but during a match with Hermit Crab, he was attacked by Crab’s partner Cajun Crawdad; Crawdad punched Barksdale with Barksdale’s own cuffs, used as a makeshift pair of brass knuckles. Crab was promptly disqualified, and those present chanted that Barksdale needed backup.
The world was formally introduced to Travis Huckabee. The referee-turned-wrestler, having turned in his referee attire, claimed his last name and a victory in his first match, defeating Nytehawk.
Princess Kimberlee, teaming with COTI partners Los Ice Creams, aimed for a victory against protege Darling and Team Sea Stars in Trios competition. However, she would attract an unwanted presence, as The Whisper, a mysterious debutant, made his presence known at ringside, causing her to be rolled up and pinned by Darling.
The CHIKArmy waited as patiently as they could for the next leg of the journey to be released. Finally, a month after the first batch’s release, the second batch would become available, consisting of the events Every Man For Himself, The Constant, and Happily Ever After.
The unfortunate Officer Barksdale had been busted down to parking duty, but he would be introduced to the man who would become his partner against the lawless rulebreakers of the CdP scene: Officer Meloni, who, alongside his faithful canine companion Officer Magnum, had just transferred to CHIKARA from the K9 unit.
Sylverhawk, who had debuted on a low note, scored a shocking upset at the expense of Silver Ant; Obariyon, looking fearsome in purple, began the road to avenging his fallen partner Kodama, destroying Hiptoss Hank; Max Smashmaster began to rebuild from his embarrassing loss to Princess Kimberlee the previous Season, taking his first point by felling Fire Ant; and DUSTIN stopped by the Barber Shop to chat about his reluctant yet successful partnership with Chuck Taylor TM, saying that the latter had been recording a new single and may have found a girlfriend.
Throughout the event, wrestlers such as Juan Francisco de Coronado and Lucas Calhoun stated their intent to win the second-ever Infinite Gauntlet. The Closers even planned to co-win the match and give the Golden Opportunity to their boss, The Big Deal. As no competitors had been announced before the release of the event, the CHIKArmy waited to see who would participate.
The Closers, who entered at #1 and #2, engaged in a thumb war before disposing of Ice Cream Junior and Worker Ant, who had drawn #3 and #4, respectively. Unfortunately for them and their boss, their ambition came to an end midway through, as Caprice was accidentally eliminated by Roland, while Roland himself would be disposed of by Calhoun, who entered at #14. Travis Huckabee, who entered at #20, immediately rushed the Proletariat Boar of Moldova, who had entered at #8, getting revenge for having been previously been attacked by eliminating his rival, though at his own expense as he eliminated himself at the same time. Oleg the Usurper, entering at #24, immediately targeted and eliminated five other competitors, but would eventually fall prey to Kobald, who he still refused to strike. de Coronado, who had nearly won the Gauntlet the previous Season, made it all the way to the final two, setting a record for most eliminations along the way, but was eliminated by winner Dasher Hatfield.
Ophidian, still reeling from the loss of partner and friend Amasis, approached Fire Ant with an idea. He wanted to put together a group of those who would defend CHIKARA against further threats, so that no one else would be lost. Fire, whose longtime partner Soldier Ant had been forced into retirement the previous Season (and who would lose another partner, Worker Ant, at the hands of Frightmare the next Season), was hesitant to join Ophidian. When Director of Fun Mike Quackenbush came into the room, Ophidian immediately asked him who would defend CHIKARA and avenge Amasis, to which Quackenbush would reply that he had a contingency plan. Though the plan went unstated, it was evidently one that neither Ophidian nor Fire wanted to be put in place, as Fire quickly agreed to join Ophidian.
Travis Huckabee visited the Barber Shop, nervously stating that he planned to ask a girl to be his…tag team partner; the girl in question was Solo Darling, who would agree to be his partner. Lucas Calhoun talked about legendary martial arts fights, stating that perhaps he would add his match with Wani to the list; unfortunately for him, Wani would benefit from a distraction provided by Jeremy Leary to take his third point at his expense. Leary, having grown strangely obsessed with Calhoun following his initial bullying of him, would steal his scarf and sunglasses in the process. Crummels and DeFarge, accusing Campeones Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) of cowardice, successfully defended their three points against Cajun Crawdad and Rock Lobster, adding a fourth to their growing amount. UltraMantis Black did not know or care where Kobald stood on the issue of the departed Nazmaldun; he only cared about avenging himself on Hallowicked. He would continue to forge his path to the Grand Championship, taking his second point and driving the Prince of All Goblins from the standings.
Ophidian and Fire Ant sought to include Obariyon in their newfound partnership, approaching the Demonic Warmonger as he trained with Hiptoss Hank; Obariyon did not give them an answer, punching Hank before leaving. Kimberlee displayed a new, rougher side to herself, sporting a black leather coat and stating that “it’s not what I want to do, but it’s what I have to” before defeating her friend and protege Darling. Razer and Sylverhawk of Xyberhawx2000, no doubt bolstered by Sylver’s victory against Silver Ant, posted their first point as a team, defeating Team Sea Stars. In the main event, Icarus would cash in the points he earned as a member of the Pillars of Woe to challenge Hallowicked; unfortunately, he would come up short.
Team Sea Stars had decided that they needed a mentor, someone who would guide them to win. They approached UltraMantis Black, asking him to be that mentor, but were turned down, as Mantis cited that he walked in darkness too great for them to follow.
Lucas Calhoun, standing beside his beloved hot rod, regaled a friend with tales of competing in the Infinite Gauntlet, only for rival Jeremy Leary to pull up. The two exchanged glances. An unspoken challenge was made. The two would compete in a drag race to see who was superior. Midway through the race, Calhoun’s car began to leak fluid, as it was revealed that Leary had sabotaged him, causing him to lose the race; though he wanted to deck Leary for the offense, his friend silently pleaded with him not to, and Calhoun accepted defeat, handing Leary the keys to his baby. However, Leary was not done with Calhoun.
Leary would step into the ring once more, taking his second point at the expense of Heidi Lovelace; Calhoun would as well, though he would fall to the re-debuting Race Jaxon, who had adopted the narcissistic attitude that he would show during National Pro Wrestling Day 2017. To add insult to injury, Leary would come out, decked out in Calhoun’s gear, proclaiming that “someone” had swiped Calhoun’s identity; he had taken almost everything of Calhoun’s, except the one thing Calhoun had left to him: his hair. Another challenge, this time for a Hair vs. Hair match, was made.
UltraMantis Black drew one step closer to Hallowicked, taking his third point and taking away DUSTIN’s single point; Darling and Huckabee’s partnership became official as they defeated the reuniting Mr. Azerbaijan and the Proletariat Boar of Moldova; The Closers, having failed at attaining the Golden Opportunity for their boss, succeeded in securing themselves a shot at the CdP, sending Razer and Sylverhawk back out of the standings they had just barely entered; and de Coronado, who had almost tasted victory during the Infinite Gauntlet, was left with the sourness of defeat courtesy of Missile Assault Man.
Kimberlee’s new edge was soon explained: she was under the influence of The Whisper. The enigmatic newcomer, who had somehow brought her under his sway, had further instructions for her, which went unheard by anyone but her as he had unsurprisingly whispered them into her ear. The suggestion that blackmail of some kind had been utilized against the Princess was unsaid but apparent.
Wrestlemania weekend had become a hotbed for independent wrestling events in Orlando, and for CHIKARA, it was no different. Hours before the Season Eighteen event Turn Left, the final batch of Season Seventeen was released, consisting of the events White Rabbit, Whatever Happened, Happened, and The Shape of Things to Come.
After likely mulling it over, Obariyon had thrown in his lot with Ophidian and Fire Ant. The three of them would soon give their partnership a name: The Furies. Upon Ophidian’s suggestion that they seek out “the one who understands the true meaning of vengeance”, they decided to court Icarus as their fourth member. Icarus, who had been listening in to their plan, decided to join them.
While their recruiting had been successful, the Furies themselves met with mixed results in the ring after solidifying their partnership. Ophidian was defeated by Race Jaxon, while Obariyon defeated Frightmare. Hallowicked attempted to run interference for his minion, only for Icarus to drive him away.
Officers Barksdale and Meloni attended Police Training; Crummels and DeFarge, having grown very tired of their challenges going unanswered, continued to amass points; Travis Huckabee chose to make a stand against bullies, only to be destroyed by Max Smashmaster; Heidi Lovelace, having made her debut for NXT (WWE’s developmental promotion) in the meantime, bid farewell to CHIKARA in what she stated to be the most fitting way she could think of: by defeating Arik Cannon; The Closers, similarly tired of Moustache Mountain’s absence, stated their intent to break the competition; Hallowicked successfully defended the Grand Championship against Wani; and Team Sea Stars once again looked for a mentor, but were turned away by the departing Lovelace.
Jeremy Leary had plagued Lucas Calhoun enough. An angry Calhoun, accusing Leary of being an impostor, accepted the challenge for a hair vs. hair match. Though Calhoun would triumph over his hated foe with a Super Samoan Drop, things would make a strange turn, as Leary would call him “Big Brother”, then would invoke the name of Calhoun’s late partner Callux, among others. Though the identity of Callux, who had been destroyed by Eddie Kingston all the way back in Season Fourteen, was public knowledge, it was unknown at the time how Leary obtained so much information about the former Volgar’s past. Finally driven to his breaking point, Calhoun angrily turned over what remained of his identity to Leary and voluntarily shaved his own head. The fun-loving karaoke master was no more. In his place was a man utterly broken.
UltraMantis Black’s road to revenge had been paved with the bodies of the fallen. It would soon end in gold. Having amassed his three points during past events in the Season, he made his challenge to Hallowicked. Though his former comrade would target his left leg, hoping to exploit the appendage that had almost cost Mantis his career, Mantis would persevere. As a gathering of Tecnicos cheered him on, Mantis delivered a Praying Mantis Bomb and successfully ended the match before being lifted up on the shoulders of the assembled.
News of the newly-assembled Furies would spread quickly, as the fledgling group was soon tracked down by Solo Darling and Travis Huckabee. Though Darling would misunderstand the name as “Furries”, both were eager to sign on, bringing them to six members.
Mark Angelosetti congratulated Dasher Hatfield on winning a Golden Opportunity in the Infinite Gauntlet. He was fully accepting of any plans that his step cousin-in-law had to use the hard-earned prize to challenge for the Grand Championship, even beginning to warn anyone who intended to stand in Dasher’s way, only for Dasher to stop him and reveal his real plans for it. He wanted to make things truly right between them, and the only way to do that would be to use it to guarantee the Throwbacks a chance at the CdP instead, a move which surprised and pleased Angelosetti.
The mysterious sea creature Merlok made his debut, defeating Nytehawk; Officer Meloni confirmed that he and Officer Magnum had officially been assigned as Officer Barksdale’s backup, with the newly formed tandem of The Force gaining their first point at the expense of Hiptoss Hank and Benny the Beal; Princess Kimberlee was once again blackmailed by The Whisper into facing a friend, this time Fire Ant, who she made tap out to the Coronation; Darling and Huckabee, prior to signing on with the Furies, would be defeated by Crummels and DeFarge; and though she had fulfilled his instructions, The Whisper would once again waylay Kimberlee with another task to keep her secret safe.
Kimberlee would pay another visit to the barber shop, glad that “he” was gone and ready to put her skeleton back in the closet. As she inquired after what was new with the barber, the camera would pan over his shelf, which included a very conspicuous blue clock. Unfortunately, her plans to move on were derailed, at least for the moment, as she had to fulfill another of The Whisper’s tasks. Ophidian did not know what was causing the sudden shift in the Princess’ attitude, but would answer the sudden challenge, and a hard-fought contest ended in his victory. This led to the Princess making the ultimate decision, one that she would soon inform her tormentor of.
As they had failed to answer the challenges put forth for their titles in what had been deemed a reasonable amount of time (something that may have not been their own choice, as they had been approached to appear in WWE’s UK tournament in the meantime), Moustache Mountain were stripped of the Campeonatos de Parejas. A match featuring all three potential challengers was soon organized, with a team needing two falls to win. Each team soon attained one fall each, but it was Crummels and DeFarge who utilized an ingenious sort of chicanery to secure the win. With the Closers set to pin Angelosetti, Crummels rang the ring bell to distract them, making them think they had won the match. Shortly after, double clotheslines sent Dasher and Roland down to the mat, at which point Crummels acted again. He immobilized Roland by wrapping himself around him, forcing him into the ropes and making him unable to act as DeFarge pinned Angelosetti, giving them the win and the titles.
The Force took home their second point through somewhat nefarious means, as Officer Meloni utilized handcuffs to restrain Hermit Crab before they finished off Cajun Crawdad with Law & Order; de Coronado, desiring revenge against Missile Assault Man for derailing his road to a chance at the Grand Championship, defeated the former Ant; The Furies stepped into battle in a winning effort against what had been termed the Legion of Rot, with Obariyon demanding answers of the conflicted Kobald; The Furies, who had made their intentions to defend CHIKARA against further incursions clear, gained two more members, as a meeting backstage led to Team Sea Stars joining; and UltraMantis Black made his first successful defense of the Grand Championship, taking advantage of Race Jaxon getting stuck in his shirt and destroying him in a match that was shorter than Jaxon’s pre-match interview.
Encountering The Whisper outside the Wrestle Factory, Princess Kimberlee informed him that she was changing the terms of their deal. She was tired of hurting her friends to keep her secrets. Though it was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do, she had chosen to walk away from CHIKARA. As he watched her leave, The Whisper produced and began to unravel a yo-yo, revealing that one side of the yo-yo bore a familiar image: that of a blue clock.