Silence had fallen in the wake of Aniversario: Never Compromise. CHIKARA had been shut down by the Titor Conglomerate the day after, canceling the rest of Season Twelve. CHIKARA’s official message board, CHIKARA 101 (henceforth referred to as just the 101), had been censored by an overzealous employee of the Conglomerate, known as Anton Frady, who had been appointed as an Administrator prior to the shutdown. The fans had started to despair that CHIKARA was dead for good.
The dark days had begun.
After Never Compromise, Mike Quackenbush (who had been missing from CHIKARA since April) met with Derek Sabato and, surprisingly, former Director of Fun Dieter VonSteigerwalt. In exchange for a promise to protect his brother, VonSteigerwalt had provided the Photoshopped image that Sabato had revealed during Never Compromise that had contributed to causing the complete and total shutdown. Through the 101, Titor announced the sale of several CHIKARA assets in their possession, including the Campeonatos de Parejas, which had been surrendered to them by the Pieces of Hate. Neither the Grand Championship nor the tenth Young Lions Cup (the latter later confirmed to still be in the possession of “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti) were included in this sale, and the CdP was purchased by a then-unknown buyer.
A month later, CHIKARA wrestlers would finally break their silence on the 101 (and the overzealous Anton Frady would disappear, with Leonard F. Chikarason returning as Administrator in his place) to share memories of happier times. However, there was one man who refused to accept the shattering of the family that he had chosen. He had brooded for that entire month, and, unlike everyone else, had decided to stand up and put the pieces back together. That man was Icarus. Later that month, he would organize the first of several CHIKARA rallies. The first rally was held on July 20th in Easton at the Palmer Center, the date and site of one of the cancelled events. At this event, Icarus would deliver a rousing speech and the CHIKArmy would speak out about their love for CHIKARA. They were also given shirts proclaiming “I Am CHIKARA,” which they would wear to various events. A group picture was taken and a movement – the #IAmCHIKARA movement – was born.
A few days afterward, he would attend Dragon Gate USA’s Enter the Dragon 2013 event to speak to (and ultimately be rebuffed by) Chuck Taylor. Titor struck back at him by compromising his 101 account, luring fans into signing a fake petition and making them known to Condor Security as well. They would use this information to attempt to stop the movement by frightening away the CHIKArmy with harassing and misleading voicemails, postcard mailings, and even visits to their homes.
Seeking their comrade Soldier Ant, who had resigned from CHIKARA out of disgust with then-Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur and subsequently disappeared following a set of appearances in the UK, Green Ant and Fire Ant sought out former Colony member Worker Ant. He had not seen Soldier Ant, but passed on his mask and gear to Green Ant, attempting to anoint him the new Worker Ant. Green Ant was undecided, but took the box containing Worker Ant’s gifts with him.
After further rallying the CHIKArmy by leaving DVDs at wrestling events (something he would continue doing for a while longer), Icarus, having been denied by Taylor, chose to visit another CHIKARA alumnus, Tim Donst. He would be further disappointed and denied, though Donst entrusted him with his Young Lions Cup to give to Jakob Hammermeier, a request which was ultimately unfulfilled, as the Cup was never mentioned again.
Prompted by a letter he received from Hallowicked, he drove on to the Wrestle Factory, where he would question him regarding the whereabouts of Quackenbush (taking a piece of Quackenbush’s gear, which had been left behind, in the process), who had gone silent once more, and review the progress of four promising wrestlers-in-training who would quickly become his allies: Equinox III, Create-A-Wrestler II, Kid Cyclone (who would become a polarizing figure in the not-so-distant future), and Private Eye Jr.
The second rally took place during what would have been King of Trios weekend, specifically September 14th, on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Despite their unease and an attack on Kobald by Condor Security, the CHIKArmy came and listened as Icarus rallied them once again. He then left a clue, a reference to the unsolved Mysterium P puzzle, which would lead the CHIKArmy to Private Eye Jr.’s Instagram account. That same rally would also provide an email address for Conrad Vavasseur, Wink’s father who had played a large part in the Titor Conglomerate acquiring CHIKARA in Seasons past, and fans would deluge him with email. During that month, Icarus would pay a visit to Eddie Kingston at a Ring of Honor television taping, only to be shot down for the third time, though he would also learn that Kingston was still in possession of the Grand Championship.
Before the shattering of CHIKARA, seven offshoot promotions, the Wrestling Is set (Cool, Heart, Intense, Fun, Art, Respect, and Awesome), had been birthed. With CHIKARA gone, these promotions became a lifeboat for wayward CHIKARA wrestlers, but unfortunately soon also became targets from surprising adversaries, who began removing them one by one. Wrestling Is Intense was the first to fall in September, as the resurrected GEKIDO, after making their intentions known via their Twitter account, dismantled the promotion, injuring Jervis Cottonbelly and killing Darkness Crabtree. It was followed by Wrestling Is Awesome in October, robbed and destroyed by Dr. Cube, who had similarly broadcast his intentions beforehand. This was not the Cube who had invaded CHIKARA prior, as he had been assassinated at the Kaiju Big Battel event during WrestleCon in April of that year. The identity of the imposter would not be revealed for another year.
As requested by Icarus, fans took to Twitter in droves during a WWE broadcast at the end of September. They were soon joined by CHIKARA alumni, all spreading love and memories like wildfire with a single hashtag: #IAmCHIKARA. This movement, as well as all the emails to his father, prompted the reappearance of Wink Vavasseur, who had fallen completely off the radar after Never Compromise.
Wink had come to regret his role in what had happened to CHIKARA. Over the month of October, after a visit from his mother, apologizing to those he had wronged (save for Kingston) and hiding himself away from the circling Condor Security, he let slip important information regarding his now-former employers: Titor had acquired CHIKARA in an effort to fuel, train, and front their own private army. They had planned to ‘refine’ and ‘relocate’ their base of operations, Elohim City. Quackenbush’s disappearance from CHIKARA had come after he barred the Wrestle Factory to Titor. The Colony: Xtreme Force were handpicked Condor mercenaries. Titor had been funding GEKIDO and paying 17 and combatANT‘s medical bills. AssailANT (viewed as the weak link of GEKIDO) had been placed with the Colony to adulterate and demoralize them, with the CHIKARAbermetrics system serving the same purpose for the other affected teams. Following another run-in with Condor Security, Wink promised more ‘bombshells’ at the early November rally, but dropped out of sight once more.
Following the death of Wrestling Is Awesome, 3.0, still bothered by the events of Never Compromise, chose to take their road trip in a new direction: tracking down the whereabouts of Archibald Peck, who had been seen in the aftermath. They paid a visit to Peck’s barrister, R.D. Evans, who pointed them towards the snowy landscape of Parts Unknown.
Green Ant and Fire Ant, on their search for Soldier Ant, soon came to the Fujiwara Arm bar to inquire with Dan Yost whether he had been there. Passing Blind Rage (who had intentionally failed to answer a call from Icarus seconds beforehand) on the way in, they soon encountered UltraMantis Black, who called them out on the real figurative elephant in the room, that being assailANT. The rarely-speaking Fire Ant soon admitted that neither he nor Green Ant trusted assailANT.
Having been refused by all he had contacted, Icarus soon reached out to UltraMantis, who seemingly rebuffed him as well. However, he was no longer alone in his endeavor, as, along with Hallowicked and the luchadors-in-training, several other CHIKARA alumni had joined his quest, and fans on the 101 had assembled into the Hellenic Air Force to help spread the word.
November brought with it the death of another Wrestling Is promotion, as another rudo of CHIKARA’s past, Sinn Bodhi, first threatened, then purchased Wrestling is Art for the sole purpose of dismantling it with his newly formed Odditorium (Oliver Grimsly and Qefka the Quiet) and, strangely, Dr. Cube’s minions. This was the first hint that the attacks on the Wrestling Is promotions were not isolated incidents. Trouble was brewing.
The third rally for CHIKARA happened at the beginning of November. After the second rally at the Art Museum was nearly disrupted by Condor Security, Icarus and Private Eye Jr. had chosen to become more furtive about their plans, this time revealing the date and location through clues included with parcels mailed out as part of an eBay sale. Fans had originally expected something much like the first two rallies, and were surprised when Private Eye Jr. revealed that there was a wrestling ring being set up. The rally, broadcast and recorded by fans, would feature both an impromptu performance by Gavin Loudspeaker and a wrestling match, pitting Icarus, Hallowicked, and assailANT versus Kobald and Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr.), and was unfortunately cut short when Condor Security crashed the festivities and kidnapped a fan named Thom, who left his hat behind. A disturbing video was soon sent, where Condor Security challenged fans to return to the spot of the rally at the end of the month for a then-unknown task, with Thom’s fate at stake.
Back at the Wrestle Factory, assailANT had been sparring with Jervis Cottonbelly when deviANT and the Colony: Xtreme Force struck, attempting to lure their former comrade back into the fold and burn down the building. Jervis was subdued and abducted in the process, and other than his absence from several subsequent events that he was scheduled to wrestle at, it is unknown just what happened to him during this period of time. (Jervis has since refused to speak of it.) Instead of siding with GEKIDO, assailANT chose to defend the Wrestle Factory, preventing it from being burned down though he would be assaulted in the process. In assaulting his former comrade, deviANT spoke of the Flood, and how it would wash assailANT away if he didn’t stand with them. This was the first time the name was invoked for the eventual rudo supergroup.
Heeding Condor Security’s warning that any wrestlers present at the gathering would endanger Thom’s life, Icarus chose to step away, instead seeking out Quackenbush, who had become a veritable recluse. Though Icarus failed to rally Quackenbush back to the cause (even attempting to use the piece of ring gear he’d taken from the Wrestle Factory to help sway him), his words would stay with him.
Just before the end of the month, it was leaked that the unknown challenge posed to fans by Condor Security would be a scavenger hunt throughout Philadelphia. Efforts were coordinated and the CHIKArmed Forces both physically present and looking on over the internet were a united front aiming to recover one of their own. Partway through the hunt, it soon became clear that CHIKARA forces were sabotaging Condor Security’s plans, as CHIKARA wrestlers and personalities soon turned up to point the way at each stop. The road led to a disheveled Wink, who turned over the keys and unlock code for a storage unit. Inside was an envelope, containing schematics for a compound earmarked for Titor’s army and, shockingly, leasing papers for the land Easton’s Palmer Center stands on. Once the papers were recovered, Condor Security tweeted that they would trade the papers for Thom and gave their location. Before fans could head there to make the trade-off, Icarus would appear to switch the envelopes, ensuring that Titor would not get what it wanted. At the site, two men in maroon suits and plague doctor masks (one later revealed to be Volgar, though the other, his partner Callux, would still go unnamed even after his forced departure from CHIKARA) waited to accept the envelope, and fans prevented them from getting away until the van that had abducted Thom arrived. The van was chased down as well (with fans even standing in front of it!), until Thom was freed and safely returned home. The contents of the real envelope were soon circulated via the No Private Army blog, and Titor announced plans to sell CHIKARA to the highest bidder. It would later be revealed that Wink had masterminded the hijack of the scavenger hunt, having gone underground to learn what was happening.
In what had become a depressing trend, following another threat broadcast over the internet, another Wrestling Is promotion was killed in December. Wrestling Is Cool’s owner, Milo Schnitzler, was revealed to be in the employ of the resurrected Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes, destroying the promotion from the inside. It was also revealed that CHIKARA had been sold. The promotion had passed into the hands of the Barridoff Galleries, with Barridoff co-owner Robbie Ellis later revealing that he had purchased it because he believed that professional wrestling was an artform in itself.
Following a visit to Dasher Hatfield over the holidays, Icarus gained two more allies to his cause: the Throwbacks (Hatfield and “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti). He would end 2013 on a hopeful note, having accomplished so much towards something that others had once thought impossible.
3.0 had finally reached Parts Unknown, discovering Peck’s abode and the web of conspiracies he had woven, which provided many hints and clues for the future. They encountered Peck, who believed that, as time ran differently in Parts Unknown, it was too late to save CHIKARA from certain doom. Their words convinced him otherwise, and the three began to plan a way to avert that doom.
Having been alerted that something was indeed wrong with the Wrestling Is companies dying, Icarus showed up to Wrestling is Fun’s The Wild Bunch event on January 18th wielding a baseball bat. After initially guarding the gate against incursion, he successfully prevented the assembled Flood forces from dismantling the promotion, though Dr. Cube’s proclamation that they would “respect” his wishes proved ominous. The next day, Wrestling is Respect was destroyed when the Wrecking Crew (Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch, Oleg the Usurper, Jaka, and manager Sidney Bakabella) revealed that they had been paid to join the Flood. Only two Wrestling Is promotions, Fun and Heart, remained.
After a sparring session, Green Ant and Equinox III spoke of the latter inheriting the Equinox mask and name, which had previously been used by Vin Gerard and Jimmy Olsen. This made Green Ant further think upon the choice he needed to make: whether or not he would accept the legacy of Worker Ant.
The assembled forces of The Flood soon made their intent known: they were coming to destroy National Pro Wrestling Day 2014. Knowing when the showdown would occur, Icarus arrived early to speak with Fire Ant and Green Ant, gaining them as allies. Everything was falling into place. It was time to wait, and to plan.
National Pro Wrestling Day 2014 soon arrived. During the main event, a match between Heidi Lovelace and Joe Pittman for Wrestling Is Heart’s La Copa Idolo, the Flood struck, destroying the accolade and bringing Heart to its end. It was later revealed that they had snapped Private Eye Jr.’s neck before entering the building. Entering with the Flood forces were the maroon-suited masked men from the scavenger hunt, Volgar and Callux, along with a third masked figure who soon revealed himself to be the then-ringleader: Jimmy Jacobs. As Jacobs gloated, the Submission Squad (“Pistol Danger” Evan Gelistico, “The Elegant Assassin” Pierre Abernathy, “Brainwave” Davey Vega, and Gary the Barn Owl), who had broken down on the side of the road yet again, arrived, announcing that if they wanted to destroy CHIKARA, they would have to go through them first. They were beaten down, but saved by the timely arrival of Icarus and his allies. Once again, an overture was made towards assailANT, who drew the line instead. 17, standing by the entrance curtain, was dragged behind it by a cane (heavily implied to have been Quackenbush, who had left his home midway through the main event). As Jacobs continued to further gloat, asking Icarus how he and the few allies with him could hope to stand against the Flood, Icarus sprung his trap, revealing that Dr. Cube’s minions were actually CHIKARA forces in disguise, led by UltraMantis. However, even with the numbers now equal, CHIKARA was still in danger of being overrun…
…and then the doors to the Palmer Center opened, and a DeLorean was driven into the building. Archibald Peck and 3.0 had arrived, and by giving CHIKARA the advantage, turned the tide, which sent the Flood packing. The triumphant CHIKARA forces celebrated their victory (most noteworthy being Peck and Angelosetti, after a tense moment, settling their differences with a hug), with further cause for celebration being provided by Icarus announcing that CHIKARA would be returning on May 25th, 12 years to the day of the very first CHIKARA show. Emotional fans, both present in the building and watching over the internet, were then treated to a bonus match featuring Icarus, the Osirian Portal (Amasis and Ophidian), and the Colony teaming to face Los Ice Creams and the full Batiri (Kobald, Kodama, and Obariyon).
After National Pro Wrestling Day 2014, Green Ant and Fire Ant once again returned to the Fujiwara Arm bar, this time to speak with assailANT regarding what had happened. assailANT soon revealed the real reason why he had sided with CHIKARA – he wanted to be someone that his infant son would be proud of. Hearing this, Green Ant and Fire Ant accepted him into the Colony, with Green Ant passing the mantle of Worker Ant on to him.
Between November and National Pro Wrestling Day 2014, Wink Vavasseur had been found by Condor Security, with his father ordering them to “make this screwup go away”. His whereabouts are currently unknown, as is whether or not he will appear in CHIKARA ever again, but his role in the resurrection of CHIKARA and his atonement for his past sins shall not be forgotten.
Five hundred fans would soon receive letters through the mail from various members of the CHIKARA roster. The contents were simple: the date of CHIKARA’s return, which had been revealed at National Pro Wrestling Day 2014, and one single word: “Believe”. It had been that shared belief, bolstered by the actions of one man who had refused to give up, that had wrought a miracle, and the fans would soon be rewarded for that belief. The dark days had ended…
…or so it was believed, at the time.
In truth, while CHIKARA had been victorious at National Pro Wrestling Day 2014, it had not been the final battle. The Flood, though beaten back, had not been completely vanquished, and were lying in wait to strike again. A threat far greater than Jimmy Jacobs lurked on the horizon, ready to step in where his harbinger had failed.
No one in CHIKARA could have foreseen the long, tragic war that had yet to commence.