The Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018

Jun 9-JKI_480

Philadelphia, PA – 6.9.2018

Championship Rundown
Grand Champion: Juan Francisco de Coronado
Campeones de Parejas: Rick Roland & Sloan Caprice
Young Lions Cup Champion: Cameron Zagami

Commentary is provided by Mike Quackenbush, Sidney Bakabella, and Bryce Remsburg.

The show begins with this video, showing Huckabee backfisting Solo Darling at “Aniversario” and shaving his hair in the Wrestle Factory bathroom.

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Quarterfinal Round Match
Rory Gulak vs. Travis Huckabee

This is a rematch from the opening round of last year’s tournament. Gulak was the winner of last year’s JKI tournament. Huckabee denies Gulak a handshake. They’re reluctant to lock up as to not be the one to make the first mistake. Gulak scores first offense with a single leg takedown. Gulak shows his control with a double leg takedown, which Huckabee responds with one of his own. Huckabee rakes his forearm across Gulak’s forehead. Gulak puts on an abdominal stretch. Huckabee grabs Gulak’s ear, bringing them down to the mat where they fight for position. Gulak gets two with a crucifix pin. Gulak waits for Huckabee in the corner with a headstand on the top turnbuckle, and Huckabee shoves him to the floor. Huckabee tries to butterfly suplex Gulak from the apron and to the floor. Gulak instead slams Huckabee on the ring apron! Gulak follows up with a slingshot splash for two. He puts Huckabee in a kamagatame. Huckabee escapes. Gulak strikes him against the ropes and in the corner. Huckabee fights back. Gulak pulls Huckabee onto his shoulders. Huckabee arm whips Gulak and kicks him in the arm after Gulak lands. He headbutts Gulak in the shoulder before pulling him down into the Golden Grip (his version of the Million Dollar Dream). Gulak taps out at 8:59! This was a great match to establish Huckabee’s new attitude, his new submission hold, and guarantee us a new JKI tournament winner. This was an improvement over their match from last year, and I think was a wise match to revisit given the story they wanted to tell. **¾

Gulak puts his hand out for a handshake, and Huckabee once again kicks Gulak’s hand away.

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Quarterfinal Round Match
Jigsaw vs. Thomas Santell

Santell is the old-timey submission wrestling alter-ego of Antonio Thomas, one half of the Heart Throbs who competed in CHIKARA back in 2012, and of course in WWE. This is Jigsaw’s first appearance since the 2016 finale. Santell sneak attacks Jigsaw by pretending to be blind without his glasses and rolls Jigsaw up for a two count. Santell drags Jigsaw to the mat in a collar-and-elbow tie-up, with Jigsaw popping his shoulders off the mat to avoid being pinned. Jigsaw ends a wristlock exchange with a latigo to the mat and a crucifix pin for two. Santell avoids a grounded Octopus. Santell escapes a headscissors and pulls Jigsaw in a handlebar submission. Jigsaw flips forward to remove the pressure. Santell holds on and tries a pin, but Jigsaw bends back with his feet and kicks Santell away. Jigsaw puts Santell in a chinlock while digging his feet into the back of Santell’s knees. Santell uses a double finger lace to escape. He laces his leg around Jigsaw’s. They rock back and forth, each trying to push the others’ shoulders down. Jigsaw releases to save his energy. He pops out of Santell’s headscissors attempt. Santell puts Jigsaw in a short-arm scissors. Jigsaw pushes him down into a half Gedo Clutch for two. Santell puts Jigsaw in Sol Naciente. Jigsaw sits down on it for two. They trade uppercuts. Santell counters with a backslide for two. On their feet, Jigsaw stuns Santell with a chop and an enzuigiri. Jigsaw goes for the top rope double stomp. Santell escapes and catches Jigsaw with a Regalplex. He then puts Jigsaw in a modified abdominal stretch. Jigsaw taps out at 10:15. As far as a tribute to the era of wrestling Johnny Kidd was from, this had it all. These two kept the wrestling interesting and entertaining for the entirety of the bout, showing a lot of personality between the moves. It was great to see Jigsaw back and Santell is somebody I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing back. ***¼

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Quarterfinal Round Match
Ophidian vs. Solo Darling

Each of them go for their finishers right off the bat; the Sharp Stinger and the Death Grip. Ophidian bends Darling in the Gory Stretch. Darling gets Ophidian in position for the Sharp Stinger two more times. She ends up axe kicking Ophidian twice before barrel rolling him into a sunset pin for two. He responds with a corkscrew enzuigiri. Darling put on the breaks after being whipped in the corner and comes out with the Candy Crush (bulldog). Ophidian bridges out of her pin and goes for the Death Grip. She maneuvers her way out and gives Ophidian a pump-handle slam for two. She applies the Sharp Stinger but Ophidian gets the ropes right away. Ophidian avoids a running a hip attack and drags Darling to the apron where he gives her a fisherman’s buster! He then brings her to the floor with a Complete Shot! In the ring he rolls Darling into a grounded Death Grip. Darling rolls to the ropes to release the hold. Darling kicks Ophidian in the forehead form the apron. Ophidian blocks the tornado suplex and delivers a high kick. Ophidian nails a double knee strike in the corner, but misses with Meteora. Darling once more puts on the Sharp Stinger but her left arm gives out. She ends up on Ophidian’s shoulders where she spikes him with a reverse Frankensteiner. After a suplex she pops up Ophidian into a powerbomb for two. Ophidian pins her from a Gory Stretch into a backslide. Darling sits up to get her shoulders off the apron. She fails to sunset flip Darling into the Sharp Stinger. Darling avoids a small package. Ophidian tweaks his knee avoiding a monkey flip, leading to Darling powerbombing him and locking on the Sharp Stinger once again. Ophidian reaches the ropes. Darling catches one of her kicks during a flurry, sweeps her out and goes for the Sharp Stinger himself. She turns over quickly to send Ophidian into the corner. Ophidian twists her around into the bridging backslide for the pin at 12:44. Things seemed to fall apart in the last couple of minutes. Before that, they told a good story with each wrestler going for their pet submission and the either countering it as best they could. I appreciate Ophidian shifting gears when his submission wasn’t working, unlike Darling who kept going for her move despite it not getting the results she wanted. ***

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Quarterfinal Round Match
Colt Cabana vs. Green Ant

This is Cabana’s first time in CHIKARA since May of 2013 (unless you count National Pro Wrestling Day 2014 as a CHIKARA event.) Cabana has some fun misleading Green Ant with his hands to start. Green Ant catapults his way into a crucifix pin, rolling Cabana around on the mat. Cabana bridges up to get his shoulders off the mat. Green Ant catches Cabana as he drops down twice in pinning combinations. The third time, Cabana rolls to the floor to avoid him. Cabana also avoids a drop toe hold. Cabana shoves Green Ant down when Green Ant pops up from his shoulder block. Green Ant figure eights his legs when going for the drop toe hold. Cabana rolls through and grabs the ropes to escape. Cabana double arm whips Green Ant forward when Green Ant fails to lift him for a German suplex. Green Ant tumbles Cabana forward with a flying mare, but Cabana calmly puts him in a side headlock when Green Ant ducks down as Cabana comes off the ropes. Green Ant counters into a headscissors which Cabana swivels around in and uses his knees to pin Green Ant’s shoulders to the mat. He holds up Green Ant by his feet, dropping him down into a bodyscissors. Although Green Ant escapes, he fails to put a figure seven on Cabana. He turns Cabana into the Robin Hood Special. Cabana grabs the bottom rope. Green Ant flips out of the corner and puts Cabana in a Venus Fly Trap submission. Cabana claps Green Ant’s ears with his arms. He pushes Green Ant away with his feet. He Superman dives into a folding press, pinning Green Ant at 10:18. This had a totally different dynamic than every other match, with the veteran Cabana toying with the rookie and ultimately besting him with relative ease. Green Ant got to surprise Cabana with some fun offense and it’s great he had this opportunity to go against the upper crust of independent wrestling. It may be obvious, but worth repeating how good Cabana is in the CHIKARA environment. **¾

Lucas Calhoun makes his way to the ring. He says everyone has struggles, and that nobody should be afraid to reach out to ask for assistance or help. He learned at “Aniversario” that if he wanted to stand a chance against The Proteus Wheel, he and Jeremy Leary would need another partner to even the odds against them. He is the 77th iteration of the Volgar quotient, and Leary is the 78th. Calhoun has found the 79th iteration and will be bringing him in to help combat The Proteus Wheel. He has been asking the fans the wrong question the entire time. He should not be asking “who’s in the fan club?”, but rather, “are you with us?” The fans chant “we are with you” as Calhoun heads backstage.

El Hijo del Ice Cream {IC}, Sonny Defarge, Thief Ant & Danjerhawk {X2K} vs. Hermit Crab {CD}, The Whisper, Frantik {PW} & Still Life With Apricots and Pears {NA}

A brawl amongst all eight competitors around the building kicks off the bout. Hijo throws Frantik outside the building as Whisper slams Danjerhawk on the floor. In the ring, Pears knees Thief Ant as Thief Ant comes off the ropes. He hip tosses Thief Ant twice before going for suplex. Thief Ant slides out and steals Pear’s hip tosses himself. He also pulls off his suplex successfully. He enzuigiri’s Pears to the floor and follows with a baseball slide. Frantik belly-to-belly suplexes Defarge into the middle of the ring. Defarge catches Frantink charging and belly-to-belly suplexes him into the corner. Defarge then follows with a suicide dive. Crab goes for a Naniwa elbow after avoiding Hijo’s offense in the corner. He sees Hijo moving and comes down, opting for a Frankensteiner instead. Hijo propels Crab to the floor with his feet, then follows with a seated senton splash off the apron. Whisper counters Danjerhawk’s wheelbarrow into a backbreaker. He misses the launchpad legdrop the first time, but hits it the second and third. Danjerhawk spikes Whisper right on his head with an inverted DDT. Thief Ant helps Hijo escape an attack from Pears. Hijo pescado’s after Frantik, who Hijo had ahold of in the ring before Pears interjected. Crab Jon Woo dropkicks Defarge to the corner. Defarge comes back with a lariat. Whisper places Defarge on the top turnbuckle after a bicycle kick. He perches himself on Defarge’s shoulders. Danjerhawk brings Whisper down with an avalanche Frankensteiner. Thief Ant follows up with a frogsplash for the pin at 8:37. I liked the idea of this match conceptually but this was a mess in execution. *

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Semifinal Round Match
Ophidian vs. Colt Cabana

Cabana kicks Ophidian into a near split to break wristlock. Considers tapping, but is able to get his legs back together where they’re supposed to be. Cabana doesn’t allow a Death Grip to be implemented. He keeps a grounded headscissors on by shoving Ophidian’s head back between his thighs when he goes to escape. Ophidian does eventually headstand his way free. He figure fours Cabana’s legs. The crowd encourages Cabana to scooch to the ropes, which he does. Cabana refuses to let Ophidian bait him into the corner as Ophidian headstands on the top turnbuckle. Cabana eventually charges, where Ophidian jams his arm across the top rope and give him a tornado divorce court DDT. Ophidian continues to break down Cabana’s left arm. Ophidian locks on the Death Grip. Ophidian throws his weight back to get Ophidian to the mat and goes for the Billy Goat’s Curse. Cabana’s arm fails him and he releases the submission. With his right hand, Cabana jabs Ophidian. Ophidian grabs Cabana’s clavicle to stop the bionic elbow. Cabana peels his hand off and hits a hip attack for two. Cabana misses the Flying Apple. Ophidian pulls Cabana to the top turnbuckle. Cabana holds onto the top rope to avoid a super Frankensteiner. He then Superman dives into a folding press, pinning Ophidian at 9:57. Both competitors wisely implemented the strategies that worked for them the opening round. Cabana’s Superman dive is now what Huckabee (and the audience) will be looking for in the finals, but he also goes in with a worn down left arm. This was a good match to set the table for the main event. **½

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Semifinal Round Match
Travis Huckabee vs. Thomas Santell

The two men aggressively fight for control. Huckabee steps on the back of Santell’s knee to escape a headlock. Huckabee takes down a charging Santell with a headlock. Santell tries to counter with a headscissors, but Huckabee stacks him up on his shoulders for the pin at 0:59! The new, aggressive Huckabee goes into the finals significantly fresher than Cabana.

Oleg the Usurper & The Proletariat Boar of Moldova vs. Hallowicked {LOR} & Frightmare {LOR}

This match was made due to the Legion of Rot attacking the Boar during his and Oleg’s tag team match against the Closers last month. Kobald is in the Legion of Rot’s corner. The two teams fight around ringside before the bell. The Warriors send Hallowicked into the ring post and double suplex Frightmare back inside the ring to officially start the contest. Hallowicked snaps their necks on the top rope to avoid a double suplex from the apron. Boar boots Hallowicked onto Oleg’s shoulders. Boar boots him again and Oleg drops Hallowicked face first onto the ring apron. Frightmare tope con hilo’s onto Oleg and Boar. In the ring, Oleg splashes Frightmare against the ropes. Oleg picks up speed from the ropes but Kobald grabs his leg. Hallowicked and Frightmare blast Oleg with a pair of yakuza kicks. The Legion of Rot isolate Oleg in their corner until Oleg uses a Usurper kick to knock them down as they attempt the Headless Horsemen. Oleg rolls under a double clothesline to tag in Boar, who mauls Frightmare and Hallowicked with clotheslines. He spins Hallowicked into a side slam and pops up Frightmare into a strike to the jaw. After a Snake Eyes, Boar big boots Frightmare. The Beast Warriors set up for a double chokeslam when Kobald interjects. Suddenly, Hype Rockwell appears and lays out Kobald with a shoulder tackle! Frightmare escapes the double goozle. He yakuza kicks Oleg outside. Boar spears Frightmare and pins him, but Frightmare isn’t the legal man. This confusion allows Hallowicked to sneak in from behind and bring Boar into a crucifix pin for the victory at 7:40. Boar was on FIRE when on offense, but otherwise this was mostly here to get Hype aligned with Oleg and Boar. **

Boar and Oleg double chokeslam Hallowicked and Frightmare for good measure. Kobald tries to run away, but Hype throws him into the ring and hits him with the Hyperwheel.

Cornelius Crummels vs. Volgar {PW}

This was exactly what you’d expect: Crummels put up a valiant fight against Volgar, but Volgar ultimately won with two powerbombs and a Samoan Drop in 6:48. This was totally fine for what it was, but I personally have little interest in seeing the Proteus Wheel members in singles competition. *

Johnny Kidd Invitational 2018 Final Round Match
Colt Cabana vs. Travis Huckabee

Huckabee kicks Cabana’s handshake away and forearms him to the corner. After taking some uppercuts, Cabana goes through Huckabee’s legs and chops him. Huckabee grounds Cabana and twists on his left wrist and forearm. Huckabee stomps on Cabana’s upturned elbow. Cabana goes through his legs again and lands another chop. He rolls up Huckabee for two. Huckabee headbutts Cabana in the chest when Cabana attempts to make him look upwards. Huckabee hammers on his shoulder and stretches it out behind Cabana’s own back. He kicks Cabana’s arm after Cabana grabs the ropes to release. He sends Cabana to the mat shoulder first and drops his knee across it. Huckabee goes for the Golden Grip. Cabana grabs ahold of Huckabee’s right wrist and backs Huckabee to the corner. After a latigo, Huckabee uppercuts Cabana in the shoulder blades for two. Cabana hip tosses Huckabee to the corner upon escaping a modified abdominal stretch. He elevates Huckabee to the apron and forearms him to the floor. When Huckabee comes back in, Cabana catches him with a punch right to the jaw. Several jabs and a bionic elbow lead to the Flying Apple. Cabana gets two with a double jump splash. Cabana pulls Huckabee back by the jaw. Huckabee weaves out and goes for the Golden Grip. Cabana sweeps out his legs and puts him in the Billy Goat’s Curse. Huckabee grabs the bottom rope to escape. Cabana holds onto Huckabee’s wrist as he pulls him into a pair of bionic elbows. Huckabee ducks the third time and German suplexes Cabana for two. Huckabee follows Cabana to the second rope and hooks Cabana’s arms, hoping for a butterfly suplex. Cabana bionic elbows Huckabee down. He Superman dives into a folding press, but this time, Huckabee kicks out! Angry, Cabana unloads more bionic elbows. Huckabee headbutts Cabana in the chest and takes him down with a butterfly suplex. After two elbows to the head, he locks Cabana in the Golden Grip. Cabana reaches for the ropes but ultimately taps out at 10:37 to win the 2018 Johnny Kidd Invitational tournament. I think this was a perfect way to end the tournament, with Huckabee treating an independent wrestling icon with absolutely no respect and ultimately out wrestling him to win a tournament that he couldn’t even make past the first round in the previous year. Naturally, the wrestling was excellent and they told a really good story, building upon the foundation laid in the previous rounds. Huckabee was the obvious choice to win this, but also the right one. ***½

Huckabee kicks Cabana out of the ring so he can have “his moment” in the ring. Bryce presents him with three points and the JKI ring.

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