In the realm of lucha libre, CHIKARA stands on its own unique platform, merging the styles of lucha and comic books to create a colorful world of characters that stands out from every other promotion. Lucha Central’s Wayne Utterback sat down and talked with CHIKARA founder Mike Quackenbush about what inspired him to bring this world to life.
Wayne Utterback: For those who may not know, can you give me just a brief description as to what CHIKARA is?
Mike Quackenbush: Sure! CHIKARA is a comic book come to life. It pays loving homage to comic books and super hero culture in approach and in aesthetic.
WU: Obviously, lucha libre is an important component to what CHIKARA is. What was it about lucha libre that inspired you to create this company? How would you say you’ve carved out a unique place within that realm?
MQ: To me, there are two supremely attractive qualities of lucha libre that inspire what we do. First is mystique. There is a real mystique, a ritual, a subculture to lucha that makes it different from any other cousin in the pro-wrestling family. The second is the kinetic energy. It excites and it inspires. So those are ingredients we take from lucha, and then we add in plenty of other ingredients, too. You’ll see a sprinkle of European style. You’ll see a dash of our subversive sense of humor in there.
WU: Anyone who has watched CHIKARA over the years will see many faces who have risen up through the ranks and onto television screens across many promotions. What’s that feel like to see some of those talents evolve into someone you see on television every week?
MQ: Well, while getting to TV is not quite the goal that it was 15 or 25 years ago, it is always validating seeing our brothers and sisters move on to a bigger stage. Getting to play a role in the development of a nascent superstar is always rewarding.
WU: One of the things I love about CHIKARA is the story that it tells. What are the larger goings-on within that universe right now? What are the major stories moving CHIKARA forward?
MQ: Last season there was a heavy emphasis on identity. That theme ran through 4 major arcs. This season, Season 19, is very much about consequences. Sometimes in wrestling, what happens in Hour 1 of RAW is forgotten by Hour 3 of RAW. There is no lasting consequence. So this year, that’s front and center. What does it mean to break someone’s trust? What does it mean to earn someone’s loyalty? This year, we have a number of stories where that is at the core.
WU: Who should we be checking out on the CHIKARA roster? Any rising stars that you see mountains of potential in?
MQ: We have so many amazing rookies right now, it would take forever to list them all. And we’ve got some really powerful female performers as well: Oceanea, Solo Darling and Blanche Babish all deserve a look for what they’re doing in the ring.
WU: What are some of the highlights over the duration of CHIKARA’s existence? What do you look back on as those “big” moments that captivated not only the crowd, but you and the Chikara roster?
MQ: Our “Ashes” experiment, which included a massive viral marketing campaign, alternate reality game, and yielded our movie “The Ashes of CHIKARA” stands out as an undertaking that is unlike anything else in the history of pro-wrestling. It took years of planning, and was a massive gamble to execute. If you’re looking for just 1 event to sink your teeth into, check out “Top Banana,” which was the finale of Season 15. That lives on as a real highlight of a critical, transition phase we went through.
WU: Where do you see CHIKARA in the future? Is there anything you want people to know about CHIKARA who might be interested?
MQ: Here’s the thing about CHIKARA: we love pro-wrestling. We love the art form. We love it so much, we want it to change. To progress. To explore it’s potential. It’s never enough to just do the same things, you have to dare. You have to challenge the form and see what else it can do. And we’re doing that, year after year after year. It’s not just lip service. It’s our mantra.
WU: Last, but not least, where can people find out more information about CHIKARA?
MQ: On Facebook and Twitter, we’re CHIKARApro, and on YouTube and Instagram, we’re CHIKARAlive. Our entire video vault – over 800 hours of programming – awaits you right now over at http://www.chikaratopia.com! Thanks!
To find out when CHIKARA may be near you, check out Event Central here on the site.
To check out 3 full CHIKARA matches which have been featured as Match of the Day videos on the site we have:
Xyberhawx2000 vs. Hermit Crab & Cajun Crawdad
King of Trios 2017 Night 1: House Seven Seas vs. House Revival
Ophidian vs. Dasher Hatfield