House Sendai vs House Strong Style
Chikara King of Trios 2017
3rd September 2017
Three long days of wrestling are at an end. Everybody is exhausted, except Vlad Radinov. Chikara’s ring announcer is a master at whipping a crowd into a frenzy, but the truth is it’s barely needed. Despite the fatigue, nobody’s going home before this final. Trent Seven. Cassandra Miyagi. Tyler Bate. DASH Chisako. Pete Dunne. Meiko Satomura.
I want to tell you how Bate and Seven became more heelish as the match went on, and how the crowd went insane for every nearfall or hope spot. I want to tell you how hideous every strike looked and sounded, and how surreal it was to see Miyagi and Seven stroke each other’s hair. Dunne wiped his feet on Satomura’s face. DASH Chisako jumped off a castle.
The experience of watching this match live was exhilarating, exhausting, overwhelming. The truth is I can’t do it justice. Go watch it on Chikaratopia.
How it defined 2017:
The occasional tour is one thing, but taking the biggest event in your company’s calendar to another continent is a massive decision. Normally, you would need a compelling financial reason to make such a move – although with Mike Quackenbush in charge, a man who admits that his accountant resigned on realising how much Joshimania would cost, perhaps that’s less of an issue.
Either way, it’s testament to the incredible size, quality and variety in the UK and European wrestling scene right now that an American promotion invited performers from Japan, Denmark, Spain and the ocean (thanks Hermit Crab) to a tournament in England. It also says a lot about the success of Fight Club Pro that House Sendai set foot in Wolverhampton.
King of Trios has always showcased some of the world’s top wrestling talent, but this final is one for the ages. In one corner, living legend Satomura stands alongside two of her trainees, who will hold important places in the joshi world for years to come. In the other corner are three men on the weirdest contracts in wrestling, which seem to let them work most of the indies as long as they turn up when WWE calls. Two have already held WWE’s new UK championship and are still under the age of 25.
Two teams at the pinnacles of two different, but very strong, wrestling scenes. And the audience is rabid for it, because the unprecedented wealth of international content at their fingertips ensures they know who everybody is, and they’ve been dreaming of this match.
Let’s face it: could you have imagined Pete Dunne pinning Meiko Satomura 12 months ago?
I’ve seen a lot of live wrestling. I can honestly say I have never been as invested as I was that night at Starworks. Meiko Satomura is one of two acceptable answers to the question “Who is the greatest wrestler in the world today?” (the other being Io Shirai), and Pete Dunne is my nemesis. He’s such a good heel that I can’t even respect him for his talent. He reminds me of every thug that ever terrorised a school playground and the hatred is genuinely visceral.
When he pinned Meiko, I slumped back and collapsed into my seat for a full 10 minutes as everyone else stood up. I was devastated and furious. It’s a sign of how far kayfabe and reality have blended in today’s wrestling that I couldn’t even decide why I was so mad. Was it because the heels won? Or because part of me wondered if they’d won for political reasons: because WWE wanted it that way; because they were the home team; or because they’re British Strong Style and they win everything right now just because they’re British Strong Style?
This match was phenomenal. Once I’d recovered from the crushing effect of the finish, I could see it as a fitting conclusion to an incredible weekend of wrestling, and celebrate what a joyous experience it was for all involved. But ultimately, what really made it special was the way that it distilled everything wonderful about pro wrestling into a moment: the communal experience of cheering for your heroes, booing the villains, gasping and screaming together on a thrilling journey that ends only with a three-count. I’ve never felt anything so purely pro wrestling in my life.