This review was commissioned by DJ Ringis over on my Ko-fi account.

The annual CHIKARA Cibernetico is one of the tentpoles of the defunct company’s calendar year. For the uninitiated, a cibernetico involves two teams of eight, both organized into a “batting order” that determines the sequence wrestlers tag in to join the match. It’s elimination rules, with the little twist being that in the event of multiple survivors on one team, they must keep wrestling until only one winner remains. It’s a stipulation borrowed from lucha libre but which CHIKARA utilized more in the vain of an annual Survivor Series, both in the time of year they would deploy it and in having multiple major rivalries culminate in one big old tag.

In this instance, we also get some interpromotional flavor with it being a team of ROH representatives (sort of) against the home team. There’s been an on-and-off rivalry between ROH and CHIKARA through the year, but certainly nothing to the level of the ROH/CZW rivalry of years past. ROH isn’t committing their best efforts to this feud, so while names like The American Wolves, El Generico, or Roderick Strong might have been more representative of this era of the company, we get a more slapdash group here. It’s Steen with SCUM stablemate Jimmy Jacobs, also early version of Mt. Rushmore with The Young Bucks, The Briscoes, and ROH’s favorite lower card project of the early 2010s The Bravado Brothers.

At least on the CHIKARA end, we do have an all-star line up here featuring all the key players for the upcoming season finale. There’s Grand Champion Eddie Kingston, of course, that year’s King of Trios in The Spectral Envoy, Tim Donst who’s been the year’s top rudo, 3.0 who are sentimental tag favorites, and Akuma for some reason.

The invaders get painted with the heel role, of course, even with all the internal strife on Kingston’s team. The match is at its best when focusing on the heel dynamics and building on extended heat segments that add a lot of shape to such a long bout. At the match’s open, it’s all about the rhythm of it first, those quick tags in and out, establishing key pairings and dynamics, and then swapping out to keep things moving at a brisk pace. It’s not quite a babyface shine, though it does come close to serving that function, but rather a quick primer on all the little interactions that will blossom throughout the coming hour.

Then, we get the heat segments. There’s a neat escalation in the kinds of heat segments we get too. The first one sees Steen’s do a full line up rotation to destroy Frightmare’s leg and score the first elimination of the match. It’s a great way to put over the dastardly force of Team Steen, showing the ruthlessness of the limb attack while still giving Frightmare the dignity of having only been eliminated through the combined efforts of eight men.

The second sees Scott Parker have his damaged ribs worked over by Team ROH. It’s in this second segment that we really see some of the finer performances of the match. 3.0 are great sympathetic tag babyfaces, with a lot of fire, and decent selling on their side. But Team ROH’s heel attack is especially strong. On that front, The Young Bucks anchor so much of this runtime with one of their most focused and vicious heel segments of the time. They’re all in on destroying Parker’s midsection and ribs, and it’s jarring returning to this from a 2024 perspective to see just how finetuned an act The Bucks were at their peak. Perfectly balancing the smug character work, with just enough athletic flair to catch the attention of the crowd, all without ever attracting enough admiration to turn away from how shitty they’re treating our heroes.

The Bucks are not alone in this though, and everyone plays their role in a bout like this. Even when the heels are idle on the floor, waiting to get tagged in, there’s a great sense of scrappiness being conveyed by how they swipe at opponent’s feet, grab at babyfaces to choke them against the ropes, small heel touches that add flavor to what could be a slog in lesser hands.

Kingston and Steen, while branded the captains of the bout, have very little on their shoulders as far as the match goes. Their interactions are built on denial—Steen constantly ducks out of the way every time Kingston goes to charge him. Even when they do get to touch, they’re liable to get pulled apart by their teammates or get lost in a big brawl. Even at the end, Kingston’s climactic interactions have more to do with The Bucks continuing their great control work, and Tim Donst turning on Kingston to further their championship feud.

Speaking of Donst, he’s the eventual winner of the Cibernetico, last eliminating Kingston after attacking him earlier on in the bout. It’s a decent choice for what CHIKARA has going at the time. Donst is challenging for Kingston’s belt two weeks later at the season finale, and he’s been terrorizing the roster for three years now as part of the BDK. And his win here is executed just right—it’s cowardly and unadmirable. He does not survive anything, only steals his way to a grand victory after everyone else did the lion’s share of the work.

On the whole, far from a perfect thing. It’s certainly not the best we could have ever gotten out of ROH vs. CHIKARA, and it does occasionally have the mechanical weaknesses of some of the lesser CHIKARA work, but it’s also brimming with what made so much of that promotion good. There’s a lot of heart, well thought out narratives, and an earnest approach to character and pro wrestling that feels timeless.

Rating: ****

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