For more than a decade, Chikara Pro Wrestling has aimed to provide an alternative in the world of professional wrestling.
To say that the promotion has done a good job of doing that would be an understatement.
What started as an idea in the minds of Mike Quackenbush and independent wrestler Tom "Reckless Youth" Carter has grown into a sub-culture within the sub-culture that is professional wrestling.
If you go to a Chikara show, do not expect to see what is normally presented to the masses every Monday night.
With a mix of American, Mexican and Japanese wrestling combined with comic book-like characters and intricate stories, Chikara is summed in one word: Fun.
That's the promotion's goal at least — to make sure the fans walked away from the show feeling as though that they had fun above all else.
"We have one rule: Everything has to be fun," said Chikara wrestler Dasher Hatfield during an interview with philly.com. "Chikara is all about coming and having a good time."
"It's about forgetting your Monday through Friday, your nine to five, it's entering a whole different world, which doesn't exist or can't be copied or mimicked and just forgetting real life for a bit, and having a fantastic time," he added.
Chikara will showcase its world once again when it presents its season finale titled "Tomorrow Never Dies" Saturday at the 2300 Arena in south Philadelphia. Bell time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Among the matches scheduled for the event is a match between Hatfield and his partner Mr. Touchdown, collectively known as The Throwbacks, and The Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive and Max Smashmaster) for the Los Campeonatos de Parejas or doubles championship.
For the unfamiliar, it is the promotion's tag team championships.
Hatfield and Mr. Touchdown are prime examples of what Chikara is all about. Hatifled wears a mask that looks like a baseball (see photo above) and Mr. Touchdown wears shoulder pads and football tights that are complete with hip pads and thigh pads.
The tandem don't look like the typical muscle-bound professional wrestlers, but they fit in quite well with the rest of the Chikara roster, most of which do not fit the typically mold.
What Chikara lacks in larger-than life bodies it more than makes up for with over-the-top characters and detailed and intricate stories that are told over the course of seasons.
A Chikara season typically begins in late January/early February and end around December. Although it essentially runs throughout the year, the end of a season can represent the culmination to the biggest stories of that year. The beginning of the next season represents a beginning to new ones.
According to Hatfield, the seasons only add to the fan experience.
"I think that adds a whole lot with being able to categorize when and how things have happened," he said. "You can kind of almost summarize the seasons through one major story and multiple side stories. It really does help with the stories being so intricate and so many little details that go on, I think having it run seasonally is a good way for fans and wrestlers alike to kind of keep track of what's going on."
"I'm not sure if other companies like that idea or not," he added. "I think it's a fantastic idea, so if I were a promoter somewhere else, it might be an idea I might want to borrow because it does help to summarize what happened over this past year."
The stories can play out over the course of one single season or carry over into multiple seasons. According to Hatfield, there are ongoing stories that began before he even arrived in the promotion.
"It's not for instant gratification all of the time even though it is fun all of the time," he said. "Sometimes, you really have to know what's going on."
A prime example of this was when the promotion shut down in 2013. On the surface, it looked as if Chikara had legitimately closed its doors. It canceled all of its upcoming events and looked as if it was just another independent wrestling promotion that went under.
That turned out not to be the case, as it was all part of a lengthy storyline that didn't culminate until 2014. All of the shows that the promotion canceled in 2013 were never actually scheduled to begin with.
The fans got its gratification when the promotion returned earlier this year and showed their appreciation for the dedication Chikara showed to telling a quality story.
"Sometimes, it's really indescribable when you get a nice message online or when a fan comes up to you and describes the impact you really had on them," Hatfield said. "A lot of guys, and myself included, I don't think realize the importance that Chikara plays in people's real lives and what they look forward to, and what keeps them happy. When you hear those things, that's when it hits you in he heart of how special what we do really is."
"I know growing up how special wrestling was for me and it's still very special to me, so to hear we have that impact on other people and it's just not another wrestling company out there is probably the greatest feeling in the world," he added.