With their fan-friendly atmosphere and a strong mix of community, commitment and teamwork, Chikara Pro has swiftly become one of the United States’ most recognisedd and revered independent wrestling promotions. Chikara is one of those “bucket list” shows, an experience that takes the in-ring product and makes it hinge on the participation of the audience and its array of smiling faces that seem to present at every single show.
There is more than a simple “buzz” surrounding Chikara. Every time I think about how special and unique it is, I seem to fall back to a comment I saw on a random wrestling forum describing Chikara as a promotion that “starts off as a silent rumble that makes you put your ear to the ground and before you know it, you are running along with the rest of the oncoming herd”, a truly adequate interpretation of a show based around an array of different wrestlers, all unique in personality and character, yet brought together with the lone goal of waving their banner proudly, showing that the best promotions in the world happen when you mix equal parts “teamwork” with “individualism” and let the attending fans tell you how well the show is going, rather than bank on the criticism or opinions of parties who were never there for an in-house experience.
Chikara has played home base to some of the top superstars in the wrestling world today boasting names like Cesaro, Kimber Lee, Heidi Lovelace and of course, the winner of WWE’s first United Kingdom championship tournament, Tyler Bate (just weeks removed from the biggest win of his young career), all as esteemed alumni of the company. While some faces come and go, Chikara’s biggest strength is its home grown roster, many of which continue to work under the company’s banner and are regular fan favorites for the crowd to enjoy, none of them more interesting than Dasher Hatfield, one of half of the “Throwbacks” tag team and a regular favorite amongst Chikara’s list of budding stars and faces.
Trained by Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) and Chikara founder Mike Quakenbush, Hatfield’s tutelage with Chikara Pro dates all the way back to 2007, when he debuted for the promotion during its famed “King of Trios” event, a tournament created to promote six-man tag team action, the first and only tournament of its kind. I was happy to have “The Ol’ Timey King O’ Swing” sit down with me and dish about Chikara, his love of baseball and of course, the man behind the moustache-laden mask.
Can you tell us how you decided to become a professional wrestler and what the journey has been like?
Ever since I was lad and my father would take me to the carnivals to see the wrestling events. I was immediately hooked on the sport. Growing up, baseball was convenient and all the other children in town played so I learned to love that as well, but wrestling was always in the back of my mind. When baseball finally slowed down for me, I came to the conclusion that I had to give wrestling an honest chance. As I grew older, I could not imagine looking back on my life and never stepping into the squared circle.
The journey thus far has been incredible. The fans around the world and more specifically, the fans of Chikara Pro, have opened their hearts to me and I am forever grateful for their appreciation of what I do. Having made some of the best friends a man could ask for, meeting some of my heroes, and the endless amount of breath taking experiences reassure me that wrestling was the right choice for me.
Baseball is clearly a huge part of your life. Can you give us some insight on your fandom and past involving the sport and how it led to its inclusion as part of your gimmick?
Baseball was my first love. Allowing that to shine through in the world of wrestling was a natural choice for me.
I watch Chikara shows and it looks like an experience unlike any other, can you tell us a little bit about the atmosphere, the fans and how it compares to other promotions you have wrestled in?
A lot of people claim to have the best fans in their world, so I will not make that claim, but I will claim to have the most fun fans in the world. Our fans both big and small show up to a Chikara show to have fun! From doors open to doors close, everyone comes in with the same mindset. Chikara allows both wrestlers and fans to forget about real life for a few hours and we all get to live and play along with a cartoon/comic book come to life.
You may have the best set of past gimmicks and wrestler names of any pro-wrestler I have ever interviewed, can you give a brief synopsis of some of your characters and the genius behind them?
The “genius” behind all of my previous personas are the fans of Chikara Pro. To start my career I was figuratively and literally “Create-A-Wrestler”, a rather generic persona who provided the fans an outlet to mold their own character. The fans were allowed to enter ideas for personalities and then we were able to bring one of them to life for the remainder of the Chikara season.
My first personality was Moscow the Communist Bovine. He was a gigantic steer who hailed from Mother Russia.
The second personality was Ultimo Breakfast. I still am not quite sure what his angle was. My best guess was that he was a Breakfast Spartan of sorts. He did have the best gear of all my personas.
Finally, the fans hit the nail on the head when they created Dasher Hatfield!
Its well known that one of your trainers was one of the most popular Superstars in the WWE “Cesaro” (Claudio Castagnoli) can you tell us a bit about training with him and how your “Ol’ Timey King O’ Swing” moniker came about? Was this nickname paying homage to him or something he adopted from you when he got to WWE?
Training with Cesaro was always fun. The man is an absolute phenomenon. There is not a style of wrestling that he is not the master of, there was no question that he could not answer, nor move he could not demonstrate. I could only imagine how amazing his practices would be nowadays.
To clarify, I was the “Ol’ Timey King of Swing” before he was the “King of Swing”. I was, however, happy to let him have it considering the stage he performs on. I have since creatively borrowed his old nickname and dubbed myself “Very American” Dasher Hatfield.
What are your goals going forward and where can we catch you next?
My main goals moving forward are to win Chikara’s Grand Championship, and have a good time doing it! You can catch me [as early as] this weekend [Feb 4th, 2017] at National Pro Wrestling Day at the Chikara Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia, PA!
To find out more about Dasher Hatfield, Chikara Pro and all of the amazing things they are doing be sure you visit them on the web at www.chikarapro.com and be sure to follow @MrHatfield4 on twitter.
Photo courtesy of Dasher Hatfield