Frankly, Fight Club: Pro are lucky that Chikara exist, because they’re going to make FC:P’s score – previously the lowest I’ve ever given – look pretty good by comparison. It seems it’s the time for grumpy articles about how “should” is not an acceptable word for use when someone says “I need a chair.” Though I’ve been sitting on this one since June.
I booked tickets for King of Trios in April, I believe, really early, fresh off my pretty good experience at FC:P’s DTTI. I booked to go with two of the friends I’d gone to DTTI with, too, which was really exciting for me, and something I was greatly looking forward to. I figured my adventures in watching wrestling in the Midlands had only just begun.
Unfortunately, the communication was all over the place, the venue change was kept reasonably quiet, and when I eventually got a response, it was too late. I felt that I couldn’t trust Chikara to look after me appropriately, and to ensure my safety, and therefore asked that my tickets be refunded. Every KoT announcement or reminder has been breaking my heart, because I’d love to be there – but in the end, I have to look after myself and take steps to ensure my own safety, and in this case, that meant staying at home.
Discussion of Access
I tweeted about Chikara having no accessibility information for KoT, and got a DM in response asking what my needs were. I replied within the same day, April 21st, and the response I got was friendly enough.
When the venue changed in June, and there was no email or similar, just one tweet from Chikara, I messaged again, and asked about the new venue, which was Starworks. I knew it was flat, which I said, but we’d had balcony seats and I wanted to know what those had become, and what the accessible toilet situation was. They left me on read for a week, and it took an Aussie friend messaging them with the same accessibility info for them to finally get back to me – though they replied to the Aussie first.
Every communication was peppered with “should” and “maybe” and “we’ll sort it out on the night” which really, really isn’t acceptable. I like to know that solutions are in place before I arrive, rather than showing up and having to stand around in pain while people discuss what to do with me.
There wasn’t even any agreement on which seats we had booked – all three of us had booked balcony tickets, but I was later told that those tickets were never on sale, though the three of us all recalled choosing balcony tickets in the drop-down menu. So Chikara didn’t even know what tickets they’d had available for sale, and never could tell me what those had turned into.
I will admit that Jason’s communication seemed mostly friendly, although the constant “we’ve dealt with disabled people before” and “we can’t just hop on a plane to see the venue”, as well as telling me that I didn’t know what seats I’d booked smacked of trying to tell me that I was asking too much, or that I was being overly-cautious. 1/10
Physical Access – Discussed
In the first venue, I was told “turn up and we’ll sort it out on the day” which is just… possibly it works for some people. I have multiple needs, and stress makes my illness worse, so it doesn’t work for me. I was not given any clear answer about a queue situation, whether I would be made to stand and wait or not, and it didn’t feel like anyone really knew what they were doing. Friends and I tried to call the venue, and could find no phone number that worked, and no email address to use which yielded a reply.
Once the move to Starworks was confirmed, I considered asking FC:P for details about the venue, as I trusted them (more innocent times), but didn’t want to bother them for something that wasn’t their show, especially as I felt Chikara should have the answers. Quite aside from telling me that the tickets I’d bought shouldn’t have existed, I got statements like “there should be absolutely no reason to think that accessibility needs will be an issue“, and “all you need to do is let one of us know when you arrive, and we will get you taken care of“. I even got the rich comment of “It looks like much of this is stemming from a misunderstanding about exactly what kind of ticket you held“! Clearly, I thought, you’ve never had to ask for accessibility, or you’d know there’s always a reason to think my needs will not be met.
Eventually, I came back and said, look, you’ve not told me in definite language whether or not there’s a chair available for me. I can’t book accommodation until you tell me that, because I’m not driving two and a half hours from my house, booking a place to stay, and shelling out for tickets, if you’re going to tell me there’s no chair.
Even once I said the two needs I had, they could only commit to one. At this point, I decided I couldn’t entrust my safety to people who took several messages just to tell me I could have a chair, and asked for my money back. 0/10
Physical Access – Actual
As the poor communication put me off, I will not be attending, therefore can only grade this as 0/10.
Going The Extra Mile
To Chikara’s credit, they did agree to refund me my ticket, due to what they called “a frustrating experience”, where they wouldn’t usually offer that service. 1/10
Not very relevant to us in the UK, or at least, not often. I’d be very interested to hear from anyone in the US with mobility issues who has attended Chikara’s shows, and how they’ve done there. Certainly, I’d love to hear from anyone who goes to KoT what the show organisation was like, and how anything asked about was dealt with. Until I have any other information, though, I have to judge this on whether I’d got to any other shows of theirs, to which the answer is clearly no. 0/10
Overall, communication is what let Chikara down. Possibly if I’d chanced it and gone to the shows, I would have been alright, but at the moment, with my left knee still not supporting my weight after Fight Club: Pro on Saturday, I’m glad I didn’t. New venues and new promotions are always nerve-wracking, and Chikara did very little to reassure me that they knew what they were talking about. They get a score of 0.5/10. I sincerely hope that this new low score is never beaten by a show I actually attend, because I think I’d have to write that review posthumously.