“Lightning” Mike Quackenbush is a real Renaissance man in the wrestling industry. An acclaimed trainer, a world-class promoter, an accomplished wrestler, and even a successful author, there are few roles at which Quackenbush has not tried his hand.
Taking his ringname “Lightning” as a tribute to his idol Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Mike Quackenbush’s pro career began in the early portion of the 1990’s, wrestling at a very young age in parts of his native Pennsylvania. Later that decade he began to blossom, being named in the top 150 of Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s annual PWI 500 in 1999 at the ripe age of 24. It was in January of 2002, though, that he began to carve his true legacy. It was then that Quackenbush and fellow wrestler Reckless Youth opened The Wrestle Factory in Allentown, PA, and began training aspiring grapplers. In spring of the same year, the duo launched CHIKARA. On May 25, 2002, the first CHIKARA main event saw Mike Quackenbush, Reckless Youth, and Don Montoya (a team known as The Black T-shirt Squad) defeat The Gold Bond Mafia (a team comprised of Chris Hero, Colt Cabana, and current WWE show-stealer CM Punk.) More on Quackenbush’s accomplishments and contributions to the industry after the jump.
That summer, Quackenbush and his CHIKARA promotion were involved in a battle over Allentown’s zoning laws and the legality of their shows. At the conclusion of the dispute, partner Reckless Youth left the company, leaving Quackenbush as the sole operator of CHIKARA. Of this event, Mike said:
“This was a real turning point for CHIKARA. From that point on, there was a singular vision for the company, with no need for compromise. There was no one to tell me ‘that’s crazy,’ or ‘that’s not going to work.’”
That singular vision of Quackenbush’s has evolved into the CHIKARA that we see today. In 2005, The CHIKARA Wrestle Factory took control of Combat Zone Wrestling’s school, and the company relocated its headquarters to Philadelphia. With it’s unique blend of wrestling, humor, and over-the-top characters, CHIKARA is unlike any other product on the market. Placing an emphasis on Lucha Libre style, the promotion offers a true alternative for fans tired of the status quo.
His introduction of the CHIKARA style is not all we should mention about “Lightning” Mike. He’s participated in a number of highly successful tag teams, including the SuperFriends with Chris Hero, and is currently half-owner of CHIKARA’s Campeonatos de Parejas (Tag Team Championship) with Jigsaw. The team of Quackenbush and Jigsaw, along with Shane Storm, won the inaugural King of Trios tournament in 2007. During the same year, Quackenbush won IWA Mid-South’s Ted Petty Invitational, defeating Claudio Castagnoli and Chuck Taylor in the finals.
In addition to CHIKARA and IWA Mid-South, Mike Quackenbush has also wrestled for Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate USA, Combat Zone Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance, and numerous international companies. He’s held gold in over fifteen promotions, most notably as the Junion Heavyweight Champion for CZW and NWA. The wrestlers he has trained are too great in number to list, although some notable examples include Eddie Kingston, Claudio Castignoli, Hallowicked, and The Osirian Portal. Some of his most accomplished opponents range from Eddie Guerrero to Bryan Danielson (WWE’s Daniel Bryan) and Matt Sydal (WWE’s Evan Bourne). On Decemer 11, 2010, “Lighting” Mike Quackenbush wrestled his idol Jushin “Thunder” Liger at a Jersey All Pro Wrestling show in Philadelphia’s Asylum Arena (formerly the ECW Arena). Although Liger was victorious, it was a special occasion for both men, who received standing ovations after the closing bell. Two books penned by Quackenbush, Secret Identity and Headquarters, were made available on the Amazon Kindle last year, along with the 2009 edition of the CHIKARA yearbook.