Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Goodnight Sweet Prince

Alex Shelley (c) VS Claudio Castagnoli - UWA Hardcore Lightweight Championship 2/17/2006

JJZ: These two. These two beautiful humans arefuckingincredible. I expected so much from this match and of course got so much more. With just reading who is in the match you know the quality you're going to get. Watching people wrestle with the same passion on a small Indy show like this as they do on a huge dome or stadium show is what makes these two special. Not special talents or just wrestlers but special people because they treated that crowd to one hell of a match and that's why as a wrestling fan I love these two.

CJD: You caught me totally off guard with this one! When I saw the link I thought for certain this was a match I own on DVD between these two from a few months previous. Instead you exposed me to a match between two guys I absolutely love that I without a doubt never would have seen otherwise. That's what PIF is all about. There were moments in this match of pure beauty and I'd expect no less. Claudio wrestling for a lightweight championship when he's bigger than most modern heavyweights is amusing to say the least. They cut a great pace early, made the title feel big, had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands at the end, and sent it home with a really solid finish. Also I'm way into this entrance music from Shelley! And I'm way into this vault of UWA Hardcore matches we tapped into these past two weeks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

There's A New Generation Coming And We Really Gotta Stand Up To Them

Jushin Thunder Liger/Ultimo Dragon VS Motor City Machine Guns - UWA Hardcore 5/26/2007

CJD: I had a few matches in mind for my pick and this was absolutely not one of them. It was a total curiosity while searching for other stuff and I'm so glad made time for it. It's deceptively good, on the surface it might seem to merely be fan service to two legends coming in from overseas. If you dig deeper though it's really fundamentally sound tag wrestling. If you were to put this in front of a modern NJPW crowd it would gets tons of attention as opposed to something I never knew existed that has a few hundred views.

JJZ: This was a fun match. Pretty basic psychology but the crowd was super into it which made even the smallest things seem huge. Shelley and Sabin played the heel role well and the crowd ate up the hot tag. I couldn't tell the time frame of the match because the video quality was poor but Ultimo and Liger seem ageless anyway so it doesn't really matter. I'm like 50/50 on Sabin. He didn't do anything to blow me away this match but he did provide a strong base for the two vets. Shelley as always impressed me with the smallest things. He never disappoints with his attention to details. I'll have some happy hunting for the new champ.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

They Don't Just Call Him The Good Sasuke

the Great Sasuke VS Ultimo Dragon - J-Crown Finals 5/8/1996

JJZ: To my surprise finding a Great Sasuke match from 2000-2010s that I wanted to play forward was really hard. So I got to the point where I said screw it I'm picking something that I just feel like watching. I picked a match against my favorite junior of all time in possibly the greatest year in wrestling history. I'm sure we've seen this match before probably many times over. It's an amazing match. A match that should be studied by the juniors of today. The match is part of a tourney so the pace is slightly different than a normal title defense. I loved the finish and could watch these matches all day.

CJD: Last week I talked about how I'm sure one of us had that Hayabusa/Sasuke match on a VHS comp buried somewhere. Well this week I absolutely know I have this match on a Best of Ultimo Dragon tape in storage. Ultimo was my brother's favorite wrestler and we watched that thing beginning to end so many times over that we started to rank Ultimo's gear in each match from favorite to least favorite (this one fared pretty well).

Needless to say I was really curious to see what I'd think with fresh eyes. Play It Forward is a perpetual motion machine of pro wrestling positivity so I'm going to get the negative out of the way quickly. I didn't like the execution of the finish. And I disagree that it's a match that should be studied by young wrestlers today. I think they needed to slow down, do a little less, and sell a little more in the second half to make everything they were doing count as much as it should. It would have been the difference between a very good match and a great match in my opinion.

But make no mistake that what we have here is very good. I liked the pace for a tournament final, it felt like both guys needed to press the advantage early and often to put the other away quickly. I liked the matwork this era so often gets criticized for. I liked the story of Ultimo largely having Sasuke's number, and Sasuke needing to take every risk imaginable to even the playing field. And I loved two moments from Sasuke in particular, his sell draped over the guard rail, and the look of total "well, fuck me" every inch of his body communicated as he went for that one dive off his back foot from the top to the outside. That might not have required much in the way of showmanship but it was still awesome.

I want to keep this blog largely spoiler free, so I'll giver readers the option to go forward with the answer to the next question... what exactly did you like about the finish?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Best. Entrance Song. Ever.


Hayabusa VS Great Sasuke - FMW 12/11/1996

CJD: There's no way we both haven't seen this match before and own it on some terrible VQ Aerial Assault or Best of '96 VHS tape buried in a closet somewhere. That said, I remember nothing about this match or that it even happened. High flyer VS high flyer is actually a very difficult dynamic to pull off, in the majority of the great junior singles matches and feuds one wrestler acts as more of a base. Here both guys get their chances to fly and everything is done masterfully.

JJZ: So this match is a greatest hits of both wrestlers imo. Every move I wanted them to do they did. The slow build of the match with the high risk highspots is the exact way I remember these 90s matches playing out. Love it. What I didn't love was once again having to sit through the most uninterested announcing ever. I always hated that about FMW, they would put out announcers that sometimes would kill the match for me. This match was strong enough to overcome it though. Now I get to choose a Sasuke match. Man do I have options open here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Takayamamania Runnin' Wild On PIF

Hayabusa/Jinsei Shinzaki (c) VS Yoshihiro Takayama/Takao Omori - AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship 6/4/1999

JJZ: After recently watching Hayabusa in one of the greatest deathmatches of all time with you Chris, it's eye opening to see Hayabusa's depth as a wrestler. This is a classic All Japan style tag match built brick by brick. Omori is catching my eye and I'm realizing I need to seek his matches out more. Takayama with the dark locks is interesting. I just have a set image of him in my head. Shinzaki is such a solid worker which brings a great base to this match. I'd love to really dive into Hayabusa's and Shinzaki's AJPW run. I've seen stuff here and there but never went all in on it. After all these years of watching 90s AJPW it feels like this vault will never end.

CJD: You know I've been on a tag team wrestling binge lately and this match is such good fundamental tag wrestling. I don't think Shinzaki & Hayabusa's run in AJPW was extensive but they were a welcome breath of fresh air when they were booked.  I loved the way both teams worked this match, great cut offs and counters and tandem offense. Late 90s was definitely when the halcyon days of AJPW were waning but the fact that a match like this happened under the radar just goes to show the decade that promotion had will probably never be touched by anyone else.