Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Still Today I Hear The Pain We Made, Death Machine

Sami Callihan (c) VS Darby Allin- AAW Heavyweight Championship 5/31/2019

JJZ: Alright. So I picked this match mainly because I'm not super familiar with Darby. I have seen a handful of matches but not enough to have a full opinion. Interesting mic spot to start off the match. Adds a little story off the bat. I'm expecting a pretty violent bout from what I do know of these two. I have and always will hate the spit that the Death Machine adds into his matches. But maybe that's why he does it. I think both wrestlers do a good job of telling a story on top of a stiff and brutal match. Good psychology. Loved the finish. I mostly enjoyed the indy feel of it. I can't remember AAW running in this building before and if I didn't know any better I would guess it was a venue IWA Mid-South ran back in the day.

CJD: I've seen quite a bit of Darby and still don't think I have a fully formed opinion. But I'm looking forward to digging into more of his catalog for next week's pick. So I guess I'm more of a fan than not. I'm used to him working something like 30/70 at best, sometimes even less offense than that, so this match is already a bit different. Say what you will about Callihan but in an age when true heels are rare, he is 100%, hate his fucking guts, HEEL in this match. Spitting and all. I liked diamond in the rough Sami going up against guys like Necro and Finlay more than grown up douchebag Sami. But either way he's a guy who refuses not to get a reaction and I respect that. This match was fun, there's not a ton to it, but there doesn't really need to be. I think the loose brawling structure lends to that IWAMS vibe too and I'm not mad about that one bit.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions #81-90

CJD is out on parental leave, so guest editor JJZ is here to run down our last 10 campeones before we hit the century mark in our next recap!

81. Nigel McGuinness
Nigel was our last champ of a very nice indy title run. He takes the title over to Japan where I always felt he did a great job getting over with the fans.

82. Kotaro Suzuki
Suzuki kicks off another long run of Japanese MDTSOCWWKD title holders. While he is carrying the NOAH flag it is interesting he wrestled against opponents from visiting promotions in both matches we featured.

83. Dick Togo
84. TAKA Michinoku
85. Gran Naniwa

The next three champions are all Japanese junior heavyweight legends. All from Michinoku Pro originally and all over-delivered in their title reigns here at PIF.

86. Koji Kanemoto
87. Kota Ibushi

This was a nice way to shift from juniors to heavies seamlessly. Personally I thought the match we featured between these two was the best over this stretch of 10 champs.

One of the brightest stars in Japan truly got his chance to shine in his two matches. It was perfect that he was in a singles and tag match since he has had such success in both areas.

89. the Young Bucks
90. Super Smash Brothers

And just like that we are back to the American indy scene.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Sami Callihan (c) VS Tommy End - Southside Wrestling AAW Heavyweight Championship 7/10/2016

CJD: I get why Sami Callihan is a polarizing wrestler. And honestly if you aren't a fan to start with this probably isn't the match to win you over. But if the sight of these two on paper has your curiosity, then I'd bet this match will more than hold your attention. I'm a sucker for a touring champ defending his title overseas, and for the big fight feels, and this match delivers in both areas. It's a match that would probably leave a bigger impression live than it does on tape, but I was still along for the ride. I liked the post match interaction but I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the locker room after these two brutalized each other. Very curious to hear your thoughts on this one.

JJZ: Well well well. Wells are for wishing Chris and I wish I saw this match sooner. Sami looks so intense and End looks like he is going to murder someone. I could watch Tommy for days but Sami is hit or miss for me. But here he was Bryce Harper and hit it outta the park. If I could describe this in one word it would be gritty. Both these guys grind it out. Sami is working super stiff, like he knows he can't fuck around with End. But let's take a second to talk about the seating in this venue. Them front row chairs look like some vintage 1970s living room furniture! I like it. But I like this match a lot more. These two wrestlers wrestled with a purpose to end things quickly. And I loved the finish and the respect shown at the end.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Are You Afraid Of The Dark Order?

Super Smash Brothers VS Sumerian Death Squad - wXw World Tag Team Tournament Oberhausen 3/10/2015

JJZ: Alright, so it took  two viewings for me to play this forward. The second time I watched it for what it was and not what I wanted it to be. This is a match from a tournament that was three days in a row so the match these four have is pretty perfect for that kind of workload of a weekend. The crowd is hot as hell and the wrestling is packed with psychology. I do wish it was longer and had a few more highspots. I'm new to Michael Dante but like what I'm seeing in him. Soild hoss and great partner for End. SSB play a great heel team and work good heat from the crowd. Hope you enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: I played a Sumerian Death Squad match in Big Japan for you from a few years previous to this match, but I don't remember this level of BEEF from Dante back then either. He brought a great presence to this match which isn't easy to do when Aleister Black is your partner. I'm glad you picked this even though I could see having some issues with it. I thought the transitions in offense were too abrupt at times, as the commentators pretty much pointed out. And if Super Smash Brothers were going for a straight up heel/face psychology they should have tried to pop the crowd a little less. That said, this was a lot of fun. The psychology ended up more of a bad ass home team VS bad ass away squad so it worked for what they were doing. I'm leaving these two SSB matches with a much higher opinion of Stu Grayson than I had before. But I do especially love when Uno goes into that kill mode with his strikes.Glad to see PIF venture back to Europe and glad wXw put this one up online so I could watch these four men throw down!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Who Are These Young Bucks?

The Young Bucks VS Super Smash Brothers - SMASH Wrestling 8/17/2014

CJD: The Young Bucks are masters of making you think they're going to schtick their way through a match, only to have you hooked before you even realize what's happening. By the end of this match I was rooting for Super Smash Bros so hard, and not necessarily because I'm the biggest fan of them, but because of the awesome work everyone in this match put in. These are two teams that are great at chaining together offense and that's fully on display here. But so are plenty of little touches that take this from a fun match early on to something much more by the end. This had a live energy that really came through on tape even without the max volume commentary.

JJZ: In the words of Dave Attell, yumma dum dum! Yeah buddy. And in SSB's home promotion no less! I know this has been said by us before but to watch these two little jerkoffs from CA become one of the greatest, most influential, respectful and respected wrestlers of their generation is such a welcome surprise. Well maybe we never said it that way exactly. With knowing the history these two teams have I'm expecting one hell of a show Chris! The effort and quality the Bucks put into this match considering it's in a little venue in Canada is such a testament to their love of wrestling. And man I love SSB so much, it's a shame about the visa issues they've had. This delivered big, great match man.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Moonlight SANADA


EVIL/SANADA (c) VS Young Bucks - NJPW IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship 6/9/2018

JJZ: So you wanna talk about crossing matches out of your book, well this one is coming out of mine. I know you haven't seen this yet and honestly this was one of my favorite matches from last year so I'm excited to bring it to your eyes. So Chris, I know since you've been into PWG since way back you've been watching the Young Bucks since they were Baby Bucks. So I'm curious if you ever considered that they might one day wrestle for these titles? I love the Bucks but in 2006 I would have said get the hell outta here. Now Evil and Sanada are such head scratching partners on paper but compliment each other so well in the ring. Their tag matches are so consistently good that going into this I had high expectations. It still didn't disappoint one bit. Nick's selling of the foot and Matt's selling of the back since January really showed the growth of the Bucks. Evil and Sanada showcase what they do best with their team work and aggressiveness. The match doesn't overstay its welcome and is great tag team wrestling bell to bell.

CJD: Back when I was watching the Bucks VS the Ballard Brothers I never in a million years would have imagined them challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. I had seen a little of their transition to heavyweights but not this match and damn was this a perfect adaptation to the weight class on their part. I tried to fire this match up so many times and real life kept getting in the way. I thought by the time I finally got to finish it I'd be sick of it. Not at all. The second half of this match is high end stuff. EVIL and SANADA do make for great opponents as you said, and really this felt less like a NJPW heavyweight tag and more like a classic ROH tag title match. Some sort of bastardized hybrid of King's Road, New Japan juniors, and American indies. And I love the way they simmered that stew. Loved the way it wrapped up, loved the babyface sympathy and fire, the only way I could fit more Love's into this match would be if they were serving up Java Amore and had the cheapest gas this side of the Mason-Dixon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

You Must Be My Golden Star


Kota Ibushi VS SANADA - NJPW G1 Climax 7/20/2019

CJD: Selfish pick on my part here. I know you've watched this one already. You know I'm slowly making my way through the G1 and this is about where I'm at. You also know my time to watch pro wrestling is limited right now so I'll gladly take a chance to get two birds stoned at once. And you also also know that I'm loving me some SANADA. He had one of my favorite matches this year VS ZSJ on the first day of the tournament, and while this isn't on that level, it has some similar elements. You can feel that these guys go out and have exactly the match they want. With Ibushi that can go a lot of different ways, but so far in the G1 I'm buying what he's selling. The difference in his role as the slightly cocky veteran in this match compared to last week where he was such a spunky underdog is remarkable. I hope you don't mind rewatching this one babycakes, I think it's the type of match that warrants revisiting.

JJZ: ALRIGHT! Actually really excited to rewatch this because when you're watching the G1 every day it can turn into a conveyor belt where you miss a lot of the little things. So this is a welcome match for me. Very happy to see this is in my favorite venue in Japan. This is also a great showcase of how far Ibushi has come from junior to heavyweight. These two are in the top five workers in NJPW currently for my money, along with Okada, ZSJ, and Ospreay. A big difference in this Ibushi from the Ibushi in my match last week is his pacing. He for sure slows it down and picks his spots in this match. Both these guys have had huge years in NJPW so this could go either way. Sanada's leap frogs are insane. Dude does not look like he would have hops like that. This match isn't perfect but has a great build with some edge-of-your-seat falsies. This doesn't give the result away since the G1 is a point based tournament but Sanada is my pick to win the G1 next year.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Amazin' Phase Your Days Your Hazy Ways My Falcon Arrow

Koji Kanemoto VS Kota Ibushi - NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors 5/30/2009

JJZ: Alright! So before I watched this match I watched Kanemoto VS Finlay from a 1992 fan cam. I was so excited and had that "hell yeah" feeling that I was about to play forward a wonderful rare match. Well it was just okay and a little sloppy. Then I came across this. With current NJPW I've watched so much Ibushi recently that I was hesitant. I love the shit outta him but I was more in the mood for a mid 90s kinda match. But I said fuck it. Kanemoto VS a young junior is always fun. Right from the bell when I saw the way they squared up I knew I was in for a treat. Kanemoto brings such an anger and meanness to this match while Kota has an "I'm not taking you shit" attitude written across his face. The stiff striking, mixed with the controlled but reckless highspots, mixed with Kanemoto's strong psychology made for a can't-miss-a-moment experience. The crowd is electric and the falsies keep you on the edge of your seat. Enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: Look at you crossing off a bucket list match for me! I seriously have this one on my ongoing "to watch" list. You sneaky goose. It's been a long day and I only have time to sit down to one match with a beer before bed. I'll gladly make it this one. Damn, I expected this to be a bit of a sprint but it was so much more than that. I don't care what weight class, style, era we're talking about, this is great pro wrestling, plain and simple. The dynamic between the grizzled veteran and the fearless upstart is pitch perfect. The fact that you took my Kanemoto BOSJ match VS Naniwa and countered with an even better Kanemoto BOSJ match from 12 years later is bonkers. You made my night with this one, I have nothing but praise for the epic fight these two left in the ring. This is one of my favorite matches I've watched in a while.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Crab People


Koji Kanemoto VS Gran Naniwa - NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors 5/25/1997

CJD: I know you're not feeling those epics right now. And even if this wasn't JIP, with the missing 5 or so minutes you can tell this is still very straight forward. One of my favorite personal themes for PIF is crossing matches off my bucket list, and we've got another one this week. I've known this match was a big part of the build to the BOSJ '97 finals which is an all-time classic, and Naniwa is a personal favorite so I've always wanted to watch it. I wish we had the full thing but I'll take what I can get, and what we get is a match with a lot of emotion and big fun moments. Mask ripping always makes for a good time but I don't think I've ever seen a match that incorporates it quite like this.

JJZ: Naniwa starting off early with the crab walk! Well Kanemoto was just a huge piece of shit in this tournament. I've said to you personally that I thought the 2019 BOSJ was the best tournament/league I've ever watched. But 1997 has an energy about it that feels special. Would love to watch it in its entirety. Naniwa's mask is just off. Like totally off. This is crazy and a little weird but in a good way. He plays a fantastic babyface to such a fantastic dickhead in Kanemoto. God dammit I wanted more match but what we got was sweet and to the point. Very nice baby cakes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

TAKA Flocka Flame

Super Delfin/Gran Naniwa VS Jinsei Shinzaki/TAKA Michinoku - Michinoku Pro 2/17/1994

JJZ: Well the video quality is shit and it's MPro from the 90s. So I feel like this is off a Blue Thunder Video comp and I'm right at home with that. Hot crowd from the jump. This match has it all, wrestlers, matching tights, delfin men, crab men, box men, weird green carpets, botches, dives, powerbombs, people sitting on the floor, hot tags, cold tags, selling, buying, what more could you ask for? This is a fun match and pretty opposite from your barn burner last week. I thought showing a different era of TAKA would be perfect to play forward.

CJD: This match had one more thing you didn't mention. Ted Tanabe! Two great wrestling talents we lost way too young between him and Naniwa. I think you'd agree this wasn't among the better matches we've featured at PIF but 90s Michinoku Pro is always, always worth sharing. Also this match was just recently uploaded (thank you Ba Mu! you're crushing it!) and is from a more obscure era of MPro so it's a little more of a fun novelty. You can see things coming together for some of the key players of what would turn into one of the greatest promotions in the world in a short matter of time. The only other thing about this match that stands out to me is it's making me wish I could play a quick game of Fire ProWrestling S: 6Men Scramble!

Editor's note: This match has been taken down since we originally shared it. Sorry Ba Mu :(. We'll check back periodically to see if we can find a new link. We apologize for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Dick Togo For Life Homie

Dick Togo/TAKA Michinoku (c) VS Minoru Tanaka/Prince Devitt - NJPW IWGP Jr Tag Team Championship 1/27/2008

CJD: I was really feeling some classic MPro this week but this match came out of left field and totally won me over. I was watching tons of puro around this time so no idea how I missed this the first time around. The Junior IWGP tag title matches always seem to deliver, even in eras where NJPW is hit or miss. The titles change hands a lot so they might not be the most prestigious but the crowd is always hot for them none the less. I know we just featured some Fergal Devitt on the blog not too long ago but this is a different flavor of Balor, clearly the lowest man on the totem pole and he plays it effectively. It seems Minoru Tanaka is having a career resurgence this year which makes me happy. He has always had so much talent, even here he's fairly reserved but still shines in the more veteran role. The 1A and 1B of Kaientai make for great heel champs and mesh so well with the challengers. I know you could make Finn the first two time MDTSOWWKD Champion next week but I'm hoping TAKA is coming instead (motherfucker) or maybe you bring the HEAT??

JJZ: Did not know that Dick Togo ever wrestled in NJPW. Really stoked for this match. I love TAKA & Dick's music mashup. In the blue corner we got a baby ass Prince with Minoru. By the way I'm smoking a cigar and drinking a Yards Love Stout while watching this so I'm pretty much in heaven. Nice little feeling out going on in the beginning. I'm curious what level of TAKA I'm getting in this match. He is looking good so far. Dick too. This match has a classic tag build with nice high spots and falsies. I found myself saying "That's match!" several times. The finish totally surprised me and popped me. Devitt really stood out in this match and it doesn't surprise me how far he went in the company over time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Godspeed You! Blue Tiger Emperor

Kotaro Suzuki/Yoshinari Ogawa VS Dick Togo/Yasu Urano - NOAH Jr Heavyweight Tag League 10/15/2010

JJZ: Dick Togo for life homie. I'm extremely familiar with 3 out of 4 of the guys in this match but have no clue who Urano is. He caught me off guard with that front roll at the sound of the bell. He looks like a Japanese Homicide clone. I thought this would make for a nice match up especially with Ogawa and Togo having some fun interactions. Suzuki has one of my favorites movesets in NOAH during this time. His strike combos and efficient offense come across so smart to me. Also for my money he has one of the best tiger drivers in the game. Loved the finish of this match. Enjoy baybay.

CJD: You asked me last week what other ROH talent was on that 2007 tour my match took place during, and ironically enough most of them were there for the first inaugural Junior Tag League, which this match is a part of three years later. Here we have the underdog invading Team DDT against the NOAH stalwarts. This is the stuff that tournaments are made of. So many fun interactions like you said, with surprisingly smooth or physical sequences. You know me and you know this is the type of match I can watch all day. Not to sell Suzuki short, but is Yoshinari Ogawa PIF's spirit animal? Because I think he just may be.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions #71-80

A journey into lucha libre and some of the deepest dives into the indies we've done yet made for a very fun and different ten champs as we creep closer and closer to the big old 100 mark!

71. El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas
Well it took fifty singles title changes since the Usos, but we finally have our second ever Mason Dixon Tri-State Outercontinental WWKD Tag Team Champions! And these two make strange bedfellows indeed, but they worked together to have a bust-ass match against Guerrero and Bucanero none the less. I wonder if we'll see tag champs go from opponents one week to partners the next ever again?

72. Ultimo Guerrero
73. Mistico
74. La Sombra
75. Rush
This was one hell of a run of lucha Champs, transitioning from different generations and covering all different styles of matches. I have a feeling we're just scratching the surface for lucha here at PIF, which is fine by me.

76. the Briscoe Bros

And just like that we have our third tag team Champs. Dem boys to the rescue!

77. Samoa Joe
78. Christopher Daniels
These two had such similar, yet drastically different trajectories to their careers. They just feel right side by side.

79. Danny Dominion

We've had some obscure Champs here at PIF, but Danny Dominion might set the bar. Here's hoping we explore some 90s Japanese deathmatch sleaze or some equally murky waters to give DD a run for his money down the line.

80. Colt Cabana


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

1, 2, 3, 4, Who's Punk? What's The Score?

Nigel McGuinness VS Kotaro Suzuki - NOAH 7/1/2007

CJD: I've brought up my binder full of matches before, and this is one of those matches that once upon a time I had written down to share with you in person. It's on page 12 out of the 32 pages that are in there currently, and I'd honestly crossed it off a while back just because there's so much else I need to get to. We watched so much NOAH and ROH around this time period, and plenty of both Nigel and Suzuki, that it didn't seem essential after a while. Well I'm happy to have had a reason to revisit it because this match played much better than I remembered. Especially the first half. Nigel works so big, Suzuki builds some nice comebacks, and more than anything this is one of those gems that you never knew you needed to see but damn are you glad it exists.

JJZ: Goddammit! You're so far up my alley I'm about to charge you rent! Nigel was so great, it's a crime that his career ended so early. He was the final chapter in the golden era of ROH. His title run was maybe top ten all-time but that's another conversation for another day. Suzuki plays a fantastic babyface to Nigel's subtle heel. For a foreigner he's getting a really good reaction from the Japanese crowd. I've seen plenty of NOAH matches where the work is excellent but the crowd are mostly silent for the gaijin talent that aren't regulars. Suzuki has a great moveset that pops the crowd for his hopespots. His strength was a nice surprise also. It seems like he had no problem getting the much bigger Nigel up. Good shit CD.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Good Times, Great Memories

Colt Cabana VS Nigel McGuinness - ROH Soccer Riot Match 8/20/2005

JJZ: I know you were live for this match but I'm not sure if you've seen it since. This was all new to me and I loved all this legal action. I remember loving this feud back in the day but  never saw the blow off, so when this popped up I was stoked to watch it. I remember you telling me about the match and I always assumed it was kinda a comedy match. Well it does have some funny spots but damn these two are laying it in. Nigel had such a grittiness to him in ROH. I wish he eased up a little bit in his style to extend his career but you can tell he was always trying to give the fans his all in every match. In a time when everything ROH was doing was gold I can see this match getting overlooked. But it tells a great story with awesome false finishes and a great ending. Hope you don't remember too much from it.

CJD: This match was a shining star on one of the more lackluster ROH shows I went to in this era. Part of the problem was this NJ crowd was god awful. The fact they hook them as much as they do here is an accomplishment by itself. I haven't seen this one since being there live and "got jokes" Prazak & Leonard actually made me laugh once or twice and do a nice job on commentary. I didn't remember a lot of of the particulars and it didn't disappoint revisiting it nearly 15 years later. Both Cabana and Nigel had some really underrated feuds around this time and this was certainly one of them. You nailed it, this was entertaining as hell but also physical and heated. They strike a great balance and blowoff an undercard feud about as effectively as you can.

I had almost forgotten what a great heel Nigel was in this era. He gives Colt so much in this match but never loses his heat and puts some stink on it the whole way through.

JJZ: Such a good heel. The level of talent on that roster was stupid.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Throw Some Ds On That

CM Punk/Colt Cabana VS Ace Steel/Danny Dominion - Beloit WI 3/4/2001

CJD: Well you definitely limited my options this week but I think this match will do just fine. Fascinating glimpse at the early days of the Second City Saints in this students VS teachers match up. It's funny to me that Punk is the worst wrestler in this match but obviously went on to have the most success. Clearly the fans gravitate to him even then, and the writing is on the wall as to the direction indy wrestling, and eventually all of pro wrestling, are heading in the years to come. Dominion & Steel haven't lost a step since the match we just watched 7 years prior, and deliver a masterful heel tag team performance here. I had never heard of Danny Dominion three weeks ago, but I have to say I've become a fan. I'm sad we never got to see him in the Embassy. He had to have been in at least one TPI, right? Danny Dominion, where have you gone??

JJZ: Ace Steel like I've never seen him before. Wow, this is super Indy. Really reminds me of when I was going to a lot of shows in the early 2000s. CM and CC looking like some little babies over here. I'm loving that the last two matches have some of the biggest Indy stars ever but when they just broke in. Colt is flying all over the place. Looking like he belongs in the J-Cup. I'll be honest, if I was judging off this match alone I'd predict that Cabana would become the bigger star. I'm enjoying Punk, but he's got backyarder written all over him. Steel and Dominion are playing the old salty veteran heel role to a tee. Colt's getting the nice babyface pops while Ace and Danny are pulling great heat from the crowd. I'm totally marking out over this 2001 move set. Bring on all the tornado DDTs you got! Wheel barrel bulldog?? Hell yeah! I think you undersold this match a little bit baby. I got a real kick out of it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

There Must Be A Fallen Angel (Playing With My Heart)

Christopher Daniels (c) VS Danny Dominion - WCW Light Heavyweight Championship Lumberjack Match 5/7/1994

JJZ: When I saw that this match took place in '94 it blew my mind that Daniels has been wrestling for 25 years. I had a lot to consider before I decided to play this forward. First, CD and Jeremy Borash are doing an audio recap over the original commentary. Which means you can't hear the crowd at all. Second, I didn't want to leave you with limited options playing Danny Dominion forward. However. I enjoyed everything about this match so much and knew this is what we are all about over here at PIF. This was from Windy City Wrestling and what I'm guessing was their biggest show of the year, that was a huge venue for an Indy promotion in '94. It was a lumberjack match and unless I missed it they do not mention that at all. Dominion was a really solid heel who worked very well with this PUB (Plucky Underdog Babyface) as you like to say. Hope you enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: This match made me giddy just at the sight of it. I have a Best of Christopher Daniels VHS buried in my parents' basement somewhere that very well may have this match on it. It definitely has one of his ECW matches and other stuff from very early on. But I kind of doubt it has this with just how early in his career it is. That's not to say I'm the biggest Daniels mark in the world but this just speaks to the spirit of discovering the unknown that got us so hooked on this silly hobby in the first place. And that still carries on to PIF decades and decades later! Danny Dominion is a fantastic heel, his stable plays their role perfectly too, although I have to say, Daniels could have been a bit pluckier for my tastes. For what indy wrestling was in 1994 this match was really something. Way ahead of its time while still sticking to strong fundamentals. Now to deep dive into some DD for next week!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe

Christopher Daniels (c) VS Samoa Joe - TNA X Division Championship Match 4/13/2006

CJD: It's amusing to cross a 2006 TNA match off your bucket list, but that's what I'm doing by playing this match forward. Joe had been in TNA for almost a year at this point, and even reasonable fans who wouldn't watch TNA otherwise had seen a good amount of his highly touted matches with Styles and Daniels. This match on the other hand got a few great reviews from people who were willing to watch Impact! weekly, but in that era there was no easy way to watch after the fact. I tried to hunt the match for years but digging up hidden TNA gems was a futile task. Until this modern era of infinite possibility we live in.

This match didn't disappoint. Except for the god awful, what in the fuck were they thinking, as TNA as possible decision to join the match in progress after two or three key moments had already taken place. At first I was so frustrated that I finally found a version of this match but it wasn't complete. Then I immediately realized "oh wait, this is TNA." Otherwise, this match is spectacularly crisp, fast, violent, and smart. Especially when you consider the careers these two have continued to have years and years and years later. If this match was complete and people had actually watched it it probably would have been in talks a contender for one of the best of the year.

JJZ: Look at you with the JIP. Hot ass start. Joe looks fantastic, like a true monster. I've always been curious how many gems of Joe's I missed from TNA. Daniels' selling is so good in this match. I can't believe this wasn't the main event, the heat was insane. I was biting on every false finish and popped like a bottle of champagne at the end. Great match.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Keep On Workin' Like The Workin' Man Do

Briscoe Bros vs Samoa Joe/Homicide - ROH Falls Count Anywhere Street Fight 10/7/2006

JJZ: I tried to avoid playing this match forward, I'm pretty sure we've both seen it before. BUT! Every match I watched besides this one didn't give me that "I would rewatch this right now" feeling. This ROH era is your cup of green tea and I knew you wouldn't mind rewatching it if so. These four rip into each other like they have hate in their hearts and lead in their hands. It's funny watching the Briscoes not all tatted with long hair. Joe looked like a baby too and Homicide looked like Homicide. Love this era of wrestling.

CJD: I actually don't think I've seen this one before because the way they messed with the audio would stick with me. I thought that was a bit lame but otherwise I loved this match! Joe somehow looks younger than he did two years previous. Homicide is sporting one of my favorite gear combos as far as he goes. I love Joe's dynamic in tag matches in this era, with Lethal it's a very Misawa/Akiyama situation, with 'Cide it's much more like teaming with Kobashi. This felt very organic and nasty by the end. The build was surprisingly deliberate given the stipulation, but when all was said and done it delivered carnage and then some. And now I have all the options I could ever want laid out in front of me!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Rattled By The Rush

Briscoe Bros VS Rush/Dragon Lee - ROH 6/29/2019

CJD: We've featured some wild tag matches here at PIF, FMW in LA with Santo and Casas, Dan Spivey in All Japan taking on Misawa and Kawada, well I'd say this one stacks up with the best of them. Great crowd for a ROH TV taping. I was shocked to hear it was the ECW Arena. They really have transformed that place, it looks great. I thought these two teams brought the heat, cut a great pace, and wrestled one hell of a match!

JJZ: Right off the bat this match feels like a golden era ROH tag match that we've been in attendance for so many times. You know I love me some Briscoes and I'm a big fan of Lee. I forgot you haven't been to the new ECW Arena (2300 Arena), it really is fantastic. This match is a one hell of a banger. Bodies flying every which way, so many holy shit moments. The psychology is just go go go. Loved it. I got a world of options in front of me right now. Side note, CC is awful on color.

CJD: Ha. They both were driving me nuts. So many times I leave out comments I meant to include and then you hit on them for me, this definitely gave me deja vu to big attraction ROH tags we saw many times over. Side side note, I had no time to research this week and this one fell right into my lap. The Wrestling Gods giveth!

JJZ: YEAH they do. The amount of matches I got to pick from now are insane.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

State Of The PIF

We are just passing the year and a half mark here at the blog, and I thought it was as good of a time as any to check in with some thoughts on our progress. When John and I started Play It Forward I'd say we had about five goals we were aiming to hit.

1. Update weekly. I'm a firm believer in scheduled content. I tend to slowly forget about podcasts, blogs, video creators, etc that update sporadically. I'm glad to say this hasn't been a problem. Since March of 2018 every Tuesday a new match has been played forward. We've updated from different states, different countries, heck I was working on the blog on a deserted island in the Outer Banks of NC a month ago. We certainly have not had any issues getting content up regularly!

2. Have fun. Plain and simple, if we didn't have fun sharing these matches with each other, maintaining the blog and social media accounts, leaving each other voicemails complaining about how hard it is to find a great under the radar Ultimo Dragon match, and so on, this would have been a short lived project. A good example is the Facebook account. It started to feel like a chore after a while (like most things on Facebook) so we largely phased it out. Otherwise, we've been having a blasty blast.

3. Discover great wresting. This ties right into #2, but we've already watched so much great wrestling in our lives I was curious just how much we'd be able to dig up for PIF. Would we be diving into our own collections and uploading matches? Would we reach dead ends with obscure wrestlers? In the long run the research element of PIF might be the most fun part. It can be challenging, but most weeks there's an overwhelming amount of options to pick from. We've only dipped into our personal stashes a few times. The vast majority of the time we're exposing each other to wrestling that's totally new to us, and we've already found plenty of great matches that will stick with us for a long long time. With plenty more to come!

4. Network and build an audience. Number 4 and 5 are where we still need to improve. Since shifting our social media focus to Instagram we feel like we're starting to join a larger community of equally nerdy fans who are open to what we're doing and are sharing great content themselves. In terms of promoting the blog on message boards, Reddit, or possibly eventually Twitter, there's lots of room to grow. If you have any suggestions, want to partner up to co-promote something, please don't hesitate to shoot us an e-mail at pifprowrestling@gmail.com or leave a comment! In general it seems like there are so many pro wrestling fans out there right now but there's also a million different outlets they're digesting content through. Hitting a significant portion of fans is no easy task.

5. Monetize. This is where we have totally failed. And it's important to stress that this is very intentionally last on the list. But I personally hoped that through AdSense we'd generate a little income to make the investment of time all that much easier to justify. Well AdSense banned us with no explanation, as it seems they are prone to do, and the other ad companies we've used (PopAds and Infolinks) have largely been spam bullshit. For the time being we're going ad-free and instead we've added a PayPal donation button to the top right hand side of the main page of the blog. We're looking into other options long term like Ezoic but our traffic is a long way off from qualifying. I could see some small amount of merch down the line but it would probably also be a long ways off given our current audience. Once again, if you have suggestions, don't hesitate to hit us up.

We're having a great time and see endless potential for future Mason Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions. If you feel like throwing us a buck but don't see the donation button, it's probably because it only shows up on the desktop version of the site (http://pifprowrestling.blogspot.com/?m=0). We certainly don't expect much, but John and I are blue-collar family men who love pizza and beer, and won't turn down some cash to buy said pizza and beer to fuel our late night wrestling viewing sessions. Like the one pictured below from just two weeks back.


aka the FanCam Connection

 1,200 miles were worth it just to mark out over Demolition VS Mil Mascaras/Tito Santana

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Civil War Becoming Of Ungovernable Atoms

Rush VS La Sombra - CMLL 11/13/2015

JJZ: I'm familiar with Rush but still haven't watched a ton of his matches so I got excited when I saw this one. Right off the bat I'm not a fan of the commentary being a lot louder than the in ring action and crowd. Some FMW shit right here. There's also an odd clip but I ain't gonna hold it against the match. The meat of this match is the final fall, which to me was a true game of one upmanship. Both these boys were laying it in and taking risk after risk. Side note, I did not realize that La Sombra wrestled in Mexico without his mask. I always thought he took it off when he came to WWE. Side side note, If Vince ever gets his hands on Rush I'd bet he'd put him in a Tarzan gimmick. The pacing of the final fall feels like a puro match to me. Really enjoyed this match baby. Hope you do also.

CJD: I big timed you last week and you came and big timed me right back! Los Ingobernables founding members collide here as La Sombra takes on his stablemate days before it's announced he'll be leaving for WWE. If Rush were to ever follow suit and start a savages stable with Barbaro Cavernario and Cameron Grimes that would definitely be a shut up and take my money kind of situation. One-upmanship is a great way to describe this match, some of those moments right before the final fall are priceless. There was plenty of great action but I appreciated the amount of personality the match had even more so. These two make great partners and great enemies.

Editor's note: This match has been taken down since we originally shared it. We'll check back periodically to see if we can find a new link. We apologize for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

If I Wore A Mask

Mistico VS La Sombra VS Volador Jr VS Felino - CMLL Relevos Suicidas Mascara Contra Mascara 3/19/2010

CJD: This right here, this is a big time match. We have two singles feuds, one between Volador Jr and Mistico, and one between Felino and La Sombra (Andrade Almas), coming together in a gimmick match that I've never seen outside of lucha. As a tag it's called parejas suicidas, where the losing team has to face each other in a singles match immediately following the tag with either their mask or their hair on the line. Here it's a four way singles elimination match, but where the first two wrestlers to take a fall have to face each other in a singles mask VS mask match. With me so far? Good!

Not to spoil too much, but this basically unfolds as a three act play. Act 1, the rudos (Mistico & Felino) team up against the technicos in what feels much more like a Texas Tornado tag. Act 2, where we have a 3 way on our hands to see which two wrestlers are safe from putting their mask on the line. And Act 3, the main course. I enjoyed the first portion of the match the best, there's a great chaotic flow to it that I found really beautiful. Felino is a personal favorite of mine, he's the kind of wrestler that can make the most out of a few minutes here and there in a trios, so it's great to see him with such high stakes on the line. Mistico does a fine job working heel but he's definitely a natural babyface. Luckily this match is more about the action than it is about the morality play, and there's plenty of drama involved given the stipulation. I'm loving this trip down lucha libre lane. Thanks Tarzan Goto!

JJZ: You typed a lot of words there baby cakes. I'm excited for this match. Love me some big time shit. Gives me all the feels. Did Mistico always use the bells in the beginning of his entrance? My son is watching this with me and he is NOT a fan of the intro music. Starting fast, I like it! Question Chris, would Arena Mexico be one of your top five venues you would want to watch wrestling in? Your breakdown of the match is spot on man. Honestly I'm not happy about the first elimination, I would have loved to watch it keep going at that point. The psychology of Mexican wrestling is always a little hard for me to figure out. Not in a negative way at all but I can never predict what is gonna happen. That being said this is so much fun to watch with so many "oh shit!" moments. You can't take you eyes off it for a second. Once again the crowd is on fire. Like a soccer crowd. That powerbomb on the ramp hurt my insides. And the finishing stretch was edge of your seat kinda shit man. Good stuff baby.

CJD: I didn't notice Mistico's music, but my guess is it's different as a rudo than it was as a technico. I would say yes to your Arena Mexico question, experiencing the history and the culture live would be amazing. Glad you enjoyed it so much! I was really into this one.

Editor's note: This match has been taken down since we originally shared it. We'll check back periodically to see if we can find a new link. We apologize for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

People Call Me Rude

Mistico VS Ultimo Guerrero - CMLL 2/25/2005

JJZ: So I've seen these two wrestle in tag matches the past couple years and the hate that came through was great, so seeing them wrestle singles in 2005 made a ton of sense. This match was a lot of fun with a few surprises that I didn't expect. I always enjoyed Mistico but Guerrero is a wrestler that I've been really digging lately. He is a natural rudo that bakes up some nice potatoes. Mistico seems like the perfect fiery baby face for anyone at this time. Boiling crowd, and I'll say the ref gave a great performance as well.

CJD: Mistico was white hot around this time period. I don't know the numbers but the impression I got was he was drawing at an elite level as a babyface in a historic sense. It seemed like he would be a huge star for years to come, and a few great matches backed that idea up. There were three in particular that stood out, VS Averno, Perro Aguayo Jr, and this one. I think the Averno match was the best Mistico showcase, VS Perrito was the most complete match, but this one, this I'd call the most fantastical. These two have a chemistry that feels earth shaking. This is the stuff that makes a great babyface and a great heel, the type of stuff all aspiring wrestlers should watch. It's hardly by the numbers though, as you said there are some real twists and turns. It kept me on my toes even having seen it before. What a match!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions #61-70

If you had to divide our classes of MDTSOCWWKD Champions up by weight #61-70 were quite the class of heavyweights. Bookended by two Japanese heavyweights who couldn't be more polar opposites, we ventured into an epic run of eight all-time great American heavyweights as the meat of this roast beef sandwich of pro wrestling goodness.

61. Mitsuharu Misawa
62. Stan Hansen
We kick things off with the two wrestlers that come from both ends of the spectrum. Misawa started off a junior heavyweight and Hansen has had some clashes that venture into the land of super heavyweights. And yet they have had some all time classic matches against each other as well!

63. Terry Funk
Funk is in a class entirely of his own. We featured a pair of very fun tags from the Funker, but I hope we get into some of his singles matches somehow, someday.

64. Sting
65. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair
Great rivals, two of the faces of NWA/WCW, two men that just scream "pro wrestling."

66. Kerry Von Erich

67. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
68. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
And then we have three names that remind me of flipping through pro wrestling magazines in awe as I was waiting to get my hair cut at Vince & Santo's Barber Shop in South Philly as a kid in the late '80s.

69. Cactus Jack

I feel like Mick Foley has become such a divisive character after his career ended that it's easy to forget what an all-time great wrestler he was. Hopefully these matches with Steamboat and Goto were a nice reminder.

70. Tarzan Goto

Well, that was unexpected.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Strange Bedfellows

Negro Casas/El Hijo Del Santo (c) VS Ultimo Guerrero/Rey Bucanero - CMLL Tag Team Championship 5/31/2002

CJD: I've been looking forward to the chance to crown the second ever Mason Dixon Tri-State Outercontinental WWKD Tag Team Champions. I was hoping the unlikely Mega Powers of bitter rivals Santo and Casas could step up to the plate, and boy did they ever. Up against one of the most prolific tag teams in lucha history, this match has a little bit of everything. Gorgeous hold for hold wrestling, jaw dropping highspots, stiff shots, bad camera work, abundant lucha replays, emotion, joy, dread, perseverance, respect. I think you'll understand why I almost didn't play this one forward by the end, but when all was said and done I had to share it. All hail the PIF MDTOWWKD Campeonatos de Parejas Increidbles!

JJZ: Well well well, I knew we'd get to lucha libre at some point but didn't expect Tarzan Goto to be our ferryman. No shame in saying I'm extremely green to Mexican wrestling so PIF will be a nice way to broaden my horizons. I'm familiar with all the wrestlers in this match though and have seen a fair amount of Ultimo Guerrero. Slower start than I'd think but with the rudos controlling early it makes sense. Fuego culo multitud. The energy between the two teams really radiates. There are several things I've never or can't remember seeing before. And that finish, holy fuck. How bad did that hurt? Also another great spot totally got overshadowed in the process. Super fun times of a match baby cakes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

He's The Tarzan Of LA


El Hijo Del Santo/Atsushi Onita/Tarzan Goto VS Negro Casas/Horace Boulder/Tim Patterson - FMW 5/16/1992

JJZ: Well, I can honestly say I didn't expect to be here but this is what Play It Forward is all about. This is an FMW show in Los Angeles. It's pretty much a fun FMW brawl with a heavy lucha influence and rules. The Casas/Santo interactions are seriously heated and you can feel the crowd through the broadcast when they touch. Because of the journey it took for me to get this match, I can say without question, it's one of my favorite matches I've shared with you.

CJD: I knew Goto would give you some trouble for a match to play forward but I never imagined you'd end up here! This on paper is everything that's awesome about pro wrestling. Hulk Hogan's nephew, two Japanese deathmatch legends, two Mexican legends... and Tim Patterson. A Japanese promotion running in LA broadcasting to a Latino audience. What is there not to love? The match is not surprisingly a little disjointed at times but Onita brings great charisma and energy, and as you mentioned Santo and Casas are pure magic every time they touch. I loved the big looping chairshots that Onita and Boulder were swinging. I have no idea where this match is going to take me next week but I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Wanted: Alive & Walking Unassisted

Tarzan Goto (c) VS Cactus Jack - IWA Japan World Heavyweight Championship 5/10/1995

CJD: I had an idea of where I wanted to go for my next match to play forward but I didn't expect such a gem to fall into my lap. Now this might be a great example of "one man's trash is another man's treasure." I remember the last time I played a Tarzan Goto match for you and our greater Philadelphia area pro wrestling peers, the room gave me the collective stink eye. Goto was no super worker but I do think he's under rated in the annals of pro wrestling history. Onita wasn't going to start a deathmatch revolution on his own, he needed the likes of Pogo and Goto to play off of. You mentioned Foley's mind boggling bumps and make no mistake you'll be boggled again a few times during this match. This isn't perfect by any means but it's a great example of the wild fun that was mid '90s deathmatch wrestling. And I'd be lying if part of me isn't getting sick pleasure in forcing you to pick a Goto match to play back.

JJZ: Well I in no way, ever ever thought you'd play a Tarzan Goto match this week. I was thinking maybe some ECW or early '90s WCW. But honestly this is probably better because I tend to forget how much Cactus worked in Japan and just how violent he was. Now you already stated that I am no fan of Mr Goto but he works very well with Mick in this match. It would be easy to say that Cactus made him look good since that is one of Foley's best qualities as a wrestler but Goto bumps his ass off and the crowd is white hot for him. Watching this match makes me think about wrestling fans today that complain about safety and would love their opinion about this match. No doubt Foley is the star here, he takes bumps that I feel in the pit of my stomach. It really is mind blowing that he isn't in a wheelchair. You pulled and Ace out of your ass with this one baby cakes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

He Can Karate

Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat VS Cactus Jack - WCW Worldwide 2/22/1992

JJZ: So going into this I'm wondering if you have shown this to me before one night when we were watching wrestling. But I can't recall anything from it. Paul E doing color is a nice surprise plus adds to the theme since Mean Gene was on color in your last match. Mick takes bumps that boggle my mind sometimes. His screaming is off the charts here. Cactus as a hired gun to soften up the Dragon is simply great booking. Loved the '90s finish. Makes me want to dive head first into the Steamboat/Rick Rude feud. Enjoy baby cakes!

CJD: This one is new to me and for what we got god damn was it good. I wish there was a Cactus/Steamboat feud we could dive into because these two matched up perfectly. I mentioned last week how I forgot how karate focused mid '80s WWF Steamboat was, well I also had definitely blocked the dreaded Ninja sidekick from my memory too. You're right in that everything about that finish was so '90s. This was a great compliment to last week's match, as it featured Steamboat selling a beatdown as only he can. Pair that with the beautifully simple booking and this is as economically executed as any 8 minutes of pro wrestling television you'll ever find.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Waiting For The Hammer To Fall

Greg Valentine (c) VS Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat - WWF Intercontinental Championship 6/21/1985

CJD: For the past two weeks I've been talking about the strengths of Kerry Von Erich as a babyface. Well I'm going to follow him up with possibly the greatest babyface ever in Ricky Steamboat. I've seen a little bit of Steamboat in WWF from this era, namely some of the Muraco feud, but I had forgotten just how much he was focused on the martial arts aspect of his gimmick. It seems like he ate up Valentine a little more as a result, or maybe because this was early on in his run in NY this was treated as more of a showcase match. Either way make no mistake, Valentine does a fantastic job of keeping his heat while making Steamer look like a million bucks. Jimmy Hart brings the perfect balance of vocal interference without overwhelming the match, and add in a rare appearance from Mean Gene on commentary and this was a forward playing match for certain.

JJZ: And we got Gorilla on commentary! Look at that belt! I'm liking it Chris. I don't recall Mean Gene doing color ever so I was excited when I read that. Tights and all, they were trying to make a Bruce Lee Jr back then with Ricky. Greg's selling is superb and is making Steamboat's strikes look like a million bucks. Nobody works the gut these days, we need more midsection work. These two are doing a great job of it in this match. It's all about working the hand anymore. I totally forgot that Valentine called himself "The Master of the Figure Four." They have said Karate at least 20 times, I can picture Vince screaming in the headset KARATE KARATE KARATE! Really good match. I liked the finish, especially that the commentators were questioning it. Good shit.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Catch The Spirit, Catch The Spit

Kerry Von Erich (c) VS Greg Valentine - St Louis Wrestling NWA Missouri State Championship 2/11/1983

JJZ: I know nothing about the build to this match. I considered looking into it but watching an American match with Japanese commentary cold was really interesting and made for a unique viewing experience. The crowd is insane and love love love Kerry. Valentine or "Valentime" (as I used to say as a kid) is a personal favorite of mine. If I has to describe him to someone who's never seen him, I'd say imagine Arn Anderson doing his best Ric Flair. He's a mean SOB with lead in his hands who meshes really well with Kerry. Really liked this match. Hope you do also baby.

CJD: I didn't like this match, John. I loved this match! I actually had the opposite childhood experience with Valentime, I think for exactly the reason you described. He's kind of caught between two different characters and his in-ring style lends itself to slower paced matches. As a kid I didn't appreciate this and even as an adult he's not always my favorite to watch, but man do I love when he pairs up against an animated babyface like Kerry. This was so physical and nasty with a logical build. Both guys complimented each other perfectly and now I want to research the entire lineage of the Missouri State Title. This is the type of match that Mike from Virtual Pros would claim is impossible to appreciate with our 2019 poisoned minds. I'd argue matches like this are the antidote from the over-stimulation epidemic we all suffer from.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright

Ric Flair VS Kerry Von Erich - World Class NWA World Championship Cage Match 12/25/1982

CJD: Two weeks ago you talked about those hidden gems that are the reason Play It Forward needs to exist. But there are other types of matches that we play forward from time to time that I think are equally important to this project. Those are the essential matches in pro wrestling history that for one reason or another, we know it's just hard to make the time to watch. Matches like Punk/Rave, Nakajima/Kiyomiya, Misawa/Kojima, etc. I know some wrestling fans would debate mentioning those as being on the level of the match that gave birth to the golden age of Texas wrestling. But let's all just relax and remember we're obsessing over pro wrestling on the internet.

One of the reasons I think we don't go to this well too often is our unwritten rule to keep PIF light and breezy, more of a product of the immediate gratification times. Another is because the spirit of PIF is more focused on those new revelations. Well I hope this match is a new revelation to you. I know the playtime is daunting in 2019, but a lot of that is the pre and post match stuff, which is masterful. This match is often referred to as one of the greats. I'm more of the opinion it's one of the greatest pieces of pro wrestling booking and character work than one of the best matches. But it is certainly a doozy. Kerry isn't often mentioned as such, but in my opinion he was one of the top 3 Flair opponents ever.

JJZ: The promos to start out are a nice touch to this match. The way they're filmed reminds me of the first Rocky movie. Both Kerry and Ric's robes fit fine though. The feel of this match is so big time I wish I'd have seen it sooner. Flair looks to be in the best shape of his career. I was surprised by the slower start to this match. I thought it being in a cage it would be go go go at the sound of the bell. That being said, the pop at the application of a sleeper hold was insane. The build is great, making everything feel important and that it has a purpose. The match kind of comes off the rails at the end but I'm really just along for the ride at that point.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

He Loves His Honey, He Loves The Rock, But No Opponent Loves The Scorpion Deathlock


Sting VS Ric Flair - WCW 11/6/1995

JJZ: So this is a feud that I went out of my way to watch a lot of a few years ago. Their dynamic together is special. Sting is working with extra heat in this match that boils over by the end. For a TV match that is building to something bigger down the line this is perfect. Add in a super hot crowd and I couldn't not play this forward.

Flair is definitely the heel in this match but gets louder pops than Sting at points. I know Austin gets credit as the first like face/heel but honestly after watching so much Flair I think he should get consideration for that.

CJD: This is a PPV style marquee match condensed into a TV main event on the 10th Monday Nitro ever. This is exactly the sort of match and style of booking that helped differentiate Nitro from Raw at the time. To give context the competing Raw main event on this evening was Bret Hart/Hakushi VS Jerry Lawler/Isaac Yankem. Which does sound kind of amazing but you get what I'm saying. I loved what Sting and Flair did in this match. They had me hanging on every second and Heenan was pitch perfect on color commentary. "Who cares?!" You can see the seeds of the Crow gimmick being planted and all around this is a great snapshot of US wrestling transition from the mid to late '90s. We've almost arrived at the era of the antihero. But you've got a great point that Flair had made being bad look cool for decades before Stone Cold and Sting made being bad being good.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

He's Middle Aged Crazy, Trying To Prove He Still Can

Sting/"Dr Death" Steve Williams VS Terry Funk/Terry Gordy - NWA 8/8/1989

CJD: I started watching WCW regularly around 1992 when I was 10 years old, but I caught glimpses of it here and there when I was younger. This reminds me so much of those earliest memories watching when it was transitioning from the NWA. The college sports influence, the serious presentation, the physical style, the larger than life personalities with an edge of realism. Singles stars mashed up in a special attraction tag match. The unsavory crowd, unflattering venue, and less than stellar production values. The shitty finish that still leaves you wanting to tune back in. I wish this match had another 10 minutes but I hope you enjoy what we got as much as I did.

JJZ: Holy crap this is great. Never thought I'd see these pairings. This is my personal favorite era of Funk. Interesting for me to see Dr. Death and Gordy not tagging together. Before I knew Gordy was a Freebird I knew him from the MVC. Great interaction and crowdplay with all four wrestlers. Matches like this are why Play It Forward exists. I never would have seen this match otherwise. Funk's selling is so spectacular that if I were a wrestler today I'd copy as much of it as possible. And this is a great match to build Funk/Flair, it showcases what a madman Terry is. Super fun stuff baby, I could have watched this for another 20 minutes!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Sunrise Riders

Bruiser Brody/Stan Hansen VS Terry Funk/Dory Funk Jr - AJPW 4/22/1983

JJZ: Have you seen this match before? Probably. This was a fight with no wasted movement. The most interesting part of this match was the tags. There were no hot tags and no one team kept the offense on for an extended amount of time. It was a shot for a shot kinda match that I loved. Just great stuff.

CJD: I have NOT seen this match before! And it is right up my alley. I agree with you on the pace of this match completely. I love that it was a real change from the peaks and valleys of classic AJPW tags but it also wasn't bell to bell pandemonium like some Funks VS Evil Gaijin tags can be. I enjoyed the ways they tried to contain Brody in particular. This had the feel of a real sporting contest which didn't make for the most dynamic watch but I still enjoyed every minute of it. Can't wait to see where it takes me for my next pick. Oh and damn if that ring announcer didn't have some swag about him!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Best Friends, Stiffer Enemies


Stan Hansen/Dan Spivey (c) VS Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW Tag Team Championship 7/6/1991

CJD: This match is bonkers. You have three of the best wrestlers in the world at the time doing what they do best... and Dan Spivey. It's very fitting that Misawa is the first of the Four Pillars to hold the Mason Dixon Tri-State Outercontinental WWKD Championship. Will his former best friend turned bitter rival be the next in line?? Contemplate that question while you go on the journey this match will take you on. You once mentioned how AJPW is a vault of greatness that never ends. This is a perfect example, a match I would never look twice at normally, but I was very happy I made time for.

JJZ: You know me so you know how excited I would be for this. The way Hansen comes in and cleans house right away, followed by Kawada throwing the belts at him is such a tone setter. Nothing gets me as excited while watching wrestling as 90s AJPW. The story in this match is Kawada and Hansen trying to kill each other. The hate they are wrestling with I feel through the screen. Bonkers is a fantastic word for this match. It's a ride that I hope never ends but we both know it will. Shout out to my son Joey for watching this match with me and learning all about the 4 pillars and "The Lariat" Stan Hansen!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions #51-60

As Play It Forward enters its second year we've been kicking things off with a diverse lineup of MDTSOCWWKD Champions indeed. Over the course of Champs #51-60 we featured wrestlers born in a total of five different countries and talent that spans multiple generations. Let's take a look at all the elite talent that held the big gold imaginary belt through the end of March up until now!

51. Kaito Kiyomiya
52. Naomichi Marufuji
Past and future Kings of NOAH. Kiyomiya is among the youngest Champs we've had at PIF although I believe "Hot Fire" Myron Reed still holds that record.

53. Prince Devitt
54. Dave Mastiff
A nice contingent of EuroChamps. While contemplating young Champions I was shocked to learn that Mastiff is in fact 34 years old. He might be a Bastard but he's a Babyfaced Bastard!

55. Kevin Steen
56. Super Dragon

57. Mike Quackenbush
You like indy wrestling? We like indy wrestling. The series of matches featured over the course of these 3-4 weeks were some of the most interesting and fun to watch for me thus far in PIF's history.

58. Tiger Mask IV

59. Jushin Thunder Liger
You like 90s junior heavyweights? We like 90s junior heavyweights... still having great matches in the 2000s!

60. Satoshi Kojima

I'd be hard pressed to name 100 PIF Champs better than him.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Koji Outta Nowhere


Satoshi Kojima VS Mitsuharu Misawa - AJPW 7/18/2004

JJZ: Always heard about Misawa returning to AJPW for the first of two times but never went out of my way to watch since it was against Kojima, so when I saw this match I thought it was perfect. I must say, with the video quality of our last three matches, I feel like it's 3AM and we're in your parents' basement, which I'm loving. This show is in Ryogoku Hall, a venue I wish promotions ran at more these days. Something about the seating I just love. This match is worked like a Triple Crown title match even though Kawada had to defend the belts following it. There are big bumps, great falsies, and a fantastic botch. It's wild to hear the crowd cheering for Kojima over Misawa at an AJPW show. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did Chris.

CJD: Honestly, I didn't even know this match ever happened or that Misawa even went back to AJPW at all. This match feels like his penance for leaving. No part of him looks like he wants to be there, he's clearly banged up even by Misawa standards in this era, and he still makes Kojima look like a million bucks. This VQ is absolutely making me feel like I'm eating a slice of delicious room temperature greasy Celebre's stromboli in that tiny South Philly basement. The reaction of the crowd for Misawa and Kohei Wada shaking hands got me some sort of emotional. I gave Kojima a lot of shit in this era but really if had self edited just a little bit he would have been the perfect ace to help AJPW through the difficult times to come. This was a fascinating watch on a few different levels.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

You've Been Thunderstruck


Jushin Thunder Liger VS Satoshi Kojima - NJPW G1 Climax 8/8/2001

CJD: Funny story. Back on the ROH message boards in the mid 2000s, which was about as much of an internet cesspool as you could get without diving into the dark web, I remember a post where someone wanted Gabe to bring Kojima back in. I said it would be a waste of money and there were 100 better wrestlers in Japan at the time I'd rather see instead. I got called out to list them, so I did. People really took umbrage to Billy Ken Kid in particular.

Fast forward to 2019, you know I get down with Koji these days, and that I've especially been on a kick of his matches lately. Something to keep in mind going into this was this was a time period when juniors entering the G1 was seen a huge challenge. Liger always makes for extremely entertaining junior/heavyweight matches, and after more matches featured here on PIF than any other wrestler we STILL haven't touched the prime of his career. But something tells me this isn't the last we've seen of him. Enjoy this one baby, dare I say it's right up your alley.

JJZ: Liger working with heavyweights is so good. I'm enjoying his gear in this match. Kojima I'm hit or miss on, but lately, like you I've enjoyed him. The design of Kojima's tights keep tricking me, and I think he has his straps down. Which I know is a big no-no for CJD. This crowd is hot for Liger to get this win. Kojima using his size and weight to slow the match down and wear down Liger is basic nice psychology. They're building up to Liger's comeback perfectly and it does not disappoint. This home stretch is awesome. Not sure why but just like the crowd I popped big for that sleeper. Totally didn't see it coming. Damn Chris. You found an Ace of a match my friend.

Also would love if you can find that list. I 100% remember you doing that. And at the time I agreed with you about Billy Ken Kid.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cat Power

Jushin Thunder Liger VS Tiger Mask IV - NJPW BOSJ Semifinals 6/17/2006

JJZ: Fuck it. In the past four days I've watched a ton of amazing masked wrestlers and this match can stand with any of them. Liger's been played here more than any other wrestler, but I want to watch this match right here right now and it's about damn time the King gets his crown. Without question in my opinion Liger is top 10, maybe MAYBE top 5 all-time. After watching this match TMIV might be the perfect opponent for Liger to end his career against at the Tokyo Dome in 2020. This match has it all. Picks up when it needs to, slows down when it needs to. Technically sound, great highspots, and stiffness. Also Liger is very vocal. Enjoy it my southern bell.

CJD: I loved the subplot of Liger's slow burn to his first title run here at PIF. The crazy thing is we've featured three of his matches and we still haven't even sniffed his prime. Maybe next week...? Either way, this was a blast. I was worried I'd already seen it but luckily I'm thinking of a different match between these two from around the same time period. Liger was an absolute beast in this one, I can't argue your placement of him among the GOATs in the slightest. I hadn't even considered who will retire him, there are so many great options, I'd hate to have to make that call. Great pick JJZ.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I Was Lightning Before The Thunder

Tiger Mask IV (c) VS Mike Quackenbush - FSM NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship 5/11/2007

CJD: Back when this match happened I read a lot about it and considered picking the show up. I bought the first FSM DVD and thought they had potential, but I believe they folded soon after. At one point in time, with much criticism from the message board I posted it on, Tiger Mask IV was in my top 10 wrestlers in the world. This match is years after that but he still has a bit of greatness deep down. After finally watching this I'm pleasantly surprised by what these two did in a venue and in front of a crowd that had to be giving TMIV flashbacks of Michinoku Pro gymnasium shows. I'm also always trying to slowly push PIF back from generation to generation so I'm very curious to see what you come back at me with here.

JJZ: I will confidently say that I've probably watched more wrestling with CJD than almost any person has ever watched wrestling with another human before. So with that certain wrestlers always remind me of Chris. TMIV is one of those wrestlers. Now I do enjoy TMIV so this match has me amped. This is Tiger Mask's second match on PIF but first as the MDTSOWWKD CHAMPION. Love that Bryce is the ref. Big room with a small crowd but they come through nicely. Very surprised to hear that at the time Quack had never wrestled in Japan. He'd be perfect for Dragon Gate or MPro. This has a classic Japanese Junior style but it ends up going in a different direction. Shit!

Editor's note: This match has been taken down since we originally shared it. We'll check back periodically to see if we can find a new link. We apologize for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Dragon's Gonna Stretch You

Super Dragon VS Mike Quackenbush - RevPro Revolution J Tournament 2002

JJZ: Talk about a styles clash here. Right off the bat Super Dragon is showing more technical skill than I'm used to and Quack is working a little stiffer than he usually does. In my opinion shows the respect these two have for each other. This match really gave me a '93 ECW FanCam vibe. With the last Dragon match being pretty epic, this was a nice counterpoint to show him work a more straight forward style match. Quack brings a lot of energy and storytelling which is what he does best.

CJD: I was as excited for this match as any you've ever played forward to me. And for historical significance alone this is well worth us featuring. Unfortunately I couldn't help but wish for the only encounter these two ever had that it happened after they both had a bit more seasoning. This was disjointed, in a tournament setting it was perfectly fine with some good moments, but on a whole it played like more of a curiosity. Which is '93 ECW FanCam through and through, so I guess that's fitting!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Baby Steen, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo

Kevin Steen/El Generico VS Super Dragon/Excalibur - CZW 12/11/2004

CJD: Totally selfish pick on my end this week. I've been reading about this match for a decade plus but would probably never sit down to it otherwise. CZW did their best to kill my favorite promotion, Big Japan, a few years previous to this. It made it difficult to ever give them a fair chance. The fact that their premise was a shitty ECW rip off didn't help entice me. But I knew they were bringing in great talent and I always heard this in particular was a benchmark match getting some under appreciated talent booked on the East Coast. Watching now it didn't disappoint in the slightest. The commentary is shitty, the match is a product of the times, but this is a statement performance from everyone involved and some great tag team wrestling.

JJZ: Look at Mr Steen. Baby baby shark. SUPER excited for Super Dragon. Excalibur being in this match made me smile since I haven't watched anything with him in forever. Props to him for becoming one of the best commentators in the game. El Generico is soooo skinny. This era of CZW always felt very backyard to me and I don't mean that in a negative way. Backyard wrestling is very near to my heart. God do I miss dickhead Super Dragon. I agree Chris that this CZW is a shitty ECW but can you imagine Super Dragon in ECW? You can tell how much this match means to all four of these wrestlers at this time. This match was so much fun and I found myself saying "Jesus Christ" and "Oh fuck!" out loud many times. If a match could perfectly define 2000s Indy wrestling this would be it.

CJD: Kayfabe Commentaries needs to produce a time traveling Super Dragon fantasy booking series. That's a license to print money right there.

JJZ: YEAH they do.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

We Are The Sons Of No One, 100% Bastards Of Young

Dave Mastiff VS Kevin Steen - PCW 11/16/2013

JJZ: WWE Kevin Owens is very good but Kevin Steen is on a totally different level for me. I really miss Steen and I didn't even realize it until I watched this match. This has a fantastic mix of comedy and stiffness. Both wrestlers work the crowd while building a solid story and delivering a satisfying finish.

CJD: These are two surprisingly agile big beefy bastards beating each other up and letting their personalities shine. I think this match has a lot of similarities to my pick last week but Steen brings an entirely different set of skills to the table. Mastiff reminds me a little of babyface Jerry Blackwell in these two matches, a guy who you'd peg for a heel at first glance but who connects with the crowd in a "one of us" kind of way immediately. Also both are surprisingly good working underneath considering their size. And as for Steen, well we'll see more of him next week!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

You Either Die A Prince, Or Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Demon

Prince Devitt VS Dave Mastiff - IPW:UK 1/19/2014

CJD: This match is interesting on a few levels. A few years later in the same promotion this would have been wrestled as much more of a dream match, but here you can tell IPW:UK is more of a mix of families and a small town indy crowd. Mastiff and Devitt wrestle as such but with more of a big match closing section, with the future star playing the touring heel to the local beefy bruiser. I was into the throwback feel of this one, and the opportunity to switch up the great run we just had from Japan.

JJZ: We're getting the Demon. I agree with the kid in the beginning of the match that stated Mastiff is "very large." I'm into this venue and crowd, they're popping at all the right moments. This bout tells a great story had me marking out a few times. When you first shared it I thought I'd seen it before but I was definitely wrong this time. I 100% approve of the 100% Bastard being the new MDTSOWWKD Champion!

Editor's note: This match has been taken down since we originally shared it. We'll check back periodically to see if we can find a new link. We apologize for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Unknown Fire In My Soul

Naomichi Marufuji VS Prince Devitt - NJPW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship 1/30/2010

JJZ: There are certain matches that I see online and think to myself, I've seen this before, haven't I? This is one of them. Pre Bullet Club Devitt and pre face of NOAH Marufuji meet to battle it out for the IWGP Jr title. These two work extremely well together from the jump, with a crowd that is lit to the tits to see this match. The more experienced 'Fuji takes control early while Prince uses his fire for the title to gain offense. It's like baked chicken, basic, but if cooked perfectly one of the best meals you'll ever eat. There are so many little touches in this match that I haven't seen previously from the two of them. The quality of this video makes me feel like I'm watching a VHS, which I'm enjoying. This match was so much fun to watch. Hope it pops you as much as it did me baby cakes.

CJD: You HAVE seen this match before! We've talked about our friend Mr. H, but let us not forget another good brother, Mr. B, who we've also been staying up until the sun comes up watching pro wrestling with for almost two decades! He showed us this match closer to when it happened and I remember loving it at the time. Not sure if I'm still head over heels about it, but it's a nice piece of work. Marufuji does a great job establishing the hierarchy even though the dynamic is a little weird, with the outsider Champ VS the gaijin. You mentioned last week the scope of Marufuji's career despite the fact neither one of us loved him early on. For me he hasn't quite aged like fine wine yet here, and Devitt is clearly still figuring shit out compared to now, but this is still a damn fine baked chicken dinner with all the fixins indeed.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The First Annual Head Droppies

Play It Forward started with a good premise, an unbreakable bond of friendship, and a lot of figuring it out as we went along. The core concept of sharing a different match with one of the wrestlers from the previous week (but not the other!) on a weekly basis is what this blog is all about. But the bells and whistles of our imaginary Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Championship lineage, and now our first annual prestigious Head Droppies awards, is what keeps these two manchildren's imaginations captivated. So if you tune in each week to see a new match and posts like this don't make a lot of sense to you, rest assured this is the stuff that keeps our creative juices flowing.

So welcome to the first annual Head Droppies! As we're a week away from our one year anniversary, it seems that we'll crown about fifty MDTOWWKD Champions in a year. Why not host an annual award ceremony every 50th Champ?? We've covered a lot of ground over the course of these 51 matches since March of 2018, and JJZ and myself feel like it's high time we broke down some of our highs and lows through this journey, perhaps even a peak back behind the curtain if you will...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I present to you the first annual, highly prestigious, most coveted awards of all weekly pro wrestling match sharing blogs with imaginary Championships... the HEAD DROPPIES!!

...Favorite Match Played Forward To You
CJD: Masada VS Jun Kasai - FREEDOMS Pain Limit Finals 8/27/2012
Deep down inside I'm a deathmatch guy. What can I say. And this match is everything a great deathmatch should be.

JJZ: CM Punk VS Jimmy Rave - ROH Steel Cage Match 5/14/2005
This match totally blew me away. Probably the greatest CM Punk match ever in my opinion.

CJD: Alex Shelley (c) VS Claudio Castagnoli - UWA Hardcore Lightweight Championship 2/17/2006
Ignore the fact that this is for a Lightweight Championship featuring a man who can dead lift the Big Show. This is as hidden gem as it gets.

-Honorable Mentions:
Sabu VS Rob Van Dam - AJPW 3/3/2001 (JJZ)
Jon Davis (c) VS Martin Stone - USWA Elite Championship 6/25/2016 (CJD)

...Most Difficult Quest Playing A Match Forward
CJD: Christina Von Eerie
Well I guess the long journey was worth it since the mach I ended up on was John's choice for the previous category! I'm good on watching another CVE match for a while.

JJZ: Ultimo Dragon
Can't believe how hard it was to find newer and unseen matches from one of my all-time favorite junior heavyweights.

...Most Surprising MDTSOWWKD Champion
JJZ: Batista
Not ever never ever did I think the Animal would have been played here.

CJD: Yoshinari Ogawa
John set the tone early when he could have picked the greatest junior heavyweight ever (who's still on the hunt for his first MDTSOWWKD reign!!) but instead went with the Rat Boy as our second Champion.

-Honorable Mentions:
Flip Gordon (JJZ)
Seleziya Sparx (CJD)

...Greatest MDTSOWWKD Champion #1-50
CJD: Hayabusa
While John's pick is a blue collar, ring mechanic, meat and potatoes kind of Champion, I'm going with one that sold the sizzle as much as the steak. I loved both of these matches, in particular John's AJPW tag title match which I never would have sat down to otherwise. The Phoenix also popped big numbers here at PIF and made money for everyone up and down the card.

JJZ: Martin Stone
I'm surprised he's my pick, but I came out of his reign with a much higher opinion of him than I had going it. Both matches were of exceptional quality that brought out the best in his opponents.

-Honorable Mention:
Daniel Bryan / Bryan Danielson (CJD & JJZ)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

So You Can Shine Divine, Golden Boy

Naomichi Marufuji VS Kaito Kiyomiya - NOAH 1/21/2017

CJD: So here's what I like about Kiyomiya. He makes you feel like he's legitimately trying to win his matches at all times. He finds creative ways to dig in deep on simple pinfall attempts that really hammer this point home. He's focused on selling realistically and showing believable fire in the face of nearly overwhelming adversity. And he's paid his dues in matches like this one, which reminds me so much of the right of passage matches that great AJPW talents had to go through against Tsuruta, Hansen, and Fuchi in the early 90s. Kaito performs admirably. Everything I've seen from him makes NOAH's decision to strap a rocket on him seem totally justified.

JJZ: You trying to butter me up with Kaito wearing a Sugiura shirt in the pre-match interview! Can you believe the career Marufuji has had considering our borderline dislike of him in MaruKen? I love me some young lion VS vet action. It's really interesting that you picked this match since Marufuji just wrestled Kaito for the GHC Heavyweight title only 24 hours before I watched this match. Also I'm almost positive I showed you a Harada VS Ohara match from this same show during a night when we watched wrestling together for many hours. Anyway. Loving this from the start. 'Fuji just being dickhead stiff with Kiyomiya, trying to use his speed and energy to gain offense whenever he can. Crowd is really getting behind the greenhorn here while Marufuji brings out his inner Misawa. Fantastic pick baby.