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.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions #41-50

The new year was an interesting start for PIF indeed, with some of the youngest blood to hold the big gold imaginary belt yet, passing it to indy veterans of both genders, to deathmatch antics, to a strong run of puro greats. JJZ and myself had one of our biggest disagreements on a match played forward, and we crowned our 50th, that's right 50th Champion! That means this blog has been going strong for a year straight of weekly updates with no signs of slowing down!

41. Jake Something
42. "Hot Fire" Myron Reed
When PIF started I hadn't seen a match from either of these two. Reed's pair of matches featured during his run as Champ impressed me far more than the little I'd seen of him previously in the past year, and Something was a total revelation. These kids can go!

43. Matt Cross
44. Candice LeRae

Even though Candice is a west coast girl, her connection to the Ohio scene makes this a very logical transition in our title lineage. These two just feel right following each other.

45. Christina Von Eerie
46. Masada

To be in a relationship (at the time) and be willing to have the deathmatch these two had against each other is... interesting. Putting their lives outside the ring aside, they put on a hell of a show, and then Masada somehow upped the ante in an even more brutal deathmatch with the following Champ!

47. Jun Kasai
48. Minoru Suzuki
Now these two on the other hand make absolutely no sense following each other, and the match that bridged the gap from one to the other made absolutely no sense to JJZ as a choice to be featured on our blog! We're all about the positivity at PIF, but what's wrong with a little healthy disagreement about pro wrestling and sushi between grown men every now and then??

Interesting side note, with the aforementioned 6 person intergender Oz Academy match, Ryuji Ito becomes only the second wrestler in PIF history to be featured in more than one match but never hold the MDTSOCWWKD Championship. The other? Jushin Liger! Another logical pairing!

50. Katsuhiko Nakajima
And then we got back on track to the meat and potatoes of the types of matches that we know and love oh so well. Including a very interesting oddball pairing tag match in ROH that's well worth putting some time aside to sit down to. Whew! Here's to another 50!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Crowning The 50th Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champion

Katsuhiko Nakajima VS Kaito Kiyomiya - NOAH Global League Finals 11/25/2018

JJZ: Nakajima is in my current top 5 wrestlers in the world so I'm jumping at the chance to play him forward and crown this historic MDTSOWWKD Champion. What we've got here is the grizzled 30 years old 16 year vet VS the hot new kid on the block Kaito Kiyomiya, in the finals of the Global League. Side note that Nakajima had to win a 3 way earlier in the night against Kenou and Kohei Sato to make it to the finals. Kaito has to earn every bit of offense he gets while the best kicker in the game tees the fuck off. Classic strong style match, and in my opinion one of the best matches from NOAH in 2018.

CJD: How the tables have turned, I remember when Nakajima was the pasty, overly serious, stocky youngster with the colorful green trunks. Now he's turned into a soulless grinning anime villain with straggly hair all but obscuring his eyes as he aims to literally kick Kiyomiya's head off. This match was everything I hoped it would be, and to crown our 50th Champ a nice bookend to ZSJ/Robbie Eagles that started us on this path. Different stakes and stage that these two are on, but still in the same spirit. I have a lot of positive things to say about Kiyomiya but I'll save most of them for the match I'll play forward to you next week. For now I'll just say he played his role in this one really, really well. I'd love to see a rematch.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


KENTA/Tyler Black VS Austin Aries/Katsuhiko Nakajima - ROH 4/4/2009

CJD: This is right around when both of us stopped paying attention to ROH so I'm hoping this match catches you by surprise as much as it did me. I don't think I've seen it before and it's pretty fantastic. It's during Aries' ultra sleazy heel run where he essentially stole Josh Abercrombie's gimmick so don't expect tons of fast paced combo offense from him. Do expect two high profile singles feuds combined into one tag match, which is a booking tactic I'm always a fan of. This feels like a Clash Of The Champions main event and I mean that in the best way possible.

JJZ: My boy Nak's looking like a baby! Aries looking like he'd give you an STI! The talent in this ring is impressive. A little awkward to start but the energy that comes into the building when Kenta and 'Jima get into the ring together is what makes live wrestling so great. Would've loved to have been in that crowd. Aries plays such a good sleazy POS, it gives perfect heat for the faces to feed off of. The importance of a good crowd is showcased in this match. The wrestlers aren't doing anything crazy to start but the crowd is hanging on every movement. Even without the announcers the story in the ring easily lets you know who is feuding with who. I must say though, Aries' tattoo is a little to big for his arm. As the match progresses you are dead on about this being a COC main event. Solid story telling, great crowd, good spots, good match. Great stuff baby.