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!