Tuesday, December 29, 2020

It's Tuesday. You Know What That Means.

CJD: The reason we started Play It Forward was to help recreate the dialogue of match sharing you and I have had going in person for decades. And if I was sitting next to you right now with a beverage in one hand and a bag of Herr's potato chips in the other you bet your sweet ass we'd be watching a Brodie Lee match in remembrance. And I'd say "I don't know if you remember but back in 2010 I played a match between these guys in EVOLVE for you." And you'd say "fuck your memory is ridiculous I can't remember what I had for lunch last week." And we'd help each other process these emotions of losing such a talented performer, one of "our guys," so young and so unexpectedly. So here's the match I'd play. It has elements of that EVOLVE match but it's for the CZW title so they're catering to that audience. I've seen people say Terry Funk was Brodie's favorite wrestler and it makes sense because the way these guys fight each other reminds me of Funk VS Hansen. But with Moxley playing Brodie's own personal Terry. And that is not a comparison I use lightly. Out of control, violent, when things aren't pretty they seamlessly work it into the psychology of the match. And what a finish!! I could watch these two wrestle each other over and over again. Fuck. I know we'll both be catching up on their AEW match soon enough too. But let's dig back into this lesser known match first. Let's do what we do and remember a great man by all accounts by watching him do what he loved and let's say one final FUCK YOU to 2020 with our last post of the year.

JJZ: Your comments really made me smile because that is exactly what would be happening if it was possible. Our group of wrestling friends would always talk about how much WWE wasted the talents of Brodie during his time there. He had some very bright spots between not being on TV for months at a time. His feud with Dolph, him and Rowan VS the Usos. Most of the Wyatt stuff just to name a few. But he was a monster that we knew should've been a main eventer. I was so happy he got that time in AEW because it showed the wrestling world what we already knew. This match showcased just how impressive he was. His right hand dictated the pace and his offense was mean and brutish. Loved loved loved that this was in the ECW Arena because he would've been an ECW all-timer if wrestled during that era. I really look forward to watching many more Brodie Lee matches with you in the future baby cakes.

CJD: RIP Big Rig. You'll never be forgotten. To quote one of your favorite bands...

"Take a different track, it's time to see what you are made of
Can you expose yourself? Can you peel off another layer?
And will you make the time? The time to take control
Because only you can save yourself, only you can save your soul

Self-inherence, freedom, comes from within

And once you save yourself, insecurities will die
Genuine abilities and true character will shine"

Snapcase "Caboose"

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Louis Lyndon (c) VS ACH - AIW Intense Championship 3/14/2014

CJD: A little holiday delay there. But let's just pretend it's Friday, and on Forever Forward Fridays we love celebrating wrestlers of color and we love celebrating the indies. This match is quite the combo of both. ACH has had some big opportunities but has been more of a journeyman throughout his career as you covered, and Louis Lyndon is such an indy stalwart that AIW uses him as the measuring stick for outside talent when they first come in. This is a continuation of a feud that had been put on the backburner due to injury. A title defense in what feels like a significant Intense title run in AIW history. Another great classic babyface VS heel match up with some real twists and turns. And another appearance of FFF color commentary specialist BJ Whitmer!! What's not to love??

JJZ: This match went above my expectations. I've only seen a handful of Lyndon's matches so I was looking forward to diving into a few more. I think AIW is a great indy promotion that stays loyal to their local talent so I Iove that ACH and Louis had such a bust ass match for them. As the match progressed I kept on saying to myself "damn that look at that!" They kept it stiff but not too stiff with some holy fuck highspot moments. The way Louis locked in the Dragon Sleeper mid way in really popped me. I actually took it back to see it again. I thought both guys shined and left good impressions on the viewers with this match. Nice pick baby!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Iceman Cometh

Dean Malenko (c) VS Yuji Nagata - WCW Saturday Night United States Championship 5/24/1997

CJD: I have a confession to make. Even though now he's a personal favorite, in the 90s watching him in WCW I hated Yuji Nagata. I'm sure it was the presentation because watching him here he's very, very good. I remember him being "Token Japanese Wrestler #5" but he really gets a chance to shine here on Saturday Night. And man is Dean game defending the US title. This is one of those rare matches too where Schiavone and Dusty balance nWo and Kevin Greene (RIP) talk with giving the action its due. Schiavone talked about this on AOW, how it was totally up to them to tie the Saturday Night stuff into regular WCW continuity, because everyone else in the company basically ignored it. So kudos to them and to Jimmy Hart who I'm pretty sure booked it most of the way through. Also it's interesting hearing Dusty lay back on his gimmick so much. I cannot wait to see what you come back with from Blue Justice!

JJZ: I wasn't a fan of Nagata's WCW run  at the time either. I don't even remember why to be honest. Based off this match alone I was dumb. I definitely don't remember him ever wrestling in red pants before. I expected a tight mat based match and that's what I got. Watching these guys go back and forth was great. Matches like this are what made WCW Saturday Night special and turned me around on a bunch of guys in wrestling. I think both Dean and Yuji are wrestlers that everyone talks about being great but neither are in the forefront of a wrestling fan's mind when thinking about top guys. After watching this match I wonder why? This was almost a perfect TV match. When given big chances these guys always delivered. I guess some are just missing an it factor? I dunno I feel like I'm rambling. Loved the pick. Excited to showcase Nagata next week.

CJD: With Dean I think it's a relatively short peak. With Nagata I really don't know. The black mark of his failed MMA crossover haunting him as they tried to make him the ace? He has done nothing but climb my all-time rankings as I explore more footage over the years

JJZ: Solid points. The MMA thing always hurt Nagata. Thinking more about the Dean stuff I guess it's pretty simple about his size and lack of mic skills.

CJD: I'm not the first person to say this but imagine if Dean had physically been able to have a Jamie Noble type mid 2000s indy run.

JJZ: JESUS! That would've been spectacular.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Forever Forward Fridays

ACH VS Prince Mustafa Ali - AAW Heritage Title Tournament 1/25/2013

JJZ: This is definitely the earliest match of Ali's that I have ever seen. You can really see he had greatness in him even at a young age. I know at the time I'm writing this Ali is a heel in WWE but for me this is the first time I've seen him wrestling as a bad guy. I guess I shouldn't be surprised how natural he seems as a heel considering he is able to play such a sympathetic babyface. ACH is someone that I have always been a big fan of. So much talent and not that many companies really went in on him. Except AAW of course. He was a top guy there for a large part of his career. Now this match was the first round of a tournament but honestly felt like a title match with all the risk taking and big bumps. I loved how well these two worked with each other. ACH's wow moments mixed with Ali's psychology made for a fun ride.

CJD: Ali has talked about how he's wanted to avoid playing a stereotypical ethnic heel his entire career. You can sense it here from a young age even as Prince Ali, he's working heel in a much more fundamental sense than looking for cheap heat. And like you said he's really good at it. Both guys are still a bit rough around the edges but they really put a lot of substance into this match. If I was a promoter and saw this potential I'd immediately run a longterm feud between them. Their chemistry jumps off the screen. Instead it seems like this is the only time they wrestled. The Chicago area scene fascinates me, it's always been one of the hottest territories for wrestling but their indies often fly under the radar. Glad to take a closer look the last two weeks.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Forever Forward Champions #11-20

Now past the launch phase, Forever Forward Fridays started to find a real groove during this run of featured wrestlers. We've been focused on the ladies so far and have no complaints about it, as John and I have found some revelations and revisited some favorites. Let's take a look at the wrestlers who have graced us with their presence on some fateful Fridays over the course of the past few months.

11. AR Fox
At this point AR Fox has been in more intergender matches here at PIF than any other wrestler. That speaks to his versatility, and he is most worthy as our third double crown champion indeed.

12. Kris Statlander
13. Ashley Vox
Statlander was new to me, Vox was new to John, and we both left with new names to keep an eye out for. The match these two had against each other in particular is among my favorites we've featured this year.

14. Jordan Steelz
Steelz was totally new to both of us, and I got to watch a lot of her work. She has a lot of presence if not a ton of variety in the matches I've seen. She definitely knows how to make the most of an opportunity and if she keeps rounding out her game she has huge potential.

15. LuFisto
A trailblazer, a fantastic wrestler, a woman I'm so glad to see still in the game and still competing at the highest level.

16. Shotzi Blackheart
17. Solo Darling
These two were an interesting pair, both loud colorful personalities, one blowing up in 2020, one still on the rise. I wasn't expecting to feature either lady any time soon but I'm very glad we did.

18. Kelly Klein
19. Deonna Purrazzo

20. Karen Q
There was a nice little story told between these three champs. A bitter feud gave way to a friendship betrayed and some wild high stakes matches went down in the process. For me personally Kelly Klein really made an impression during this run of FFFs. Which is saying something considering the talent that was featured.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Whoomp! There It Is

Dean Malenko (c) VS 2 Cold Scorpio - ECW TV Championship 3/21/1995

JJZ: Please forgive me for the playing a match forward that has the Long Island Ice Z introducing and interrupting these great wrestlers. I started watching this match because how the hell could I not watch a Dean Malenko versus 2 Cold Scorpio ECW TV Title match. But while I was watching I saw a match unfold that was 180 different than your Sabu 2 Cold match, and I knew that this was my pick. Whenever I can get a match that showcases the depth of wrestler I always lean towards it. Watching Dean being Dean and 2 Cold selling very well while building to the highspots was just plain fun to watch in an ECW ring. I probably have seen this before but I don't recall off the top of my head and who cares. I had a blast watching this.

CJD: I'll say this. I'd much rather see Ryder in this capacity than see him wrestle. It suits the superfan in him. Scorpio did sell really well in this and Dean did too. He had a great ability to seem like a world beater while still showing vulnerability. This is our third straight Misawa Dick Togo Santo OuterContinental Championship match commentated exclusively by Joey Styles, so let me take a minute to sing his praises. Joey had cliches he'd fall into at times. He knew what he did well and he milked that. But his positives really can't be taught. He knew when to let a match breathe. He knew when to slide into analysis and when to call the action. He knew how to make me question the outcome of a match. And most of all, he knew how to sound sincere in his reactions even when he's seen the same stuff over, and over, and over. Back to the action, I was going to joke after the headlock held out of and back into the ring that Kobashi and MiSu clearly were inspired by this match. But by the end I really did get a little bit of a Kobashi babyface vibe from Scorpio. Way less fire but still a very determined, sympathetic performance here. And man am I happy to dig back into some Malenko next week.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Lio Rush VS Mustafa Ali - Freelance Walk Among Us 10/27/2016

CJD: Back to back dream opponents for Lio as far as our tastes go. Normally the audio being off on a match is a deal breaker for me, and it gets progressively worse as this one goes on, but I'll make an exception. Because these guys really busted them asses in Chicago that summer night. I don't think I've ever actually watched any Freelance before but I'm happy to feature them knowing the talent that has passed through. I could do without the commentator doing his best hardcore band vocal audition by the finishing stretch but what are you going to do. Both Rush and Ali are silky smooth in this but are also working for the W from beginning to end. Very focused, exciting, fun match here. Watching this makes me want to check back in on the Retribution stuff to see if Ali is actually salvaging it.

JJZ: This match is exactly what you said, silky smooth. Watching wrestlers performing at the top of their game is special. Special because you know when they started they were the shits wrestling in dollar store gear dreaming about main eventing for a packed crowd. I've actually watched this whole show and this match was head and shoulders above anything else that night. You can see in this match that Rush and Ali are entering that independent elite status. So I'd definitely call this an indy dream match. The only negative is that I wanted more. I liked everything besides that. Even the finish was wonderful. Hopefully we'll get to more matches of their's one day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Double-Pump Finish In Traffic

Sabu VS 2 Cold Scorpio - ECW Hardcore Heaven 8/13/1994

CJD: You may have played this match for me decades ago. I'd be shocked if you haven't seen it. But I have no memory of it and I was thoroughly entertained. A clear step down from their Cyberslam match but this is when ECW is still finding their identity. The crowd is really tame by the mutants' standards for example. Identity is that exact word I think of watching ECW in this mid 90s era. They had such a clear one that they cultivated over these years while building their fanbase. It feels like looking back ECW just exploded onto the scene but growing up in the area we know better. This match is a great example of that, of creating a style, of establishing talent, and of training your audience to appreciate something new. Oh yeah and Sabu is batshit crazy in it and Scorpio is as good as he ever was. I know you're going to have thoughts on this one. Lay them on me.

JJZ: We could turn this blog into a rewatching ECW match review project and I'd love every moment of it. I've definitely seen this before and maybe have shown it to you but I'm not 100% on that. There is just something about ECW man. The unpredictability of it all. The split second change of directions. The way they even do certain moves would be different a lot of the time. 2 Cold doing the piledriver by pulling the tights and then grabbing Sabu around the waist. The sloppiness of it made it feel so real at times. And what the fuck was the inside outside off the chair dive Sabu did. I remember going to ECW shows and the pure excitement of what the hell is Sabu gonna do this time made ECW must see for me. This match is phenomenal Chris. Thank you.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Lio Rush VS Jonathan Gresham - Legacy Wrestling Dangerous Encounters 12/5/2015

JJZ: Going into this match I thought it would be Gresham trying to ground Lio with Lio using his speed and flippy dips to gain offense. Instead we got a tit for tat kinda thing. I love love love the independent nature of this venue. Oversized gym with random people coming and going from a yoga class. I have no clue who else was on this show but I wouldn't have wanted to follow this. Both wrestlers showed more of their unnoticed talents and abilities. It's always a nice surprise when you expect one thing but get another and are still as satisfied as you were hoping you would be.

CJD: What I wouldn't give to see these guys go at it now. There's little touches that Rush would learn that give some of his spectacular offense more room to breathe. And Gresham is great here but as we know is almost without peer now. Still I'll gladly take what we get here, both men tell a story before the bell even rings walking to the ring just with their body language. The weird multilevel venue set up reminded me of the old video game Elevator Action. This was a standout match for certain, no downtime and a great finish. Very nice find, I doubt you and I would ever have known about it without Forever Forward Fridays.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

I Walk Around Like A Skeleton Last Night

La Parka VS Sabu - MLW 12/20/2002

JJZ: If I didn't know better and just put this on cold I would think this was a 1999 ECW fan cam. Besides the ECW alumni just the feel of the match and crowd would do it. Now I don't recall La Parka ever wrestling in ECW but he would have fit in just fine. I fucking loved this match. Chris you know me as well as anyone and you know my eternal love flame for the original ECW. I felt like I was sitting at the Arena one more time and just got totally lost in the action. I've never been crazy about La Parka so I wanted to find a match of his I liked but I found one I loved instead. Really hope you feel the same.

CJD: Damn that's a svelte La Parka. This match had serious ECW vibes indeed, which early MLW was clearly going for. So many promotions were. I'm surprised how successful they were here though and I have to credit La Parka for the majority of that. He came into this match like it was the chance of a lifetime. I don't know if it was respect for Sabu, faith in Court Bauer, or wanting to give the hundreds and hundreds in Fort Lauderdale their money's worth. But boy did he. Sabu is more than game as well and Joey is great on commentary. This really should feel like an ECW rehash but they captured some of that magic. This had that "what is going to happen next??" atmosphere that takes a dream match from a novelty to something special.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Jonathan Gresham VS Karen Q - Beyond Wrestling VS WWR 4/5/2018

CJD: Ton of respect to Karen Q for hanging hold for hold with Gresham here. She might not be quite on his level but she didn't look out of place at all and the Octopus was really digging deep into his bag of tricks having a smaller (?) opponent for once. This crowd is pretty dead, I'm not sure if this is a WWN supershow preshow or something, but the commentators do a great job elevating the action and the talent regardless. I could have watched these two go at it twice as long but I really enjoyed what they packed into this one.

JJZ: This is one interesting match. Tiny ass crowd, intergender, probably enjoyed must by people who just love wrestling. Great hold for hold wrestling. The only thing I didn't like about the match was that it was only 10 minutes. And to be honest it only felt like 5. I could have watched this all day. I felt like Jon was very giving in this match. A lot of intergender matches just forcus the strength and size difference but not this match. They felt very equal. The finishing minutes were excellent and really had me guessing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

With This Mask Like Rey Mysterio, Hear Both Sides Full Stereo

Eddie Guerrero/Lizmark/Rey Misterio Jr VS Heavy Metal/La Parka/Psicosis - AAA 2/21/1993

CJD: This match is the reason PIF is the gift that keeps giving. When I get a match in my inbox from you it brightens up my day, but when I research a match to play forward it also pushes me to dig deeper in certain areas than I would normally. This is one of those times, I watched some good Rey that I'd be happy to share, but I've been really digging older lucha lately and I decided to go in that direction instead. I mentioned last week that I avoided lucha in the 90s. It's not that I didn't try, Rey/Psicosis was one of my favorite feuds. So I bought a three volume Best of AAA tape set because it only stood to reason that if they were having these great matches in ECW, in WAR, in WCW, well then the original stuff in Mexico was going to blow my mind. And I kept reading about how revolutionary AAA was around the time. And man I tried. This match might have even been on one of those tapes. And if so, when there had seemingly been 5 arbitrary falls with no rhyme or reason by the time the 3rd fall started, with two refs who barely can make a 3 count, and hardly any dives, I probably would have thrown my hands up in disgust, popped it out, and switched over to some quality wrestling like a Matsunaga VS Great Kojika poison blowfish deathmatch.

But now it's 2020! And I understand that a captain dropping a fall trumps all 3 team members needing to go down. I understand that yes, 95% of the time when one team member drops a fall, they all coincidentally happen to. I understand these refs are probably former technicos and rudos and showing them respect as part of the performance is part of the culture. I understand that high flying is the highlight, not the rule. And I understand not to overthink lucha so damn much, not to question, just to enjoy and go along for the ride.

And yet still, I'm not going to lie, this match had me saying "what the fuck?!" up until the last possible second, but in the best way possible. This match has stories within stories. It has hijinks galore. It has jaw dropping spots. It has stuff that will frustrate you. It has stuff that will make you laugh. It was a revelation I'm so glad years of match sharing brought me to this week. I wasn't ready for 90s AAA in my parents' basement as a teenager. But damnit I'm ready for it now with my daughter napping on my chest as a grown ass man. Well maybe not three VHS' worth. And now that he's on my mind, I wonder how I can lead us back to some Great Kojika matches soon...

JJZ: Man, this match was much more vicious than I thought it would be. I was definitely expecting a car crash but this was a seven car pile up that shut down 95. I will echo some thoughts of your review. More than a few times I thought what the fuck is going on. But in between my head scratching these holy shit moments keep taking place. I know I could rewatch this match right now and catch serval new things I didn't pick up on last time. The agression between Lizmark and LA Park jumped off the screen. Eddie and Rey's smoothness shined through even during the confusing parts of this match. Heavy Metal and Psicosis were nice bases that played their roles perfectly. With all of this talent in the ring you couldn't take your eyes off the screen for a second. Matches like these are made to be rewatched over and over again.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Deonna Purrazzo VS Karen Q - ROH No Disqualification 11/18/2017

JJZ: I'm excited for more Karen Q. I didn't want to do another Ring of Honor match, BUT! I watched another match with these two women before this and I really enjoyed it, just a bit too short. So when I saw a No DQ match I got excited to see what they could do in this setting. Both wrestlers have great fundamentals so getting to see their aggressive side showcased a new depth. Like with your Deonna/Klein match I would've loved to see the build up to this. Both are wreslting with anger and hate. I believe they want to hurt each other. We have watched a lot of women's independent wrestling on Forever Forward Fridays and these women you can tell are the cream of the crop. Both are very polished and experienced. Came out of this liking both more than I went in.

CJD: It's hard not to compare this match to the Klein match last week, both brawls, Karen turning on her training partner Deonna was part of the Klein feud, both in ROH. So I'll say the thing I prefer about the Klein match, that it feels more unpredictable, more like a fight, actually isn't necessarily a negative here. Because the thing I like best about this match is that it builds in a really deliberate, satisfying way, with a climax of great falsies. And I know you love a great falsie. Side note, there was a great obscure punk split when we were younger between the NJ band el Secondhand and the Virginia band the Falsies, and decades later I've wondered if that band name was a wrestling reference. ANYWAY, Karen Q really stayed on Deonna still entire match and I'm glad we cycled back to her after the limited roll she had in the tag match we featured weeks back. She's still pretty new to me and I like what we've watched. Now to go watch more of her. And to go see if I can find that split online anywhere!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

When The Saints Go Over There

El Hijo del Santo VS Rey Misterio Jr - Promo Azteca (Tijuana) 2/21/1997

JJZ: The timing of this match is what drew me to it. Rey is white hot in America while Santo is still at the top of his game in Mexico. The fan cam quality was such a nice touch that you know I personally love. The last fall of this match is what made it for me. Spectacular selling by Rey and a ruthless hunt for the kill by Santo made for great theater. The final stretch had me yelling at my TV. Hope you enjoy it just as much baby cakes.

CJD: My first thought is "how the hell have I never heard of this match?" But I guess it did place in the Death Valley Driver Best of the 90s polls, which I used to reference like gospel. I think I actually had a copy printed out for certain promotions. But lucha would have been an area I neglected back then and maybe now I need to use the Wayback Machine to print some additional material to reference. This lived up to the huge dream match potential for me but reading reviews it seems the early stalling took this down a few pegs for many fans. I didn't mind it, it did have me chomping at the bit by the time they got going which suits a clash this big. Some of those transitions were utterly beautiful. It must have been nice for Rey to wrestle someone else so masterful at launching himself to the moon on a backbody drop for a change. Santo becomes our first MDTSOCWWKD double crown Champion, holding both our imaginary tag and singles version of the title, which is suiting since we recently renamed it partially after him. He's such a mythical almost outlaw figure in wrestling history, with the biggest boots to fill imaginable, and still blazed a trail so distinctly his own. I love watching him and I loved the way he matched up with Rey Rey here. Also listening in on a casual conversation between Konnan and Bob Barnett was beyond surreal. Awesome stuff.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Kelly Klein VS Deonna Purrazzo - ROH 5/13/2018

CJD: I love how we focus on the indies on Fridays. And I love discovering new wrestlers. But this was too bust-ass of a match to pass up on. These two have a long standing rivalry in ROH and it really feels like they were made for each other. And this is a great example of how to add another entry into a feud and keep it fresh when you've had a bunch of matches already. This TV match feels big start to finish and if we had to take a detour into Sinclair broadcasting territory, I'm glad it was exploring these Klein matches.

JJZ: Love having the independent legend Colt Cabana on color for this match. I didn't read your comments before I started it so Deonna running in so hot made me sit up straight in my seat. Didn't expect that fiery start. Without knowing anything going in you can sense the hate between these two. This is a well done back and forth grudge match. I saw both wrestlers shine with offense and selling. Klein has such a heel feel about her. She came into the match with such a "I don't give a fuck about you" attitude while Deonna had such a Deonna's Gonna Kill You attitude. I think this match warranted a dive back through their past matches baby cakes. Nice pick.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

We've Got To Raise Atlantis

Atlantis VS El Hijo Del Santo - CMLL 11/5/2005

CJD: I wanted to explore part of our current MDTSOCWWKD Champion's long and storied career that I wasn't familiar  with this week. And while I wasn't expecting it to be one of his rare stretches as a rudo, I'm glad that's where I ended up. Because damn what a rudo he was! These are two HoFers creating beautiful music together and they are playing the hits while they're at it. This is a tournament finals with one fall to a finish which gives it an urgency similar to Atlantis starting the match down a fall did for your pick last week. I watched a bunch of Atlantis matches this week and many would have been fine choices. But this was the only no-brainer.

JJZ: Well this is starting off pretty interesting. Women kissing kids, little people being thrown onto big people. Love that it is just one fall. This bout has fantasic energy from the start. The dual mask ripping might be a first for me personally. I really don't recall seeing it before. You could feel how much Santo wanted to defeat Atlantis in this. It had a chaotic start but really settled into a heated tit for tat match. I loved the finish so much, I popped so hard. Great pick baby.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Misawa Dick Togo Santo Tri-State OuterContinental WWKD Champions #121-130

Mason Dixon no more! JJZ is here to take us through our first recap since rebranding the MDTSOCWWKD Championship. If Dolly Parton can take the Dixie out of her Stampede then the least we can do is take the Mason Dixon out of our OuterContinental Championship. Besides, remember John's wise words we should always live by... Dick Togo for life, homie!

121. Hulk Hogan
Kicking off things with arguably the biggest wrestling star of all time. Both matches showed another level to Hogan that many thought he didn't have.

122. Genichiro Tenryu
Jumping over to the land of the rising sun  for one of the most traveled puro stars of all time. His two featured matches are at two totally different points of his career and highlight all the traits that made him great.

123. KENTA (x2)
124. Ricky Marvin (x2)
125. Katsuhiko Nakajima (x2)

All three top junior weights of all time. All three in large part from NOAH. All three two time MDTSOCWWKD champions. This would make for one hell of a round Robin tournament.

126. Kazusada Higuchi
Kazusada was a fresh young face to interject in the middle of these wrestling notables. Both matches really shined a light on him.

127. "Speedball" Mike Bailey (x2)
128. Zack Sabre Jr (x2)

Two times the fun with these double bubbles over here. These matches would definitely be on anyone's Best Of DVD. Top indy talent showing why they earned the spots they are in.

129. A-Kid
His title run was aces. Some might even say five stars. A-Kid kicked in the door with his ZSJ match to get all the eyes on him. I love finding them hidden gem matches but sometimes the matches staring you in the face are the best choice.

130. Ricochet
The king, the prince, the one and only. Whatever you want to call him Ricochet had two matches in our title run that showcased how dynamic he can be.

Looking back on this list it's crazy to see how we could jump from one of the most successful of all time all the way to one of the greatest indy wrestlers of all time. Featuring 6 different nationalities in 4 different countries.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Solo Darling VS Kelly Klein - ROH 1/15/2016

JJZ: Solo Darling is a great wrestling name. Since I first read it, it's been stuck in my head. I really enjoyed this match because all the gimmick work by Solo. This match was a lot earlier than her other match you played forward. I enjoyed seeing her growth as a wrestler between the two. Kelly plays a nice heel to Darling's spunky baby face roll. I've only seen a few of Klein's matches but have enjoyed her. Looking forward to what you play back to me.

CJD: So this will shock you on a Forever Forward Friday. But I've never seen Kelly Klein before! And I left this match really impressed. She knows how to carry herself with presence and has a great understanding of how her character translates into who she is in the ring. I've never seen this character from Solo before and I much prefer who she evolved into, but this was fun. A great example of how to get over a promotion's top talent while still making a big impression. I'm surprised she didn't become a Women of Honor mainstay. Almost as much as I'm surprised how much I enjoyed BJ Whitmer on commentary here. Fun watch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Don't Play To Win, I Play To Show, Yeah I'm The Maestro

Blue Panther VS Atlantis - CMLL Copa Victoria Finals 5/12/1997

JJZ: Atlantis is a luchador I got familiar with over the last couple of years from NJPW's Fantasica Mania. He actually teamed up with his son Atlantis Jr. Blue Panther seems to have an endless list of matches available so I definitely watched a few before deciding to play this one forward. I feel like most of the lucha stuff I watch has so much heat and venom behind the match that my interest was peaked most from what I can tell is just a technico VS technico hold for hold move for move match. Very nice back and forth. I couldn't tell which way it was going which I loved. Hope you enjoy.

CJD: We definitely have a maestros throwdown here, focusing on the artistry of lucha more than the spectacle. It's the finals of a tournament where Blue Panther has a one fall advantage. He only needs to win one fall to to take it which factors heavily into the way Atlantis wrestles this. He has counters for counters, always pressing, refusing to stay on his back. There are so many little things about this match, like the most convincing lucha leg sweeps I've ever seen, and one of the strangest sells on a DDT. Overall really beautiful technical wrestling that I wish I had a better appreciation for decades back when I first tried to get into lucha. But am so happy to dive into now. This is one I'll come back to again for certain. Nice pick!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Solo Darling VS Shotzi Blackheart - F1RST Wrestling 3/21/2019

CJD: I watched some other quality Shotzi matches before landing on this one. And this isn't perfect but maybe I'm just a sucker for a good opener. It really popped for me and hopefully it does for you too. Solo is another wrestler I'm pretty familiar with in a tag team setting in Chikara like Vox a few weeks ago, and once again I got a much better sense of her as a wrestler here. And I definitely left these two weeks of Blackheart matches a new fan of hers. She has a goofy enthusiasm that borders on cheesy but she pulls it off really well. Also, Halloween tights!

JJZ: First off I'm gonna be honest. I'm drunk. Let's go! Love the Halloween theme and love that local brewery advertising. I know I mentioned that before but fuck it. I like this venue. This was a great opener. I think Solo is good and has a lot of potential. She has a good moveset and is very aggressive. Shotzi is her unique self in this match, that keeps your eyes on her. For any beer lovers out there I'm drinking a Neshaminy Creek Dunks Ferry while watching this match. I'd give this beer 4 bottle caps fyi. This is was a fun match that fits the placement in the card and should make you keep an eye out for both wrestlers.

CJD: Is that four out of five bottle caps,  four out of seven bottle caps, or four out of ten bottle caps??

JJZ: Lol 5

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Small Town Adonis Hits The Metropolis

Blue Panther VS Sam Adonis - CMLL Cabellera VS Cabellera 8/4/2017

CJD: We've been sending each other on a lot of journeys lately. And much like A-Kid surprised me with how many moves he liked to bust out as I dug deeper, so too was I surprised that Sam Adonis is not always a less is more kind of wrestler. But I was craving something with a classic feel like your Hobbs match. So I looked up what Adonis' most high profile stuff was since he donned a MAGA cap and this immediately jumped to the front of my que. My favorite old man tecnico in front of a red hot Areno Mexico crowd, hair VS hair, taking on a Trump supporter AND a rudo ref working against him? This one had me hooked beginning to end. Their chemistry more than delivered on my expectations. I need to seek out more Adonis in Mexico.

JJZ: This was one fun-ass watch. The crowd was boiling hot. There was so much heat between Adonis and Panter that I wouldn't have been shocked if steam was coming off their shoulders. Nothing t6o crazy spot wise was needed for this match but they still had a few Oh Shit moments. Adonis draping Panther in the Trump American flag and splashing him was such a Fuck You move. The rudo ref made for some entertaining moments but I don't think the match needed it. Great pick baby.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

LuFisto VS Shotzi Blackheart - Women's Wrestling Revolution 3/25/2018

JJZ: Can't believe with as long of a career that Lufisto has had these are the first matches that I can recall seeing. I am a fan. I got to watch some older and newer stuff before settling on this match. Shotzi Blackheart I am familiar with and also a fan of. Mama Pawg's veteran psychology mixed with Shotzi's innovative offense and youth made for one hell of a match. I definitely thought "I've never seen that before!" a few times. Shake that up with a positive encouraging crowd and pour it into one of my favorite venues. You got yourself one hell of a match.

CJD: While LuFisto is new to you, Shotzi is new to me. And that's what FFFridays are all about! You can tell I haven't had a Network subscription in a minute, I'd be curious to see how Blackheart's gimmick translates to NXT. Being billed from the Black Lagoon is a nice touch. You nailed it with the veteran VS rising talent comments, the dynamic in this one was perfect. Great hold for hold wrestling with a more deliberate pace thanks to LuFisto's experience. Great energy from Shotzi and one hell of a finish that came at just the right time. Good stuff!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

No One Man Should Have All That Will Power

Will Hobbs (c) VS Sam Adonis - APW Worldwide Internet Championship 2/1/2019

JJZ: I'm going to start the review with a quote from Les Brown. "Just because fate doesn't deal you the right cards, it doesn't mean you should give up. It just means you have to play the cards you get to their maximum potential." This was an extremely hard challenge for me. Not because Will Hobbs isn't a good wrestler, but because I just don't have enough quality content out there currently. He thankfully got signed up very quickly by AEW so almost all the matches I found were on the shorter side in empty arenas. It didn't showcase this man the way I would like. A man that is wrestling in honor of his brother who took a bullet for him. Him and his brother had a dream together of being a manager & wrestler duo that was ended even before it started. Taking the motto Will Power to a whole new level for me. So what I share with you today probably won't make a Best of Will Hobbs compilation but it is a call back to the 80s and early 90s. A true cheap heat heel shining up a plucky underdog baby face. This match honestly is something I haven't seen in a long time. Sam Adonis is a throwback back to the Iron Sheiks and Nikolai Volkoffs of the wrestling world. Really poking at people's feelings in the real world. And Will Hobbs is their Hulk Hogans and Hackshaw Jim Duggans fighting for what's right in the world. I hope you can see what I see in this match baby cakes.

CJD: You know I've watched a ton of 80s Mid South and Texas. Well everything about this match reminded me of some sort of Butch Reed VS Rick Rude fever dream and I fucking loved it. This is my first time seeing Adonis and he reminds me of Sweeney or Magnum CK in that he's not just doing some ironic tribute gimmick, this guy is the real deal. Bonus points for being a big physically intimidating dude who's just a little bit soft enough that if I was there live and had a few beers I'd probably start yelling at him that I could kick his Trump loving ass. Which I absolutely could not. Hobbs was running the ropes and hitting his shoulder tackles and clotheslines with the explosiveness that they became highspots. Also thank you for that thorough backstory on Hobbs and your journey to landing on this match. You often credit me as the wordsmith of the FanCam Connection but this week you took me on a narrative arc that had me hook line and sinker my friend.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Jordynne Grace/LuFisto VS Tasha Steelz/Karen Q - Women's Wrestling Revolution 5/27/2018

CJD: Tasha Steelz took me on a long journey that brings us to our first FFF tag match. I love seeing LuFisto happy, healthy and contributing to this new generation of talent. She's a true trailblazer and back when she was wrestling Necro Butcher in the KOTDM I didn't anticipate a long career for her. I love Steelz and Q representing their trainer Damian Adams with Purazzo on commentary as well. Their performance gives me real 90s Saturday morning babyface vibes which warms my heart. Both teams feel like a cohesive unit and have good chemistry with each other. And I know you love this venue!

JJZ: Love watching team PAWG! Excited for this one! This is a classic heel/baby face tag match. A lot of shine mixed with aggressive heat. And I do love this venue. I think you'll agree this could have used a little more time but they made the most of what they had. Energy and psychology really poured out. All four of these women really capture the independent spirit of Beyond and WWR. The fact they can perform such a solid tag match while being such excellent singles wrestlers shows the depth of their talent.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Lamb Of Cobb

Jeff Cobb VS Will Hobbs - APW Universal Championship 4/14/2018

CJD: Hobbs is a hot name in wrestling right now so let's see if he can give PIF the rub with a little run with the Misawa Dick Togo Santo Outercontinental WWKD Championship. You picked last weeks match to show Ricochet against a top name, this week I'm doing the opposite and showing Cobb against at the time a top local talent on the rise. This match feels like a real struggle. Ironically reminding me of a classic NJPW heavyweight bout even though Cobb rarely has matches like this in Japan. You can correct me if I'm wrong since you've been Mr NJPW for a little while now. But this is how I want Cobb to be presented everywhere, and Hobbs does a great job conveying the challenge in front of him and how bad he wants this. Fair warning this is one of those videos that ends VERY abruptly after the finish, which is a shame because I'd loved to have seen the reactions and post match.

JJZ: I fucking love Jeff Cobb. I was just thinking that he was kinda forced into his role as a top independent wrestler. If you think about it he really started making a name for himself when the indy scene had so much top talent. Then very quickly everyone got signed and the road to the top was clear. Now don't get me wrong he definitely deserves it. Cobb would stand out in any group of wrestlers. So I love you sharing a match of his with a younger less familiar wrestler. This Hobbs fella is a thick cut of beef so just looking at a picture of the match you'd think this would be a straight forward hoss fight. But it ain't! I'm eating up the slow technical start that leads into the bigger spots. They did such a good job of setting a base that everything towards the end came across like it could end the match. Nice pick baby cakes!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Ashley Vox VS Tasha Steelz - Limitless Wrestling 1/24/2020

JJZ: So far I think my favorite thing about our Forever Forward Championship is deep diving into the independent promotions. Limitless is a promotion that I've seen a few things from but wasn't super familiar with. I like the feel of them and the focus they put on women's wrestling. I wasn't familiar with Tasha Steelz before this match and I was impressed. Not sure her age but in wrestling years she has some veteran polish on her. I like her whole vibe. I liked playing this match forward as it gave you the other end of what Vox can do. She was fantastic in a blood feud but in this showcased that she can work a good mid card match. Also I'm in love with her finisher!

CJD: Tasha Steelz is new to me too and has that quality about her where she can walk in and take on a promotion's top star, make them look great but still make a big impression in her own right. I love this Walking Tall Ashley Vox, she's been such a revelation and will become a must-watch kind of wrestler moving forward. And I agree about Limitless, I don't hear a ton about them but clearly they have a devoted fanbase and everything I've seen from them has been quality. Nice pick baby, and a good palate cleanser after last week's violence party.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

I Gaze, Dim Ricochet Of Stars

Ricochet VS Jeff Cobb - OTT Wrestlerama Belfast 8/6/2017

JJZ: With this match I wanted to show Ricochet working with the opposite of A-Kid. Someone bigger and more of an independent veteran. I also was super stoked to see Cobb throw the King around. I thought they did add some basic but nice psychology while still doing the big crowd pleasing spots. I really enjoyed this match, I couldn't figure out which way it would go. I bit on the falsies and had a couple "Damn!" moments. These two would make for a fantastic best of 7 series. Their styles are different enough to really have different levels of matches.

CJD: Yeah, Ricochet and Cobb could have played the hits for this overseas match and the crowd would have went just as wild and nobody would have said one negative word. Instead they went out and clearly had fun doing something unique to that night and still delivered a red hot match. Not quite as good as their BOLA contest but I give them a lot of respect for keeping it fresh. These two have such a great power VS speed dynamic, where they're both surprisingly strong and agile too, so there's a lot of oneupsmanship. I think you can guess my one criticism which is I wish Ricochet went back to the leg. But Cobb's selling was so good I almost don't mind. Almost. I agree whole heartedly that I could watch them wrestle many times over, I wonder if there's any more matches out there?

Monday, October 5, 2020


Does it feel like you need a glossary sometimes to keep track of what's happening which day of the week at PIF? Well then use this handy quick visual reference to help remind you of your northern from your southern lariats!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Kris Statlander VS Ashley Vox - Limitless Wrestling Unsanctioned Match 1/11/2019

CJD: Getting into a blood feud on Fridays for the first time and we're starting with a bang. I've seen a little of Ashley Vox in CHIKARA teaming with her sister but I've never seen this side of her. These two have such an electric physical chemistry that makes you want to see them tear each other apart. I think the fact this match has 2 million+ views speaks to that. Good for Limitless Wrestling and good for these ladies. They had one hell of a fight and I'm going to do everything I can to have us circle back to their Last Creature Standing match eventually if it's anywhere near this good.

JJZ: The 2.2 million views was the first thing I noticed when I put the match on. Great for them. This is the most serious I've seen Statlander so far. I like the aggression. I'm pretty sure this is the first Vox match I've seen. Speaking of your mental image with Stat when I first read Ashley Vox's name I pictured someone totally different. Love love love that she uses Maui's hook from Moana. This is a seriously stiff and tight match. The anger and heat between these two women pours out of the screen. The home stretch was fantastic and made me cringe while still keeping smart psychology. Great independent wrestling right here baby cakes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hungry Like The White Wolf

Ricochet VS A-Kid - White Wolf Wrestling 1/28/2017

CJD: After watching a bit more of A-Kid, I may have given him a little too much credit for having a "less is more" approach. He definitely moved in that direction over time but he also likes to get his shit in. And this is 2017 but what he lacks in maturity Ricochet more than makes up for with a young veteran presence. This match is more of a Ricochet touring attraction contest and even having seen plenty of Ricochet it's a damn good attraction. His selling, his facials, his presence, plus yeah they do some spectacular stuff. This is the type of match that made me rewind 5 minute chunks of action to let it sink in. I enjoyed every moment of it, including the post match stuff, and I think you will too.

JJZ: These White Wolf crowds are into it man. Jesus. Ricochet physically looks like a million bucks in this match. Kid looks like Ricochet when Ricochet started out. Kid definitely got his shit in in this match. I would've loved to have been in the building for this one. This was a great showcase match for everyone involved. If A-Kid didn't get signed to NXT UK he would've been in the position Ricochet was in during this match. Being a big indy draw and the featured match on every card. I enjoyed this match on a few different levels but mostly just as a fan.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Forever Forward Champions #1-10

While I'm not happy with the dumpster fire that is 2020, I am glad it made us take a hard look at our pro wrestling fandom. Forever Forward Fridays are a small step on a long journey. The first stretch has already brought us some great discoveries as well as a few outstanding matches between some familiar faces. Let's take a look at the first 10 Forever Forward Champions!

1. Faye Jackson
Most of the time John and I share matches that are new to both of us. But now and then we get to cross something off our books we've been waiting to play for each other in person. I was so glad to get a chance to play this match from my AIW DVD for John ahead of schedule of my next trip to Philly, and so glad he picked Faye as our inaugural Champion. And thanks to AIW for having it uploaded!

2. Mia Yim
The biggest name we featured the first few weeks and she really showed her versatility as such. Maybe my first overall pick if I was building a women's division in the USA this very moment.

3. Marti Belle
Babyface 101 class was in session during Marti's FF title run and she taught it well!

4. Dani Jordyn
5. Kenzie Paige
Two of the young talents who neither of us were familiar with going into Forever Forward Fridays and we left very impressed with. We'll certainly being keeping an eye out for their names from now on.

6. Jordynne Grace
7. Mercedes Martinez

A few more of the bigger names in our first 10 weeks of Forever Forward Fridays and they coincidentally had one of the best matches we featured against each other. Two bad ass women right here.

8. Athena
9. Heidi Lovelace

And even though they were the biggest stars yet, for both Ember Moon and Ruby Riott we focused on their indy days and found some really terrific matches in the process.

10. Arik Cannon
One of these things is not like the others!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Kris Statlander VS AR Fox - Beyond Wrestling Uncharted Territory 3/4/2019

JJZ: So we are going to maybe my favorite indy promotion currently in Beyond Wrestling. Beyond has so many little independent wrestling touches. A ceiling that's far too low. A standing overcrowded room that in 2020 looks so ridiculous to me, and announcers that seem like they are always screaming into their mics. It also has an independent stalwart in AR Fox versus a white hot up and comer in Kris Statlander. I didn't realize her size until this match. She matches up great with Fox. I loved the "look what I can do!" approach to this match from her. And AR Fox really channels his independent veteran swag. Loved the finish and as always the Beyond crowd was excellent.

CJD: It's funny how you build an idea of a wrestler in your head before you see them in action for the first time. This is my first Statlander match and she's not what I expected. Not at all in a bad way. This is couldn't be a more night and day example but I remember after reading the name Jumbo Tsuruta for such a long time I had such a clear mental image even without ever seeing a picture before I got my first 80s RWTL VHS in the mail. This match reminded me of an opener for an ECW PPV. The Beyond match, not my first Jumbo match. Big goofy personalities, hot action, a lot going on in a short amount of time. Beyond's renegade vibe contributes to that but you could seriously put Fox, his valet, and Kris Stat on a Living Dangerously in the late 90s after a cold open or after a Blue Meanie & Jasmine St Clair on the beach vignette and the crowd would be hooked. And I would be too. This was a fun watch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

My Mother Worked Sixteen Hours Six Days A Week

A-Kid (c) VS Zack Sabre Jr - White Wolf Wrestling Campeonato Absoluto 4/14/2018

JJZ: I picked this match for one reason. I want your opinion of it. It got a 5 star rating and put A-Kid on the map. This is my second viewing so I'm watching with different eyes than you. I'm almost positive this is our first match from White Wolf. Which is a promotion from Spain. Also a first for us that I can recall. Local star champion VS independent super star. White hot crowd. Stiff and tight as can be. I don't need to say anything else. E n j o y.

CJD: Damn, what a dope match. ZSJ coming out to "Mother" by IDLES is my favorite thing ever right off the bat and the entrance really sets the tone. Apparently A-Kid comes out to Papa Roach which is considerably less cool unless you're a backyard wrestler with frosted tips wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and JNCOs. Then you'd be the Pope of Chili Town. He should stick with this generic royalty free theme they used for this video, it's actually pretty tight. Better than his NXT UK theme. But I digress.

Circa 2015 you and I had a very underrated wrestling podcast with our good friend Mr PB, which unfortunately I'm realizing has vanished from the ether of the internet. And I remember we discussed pretty often how the new crop of indy talent of guys like ZSJ, Thatcher, Busick, and Gulak were exactly what we had been craving. That we were burnt out on the Richards-itis as we called it that had plagued indy wrestling for the previous 5 years or so, and that a return to fundamentals and actual grappling is something we hoped would continue to gain popularity. Fast forward to this match and not only has that hope been fulfilled, but a younger crop of talent influenced by that generation is starting to create their own buzz. And while A-Kid had no buzz that we heard about going into this match, I have to think that ZSJ is the exact type of wrestler he'd been studying as he was cutting his teeth. And it creates such a sublime match with this once in a lifetime opportunity and boy what a buzz did he create for himself as a result.

I hate to sound like a broken record about star ratings but whether or not this is 5 stars is meaningless to me. This is so much of what's great about pro wrestling captured in a beautiful moment in time. I'm glad Meltzer gave it 5 stars to get eyes on it, but if I'm going to take out my red pen yeah there's probably some criticisms I'd have. But I'd rather not waste my time on them, because the positives here are enormous. The grappling feels like such a struggle. The big moments are huge but never outstay their welcome. The small moments make it so you can't turn away or even blink. ZSJ carries himself with such a presence that I don't even mind his ridiculous basketball shorts. I actually find them kind of endearing. I'm so glad you finally got me to make time for this one, and I'm so glad it exists. It's matches like this that make you feel like all the time you invest as a fan is worth it.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

AR Fox VS Arik Cannon - Dragon Gate USA Mercury Rising 3/31/2012

CJD: You picked Cannon for Forever Forward Fridays as an indy lifer who's helped build the scene over his career. And I dove deep into some of that indy indy material to try to find my match in response. But at the end of the day I couldn't find anything that popped quite like this so instead I'm going to go back to the well of another former MDTSOCWWKD Champion in AR Fox. Cannon makes sense to me as an indy lifer, Fox is kind of a curious case in what an indy guy he's been (outside of Lucha Underground). He seemed poised to break out big around the time of this match. I've been surprised going back to DGUSA how well it's aged. I think if the promotion had started 3-5 years later it'd still be going strong. This match is part of a bigger feud between DUF and Sabu, Fox, and I think maybe Jon Davis too, and that stuff comes into play. But the main thing that sticks out to me is what a tight veteran VS rising star dynamic these two have. I'd love to see more from the two of them, but I guess that's the gift and the curse of being married to the indies. You're always left with a little mystique of "what if?"

JJZ: So I remember being at a DGUSA/Evolve show that had an angle during this feud. DUF was tapping beer bottles together and I remember Sami cutting a great promo. I always wanted to see more but never dove in. SO! This is a welcome treat. I think your comments are spot fucking on about this match. I can't believe Fox didn't get seriously hurt on that 450 to the outside. This match tells a great story in a short amount of time. They have the crowd on the edge of their seats by the end and I found myself saying "oh shit!" out loud a few times. Cannon is someone who I'm really falling in love with for our Friday title run. His ability to get himself and his opponents over at the same time is a true skill. Great match my friend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Enough Kinetic Energy To Knockout A Herald

Zack Sabre Jr (c) VS Mike Bailey - Defiant Wrestling Internet Championship  1/26/2018

CJD: So we now have 4 pillars of 2x MDTSOCWWKD Champions and I'm going to add a thumb to turn that structure into a fist. Bringing things back full circle to our flagship competitor, the man I think of first when I think of Play It Forward, Zack Sabre Jr. These are two of the wrestlers who have the most distinct styles of their generation. And I love when contrasting styles make the story for a match and that's exactly what we get here. I saw some comments criticizing the selling and I disagree. I think for what they were doing there was just enough attention to detail. This was a very efficient, to the point match and I respected that about it. I know this is one that'll jump right off the screen when you see the names so I'm curious how that expectation is met. I thought it was a great use of the time they had while still leaving something on the table.

JJZ: Independent ZSJ is my favorite ZSJ. I love him in New Japan but on the indies he can do whatever he wants and I believe he does. The start of this match plays out like a MMA fight. Catch wrestling vs Taekwondo. It turns quickly into a battle of kicks that I don't think will fare well for Zack in the end. Bailey is such a great white meat baby face. I don't think there was a real heel or face in this match but both guys wrestled their natural style so it still developed into a good vs bad kinda match. Bailey has such explosive kicks that he can even the match at any moment. And what can anyone say about Sabre that hasn't been said before? So I will verbalize how I felt watching him during this match. I can't take my eyes off him because even his little movements are so smart and purposeful. I loved this match so much. Great base. Great build. Great finish.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Heidi Lovelace VS Arik Cannon - FEST WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP FINALE 10/30/2016

JJZ: Alright. I know you're not the biggest fan of intergender wrestling but I really think you'll be into this match. So at the time Arik and Heidi are in a relationship and that adds to the whole storyline which made the match. Cannon's struggle to go all in on his girlfriend evened the strength gap for Lovelace so she could really take control. The build to Cannon letting loose was timed really well with the crowd buying in the whole time. And this match had a strong finish that the fans lost their shit for. Enjoy.

CJD: Arik Cannon joins Ruby Riot as holders of both of our imaginary titles here. He doesn't exactly fit the evening the playing field theme of Forever Forward Fridays, however we are trying to stay indy wrestling focused as well and his career and this match certainly fit that bill. And I like when we cover some matches now and then with a bit more historical significance and this has that going for it. This is the second match we've featured at PIF between two wrestlers romantically involved at the time who split up down the line. Perhaps this should serve as a cautionary tale? But it made for great performance, both wrestlers told so much of the story with their facials and body language. Cannon was a great base which I feel like is a relationship metaphor waiting to happen. You're right that if I'm going to watch an intergender match then I'd prefer it to be story driven like this one, and this was really well done at that. Good pick my partner in crime.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Y'all Be Racing To The Cash, That's A Grand Prix

Kazusada Higuchi VS Mike Bailey - DNA Grand Prix Finals 10/21/2016

JJZ: So on the same day I mentioned that seeing Mike Bailey VS Nakajima would be a dream match, I see Mike Bailey wrestled the man who took the coveted MDTSOCWWKD championship off of Nakajima! So I figured what the hell. Let's crown our fourth ever two-time champion. I think Higuchi is a fantastic dance partner for babyface Bailey. Higuchi's size and strength are on full display while on offense. And for Mike it looks like he is trying to chop down a redwood tree with these kicks. The crowd is pretty weak to be honest but the work rate starts bring them to life as the match progresses. This is the finals of a tournament so the length isn't what I wanted but I feel like I got a ton out of the match.

CJD: They got a ton out of this for certain. And to be fair attendance was listed at 200 and I think that was generous. Hot crowds are not exactly DNA's MO but I'm still digging this little run we have going from them. You mentioned to me recently how you love seeing bodyslams used effectively and Higuchi did just that early on in this one. It was cool seeing him a bit more in the driver's seat this week throwing his weight around. But Bailey is never one to back down and I thought he struck just the right balance fighting his way back into this one. Just a packed match for what it was that did everything you could ask for and then some. And I'll take Speedball as our fourth pillar alongside Kasai, KENTA, and Nakajima any day of the week!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Athena (c) VS Heidi Lovelace - AIW Women's Championship 7/26/2014

CJD: Heidi Lovelace becomes the first person to ever hold both of our imaginary titles, and she's good in this. Her and her heater are really effective setting the tone for Athena's babyface champ performance. But I picked this match much more because of Athena. I haven't seen a lot of matches where she totally clicks for me. Some wrestlers, even if they're good, are just like that for you as a fan I think. But here it clicks. She's awesome and efficient and smart at keeping the match moving when things slip up a little here and there. If I was there live that night I'd have left expecting big things from both ladies. Add in the old school AIW setting and I was sold.

JJZ: First thought. Who is the woman drinking an Artic Splash? I thought that was a pure Phila thing? I always loved the short/pant tights that Heidi rocked. I'm going to disagree with you though. I think Heidi was the one that shined here. Her transitions and the finish of her kicks and punches came across much more polished. Athena was good in this match but it felt like a match where one wrestler was obviously ready for the next level of their career and the other was still figuring a few things out. Personally I would have loved a longer match but for the match they were trying to give the crowd it came across really well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Certified Genius At The Age Of 5

Katsuhiko Nakajima VS Kazusada Higuchi - DNA 8/22/2015

CJD: You've had some Tuesday guilty pleasure picks lately. Well now it's my turn. You know I've been on a DDT kick for a while. One of their many great homegrown talents who's been breaking out the past few years is Kazusada Higuchi. So when I saw Nakajima wrestled him in DDT's minor league promotion less than a year into the business after transitioning from sumo I got a little giddy. Then I watched this match and I got a lot giddy. So Nakajima joins illustrious company in Kasai and KENTA as x2 MDTSOCWWKD Champs (freshly rebranded the Misawa Dick Togo Santo Outercontinental WWKD title!) and here's what I like about him in this match at the tail end of his hammer pants phase. Nakajima at this point in his career badly needed to shed the young underdog role he mastered many years back. And not only did he need to move on past it, he needed to start leading, eating guys up at times, he needed to start teaching instead of learning. And that is exactly the type of performance he gives here. Higuchi takes a hellacious beating on his end, sells his ass off, and perseveres to take advantage of some really great chances. I'd love to see this match today, but I'm more than happy with what we got in 2015.

JJZ: So right off the bat this Higuchi guy is brand new to me! And I Iike it! I've been stuck in my own little bubble of familiarity as of late so this is a nice change of pace. The crowd seems eager at the start. On the edge of their seats waiting for something to happen. Reading your review I would've thought Naks was the larger wrestler but Kazusada has a bit of size over Jima. Higuchi starts strong but Nakajima quickly takes the control which shows me your statement is true. 2015 must've  an interesting year for Nakajima since it was right before he put himself officially under the NOAH flag. I like Kazusada's size and energy. He's staring Naks right in the eyes and saying I can take all that you can give. Also his neck crank is sick. He does a good job of imposing his size while on offense but Nakajima's strikes even the playing field very quickly. I dare you or anyone to say he doesn't have the best kicks in the game. Really good match baby. Kazusada came across like a future heavyweight champion while Nakajima proved why he's been one of the best going for years.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Athena VS Mercedes Martinez - SHIMMER 45 3/17/2012

JJZ: So we are getting a FULL back story to this match. A little different for our blog but I like it. Since the only live story telling wrestling I'm watching currently is AEW I'm excited for a match that I know the background to. The heat of the match made total sense. Athena had pure babyface fire while Mercedes Martinez had Randy Orton type heel heat imo. Great back and forth with Athena bringing the high energy while Mercedes Martinez tries to slow it down the pace. Enjoy baby cakes!

CJD: The recap setting up this match was a nice touch. It's pro wrestling 101 booking but you can hear the crowd buy in. Simple story telling works when done effectively. Martinez was masterful as the veteran gatekeeper in this match, she made the prospect of Athena beating her feel like it would really mean something. The way she laid in her slaps, punches, the swagger she carried herself with while still seeming vulnerable when Athena would come roaring back. One of my favorite roles in wrestling is the gatekeeper, guys like Bockwinkel, Taue, and Nagata made an artform out of it to name a few. Randy Orton has some of those same qualities as well now that you mention it. Well Mercedes Martinez is a name I'm going to have to toss in that hat from now on too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Upside, Inside Out

Ricky Marvin VS Katsuhiko Nakajima - NOAH GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship Decision Match 11/27/2011

JJZ: Soooooooo, I love Nakajima. And to be blunt. I wanted to watch a Nakajima match. So here we are. Then I found out the history behind the match and I was like here we fucking go! So where we are going CJD is to a vacant GHC junior heavyweight title match that both men vacated. Nakajima had to get emergency surgery in September of 2011 for acute appendicitis and was forced to drop the belt. Ricky defeated Satoshi Kajiwara for the title in October but vacated the belt until he could face Nakajima so he could be crowned the rightful champion. So this brings us to November 2011 and to Nakajima's MC Hammer pants. I'm not going to X and O this match but more give you my emotions while watching it. I found myself saying jesus christ while smiling and touching my head on several occasions. Both wrestlers literally kicked each other so hard I found myself clutching my own chest. I thought to myself at one point could NOAH be considered the greatest promotion ever when they were in there hey day? I then thought have I seen this before? Not because anything was familiar but because how did this go under my radar. If you've seen this before then I know you'll enjoy it more the second time. If you haven't then you're welcome.

CJD: I have not, so thank you! I love the backstory and the angle of Marvin vacating the title to challenge the man who never lost it. I'm not going to lie though, when Nakajima started to viciously attack Marvin's leg I groaned inside. Because while Ricky might be a CJD guy capable of creative nuance, amazing technical sequences, and breath taking impactful high flying... long term selling is not always his strong suit. Luckily this match was vicious indeed and spectacular enough that it made it easy to look past the iffy legwork. Two phrases we've said out loud watching wrestling together many many times over are "Sell the leg!" and "Bridges are hard." Well both statements apply to this match. I really dug watching Marvin in these big opportunity singles matches back to back. He always brings a ton of life and energy into the ring and we'll take all of that you've got Ricky.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Jordynne Grace VS Mercedes Martinez - F1RST Wrestling 3/21/2019

CJD: This is a dream match which means it's going to bring some high expectations. Luckily they were met and then some by the battle these two left in the ring. The first word I would use to describe Grace is polished, and when you take into consideration she's been wrestling since 2011 it's not surprising. What's that expression Colt likes to use, a 10 year overnight sensation? Mercedes Martinez is an intimidating opponent in a high profile match like this but Big Momma Pump isn't backing down. She reminds me of Dick Togo a bit with how explosive she is which is good company to be in. I hadn't heard Prazak call a match in a while and I didn't even recognize him at first. But by the end it was like hearing from an old friend.

JJZ: First thing I want to say is Mercedes Martinez is one of my favorite wrestling names ever. Since the first time I ever heard it, that name has stayed with me. It goes to show that a good wrestling name can matter in some ways. I always made a point to watch her when I could. Polished is a great word to use for Grace CJD. If you told me both women have been working the same amount of time I wouldn't think twice. This match is great. Strength VS experience. A super simple storyline executed perfectly with a hot crowd and a great finishing stretch. Very nice baby.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Hey I Know All About That

KENTA (c) VS Ricky Marvin - NOAH GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship 6/4/2009

CJD: I've had this match on DVD with the intention to play for you for about a decade now. If only King's Aark had been a thing back then! Knowing how religiously you follow their uploads I wouldn't be surprised if you've already seen it. But I will say I was glad to rewatch this match before deciding to play it forward. The overkill issues that plagued NOAH around this time stood out in my memory, and they're still there. But on rewatch I was blown away by what a great opponent Marvin was for KENTA and how many unique transitions and exchanges he got out of him. This is years removed from when Ricky elevated the entire junior division but he still has plenty left to give here. And as the Ace of the division KENTA is no slouch either, a very worthy second 2x MDTSOCWWKD Champion indeed. I had a big ass smile plastered on my face a few times by the end of this match and I hope you do too.

JJZ: So I feel like a negative aspect of my wrestling viewing is that I go to the same well too much. Or to say it in a more positive way, I'm too loyal to certain wrestlers or promotions. Pro Wrestling NOAH and KENTA fall right into that. I know you are playing this match forward to me but you know the smile this match put on my face. The "Still the Best" t-shirt Marvin is wearing makes me think he is talking directly to you because around 2005-2007 you always said Ricky Marvin was the best junior in the world. I always thought of him as a Chris guy along side Tiger Mask IV and James Gibson. Right off the bat that dive into the crowd onto KENTA says you were right Chris. Ricky is coming out the gate with something to prove to the blue chipper. I understand that the KENTA of today is a shadow of himself but his run in NOAH was so goddamn good he has earned the respect of the wrestling world until he hangs it up. To respond to your statement this match is new to me. Probably because I assumed we watched it together at 1:30 AM while eating pizza and discussing why Homicide was selling the wrong hand in that Danielson match. I still say it should have been the left hand not the right. But I'll agree that the transitions in this match are fantastic. Halfway through it's reminding me of the Otani/Nakamura match you showed me where Otani was overwhelming Nakamura knowing how big the spot he was in was. Marvin is wrestling like this is his last match. While KENTA is trying to catch up and match Ricky's intensity. The sleeper spot midway in is great psychology to drain KENTA and to keep the momentum for Marvin. This match was amazing Chris. In a time in wrestling with all the empty areas and shitty allegations this match was a joy to watch. It made me very happy. Thank you.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Kenzie Paige VS Jordynne Grace

JJZ: Off the top of my head I don't recall seeing anything for this promotion before. I've been in a real indy mood lately so this match is hitting the spot. Judging by the crowd reaction to Kenzie I wouldn't be surprised if this was her home company. I've become a fan of Grace over the years. The powerhouse heel is a role she takes to quite well. Paige's fire is lit from the bell and it literally brings the crowd out of their seats. The start of the match lays a nice baseline for the eventual fantastic home stretch. I really enjoyed getting familiar with Kenzie the past two weeks. I honestly see big things for her in wrestling. Excited so see what you bring back with Jordynne Grace next week.

CJD: I remember on an episode of the Card Is Going To Change the topic of the student draw came up. Basically how when you're a teenager bringing out friends and family you can't count on that for long, but also not to discount it either. Not every greenhorn can convince a bunch of friends and family to come spend money to watch them perform. As someone who had to do this a lot as a kid in bands growing up this resonated with me, and I respect this rabid crowd Paige has brought out here. Speaking of the extra research that has been going into Forever Forward Fridays, I can't even find the date or promotion this took place in. I'd guess it to be a bit earlier in Kenzie's very young career than last week's match and she improved in leaps and bounds between the two if so. Grace is a terrific touring heel here, making the hometown babyface look like a world beater in front of her people. This had a really indie charm like you mentioned and felt like I was watching a senior project in high school as much as a wrestling match. In an endearing way. And I haven't seen a ton of Grace so I'm also looking forward to digging deeper into her career!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

You'll Never Be Revolution

Genichiro Tenryu VS KENTA - NOAH Autumn Navigation 10/8/2005 Day 1

JJZ: To quote Ron Swanson. I know what I'm about son. And I'm all about stiff ass wrestling from Japan. The world is still upside down so I just picked something that I wanted to see. So KENTA is the second two-time MDTSOCWWKD Champion and #1 in my heart. I love this man. One of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Stiffer than a 16 year old on prom night VS a grumpy old vet on viagra right here. Tenryu is wrestling like he is annoyed at his little brother while KENTA is striking like he is trying to murder him for years of torment. Tenryu's punches are a nice little FU to KENTA. Even though Tenryu isn't selling the slaps KENTA is getting his receipts. In the end it plays out like you expect. It's what you want. It's what you need. Love my puro. Love you CJD.

CJD: Love you right back. You're speaking my language with this match. I drove 13 hours with a 7 month old in the car and I got in, cracked a beer and put this on. I've read rumors before that Tenryu got a penis implant so 55 year old on viagra sounds about right. I talked a lot about Hogan last week, but I'd much rather talk about Tenryu. I didn't learn to appreciate him until about this era of his career, when his surly old man routine meant I could totally ignore his sometimes awkward style. Which is strange because I got other ex-sumo guys, but it took a while for Tenryu to click for me. My loss, and I'm glad I eventually realized it. Tenryu brings a big match feel like few others can. He works a crowd like few others can. And case in point, he worked me thinking he was going to eat KENTA alive in this one. It's definitely not 50/50, but between the beautiful ragdoll selling, Tenryu's relentless beating, and some expertly timed comebacks, this match took me on a journey that arrived at a destination that left me very satisfied.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Mason-Dixon Tri-state Outercontinental WWKD Champions #111-120

It's been a bit longer than usual since our last recap, and it's been a tumultuous few months to say the least. The Mason-Dixon posts became less of a focus for a while but we still had some great wrestling nestled away in there. In particular some hidden gems from eras gone by featuring some childhood favorites. Let's let JJZ break it down for us.

111. Big Van Vader
Starting off big, literally. Vader's runs in Japan were so good. Especially the earlier years. Japan always brought out his stiffest and most monstrous work.

112. Tatsumi Fujinami
113. Dynamite Kid

Both of these title runs showcased their depth as workers with heavyweight and junior heavyweight matches. Matches that would be stand outs in any wrestler's career.

114. Davey Boy Smith
115. Bret "The Hitman" Hart
116. "Mr Perfect" Curt Hennig
117. Tito Santana

This is young JJZ wrestling fandom at its core. I could watch any combination of these four all day. Being able to experience these four back to back (to back to back) like that highlighted the attention to detail wrestling had in the late 80s and early 90s.

118. Rick Martel
119. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
120. "Mr Wonderful" Paul Orndorff

The last three champions were a fest of hidden gems. They all featured wrestlers that I normally don't go out of my way to watch. Plus these matches weren't on any high profile shows. Every time I watch Portland it's like a treasure chest waiting to be dug up.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Forever Forward Friday

Dani Jordyn VS Kenzie Paige - SHW 11/1/2019

CJD: I watched a few SHW matches to find the Dani J match I'd answer with and I like what they're doing. I hope they come back strong after this all blows over because they were bringing in good hot crowds and giving them great action. This match is a perfect example, as action packed is exactly how I'd describe it. I watched other Jordyn performances that showcased what a terrific heel she is a bit better. I especially love how she knows when to slow a match down and what a vicious streak she has. And that's where this match shines, as Kenzie Paige matches every bit of that viciousness and ups the ante at times. She's crazy good for how young she is, a total believable ass kicker babyface. Both these girls are in AEW now but they were both totally new to me a week ago. Keeping things moving Forever Forward has required a bit more research but I'm loving what we're finding.

JJZ: Love the video quality. Right off the top I just want to say this match was so good. There were no real loser in this since both women made the other woman look better when the match was over. The heel/babyface dynamic was shining through the entire match. The crowd was pulling so hard for the youthful Kenzie while also hating Dani J. I loved Kenzie picking up the tempo then Dani bringing it back down. It played right into the finish which was great and made perfect sense with the pace of the match.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Idea Of Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan VS Genichiro Tenryu - SWS SuperWrestle In Tokyo Dome 12/12/1991

CJD: I don't remember if as a kid I liked the idea of Hulk Hogan. As you know my first pro wrestling memory was the Mega Powers VS the Mega Bucks and Hogan is the least of that memory. I did enjoy watching his feud with Savage because it was a story that felt very real to me as a kid and I thought it was neat that someone was seemingly equally powerful as Hulkamania. Years later I loved when Ultimate Warrior beat him. And that's about all I remember about Hulk Hogan as a kid. But I was a weird kid. I loved Max Moon and High Energy and loved to hate Repo Man and Papa Shango. I probably wasn't their target audience.

As a "smart" teenage fan in the 90s I agreed with court of opinion that Hogan was the worst. Shit worker, held everyone down, total asshole. Then in my early 20s I thought, hey, Hogan was fine for what he was. Now it's 2020 and public opinion has shifted a lot since the mid 2000s and with good reason! But if there's one thing Hogan's racist creepy ass has going for him, I don't think your average fan considers him to be as shitty at the actual act of pro wrestling as they used to. Right? Right?? Ah fuck him either way.

ANYWAY, even if you don't think Hogan was the shits, and even if you've seen some Hogan in Japan working a more technical style, this match will still knock you on your ass first time around. By the end I think it's more of a spectacle than a great match, but what a spectacle it is. I knew a little bit about SWS before watching this but read up more after and what a glorious trainwreck it sounded like it was. Thankfully it lasted long enough and had deep enough pockets to produce this once in a lifetime encounter. I used to wonder why Tenryu would pop up in WWF from time to time. Now I'm wondering why he never had a run in New York!

JJZ: When I saw you played this match forward my first thought was Hogan can't half ass this match. And right from the start his moveset is different and his strikes are harder. I believe Tenryu would have made him pay if they weren't. Hogan's demeanor is so different in this match than any other I have seen before. Tenryu looks like he doesn't give any fucks who Hulk Hogan is and I even thought he was gonna drop the Hulkster on his head with that powerbomb. I was impressed with how giving Hogan was in this match. I don't want to give anything away but I was shocked at the things Hulk let Tenryu get away with. This was a really good match with a hot ass crowd. I thought the offense was 50/50 and both guys came out looking good.