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.