Friday, December 31, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I've learned something from our FFFriday research finding matches to play forward. Indie wrestlers who come up through remote local scenes who have to travel far to branch out are at such a disadvantage in so many regards. So here we have one of the local stars of the Ontario scene that has broken out and one who is in the process of doing so. I watched a good amount of other Nicole matches but this one popped for me in a way the others didn't, even though it's short and simple and sweet. Very reminiscent of the RSP VS Heidi Lovelace match we featured on a Friday past. Uno is a wonderful shithead heel and Alexia keeps me rooting for her from beginning to end. I also love the vibe of the brewery venue and getting a feel for the modern Canadian scene a little bit. This wasn't my first second or even third choice this week, but I am happy with where the journey landed.

JJZ: This was a super fun 7 minute sprint that felt more like 12 to 15 imo. The storytelling was nice and I loved the hand biting call back to earlier in the match. Uno obviously had the size advantage but it wasn't the main story which I loved because usually intergender matches focus so much on that. The true indy aspect is so enjoyable for me. Bright ass overhead lights, small crowd with tons of energy. Who wouldn't like this match?? Nice pick baby cakes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Worst. Kawada Match. Ever.

JJZ: This match is fascinating to me. It was nothing that I expected to be honest. I mean it is stiff and I did expect that. This is the earliest Takayma that I can remember watching. They work this like a UWF match and to my memory I don't remember AJPW ever doing this before or after. I'm sure after watching this they must have done this at least a few times but I dunno. I realized half way through I need to adjust my expectations of what this match is. I could tell they wanted to get Takayama over. He really manhandled Kawada at times. The crowd erupted when Kawada was getting his shit in. I found this to be a true hidden gem and a great watch.

CJD: I said last week's fancam was a fascinating watch and I'd agree with your assessment this match was too. Want to know something funny about this match? Meltzer was a Tak hater at the time and called this the worst Kawada singles match he'd ever seen! This was a match that definitely messed with expectations and made you reconsider what you were going to see, and I can see opinions being all over the place because of it. I thought it was very entertaining although not especially good, if that makes sense? That probably sounds harsh but I did love it at times. I just thought they were building a promise they never fully delivered. You could see Kawada putting together a strategy to try to take down this monster. Is he trying to rope a dope him?? Bring him down to his size on the mat?? A flash KO or submission? I kept asking myself these questions but in the end I don't think we ever really got the answer. Still it was fun to watch them tell a different kind of story for this time in AJPW even if the execution was short of what someone like Tak's cornerman Gary Albright was able to do as a similar dance partner for Kawada. I think the more we watch it was safe to say Takayama was great by 1999. He's well on his way here, and I like watching him develop while watching Dangerous K work outside of his wheelhouse. I can see why you were chomping at the bit to get me to watch this one, there's a lot to unpack!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Japanese Bulldog

CJD: What a joy to watch a match like this from the fan's perspective, really capturing that live atmosphere and giving you an idea what it was like to be there for a smaller AJPW show in 1992. This was uncovered by the guys over at Segunda Caida for their New Footage Friday feature which is something I will gladly plug that everyone should be checking in on from time to time. This match was fascinating, it had some moments that soured me on it a little here and there, but overall what a fantastic performance from Kikuchi and Kroffat. The camera work isn't perfect but can you imagine the camera that this guy had to sneak in and discretely function to pull this off in Japan in 1992?! I loved Kikuchi's physical energy and body language, he looked like he was about to burst the entire match. His timing and sense of how to build the finish gave me a whole knew respect for him. I'm debating if he makes my Greatest Wrestler Ever ballot and I need to figure out where he disappeared to on the card from 1995-2000 because early 90s and early 2000s Kikuchi is an open and shut case. And Kroffat's greatness here is self explanatory, he just gets it, he's so on every moment he's involved. I thought Furnas and Kawada were more along for the ride honestly but they both had their moments and overall I loved getting the chance to be a fly on the wall for this previously heavily clipped match.

JJZ: Well, Kikuchi has had his ass handed to him for two straight weeks now. That was a beat down to say the least. They made you want that hot tag so bad just so Kikuchi could get a breather! This jawn was stiff baby cakes, man did I find myself saying "ssssshitttt." Everyone does their job well in this match but let's cut the shit, Kikuchi was the star. Ricky Morton level selling. The fan cam aspect added a lot because I felt like I wasn't supposed to be seeing this assault. The Doug and Dan are a great time. I honestly forget about them a lot, they bring so much physicality and edge to their matches. It's crazy to think that Kawada was the smallest part of the match. But he is Kawada and watching him kick the shit out of people is always fun too.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Kris Statlander VS Alexia Nicole - Greektown Wrestling 1/29/2019

JJZ: Greek Wrestling is a new promotion for us no? So I'm going to point out the only thing about this match I didn't like and move past it. It felt like they started wrestling like it had been going on for 5 minutes already if that makes sense. Besides that I loved it. Im green as goose shit when it comes to Nicole, I've never seen her before that I can recall but she seems to have a lot of experience under her belt. This venue was fantasic. The crowd was so into everything and you got a true sense of indy proud in what was happening in that building. Loved the movesets and execution. Liked the finish and would love to see more of these ladies working together.

CJD: I'm also totally new to Alexia Nicole and I left this match a big fan. I really liked how she took it to Statlander here, never backing down, making her comebacks count for all they were worth. And I know Alexia is on the smaller side but hot damn is Kris freaky strong. Some of the stuff she can do blows me away. One point I'll disagree on is the structure of the match. I really liked it beginning to end. I thought they opened it hot and hooked the crowd immediately without hot shotting the match. The finish and the booking I'll agree were simple and so good. Everything about this match had my attention. It had a great balance of that unique indie vibe but with plenty of polish and technique in the execution. Good stuff!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

She Used My Head Like An Exploder

JJZ: This match has all sorts of familiar feels to it so I wouldn't be surprised if you showed me this bad boy before. This was 2006, seeing Akiyama in the blue tights is awesome. Curious the backstory of this one? Doing a quick search didn't provide any answers. They really laid into each here. I expect a Kikuchi beatdown so I wasn't surprised by the match psychology. Love love love NOAH strong style. I watched this match like a little kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. Hope you enjoy my friend.

CJD: Seek knowledge and you shall receive my friend! This match was a month after Jun lost the GHC Heavyweight Title and was wearing his old trunks and working the undercard to make good on a deal with Kikuchi. So this match was the culmination of a small redemption storyline where he was proving himself to his old friend. I fucking love Jun Akiyama. This is just a small example of how he puts so many narrative touches into his career. And into his matches, where he constantly finds ways to challenge the audience's expectations. I bought on so many little moments of this match for example that would be throwaway spots for 99% of wrestlers. Kikuchi was such a game opponent and I was right there with you sitting cross legged Saturday morning with a bowl of Golden Grahams in my lap. Oh and by the way I loved this match if you couldn't tell!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Thunder Rosa VS Kris Statlander - Sabotage Wrestling 5/29/2019

CJD: Two big personalities here having some fun with each other early and then laying some serious hurt in late. Kris Stat is one of a handful of women who I've seen keep Rosa on her heels for this much of a match and I really enjoyed the change of pace. Yet another Forever Forward tiny indie I don't think I've ever seen before running in a most interesting venue. The crowd left me wanting more for what these ladies were doing, a lot of background chatter. But nothing about their performances left me wanting. I'm happy to make Statlander a 2x FFF Champion, I'm becoming a big fan of her's and can't wait to see what you come back with.

JJZ: This match was really good. Probably the earliest I've seen from both women which added a rawness to it. Quick side note that I loved the venue. Anyway, the talent in this match was huge. Both women showed the potential of what they would become in wrestling. I believe we had a solid 50/50 booking with a nice finish. Because of AEW I've seen a lot of Thunder Rosa, but after her two matches we've watched here I'm an even bigger fan. She is a 5 tool wrestler. She has it all and I'd put her in my top ten women in the world right now. Not taking anything away from Kris because I'm stoked to watch a few more of her matches ASAP!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

No Fear, Fear Doesn't Live Here Anymore

CJD: I had so many directions to go playing a match forward this week. I watched some SUWA. I watched some Rikio. Nothing bad but nothing that was an open and shut case. Then I found this match and said "oh my." And I watched it, and it's simple, and it's not perfect, but for a match you've never heard of between these two legends, pre "great" Takyama, this is pretty fantastic. Exactly what this match should accomplish at this point in their careers and then some. Akiyama looks so fully realized at this point that it's strange he was so up and down throughout his NOAH career a few years later. But as for AJPW, we say it's the gift that keeps giving, and even in 2000, behold yet another gift.

JJZ: Fuck you for saying this match isn't perfect. For what they were going for with the talent they got it was perfect. All the big Japanese promotions of today could learn a shit ton from this match. Two pegged future stars that produce a stiff as hell psychology based match in under 15 minutes? I love NJPW but I think they are not aware a match doesn't have to be 25 plus minutes. Let's talk finish. Damn boy. You see that coming? I didn't. Totally surprised me. And jesus, how the hell do we keep finding these amazing matches from pre-NOAH AJPW. Now I get to go watch a bunch of Takayama matches!!!! (editor's note: he means Akiyama)

Friday, December 3, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: So I cannot recall if I've ever watched Warrior Wrestling before but I liked it. This match had such a different feel to it than most matches. I'm assuming it was the way it was filmed (which I Ioved) and the audio added so much. We've watched plenty of matches without commentary before so that wasn't new but I think it did add to the match. I really enjoy both these wrestlers. Thunder is a bright shooting star right now that I can't get enough of. Kylie I give so much credit to for taking such a bubblegum gimmick and making it still feel like a wrestler you can't take lightly at all. The match itself tells a complete story with ups and downs, nice falsies and an unexpected finish. But man the feel of this match was awesome.

CJD: Our good buddy Shaun "the Jawn" played us some Warrior Wrestling previously, but this was definitely a more cinematic approach than I remember from them. I really liked the presentation! And the work from these two women was great as well. Both played for sympathy at various points and both were effective at it. Although this was a decidedly pro Rosa crowd. Even if she ate their fast food (in the middle of a pandemic! She's hardcore!) right out of their bags. I especially liked in this match how little separation there was, how any time they had a big move or strike it required such visible effort. Both women were very comfortable trying to tie the other up and it made for an engaging back and forth. The ending was a little abrupt but I liked that it kept us on our toes. And damn can Thunder Rosa throw some heavy hands!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

I Would Rather Die On My Shield

JJZ: I had a really good KENTA VS Rocky Romero match lined up to play forward but I knew I had this to watch still. And I know we both have a super soft spot for mid 2000s NOAH. One thing i hate about Japanese wrestling today is that 6 man matches with top talent are a night off basically. I loved that 2000s NOAH there were no nights off. Now, I really have no fucking clue what happened with SUWA turning on his team. My guess is he was feuding with KENTA at the time and just wanted to get the pin on him and said fuck these guys I want to get the W. Yes Chris this match is a little weird. But damn it was entertaining. I wasn't even mad when SUWA went rogue. I literally laughed out loud. Shit was stiff and even had some gaga. Hope you're not disappointed by this one. My take away was that even in a match like this all 6 guys were laying shit in.

CJD: SUWA's retirement match! I love this match! You did too when I played it for you decades back! So yeah that's the reason for SUWA's ultimate "die on your shield" moment to close things out. It's honestly beautiful for such a heel like him, the perfect way to say fuck the world and go out doing what you love. I was honestly surprised by how small this match felt watching it back all these years later otherwise for such a big moment. But SUWA was one of those guys that never fit in perfectly anywhere and would probably have the twice as prolific of a career now than he did in his era. And I get your point about NOAH 6 man matches, they were a vibe, and no natter how bland they looked on paper you had to watch in case Naoki Sano or someone described to just flip out. Speaking of which I fully expected to be pleasantly surprised by Rikio in this, as I often am when I go back and rewatch him these days, but this was not one of those relevatory performances. This was very much the Rikio that made us livid he ended one of the great title reigns of all-time. But everyone came to play and gave my main man Judo Suwa the send off he deserved. I was more than happy to revisit this one.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Kylie Rae (c) VS Britt Baker - Zelo Pro Women's Championship 4/28/2019

CJD: Alright Zelo Pro, I have some questions. Why does your Champion in a main event title defense not have a belt. Why does your live commentary sound like it was dubbed over the video with a ghetto blaster after the fact. Why does your commentator have the worst seat in the house based on how often he miscalls the action. Why does he talk so much while saying so little. Why why why. With that out of the way. Thank you for booking this great match and putting it up for free on the internet for our enjoyment!! This was interesting in that it was an indie main event that was worked more like the match the closed the first hour of Nitro or opened the second. Which I liked about it. Up-tempo, fun, with some substance to it with Britt working the ribs and bringing her nastier side to Kylie's bubble gum pop Saturday morning cartoon energy. A lot of the work in this match was really tight and smooth but you had to focus on it as much as possible to stop the booming commentator audio track from distracting you. This is the type of match that made me want a trilogy from these two ladies touring different promotions. After our long long joshi journey we're definitely getting back to the Forever Forward Friday roots with this one.

JJZ: The only negative thing I can say is that I hate when the commentator is louder than the crowd. I hate it! But that doesn't have anything to do with the work in the match itself. While watching this I found myself thinking how much better the quailty of women's wreslting is in today's independent wrestling scene. And I thought that not because this is a five star classic but because this is just a good solid story-driven match. And CJD please correct me if you think I'm wrong but when we were going to shows all the time the women's matches (if any were on the card) were short and usually pretty weak. Fast forward 14 years and I love that we can have matches like this. Britt and Kylie tell a story in this 15 minute match that I really enjoyed. What I liked the most was the polish on both the wrestlers. So many little things that made me realize how good these ladies are. And the finish was excellent. Nice pick baby.

CJD: I think a lot of it was opportunity to build the audience and get the experience. SHIMMER paved the way. Promotions like IWAMS, for all the shit you can say about them, booked a substantial women's division at times too. But ROH in the mid 2000s, not so much. A lot of those ladies were capable of much better, but were not put in a position to do so on those shows we were going to. It really can't be understated the impact SHIMMER had on modern indie wrestling. Glad you dug this match, I'm excited to watch more Kylie, I'm still way too green on her!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Get Rich Or Die Hard Trying

CJD: First of all this is the first upload we've shared from Jahmale Hepburn, aka RealHero, since he passed away in August. RIP to a member of our community who helped make major strides bringing puro to the rest of the world. Second, I'm sure after you gave me the options to play Gulak, Busick, or Edwards, the last thing you expected was for me to make Eddie a 2x MDTSOCWWKD Champion. But here we are! I was really in the mood to watch some NOAH so this was an easy choice, and this wasn't the only match of his I watched. Edwards definitely had more quality output in Japan than I give him credit for. This match is interesting to me, because clearly KENTA is on a higher level, but it's really built around getting Edwards over. Part of me wondered if KENTA was maybe a little too giving overall? He certainly enjoys messing around with Eddie (wow that hair is a look!) and this match in general has a nasty edge but a fun energy to it that make it a really easy watch. And it looks like they had a rematch the next year for the GHC Junior title which I've never seen but now I'm really curious to. Here's hoping this match puts a big smile on your face.

JJZ: First off, I'm pretty shocked at how 50/50 this booking was. Also at how the match played out. Mid 2000s NOAH junior heavyweight matches usually were shot out of a cannon. This played more like a late 2010 NOAH juniors match. Deliberate pacing, a lot of build to bigger moves. Now I'm not saying any of that is bad. I was just taken by surprise. I really enjoyed this little gemeroni. I don't recall ever seeing Eddie in NOAH at this time. Now I did know he was there. You can see him second Kobashi at that insane match with Kensuke. Anyway. This was a treat, and that Go 2 Sleep at the end was fucking brutal. Nice find my friend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Sick Days

Hey all you rudos and tecnicos, the Fan-Cam Connection has been under the weather the past few weeks. We're going to take a week to recoup a bit and come back strong for the holidays with an under the radar NOAH gem and the most indie match we've featured on a Friday in quite some time! See you then.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Is it just me or are almost all women's matches on the independents 12 minutes and under? I love Baszler. I was hoping to find a 20-25 minute match so I could watch her go to work. But at least I was able to watch this match with Britt Baker. I have become a huge fan of Britt during her AEW run so I'm stoked to watch some of her indy work. Just from the match you can tell Shayna has the experience and Britt isn't yet what she will become. For 10 minutes they did a pretty good job of telling a story in a short window. Being perfectly honest, I did want more from this match but I understand I went into watching it with higher expectations than I should have. Judging it for what it was trying to be I think they accomplished what they planned. A couple of holy shit moments took me by surprise. I always heard about the AIW all women's shows and looking at their roster back then I think there would be a ton of hidden gems on those. Hope you enjoy baby.

CJD: I really appreciated the crash course on commentary of the AIW Women's Championship as it's an area I'm pretty uneducated. Sometimes I refer to matches as 3 Act plays, this was more like 2 Acts. Baszler's beatdown, Britt's comeback. There's nothing wrong with that and what we got was very good. Britt is a terrific babyface, I bought everything she did and rooted for her big time even though I'm a Shayna mark. I always forget Shayna is of mixed German and Chinese ancestry until I look up her Wikipedia. What a fascinating combo! This was a lot of fun, I agree that I'd love to see them go a half hour now, but for where both ladies were at at the time this felt about right.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Forever Forward Champions #41-50

2021 was an interesting year for Play It Forward on a lot of fronts, but none more than the twists and turns Fridays took us on. Let's take a look at the jumping off point for one of the most fascinating runs me and JJZ ever went on.

41. Kay Lee Ray
42. Meiko Satomura
So I guess this is where the Joshi Journey began. Kay Lee had a really fun match featured VS rival Toni Storm, then an absolute banger from EVE VS Satomura. Seriously one of my favorite matches we've ever featured, go watch it right now!! And from there, all hell broke loose...

43. Azumi Hyuga
44. Hikari Fukuoka
Getting into some wrestlers that might not be household joshi names but probably should be, especially in Hyuga's case. But the next names need no introduction.

45. Cuty Suzuki
46. Mayumi Ozaki
47. Akira Hokuto
48. Devil Masami
Some absolute classics here, although we got into some interesting matches of these joshi giants along the way. Off the beaten path, if you will, but not as much so as the detour we were about to take would put us on. It was also great to bring our good buddy Phil along for the ride on some of these matches.

49. Jumping Bomb Angels
50. Lelani Kai
It started innocently enough, with the classic JBA/Glamour Girls rivalry. But that followed Lelani Kai back to the US for an absolutely show-stealing match in WWF teaming with Despina Montagas (who I just learned is married to Tarzan Goto?!?!) against Velvet McIntyre & Princess Victoria. From there we went down a rabbit hole indeed. Tune in for the next recap to find out more!!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Sometimes I like diving into matches that have historical significance more  than I care about match quality. This is one of those times. I was trying to avoid WWE since they won't let us give them free publicity on Instagram and they're clearly a terrible company but my options were limited. My opinion of this as a match would fall firmly in the "Good" category. But for Baszler's time on top of NXT's women's division, which I really enjoyed, I thought it was an awesome moment. When she transitioned from pure ass-kicker to boss god with minions doing her bidding, I'm sure some people got sick of it. It wasn't the best. But after a GOAT contender in ASUKA, in a very difficult position, I thought Shayna did a great job as the Ace (or Spade) of the division. Rhea was awesome here as well. I'm glad to have had an excuse to finally sit down to this match because I feel it was a bit lost to time otherwise.

JJZ: I've always wanted to see this. I loved Shanya's second title run. She was such a dominant champion and Rhea is such a believable threat even knowing the little that I do about this feud. I'll agree this match is just good but that doesn't take away the huge feel of it. The urgency that Ripley and Baszler wrestle with in the second half of the match came through the screen. The crowd pop when Rhea grabbed the ref's shirt to prevent her hand going down was awesome. Loved the home stretch. Wish I didn't know who won because everything played out great.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Roderick Stronger

JJZ: As you know CJD, I have certain feuds that I truly love and don't rush watching all the matches because I want to enjoy them as they come to me. Point in case. Biff Busick and Eddie Edwards' feud from Beyond Wrestling. I could easily buy the DVD from Smart Mark and burn through all their matches. But I haven't yet so when I'm searching for a Roddy match and I see Dojo Bros vs Biff/Drew, I was a 5 five year old on Christmas morning. Chris. I was fucking giddy when I added this match to my watchlist. So here we got Eddie bringing in his PWG partner Rodderick Strong and Biff brought in his friend/rival Gulak. Side note, I know Eddie's more popular tag team partner was Davey Richards in the American Wolves but I always thought his partnership with Strong was the better team. So I know I'm supposed to be playing a Strong match forward and this feels more like a Biff or Eddie match but Roddy still shines bright like a Diamond in a mine in this one. With the names in this match you know it's gonna be stiff, aggressive and technically sound. Which we got in spades. This was a great match that added to the amazing feud between Biff and Eddie and I love that both Drew and Roddy worked it like they would do whatever it would take to help their partner win it.

CJD: There's a lot to this match and it made me feel a lot of feelings. At its best moments it reminded me of an early 90s All Asia Tag Title match with Kobashi & Kikuchi, character driven, hierarchy based, pure octane fun times. At other times I thought it was a bit of a bit of cluster, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. But it never came even close to taking me out of it. Basically this is a really ambitious match that loses its way a bit here and there, but it hits way way more than it misses. Gulak is the odd man out in story, in the psychology of the match, but also is hesitant at times and maybe plays the unfamiliar partner/teaming rival card a little too often. It works and boy does Biff's star shine bright as a result but I didn't think this was a great Gulak performance, which surprised me. His style isn't perfect for this kind of match but I know just a few years later he'd find much better ways to slot himself in it. Side note I did love Chuck Taylor's reaction to everything he did. The Dojo Bros were great in their role and I give Beyond a ton of credit for making this Eddie/Biff rivalry feel so monumental. This is a match I'd love to revisit down the line so despite any criticisms I might have, for a match this long that's a big stamp of approval.

Thinking about it more, I want to add that I did love the way Gulak wrestled in the home stretch, and this finish was big time rewind material. I guess all I'm trying to say is this was a really good match???

JJZ: Glad you liked it. I didnt think it was a classic but a good chapter in a great story.

CJD: That's the perfect way to describe it.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: So this is a shotgun of a match. Comes at you fast and doesn't slow down. Very much a who's the baddest motherfucker in the room kinda match. I don't know if hoss is used in women's wreslting but this is a hoss battle in every way. Just two big beefy broads laying into each other. Ain't nuthin' text book about this one. Great television match. Hope you like it.

CJD: I've been lamenting how I don't have the time to watch full events or even TV shows anymore and how I miss those undercard, feud building kinda matches. So this one really scratched that itch for me right now. I think these are two really talented women. This isn't the easiest type of match to pull off and they do a great job of it here. WWE loves booking these kind of feuds of "who can say they're the baddest" without a clear way out for the loser, but these two kept their aura working with each other without doing anything cheap to do so. This was a real palate cleanser as we finally close the book on our most epic 6 month Joshi Journey... at least for now!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Early Bird Gets The Worm

CJD: I don't think this match would make a top 10 for either guy. But man I'm just digging some straight forward, fundamentally sound wrestling right now, and this hits all the right notes. I'm a Rod Strong mark and I still think I underrate the guy when I see under the radar goodness like this that I know his career is chock full of. From the moment he went into the crowd to stir shit up you could feel that he was going to take the wheel and make young Will's job real simple. This is the kind of match that if you never saw either guy, even if you were only the most casual of fans, the work they did would communicate everything you needed. In some ways it reminds me of matches we dug into in our early days here at PIF, which is fitting because Roddy was one of the earliest MDTSOCWWKD Champions!

JJZ: Baby boy of a wrestler. Billy Ospreay looking like he skipped 7th period to make it to the show on time. Watching the rawness of him in this match knowing that he reached his potential makes it even more entertaining to me. Shitty little boots Roderick Strong is hands down my favorite version. Now this match really embodies both the guys strengths at the time of this match. Strong is just mean bringing some serious heel heat while Will counters with his explosive high flying wildness. Just a really good match overall. Loved loved loved the fuck you power bomb Rod gave Will. Loved the finish. Lotta goodness in this one.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Let's be honest about a few things here. This crowd is there to witness Aja Kong live more than they are to see a great Aja Kong match. And I'm picking this match to play forward to you as much because it's the perfect end to our Joshi Journey that started back in April with the match that happened right before this one on this very show, Meiko Satomura VS Kay Lee Ray. Now whether or not this will be the end of our epic 2021 journey, you will have to decide! Because Viper had a pretty storied career in Japan as well as far as I understand.

Now I will say, this match is really solid despite Aja's limitations. Piper/Viper approaches it with all the respect in the world and makes Kong look fantastic. They get a lot out of not doing too much, which is key to aging gracefully as a performer. In some ways this match reminded me of a match we played forward years back, Sabu VS Arik Cannon, and similarly to when I finished watching that one, I was really satisfied by what these two excellent pro wrestlers did in the ring. Regardless of nostalgia or the respect being paid, I thought this was a good match. Night and day from the madness you brought to me last week, and certainly a far cry from prime Aja Kong. But sometimes something simple and satisfying is all you need.

JJZ: So when I got halfway through this match I'm thinking to myself, how the hell am I not going to sound negative with my comments about this one. Then about the 8 minute mark, these women, fueled by a white hot crowd, really hit their stride. This wasn't groundbreaking or anything. It was just moves being executed well and the crowd popping like crazy for it. You are dead ass right. These people were there to see Aja Kong and they wanted her to know it. These tribute style matches usually underdeliver for me because you're hoping for a glimmer of what the elder wrestler use to be. But like this crowd I was very happy to see Aja's hits and Niven did a really good job selling for them. Nice pick mi amigo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

This Is Heavy

JJZ: So before watching this match I watched the quarterfinals match between Kushida and ZSJ. I was so excited for that and thought it would be a lock for me to Play Forward. As soon as I saw it I was like "YES." Then I watched it and was like "naw." It really underdelivered in my opinion. So, I saw this and you know how much I love Ospreay, and I couldn't recall really seeing a big time Ospreay vs Kushida match before. This was the finals of the same tournament and I really enjoyed this one. These two complimented each other nicely. This was a pretty textbook build of a match. Nice technical work in the beginning. Back and forth middle and an exciting home stretch. Loved the finish. I've seen a few matches from this tournament now and really think it would be something to invest time in.

CJD: I have seen one of the big time Ospreay/KUSHIDA matches in NJPW and it was very good. And this was on a similar level! These guys do have nice chemistry. This particular match felt like more of Ospreay's brainchild and as such there were a few moments I thought he was trying to get a bit more melodramatic than it needed. BUT, at the same time, this crowd felt like they'd been through a lot, and maybe they needed a lot to hook them back in. They were definitely fully invested by the finish and what a finish it was. And for any criticisms I might have, they never lost me in the slightest, and this was a highly satisfying match beginning to end. 64 man tournament! God damn. One of the fantasy wrestling feds I used to be a part of back in the *Prodigy days did one of those but we kayfabed a bunch of early rounds like it was the IC Title in Rio de Janeiro. I have to assume WCPW actually held every one of these matches, and my hat's off to them and the talent for that.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Not gonna lie. I'm playing this forward mostly because I'm dying to hear your thoughts. One word can not describe this match so I'll use the following. Violent, crazy, annoying, stiff, heated, long, jaw-dropping. I mean there were times I was like what the fuck is happening why isn't this over. Then I was like holy shit. I could watch this all day! I think at least 7 times I said that should've been the finish, but then I loved the actual finish. I dunno man. Shit was crazy as fuck.

CJD: Well that was the damndest match I've seen in a while. I know LCO were built up as a monster team and they had to be to go to war with a mega power duo like Kong and Inoue like this. I will say I felt like Kong was kind of approaching this match with kids gloves for how personal and nasty it felt for the first half. Babyface Aja is not my favorite Aja. But then she busts out that fire extinguisher (which the commentators sell wonderfully!) and from that point on she's got her special up as our old friend Tommy B would say. I agree completely that this match felt like it hit its peak a few times over and kept going and going, but somehow it always got its heat back. And the actual finish was fucking beautiful. This was something else, at some point you're either just along for the ride or you're not. And I definitely was!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Dog's Jarmies

CJD: It's going to be hard for me to put my thoughts about this match into words. There's a lot of really great work here. KUSHIDA brings some of what I like best out of Gargano, his mean streak, his World Of Sport influence (without straight up stealing spots). They definitely got too cute for my tastes at times but the good stuff here had too much wow factor for me to skip sharing it with you. I've been wanting to catch up on some of KUSHIDA's work in NXT and even though I have no idea why he's dressed for a street fight, even though this is sterile piped-in audio pandemic production value hell, I still enjoyed seeing him do his thing with a very game opponent. I'm curious how you'll feel about this one.

JJZ: Well alright, I was very excited to sink my teeth into this. I miss watching Kushida first of all and I haven't watched very much if any NXT in the year 2021 so I'm very very hype on this. NXT really really made Johnny a better all around wrestler. He looks so polished in this match. Just smooth and confident. Now, I haven't watched a Kushida match in forever. I mean, I forgot his moveset. I was popping like a little kid on Christmas for his stuff. The arm work alone was a teachable moment for the young guys in the back. Pair that with John John's selling and your getting your money's worth with this match alone. Finishing sequence was so well done. I was pulling for Kushida the whole way. I got very invested in this one.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I tried to trace back where our Joshi Journey began and how long we've been on and off with it but it's had such a long winding road with so many twists and turns I couldn't pin it down. Suffice to say it's been the majority of 2021 and it's not exactly how I envisioned Forever Forward Fridays when I came up with the concept. There have been weeks when I really wanted to get back to the indies and to take a break from shrill screams and bridging out of pins. But there have been so many weeks where I've fallen in love with matches I might not have ever seen otherwise. And boy is this one of them! This is such an exciting, quintessentially pro wrestling dynamic. Colorful explosive babyface against world class badass. One wants to create separation and blow the match open, one wants to close in, lock in a hold like a bear trap, and squeeze the life out of the other. Sometimes I feel like 90s joshi gets overrated, then we find a match like this and I realize I still don't rate it highly enough.

JJZ: What the fuck. I should've played this last Saturday for the gang. This match was excellent. Had me saying "Oh shit!" a bunch. The loved the wildness of it and then you'd see some ridiculously wonderful submission that looked so fucking painful. I don't know if I can say they built to the finish because the energy level was at a ten from the start. BUT, I loved the home stretch of this one. The finish was perfect and I didn't see it coming. Very nice pick!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Dedicated To All Those With Big Egos

JJZ: So I can't remember which one but I saw a lot of highlights from this match on a documentary one time and I always wanted to watch the whole match. So here. we. go.

My first thoughts as I start the match is that I can't remember the last time I watched Gargano. I wasn't big on him before NXT to be honest. I'm sure there is a lot out there I'd probably be into. Now I do like Page a lot. I think he is underrated. He has above average mic work and I always enjoyed his offense. This match is a really well worked indy bout that has a nice build to the home stretch. I loved the Play It Forward veterans with the run ins. I also enjoyed the local indy storylines playing out in the match. Crowd was hot and Johnny is AIW royalty so I got a kick out of him watching him in his element.

CJD: I'll see your indifference to Gargano and raise you one better. I'm hot and cold on both of these guys! Which is ironic since I set you up with a Page match. But the North really blew me away as a team in that one. Still this match is an AIW booking masterpiece with some surprise appearances from underrated talents you alluded to that I was very happy to see. I think Page works better as a face and Gargano better as a heel... funny how that works out. I didn't love this match but it's a piece of Absolution history and there was plenty I enjoyed about it despite any criticisms. I think the biggest compliment I can give both wrestlers is that I felt like things weren't coming naturally that night in that boiling hot Turner's Hall and they both showed young veteran poise to push the match to something memorable and good by the end. I just needed sunglasses for all the daylight I was seeing on some of those punches!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started this match. I was looking for Bull matches and when I saw this I was like, WHAT. I never recalled seeing a chain match from Japan before. I fucking love Nakano but I'm still pretty green on Kandori. The best word to describe this contest is violent. I mean Chris, this is brutal. These ladies go at each other with bad intentions. If I didn't know any better I'd think this was a legit fight. It slightly reminds me of Valentine VS Piper in that there ain't too many holds or even moves. If I was in my twenties with no kids I'd rewatch this a few times. Hope you enjoy.

CJD: It was so cool seeing Bull go from a baby monster to a legit Ace last week to this week. Her realizing her full potential right before our eyes. I have this match, I think on a Schneider comp, and I've watched it a few times before. I'm more than happy to rewatch it again as even if you include the very different Touch The Corners strap matches, I still think you can count on one hand how many great matches of this style stip ever happened. And this is one of them. These are two masterful big match wrestlers having, as you said, a grizzly violent straight up fight. The momentum shifts are abrupt, the pace is deliberate, and the blood perfectly accents the hatred. This match never drags but it never changes gears, and I like that about it. So many little great moments outside the action too, the ref getting smacked with the chain, the fight to throw in the towel. This match really has it all and I would say is mandatory viewing for anyone with a passing interest in joshi or anyone that just loves a brutal gimmick match done to perfection.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Misawa Dick Togo Santo Tri-State OuterContinental WWKD Champions #151-160

We are so far behind on these that we could post Champs 161-170 immediately after if we wanted to. I'm not going to make my main man JJZ write another one up so soon but hopefully we're caught up a bit more in the coming months. Suffice to say the Summer of 2021 kicked the FanCam Connection's behinds! Bring on pumpkin spice everything!

151. Shane Strickland
There was a moment during this title run that I fell more in love with Mr Strickland. He is so goddamn good in these matches that I feel bad for not watching NXT.

152. Brody King
153. Tyler Bateman
154. B-Boy
155. Super Dragon (x2)

California love if I've ever seen it right here. These four blew my mind because I didn't realize the heated storied rivalries between so many of these guys. I came out really liking Brody, Tyler, and B-Boy more than I did going in. And I always love watching Super Dragon do his thing in the ring. Also second title run for Mr SD. Well deserved in my opinion.

156. Brian XL
157. Amazing Red

Hopping in a plane to the East Coast and right into my wheel house for some early 2000s independent goodness. 2001-2003 era highflyers are perfectly summed up in these match right here.

158. Jerry Lynn
This was an unexpected turn to say the least. But that's why we love Play It Forward. The shit you don't expect to see. Mr JL had a great showing playing two totally different roles in his matches.

159. Necro Butcher (x2)
Call him Butchie two times because this is his second title run and the second two time Champ in this group! Necro continued to show how crazy he is with these matches. Wouldn't be surprised if he becomes Butchie threepeat in the future.

160. LuFisto
Man oh man. Wait. Woman oh woman did we close out this group in a big way or what. Lufisto went all out in these matches, showing us shit I never thought I would see. She set the bar pretty high for women's deathmatches and big title defenses.

So we stayed in North America for this entire group plus had a major focus on the indies. Two second title reigns and one intergender match. Plus got two double crown Champions in Strickland and LuFisto! Really enjoyed this group.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: So I'm clearly doing something different with this match, closer to what you did way back with Takayama/Shibata than even your 5 minute Odyssey Jones match. This reminds me of what a lot of the Cena/Wyatt feud was trying to accomplish only more effective in 25% of the time. Established Warrior VS Young Monster and definitely a match that's building to something greater but I loved it for what it was. This was a fight for survival and an exercise in how to reconstruct expectations in pro wrestling but still deliver something satisfying. I also thought this was a nice payoff after the constant hijinks in my Yokota/Galactica match going unchecked... this is out of control but there are checks and balances.

JJZ: I haven't even started the match yet but I want more already. For fucks sake. The crowd is about to boil over. This might be the smallest I've ever seen Bull. Fuck man. I literally am getting chills just with the intros. There are so many little things that Bull does that I love. Like why did she elbow Asuka in the lower back when she couldn't get her up when everyone else just punches. Lioness is showing great heart in this match. I would love to see the rematch man. This was wild. In a lot of ways it reminded me of the Stan Hansen Terry Funk match you showed me before. I know you've shown me a lot Hansen/Funk stuff but I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about. I love this. I love you. I love wrestling.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Idea For King Of Trios Team: Wesley Blake/Blake Christian/Christian Cage

CJD: Josh Alexander is one of those really prominent names that I'm almost certain I've never seen before. The North were getting a lot of buzz before Page jumped to AEW and watching this match it's clear why. Blake Christian (now Trey Baxter) is a damn good face in peril here, and Alex Zayne is about the most 2002 wrestler on the indies so you must love him, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say what works in this match is like 75% the North running shit. They're really excellent here in a match that didn't need to be anywhere near as good as it was in the two spot on a 2020 indie show.

JJZ: I'm kinda shocked and then again not really surprised you've never seen Josh Alexander before. Him and All Ego have been partners for years but he never really stood out to me when I've watched him. I like Ethan ok but Zayne and Christian I have only a few matches under my belt. I wasn't expecting a ton with this match on paper then I saw the crowd and that it was an early show and I was super curious how this would go. Lots of credit to all four guys for saying fuck it and just go out and kill it. And for what the crowd was they gave good energy. There was some very innovative offense and extremely smooth transitions. I think all four of the wrestlers over delivered and I wouldn't have wanted to follow that.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Man oh man did I enjoy this jawn. This match reminded me so much of a 90s Kings Road style match minus one thing. Which I am going to challenge you to figure out. The hot start was extremely attention grabbing and just plain awesome. Then they slowed it down with some real nice tight mat work and submissions. For me this match was a very nice surprise. I loved the stalling piledrivers and big backdrops. I need some more of this joshi in my life. The finishing stretch sped up so much and had me on the edge of my seat. I popped hard on the finish. Didn't see it coming and thought it was perfect timing and execution.

CJD: Yeah this match slapped all the porpoises. Their 1985 five star classic gets all the attention but I think I've heard some praise for this one too. Even so it's not enough, because I thought this was every bit as good and maybe even better on first watch (I don't think the 1985 match is 5 stars fwiw). So my first reaction would be the finish wasn't exactly Kings Road with the escalating bombs. Was that what you were thinking? We talk a lot about matches that have a real sense of struggle and this was exhibit 1A. At no point did I feel like these two epic rivals were doing anything other than trying to defeat each other. Lioness has more of a bad ass aura about her than ever before and Jaguar is becoming an all-time favorite for me. I felt like there was a clear ebb and flow to this one, after the hot start Jaguar couldn't figure Lioness out early, but was able to take control in the middle and tried to wear her down, but Lioness had done too much damage and was too explosive to contain her late. Then at the end, as you said that finishing stretch felt do or die. Jaguar's final rally made you believe the finish was going to happen at any moment. But was it enough?? I urge everyone who ever checks in on PIF to make time for this match and see for yourself!

JJZ: You got it baby cakes. I loved the finish so much because I never would've guessed it and it made me love this match even more.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Iliad Jones

JJZ: I feel bad only sharing a five minute match but it's only because I wish it was so much longer. They got a lot done in about 300 seconds. Told a complete story smartly based on the obvious size and strength difference. Unfortunately since we Tarnantino'd this tournament I knew who would win. But trying to watch the match through different eyes I think they made it believable that Baxter could win. Which by the way was the first time I've seen this guy. I think he showed a lot of potential and I'm excited for what you'll come back with. Now Jones looks like a stud to me. I really think with the right mind behind him he could go to the moon.

CJD: I really like what Odyssey Jones was laying down these past two weeks. Unfortunately he'll probably be Seth Rollins' new bodyguard a year from now and released in 3 years knowing the WWE. My favorite part about this match was how it felt like Baxter was an annoying fly that one good swat would put down if OJ could just catch him. And that's basically what happens. There's not a lot to this match but there doesn't need to be. It's extremely satisfying exactly how it is.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Jaguar Yokota (c) VS La Galactica - AJW WWWA World Championship Hair VS Mask Match 5/7/1983

CJD: Nothing is more pro wrestling than a bait and switch. And guess what? The match I said I'd play forward this week... isn't up streaming anywhere I see online! Fuck!! But this match Jaguar and Pantera had in 1983 is, and it's a worthy consolation prize indeed. When we watched their 1984 title unification you said it felt like a grudge match, and watching this match in reverse order Tarantino style that all makes perfect sense. I will say Monster Ripper's interference got old fast and they go back to that well many times. But I did find myself really emotionally invested by the end. And wondering, we've gone from considering if Flair was the first wrestling antihero. To considering Piper. But was Jaguar also one of the first?? You said she was a bit heelish in previous matches and it's awesome seeing her pushed too far Falling Down style here. The 1984 match was better but this might have been more memorable. Even with the hijinx there's tons of great action and I think we've become a bit numb to this with all the great 80s women's wrestling we've watched lately but- this is 1983!! God damn!

JJZ: So one of my favorite things about our friendship it that we trade voicemails almost daily. And you know that I had many opportunities to tell you that I've seen this match before. While I was looking for a La Galactica match to play forward to you I watched this one. I thought it would've been a great time to have our first ever back to back champion. But I wasn't a fan of this match the first time I saw it. So I decided to rewatch it before sharing an opinion of it. Well, I'm still not a fan. I'm sorry baby cakes but the constant interfering just annoyed me. The match had so much good in it at the start, but for the love of god they couldn't complete a good series of moves. And what was the ref doing? He didn't even care. I was hoping it would've come around in the end but the finish followed suit with what they had been doing. I did enjoy the wildness of it at time. You know it's pretty rare when we are on totally different pages with wrestling so I was a little surprised by this pick. I will end on a positive note that coming out of these group of matches I am a fan of both these ladies and look forward to watching more of their stuff in the future.

CJD: I think that's a great take. I was on the fence about this one for sure. I thought the booking, the moments it created in both of their careers, and the performances overcame the shitty booking and broken up rhythm due to the BS. But I can totally see feeling opposite.

I just contradicted myself praising and criticizing the booking at the same time. It's tough because the stage these women had, a hair vs title match, the drama, the booking served them a beautiful 3 course meal. But then the booker (or just Ripper?) didn't know when to put down the spices and over seasoned this thing to death. I wasn't necessarily going to include these comments but now I'm too proud of that anology not to.

JJZ: It really did seem like they just keep adding and adding and adding. They just needed to stop at some point. The energy of the match hit you in the face at the start. It didn't need all the extra.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

I Am The Bullet And You Are The Bullseye

Carmelo Hayes VS Odyssey Jones - NXT Breakout Tournament Finals 8/23/2021

CJD: We don't usually get this current on PIF but this one kinda fell into my lap so why not? I haven't watched NXT in forever and the production looks so strange and cold at this point. Can't say I'm surprised Vince decided to shake this up. But this match did bring some warmth immediately seeing the energy both these young guys brought to the ring right from the start. Tournaments like these often mean nothing in the grand scheme of the WWE (the CWC anyone?) but good on these two for making this feel big. It was interesting watching Casanova work a very indie pace last week and a very WWE pace this week. He was good at it and I'm really looking to seeing more from Odyssey Jones. This wasn't a blow away match but I liked how the timing worked out and I was curious to watch it anyway. I'm even more curious to see if WWE can squander even more young promising talent with these two.

JJZ: Hayes looking like a big beefy son of a gun compared to his match against Reed last week. Loving Jones rocking some Mark Henry Nation of Domination gear. Not sure if it's intentional but I dig it. I'm so happy we get to showcase Hayes in two totally different styles of matches. Jones is brand new to me and I really like him off the bat. I think he has a smart moveset for his size and strength. I liked his speed for how big he is, dude is a wrecking ball. I loved the psychology and pace. For the match being under 10 minutes it felt so much bigger and longer. This match mattered to both these guys so much and you could tell.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Lola Gonzalez/Vicky Carranza/Reyna Gallegos VS Las Rockeras - AAA 1/29/1993

JJZ: If I had to describe this match in one word it would be wild. Every bit of it. I usually take notes during the matches but I literally had to keep on rewinding so I stopped and just watched these six ladies rip into each other with bad intentions. My biggest complaint if I had to have one would be the last fall. BUT what happened afterwards was so damn entertaining that I loved that it led to that. I didn't know anybody in this son a bitch. Expect for the luchadora from your match but the quality of the video was so bad I couldn't even make her out! It really reminded me of when we'd watching wrestling together til 7 in the morning in our roaring 20s. Watching all these 80s/90s Lucha matches I'm curious if you agree that the striking was a lot stiffer back then. The punching and elbows just seemed brutal over the past few weeks. Shout out to the crowd. Really hot and loved their dancing along to Gloria Estefan! Hope you enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: What the fuck did I just watch. This match definitely fits the spirit of Forever Forward Fridays as well as our marathon sessions when we were younger. Although I'd kill to see you put this on at one of our tamer current Wrestling Nights with the gang and see their heads collectively explode. There were moments here where I threw my hands up and thought I was over this match but then they'd run through a heated series of dives and exchanges and stiff shots and hook me back in. I really don't know what to say about this match other than that it was sensory overload. I don't even understand if what happened on the way to the back, if it was an angle, if it was a fan brawl, what. The rhythm was clearly gonna get them that night. This was a ride you took me on. I didn't know where it would end but I know where the next stop will be. That's right, for the first time in PIF history, I'm calling my shot!! Next week I'm gonna make a 2x FFF Champ out of Pantera Surena, and we're going to dive into the 1985 rematch between Jaguar Yokota VS La Galactica!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

This Fire's Out Of Control

Christian Casanova VS "Hot Fire" Myron Reed - Limitless Wrestling 2/22/2020

JJZ: I'm sure you've experienced what happened to me with this match. When you pick a match to watch and have little expectations going in, then you get blown away by everything going on. I've heard the name Christian Casanova before but never saw him that I can remember. He caught my attention immediately. He is way more seasoned than I assumed he was. Hot Fire just continues to impress me. I love watching this kid do what he does and so does this crowd. Both wrestlers kept popping the audience with every move. And I'll tell you what Christopher!! After watching that really good Lee Moriarty vs Danny Garcia match with you recently from Limitless in front of like 10 people. It was special to see what a Limitless crowd can add to a match. From what the commentators said and the feel you get from this match we are coming into a heated rivalry. Which makes me forgive the lack of psychology and embrace the fiery energy and spotfest that this match was. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

CJD: February 2020, we didn't know how much we'd miss you. Your comments on this match are spot on and I felt very much the same. I love watching two creative young wrestlers with great chemistry flip the fuck out and leave expectations behind. There's stuff I'd like Reed to do a little more or less but at the end of the day I'd rather he just do his thing and I'll sit back and enjoy. He's so good at reacting on the fly, changing direction mid air, and helping correct stuff that would look sloppy with most other opponents. Carmelo Hayes has a lot of people's attention right now. Seeing him still as Casanova hanging with Hot Fire in a whizbang match like this, you can see why. This is a match that would make you feel like you got your money's worth, so I'm more than appreciative to watch it for free at your recommendation!

Friday, August 27, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: This literally might have been the only other Molina/Azteca match easily available to me that didn't involve Surena. So my hand was forced. Luckily for me, it's also a good match! A step down from your match but still with some nice highlights and a strong babyface performance from Gallegos. Her, Azteca, and Surena were all totally new to me a few weeks ago, and I'm immediately a fan of all 3. Estela wrestles a very similar match here but she clearly loves throwing hands, chomping heads, and heeling it up all night long. And she's good at it! We're back on a Friday road where I can't predict where we're going next, but Play It Forward is about the journey, not the destination, right?

JJZ: Man, the thing I will take away from the last two weeks on Fridays is that these women's Lucha matches are stiff. All those ladies laid it in. And let's talk about this ref. He was flying from pillar to post I'll tell you what. Got a real kick out those hops. This shined in a few different ways with a few nice highspots. I was curious what to expect from both these matches. It's not often we get to watch matches that are completely new to us on all fronts. I was pleased with the psychology and story that they told. At the end of the day I will remember both these matches for a long time to come.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Life During Wartime

CJD: So now that I know part of Warhorse's backstory is a gruesome injury getting his cheek ripped open during a match he clicked a little more for me. When I saw he's worked former MDTSOCWWKD Champion "Hot Fire" Myron Reed I was really curious what he would do with such a different opponent. This struck me as a demo tape match for both guys. As such it's not as ambitious as your Orange Cassidy match but I really appreciate that everything they do here they do well and with purpose. They cut the exact pace I like from an opener. They do enough to make it feel bigger than a curtain jerker match but they still leave plenty on the table for the rest of the night. Oh and correct me if I'm wrong but you love a nicely overshot tope every once and a while, correct??

JJZ: Baby! I rewatched that tope like 3 times. I would've loved to watch this with a full crowd. I'm not shitting on this crowd, the people there made themselves heard. This was good, Play It Forward veteran Myron Reed really shined again. I agree this was a really solid opener that over-delivered. Warhorse is fun and I think his moveset fits his gimmick perfectly. I felt like they had some nice callbacks to earlier in the match. This match made the best of a bad situation and made me bigger fans of both these guys.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: First off, this is Lucha rules, so it's two out of three falls. This match was so much fun to watch. I literally know nothing about these women so everything they did was fresh to my eyes and I was seriously impressed. My journey to get here was an interesting one. A lot of scrolling and looking into La Pantera's (La Galactica) opponents to make sure I wasn't turning you towards a dead end street. My first thoughts when the match got going was, these women seemed seasoned. They knew what they were doing and what they wanted to do. Everything was tight and boy oh boy can these ladies throw a punch. Hope you enjoy this baby.

CJD: I've updated the blog from a lot of interesting places. Well you can add Charlotte Douglas International Airport to that list because I'm about to catch a red eye to see you and the gang for an old school, god honest WRESTLING NIGHT get together tomorrow night. But it's been years since I've been up for one and that's the story of how PIF got started, right? To keep our dialogue of matches going strong while I wasn't going to be able to get up for marathon late night deep dives into our collections on a monthly basis. Man the idea has evolved a lot in 4 years. I'm not saying we're the most educated, progressive, well researched fans ever now or anything, but we've explored so much territory that I'd never have guessed or ventured into otherwise. Joshi kind of makes sense to me as to my best understanding it was created and marketed to Japanese teenage girls, with crossover music and promotion. It became much more but as a jumping off point I can see that in the 80s. But can you imagine being a female wrestler in North America 1980 and fighting through so much bullshit for matches like this? I seriously can't. And then for them to get to a point to get this much time, and this good of a reaction. I just love it. It's the stuff that makes me stay a pro wrestling super fan despite the many, many warts it's had over the decades. These women felt so confident and calm under pressure despite all that. And this match was really, really good. A little slow at times but so much wrestling in 1980 was. And Molina's heel work was a little one note but the violence in those exchanges was so engaging it didn't really matter. God bless Paul Boesch, he was never a very good commentator, but he was less misogynistic than so many men calling women's matches for decades to come. If Pantera Surena was this good from 1980 to 1984 then I'm going to make a point to watch everything I can find moving forward, because damn was she good in these two matches. But now for some more Estela Molina and more head chomping!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Red Eyes On Orange Horizons

JJZ: Hope Warhorse is new to you. I really like his gimmick and moveset. I think he is perfect for this independent wrestling climate. I also think matching up polar opposite wrestling styles makes for a great match. Warhorse's run through a brick wall mentality vs Orange Cassidy's whatever attitude was so good. I think this match broke down into two sections. First WH trying to take Cassidy's head off and Orange trying to slow it down. Then WH pissing OC off enough for him to actually care. Really good stuff here. I popped like a maniac for the Superman punch/ Mdriver combo. Don't think I've seen him do that before. Hope you enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: Warhorse is indeed new to me although I've heard his name quite a bit lately. On first watch his gimmick feels like he belongs in a stable with the Ring Crew Express as their heavy. As a standalone singles guy I don't know how I felt about it. At times he amused me but other times I felt like maybe he was buying into his own act a bit much? You know how Cyber Kong went from the joke being he had abs drawn on to legitimately acting like a badass at times? That's the vibe I got here, only I don't know Warhorse's evolution, so I don't know if it felt earned. But now i have a reason to watch more of him and find out! Either way, this match was kind of focused on silliness breaking down into serious business so all of this worked pretty well. One of the things I really dig about OC is how much thought you can tell he put into the gimmick before rolling it out. There's layers to it and I never know exactly how he'll react in different situations but he clearly does and it always feels right for him. This match is a great example of that and while it didn't blow me away, it did feel like it would fit in perfectly in the middle of a classic Michinoku Pro card, and that's a type of match I'm always game for. Good stuff! Beyond rules!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I'll see your intensity and raise you this absolute war! Jaguar Yokota is one of the revelations of my #GWE26 viewing thus far. She's someone who I thought of as a footnote in joshi history with a few trailblazing matches to her name coming in. I'm quickly realizing she's actually an all-time great, especially considering her era and what she accomplished within it, and in particular is a force of nature as a fiery babyface. She burns white hot in this title unification match and La Galactica is one hell of a dance partner for her that I know nothing about coming in. Except that these two had a rematch in '85 that's regarded more highly than this bout that I am chomping at the bit to see after this! Side note I totally ignored the guys who recorded their commentary track over top of this. I've watched a few of their uploads and while they seem well intentioned enough, they really bring nothing to the table. Thankfully I watched this while multitasking and it all blended into background noise of the hot crowd and the awesome energy of the original commentary.

JJZ: I ain't multitasking so let's see how I feel about this commentary! The commentating jumps out at first but fades pretty quickly. I can tell that it drowned out the crowd some though. But that isn't stopping the energy screaming through my television screen! This feels like a grudge match before during and after the bell. Jaguar's emotional elation and Galactica's heartbreak were such a great scene to end this story. As for the body of the bout. It was gritty. Everything was earned and needed to win. And best of all. It was stiff! Great pick my dear friend.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Bad Lad Bad Boy

CJD: I see AEW fans who don't follow the indies so much struggle with understanding why Joey is so beloved and OC is so over. I feel like Cassidy is pretty self explanatory and some people just hate fun. But Joey is a bit more of a chameleon and for a guy who got famous for getting yeeted off a roof and losing a thumb this match shows his versatility and creativity.  I don't think this match will convert anyone who isn't open to a little reality bending comedy in their pro wrestling. But as someone who isn't necessarily a huge fan of this style, I was surprised how much this one stuck with me. There's layers to the goofiness. And a legitimately good match breaks out somewhere along the line!

JJZ: I thought for sure you'd go with a Jungle Boy match! But I ain't ever upset about watching Joey Janela. Now this match is why Independent Wrestling is so fucking fantastic. Like when Pete Dunn and Tyler Bate worked each other's gimmicks. They ain't putting this shit on primetime television! I can't x and o this match so I'll describe it in one word. FUN. I had a smile on my face the whole time. It just made me happy. And it made the crowd happy. They were so into it. Joey trying to kip up had me rolling. This match totally entertained me from bell to bell. And isn't that the point of professional wrestling? Daniel Bryan said on an interview one time that the NFL NBA MLB AND NHL don't care if you had a good time at their event. But that's what makes wrestling special. When it's done right the promotion and the wrestlers will make sure you enjoy your experience. And ICW, Orange Cassidy, and Joey Janela sure did that night. I know I enjoyed it and everyone in that crowd did too. This was a great pick my friend. Thank you for sharing this.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: This one was interesting. On paper there was a clear heel/babyface dynamic. But when watching both women did some heelish and babyish things. So I guess you can say it was a 50/50 match. The psychology of the match made both women look strong. Everything was hit with purpose and built momentum. I mean in 1982 for women to have such an intense match was new to me. I like the spirit they were going for. A real I can do better than you mindset. Wendi had an attitude about her that came through  screen. Like she was the main event no matter when her match went on. I've become a big fan of hers.

CJD: Intense is a great word for this match, and we're only scratching the surface of early 80s joshi. There's some wild stuff that is really mind blowing for the time period. I disagree that Jaguar is heelish in this match though, she comes off as a fiery babyface through and through to me. Was that our former FFF Champ Princess Victoria running interference?? Wendi was a freakin monster with all this offense she was busting out in 1982, I'm still amazed to learn more about what a high end performer she was. And Jaguar I'm starting to realize is one of the unsung greats so this was a nice little treat on my lunch break. Well played!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

I've Been Kissed By A Concrete Rose On The Gray

JJZ: I honestly don't know what's more impressive. A 30+ minute title match that gets over a 4 star rating. Or a 10 minute TV match that tells a complete story with falsies and a good finish. I'm being totally serious. It's a special kinda skill and level of talent to pull that match off. This contest highlighted everyone's strengths. I think no one come out of this looking bad. I was also happy that we got to showcase Sonny in singles and tag matches.

CJD: One of my complaints about AEW for a long while was how they didn't have an identity that I felt translated to a fan who just happened to catch a random match outside of a few exceptions. I don't think that's as much of a problem anymore and I honestly think undercard talent like this and matches like these go a longer way establishing that identity than their main event talent does. We talked about the art of the complete 10 minute TV match all the way back when we featured Eddie/Psicosis and I like when a match is a little less busy while attempting so much in a short period of time. That wasn't what these guys wanted to do though and I'm fine with that too. Jungle Boy is a bright spot on every AEW show I've seen him on and this was no different. I think Joey has had a hard time translating to a TV product but Sonny goes a long way in helping that problem. They have such a natural chemistry, they remind me of a pair of kids you'd run into at a West Philly house show smoking outside sharing a 40 between bands. This match was exciting, filled with personality, and you could feel how much fun everyone was having. Once again I have to give AEW a lot of credit for so much growth through the pandemic.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: So what started as our Joshi Jouney has turned into an 80s US women's deep dive. While I've been shocked at the quality of some of the matches we've explored, I don't think I could have found anything this week that would have blown your mind. But if this match turned up on my TV as a 5 year old you better believe my mind would have been sufficiently blown. This is just such a pro wrestling match through and through, the venue, the ambiance, the pace, the momentum shifts. A little sloppy here and there, some holy shit moments, I felt like I was there live watching despite the terrible quality. Heidi is a much more dynamic heel this for this week's match and we left our time with Wendi Richter as Forever Forward Champion wanting to see more. So let's hot potato right back to her and see some more!

JJZ: Man. This match had such energy and ambiance. I'm going to say right off the bat I wish it had just 3-4 more minutes. For what it was it was dynamic. Especially for the era that it happened. I mean you couldn't blink. Normaly during this era it was much slower paced but this match was go go go. I loved that for both women we showcased so many different areas of strength. How much do you love watching VHS quality matches? Takes me back to your parents' basement. Excited to get more into Wendi Richter territory.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

If My Fenix Still Shines

CJD: This was one of those weeks where no matter what I watched, I kept thinking about the first match I put on. I was really looking to see Fenix's growth with whatever I played forward to you. And I saw a lot of that through the pandemic, it's about the only thing that can motivate me to put on matches without crowds again, to see how much certain guys and girls improved in these strange circumstances. I think there was a lot of that in AEW and now you're seeing them reap the rewards with a red hot product back in front of fans. This is a side of Rey I've seen flashes of before but I've never seen him shine up a babyface quite like this before. He still looks fantastic in the process and man this match just stuck with me. It's not as good as your Jack Evans match but it's another example of making a lot out of a little, and it's another match I just enjoyed the hell out of.

JJZ: I love love love when we can play a match that showcases a wrestler in a way that we aren't as familiar with. Fenix shines as a slow paced technician. Some of his submission holds I've never seen before and I honestly think would make for some good finishers. Sonny's athleticism was pretty epic in this one. Kiss made me say a few times, how the fuck did he do that?? Sonny working from under made for a great match that would've went over so good in front of a crowd. Also I think if they were in front of a crowd you would have went with this on first viewing.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Top Guns/Wendi Richter VS Badd Company/Madusa Miceli - AWA 12/13/1988

CJD: So this match happened. I loved our Joshi Journey but I was starting to wonder if we'd ever find our way back to more familiar Friday territory. Well this match won't single handedly get us there, hell you might come right back with some Madusa in Japan. But at least you have options now. And what an oddball match I never would have watched otherwise. The entire heel faction look great, the future Orient Express in particular, but I even love DDP managing here. And if you want to come back with DDP VS Kanyon, by all means bend them rules however you see fit!! This match wasn't going to get rated by Meltzer but for what it was it was way better than I'd have ever imagined. I do wish the ladies had more opportunities but they popped me a few times with what little they had. And man did Madusa paintbrush Tanaka with that post match angle!

JJZ: Wow. What a stipulation. And you just put 7 doors in front of me!!! The pace of this match is fantastic. You can't look away for a second! I'll be honest. My opinion of a wrestler may never have changed as much in a title run as much as Wendi Richter has. I don't think I ever considered her to even be that good until these matches. She stood out in the best way possible during both her matches. I do wish this was longer but the energy and non-stop action created a great atmosphere. And watching early Orient Express was surreal! Love this pick man.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

And You Know This, Man

Jack Evans VS Rey Fenix - Lucha Underground 2016

JJZ: High flyer dream match right here! I love Jack's shit talking during the match. What these two can with their bodies is insane. You can't predict what's gonna happen next and if you say you can that's bullshit. This is the opposite of a junkfood match because you can feel the pride of these two through the screen. I would like more time but at this pace I could not have expected more from Jack Evans and Fenix.

CJD: We've featured a lot of matches lately that have seen us branch out of our comfort zones, surprise each other, even have some disagreements. This is not one of those matches. This is the type of match that I'd call the bread and butter of PIF, and I was so ready for it right now. Straight to the point, a little under the radar, talent we love but could always stand to see more from. A minor opportunity that they used to deliver major performances. Jack Evans (from the heavens) is the king of this and I certainly got my wish to see him in all his glory at radically different points in his career these past two weeks. Rey Fenix, I'll be honest, I don't think I'm quite as high on as most. But I enjoy him and I'm looking forward to finding something equally good to come back at you with. Which won't be easy because this match was so, so much fun.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Wendi Richter VS Princess Victoria - Houston Wrestling 2/10/1984

JJZ: I know we've played a lot of stuff forward to each other that we probably never thought we would. BUT! An American women's match this good from 1984 is something that still really surprises me. More so because it's so technically sound. Great back and forth of hold for hold wrestling. When I was a kid I hated when the bad guy would lay a hold on for an extended amount of time but now I really miss it. It makes so much sense. Why not put the Young Bucks in a 5 minute boston crab?? It almost never happens so I really popped when Wendi sat on them holds for so long. Victoria had a nice comeback that lead into a 50/50 home stretch to the finish. Hope you liked this match better than the last one I kicked over to you.

CJD: Damn, both of these ladies can go! I haven't watched nearly enough Wendi Richter and Princess Victoria has been such a revelation these past two weeks. She was a lunatic bumping daredevil with great selling and like you said, excellent comebacks. It's not surprising she retired early due to injury, she clearly got hurt late in this match too and asked Wendi for help. Which they stalled for her masterfully to regroup. Then to Victoria's credit she still rallied for a very good quick finishing stretch. Yes, I liked this match a hell of a lot better than anything I've ever seen from Teddy Hart. Great find! I'm taking the details of where and when this match took place from the YouTube upload and comments but it also looks highly likely this could have been Mid-South. So if anyone wants to correct us please feel free!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

You're Going To Be Sorry When You Find Out Who My Uncle Is


Teddy Hart VS Jack Evans VS Petey Williams - CZW 3/6/2004

CJD: Last week you saw a match that you knew you needed to watch. Well maybe it's the withdrawal from that great stretch of early/mid 2000s indie wrestling we featured a while back on Tuesdays, but if I'm going to watch a Teddy Hart match, this is exactly what I want to see. Which is mostly just Jack Evan's doing a bunch of stupid shit. Teddy's sociopathic narcissistic tendencies actually work really well in the 3 way format, as he can't be bothered to pretend to go through the motions of 3 way exchanges, bump to the outside and sell for a stretch, etc. Which is pretty interesting watching him essentially babysit Jack and Petey until he throws a temper tantrum, cuts yet another long unnecessary promo, and turns the match into an angle between him and Zandig. Once again, this match ain't winning no awards. I've never been more okay to watch something so heavily clipped. I've never enjoyed watching the Botchmania stuff but I imagine a match like this has a lot of the same appeal.

JJZ: Holy spotfest Batman. Jesus this was a car crash if I ever saw one, in more ways than one. There is a lot one can complain about in this match but if you don't overthink it there is some good stuff here. The athleticism is off the charts. The spots are crazy as fuck and even by todays standards. The crowd is hot and I even liked the CZW commentators. But most importantly it was just a sight to see and for that it is a match I will always remember.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

July Red, White, & Blues

Hey gang, we're a bit behind with your regularly scheduled programming right now if you haven't noticed. I know this is right on the heels of missing a week and I do apologize. JJZ and myself are family men as we reference from time to time and lately family has been coming first. Vacations, family visiting, sick kids, camping trips, bbqs, visiting old friends, working holidays, working overtime, you name it, the FanCam Connection is living it. We have matches lined up and our enthusiasm for PIF is super high despite the delays. We appreciate your patience and hope you're all enjoying a bit of a return to normalcy as well!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Tremont Street Experience

"Bulldozer" Matt Tremont VS Teddy Hart - H2O 2/23/2019

JJZ: Teddy looking every day of his age. Watching Teddy walking to the ring with the cat made me laugh out loud. Not because it was funny but because I wasn't surprised at all and thought to myself well that seems about right. Gonna say right off the bat this match ain't winning no match of the year awards. But I really enjoyed this one. It was way more technically sound than it had any right to be. After the gaga in the beginning they built a really nice story with some well placed highspots. The finish was great and bit over down. I knew I needed to watch this match as soon as I found it. And of course Teddy cuts a awkward long promo at the end. Enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: John, I love you. I hated this match. I got excited to see Teddy get his ass kicked pillar to post. Instead I got to see him dominate Tremont while dressed like and wrestling like an annoying Aunt nagging you to come home for the holidays. There were a few good spots but this was way too slow and meandering and Teddy has the worst strikes to ever come out of the Dungeon. You definitely got me back for that intergender 6 man I played you years back with this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

JJZ: Listen. I know this match has its flaws. But if we only played the cream of the crop it just all becomes crop. I think we went in with different mindsets. I expected and enjoyed the weird shit. The cat, the gear, the gaga. I was hoping for a match that just made sense. And I think they delivered that. I easily could've found a match that Matt was bleeding all over the place and trading crazy ass spots. But I liked watching him working something different.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I was listening to Madusa on the Chavo Guerrero podcast for a little while before the awful audio quality made me turn it off and they made good points about how many talented female wrestlers that paved the way for this generation are largely forgotten about and would have done anything to have this level of talent to compete with. But how we never would have gotten here without their contributions. Well I present to you Exhibit A of that argument. Maybe it's a matter of expectations and having none going into this match, but holy shit did this one blow me away. This is such a strong performance from both teams. Now there's some rough moments from Dick Graham (I think?) on commentary, and the Philly crowd, as you'd expect. But there's some great moments involving them as well. Kai is the best wrestler in the match IMO so it's fitting she's our Forever Forward Champ of the week. And it's really a shame that this match ended Princess Victoria's career. But these four ladies should look back on this match and be extremely proud, because women's wrestling of this caliber in the US at this time must have taken so many dues paid to come to fruition. And then to knock it out of the park when finally given this opportunity!

JJZ: I never would've expected a match of this execution and psychology for the time and who's in it. It was extremely well done. I feel like all of these ladies were backstage and said fuck it. Let's go out and bring the house down. Great crowd. Gotta mention the odd camera shots of the men in the building. Shout out to the shirtless guy you could hear shouting to the ring. This was fun man. I had a blast watching this and like last week loved the energy that these ladies brought. My journey for the next match is gonna be an interesting one. A lot of fresh faces I'm sure and I'm hoping I take us into some hidden gem material.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Close Our Eyes To The Octopus Ride

Jonathan Gresham VS Matt Tremont - Beyond Wrestling 11/28/2015

CJD: I mentioned I don't want my #GWE26 viewing to dominate PIF and of course it's all we've talked about since here or when you and I have chatted wrestling. Well here's another modern (although retired... for now) wrestler who I nominated, definitely a bit of a dream match for me, in what seems like the opener (crazy to think about between these two), in Gresham's second match in a row we've featured VS a deathmatch wrestler. And you know what? If this match isn't as good as the Takeda classic, it's damn close. Like that match both guys try to play in the other's wheelhouse. Unlike that match this has more of a traditional structure and build but man these two are really two of the best of their generation. They make this one count. I love the momentum shifts. I even love Doom Patrol on commentary cracking wise. And I especially love the finishing sequence. This is a match that takes two completely different talents you're high on, throws them together on a whim, and leaves you on an even higher note. Still not sure if either guy will make my top 100 all-time by 2026, but I feel more optimistic about their cases after this one.

JJZ: Going into this match I had an idea of what it would look like. And I was totally wrong. Not in a bad way though. The easy road psychology would've been a 70/30 match in favor of Tremont using his size and strength for the advantage while Gresham uses his speed and submission abilities to grab quick holds so he can level the field. What we got was a 50/50 match that I couldn't see where it was going. I couldn't predict much of anything and I found myself on the edge of my seat to see what was next. I totally agree that the finishing sequence was fantasic. Great pick sweet cheeks.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays


JJZ: So I knew right away what I wanted to watch when you played a Jumping Bomb Angels match forward to me. I immediately remembered a few of their matches in WWF when I was a kid with the Glamour Girls. And man those matches were crazy a real nice change of pace. For the time that this took place it was great to see what they were doing. Really jaw dropping imo. The moves were so stiff and different. The energy was non-stop. Like four kids on a sugar rush. Watching this I loved how influential I knew this feud was. It was like watching a historic documentary. Just so amazing to see four women setting standards and they didn't even know it. I'd tell anyone trying to get into the business to give this feud a once over. I wasn't crazy about the finish but I wasn't surprised. Side note I got a real kick out of the way the Glamour Girl went for their pins.

CJD: Yeah those pinfall attempts were straight out of a NES wrestling game. This match reminded me so much of when I started getting into 80s wrestling tape trading and for every amazing find like Jumbo/Kerry there were so many "what the fuck??" matches that I was looking for glimpses of greatness in overall match structures and styles I was still desperately trying to wrap my head around. I'd imagine what something that sounded great on paper like a best of Steamboat VS Muraco feud must have been like, then get the VHS in and found out the reality was very different. Part of that was being a child of the 80s and romanticizing the glimpses of memories I had watching back then. But part of it was just having to relearn the psychology, the crowd expectations, and the schedule and lifestyle wrestlers had back then. Now this match is not a total WTF watch, it's a quality match for certain. But there's definitely moments that took me back to those early tapes that left me dumbfounded. The main thing this match has is a great energy as you said. What a fun feud in wrestling history and what a shame that Moolah sabotaged the finish to this match and their supposed upcoming Wrestlemania match as a result. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say the history of women's wrestling in the US may have been different otherwise. The last thoughts I'll close with are that the Glamour Girls gave me serious Beatdown Biddies vibes from GLOW. And damn did that entrance song slap!!