Friday, April 30, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Arisa Nakajima/Azumi Hyuga VS Meiko Satomura/Tyrannosaurus Okuda - Sendai Girls 10/5/2007

CJD: This match covers a lot of ground that I'm trying to learn about modern joshi. Azumi Hyuga (in the bluish purple... royal blue?) is one of the best of her generation but I've seen nowhere near enough of her work. Arisa Nakajima is considered by many to be the best women's wrestler in Japan today but I've never seen a single match of hers I don't believe. She's only been wrestling for a year here but it at least gives me a starting point. Tyrannosaurus I have no idea, but she was an awesome young lion in this. Very classic mentor/mentee team dynamics here with Satomura feeling like one of the best wrestlers ever once again. There's a lot of talent in this match is what I'm saying. And other than one slip up they recover from with some real brutality, this was packed with good wrestling. The type of match that looks daunting if you don't know the names but watching it you won't need any backstory whatsoever. We've been making a lot of comparisons to buying DVDs when that was more of a thing. Well this is a show you throw in at the very end of an IVP order to add something different on a whim and end up with an absolute slam dunk main event.

JJZ: Fuck that intro music made me sit up in my seat!!! Thought Chris Hero was coming out for a minute baby, love that song. So I'm only familiar with Meiko in this match but I did recall Azumi when you mentioned that you've shared a match of her's before at our all night hang outs. These four ladies hit all the check boxes that I love about Joshi. High energy, stiff strikes, lots of intensity, and my favorite thing about Joshi, speed speed speed. I'm all about the rapid pace of this match. I think everyone looked great. I didn't realize until I read your comments Chris that there was a vet/rookie dynamic going on. I really couldn't tell which I think says alot about the quality performance these women put out there. Mix in a few rewindable high spots and you got match I'd love to share with a room full our friends at one of those hang outside. What hell let's call in one of the gang, our resident joshi enthusiast Phil Bryer!

PB: There's an emotional and kinetic element to Joshi that is unlike anything else in professional wrestling. The pacing and aggression make for a much more visceral experience, which speaks to my inner 15 year-old the same way Minor Threat did in my adolescence (and still does). Not only does this match meet the archetypal standard for the genre, but the "experience vs youth" relationship of each team added an interesting additional layer of story. The finish caught me by surprise, which speaks to the unpredictability that I love from this style.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Why Does Trust Equal Suffering?

CJD: I wasn't planning on staying in ROH but they shared some great stuff from Brodie's short run there after his passing so fuck it. Let's keep digging in the crates of these less than stellar years of ROHistory. This is one of those "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" feud mash ups and I don't know if it's the IWAMS connection or the ex-AOTF storyline but something about the Necro/Black team really works for me. ROH has had tons of these popcorn brawls over the years and this might not be one for the ages but they do make the most of the opportunity. There's a lot in here for a crowd brawling, not super heated, just all over the place mindless fun falls count anywhere match. Wish I could punch that one nasally fan in the throat heckling Jacobs. Brodie Lee is once again a beast in this match, they probably should have built to him and Necro for a long while but I remember they just went straight into it with those two. Tough spot for Lee to be in right off the bat and man he looks great. They do a good job of keeping the action in and out of the ring to play up the stip. I don't know if I'm just a sucker for this type of match done well but I was really enjoying the ride for a match on paper (or on the screen) I initially went right past. The stakes felt important by the end and I felt the disappointment of the losing team. This isn't the chapter of Mr Brodie Lee's career that most people will think of when remembering him but I'm glad to have gotten more familiar with it.

JJZ: Man oh man. Its wild to think that I really stopped watching ROH around this time. This is a dream match to be honest. Black was so raw and full of potential at this time. Jacobs was such a hidden gem for any promotion he worked for. Necro was the golden ticket during these years and Brodie was always stealing the show. This match is a wild free for all that you couldn't take your eyes off. The holy fuck moments were too many to count. This match was chaos but it was definitely an organized chaos. Nothing was wasted and the four wrestlers produced an angry energy that made you feel the hatred between the two teams. Jimmy's mind mixed with Tyler's it factor made magic in the ring. Combine that with Lee and Butcher's daredevil mentality, you got a show stealing match.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Well well well. I didn't expect to go here. But fuck it. I'm all about dream matches this week. I can't imagine how nervous and excited Kay Lee was to wrestle Meiko. Side note. Love love love Wreslte Queendom and Sheone. All about the play on words. So we all know that Meiko is one of the best female workers in the world but is it wrong for me to say Kay Lee is top ten? I don't think so. Her mind for the sport is pretty ridiculous. Everything I've seen her in has a great psychology base to it. This was a hell of a main event match. Great back and forth making both women look great. The crowd was really into this one. Chanting and cheering for everything. Popping like crazy for the highspots. I like the 50/50 booking personally, no reason to put one women higher than the other here. Edge of your seat wreslting to close out the match. The moment wasn't spoiled by ego at all. Very respectful by both women. I really enjoyed this match. It was just a great back and forth that highlight the talent. Pretty simple but good.

CJD: So I said it felt like we were building to a white whale on Fridays lately, well blow me down, you found a whopper with this one. This had a litttttle bit of that joshi excess but otherwise I couldn't come up with another criticism. The word gets overused but this was epic. Both women are great at using every little mannerism, every part of how they carry themselves to, from, and in the ring, to project that big fight feel here. There was a nice mix of really tight wrestling in here along with the big bombs. I was taking it back over and over again to appreciate little details. I came into these two matches a fan of Kay Lee, but am leaving with a whole new respect. And you know I'm excited to get into some more Big Match Meiko!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tracing These Old Plans Is Code Red

CJD: Sticking with our early 2000s Tuesday vibes lately but moving into the slightly bigger leagues. I was talking to you recently about how highly I value innovation and influence in a wrestler's career and Red has to get a 10 out of 10 in that category. As you said last week he often was walking that edge early in his career of just pulling off what he was going for but looking back now man he was just so much fun to watch. I was more critical of him at the time but now I'm just happy to be able to watch him do his thing. Lynn in this time period was paying back a lot to the younger guys and much like Red for his contributions to the industry doesn't really get his due. They strike a good balance of giving this match a little substance while still delivering a crazy go nuts X Division spectacle. This match isn't perfect but man it's fun. You love making the "this would be perfect on a Best of VHS" call and this really would fit in so well for either guy.

JJZ: Jerry Lynn from Minnesota, where all the Minnesotans are from. It puts a big smile on my face when I get a wrestler played forward to me that I didn't expect! With Red you really had a lot of options to go down and for me his TNA run is extremely unfamiliar. This match wasn't slow at any point but they still did really well at building to the falsies and finish. Jerry Lynn looking swoll AF and like a ring general while Red showed that he was head and shoulders above the other junior indy high flyers. Now I didn't think a second rope piledriver ever happened before I saw Chris Hero (Ain't nuttin to fuck wit) hit it in PWG. So holy fuck did I pop for this spot. I think they hit it as safely as possible but it still looked INSANE. I was really impressed with the innovation of this match. It made for a don't blink feeling. Nice pick baby cakes.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Toni Storm VS Kay Lee Ray - Target Wrestling 6/11/2016

CJD: I've heard wrestlers talk about with some opponents everything just pops from the simplest lock ups to the big highspots. That's how I felt about these two in this match. I wanted to stay in Japan but man joshi promotions have YouTube on lockdown and with how many ads dailymotion shove in there these days I only go to them for something really specific. This was still ground I was happy to cover as I haven't seen as much Kay Lee as I'd like. Really fun face/heel dynamic in this one that's opposite to what I'm used to from these ladies in NXTUK... at least as of 2019 when I was still watching. I found the "voice of Target Wrestling" introducing a match with no commentary amusing for some reason. This match has its foot on the gas a bit more than the last few Fridays but still feels like we're building up to a white whale. I'm all about that journey.

JJZ: So I've seen a lot of Toni vs Kay Lee in NXT UK but Toni was face and Kay Lee was heel. And I loved their matches in NXT UK. They have such chemistry together that I could watch them wrestle all day. Even this match that was on the shorter side told a complete story. I didn't need to know anything going in and I would've gotten everything I needed just from what was happening in the ring. These two ladies are extremely polished so the execution of everything was top notch. I know this might be a leap to some people but man I hope they have a Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owen's like life long feud.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

From The Era Of XL80s And Hatchback Saabs

Amazing Red/The SAT VS Brian XL/Devine Storm - CZW 6/8/2001

JJZ: There's a good chance I was at this show. This was heavy into my show going days and I've seen all these guys work in many different formations around this time. This is a non-stop action, holy shit, butthole clinching match. With all six wrestlers walking a razor thin line between great and awful. And trust me, to get to this match I watched the awful. For all the shit the CZW crowds get they were excellent for this match. Even when something wasn't executed the best they were losing it for these guys. I always remembered the juniors at this time really raising the speed of matches and the amount of flips. At times it was constant. But I totally forgot about the head drops. Jesus Christ I thought Storm was dead at one point. I never recall hearing if anyone was seriously injured around then but it wouldn't surprise me. I was thinking what would Jim Cornette's reactions be during this match and it literally made me laugh out loud. Being blunt there is a ton to criticize here I'm sure but I do not care. This match was a blast to watch. Strap in for a show baby cakes.

CJD: What happens when a generation is raised on all night binge sessions of ECW, king fu movies, Michinoku Pro VHS tapes, chugging Surge and crystal Pepsi and downing bags of cheese curls while calling them cheesy poofs? This match, that's what. God bless these guys. This was so ridiculous I don't even know what to say. How did they think of this shit? This is the kind of youthful insane genius that doesn't necessarily need the influence of drugs or alcohol to to produce a reality this warped. Red and our Champ of the week Brian XL looked like absolute stars. Everyone brought a lot to the table, this had the feeling of a touring 6 man match that played the hits for every indy in PA and NJ that would have them. I know I use this expression fairly often but man, what a moment in time.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Third Annual Head Droppies

The last year was a wild one to say the least. Amidst the chaos we launched a new feature on Fridays and after damn near walking away from PIF for a bit we decided instead to produce more content than ever before! We're creeping up to 200 matches shared and that means the competition for our highly coveted Head Droppies is even more fierce yet. So let's see who walked away with an imaginary trophy this time around??

...the Punk Monkey Award (Favorite Match Played Forward To You)
Going with the obvious choice here with the 5 star match. But what can I say, maybe Dave Meltzer knows a thing or two about pro wrestling? Or at least John Zornek does finally getting me to sit down and watch this modern classic.

Love these two in the ring together. I was like a kid in the candy store watching this. I've watched it twice outside of the original viewing because I enjoyed it so much.

-Honorable Mentions:

...the Intergender Lightweight-Who's-A-Heavyweight DeathMatch Award (Most Hidden Gem Played Forward)
JJZ: El Hijo del Santo VS Rey Misterio Jr - Promo Azteca (Tijuana) 2/21/1997
Rey was so hot when this match happened I was literally shocked I've never seen this or heard about it before. I don't recall even seeing it on Best of Rey comps.

I don't think we've ever shared a match that got such a genuinely surprised reaction from our readers. Maybe the footage from this one only became available recently, or maybe John is just an excellent pro wrestling researcher. Either way this one really turned some heads.

-Honorable Mentions:

...the Eerie Dragon Award (Most Difficult Quest Playing A Match Forward)
CJD: Arik Cannon (Forever Forward Champion)
This is an interesting one for me. I've watched way more matches trying to play something forward to you before. But with Arik Cannon what made my FFF quest so difficult for him was that I got really invested in one particular feud. Cannon and a young wrestler named Jah-C who was new to me had a good 3 match series that built and built. The promotion was also new to me and I really liked everything going on, except that each match had something that held me back from playing it. When I finished the rubber match and realized I was going to have to go in a different direction it was a pretty big disappointment. I still recommend the matches though, and hope to find another way to guide us to Frontman Jah.

JJZ: Will Hobbs
I just remember being so frustrated that I considered breaking the rules and playing another Cobb match. Endless scrolling.

...the Animal Rat Award (Most Surprising Champion)
JJZ: The Islanders
Totally forgot this was a team. Never ever would I have guessed you'd play these guys forward to me.

[editor's note - Technically the Islanders challenged Tito Santana for the MDTSOCWWKD Championship but were only featured that one week VS Strike Force, thus were not successful in capturing our coveted imaginary title. However, this is Play It Forward where everything's made up and the points don't matter, so we'll allow it]

CJD: Sam Adonis
John's difficult quest to find a Hobbs match brought us to a real pleasant surprise for me. I had no idea Corey Graves had a brother who wrestled under a MAGA gimmick in Mexico. Adonis' MDTSOCWWKD Championship reign had two of my low key favorite matches we featured in the past year too in that Hobbs match and VS Blue Panther.

...the Hammer Phoenix Award (Greatest Champion March 2020-March 2021)
He broke every record for drawing power in PIF history and had a pair of great matches to boot. Marvin/Nakajima is the most read post in PIF history, VS KENTA is top 10, and we got a shootout from Ricky on Instagram!

I'm a total mark for Ali so I had high expectations of him. And he still over delivered. I loved seeing him play heel in one match and face in the other. I was also really impressed with how polished he was in his early days. It would've been easy in both matches to deliver a spotfest with those opponents in ACH and Lio Rush but he brought great psychology and story telling instead.

-Honorable Mention:
Ricky Marvin (JJZ)

Friday, April 9, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays


Mayu Iwatani/Toni Storm VS Hana Kimura/Kris Wolf - Stardom 5/6/2017

JJZ: So there are a few things in this match in terms of psychology I wasn't crazy about. BUT, the tightness and execution won me over. To me a big flaw in wreslting right now is bad tag team wrestling in the bigger companies. They use them as filler with minimum effort. To put it simply it's usually skippable. So when I see a match where all four of the wrestlers are making sure everything looks good it gets my full attention. All the moves looked like they hurt and everyone was trying to put on the best match possible in the time they had. I don't speak Japanese but the mic work after made me think this was part of a bigger storyline line. I really wish NJPW would put this kinda effort into their undercard sometimes.

CJD: Kimura and Wolf made for a great team, I wonder if they tagged regularly. My knowledge of Stardom is extremely limited but I do know we've covered some of their more tragic figures these two weeks with Act last week and Hana in this match. Two clearly very talented wrestlers, Hana in particular really jumps off the screen in this one. I've always wanted to check out more of Storm's work in Japan, but you certainly gave me some options in terms of which direction to go next. Like you said this match had a lot put into it for what could've been a throwaway undercard match. I don't want to rehash your comments but what you said last week about the DVD you get for the main event but the random undercard tag really delivers fits this one too. We had a run of some big matches on Tuesdays and Fridays and now I think we're into some palate cleansers and I'm totally fine with that. Everyone was really committed in this one and it made for a fun watch!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

As I Locate Intricately Independent

Super Dragon VS Brian XL - APW Central Coast 6/22/2003

CJD: When I played forward a B-Boy match to you I was honestly hoping we'd end up knee deep in some early 2000s indy randomness. Well I think I ended up working myself brother because I certainly didn't expect to play a Brian XL match back weeks later. But here we are! I honestly have no opinion of Brian XL from back when and he was good in this. His selling was definitely less than consistent but he did get the crowd behind him nicely and popped me with some genuine hope spots. Super Dragon is putting together the blueprint for his bully match beating up smaller flippy guys that would help take him from promising young worker to one of the best in the world. He's our 2x MDTSOCWWKD Champ this week and if we can talk about him for a second, I doubt his career played out how he would have liked. But I hope he can appreciate that the flip side of that is that with how great he still was with a lot of What Ifs along the way, is that his career has that much more mystique and excitement to dig into years later. Who else would I legitimately be excited to watch wrestle Brian XL? And once again, the joke's on me, because I ended this match equally excited to see what Brian XL you come back at me with.

JJZ: Man oh man. Early 2000s indy wrestling at its finest. I'm loving this journey and hope we can stay here a while longer. The first compliment I'll give this match is that it has more substance than I expected. Loved the leg work by Dragon, he went back to it several times and XL did a good job selling. I know it's probably weird to point out this simple psychology  but it rarely happened during this time in the independent wrestling scene! I was kinda shocked. This was a true hidden gem baby cakes. Also Dragon was his usual laying it in self but BXL gave it right back. Super entertaining and don't get me wrong, I love that no-selling car crash style. That was the height of me going to  indy shows and soaking in every moment. And as far as XL, I don't remember him being this good at all. Like never. I honestly can't remember a specific match I've seen him in before. But I'll remember this one.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Act Yasukawa/Heidi Lovelace VS Kris Wolf/Hudson Envy - Stardom 1/11/2015

CJD: First joshi we've ever featured on PIF? And a handheld recording at that. We are also known as the FanCam Connection after all. I don't love Kris Wolf's gimmick but after watching the Stardom episode of the Wrestlers I gained a ton of respect for her living over there and thriving in that culture. The main appeal of this match is seeing Ruby Riottt in Japan (debuting I think?), which is a real novelty, but pretty much everyone shines by the end of this. They pack a lot of character work and some really fun interesting moments into this one. Unfortunately there's a big sloppy slice of pizza in there by the end as we'd say at a wrestling night hangout, but for me I still really enjoyed the match. Even how they worked around said pizza. We've been a bit outside of our wheelhouse on Fridays lately but I'm liking it because I never know where it's going to take us next. Also It's funny to me this is the sixth Heidi Lovelace match we've shared over the years (double crown Champ! 2x FFF Champ!) but we've yet to play any Ruby Riott.

JJZ: Man, this match reminds me of DVDs I would get from IVP for the main event and this would've been a random undercard match that I loved! The Americans definitely shined in this but the homegrown talent came across strong too. Everything popped off the screen. The single cam was great because I'm a fancam junkie at heart so I was totally digging that. I don't think I've seen any of these other women before but I could be wrong. My memory isn't the greatest tbh. The best part of the match was the second half. The falsies were fantastic, I bit on all of them. Couldn't put my thumb on anything as hard as I tried. Also man I'm so happy you took us across the world with this. I've been in such a Japanese mood so I know this will scratch that itch!