Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Gone Fishin'

Hey y'all, we're going to take a week off. Nothing major, just a little r&r time for the FanCam Connection. We'll be back with a banging Kana oddity next Tuesday and a classic Mayumi Ozaki spectacle next Friday!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Cuty Suzuki VS Mayumi Ozaki - JWP Openweight Championship Semifinals 10/15/1995

JJZ: I'm sure when watching matches to play forward, like me sometimes you get five ten maybe even 15 minutes into a match and decided this ain't cutting the mustard and turn it off. Several times I considered bailing because of the slow start and I just was not in the mood for something like that at that moment. But boy oh boy did this son of a bitch build to an epic ass home stretch. Just gonna point out that there was a little slop rounding third, but I didn't mind. Joshi's wildness is something I've always appreciated more than been bothered by. During this Joshi ride my unfamiliarness has been great because everything is new to me baby!!! I had no clue who was gonna win and since it's part of a tournament I hope you don't either.

CJD: So you know I usually watch your match first and read your comments second. And I was literally going to come back and say something like "the first half of this match was fine, the second half was fucking bananas." Low and behold you already lead with pretty much that! Really the 50/50 build wasn't bad, there was good intensity, it just wasn't that engaging. But man Ozaki flips out on the outside with the damndest one handed bulldog I've ever seen, a wacky dive, a 2 Cold Scorpio direction change splash back in, and then Cuty eventually transitions back to offense with an electric chair slam and 3 consecutive top rope double stomps!! And I'm not even giving away the biggest holy shit moments in this match! Ozaki is one of those classic joshi names I know and I've liked what I've seen but I'm pretty green overall. Looking forward to watching more of her next week. This Friday joshi run is going strong and I have no idea if there's an end in sight but I like the little PIF subplot it's created and our good buddy Phil joining in on so much of the ride. And Cuty Mania Vol 2 keeps delivering!! Last thoughts, we talk a lot about what makes for a good opening round match and finals in a tournament, but this was a perfect semi final. Builds at a good pace, doesn't outstay its welcome, big finishing stretch but still leave something on the table for the main event. Also it set the seeds for some story line work going into the finals I would assume.

PB: The last few entries have presented me with the opportunity to express my adoration for the quintessential joshi narrative. This time around I knew I was in for something different before the match even started. The staredown prior to the bell immediately tells you everything that you needed to know about what to expect in the 17 minutes to follow. Whether intentional or not, there is a slight hint of intimidation behind Suzuki's brave posturing. This felt appropriate considering Ozaki doesn't often play nice. The a-typical silence and brooding pace of the first few minutes sucked me in, but as much as I love a good slow-burn part of me wonders if choosing to forgo the traditional high-paced opening salvo came at the expense of getting the crowd invested from the start. I'm not sure whether the pacing of the rest of the event contributed to the underwhelming response, but it didn't stop them from telling an incredibly solid story which isn't always easy in a tournament structure. The ending was a little on the loose side, but the body of the match and the extra thought put into the psychology left me wanting very little from this match.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

I Should've Known You Would AP Cross Me

Kana VS Ayako Hamada - SHIMMER 10/27/2012

JJZ: I definitely should be in bed right now. I need to be up in 5 hours. But! I'm feeling my drink as my grandmom would say and want to watch some wreslting! I'm picking Kana to give you a path out of Joshi if you'd like. The back and forth hold for hold start was very well done in my humble opinion. This was a nice 50/50 match with stiff strikes and tight spots. The crowd is super into this and I am jealous I wasn't there live for this one. I loved the finish because I wasn't expecting it. I thought it would go the other way! Hamada is really good. We both now how good Asuka is but Hamada can work. I was really left impressed with how well rounded she was.

CJD: First of all, my wife and daughter are away visiting family for the first time since she was born and I'm eating copious amounts of pizza drinking some beers and keeping one eye on our group message with our buds as they razz you about not being able to figure out where to watch Dark Side of the Ring online. So I very much feel like I'm in your living room right now watching this match. Second of all, I love this venue, it looks like somewhere you'd have a beef & beer at. Third of all, this match was paced beautifully! I agree complete that the early game of chess was perfect, really slick wrestling which built the foundation for a great finishing stretch. This match felt so big, like an irresistible force VS an immovable object. They could have easily pressed the tempo because of how hooked the crowd was but instead that kept that steady build and the big moments were all that much more rewarding as a result. We have been featuring so much great women's wrestling lately and this match still stands out as one of my favorites.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Forever Forward Champions #31-40

I'm way behind on putting these Championship recaps together but it's been a crazy couple of months for me starting a new job and then having everyone in my house get terribly sick because my daughter started daycare. Finally have a week to catch up here so let's get right to it.

31. The Mane Event
I saw these guys had a big match on the most recent AIW show. Heck yeah! They are both loaded with potential and I was really happy to become more familiar with them in the two matches we featured. A cohesive team with a great gimmick and chemistry.

32. Lee Moriarty (x2)
Our first ever 2x FFF Champion, it took 100 Champs on Tuesdays to reach this milestone, but the Apex of Combat did it on Fridays in a third of the time! Legitimately one of the most exciting guys to watch going today, it's no wonder we're chomping at the bit to play more of him.

33. Ophidian
34. Shane Strickland

35. Darius Lockhart
What a series of matches we got to highlight here. Strickland has to go down as one of the most versatile double crown Champs we've had here at PIF as between the four matches we've played of his on Tuesdays and Fridays he did a little bit of everything. It's been a little while since we played these matches since I'm behind on these recaps and man, we were killing it this stretch!

36. Sugar Dunkerton
37. Rickey Shane Page
Two indy veterans who showed off different layers to their talents than you might not think of when their names come up.

38. Heidi Lovelace (x2)
39. Kris Wolf

40. Toni Storm
Heidi Lovelace has now had 6 matches shared here at PIF yet we still have yet to play a Ruby Riott match! I find that really amusing. She's been a master of the intergender matches too and as a result she kick started a transition to women's wrestling that is still going strong every Friday! This stretch of joshi matches were all foreign talent which featured some strong tags. Finished off with a clash between longtime rivals Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray. And when we recap Champs #41-50 we can talk about that fantastic Kay Lee VS Meiko Satomura match that you need to go back and watch right now if you haven't!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Cuty Suzuki/Devil Masami VS Dynamite Kansai/Hikari Fukuoka - JWP 5/14/1995

CJD: I have a real soft spot for performers in front of an audience that is out of their element and seeing how they react. These 4 ladies wrestled in different tag team combinations a ton in this time period and this basic format of a world class ass-kicker paired with a high energy powder keg was a recipe for success. Put them in front of a crowd of young men (soldiers?) in Beijing China where pro wrestling I have to imagine is a fairly foreign concept and let's see what we get! I'm not going to lie, I watched better Fukuoka matches I considered playing instead, but something about this performance felt like it especially deserved a watch. There are stretches that are a little dull where they get a lot out of a little, but in front of this crowd it makes perfect sense. There's also some absolutely wild holy shit moments where they feel the energy of the room perfectly and take them on some real peaks and valleys. I wish they didn't clip a few minutes out of the broadcast but we both know all too well how often that would happen on a Best Of, in this case Cuty Mania (vol 2!). But I was happy with what we got and would love to know more of the backstory of this tour. If anyone reading wants to fill us in please shoot us an email at pifprowrestling@gmail.com! It's amazing to me as we dive deeper into this Friday joshi run how many of these shows are undocumented on Cagematch and such.

JJZ: Felt weird watching these women walking into a building with a portrait of Mao proudly hanging in the front. But that has nothing to do with the actual wrestling. This crowd was very excited and into this match. So with it being such a foreign crowd I think these ladies did a great job of focusing more on the entertainment side of wrestling. Really big expressions, simple psychology with a lot of drama in the moves. If I was trying to show women's wrestling to someone for the first time it would be a match like this. I was shocked they went into the crowd to be perfectly honest. I'd think that be a no no with all those soldiers. Real talk baby cakes, that ring was stiff as fuck! No give. At all. Really enjoyed this match. Loved all the ambiance surrounding it. Phil, you want to join us on another Forever Joshi Friday?

PB: Admittedly, I'm not much of an aficionado of the mid-90s wrestling scene in China. I couldn't tell you if a Joshi tour was at all commonplace or if this was a special occurrence. Regardless, the setting adds a considerable "charm factor" made all the more endearing by the fact that despite a relatively pedestrian start to the match, it's obvious that all four participants were not just going through the motions. Things really pick up by the half-way point (which also seems to be when someone finally knocks it off with that goddamn bell), and whether out of pure novelty or actual fandom, the crowd is engaged the entire time. The stature and charisma of Kansai appeared to make her the crowd favorite, but that could be said about most Kansai matches (at least in my opinion). Being out of their element, the crowd brawling was somewhat unexpected but that also brings home the point that they were not there to just "play the hits". All in all this was a welcome break in scenery for the era and genre. Very nice find, gentlemen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Let The Devil Step Right In, LuFisto's Your Only Friend

LuFisto (c) VS Ayako Hamada - NCW Femmes Fatale Championship 3/12/2011

CJD: Question for you John. Did you know Gran Hamada has two latina daughters who are both very accomplished pro wrestlers?? Well you do now my friend! And I've watched a bit of Ayako over the years and she's always impressed me but this is the damndest match of hers I've ever seen. This match went in directions I certainly didn't expect and it's a bit all over the map but I enjoyed the ride! We've featured LuFisto in a lot of different roles here now that she's a double crown PIF Champ but we hadn't seen her as the defending hometown Champion and she's great at it. She has such a mean streak but is also willing to go above and beyond to make her opponent look good. She strikes a good balance of looking strong while sympathetic here. Very curious to hear your thoughts on this one especially following up the insanity you played forward to me last week.

JJZ: I did not know that about Gran Hamada!!! It's funny because I read your comments after I watched the match and thought to myself that Hamada is a legendary name. But in wrestling you see a lot of names recycled, especially in Japan. Just recently we featured a female Nakajima! So I didn't even think about the possibility of her being related to the legend Gran Hamada. Well this was an ECW style title match if I've ever seen one. I know this wasn't even close to the match with Necro in regards to craziness but this was a hardcore piece of art. Nice little start in the ring then a pretty violent battle in the crowd. Some great stiff highspots topped off with a few close falsies! Just a great match. The crowd was super into this so I Ioved the lack of commentary to highlight that.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Forever Forward Fridays

Hikari Fukuoka VS Tomoko Kuzumi - JWP 10/11/1998

JJZ: Well. I'm going to put this out there right away. I loved this match. it isn't perfect but aside from a few timing issues this really blew me away. You know Joshi is a weak point in my wrestling knowledge so this was all new to me. You and our friends have shared matches with Azumi in them to me before but I'm still very green with her. To start I'm used to Joshi matches starting with a shotgun blast so when Azumi tried to take the match to that level and Hikari kept grounding her I was smitten right away. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen from that first headlock takeover. Within 15 minutes they told a complete story that lead to some fucking sick high spots. One of which I yelled out holy fucking shit and my wife came running into the room because she thought one of our kids got hurt. I was biting so hard on those falsies I think I chipped a tooth. Loved the finish. Now I think this was a title match but I'm not even sure who the champ was going in because they didn't show either wrestler with the title. I really hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

CJD: Well you've thrown me a curveball with this one but one I'm excited to size up. So after doing some research Hikari Fukuoka has been wrestling 5 years longer than Hyuga who has been wrestling for 4 years as of this match, still under her real name. Hikari is the JWP Openweight Champion coming into this non-title match and this is actually the last years of her career. It's not surprising that even though she was a high flyer in her younger years (innovator of the moonsault double stomp!) that she's trying to ground the ball of energy that is a young Azumi Hyuga in this match. If I had to use one word to describe this match it would be endearing. We both listen to the ThROH The Years podcast a bit and something they talk about from time to time is when a match has such a strong work ethic that it basically wills itself to greatness even when things aren't going its way. That's what I was thinking of here. There's quite a bit that wasn't perfect, some of it I think worked with the cat and mouse psychology, some of it not so much. But damn the work these ladies put in and the smart approach to the match overall made this into something great no matter how rough some of the edges were. I agree completely that I just enjoyed the hell out of this match. Maybe how little joshi we've featured comes into play but I think you found a legitimate great one here. And man do I love Hyuga more and more with each match of hers I watch.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Harder They Come The Harder They Fall

LuFisto VS Necro Butcher - Stranglehold Wrestling KOTDM Finals 10/29/2006

JJZ: So I've been waiting for months to share this match with someone and the moment I realized I can play this forward I felt like a kid on Christmas!!! Finals of the 2006 King of the Deatch Match tournament. It ain't the longest match but talk about making the most out of your time. With them having to wrestle so many times before this I was in shock at how much punishment they went through. I try to keep my death match viewing few and far between because I think it's too easy to get desensitized from it. This match screamed insane brutality to me. I know the gender and size difference jump off the screen but I think the offense of LuFisto and Butcher actually makes for  good psychology. As good as you can get in a dream match that is. This match starts and finishes at a 10 imo. Enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: I'll be honest, I never wanted to watch this match. And if any of our readers don't want to, I don't blame them. Necro hasn't exactly added to his legacy but there's no denying he's an all-time great deathmatch wrestler. This is his signature match done as well as he ever did it, and that's a credit to LuFisto that she's right up there with his best opponents. I certainly agree it started at a 10 and never took its foot off the gas for one second. Necro takes the worst of the punishment by far but LuFisto certainly goes through hell and back in the process. I'd be curious to hear her thoughts about this match now. I'm glad that she's the one with it up on YouTube if it's going to be up on there. This was a horror show but it was a horror show done exceptionally well. I don't think I'll ever watch it again but I was impressed to finally experience it. And why the hell isn't that ref wearing gloves?!?