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.