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!