Friday, May 20, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: I don't know who the fuck Mark Hitchcock is fyi. But I do know this match will certainly give you a bunch of options for what to play next! What I find interesting is that if Oku was our Twosde Champion I would've went immediately to his match with Ospreay that has been getting amazing reviews which I haven't seen yet. BUT it ain't Twosde. It's Friday homie and we know what Fridays are all about here at PIF! Full disclosure while watching this I'm feeling my drink and smoking a fat ass stick so I wanted a junkfood match to pop me out of my seat. If you were in the supermarket you would find this match between the Herr's Cheese Curls and the Takis! If this jawn was a beer it be a Lager. Tastes great and goes down smooth at the end of a long work day. Enjoy my beautiful friend!

CJD: I love that review! I'm also coincidentally having a beer after a 10 hour graveyard as I watch this and this was indeed a smooth ride. Alexander and especially Taurus bring a great power dynamic to a car crash match and all the flippy doos get their shit in nicely. Good structure, good pace, there's not a lot to comment on but I really dug it. Normally I wouldn't want to share a bootleg upload like this but I know you had limited options with Oku and honestly as a Wrestlecon memorial show (I can't find who Mark Hitchcock is either) that had more high profile matches like Bandido/Speedball and the Briscoes/Rottweilers, I don't think giving them a little extra publicity with this great appetizer of a match is a bad thing at all. I'm guessing it'll get taken down sooner than later so watch while you can! I got a kick of Cary Silkin on commentary. Man does he get down with some Ace Austin. I get it, I almost played Ace forward previously, and this match is packed with talent and delivers on a lot of cool interactions and pairings. Good shit and I honestly would love to go with any of the other 5 guys next! Thinking, thinking...

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Kick It!

CJD: Will this derail our Shootstyle Sidequest? Or will it just bring us back closer to the vein? This is much more of a pro style match although there's some good grappling especially between Hase and Takano. This match is kind of an example of Ikeda not having the same special "something" in other settings but I still think the sums of its parts is pretty damn good. In the late 90s I thought Shiga was a super rookie and in retrospect watching him now it's amazing injuries didn't derail his career sooner. The effort is there in spades but he always looks like he's on the brink of a strong breeze ripping him in half. The main thing I'm curious about is how you feel about Hiroshi's performance? I always think of you as a Hase Hater although I don't know if that's fair. But I loved him in this brief AJPW run and thought this match was a great example of his versatility. This isn't where I imagined going with Ikeda at all but this is exactly the kind of match I was in the mood to watch to see Ikeda try to adapt to other settings.

JJZ: Man!! That transition Hase did to get a rear naked choke was amazing. I'm going to always remember the way he got that hold. I rewatched it four times. Anyway! Really good match baby. I wasn't sure if this was gonna be more focused on shoot style or more traditional wrestling. But I think they mixed the bag up really well. Loved the crowd and how much the top blew off that place when the slapping started. I was hoping they would've went back to the sharpshooter stuff because I was loving how much Hase was working to get that bitch on. Nice one CJD! 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Speedball is a 2x MDTSOCWWKD Champion and now our Forever Forward Champion (meaning this is our 6th match we've featured of his) and you and I are no strangers to his work in general. That said, I think between your match and this match I've seen more depth to Bailey's game than I ever knew he had previously. I went into this totally cold, a "let's see what this is all about" situation. As such my expectations were low and some criticisms I'd have with this otherwise were easier to look past. I left this match curious to see more from Oku but with a whole new level of respect for Bailey. This isn't on the level of Nigel holding Tyler Black's hand to a MOTYC back in ROH, but honestly it's not that far off. And it definitely gave off shades of that match. Life's been hectic lately and it's been hard to find time and motivation to watch wrestling. So this was a gamble to devote the time to and I don't regret it at all. In fact this was a treat. Curious to hear if you agree??

JJZ: I'm pretty sure this is my first Oku match too. Can't be certain if I've seen him in a random tag at some point or not. REGARDLESS! For a first impression this is crazy town. So much great leg work. Love the mindset of these wrestlers to not just have a spotfest. With that said, this had some amazing spots. I do think this is the kind of match that would win over our friends in an all night marathon viewing of wrestling. Just saying. Bailey also really showed a lot of depth I've never seen from him before. Not shitting on the karate kid. Fucking love me some Bailey. Great pick man!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Sho Can Go

JJZ: I knew right away I was going more shoot style Funaki. He really impressed me in his last match. So Ikeda, man I keep feeling like we've shared him recently but looking back we have not. He's another one that I know the name but I'm not sure of his stature in Japan. I'm wondering if we talked about him in regards to you other wreslting side project. So after watching two Funaki matches I've fully come to the conclusion that he ain't nuttin to fuck wit. Jesus baby, you can tell this motherfucker is the real deal. His transition game is legitimate. Now it's obvious that Ikeda is the vet in this match. I wouldn't say he is taking liberties but he is kinda laying into his shit. I do believe that Funaki looks great in his reversals and offensive holds. And I fucking loved the finish.

CJD: Ikeda was probably on your mind because I was talking to you off the record about how intertwined his career is with Ishikawa, but how Ishikawa is pretty much a slam dunk for my Greatest Wrestler Ever top 100 ballot as he translates to a lot of different settings. Meanwhile Ikeda's typically only great in shootstyle but man is he great at it. I honestly don't know if he'll make my ballot but I do know I loved this match! These guys didn't give each other an inch. The dueling limb work was awesome right through the end, just enough focus for a match like this but still with an organic fight feel. And you've gotta love mid 90s BattlARTS ambiance (what was the audio picking up in the background?? Ring springs squeaking mixed with a nearby concert?). Something I've really valued over the years with our friendship and our good buddy and occasional guest reviewer PB is I can always rely on both of your extensive BJJ  training to get feedback on if a match like this holds up to some scrutiny beyond a pro wrestling lens. So it's good to know that Funaki, who I never watched do this style until these past two weeks, looks as good to you as he does to me. He was always the least of Kaentai DX to me, perfectly fine as the 5th man, but now I kind of wish he had kept running with Ishikawa's crew instead. Speaking of PB, I reached out to see if he wanted to join us on our Shootstyle Sidequest this week! What do you say Phil, does Ikeda make your top 100 greatest wrestlers? Does Smackdown's #1 Announcer have what it takes to tap out JBL if he pooped in his bag?? Also what did you think of this match.

PB: Top 100? Not quite, but I see the argument. His 2005 match against Yuki Ishikawa from Futen would be enough to justify the consideration as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand, I think we could all agree that FunakiSmackdownNumberOne was never in the conversation. That being said, he more than carries his share of the heavy lifting here (pun semi-intended). You can tell from the first takedown that FSN1 has a formidable grappling background despite it's infrequent application at the height of his stateside popularity. The disparity in skill between the two is primarily in the striking, but this actually serves to magnify Sho's prowess on the ground to the point where I was convinced that he had a legitimate (albeit small) shot of winning if he could nullify Ikeda's kicks. That reminds me, without spoiling the ending I can confidently say that the first two syllables of the winner's theme music is the most apropos compliment to the finish of a match that I've seen/heard in recent memory.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A Malenko By Any Other Name

Carl Greco VS Shoichi Funaki - PWFG 5/12/1993

CJD: We're getting into the weeds with this Shootstyle Sidequest. The Greco options that don't have Ishikawa in them were really limited so I had to start combing through some uploads of entire PWFG shows like this one to see what caught my eye. I try to avoid sharing stuff like this because I don't want people to have to click around but it's the first match on the show 6 minutes in and you can see more of Kane warming up for his match later with Fujiwara (!) as an added bonus. This is the earliest match I've seen from Greco or Funaki and while this honestly pales in comparison to your match last week, for the opener of a fairly low key shootstyle show I thought this did a very nice job. The opening feeling out is organic and exciting. I did think it was a little dry in the middle stretch but both guys did a very good job fighting for ring position and stressing the importance of trying to finish things out of the reach of rope breaks. Which kind of plays off of your match even though it's 15 years in the future! The finish capped it off as a "yes, I'll play that forward" moment. This doesn't go big but it does get the crowd warmed up and ready and makes both young fighters look full of potential. And I'm not going to lie, I'm just grinning thinking about the transition the past month and half going from WALTER, to Ishikawa, to Kane, back to Ishikawa, to Greco, to Smackdown's #1 Announcer. Where are we taking this wild ride next??

JJZ: The joy that this match brings me just seeing the opening is something that only Play it Forward can do. How in the hell did we get here (thanks for that little recap). How great is this Chris! Funaki really impressed me in this one. He can go. This match is extremely well done on a  technical level. The reversals from hold to hold were so smooth. Both guys did an excellent job on the fundamentals of grappling that made the match feel so authentic. I do wish they had a limit on rope breaks though. I found myself at times thinking, "try a kimura! Go for a knee bar!" and the guys actually went for it. Loved that little touch. Great finish. I could've watched this for another 30 minutes!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Bringing a little gaga for the proud papa! Right off the bat I'm going to say this probably over stayed its welcome by a few minutes. But the thought of this match being on the blog at the same time as the shoot stuff we've been sharing made me laugh to myself. This bad boy gets weird. I'm totally unfamiliar with Club Tropicana but Sexsea and Aiden have this gimmick down. Total pros. I'd love to see them wrestle against Colt and Yone. Veda was really good in this, better than I expected. Bailey (who fucking killed it in this match) could've really covered up any warts with his insane highflying but everyone delivered on what they were trying to sell in this one. The production of the intros was excellent and the crowd was hot from the jump. Hope you enjoy.

CJD: This promotion definitely has some slick production. I was just talking about how indie wrestlers have so many hats to wear any given night and improv comedian is one they don't typically get many reps with unless it's their gimmick. As such I was also impressed with Bird Law in this, they did get some laughs out of me even if the overall timing of some jokes was off. This was a big old mixed bag with some stuff I liked ("no you put him down!"), some I could have done without (that HBK/Flair joke was a miss for me in particular), and a couple of great spots to keep things moving. It's a messy but fun end result that gives me some interesting options for next week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

MDTSOCWWKD Tuesday Favorites

As advertised here are our picks for our Top 5 favorite Tuesday posts from March 2021-March 2022! There are some absolute bangers mixed in here (so much so that we had three of the same picks!!), while our Friday Top 5 had one hell of an eclectic range of matches. Which is pretty on-brand for PIF but you never know when Tuesdays will go down a rabbit hole of Kane shootstyle exploits! We always keep them guessing.



Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) VS Go Shiozaki - NOAH GHC Heavyweight Championship 1/1/2022

Yoshihiro Takayama (c) VS Satoshi Kojima - AJPW Triple Crown Championship 9/26/2009

KENTA VS Eddie Edwards - NOAH 11/25/2007

Orange Cassidy (c) VS Joey Janela - ICW IWTV Championship 5/18/2019

Can-Am Express VS Toshiaki Kawada/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi - AJPW 8/27/1992

Friday, April 22, 2022

Forever Forward Friday Favorites

Hey all you PIFamaniacs, if you've been reading for a few years you'll notice we're not going to do our annual Head Droppies. Just not feeling it this year. Maybe they'll be back next April? We'll see! In the meantime, we decided to look back at the last year of posts with a simple Top 5 PIF Picks from both myself and JJZ for Tuesdays and Fridays. So here are our Top Five FFFFavorites from March 2021-March 2022! We'll check in on Tuesday with our MDTSOCWWKD Top 5.



Team PAWG VS Chuck Taylor/Orange Cassidy - Beyond 9/24/2017

Aja Kong/Kyoko Inoue VS LCO - AJW 8/9/1997

Lioness Asuka VS Bull Nakano - AJW 5/14/1989

Jaguar Yokota VS Lioness Asuka - JD' 4/14/1996

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

While Everyone's Lost, The Battle Is Won

Yuki Ishikawa VS Carl Greco - BattleARTS 6/1/2008

JJZ: Let's talk shoot fighting! This was a grappling match to the fullest! Great transitions and unexpected switches. And they maximized the rope breaks in this one! I was so I'm the mood for a match like this. The matches Ishikawa had with Jacobs were great but this really gets into the shit I'm talking about with this style of wrestling. I don't recall seeing Greco before because my Battlearts viewing is sadly so limited but I'm gonna keep him on my radar for damn sure. So this is the fourth Ishikawa match we've shared now and it's crazy to think we've covered three different decades. We really are showcasing a great snapshot into his long career.

CJD: You are so in my wheelhouse with this one I'm going to have to start calling you Johnny Cartwheelhouse!! Carl Greco aka Carl Malenko is the adopted brother of Dean and Joe and is one of the unsung pioneers of shoot style. He has a rivalry with Ishikawa going back to the early 90s. One of our favorite Instagram accounts master_of_senton coincidentally just made a post highlighting another match of his days after you sent me this. He made the point that Greco was the first person to ever go the distance against a young Wanderlei Silva, and while his MMA record won't turn any heads, that's certainly proof that he's a legitimate bad ass. I watched this match back around when it happened but haven't seen it since, and it plays even better now than I remembered. This did happen in an absolute resurgence of BattlARTS where they were having banger after banger so it got lost in the shuffle a bit for me. Looking back now, this is one of the finest examples of grappling I've ever seen. Seriously elite level shit. One review I read mentioned no strikes are thrown and while I didn't notice that it does sound right. I have to imagine I've seen the big twist before the finishing stretch in another match previously but I can't remember for certain and it gave me literal goosebumps. These are two masters of their craft and like you said we highlighted what an all-time great Yuki Ishikawa is over the course of four very different matches that don't even scratch the surface of his greatest hits. Although this match certainly deserves to be in the conversation.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Solo Darling VS Penelope Ford VS Veda Scott VS Ashley Vox - Beyond Wrestling 5/1/2019

CJD: Going from a very substantial match last week to a very junk food match this week. But I will say, we've discussed before if the talent wasn't on this level in the mid 2000s for women compared to now, or if they just didn't have the right platform. Well I think it's more the latter than the former but the talent in this match for a random 4 way is pretty damn impressive. Especially considering none of these four ladies are really big names even now. We've seen a lot of random 4 ways and for me this one was particularly creative and made great use of its time. And Solo just has that It Factor that you can't quite put your finger on, especially coming from the kind of Candy Crush gimmick she started with to where she is now. The sum is much greater than the individual parts and I'm really glad we've gotten more familiar with her work over the span of her two FFF Championships. Curious where you'll go next with all these options!

JJZ: Junk food match to the fullest. They even had some pizza. I'm familiar with each woman in this match so picking who to play forward will depend on who impresses me the most in the 4 corner classic my North Carolina friend! This was a fun one. Reminded me of early 2000 Ring Of Honor four corner survivals. I feel like all the ladies came across fantasic and everyone's timing was good. Nice highspots with a simple but effective finish! Nice shit baby boy.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Travis Huckabee VS Solo Darling - CHIKARA 12/8/2018

JJZ: I went into this more curious than excited. Especially with a match taking place during a heated feud. I think both wrestlers played their roles excellently. Darling's face work really pulled the crowd on her side. She came across very angry but you could sympathize with her because she was still trying to mend the relationship with Travis. Huckabee on the other hand came across so scumbaggy. So callous and unredeemable. The workrate in this one was top notch. Loved the limb work and they even had a few spots that really made me wince. The story was fantastic and the wrestling was above what I expected. Good shit from these two.

CJD: Beautiful write up on this one. I loved how everything in this match was done with such purpose. I wonder what percent of your average wrestler's career is matches like this with such layered story and emotion built into it? And how much more difficult it is to deliver a match like this than a random undercard first time encounter. Or maybe the added drama makes it easier than starting cold? This is the stuff that fascinates me about being a pro wrestler, especially on the indies. You're the master of your own destiny and there are a million wildly different scenarios and jobs you'll have to do along the way. For Huckabee for example going all the way from a ref to a partner betrayed feud blowoff like this. And when the stars align like this it all comes together and on this show with this opportunity these two knocked it out of the park. Super memorable and exciting match that both should look back at with pride.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

That's Gotta Be Kane?!

CJD: So I used to avoid going straight back to a rematch because it's technically against our rules with our imaginary titles and what can and can't be played forward. And 4 years in I think it's become pretty obvious we just do whatever we want at this point. You were going to watch this match anyway. I wanted to watch this match. I didn't want to watch Kane doing Kane things. But I did want to watch Yuki Ishikawa doing Yuki Ishikawa things. So let's do this! Looking into it a bit more I think this is the match that most people have seen when they reference these two wrestling. And this is also pretty darn good. But I wouldn't have liked it anywhere near as much without the previous match. Ishikawa clearly comes back in with a strategy and is making a statement early with his slick transitions and attempts to cut the big man down. They play up Kane's lack of experience with the style a little more and make his moments of skill seem a bit more shocking. Basically everything is done with more purpose in this match and as a result it's a little more engaging but also a little less organic. I like the first match better but I like Ishikawa's performance in this one more. By the end I'm just amazed at what great chemistry these two had! And begrudgingly glad you got me to sit down to two Kane matches!

JJZ: While watching this one I was thinking that big Kane fans would be watching this and saying "God, this is awful." While I'm thinking "God, Kane is awful... but this is pretty good!!" I love that you played this back. So entertaining. I was legit hooked on everything they did. I'm telling you man lower expectations really set this up and between both matches they knocked it out of the park. I do wish Glenn used his strength advantage more because when he did it was impressive. I'll agree that the first match made this one more enjoyable. Loved the finish. So happy I can say that I saw multiple good Kane matches!

Friday, April 1, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: We've featured a lot of shorter matches on FFFridays so I try to avoid anything this abrupt but man this had too much going for it to skip over. Travis Huckabee was someone I was making sure I was watching back when I had a Chikaratopia subscription and I'd say is one of the more underrated guys (or girls) going today. Masha looks great returning from an extended tour of Japan. Limitless has an awesome little studio presentation of this very recent match and the sum of the parts of this 7 or 8 minutes is so much more than you'd expect from the runtime and scrolling past a thumbnail.

JJZ: It's hard to get a good feel for a wrestler during a 7 minute match but you know me! I super appreciate wrestlers that can produce a quailty short match. We did get good idea of what Masha Slamovich is these past 2 weeks. We saw her work heel and babyface and boy was she able to control the crowd. Nice match baby cakes!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

This Battle Chose Us

JJZ: So you sure know why I picked this one. Holy fuck. Never knew Kane did shoot style wrestling before. Let me tell you, I was so entertained by this it isn't even funny. Everything Glenn did I popped for. IMO he did better fucking good. And you what?? They had a rematch two weeks later! I'm going to watch that also! CJD you are the one who really introduced me to this form of professional wreslting and you know how much I love it. I went into this not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. It's not Takeda vs Maeda but it pretty goddamn good. And for Kane, that's saying a lot! Dude knows more than I thought he would. I wonder if Bryan Danielson knows he worked these matches?

CJD: It's funny you would say I introduced you to shootstyle because back at that time I really only dug BattlArts and more pro wrestling based shoot stuff. I loved Ishikawa but Otsuka was my guy for example. And I would say your passion for digging into UWF is what convinced me to finally open the door to really straight up simulating shoot style, which I'd always kind of wrote off as trying to portray itself as being above wrestling. Needless to say I was being close minded and in the end we both win because we both had our horizons broadened.

I knew these two wrestled but I never got around to checking out what sort of freakshow it was and Holy Shit! This was so much better than I expected. Pretty better fucking good!! The best Kane singles match I've seen by such a wide margin. How is he legitimately intimidating here and so toothless as The Devil's Favorite Demon or whatever the hell they call him?? This built logically, a battle of technique VS size and power, although like you said Kane had a surprising amount of technique. There was a real tension and progression to the way it played out and I even loved Fujiwara's little role as trainer after the match. This was a treat and man I didn't think I'd be saying that about a Kane match any time soon.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Well, after going through the effort of watching and sending you the wrong match I wanted to just watch something fun instead. So when you see these ladies at the beach I thought what's more fun than that?!?! This was an interesting one to say the least. I don't even know what Bortchsed (probably spelled that wrong) is. The surroundings were the story of this one. At first I was thinking that wrestling in sand while being wet would be totally annoying but I remembered backyard wrestling in mud and snow and it wasn't during but it was after that sucked. In the moment it was actually quite fun so I hope Allie and Masha enjoyed the uniqueness of what they were doing. What I can say about the match itself was that it was pretty tight and I really liked the finish. I like that they didn't over do it with spots. They didn't need to. The keep it simple stupid method sold this match perfectly.

CJD: This match definitely had to suck after the fact but in the moment it looked like a blast. At least rolling around in the ocean dropping bombs back and forth did. I've watched the sickest deathmatches imaginable but there were still moments of this that had me cringing because of cold water or oily outdoor borscht tubs. Which is fun because they built these spots with purpose to make the audience care and that's good pro wrestling even if you're building to something this silly. I've heard a lot about Masha but this is the first match I've seen of her's and it's a hell of an introduction. I did think Allie stole the show though and she just wins me over more and more with each match I see from her. You hit me with this type of match at just the right time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Big Daddy W

Ringkampf VS Yuki Ishikawa/Shigehiro Irie - wXw Inner Circle 3/7/2019

CJD: So you know this match was a journey for me to arrive at in more ways than one. I think part of the problem was that the Dunne match set the bar so high that every WALTER singles match I watched felt like a big step down. And I will say that WALTER recycled a lot of similar spots for a while there, although I think he's been less guilty of that in recent years. But I wasn't trying to play forward back to back WWE matches so I ended up here with something completely different and really enjoyable. This match is much more focused on building to the Thatcher/Ishikawa match the next night (which is fantastic and I have pegged to play for you in person someday) but WALTER and Irie are excellent second fiddles to keep things fresh and rotate pairings. And Ringkampf are an excellent somewhat underrated tag team for what big presences these two have as singles wrestlers. At its core this is just fundamental, physical, straight-forward grappling and striking. But done so well and between two teams I never imagined would meet up and in such a unique and intimate setting. Enjoy baby, I couldn't believe how many twists and turns it took me to get here.

JJZ: Was that Saves the Day in the beginning of this video? First off love this venue. Plop a ring down in the middle of a warehouse and stuff in the fans. Bam! You got me. Man. This was great baby, I was so happy to see a match were Walter wasn't just dominating most of the time. He never plays second fiddle normally. And of course he did an excellent job of it. Thatcher and Ishikawa really had some heat in this one. Super stiff and tight. But most importantly I loved that there was no wasted moves or movement. Everything was earned and used to gain or maintain advantage. Just felt like a real fight start to finish. Can't wait for my hunting after this one.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I watched an older match between these two which had a lot of potential, so I was excited for this rematch. I thought it built on the positives of their chemistry nicely. These two have a fun babyface dynamic that allows for a bit more of a hold for hold back and forth than you see in a lot of women's matches on the indies. It works really well here and when they have the opportunity for a big moment they usually deliver. Not the smoothest match we've ever played forward but I loved the repeated attempts for the Shazz-mission and the general pace. I'm sure these two have had lots of matches against each other and it makes sense why, they're great opponents.

JJZ: This match was good. I'd imagine 2nd or 3rd on the card. The playfulness in the beginning set a nice tone for how the match would play out. Not the smoothest  bout but I liked the idea they were going for. I was surprised when they had a spot on the outside with no mats but Allie took the bump perfectly. I liked the falsies and the home stretch came in at the right time. Limitless man. I think they might be our most shared promotion in PIF history.

CJD: This is actually the second match we shared off this very show too, with Statlander/Vox in the main event!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

When The Bitter End Arrives

JJZ: As soon as I saw Pete Dunne was in our last match I thought about his NXT title matches with Walter. So I said fuck it and typed this in the YouTube search. I loved their first title match but I remembered liking this one even more. One of the better hand spots chopping the post because I didn't see it coming. Also loved how it was brought back later in the match and not for Dunne to take control at that moment. Really interesting hand work, that drop kick to the hand popped me. Walter players the monster role better than anyone going. The fear he has built with just a single chop is masterful. On rewatch I think their first title match was better but this is still great. Do you know if they had a third?

CJD: I feel like they had to have another rematch since but I don't know of one. Immediate rematches after a dominant babyface title run are so hard to pull off well. You almost always either make the new Champ look too weak or taint the legacy of the previous Champ's reign. This match avoids both pratfalls although the finish flirts with the former. Still the match itself is so damn good the finish is just fine in the grand scheme of things. I'd agree the Takeover match is classic and this is just short but I give them both a ton of credit mixing things up and delivering such a difficult type of match. This was a great, great TV main event, and portrayed perfectly in a great stretch of NXT UK programming. WALTER walked the line perfectly of making it look like he needed to survive Dunne to retain, but doing so in a way that still made him look dominant. I was happy to rewatch this one and I'd recommend anyone else who's seen it previously to make time to do the same. It has so many fun twists and turns.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Kimber Lee VS Shazza McKenzie - RISE 7/7/2018

JJZ: So I watched a 30 minute no DQ match with Kimber Lee before this. At the start I thought I hit the lottery. I knew I was going with it. 10 minutes in I was like it's really good. 20 minutes in I thought to myself, I like it. 30 minutes in I thought, I don't like it. After going through such a disappointment I wanted just a good basic jawn with solid storytelling. So here we are. I don't recall seeing Shazza McKenzie before. She was good. Shazza knew how to work the crowd and get over a full story in 10 minutes. Kimber Lee is such a pro. Her polish shines no matter what the stage. The finish put me over for this one. Enjoy baby.

CJD: I can relate to that journey with the half hour match so much. So frustrating when you love the foundation of what they've built. But this match was good! I did think Kimber played it a little too big for how small of a match it was. I love how emotive she is normally but I didn't think this match needed it quite so much. That said, she did everything she could to make you leave this thinking Shazza was every bit as good as her. And McKenzie to her credit was right there every step of the way. As you said this was a very complete 10 minute match that felt like it'd slot perfectly into an hour block of TV. Good pick even if it was an alternate.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Go Back Home

CJD: I'll be honest, I watched this match despite of Chris Renfrew and BT Gunn, not because of them. But I know you like a good 4 way and the idea of Trent Seven as defending Champion in a chaotic situation like this appealed to me. Well let me tell you something brother, Renfrew and Gunn might have been my favorite part of this match! I think I've heard their names here and there but I don't believe I've ever seen either and they were awesome. This took the 4 way with faces on one side and heels on the other, with already built-in alliances, and turned it on its head with a match that kept me guessing. It was pretty "cute" at times but it did it extremely well. Some of these sequences would have made Insane Dragon and Amazing Red proud. I really enjoyed this match, it was more than junk food, but not quite a full meal, either way I was extremely satisfied after I left the table. Fast casual pro wrestling??

JJZ: Junk food is the perfect way to describe this bad boy. Hard hitting, funny, smart. But most of all entertaining. I loved the tag team mind games they had take place in this one. They did a good job of not doing anything obvious I thought and had some surprising interactions with their partners. The crowd was really up for this match and hard great energy straight through. The finish was well executed and I wasn't familiar with Gunn or Renfrew so when the match started I thought Necro Butcher was in the ring. Nice pick baby boy.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Back Next Week

Hey all you PIFfies, one of the CJD household's pets started this week off in the hospital. She's home and doing much better now but combine that with the fact that I'm wrapping up a month of 3rd shift and this week became a lost cause for the blog. We'll be back Tuesday with a wild ass 4 way and get right back into the swing of things. Have a good weekend and give your furry ones an extra pet for me!

Friday, February 18, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I've watched a lot of LuFisto matches for PIF at this point. But I've yet to see a bad one. The dynamic here is so different than last week's as Kimber Lee clearly has LuFisto's respect but still has so much to earn. I loved how big they made this match feel, how hard Kimber Lee had to work for what she got, how they took a generic crowd brawl and made it organic and awesome, and how they brought things home. LuFisto just carries herself like everything matters, she projects such a big presence. And Lee was right there with her standing her ground and then some.

JJZ: So before we started Play It Forward I didn't even know who LuFisto was. Now I think I can confidently say she is a top 20 all time women's wrestler. She has such spectacular fundamentals. She does the little things so well. And getting to see her work with such a baby faced Kimber Lee was such a treat. I'm a big fan of the Princess also and I'm pretty sure this is the earliest match I've seen of her. The dynamic between the two played out great and they both didn't hold back at all. Kimber proving herself to the old Lioness. The vet showing the younger wrestler how it's done. Just good shit. Loved the finish, totally believable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Suzuki Goon

JJZ: I really like Trent Seven. Especially his selling. Zack Sabre Jr is easy but also hard to play forward. Easy because he has wrestled every one ever but hard because he is so damn good that I don't want it to seem like I'm just sharing the first thing I watched. So this was the second match I watched! The first was a Tyler Bate match, and while it was good it wasn't great and maybe over-stayed its welcome. Then I went over to Trent. This match had some really special things in it. First Trent's selling. Tremendous. I was really marking out on the selling of his own offense. A lot of the time he made it feel like he was just throwing shit out last minute hoping it lands. And Fucking Zack. I swear he really just makes shit up as he goes. I was falling for the falsies and loved the home stretch. Enjoy my boy.

CJD: One thing I love is watching great wrestlers wrestle in front of different types of audiences and seeing how they adjust. This match accomplished that big time compared to what I'm used to from these guys. It was super cheeky at times, a little touch and go at other times, and then it landed exactly where it needed to. I agree completety that it felt like they called a good amount on the fly which I loved. The announcers cracked me up by how knowledgable they tried to sound on the submissions. "He's got a Crippler Crossface combined with a Michinoku Driver combined with a La Magistral!!!" This was a really good match that didn't take itself too seriosly but still delivered big time for the crowd it was in front of. Nice find baby, and I'm glad you didn't go with the first match you stumbled across.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

LuFisto VS Jordynne Grace - Beyond Wrestling 5/29/2016

JJZ: So I think this is the first time we are playing a match forward of a tag team working each other. This was an old lion vs young lion style match. LuFisto really controlled this one for most of it. Grace's selling was way better than I've seen from her before but to be honest this might be the first time I've seen her working from under this much. Really solid psychology trying to work on Grace's core. Some innovative transitions and some really stiff strikes. I popped a few times with LuFisto's aggressiveness. I feel like this was a giving Jordynne the business kinda match. Making her earn her stripes so to speak. The home stretch was was a lot of fun and the finish caught me off guard.

CJD: I expected this match to be good. I didn't expect it to be great. But I'd say it pretty comfortably was by the end. I also think this is the first significant partner VS partner match we've featured which is interesting because which one of these ladies is technically our imaginary FFFriday Champion right now?? Is the belt held up?? Anyway, they weren't teaming yet at this point I don't think but knowing Grace so clearly earned LuFisto's respect in matches like this one makes me appreciate their team that much more. I loved how engaged in the moment both ladies were, how much they were feeding off each other. The grimey hold for hold stuff combined with the chippy shots gave this the feel of early 2000s IWAMS or something generally from a different era. That's an aspect of LuFisto's style that I really enjoy. Her being such a student of the game and paving the way for the likes of Jordynne gave the young lion aspect of this that much more gravity.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Supernova Goes Pop

CJD: This match brought a smile to my face because it brought me back to PIF's roots almost 4 years ago. After developing this idea for a long time we kicked things off with a series of matches that I still think define our mission statement here, one of which was a ZSJ/Ogawa tag. So why not revisit this underrated tandem?? And how about a workman's team if I ever saw one in 2015 mohawk Yone and "finding himself" puffy pants Nakajima?? This match had me guessing after talking about booking with a real sense of hierarchy, because everyone here has a clear place on their team, and all these guys were typically booked with purpose. Still this match feels a little thrown together, like something to round out an undercard, yet it still builds to a really nice finish. You get the sense these teams could run a rematch for the tag titles in a high profile match and knock it out of the park. For what this was I would have loved 5 more minutes but what we got still left me very satisfied and felt very on-brand for PIF.

JJZ: I would put Zack Sabre Jr and Ogawa as one of my favorite tag teams over the past ten years. Their feuds with Tiger Mask IV/Jushin Liger and Kotage/Harada are low key some of the best junior tag matches in recent memory. This match is wonderful Chris. Just good solid wrestling. Yone is great for this match. He doesn't bring it down at all. Just adds baby. Chubby Nakajima was so much fun. This was before he fully joined NOAH and they still used him in odd spots. I don't know if you remember but I showed you a singles match between Zack and Naks right around this timeframe. Anyway. Good shit baby cakes. It was such a fun watch, I just enjoyed what was on the screen for 17 minutes.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Team PAWG VS Chuck Taylor/Orange Cassidy - Beyond 9/24/2017

CJD: I've been thinking about what a great career LuFisto has had despite the odds, so happy for her Indie HoF induction. So this match caught me at the right time, plus OC ties perfectly into last week's match even without Chuck Taylor as his partner! I gotta say Freshly Hungover Orange Cassidy isn't my favorite version of his schtick but he really grinds this one out if he is indeed hurting as bad as Bryce implies. This match was the type of goofy fun you'd expect and by the end it had me grinning big time on my lunch break. Gotta love Beyond bringing the goods with the YouTube uploads as always. This is familiar FFFriday grounds but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

JJZ: I love this venue! This was such a fun match. Chuck and Orange are the perfect dance partners for an intergender tag match. I thought everyone looked very polished and experienced. Besides LuFisto everyone is pretty young still. I think this is such a good match before the main event. I wish Orange still did a few of the things he did in this match. Like the hand fake outs and the sunglasses flip. I got a real kick out of the finish. Gotta stay strong brother!

CJD: Yeah man, if I was going on in the main event after this I would thank every one of these four individuals. Give em a good ol worker's handshake. This must have set the table beautifully.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Best Friends VS Santana & Ortiz - AEW Parking Lot Brawl 9/10/2020

JJZ: First of all. I'm so sorry about these ads. I try to avoid Dailymotion for this reason but I always wanted to hear your thoughts on this match. Short backstory for you CJD. Santana and Ortiz busted up Trent's mom's minivan weeks back and this was the blow off. Loved this feud and loved this match. The parking lot brawl was a great idea during the no fans era of Covid because it felt like a normal feud ending match even without a live audience. I always love a good PLB because I actually think it's a hard match to pull off. It gets boring just throwing your opponent into cars. I believe these four guys really did some innovative stuff here. Following the feud I enjoyed the finish. Towards the end of the match I thought to myself that I'd love to know how much money the damage to the cars cost??

CJD: This is one of the only pandemic matches that was made better due to the situation. Other matches and promotions got creative, or had an unique atmosphere, but this is a stipulation that's essentially a cinematic match before that was a concept. So you can tell a light went off for everyone involved and they were determined to take this opportunity to have a match in a vacuum at a time when everyone else was working with a handicap, and deliver something in that vacuum that would stand the test of time as an all-time classic. And they delivered. Everyone in this is great but god damn does Santana look like a star. The heels act like heels. The babyfaces are infinitely likable even though these are some damn cool heels. The pace for this style of brawl is perfect. The spots are vicious. Tony Khan says this was all one take and I believe it because it just feels authentic. The commentary is among the best I've heard from this team. This match is magic and one of the brightest spots in one of the darkest eras imaginable.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Who Is NOAH??

JJZ: I still fucking hate that Nakajima changed his music. I truly loved his last song. Also didn't know this was Go's big return from surgery. I know this is a little off topic but I got a question for you. With NOAH and NJPW working together again who would you want to wrestle Okada? Personally I'd kill for Nakajima to work him. They have the whole angle with Kensuke built in already. Back to the match. So from watching recent NOAH and recent NJPW I feel like NOAH has had a better crowd through the pandemic. I understand they are both under the same restrictions but the NOAH crowd has had far better energy imo. More than any fans I know me and you have this special attraction to NOAH. I remember the first NOAH match I've ever seen was when you showed me Misawa vs Kobashi when Kobashi won the GHC title. I've been in love ever since. That green apron held a special meaning. Sharing NOAH matches with you means more than any promotion to me. So let's talk about Nak's kicks. I mean does anyone even come close at this point? I think not. The sound better than when my karate teacher is laying into the heavy bag. Fucking damage is being done. Loved the ramp spots. Some 2000s NOAH call backs. This match was a master class in a striking based match. Just two men going shot for shot to see who is tougher. The spots are hit well and timely to accent the aggression in the match. It did not overstay its welcome and had me on a couple falsies. Great selling by both guys. And personally I like this one more than their other recent jawn.

CJD: So first of all, thank you for working behind the scenes with me to get to this match. I was dying to see it. Their 2020 jawn was one of my favorites of the year and on first watch I agree that this might have been even better. I also agree that NOAH crowds are really committed to their product despite the pandemic restrictions. It's the only current Japanese wrestling I get excited to watch. As for the match. There's just something about the way these two match up that works so well. I'm honestly kind of sick of "shot for shot" wrestling as you called it, at least when it's lacking in selling, emotion, and drama. This match wasn't lacking in any of these areas. The story of AXIZ torn apart still adds so much but even without that layer just Go's return after his historic title reign, coming back for his title, drives the story of this match so much. Shiozaki wrestles like he has a new lease on life. Nakajima wrestles like he trained to prepare for whatever Go would throw at him. Like you said the build is pitch perfect and the selling makes everything feel so high stakes by the end. I loved the actual finish and the symbolism of it. I also loved your comments about our bond watching mid 2000s NOAH together! That's something I appreciate that NOAH retains to this day, that feeling handed down from Baba's booking that hooked us, that wins against the top guys matter so much. When you saw Baba, Jumbo, and then eventually Misawa, Kobashi take a L, even in a tag setting, you knew you were seeing something special. That's how I feel about how they've built Go at this point, and that's why I wanted to see this match spoiler-free. I didn't expect him to win the title back, but I definitely wasn't ruling it out, because I know his losses at this point matter. This match delivered on the expectations of that standard of booking that we've fallen in love with over the decades. As well as those holy shit moments that came along with those early emerald green ring classics.

Oh and to answer your question, I'd book Okada VS Kaito!

Friday, January 21, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Fight Or Flight VS EYFBO - C4 5/27/2016

CJD: I'll start right off by saying I liked your Fight or Flight match better. But this match is trying to accomplish something different and it's interesting to see how a young Santana & Ortiz work differently against the local babyfaces than SSB did. This match has more gaga, a few iffy moments, but some that really popped me too. I haven't seen a lot of their EYFBO days and I enjoyed watching this side of them as a tag team. I was also surprised that FoF looked much more comfortable here even though this match takes place earlier in the same year your SSB match did. I watched a bit more of Vaughn Vertigo (what a name) and Gabriel Fuerza than just these two matches and while they didn't knock my socks off they are a capable tag team for this kind of popcorn match.

JJZ:  I'll tell you what my friend. I really enjoyed this. This was such an indy show opener style of match. I got such a kick out of the backyard overly ambitious spots. I can totally picture the guys talking about them driving over to the VFW. This was the definition of a junk food match. I didn't even know that Santana and Ortiz use to go by that name before. EFYTOBQRST or whatever it was. I think you can really see the potential in all four these young pups. FoF is so raw still but Santana/Ortiz really match their wildness. Good shit.

CJD: EYFBO- Entertain Your Fucking Balls Off if I'm not mistaken.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Ace In The Hole

CJD: To pull back the curtain a bit, I told you I was thinking about playing this one forward to you, and you told me you've played it for me before IRL. But you said bring it on because you remember loving the match. I always want to zag when it's time to zig though, so I went and watched a few Tanahashi matches VS Goto. And those matches basically were trying to accomplish what this match did, but didn't do anywhere near as good of a job of it. So I went back to my original plan and holy shit- how did I forget that moonsault?!? The fact Tanahashi is able to finish the match after that is incredibly tough (or incredibly stupid with 2022 eyes) and he really goes the extra mile to make Go look like a star here. When you played this match for our gang the room was very much split, half not sold on Tanahashi, half not sold on Go. I'm hardcore, I'll take them both! I don't think Shiozaki had put it all together as he tried to become a top guy at this point but he had great fire and both wrestlers lived in the moment to take this crowd on a ride. Even with some rough edges it was fun to refresh my memory with this one.

JJZ: I'm really glad you went with this one. At the time I didn't appreciate Tanahashi like I do now. So this is like watching with a different set of eyes. I also really like that both our Tanahashi matches aren't from NJPW. I did watch the match these  two had in NJPW and I think this one is a lot better. The moonsault really knocked Tana into a fog. He probably shouldn't have finished the match but major respect for him doing so. I loved the build to the chops and the crowd's pop proved they did a nice job of executing. Also love when Go hits a great Go Flasher!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Do That VOODOO-MURDERS That You Do So Well

Satoshi Kojima VS Hiroshi Tanahashi - AJPW Champion Carnival 4/9/2008

JJZ: Man. When I hear Champion Carnival I think of Kawada, Misawa, Kobashi, Stan Hansen, Akiyama. I think All Japan Pro Wrestling. So when I saw this match and saw that it had two NJPW stars (even though Kojima had moved on to AJPW) it really caught my attention. This match is so story driven in more ways than one. You got the arm work that factored in till the very end. You had the fact that Tanahashi was the natural heel as the invading wrestler BUT Kojima was the company heel so you had a bunch of dirty deeds going on. Also Tanahashi in a way was one of Kojima's replacements so to speak in NJPW as a top guy and he was coming into Kojima's new home to take over that shit also. But Kojima said I don't think so and sacrificed his own arm, like a gentleman, for the greater good of the company. Wild ass match, hope you get a kick out of this like I did.

CJD: Wow, I totally missed that Kojima was in Voodoo Murders at some point?? I was confused by this because I have seen a bit of Tana in this CC and I remember him being a spectacular invading prick. So I was thrown off when this was all heel VS heel, at times with a little "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" with the crowd picking sides back and forth, but I totally dug what they were laying down and was along for the ride by the end. And so was that crowd because they were red fucking hot for that finish. I think this match had the most low blows of any Japanese match I've ever seen. I'd argue that even though Kojima had some success in NJPW that due to his Triple Crown legacy and rivalries with Tenryu and Kawada he's seen as much more of an AJPW guy. But I get what you're saying that there's different layers to the dynamic between these two here. I really need to watch everything on tape from this Champion Carnival because it seems like it was a rip roaring good time. Loved watching Kojima work heel and yet another gem in the all-timer career Tanahashi has to his name.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Super Smash Bros VS Fight Or Flight - Queen Street Entertainment 10/22/2016

JJZ: Alright baby cakes. This match is from 2016 in a Canadian indy. And we got two true indy vets in Stu and Uno versus two true green ass puppies in Vaughn Vertigo and Gabriel Fuerza. All captured in a single hard cam. During the match you can see the potential of F or F with the movesets and transitions. But they still need time to smooth out the clunkiness of it. I'd love to see a more recent match to know if they were able to round out those edges. Super Smash Bros made for great opportunities. They just know how to work a match with younger talent. Slowing shit down when they needed to. Really making statement moves during the match. And most importantly making Fight or Flight shine in this one.

CJD: First of all, what the hell is up with High Voltage playing but no Leonardo Spanky to be seen?!? For shame. Your comments about this match were spot on. SSB were so in the zone in this at times I almost couldn't see the strings of how they were making Fight or Flight look so good. By the end though it did become a bit obvious that they were holding things together but this match was way better than I was expecting regardless. I liked how at times you could see Uno or Stu playing with their food and it typically would come back to haunt them when they did. This is one of those matches that would never have even made tape 20 years ago and now we can get a glimpse of something that would only live on in that small crowd's memories. I have to imagine this stole the show and all 4 of these guys were ecstatic when they made their way to the back. Really good effort all around and I'm glad you went with this pick!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Destructive Power

Yoshihiro Takayama (c) VS Satoshi Kojima - AJPW Triple Crown Championship 9/26/2009

CJD: Here's two of our boys, PIF favorites, having a banger Triple Crown title match that I was totally unaware of previously. Granted I'm pretty ignorant of this time period of AJPW but man, this match was some meat slapping of the finest order with a heavy dollop of fighting spirit on top. Takayama is such a beast here, and Kojima gives an absolutely epic babyface performance. I want to say more but I'd rather let this match take you on the journey it took me on.

JJZ: What the fuck Chris. Your comments totally under sold this SOB. Wow. I mean, this was fantastic. Play It Forward has really turned Kojima into a must-see for me. You said it man. An epic performance. And Takayama is always able to have these glorious beef slapping hoss battles that I could watch all good god damn day. Two things that I took away from this were the finger lace back elbow trading and the greatest kitchen sink I've ever seen. So many holy fuck moments. That dragon suplex and the finishing spot had me with my jaw open. Well done hun.

CJD: Dude, I fucking loved this match. It delivered exactly what you wanted which I feel like is something both of these guys excel at. Not complicated but it didn't need to be. If I undersold it it was because I was worried it hit me just right and I was too high on it on first watch. I'm glad you felt similarly. I did read a lot of comments that the Suwama match that sets it up is better, but that takes nothing away from how much this match bangs. And I'll gladly keep an eye out for another great Takayama war I need to seek out!!