Friday, May 27, 2022

Forever Forward Fridays

Laredo Kid (c) VS Octagon Jr - AAA Cruiserweight Championship 10/4/2020

CJD: When AIW introduced me to Laredo Kid I thought it was cool they were giving him a platform. I now realize years later they were getting access to a world class talent before everyone else had caught on. This match is a war of attrition, you can tell there are some injuries and some spots that don't go quite right, but these two young tough high flying bastards aren't going to let it slow them down. Also this is one fall for the record. This match had the potential to go off the rails or become a mindless spotfest but I think they delivered something highly satisfying. What do you think JJZ?? I would skip the clip package before the match that gives away everything that's going to happen. Odd choice from the production team. Auto Luchas!!

JJZ: Not gonna lie. I like the drive in wrestling show concept. Pretty fucking cool. I think about some of the shows we drove to and how fun they would've been if it was a drive in. Not saying it wasn't a blast but I just thought this was inventive. As for the match. It was awful. J/k. Super fun spotfest here. To continue my honesty, I choose to review this match over the other match you have waiting for me because I'm more in a junk food kinda match mood. And this totally delivered. Side note, I'm assuming it's 22 degrees celsius. Which means it 71.6 degrees fahrenheit. Great wrestling weather. The x and o's of this one are simple. Great spots. Unique atmosphere. Fun falsies and a good finish. Good match you rudo son of a bitch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Two Hearts

Fit Finlay/Franz Schumann VS Hiroshi Hase/Jushin Liger - NJPW 2/14/1991

JJZ: First off, I'm drunk. So this will be a fun review. This was such a unique match to watch. Is it the greatest match ever? No. But it's a fun little jawn to drink a lager to. This match has a lot of little one off spots that really pop. Getting to watch Liger and Finlay wrestle each other is a dream come true in my opinion. I think about what you would expect me to play back to you and I don't think you'd think about this match ever. And that's what I love about this story in our lives that we have created. This is a good match with solid psychology that I don't think we'd ever have seen if it wasn't for Play It Forward.

CJD: I wouldn't expect you to play this match back but boy howdy am I glad you did! This is the stuff that PIF is made of and man did I enjoy the heck out of it. Pro wrestling nirvana right here. So many different things coming together in a fairly straightforward, WCW Saturday Night style tag match, that doesn't overachieve but does everything you want it to. All 4 wrestlers shine at various points, both teams have good chemistry, and Liger throws in a surprise top rope elbow drop which is of course a thing of beauty. What a pair of tag matches for our MDTSOCWWKD Champion of the week Hiroshi Hase! And did you know he's a former Olympian?? I sure didn't until now! I really loved this match for its simple but extremely sound fundamentals, great execution, and once in a lifetime feel.

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!