Friday, December 29, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Baby cakes, how you doing. I'm doing great after watching this delightful little banger of a match. Hope you like powerbombs my guy because this match is overflowing with them. And all of them are bluechew stiff. Promo code play_it_forward2023 for a free month, just five dollars for shipping. Speaking of stiff, I dunno why this stood out to me in this match but goddamn that ring looked brutal. I know the rings in the 90s were harder than the rings of today but that thing didn't move at all when Bennett and Inoue had to bump on it. Good hot little start then some good tech work. Really strong build to falsies. This one definitely had me saying FUCK a few times. Enjoy cutie pie.

CJD: FUCK indeed. This was such a complete match! Reggie has improved in leaps and bounds in 2 years since our match VS Hasegawa. She had me popping throughout the match. Kyoko rules. You and I have been talking behind the scenes about wrestlers PIF has totally changed our opinions of. Kyoko is one of those for me. I don't know why I sold her short for the longest time?? But I did, and i was wrong! Peak Inoue is as good as any joshi, or any pro wrestling, period. Thank you for this chance to watch her against such a fun opponent, who she had such instant chemistry with. Hats off to these ladies, this is a match I'd put on a mixtape comp without a moment's hesitation as a must-watch no matter what your tastes. Great way to close out the year!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Reggie Bennett is one of those pro wrestling names you just know, even if you've never watched a match. I might not have as she seems like someone that would stick out in your memory. And I'll be honest, after this great joshi run we've been on, she's lacking in the polish that we've seen on Fridays lately. But considering she's a product of the American pro wrestling scene of the late 80s and was as good as she was at this point, you better believe I'm impressed. This match is simple, I picked it as more of a curiosity and a chance for you to have some different options for next week. But much like our Hercules/Savage match a few weeks back, I was pleasantly surprised by what we got here. This gave me flashbacks to watching gaijin like Bam Bam or Bossman come into AJPW and work against top stars. It's not quite everything you might hope for, but it's also a lot better than you might expect.

JJZ: I'm brand ass new to Reggie Bennett. She looks like she was married to Big John during this gimmick but thank god she wrestles better. This was a really well done match that got both Reggie and Sakie over. Reggie looked like a true powerhouse that could launch her opponent out of the ring whenever she wants. Sakie showed that fiery baby face spark. Loved all those back drops. Had me popping out my seat! Really good match baby!

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Yo, I Don't Wanna Fight Cerberus

JJZ: So you definitely have shown me a CMG match before and I remember loving it. Now what makes this match is the fucking crowd. No commentary, no spots, no psychology really. Just fists and elbows tbh, but the crowd was losing it so everything was meaningful to them. I really liked this one because it showcased that you don't need to do much to make the crowd buy in. Your just need that heat son. Both Hacksaw and Hernandez treated this like a fist fight. The energy to get the Coal Miner's Glove made it feel so special that you knew the match was over when someone got it.

CJD: God damn did Duggan have great punches in this era. I would agree with you that the strength of this match is how they build and build to the glove, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that once it's in play it's end game. I would, however, disagree that it's lacking in psychology, because that's brilliant psychology into and of itself that much modern wrestling could learn from! Now in terms of the give and take of this match, it is a bit messy, and not always in a chaotic fist fight kinda way. But it's so charming it doesn't really matter. Hacksaw is SUCH a good babyface. Cornette, who is really getting his moment in the sun with us lately, is SUCH a good heel! Hercules is fine! I loved his little celebration strut. You can tell he thought that flying clothesline he was throwing was hot shit. This match was so fucking fun JJZ. Beautiful pick you beautiful man, you.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Mariko Yoshida (c) VS Sakie Hasegawa - AJW Championship 7/15/1992

JJZ: This match was wild brother. I want to call it a car crash of a match but usually those kinda matches have a sloppy element to them but this match was  pretty goddamn tight. Nothing whiffed, everything was hit pretty much dead on. Super fucking stiff. The fact that I had no knowledge of Sakie Hasegawa before this match honestly makes me sad. What makes me even more sad is that this is only the second match of Mariko Yoshida I've ever seen. Both these wrestlers brought the fire and violence that only seasoned workers usually have. So I know there are more gems out there that are waiting to be dug up! Get that shovel baby!

CJD: I'm also totally ignorant of Hasegawa. Which honestly made this match that much more special. What a fucking ride!! These women were bringing the heart and soul, the primary colors of pro wrestling, the desperation of the underdog challenger bum rushing the Champ, the injured valiant defender fighting with such passion, the struggle, the drama!! What a battle condensed into such a tight package. John. This made me so happy. This was the Yoshida I've always heard about. And I can't wait to discover more Hasegawa. Thank you!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Baby, Remember My Name

CJD: This match is fascinating to me for a few reasons. One is it's so competitive, even more than some PPV matches at the time. As a kid I never understood why Hercules was always so protected (although I obviously didn't understand that concept), but having gone back and watched a good amount of his work in the territories I can see now why promoters had a high opinion of him. I also think this match is interesting because there's clearly a real craft to what these enormous roided up meatheads are doing here. There's a dance to this match that's not unique for Macho Man at the time, but is still beautiful in its brunt force mixed with grace. Needless to say Savage makes Hercules look like a million bucks from beginning to end. And lastly, any chance I get to watch Sherri work her magic, I'll gladly do so. This match was a total curiosity when I threw it on and it went well above my expectations.

JJZ: Right off the bat, I did not know the Macho King started in '89. I thought it was in '91. Weird thought just popped in my head. If you asked me my top ten wrestlers of all time, Savage wouldn't come to mind. If I broke it down though he 100 percent should. Work rate, selling, promos, psychology. His game had it all. Could you imagine Macho Man VS Eddie or Danielson? That would be insane. Now, in this match imo Randy carries Hernandez. Hercules does fine, he doesn't bring tbe match down at all but the Macho King makes the moment special. Great pick baby.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Back Next Week

We're doing a holiday reset this week, but will be back with a Tuesday AND Friday post next week! I know it's been hard for the FanCam Connection to keep up with the 2x/week updates lately, and I honestly don't think it will get any easier through the holiday season. Hopefully we can get back into a rhythm as things calm down after. Be kind to each other out there, and don't forget to love yourself!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Did you know that Yumiko Hotta also competed in MMA? And lost a fight to Gabi Garcia? Now you do! I learned quite a bit about her and Mariko Yoshida researching this match. Yoshida is a curious case to me, as some people consider her an all-time great, and there's flashes I've seen in what I've watched. But she's never jumped off the screen to me. I did learn that she innovated the Air Raid Crash while reading up about her career though, which was also news to me! Anyway, about this match. It's a masterful performance from Hotta working on top but giving a very competitive match to a rising star. I knew Yoshida was in for a beating heading in but was pleasantly surprised at how she brought that fight and how Hotta played off it. This is not a match where everything is hit perfectly but that's half the charm. This is a match that will make you wince and say "god damn!" on occasion. And I'm curious if you can find gold with Mariko based on the reputation she has in some circles. But mostly I'm curious how you feel about this match JJZ??

JJZ: This was a really fascinating watch man. It felt like a fight between an older and younger sibling. The older one, Hotta is just kicking the shit out of the younger one Yoshida but every now and then Mariko is able to pop Yumiko really good. Hotta's no selling on a lot of the punches added to that vibe also. I did not know the Hotta fought in MMA before, that's pretty fucking wild. You can see she can kick the shit out of someone in this match. All the powerbombs, back drops and piledrivers were wincing moments like you said. I really did find myself pulling for the PUB (plucky underdog babyface!) by the end. That finish was pretty sick. Enjoyed this one man.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Light Up The Sky Like A Flame

JJZ: Right off the bat the commentary is trash cans. As for the match, it's different than I expected but totally won me over by the end. It was more of a fight than a match honestly. A back and forth slugfest. Everything was super snug and hit with intention. The build to get to the piledriver  by both guys was really well done and the payoff was so well executed. Love the finish. There was a few moments that I thought to myself "I ain't playing this one forward!" but something about it really spoke to me. I dunno man, maybe this is a swing and a miss but I think these guys told the story they intended to.

CJD: Put some respect on Leaping Lanny's name! His commentary isn't exactly edge of your seat here, but for something clearly recorded in post (and not pretending otherwise) I thought it was a perfectly fine piece of business. John I can see why you'd second guess playing this match forward. It is slow for the first 5 minutes or so, no doubt. There's a weird hybrid of amateur wrestling and something that almost resembles what would become MMA? Catch wrestling maybe to an extent? And it's interesting, but not exactly the most engaging. But man, this match is so well executed overall, to borrow one of your comments. This is 1982 or 1983 (I don't think a firm date has been established, which is crazy). ICW was supposedly way ahead of its time but really think about that. The entrance music, the big cage blow off, the top rope moves, the super violent nature of it. It's not so much that nobody else was doing any of this stuff, World Class was certainly right there with them. But this is state of the art for the time. It might not have been a homerun but it's a triple that knocks in 3 ribbies. Sorry to use a baseball metaphor after the Phils heartbreaking loss. This match does so much right, including that fucking note perfect finish, that I'd sit through 10, 15, hell 20 minutes of slow burn grappling. This is a piece of pro wrestling history I was totally unaware of, and I'm so glad you brought it to my attention!!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Baby cakes! Dude, I'm loving the 80s Bull Nakano. You can totally see her rawness and potential for greatness. Really reminds me of young Foley. Which might be a insulting to Bull since she started before Foley. Anyway. Super aggressive, fun, wild, scary. All words to describe this match CJD. Now I have no clue who Hotta is, but I like her a lot. I wasn't expecting anything close to what I got from her in this match. She seemed like an Arn Anderson workrate type of wrestler. Can't wait to see what you kick back over to me baybay! Happy viewing!

CJD: My knowledge of Hotta is one or two noteworthy matches with Aja Kong in the 90s, so right off the bat I am so excited to get more familiar with her. I loved the styles clash in this one. The struggle to keep shoulders off the mat. Bridges are hard, my friend! There was a rawness to this match like you said, that was a welcome change of pace from a lot of wrestling. I also have so much love for this half shaved, flop hawk look for Bull. This match isn't one to spend a lot of time overthinking or analyzing. It's a good struggle that flies by between two women blazing an awesome path in pro wrestling. And that's all you need!

Friday, October 27, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Once upon a time we played forward a Bull Nakano match from 1989 VS Lioness Asuka and you said it was the youngest you ever saw Bull. Well now I'm playing forward an even younger Baby Bull (the earliest I've watched from her) VS Lioness' fellow Crush Gal, Chigusa!! And while Bull is maybe a little green here, fuck if she doesn't even hesitate to go toe to toe with Chigusa. Which is a tall order of business. This match is grimey, you want holds worked with bad intentions, this one is for you. But don't you worry, they still kick it into high gear by the end. I'm no joshi historian, but I have to imagine matches like this helped put Bull on the map, even as an emerging heel to a red hot top babyface here in Chiggy. This is such a breakout performance for someone who has been wrestling for 3 years, but then again 80s joshi is full of those meteoric peaks.

JJZ: When I start thinking about what I'm going to write about our matches I usually base it around the first impression I get. And at about the six minute mark I thought this match took place in 1986. Back then most people still thought wrestling was real and if I wanted to convince someone that indeed it is I would show them this match. The grit and rawness of this match made it feel like a real fight between two women who fucking hated each other. The selling was impressive because I genuinely believe that was pain they were feeling. I feel like I need to watch this again because so much was going on that I know I didn't pick up on some shit. This match was insane CJD. And that one German Bull took was heart stopping. One of the best finishes if its kind I've ever seen. I'd need to rewatch to say for sure but I think you pulled an ace out of the deck with this one.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Yeah I'm A Lone Wolf And I Ain't Never Been Trapped

CJD: Very different flavor of Barry Windham here. I went on a little side quest after your awesome 6 man. Dabbled in some Barry, got side tracked on some Tully Blanchard, forgot Tully wasn't in your match, wrote up a whole review on a Tully match before I realized I couldn't play it forward. Even though Windham did make a run in. Damn!! So then I went back to the drawing board. Everything I was watching was really good. I love pro wrestling. Then I found this match. This match is simple. Spoiler alert: it's shine, heat, shmozz. But this is such a great aspect of pro wrestling that we don't get to share with a match focused blog. The angle that closes this out, all in one take, happening real time unless I missed something, is magic. This is the stuff that keeps you tuning back in. There's actually a lot I could say about the match as well. I'm such a sucker for Loverboy Dennis. But I'm playing this one forward because of the sizzle, not the steak, and boy does it end with some sizzle!

JJZ: Talk about a feud building match! Such good bones in this one. From intros to that wild ass ending you can tell this was the first paragraph for an epic novel. Great crowd to be expected, but what truly is special about this era of wrestling is that they really don't do much in the ways of offense. Heat man, this match is all about the heat. Not gonna lie, I'm super unfamiliar with Garvin. I honestly can't think of any matches I've seen him in before. I think I remember him refereeing for WWE. But dude throws a mean punch. I really want to see the blow off to this man. Who know where's I'm going to go next??

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Those Hollywood Nights

JJZ: Alright cutie pie. So we've done a fantastic job of playing forward matches showcasing wrestlers at different point of their career. For this one I wanted to play a match that showcased wrestlers around the same time frame and same type of match. To see how much they lifted from the matches. I did notice a few thing but nothing crazy. Both are six man tags but these six man tags are extremely different. The last one was a fantastic house show match while this one was a fantastic, heated feud building match. Also, I recently played forward a match with fucking horrible commentary. This bout totally makes up for that one. Tony and Jessie absolutely killed it on the mic. Great back and forth. But! These guys absolutely killed it in the ring. They focus on the things that really make you want to see the payoff at Beach Blast. Big props to the ref who's name is escaping me at the moment. They had him running all around, plus he took one hell of a ref bump. Timing in a match with so many wrestlers is so key and they all execute it very well. I'm loving this tag team heater we are on right now. But most importantly about this match Chris. Very little Paul Roma. Hope you like it sir.

CJD: I love how right down to the way it's shot, you wouldn't know Roma was even in this match for about 75% of it without someone reminding you. I think we both have a soft spot for Pretty Paul but wow did he look painfully uncomfortable in this match. Couldn't agree more that Jesse & Tony were firing on all cylinders for this one. Master class in play by play with heel color commentary. I really liked this match sweet pea. Maybe even more than my house show 6 man. The way they built the heat up over and over here was so nice. I've got to say in both matches, I thought Austin was low key the star. Always giving the spotlight to someone else but every little thing he does both looks great and adds purpose. With what he became that's not a hot take or anything, but this era of his career is still severely underrated. Last but not least. I know the days of us keeping close track of our fictional MDTSOCWWKD Championship are long behind us. But we've had two tag team champs in a couple of weeks here between MaruKEN and now the Blonds. And even after all these years I know we've only successfully had a small number of tag teams retain the big gold imaginary belts. Just a little tidbit that I enjoyed!

Friday, October 13, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Chris, this match was so good that it fully overcame truly terrible English commentary recorded on top of Japanese commentary. This was a two outta three falls fuck ing banger! Joshi is always just a ball of nonstop energy that is coming through your tv screen. Even with the sloppy jalopy announcers the crowd was still fully present in the mix the entire match. With a lot of Joshi I always appreciated that they hit moves out of timing and necessity. It feels very organic and not a spot they planned in the back. Totally not shitting on that style, I'm just saying that it makes Joshi feel very individualized. I thought the finishes were great and timed out excellently. Overall man. This match was awesome. Enjoy.

CJD: This match was awesome indeed, my friend! I think I've avoided this one because every time I hear these putsy AV club loafer wearing geeks on commentary I try to find another version. However reading through the YouTube comments makes me realize these guys might have actually recorded over these matches for US broadcast in the 80s?? That makes their forced, unintentionally hilarious, (but admittedly, open minded and enthusiastic), constantly cringe worthy audio at least a bit more palpable. Anyway, man this was a war of attrition. Jaguar and Devil looked individually superior, the Crush Gals stronger as a team for the majority of the match. Devil did work from under a good amount though and Chigusa looked every bit the emerging superstar she was. The selling was sporadic as you'd expect with this era but the structure, execution, and pace were so ahead of their time. Maybe even to the point they still haven't been topped. You said it to me behind the scenes, but we're truly on a tear of great matches right now man. The stuff that makes pro wrestling fandom special. Thank you for sharing this gem!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

It Was A 2 Cold Chill

CJD: The FanCam Connection doing FanCam Connection things! This match has less than 1k views and has only been up for a year which tells me there's a good chance it might not stay up for long. So drink in this 1993 house show goodness while you can. There's a lot of table I need to set for this match. First of all it's an elimination tag. Second of all this is a high school show in Terre Haute Indiana in 1993, and the crowd is every bit as homophobic as you'd imagine. Watch with the sound down if necessary. And third of all, the actual finish to this match is such a classic horse shit house show finish that I'd probably skip sharing it if there wasn't so much other excellent content otherwise. It's kind of a glimpse of how awesome WCW was in this era but all the reasons why they never realized their full potential in one tiny homophobic high school gym in Indiana. I thought everyone did some really great stuff in this match. Some unusual spots, great crowd work, and great apron work while guys weren't in the match. Not a lot of bumps punched on the bump cards as you'd expect, but nobody was taking the night off by any means. And yeah the finish was, well, you'll see, but at the end of the day there was no way I wasn't playing this one forward.

JJZ: So right off the bat, I loved the finish. It perfectly fit the tone of the match. If this was a PPV I would have a problem with it, but with all the gaga it worked. The fucking star talent in this match was insane CJD. Just wow. Six generational talents sharing the mat and all of the them showing the depth in their game. This would've been a perfect match for sharing with all of our wrestling buddies. I fully agree that the punch card wasn't hit too hard in this one, but that's to be expected with a house show like this. But that doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining and that the people didn't get their money's worth. 10 out of 10 fury cakes. Would watch again.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Yes We MaruKEN

JJZ: I know we've seen so many MaruKen matches, so I wanted to try to find something a little different. This was definitely new to me so I'm hoping it's new to you. It was wild seeing baby Kenta getting broken in by old out of shape 2 Cold. And when I say out of shape I just mean that on looks alone. He still hits all the flippy dippy action. Even my favorite move of his. It was a blast to see Kenta bust out a lot of stuff I've never him do before. You could tell that NOAH had a lot of faith in what Marufuji was gonna become because he stood toe to toe and Scorpio and SS. Which btw Superstar Steve wasn't half bad. I thought he came out looking really solid in this match. Enjoyed the falsies that didn't over stay their welcome either. Good shit here baby. Hope you enjoy it.

CJD: Superstar Steve?? What in the actual fuck. My first thought is he must be a Harley Race trainee, and a quick cagematch search confirms he is. And he was still wrestling as of June 2023?!? Versus Flash Flanagan??!? Man, we gotta pack it in. There's no coming back from a peak like Super Star Mother Fucking Steve. Just kidding. He was decent enough, just, why. I loved watching Scorpio and Marufuji go at it in this one. I didn't love watching KENTA get concussed as I've seen happen to him far too many times. Both Scorpio and Steve were pros directing traffic for him but he probably shouldn't have gotten back into the ring here. I was holding my breath on that springboard dropkick but hey, he stuck the landing! Marufuji really did have a star quality about him from day one, and while you can criticize a leg slap here or a whiffed coast to coast there, watching this match all the way to where he is now, that's one hell of a career. Now let's see what Superstar Steve gems I can dig up!!! Once again I'm joking, there is absolutely no way I'm not going 2 COLD.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I wanted to see Motoya with a bit more seasoning, but I didn't expect this amount of a level up in a little over a year. God damn! It's a shame her career was cut short, because she was blasting the fuck off in JWP in the late '90s. Taking a legend to the limit here, and veteran Jaguar Yokota isn't going to take kindly to that. I have only seen a handful of Jaguar after she came back from early retirement (as so many of her generation of joshi stars were forced to do), so I was excited when this match popped up immediately when I searched. It didn't disappoint in the slightest. Slam dunk pick from a beautiful no-look layup from my main man JJZ. I love when our Fridays get lost in a labyrinth on a joshi journey, and dare I say we are spelunking into some interesting territory my friend.

JJZ: Holy VHS tape Batman! Is it terrible that I loved all the tracking issues? Old school tapes will always hold a special place in my heart. It's sad to think that the last time we watched a VHS tape we didn't realize it would probably be the last time ever. Chris, this is a banger! The hot start from the young lion, the veteran taking control and slowing the pace down with violent attacks. Those suplexes were executed so well man. The frantic pin falls really make you think the match could end at any moment. But the finish. Fuck. That sell job. Damn.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Burn With Love! Dragon Soldier B

CJD: I guarantee you one of us owns this match on VHS or DVD since it's the same show as Kobashi/Akiyama. And I guarantee you if it was me I skipped this match because of my hatred for Kashin at the time. So I was glad to have a reason to sit down to a big time match from prime MaruKen that I'd never seen before. Hopefully you feel the same way. As a standalone match there's a lot to like, and honestly plenty I wasnt crazy about. Kashin reminded me why I couldn't stand him at the time, as his comedy missed for me as much as it hit. I was dying to see KENTA punt him into next week and unfortunately they never really delivered on that to the level I hoped for. But here is what I will say. Sugiura looks better than he ever had here, in so many different roles and situations, he's simply great in this. The oddball matchup does create an interesting footnote in a historic era of pro wrestling that we love. And let's be honest, it's emerald green mat KENTAfuji doing KENTAfuji things. I don't think JJZ would ever say no to that!

JJZ: Oh man, the chances of me see this are high but I remember nothing about it. You definitely own the DVD since you played Kobashi vs Akiyama for me at one of those nights that we'd stay up all night and watch wrestling. A wrestling night if you will. Kashin is a nice addition with these three guys during this era of NOAH. He really brings sometime different to the table. This match is wild CJD. The shit with Kashin and Sugi is so entertaining and weird at the same time. But even with all that it's such an, oh shit move set. So many big bumps. Super stiff. Anytime you get Sugi and Kenta in the ring together you know you got some taters coming. This was a fantastic pick baby cakes!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: So we've watched a lot of wild ass Joshi matches. This ain't one of them. Before selecting this one to play forward I watched a few tag team bouts that would have been PIF worthy. But I thought I would like to go down a different road for this. Knowing little to nothing about Tomoko and Kanako, I very much got an established wrestler versus a young lion feel. With the exception of the screaming this was a thoughtful technical match. Mostly holds and striking. Very little bumping. But the energy still came through my screen. I really enjoyed that about this match. Now I got some major Daniel Bryan feels with those submission holds in the beginning but didn't think much about it until the finish. I wonder if DB was a big fan of these ladies. Enjoy baby.

CJD: If I have the date right, at the time of this match both of these women had only been wrestling for a handful of years. Although like you said, Miyaguchi (or Ran YuYu if you prefer) is definitely a bit more seasoned and playing the more veteran role. Still, the polish on this match from two wrestlers so inexperienced is remarkable. This was so fundamentally sound. I'm really glad you went in this direction too, I was in the mood for something that just played with the building blocks of pro wrestling without a ton of sizzle. Not that there wasn't a ton of fire and struggle here. I don't know the first thing about Kanako Motoya (or Kana Mizaki if you prefer!) but I'm very curious to see what she looked like a few years further into her career, considering she was this good this early!

Friday, September 8, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Baby Mouse! Baby Azumi (when she was Tomoko Kuzumi)! Two wrestlers who I may or may not have seen before! A dead crowd, wrestlers screaming their heads off, a hot finishing steak, a million brutal dropkicks, neck bridging kick outs! JOSHI!! I didn't have a ton of Tanny options available to me but I did really like watching her as a greenhorn and seeing her evolution to her big title match from our last post to this one. Her team has that same plucky, light hearted, babyface vibe that she brought last time, this time against a no nonsense team bringing big time aggression. I was also feeling the straight up tag team action this week. Not a bad find at all with limited options.

JJZ: This was a fucking banger CJD! Holy hell, the screaming in this match was insane. Thiz was such an wild car crash of a bout that you couldn't blink. The German suplexes were so stiff. The neck droppies just kept on coming and making me gringe a little bit. Sorry that Tammy didn't bare that much fruit but I think you played forward a gem baby cakes. I know you mentioned that the crowd was dead but the energy and vocals of the wrestlers fully over came the dead ass fans. We've watched so many matches Chris, that I think you might agree sometimes while watching it's more like checking off boxes to determine if this is a good match, instead of just enjoying what's going on I front of you. These ladies totally took me out of that box checking mindset and I just enjoyed the ride.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

What It Takes, Who I Am, Where I've Been

JJZ: I'm not even sure if this match is good. I just can't believe it ever happened. I was definitely entertained by it. I had zero clue how Necro, Kendo and Van Dam would work together, but they pulled off a very fun, physical and ECW style match. I wish it was a THREE WAY DANCE to put it over the top for an ECW clone but I'll take what I can get. On paper I assumed Kashin would be a little left behind during the match but he brought it. Can't wait to hear your honest opinion on this one baybay.

CJD: What in the actual fuck. Only in Inoki Genome Federation. Fujiwara and Hansen at ringside watching this debacle?? Let's fucking GO!! I loved your comment on the phone to me that at first you expected this to be an upload of a video game match. Certainly felt like it. In my honest opinion, this was wayyyyyy better than it had any right being or needed to be. RVD and Necro were there to play and I'm much more receptive to Kashin's antics than I was when we attended Best Of The American Super Juniors live (a little PIF trivia for everyone there). The first 7 or so minutes things were clunky and they were finding the rhythm. When they locked into that groove though they rode it straight to the finish. RVD really played the hits in this one. Necro channeled Brody, Abby, and Kamala simultaneously. The perplexed crowd even came alive by the end. Also you said you wish it was a 3 way dance. But it was! Do you want me to edit that?

JJZ: There were two pin falls?

CJD: Yes!

JJZ: Holy fuck, I watched this on my phone while cooking my daughter dinner. I assumed with all the blood that Necro just got taken out of the match. Goddammit. I don't know how I missed that. You can include all of this in the review if you want.

CJD: I will, and it gave me a chance to jog my memory about one more amazing part of this match. That Dollar Store Hatebreed RVD entrance song! What a choice! I bet he's used it a bunch and I'm just out of the loop, but that was something else.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Tanny who? Tanny what? I wouldn't be suprised if you or Friend of the Blog PB played her for me before. I mean she has an unbelievable balance of gaga and aggressiveness. The way both ladies weaved in and out of silly and serious but didn't take away from the feel of the match being heated was really unique. Kaori and Tanny had a balls to the wall finishing stretch that could have went either way. I was suprised with how stiff some of Mouse's go home moves were considering how interesting her earlier moveset was. Now Yoneyama can hit a sunset flip bomb from anywhere it feels like. Really enjoyed this and I think I might double dip this one and show our boys it next time we get together.

CJD: I don't think I have ever seen a Tanny Mouse before. She strikes me as someone you wouldn't forget. This match seems like one you'd think about skipping on a DVD, but you give it a chance because you like one of the wrestlers, and you're really glad you did. You're absolutely right that Tanny's lighthearted antics make how tight some of those pinning combinations were, or how stiff some of those exchanges were, super surprising. I would have liked if they could have put a slightly better bow on top but this match still felt like an unexpected treat either way. No idea where Tanny's going to take me next!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

I'm In Search Of The Lionheart

CJD: There were a few factors at play when deciding if I should play this match forward. First of all, I feel like Friend of the Blog Mr H has played both of us quite a few hidden gem ECW fancams from this venue. Second of all, the match has that hidden gem feel for the first half... then falls apart a little bit. But third of all, man do these guys work their butts off to still deliver a good match, despite it clearly taking its toll on both of them. So mix that all up, marinate it in a 90s ECW stew from our high school wet dreams, and serve with tempered expectations for what you're actually going to get... and I said, let's do the damn thing! Pun intended. I was pleasantly surprised by how punchable RVD's face was in this match. He was an underrated smug prick in this era even if he was clearly transitioning to cool heel. Jericho was an effective babyface too. There was a lot to take away from this, even the post match, and I could see someone saying the match had more flaws than positives. But for the FanCan Connection's tastes, I bet you'll be allll about this one.

JJZ: First first first of all. I 100% played this match for you before. Either from my 20 something disc ECW comp or my Best of Jericho RF video comp. Either way I'm super fucking excited to review this since it's been at least 10 years since I watched it. Now you know, I'm a RVD mark. I'm not as much of a Jericho guy as some people, but his ECW run, that I do love. And this is fucking ECW grade A material. I don't know why but I just love the shit Van Dam does. He did a spring board flip off the guard rail and I loved it. It's so wild how some wrestlers you can just enjoy their moveset over others. Jericho is working his tail off in this one. Everything he does he has to earn. I could watch ECW all goddamn day. Recently I've only been watching current NJPW and I'll tell you what, I enjoyed this match more. Well done baby cakes.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Kaori Yoneyama (c) VS Emi Sakura - JWP Openweight Championship Hair VS Hair Match 9/19/2010

CJD: Only in joshi. This is the kind of match you cannot sit and nitpick here or armchair quarterback there. Somewhere along the line you have to decide as a fan. Am I in? Or am I out? Because this is vibrant, passionate, essential pro wrestling. This needs to exist. So if it's not for you, that's fine. But from one fan to another, who isn't always the most receptive to joshi, I'm begging anyone reading this. Please open your heart and mind to this match. I'm a little familiar with Yoneyama (John I played you a great hidden gem title match between her and Azumi Hyuga many moons ago). Sakura I believe PIF made me aware of for the first time last week. And just like that this door is opened to me, a lifelong super nerd fan who sometimes can feel like he's seen it all. No matter how much pro wrestling you've watched, keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. You never know when a match like this is waiting for you around the corner.

JJZ: CJD, I've tried to sit down and watch this match like 4 times. And everytime something interrupted me. But finally I was able to watch it front to back. This was a beautiful display of pushing the limits to the edge but not going over. Stiff but not crazy stiff. Oh shit spots but not holy fucking shit is she OK spots. The falsies were about to go off the cliff then Bam! One two three! It was an epic journey my man. I know it was from 2010 but the gritty feel of filming and look of the crowd I would've thought 1991. Excited to watch more Joshi. Hoping I can watch the next match on my first try!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

LWO 4-Life

JJZ: Baby cakes. If I could describe this match in one word, it would be efficient. Not a lot of time, but wanted to get thier shit in. So clean. So fresh. So smooth. You know that these two just walked out there only knowing the finish and just popped out this little 8 minute gem. For my money Eddie Guerrero is a top three wrestler of all time. It's not because of epic long historical matches. It's because he can make eight minutes full like a complete story. Jericho also does a great job. Not trying to disrespect him in anyway. I'm just an Eddie mark.

CJD: Efficient is a good word to describe this match. I'd pick spontaneous. I agree it's obvious these two are just feeling it and didn't plan a single thing. With that in mind this is fascinating to watch. I honestly thought Jericho might have impressed me just as much as Eddie this time around, which is saying something. I thought this was a great big league companion piece to Papi/TAKA. Neither match will blow you away but both are great showcase pieces in their own right. Definitely the stuff that makes PIF so fun after all these years, matches that help you fully understand eras and what makes a wrestler tick.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Sticking with the AEW here. Side question to start. They mentioned during the commentary that Riho started wrestling when she was 9. I know that Kenny Omega was one of her trainers. Is she the girl that he wrestled back in the day? I tried to look it up real quick and got nothing. So this was a really smart match with Riho working from under while Emi Sakura used size and strength to maintain the offense. Emi had a little swag in her game I thought. I don't think I've seen her before but I maybe have in the past with you on a Saturday night filled with wrestling. I think both ladies came out of this match looking better than they went into it. I really enjoyed the commentary also. Jericho and Excalibur were fantastic together. JR really needs to hang it up. Enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: Riho started working with Omega when she was something like 13 so you'd think she was the same girl, right? But no, that was another child wrestler (9 years old) who Kenny had the infamous match with. I don't believe I've ever watched a Sakura match before either and I agree, she put some stank on this match. In a good way. I thought her and Hayter in our last match both built very compelling structures around Riho, who if I'm going to be honest, I think is fairly limited. The positives she brings to the table are strong though and these two matches highlighted them nicely. I really loved that tiltawhirl backbreaker on the outside. And some of those pinning reversals. The main thing I left this match with was an appreciation for their chemistry, and how Emi in particular refused to rush this match. There were a few moments you could tell another opponent would have executed one second sooner, and those seconds over the course of the match really add up. I love that seasoned approach and am looking forward to getting a better understanding of her career!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Dangerous River

CJD: This is such a good television tag match. Really everything you could want especially with all the moving pieces. It honestly exceeded my expectations... except one glaring issue. You'll be able to tell by the end. I rewatched a few times to try to figure out what happened and I think it was a rare Eddie botch where he immediately realized he had to just own it to make the spot work. But man is he so, so fucking good as always every other second from the moment he walks out with Chyna to the moment the video cuts off. I loved the two of them together in this run. Essa has a real edge in this match that I enjoyed. The Hardys in this era were every backyard wrestler's heroes. And they were such a force in US wrestling in general, so unique and totally unstoppable. I can gladly overlook that one miscommunication to play this one forward to you. It's a real moment in time!

JJZ: This is a fucking dream match on paper. Could you imagine if they got twenty minutes. Totally forgot Lita was with Essa Rios at one point. Watching Eddie wrestle is like Christmas moring. I'm so excited for all of his moves. They are like little presents. I know what I'm going to get but I love them every time I open another box. The Hardys and Rios have such explosive offense that you can't blink. Also Jesus Jeff bumps so hard for everything I don't know how he is walking today. Another fantastic TV match. Love me some Eddie. You absolutely know where I'm going next!

Friday, August 4, 2023

Back Next Week

What's good my PIF fam, it's CJD here, hopefully telling you for the last time in a while we're missing our updates this week. But we will be back for certain next Tuesday and Friday! The matches are in the bank and they both rule. On my end my family's move is finally in the latter half (of Phase I at least) so I should have my priorities back on pro wrestling blogging any day now. See y'all then!!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Riho VS Jamie Hayter - AEW 12/8/2021

CJD: I know my JJZ, and I know there's one thing he loves here at PIF above all else. When two matches we share show very different sides of a pro wrestler! And while Hayter's big personality shines through no matter if she's working under or in top, the nuts and bolts of how she works this match are very different than our last match VS Ayesha. With an opponent like Riho that's no surprise, but I was still super impressed with how well Hayter did in very different settings. There's also one big slice of pizza in this match that Jamie scoops right off the ground, dusts off, and says "5 second rule!!" I thought with the story it told they needed to deliver one hell of a finish if I was going to play this one forward. The match kind of hinged on it. Well I'm playing it forward, so you know how I feel about that. And it's nice getting a non-pandemic AEW match up in here, at least for as long as TK allows this upload to exist.

JJZ: So CJD, I actually watched this one live! Side note my wife walks in during the match and says "oh shit Chun-Li!" I did not pick up on the cosplay. This is a fantastic TV match man. Playing up on the size difference is basic math. Baker's antics on the outside were great but not over the top to take away from the work going on in the ring. I didn't think the pizza was that bad. Loved the finish. That bump was nasty. I remember not expecting much from this one at the time and liking it. Very nice pick

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Rock Star, Flip Into The Crowd Like TAKA Michinoku

JJZ: Redo! So with this match I just wanted some late night junk food  goodness. We got all the hits in this one. The best thing about this match that was they hit everything on point. You know with ECW that matches like these, it can go off the rails sometimes. Now I know we both have seen this before but I'm 100 percent positive that we've never reviewed it before. Love me some ECW and their ability to let wrestlers be themselves. It made a lot of wrestler's careers. Watching ECW is like putting on an old pair of shoes. It just feels good man.

CJD: I'll be honest, I remember a few matches from this show, but absolutely nothing about this match. Not even that TAKA came back to ECW at all. So this was a pleasant surprise! The execution was good in this one indeed. It was a little your turn, my turn, but looking at where it was in the card and the time they had that kinda makes sense. The crowd was totally along for the ride. In some ways it was just fascinating to see what a match like this looked like in ECW in 1999. One guy on his way up to WWF. One guy on his way out. International talent colliding which ECW loved. And the two standouts from our last MDTSOCWWKD match going one on one! This was meant to be JJZ.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Baby cakes. How you doing! I'm doing great I'm on vacation, drinking a cold one and watching this plucky underdog baby face in Jamie Hayter vs the monster Ayesha Raymond. This match was all about working from under for Hayter and trying to take advantage of Raymond's mistakes. Really good little indy match here. Love the build and psychology. Super impressed with the smoothness of the match. These women showed they were above their pay grade in this one.

CJD: If I wrote you a recap of the last 3 weeks of my life this would be the longest review in the history of PIF. I'm sitting in a camping chair in the only bedroom clean enough in a slumlord apartment that I'm paying an arm and a leg for, one beer in the holster, pizza in my lap, laptop on my fold out twin mattress that I'm about to get a terrible night's sleep on. I'm in a new state starting a new job, trying to move my family up, to give my daughter a home that she will hopefully really thrive in for years and years to come. And I say all of this because if there's one thing I love about pro wrestling above all else, it's that it's the constant that I can always rely on in times when I can't even imagine what to do next. This match was so fundamentally sound, the atmosphere was so electric, and I don't think it could have found me on a better night than tonight. Both of these ladies crushed it. The shifts in momentum and cut offs were perfect. The hesitation and execution of the finish was even better yet. And this promotion and venue were so so on brand for FFFridays. This match was the sip of cool water I needed in the middle of the oasis that is my life right now JJZ. Well played.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Astral Projector, Super Astros Projector

CJD: I didn't know which way I was going this week. And maybe the weird stuff is just catching my eye right now, but after watching a few okay matches this one stood out because it was just so damn unique. If we watched this in 1999 our minds would have been blown. If you cut out the intros and the Owen Hart memorial stuff this match might not even be 5 minutes. But for what it is, on a WWF show at the time, and with the guys involved... this is fucking bonkers. Pro wrestling is so weird. It's hard to really critique something like this but I will say TAKA and Papi Chulo both came off like stars which was clearly the intent. And our boy TMIV held his own in the process! We've had plenty of weird detours over the years here at PIF and this is one of the weirder ones. Enjoy my friend.

JJZ: So much flavor in this banger baby. I think everyone really shined in this match. It started at a 10 and never stopped honestly. I'm always super impressed with matches like this when the energy is so high and every crazy spot is hit perfect. The chance for shit to go off the rails is very high but all six wrestlers kept it on track. That T Mask backflip kick thingy might've popped me the most because it was hit right on target and that could of easily fanned. Nice pick baybay!

Friday, June 30, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Nikki Storm VS "Amazon" Ayesha Rae - LCW 3/1/2014

CJD: I watched a lot of Nikki Storm era Nikki Cross to decide what to play forward to you this week. I honestly don't know if this was the best match. But it was the most interesting. You know I've been listening to a lot of WTF with Marc Maron, and on the episode where he goes to a pro wrestling event for the first time and meets a bunch of the AEW roster he talks to Jericho about performing in front of small crowds. And they both agree the secret to being great at any type of performance is mastering the art of playing to an audience of 7. I count more than 7 in this crowd but if there's more than 30 I'd be surprised. It's very awkward at times. But in that you see these two young ladies growing leaps and bounds in this relatively simple and shortish match. Ayesha is totally new to me but she impressed me quite a bit. I don't think think either lady really nailed this match but they were dealt a tough hand that night and I appreciate what they did out there. I might just be digging this match because I'm exhausted bouncing around rentals in Vermont trying to build a new life for my family and just generally in a weird head space. But I dug it none the less.

JJZ: Marc Maron and Jericho aren't wrong. It's an art playing to such a small crowd. So many art forms are mastered playing to mostly empty rooms. The lack of bodies in the building didn't stop these ladies from putting out an effort and energy that would have been the same if 20,000 were watching. Speaking of podcasts, I remember Sami Zayn saying recently that he felt like he never mailed it in no matter how many people were watching. Nikki and Ray mailed nothing in. This is also my first time watching Ayesha and even though this match was only 12 minutes I got a really good sense of how good she can be. She uses her size really well with her moveset. Nothing over complicated. Storm always delivers. I think she is totally underrated. Really excited to dive into some Ray!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Bred For His Skills In Magic

JJZ: This was part of the 2014 NOAH Jr tag league and this is as far from a traditional Jr's match as you will see. It's wild to watch Liger getting out heeled when you think about his nuclear heated run in the past with NOAH. There is a time to wrestle and there is a time to fight. And all four of these guys came to that arena that night for a fist fight. Sometime you watch a match and it is totally opposite of what you expected. Usually you're disappointed. Not in this case at all. I was so taken aback at what I was surprisingly seeing and kept saying to myself, this is so good. How did I not see this before. And I hope you've never seen this before either. Little side note. I know I live and drink at NOAH's well and probably should avoid it for a while but damn I'm glad I took a sip this week.

CJD: This match was such a breath of fresh air. Everyone brought so much to the table but the main thing I was thinking was "fuck me, Jushin Thunder Liger is great." When people think of Liger they probably think of his colorful technical precision and groundbreaking matches. But the thing that is so impressive to me about the thousands of matches he had in his career is how much purpose he put into almost every single one. This feud is such a great example. Neither one of us were aware of it and it's yet it's another in an endless list of great storylines Liger and company built and paid off over his career. Like how many times have you seen Liger, even in a throwaway undercard 6 man like last week, just have "a match?" There's always so much intent there. That's the stuff I love in pro wrestling. And I love Jushin Thunder Liger!! Also Tiger Mask's gear was fire.

JJZ: Yes it was.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: So this was the first match that popped up when I typed in Kana on YouTube. You know how much I loved this feud in NXT. So this was a no brainer for me. I loved Nikki's mic work in the beginning, Dave Prazak is such a comfortable voice to hear. And this crowd wanted this match so bad. They really showed up and out. So right off the bat I'll say I was hoping for a little bit more piss and vinegar out of the bout. I realize that is because I had expectations from the NXT matches. Resetting my thoughts they did an excellent job of building this match. Solid base, good story throughout with a hot finish. I'm not sure how long after this match these women went to NXT but watching them reminded me of watching guys like Claudio and Danielson on the indies before they went to WWE. You knew it was time for the next step. They were way above everyone else. Not sure if this was the only indie match Kana and Storm had but I'd love to see a bunch more.

CJD: I think both ladies went to NXT about 2 years later. With how heated their rivalry there was I get wanting a little more oomph out of this match. But I thought this was a fascinating look back at how these two built such terrific chemistry here that when they had the chance in NXT, they knocked it out of the galaxy. I think the best thing about this match was how every little component came together so nicely. If you were really excited to see this live at the time I bet you'd leave extremely happy even though no one aspect of the match especially stands out. Two very talented pro wrestlers from opposite ends of the world coming together in the Berwyn Eagles Club to do pro wrestling things. Ain't nothing wrong with that!

Friday, June 9, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Triple Tails Re:Start 2/11/2011

CJD: This match is brutal. The only intergender match I can think of that I've seen that made me feel this way was Necro Butcher VS LuFisto. This was obviously a completely different type of violence but I wouldn't say it had any less of any affect on me. Both are intergender matches that feel like a straight up fight. And both leave me with so much respect for the female competitors in the match. Both are also great examples of niche styles of pro wrestling, and I bet when you hit me up with a FFFriday shootstyle BattlArts gem the last thing you expected was for me to come back with an equally good shootstyle intergender match! I know I'm preaching to the choir with you but ASUKA has to go down as one of the all-time greats at this point and I'd use this match as a prime example of how deep her career has been.

JJZ: This was a fight between two people. Gender be damned. I feel like I watched Kana and Sawa equally fight for dominance. This was a 50 50 match that drew a lot of emotions out of the crowd. More of a fight then a match but so entertaining. You know how much I love Kana/Asuka. I had a thought while watching this match. Is Asuka the most successful Japanese wrestler to make the transition to the states ever? If we are honest with ourselves she is probably a top 5 women's wrestler all time. Am I giving her to many flowers? I don't think so. Muta and Liger are the only other wrestlers from Japan that have come close to her success but neither have had this long of a run in America. I know I've totally ignored Sawa with my comments and that was not my intention when I began to write this. Sawa was a fantastic dance partner for Kana. Him treating her like an equal made this match feel like a must see.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

YOH Gabba Gabba!

CJD: So you've just been through the uphill battle that is finding decent NJPW matches up for free online. I guess they're cracking down more than ever. And this match has a lot going against it. Cheating a bit going right back to SHO. Also right back to KUSHIDA. And yet another extremely short match (don't let the overall runtime fool you, it's first up and flies by). But fuck, this is great trios action while it lasts. Even in its brief duration so much happens and everyone has such a clear role to play. YOH especially shines and you can feel Liger's influence on this division for decades in both directions just from his presence in this simple little match. The way he works with YOH for their interaction here makes me think about how he's done that with so many wrestlers over the years, no matter how small the promotion or how big the stage, he makes everyone he works with feel like you need to watch what comes next for them. I wish I could have found something a bit more interesting for you this week but there was a lot to like here despite the fact I wish it was triple the runtime.

JJZ: Baby cakes this was quite a fun little six man tag. I agree with you that YOH really did shine in this match. This is a match that if you were there live for it might think, this is just a filler match. But it definitely was not. It made the most for what it was. And big ups for the commentators. I really enjoyed the picture they painted for that time in all the wrestlers life. I would love to see that British J-Cup. I'm positive it's not on NJWORLD. I would've definitely watched the shit out of that. My favorite thing about this match was that the vets let the young guys get their shine while still looking good themselves. Nice match baby cakes.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Ikuto Hidaka/Munenori Sawa VS Yuta Yoshikawa/Katsumi Usuda - BattlArts 7/2/2010

JJZ: It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting in my basement drinking coffee and watching Battlearts. Yumma dum dum. Well Chris, this match is exactly what you think it would be and that makes me so happy. These four wrestlers really bring a stiff ass aggression but then all of the sudden someone busts out with a really slick transition. I don't watch this style enough so when I do it feels like such a treat. Hidaka's versatility to do this style of match but then also have a match like he did with Alex Shelley in the same era is special. Crowd was good not great but came on strong in the end. Now my absolute favorite thing about battlearts and UWF is the fact that the match can end whenever. There is no real final stretch just make sure you don't take your eyes off the TV.

CJD: So first of all I really liked this match. I love this era of Battlarts, not exactly their prime but some of the coolest shit was going on in the years leading up to this. Yuta Yoshikawa was probably the main homegrown talent they were trying to get over, but his career was cut short and this was actually his retirement match. He brought a lot to the table as he always did, taking a tremendous beating and helping give the match structure and purpose. I don't think I've ever seen this before and I wasn't the biggest fan of Yoshikawa so that'd make sense. But I'm so glad you played it forward to me. I haven't watched any shoot style since our last journey into it and for guys like Hidaka and Usuda these matches have to be like jazz. No need to know where you're going next or how you're getting there. Just feel it out and let it flow through you. They built to some great hot tags even though you weren't going to get huge pops from the reported crowd of 156. I'd say that's probably generous. Very interesting footnote in pro wrestling history here, the match is definitely stronger for the first 2/3rds, but overall it's a quality ass kicking and a hell of a way to go out on your sword.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Back Friday

What's up fellow wrestling nerds. CJD here to just let you know we didn't forget about the blog. We'll be back to regularly scheduled programming Friday and next Tuesday. You may see us miss some posts from time to time for the next few months though, as my family is about to embark on an exciting new chapter in our lives. I won't quite be back in JJZ's backyard again but we will shave a few hundred miles off the road trips! We'll be hitting PIF up with content as we're able, but it's going to be a whirlwind summer for us. Thanks for understanding and for checking in!

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Welcome To The SHO

JJZ: We are going back to basics with this one homie. A couple of young boys doing young boy moves. But dare I say doing them extremely well and efficiently. As I sit here drinking a cup of earl grey tea I can honestly say I found this match soothing. Sho and Yoh go on to have a very colorful energetic run together. But in this match both wrestlers put on a basics match that I think you could show to young students in training. The biggest highlight I think came out of this contest was the selling for both guys really made it feel like winning this match was the most important thing in the world at that moment. Hope you enjoy it baby cakes.

CJD: Full transparency here. You watched and reviewed the Sho match last week not realizing Sho Tanaka was the Sho you've seen probably like a hundred matches of since you watched nothing but NJPW one year recently. And I haven't seen a hundred Yoh matches but I sure as shit didn't put together who Yohei Komatsu was until after I looked him up after I was done and then read your review!! All I want out of young lions matches is three things. A feeling of huge struggle for the victory. Execution over wow factor. And single leg Boston crabs!!!! Check, check, mate my man!! Loved this and love you.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Super Crazy VS Ikuto Hidaka - Zero1 4/14/2005

CJD: I'm straying from the FFF themes here a bit, but hear me out. Zero 1 definitely ties in with those indy feels as far as Japanese promotions go (although I know the indies in Japan get waaayyy smaller and grimier than Z1). Hidaka is one of those trailblazing spirits that has gone all over and will definitely give you some options next week to get things back on track (I peeked ahead to make sure). And man, I'm just having a bad day and I want to watch this match. You love Ikuto, I love Ikuto, let's do this. These guys are no strangers to each other and I actually played you a match of their's in ECW back before our blogging days that was short and sweet. This one was more fleshed out, although it still was pretty light and breezy. The trading of holds, chain wrestling, wild stuff outside, and finishing stretch all still had a feeling of escalation. Impressive but not exhibitionist. And I know you love a match where it feels like either man can win and I was second guessing how this was going to go.

JJZ: Chris. Ikuto Hidaka is such a soft spot for me in wrestling. I think I could argue that he is almost a perfect wrestler. Super Crazy is so under rated in my opinion and a match like this is the reason. These two put on a show. Technically sound with some wild highspots. Just some shit I didn't expect to see. One of the things that I believe is undeniable about Hidaka is that he can work with anyone and the match is above average. So goddamn smooth and purposeful. I really enjoyed this one so much and can't wait to bang out some more Ikuto matches!

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

KUSHIDA Makes You Rock


CJD: KUSHIDA is one of those great wrestlers who doesn't exactly wow you from the first time you see him. He doesn't burst off the screen and grab your attention. But what he does so consistently is have smart, satisfying matches that leave you wanting to see more of both him and his opponent. That's this tournament match through and through. They didn't set out to do anything spectacular but everyone in that building left thinking KUSHIDA is great and Sho is going to be something special. And make no mistake, Sho holds up his side of the bargain with an awesome little breakout performance that he'll keep delivering for years to come. Crazy strong and explosive. This wasn't the direction I expected to go with KUSHIDA this week but when the bulk of your career has been spent in NJPW and WWE the free streaming options are limited. So thanks to Defiant for hooking this one up!

JJZ: I curious about your opinion on my comment her CJD. Kushida really reminds of a modern day Ikuto Hidaka. If you're keeping score at home check back Friday for an example to compare. But to me they are so equal in so many ways. Juniors that work a more technical style but also pop out with some quick high spots. I think a lot of people underestimate them in their ability. I can't ever remember seeing Sho Tanaka before to be honest. But I liked him. Good moveset with smooth transitions. I agree that this is a great tournament match that kept you guessing. And in these settings you can never be sure who is gonna win. Good pick baybay.

Friday, May 5, 2023


CJD here. It is no exaggeration to say without the Death Valley Driver Video Review, and without the writings of Dean Rasmussen, my contributions to this blog wouldn't exist. Dean and Phil's hilarious, poignant, and trailblazing takes on pro wrestling from all regions and eras took my childhood fandom turned hobby as a teenager in the mid 90s from something I was ashamed of to irrationally proud of to this day. Our thoughts are with his friends and family, and if you can contribute anything to help them the link to do so is below.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Golden God Star

Kota Ibushi VS KUSHIDA - NJPW BOSJ 6/4/2010

JJZ: This some bitch is the definition of making every minute count. Thirthteen minutes felt like twenty. Let's talk about the filming of this one. Just using the single cam gave it such an epic feel. Never seen pre Time Splitter Kushida before that I can remember. The potentional for greatness was dripping off of him. With this being a BOSJ match I couldn't tell one way or the other who was going over so this match had a real edge of your seat viewing to it. Both wrestlers busted out with some shit I hadn't seen from them before also. I really loved this one hope you do too mi amigo.

CJD: One of my all-time favorite matches you've ever played forward to me is Ibushi VS Kanemoto from the 2009 BOSJ. And this isn't quite on that level, but god damn if it's not far off. I'd have a hard time telling you what I'd like to see improved in this match. There was a little whiff here, a slight moment of awkwardness there. That's it. I loved how they used every minute. KUSHIDA's technical work and snug strikes were a perfect balance to Ibushi's wild flying and explosive striking combos. Some cool fake outs and really effective false finishes. Not too long, not too short run time... this match is juuuuuussssttt right!! What a fascinating look into a simpler time for the BOSJ.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: Probably the shortest match in PIF history. I didn't mean it to be but with intros this jawn is short short short. BUT! I think I came out of this match with a better impression of XL and Jonah. I already love Super Crazy and think he played his part fine in this one. Still can't believe XL was able to get his weight low enough for the Cruiserweight Classic. This had some nice highspots and all the guys showed a good amount of aggression. This is a perfect second or third match on a card. I remember watching Jonah in NOAH during this time but don't remember him being this small. More like a pebble. Bad joke. Hope you enjoy this match for what it is baby cakes.

CJD: I literally thought while watching this "I'm going to make a Jonah Pebble joke... no I'm not," so thank you for jumping on that grenade for me! I'm curious if this was actually shorter than RSP VS Heidi Lovelace which I'm pretty sure held the title of our shortest match previously. This was good! Obviously if you want a vet directing traffic for a 3 way you couldn't ask for a better chaperone than Super Crazy. Both of the young guns impressed here. The best word I could use to describe this match is fresh. It just felt fresh. Nothing mind blowing obviously but it left you excited for more from all three. I will say I was disappointed that XL wasn't Brian XL, but I digress. Maybe I can find a BXL VS XL match for next week!!

Friday, April 21, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I was going to go a different direction with ZSJ this week and watched a much more ambitious match of his in Mexico. But I had some problems with it and his opponent's performance, so I decided to watch one more to compare and contrast. I've liked everything I've seen from Jonah/Bronson so this was an easy choice. And this match won my rose for the week simply because it didn't have any glaring weakness. It was the type of match that on a great show, maybe a PPV, it might not be the second or even third best of the night. But if that's the case it just means you watched a damn fine event. It has a satisfying, steady pace that builds logically. They do a very good job of highlighting the powerhouse VS technician dynamic, with a nice sub theme of Sabre going after the leg to take away the Australian Samoan's base. And both men are excellent at selling the damage as they keep chipping away, giving you the sense you're watching a brutal competition. In the end the other match I watched had slightly higher highs but it was a lesson in you're only as good as your worst player. Rock was a better opponent and this was the match I decided to play forward to you this Friday my friend.

JJZ: Another reason way I love Play It Forward. If I watched this match under different circumstances I think I might be disappointed. Zack has put himself in the realm of match of the night every match. So when I plan on watching a ZSJ match I'm expecting it to be the ace of the show. But with PIF matches I'm looking for little things that make it stand out to us. In this match I realized that Zack has the ability to eliminate the size advantage that bigger wrestlers have over smaller or lighter wrestlers with his joint manipulation and violent striking. Honestly I can't recall a match where he was just totally over powered and was working from under most of the time. Please correct me if I'm mistaken baby cakes. Jonah does a great job of adding some really nicely timed flying spots. I enjoyed this one. I see that this was a rematch, I'd be curious to watch their first meeting!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Pink Pleather PLNCO Power

CJD: I'll tell you what. If you were to watch a round of lightning fast paced matches, this one would fit the bill very nicely. As this built and built in its economical run time you could feel this match mattered to both guys. There was a little extra snap crackle and pop to even minor things like pinning attempts and kick outs. Two creative, unique talents, but they kept things fairly dialed in with a couple of key moments to wow you. And this match caught me at the right time because it really wowed me. A nice show of respect and admiration between the two post match as corny as that is to care about. But I'm a cornball and I do. I don't know JJZ, is this just a lesser version of a million great Ibushi 10 minute matches and I'm in pro wrestling withdrawal with how little I'm watching right now? Or were you also highly satisfied??

JJZ: Man, so this built so much more than I expected. And for it only being like 10 minutes. You nailed it with this match having some wow. I loved the little fake out from Kotoge for the big hip toss off the guard rail but then just a dropkick instead. Ibushi sold the fuck out of it with bumping on the chairs. This era of Kota is by far my favorite. He was great in the main event stuff with NJPW but this shit he was doing was so fire. Kotoge is someone I think was on track to do big things but wandered off the path for whatever reason. Seeing his chemistry with Ibushi cements that to me. When you look back at the talent NOAH had and brought in at this time it blows my mind that they weren't bigger. This was fantastic brother.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

JJZ: I was so goddamn excited to watch some Shane Strickland magic! So I've watched several Strickland matches and all of them were worth sharing but I just flat out was marking out to this one. I get it's rich with tip top indy talent but they are top indy talent for a reason. This match is just entertaining. Fun ass spots. Close falls. Crazy bumps. I know we're watching this for free but if I paid for it I'd say I got my money's worth. I appreciate the color coordination from both teams. Not gonna lie, I was surprised who took the fall. Also didn't know Keith Lee and Shane Strickland tagged before AEW. Enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: I had no idea Lee and Swerve tagged together previously either and I love that little bit of continuity and storyline thread! Man this rocked. Dream tag matches on paper often feel like less than the sum of their parts in reality, but this felt king sized and delivered colossal action. My only criticism is there was a good amount of standing around and trading double teams late, but that's not surprising in this kind of setting. And there was a well developed and really satisfying psychology to the match with Strickland's stubbornness and perseverance. And the color coordination!! There's a reason these guys are top talent indeed, and part of it is talent, but I think effort is an even bigger factor. This match had it in spades and they delivered something extremely memorable as a result.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: I wanted to find Leva doing her own thing more so than doing someone else's schtick this week. But the more I dug the more obvious it was that that's exactly what her thing is. This match reminded me a lot of your Veda/Mike Bailey tag match from a little while back, ironically, since Leva is cosplaying as Veda here. Or is she?? (Yes she is). I really liked how slapdash this felt, and I also like using the word slapdash for the first time in my life. Everyone had great chemistry for something you could tell just got thrown together in the back. I feel like I should have seen a lot more of Cade over the years but I think this is only the third or fourth match of his I've watched. He may have been my favorite part of the match, and you know I'm a Swerve mark. The greenhorn more than held his own (that name has gotta go though). Also dug how we had a little FEST Wrestling fest these past couple weeks!

JJZ: Would have killed for the full Strickland entrance. This was a fun rag tag match. I loved your comments on this match btw. The announcers going back and forth about Leva being Veda was funny. And the ref getting into it was great. Stuff like this is was makes indy wrestling so fucking appealing. A little one off story like that includes everyone down to the ref. Action was solid throughout, the intergender aspect is there but doesn't overpower the psychological of the match. We're both Shane Strickland marks and I'm not super familiar with Cade but he was great too. Leva always is a treat to watch. You're 100% right on that name but Adrian definitely added more than he took away. Nice pick baby cakes.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Portrait Of A Young Master Piece

JJZ: So I've had this match in my book of matches. Matches that I sometimes share with you during a night that we only watch wrestling. At one point I thought this match could be the Ace match of the night. I rewatched it a few times back when I first found it to try to decide if it was on that level. Watching it now, I just find the match very good. It covers everything I loved about Harada's NOAH career. His relationship with Kotoge. His feud with Ishimori. And his ability to work with foreign talent so well. This was the finals of the 2016 NOAH Jr tag league. At the time I followed this league as well as I could. I was pleasantly surprised that ACH and Ishimori made the finals. No matter how good or great I thought this was, you can't deny the amazing spots and smooth transitions these four wrestlers did in that ring on July 30th 2016. Enjoy baby!

CJD: I watched this match on my first week of the graveyard rotation while keeping my daughter home sick during the day two days in a row. So it took about three sleep deprived sittings and I wish I had time to watch it back straight through because the flow seemed like one of the strongest aspects of the match. Maybe I'll come back to it down the line. I agree that this match lands in the "very good" camp and sometimes good is good enough! This hit the right notes and the fans loved it, although they seemed a bit surprised at the finish. Curious if this lead to a rematch?? I really liked the pairings here, ACH and Kotoge had a natural chemistry with their big bodacious offense back and forth. Harada and Ishimori were smooth as silk. And I love what a big moment this was for ACH and how swept up in it he seemed. And I will say this, despite having to break up my viewing, the match was so good I never felt like I missed a beat. So glad you had the opportunity to cross this one off and share it with me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Regeneration X

CJD: I love how many Tuesday epics we've had lately. But let's go back to Kiyomiya's early years and let's pay tribute to an unsung great who's career unfortunately ended far too soon. I hope above all else Harada is able to retire with a decent quality of life, but I will miss him as the anchor of a very inconsistent and constantly changing NOAH juniors division. He single handedly elevated everyone around him for years and years and while I know you appreciate the work he did JJZ, I wish more did. Maybe now he'll get those flowers! This match doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does feature Kaito paying those dues while showing flashes of the main eventer he is today. Enjoy my emerald amigo!

JJZ: This is brand spanking new to me baby cakes. I probably chose to skip it back then because NOAH young boy matches were always underwhelming. Well fuck was I wrong. This was truly a great match for what they were trying to do. It also helps that it hits me in all the feels right now with Harada having to sadly retire so young. It did everything you want a match like this to do. You could see all the potential in Kiyomiya while still seeing Harada shine bright like a diamond. I think Harada is vastly under appreciated in professional wrestling. He was as consistent as any junior over the past decade. No matter what was going on with NOAH you knew Harada would always give you your money's worth. I'm literally excited as hell to find a Harada match to play forward to you. One more thing on Kiyomiya, I know we both got to watch his recent match against Okada together, and I got young boy Okada vibes from him watching this one!

CJD: Totally agree on the young lion Okada vibes.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Effy (c) VS Leva Bates - FEST Wrestling Championship 3/31/2018

JJZ: I love the little backstory we got coming in to this one.  A lot of mind games for this match. Loving all the stuff Leva is doing to get into Eff'ys head. The size difference is real so Bates playing psychological warfare to even the playing field is smart. This was so much fun imo. A lot of great spots. Really thought the game of shadow Leva played on Effy was genius. Honestly this match had so many little touches that made it special. But it also had some sick fucking spots. The chair spots were insane baby. I've seen a lot of Effy so I knew how good he was with the extras in a match. But Leva over delivered in so many parts to this. Really impressed with her in this one.  Hope you enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: Effy brought a star power to this match that impressed me big time. If I had to sum this match up in one word it would be enjoyable. It was a rollercoaster and not every little bump along the ride will be for everyone but when all was said and done this was a fun package. An experience if you will. You know I'm not the biggest on intergender matches but I know there's one in particular that just grabbed a bunch of headlines so this is fitting right now. I've almost played Leva forward for you on Fridays many times over so I'm glad to dig into her a little more. Effy isn't exactly new to me but I left these two matches with a new appreciation for him. He explodes off the screen and makes everything he touches more interesting. Oh and $2 PBR?? Probably not anymore in 2023 but sign me up!!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: Special Request Jones over here! We had this match sent over to us and to say I'm flattered to be asked to review wrestlers performing at this level is an understatement. This is indie wrestling 101 here, kids having a great time, awesome oddball venue, lackluster commentary, colorful personalities, a couple of big spots, a self contained story but also connecting to a larger one if you follow the promotion. I was really impressed with CSJ who I was totally unfamiliar with. His dynamic with his manager Enoch (always a fan of more managers!) as his hired gun helped make him look strong even as a very effective heel in the match. Fuego is obviously an exciting wrestler who's easy to root for but I thought Jamal held this together at times and helped with a lot of the connective tissue that made the match work so well. Really satisfying finish. This match could hold its own on any of our Friday features and I'm really glad it got sent our way as a special feature.

JJZ: I was totally expecting a splashy junk food match but this was so much more. It felt like I was watching WCW Saturday Night. The psychology in the ring matched with the trouble making manager that keeps butting his nose in the action. The match had a solid structure and build to a back and forth homestretch. Both Fuego and CSJ really had some nice moves and some fantastic spots in the second half of the match. Jamal stood out as a unique talent on the indies these days. Would love to watch more of these guys soon!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

KONGOH Are Forever

JJZ: I feel like playing this match forward just seems like a no brainer. We've watched the growth of these two wrestlers and I think this match really showed how far they both have come. This is their most recent GCH title match from NOAH's New Year's Day show. When I saw it was only twenty one minutes I couldn't believe it. I don't think I've watched a Global Honor Crown heavyweight title match in years! Kenoh and Kiyomiya didn't hold anything back and really made every minute of this match count. They followed some GHC title staples but were economic with their time. I saw a couple new moves from both guys that popped me. Also saw a big old slice of pepperoni that I choose to ignore. Hope you enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: I am love love loving this NOAH voyage we are on currently. Something I appreciated about this match is it gave me deja vu to Kenoh's great rivalry with the man we just featured, Sugiura, and the way that generational shift helped bring NOAH back from a dark period after Misawa's death (even if it had some bright spots).  Kaito and Kenoh have a very different dynamic than that feud between former tag partners. But like all the great NOAH rivalries there's something unique about these two, this veteran/emerging Ace feud has a chemistry that gets me particularly excited for their matches. I'd love a Kenoh/Kiyomiya DVD comp if anyone is willing to take the commission!! I could immediately tell this match had an extra edge to it so I read up on the backstory. They had a big chip on their shoulders on this platform taking the semi main event spot behind Muta/Marufuji. Kenoh in particular ran his mouth as Kenoh does. And these guys wrestled a statement match that both fits the great legacy of GHC Heavyweight Title matches but also lays a new path for the next generation. After Go delivered so many epics in his historic pandemic reign (great callback nearfall here speaking of which!) I was over the moon with how straight to the point this was just like you were. I'll forgive a sloppy slice of pepperoni pizza when the rest of the pie is this well done any day of the week. And speaking of toppings. Kaito, that hair is WILD!

Friday, March 10, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

CJD: We've been doing Forever Forward Fridays for almost 3 years now. And for that entire length of time I've wanted to work in an Effy match. Never did I ever guess "Kung Fu" Donnie Janela would drop the keys in my lap to rev that engine. But here we are! And a little side of Suge D?? Sign me up! I've never seen anyone on the heel side of this trios throwdown but I was impressed with the chemistry the teams had despite the very oddball nature of this match. Could have asked for a better crowd and hardcam but for southern indie wrestling shot in a bar, beggars can't be choosers. This match would play great on TV and you can tell was building on a lot of what they were doing locally in the promotion between Donnie and the Champ. Derek Neal? I think. I liked this match, the sum of the parts even more than the individual components, but I might be biased because it's the first match I've watched in over a week after getting stranded in Houston flying back from Mexico for a funeral. And if that's the case, then that's exactly what a gaga pro wrestling match is there for!

JJZ: So this was a totally unexpected match you play forward to me. Not in a bad way at all. I assumed I'd be getting back an indie gaga bar room show. But I was pleasantly surprised with this six man tag. I always love when we can showcase a wrestler excelling in different types of matches. This was a story based face VS heel working from under match. With some innovative spots. I've never seen that spot before where Suge blocked the turnbuckle for Donnie. Great little spot there. I was really left guessing the finish til the three count which I love since wrestling can be a little too predictable sometime. This is the first match of many that I'll watch this week while I am on vacation. Nice pick baby.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

He's A Killing Machine, Isn't He?

CJD: I put this on seeing the upload was a few months ago eager to watch a vocal Japanese crowd. And obviously the names had me excited. I was disappointed when a few minutes in I realized it was from early last year. But the chemistry between these two teams immediately jumped off the screen, and we've talked before about how NOAH weathered the storm (see what I did there) of the pandemic better than a lot of companies. At least in terms of the quality of wrestling and the reactions they got from the muted crowds. This match would have been better in a different setting for sure, but I'm really glad I stuck with it. Hideki is obviously a bit of a square peg in the round NOAH holes, in Zero1 and other promotions he was often left to do his own thing and people would adapt. Here he's very much adapting to the classic GHC tag title format. Instead of totally changing his style or approach, his style informs how the format is structured and everyone benefits from it. The peaks and valleys are a little different because of it and there isn't quite that exclamation point cherry on top finish that would get this on MOTY lists. But this match did everything I wanted and a little more. I'm still getting adjusted to English commentary for NOAH but I thought these guys did a really nice job adding context and especially sounding hooked on the nearfalls. I need to start getting caught up on NOAH!

JJZ: My heart is so happy when we're in a NOAH run on Play It Forward. Judging pandemic wrestling has become a lot easier but for the good matches it always feels like an active crowd would put this over the top. This match was such an easy watch. It could've been 60 minutes and I don't think I would've noticed. The smoothness but still stiffness was almost soothing. I know that might sound weird but I did get kinda an ASMR feeling from it. In my wrestling heart NOAH has the softest spot. I will always root for this company to get back to the highest level of professional wrestling that it once was. I really wish it was easier to watch but what can I do. So I will just enjoy matches like these whenever I get the opportunity. I loved the Kongoh chemistry. Sugiura doesn't age and Suzuki always impresses me with his catch wrestling. Fine, fine match baby cakes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

He Can Go

JJZ: I fucking love this match Chris. I watched this one 6 years ago and enjoyed the piss out of it then too. This is the title defense after your Shelton match. Now this is a lumberjack match and the big story is because Go still doesn't have the trust of the lockerroom his LJs are some young boys and midcarders. It was expected it'd have interference but I think they did a wonderful job not letting it affect the integrity of the finish. Better crowd than most NOAH shows at this time. Fantastic spots, stiff dickheads, and I think everything was paced perfectly. Enjoy baby cakes.

CJD: There's so much I want to say about this match that I kept putting it off. Stiff dickheads. Man that perfectly sums up this feud. These two have a problem self editing but when they capture lightning in a bottle it's beautiful. And this was one of those times! I loved this stipulation even if it wasn't the style of lumberjack match I prefer (I like when it's every man for himself on the outside). It kept the psychology focused and I agree completely that it built to a very satisfying finish. When we started PIF this is what I  dreamt of. You dropping NOAH knowledge on me. Digging into matches we might not ever get to share with each other because time is fleeting. The great stuff that happens in the not great eras that takes perseverance to dig up. Putting in the work as fans! I love this match and I love you.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Arik Royal VS Donnie Janela - ACTION Wrestling 12/6/2019

JJZ: Dude, I needed a match like this right now. A nice little short story. Gaga and everything was hit nicely. So is Donnie Joey's brother? Cousin maybe? I dunno but I enjoyed him man. I got a kick out of the blindfold spot. Not ever seeing DJ before I had no clue what to expect so even though it was a short match I felt like it played longer because everything was fresh to order. I think Royal's matches we played were a great snapshot of his ability with them being so different. Both these guys are going to be on my radar going forward in my professional wrestling viewing career!

CJD: Kung Fu Donnie Janela. Huh. I don't know what to make of that one, not going to lie. Born in Alaska, apparently he is Joey's cousin, also wrestles as Prime Time (as the back tattoo would indicate). I was hoping he was doing purely tribute gimmicks, the British wrestler Kung Fu, Joey, Brian Lee. The 3 faces of Donnie. Apparently not the case, but there's still time! This match was fun and I continue to be impressed with Arik Royal. ACTION seems like a promotion I'd be stoked to have in my hometown. Donnie Janela, the verdict is out for me. Let's see where next week takes me!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Ain't No Stoppin Him, NOW

CJD: I can't say I ever dreamed of Shelton in a half hour GHC Title match. Definitely not playing to his strengths. And I know there's a very good chance you've already seen this match. But I was in the mood for Shelton in NOAH and of the matches I had available to me this one definitely raised my eyebrows. There's good and bad to this match. Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Terrible crowd as was typical in this period. Video gets choppy or out of sync a few times. And there's just a little bit of a rough feel to how they build to and deliver a lot of big spots. I wouldn't say these guys have great chemistry. But, Benjamin looks surprisingly comfortable in this setting, and is a very game challenger for an all-time great Champion. Go is a kind of divisive figure, I think the people that are hard on him can't get past the sometimes iffy execution and the blatant Kobashi emulation. For me his selling, his supreme effort, and his general charisma outweigh those criticisms. This match has all that on display. And I guess that's the good news. Is that for any negatives you'd expect, this match has all the positives you want to. Hard hitting, hard work, big bumps, nice twists and turns. This is the NOAH Ace defending against the invading heel through and through. It won't go down as one of the greats but for an interesting footnote in both guys' careers I thought they did a damn fine job.

JJZ: Chris my beautiful friend. You are so far in my wheelhouse with this match I'm going to have to ask you to please take your shoes off and have a seat. I have seen this match before and remember liking it a lot. Shelton really had some good matches in NOAH. One with Nakajima that I even played for our mutual wrestling friends. I did play the match that Go won the title for this defense against Sugiura for you before and this was his first defense of that championship run. One thing I really liked about this era of Go was that he wasn't quite the Ace at this time. He was in a proving his loyalty to NOAH phase being that he just returned from AJPW. When Sugiura turned on Marufuji a few months back Maru turned down Go's help and refused to shake his hand. I loved NOAH in 2016 and matches like this are a big reason. This played way better than I remembered. Shelton hit a lot of big "oh shit!" spots. The knee in the corner, that German and that table spot.  Go worked from under excellently. Really nice crowd popping spots with explosive energy. Now the crowd wasn't the best but it was better than a lot of NOAH crowds during this time. I enjoyed the fuck out of this one baby cakes. And I already know what I'm playing next!