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!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Fred Yehi VS Arik Royal - ACTION Wrestling Falls Count Anywhere 3/22/2019

CJD: From a very heel Yehi performance to straight up 10 punches in the corner babyface Savageweight here. And guess what? He's great at both! We haven't had a match like this on PIF in a while, and I know any time you and I have to fit a longer match into our week it's a big ask. I think this match is worth it. Mainly because, for a big feud blowoff ($2500 bounty on Yehi's head! That's like 2 months rent!!), straight up broad stroaks good VS evil in a high school gym in front of a couple hundred people (maybe) and watched by about the same amount of people online... man did these guys go out there and do the damn thing. This hit all the big notes you want, with lots of sneaky big bumps mixed in, and smaller moments that popped me too. Totally ignorant of Royal but instantly a fan. This was no DQ and also falls count anywhere. I just saw they had a bunch of matches up online and picked this one at random. Maybe it's their best, maybe they've had way better. Either way it was a fun ride that left me impressed and I definitely am giving it an extra bump. On this kind of platform they could have done half the match with three big spots and called it a night. And maybe there's something to be said for that, but on this given show I dug the hard work they put in and left wanting more. And talk about as indie as it gets on a Friday!

JJZ: So I'm drinking a lager and smoking a cigar. I have off tomorrow so when I saw this match was 28+ minutes I was like YES!  Then I read your comments and laughed because if I was going to try to squeeze this in between picking up my kids from school it couldn't have happened. Before I get into the meat of the match shoutout to dollar store Drew Gulak with the run in. So I got major ECW fan cam vibes from this match fyi. Tommy Dreamer VS Raven feels during the crowd work. This is definitely the most different Yehi match I've ever seen. So much of a brawler style when I'm use to him being so technical. Da fuck, where those announcers come from?! For what this match was trying to be it really hit man. A fantastic back and forth battle. Excellent pick CJD!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Heat Is Here

Stevie Richards VS Shelton Benjamin - WWE Heat 10/11/2004

JJZ: So my mindset finding a Stevie Richards match was simple: ECW. That mindset changed after one search. Man there is little to nothing available from ECW for Stevie up for streaming. This lead me down a pretty interesting journey to this match. Right off the bat, this ain't winning no match of the night awards. What I enjoyed about this match and all the matches I've watched from Stevie is his fundamentals. He has such a great base to his matches. I'd say this match is a great example of that and made him and Shelton look great. Told a complete story in seven minutes and had the crowd hooked. Well done boys.

CJD: Love me some Sunday night HEAT. You weren't kidding about how they hooked the UK crowd in this one! It's amazing to me that even with a very respectable career Shelton Benjamin was never a bigger star. His promo skills have never been great but I'd love to see him in the UWF with Percy Pringle managing him as the top babyface chasing a heel Champ. Something like that. Anyway. This match was good! I know Stevie was in Right To Censor but I don't remember watching a ton of him as a straight up heel like this. Dare I say I like him better in this role than as a babyface. Just personal preference. This match isn't one to pick apart but for 7 minutes of really competent pro wrestling with cringeworthy mid 2000s commentary you won't find much better!

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rises From The Mouth Of The Diamond Mine

Roderick Strong (c) VS Stevie Richards - ROH Television Championship 12/19/2015

CJD: So I watched this match and really enjoyed it but didn't like the note they ended on. And I thought "nah" and kept searching. Then I slept on it and weighed the pros and cons. The pros: I really liked seeing Roddy in a different sort of situation than we typically see him. I thought he did a great job as the defending heel Champ against the veteran babyface surprise challenger. I liked Stevie's chemistry with him and I liked the throwback TV studio feel of this Television Title defense. And I loved the idea of seeing your Strong/Richards match and raising you a Strong/Richards match! The cons: the finish, which I didn't even hate, but was just flat. Well, the pros outweigh the cons, and even though this pales in comparison to your PWG rager, I think it'll be a nice palate cleanser before who knows what you'll find with Stevie as our MDTSOCWWKD Champ!

JJZ: Awwww. I should've known this would be in Phila. Off the bat I wanna say this would've been a perfect spot for a flip flop title swap. This was a fantastical TV title match. Working in this small time frame but making everything feel important. The build to the Stevie kick was amazing! STEVIE KICK! I can hear Joey Styles ringing in my ears. I actually was watching ROH a good amount at this time and don't remember this match. I'm always a fan of the open challenge title match. That element of surprise makes the match feel special. Nice pick baybay.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

ACH VS Fred Yehi - AAW 1/24/2020

JJZ: Love me some ACH and I love me some Fred Yehi! And I know you love some Fred Yehi! So it brings me great joy to play this match forward to you. It seems like this is coming off of ACH leaving WWE so the crowd was white hot for him. I loved the chops in the first phase of the match. They did a wonderful job building to those slaps being effective. Both guys did an excellent job building to everything in general so honestly they didn't have to do much in the ways of moves. Whenever they hit anything the crowd ate it up. And we need more toe punches in wrestling. Loved that spot. Going to keep my eye out for a rematch from these two. Enjoy baby.

CJD: I don't know if I've ever seen Yehi work as straightforward heel as he did in this match. And now I want to see more of it! This was clearly the ACH show but if anything Yehi fed off that and gave an even bigger performance because of it. This was grimey, you had some fancy ACH footwork, but the heart of this match was a back alley fight. I feel like we've watched a lot of matches with pleasant surprise finishes recently. This was a little more elaborate than most of those but man I loved that whole sequence and the idea of it. And as you said every big moment in this match had so much impact because they were so deliberate in the build. I keep telling you you're bringing that fire lately and the temperature at PIF HQ just keeps on rising!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

I Live My Life Like There's No Tomorrow

Davey Richards VS Roderick Strong - PWG 7/31/2009

JJZ: The battle for Eddie Edwards' heart! So! I did want to play a newer Davey Richards match but then I saw this. And you know what Chris. I fucking knew it was gonna be good because of Roderick! And it fucking was! Now I'm pretty positive that you've seen this before. So let's talk about this banger. 14 minutes felt more like 24. Didn't overstay its welcome at all. Stiffer than a 17 year old on prom night. No sloppy pizza slices. I know I'm speaking directly to you with this, I watched this while washing dishes. Scrubbing pans and yelling God damn! Enjoy it baby cakes.

CJD: I honestly have no idea if I have this show on DVD. The main event sounds super familiar but the undercard not at all. And man I feel like I'd remember this match, even with our prejudices against Davey, because this was a fucking barnburner!! You've been bringing that heat JJZ! I loved how this went totally opposite of what I'd expect, which was a nearly 20 minute main event style match that's so common on PWG undercards. Instead these guys went out with something to prove in a different way, that they could steal the show with all killer, no filler, and consistent logical selling and psychology to boot! They sold their familiarity with each other, worked some learned spots into the story of the match, and made the W feel like it mattered big time. I'd love to hear a grumpy Jim Cornette type break down this match, because if there was any criticism other than they could've slowed down a little here or there, I'd call bullshit immediately.  Granted this match is like 15 years old so its not like this is "state of the art wrestling" but it's what I was thinking. I also hate those tights on Davey but otherwise I loved this match!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Terry Funk Didn't Wear No Mouthpiece

Hey all, just wanted to add our condolences and grieving to the sea of fans thinking of Jay Briscoe and his family. John and I were very lucky to see the Briscoes live many times over and Jay was as dynamic of a pro wrestler as I've ever seen live. Judging from the outpouring of love and personal stories from his peers and friends he was an even more remarkable human being. RIP to a great man who left a legacy behind in a short time that would fill many lifetimes over.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

I'm A Sol Man

Samuray Del Sol VS Davey Richards - Grendel Wrestling 4/30/2022

CJD: On the heels of the announcement that Vince is back on the board of WWE I'm not in the mood to share one of their uploads. And I didn't have great SDS options available to me otherwise. This match immediately came up but you know we feel similarly about Davey Richards. Eventually I gave it a shot and hey, it's a pretty damn good little match. Not as good as your Sydal find by any means. But I will say this about Davey, in terms of his old tendencies to push every match to try to climax 20 times and then have an even bigger finish after that, I haven't seen that side of him in a long time. And as a grizzled vet a lot of his way too serious mannerisms are at least a bit easier to get over. I actually liked his performance a little more than Kalisto here. This match was simple, it felt more like an opener than a main event, but given what I had to work with I dug it. And I'm not going to lie, I'm getting some sort of sick satisfaction making you play a Richards match back!

JJZ: You sick bastard. Forcing me to watch and play a Richards match back is the booty of all the booties. J/k. I'm interested to be honest. I loved that intro for Sammy boy. I'm liking the GLOAT nickname. Super fucking happy Richards dropped the yelling with his moves thing. I always found that annoying. I'll fully agree this felt like an opener not a main event. Honestly I would've been a little pissed if that was the main event of a show I went to. Just saying, but for the match they were going for they did a good job. This match had a cleaness to it that I think all independent wrestlers strive for. Like you said to me off the record the commentary wasn't great but I was into the promotion on a whole. The finish was nice and not over done. No Richardidis in this one!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Forever Forward Fridays

Garza Jr VS ACH - AAW 6/17/2017

CJD: This match almost feels like a companion piece to me to some of the other matches we've watched recently. There are some themes I think you'll pick up on that we keep exploring. Because of that I was tempted not to play it. I also thought I might be limiting you too much with another go around with former FFFriday Champion ACH, since he's been in and out of wrestling the past few years. But I peeked at some of your options and got excited. And I liked the beginning and end of this match so much that I'll give it a pass that I think it loses its way a bit in the middle. After watching a good amount of Angel Garza I don't know how much depth is there but man does he have charisma and timing. ACH brings his own athletic charisma and even a bit of heart to play off the cocky heel. This was an opener that felt like an opener and did all the things an opener should do. I wouldn't argue any criticisms but it made me smile and on a week where my dominant arm's been in a sling half the time I'll take any entertainment I can get!

JJZ: Not gonna lie CJD, I was disappointed. Disappointed this match was under ten minutes! Wow, you know when we share matches and some come up and you're really excited for the matchup? Well this was one I was drooling over. It's my day off and I got sometime so I'm like let's go, Imma fold clothes and watch this flip flop and fly action. Dude this match was great for only 9 minutes. Perfect opening match that really gets the crowd excited for the rest of the show. I think these two would've had a great 5 minute or 45 minute match. You know I'm a big fan of AAW and I love this venue. Nice pick baby!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Been On Top Of The World

Matt Sydal VS Samuray Del Sol - PTW 11/26/2022

JJZ: I enjoyed playing this match forward because it showed another dynamic of this era of Sydal. In his match with Martin last week it was more of a Matt leads and Dante follows kinda match. And in this one I got more of a Matt proving himself to still be a top player in the flip flop foodchain. While SDS was proving he took that spot. This was such an excellent example of great smart thought out high flying wrestling. No wasted movement and everything made sense for when it was hit. The only negative was I didn't like that I could call the telegraphed finish. I'm more familiar with Del Sol's WWE run so I'm super excited to see what you throw back at me.

CJD: My man, pots & pans. I'm over here goofing around posting top albums of the year on the PiF Instagram while you're in the lab doing the research bringing the absolute FIRE!!! I wouldn't say I'm a Kalisto superfan but I really mean it when I say this is what it looks like to master your craft. There is no delay between thought in these two men and action. And every action is precision. Even the slight missteps are beautiful, but the beauty of this match never loses the sense of struggle. You covered the king of the mountain vibe between these two perfectly. I loved the approach to this match, the different sides to Sydal as you mentioned. There were some similarities between the performances this week and last, but his selling, his aggression, and his psychology were very different. I'm just blown away by the polish these two had for what I'm assuming was a very limited amount of work together previously, if any. If ever there was an argument to work everywhere, with everyone, as often as you can, play this match for them and have them look up the careers these two have had. Malcolm Gladwell would be proud.