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.