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MATCH REVIEW: Johnny Saint vs Ken Joyce (07-24-81)



Johnny Saint and Ken Joyce delivered an all-time classic without even getting too competitive or heated. All they needed was an overabundance of joy.

June 24, 1981
Joint Promotions
ITV 07-04-81
Shrewsbury, England


Wrestling is fun.

It's true. I love watching wrestling, talking about wrestling, writing about wrestling, and thinking about wrestling. It's a wonderful combination of absurdism, emotion, excess, and demonstrated skill. There's nothing quite like it. I love wrestling so much that I started ProWrestlingOnly.com. I've loved it enough to follow it closely for more than thirty years. I've loved it enough to have spent a borderline shameful amount of time and money on the hobby. That said, I could never love wrestling as much as Johnny Saint or Ken Joyce. I simply don't have the capacity, even if in that failure, I've salvaged an endlessly rewarding journey as a wrestling fan.

By merely embracing the purest parts of the craft, Saint and Joyce defiantly had an all-time classic bout, forgoing the things that are typically necessary to make that happen. This was a friendly trading of holds and little more, yet it somehow never felt remotely like an exhibition. They clearly had the desire to win, but they were both babyfaces and they weren't going to stray from that. There was no subtle heel work from either guy. There was also no anger. I think the average person gets more upset when some idiot on television buys a vowel.

Johnny Saint and Ken Joyce took a pretty straightforward approach, attempting to best each other in one incredible mat exchange after another. Both had moments of triumph, and all of them were celebrated. Joyce in particular cheered both his own successes and Saint's successes equally, just happy to be in the ring with someone who could challenge him to be at his best. 

The best thing about being a wrestling fan is that just when I think I have it all figured out, wrestlers show me some new path to greatness that I haven't seen, proving that I'll never completely solve the riddle and neither will anyone else. As a perfectionist, it's something that has driven me nuts at times because I've had an innate desire to watch it all and see it all. With time, however, in the same way that scientists love being proven wrong, I've grown to love having any prejudgments that I have about professional wrestling tossed in the garbage. It's a medium where with enough skill and courage of convictions, virtually any approach can work. I now know that it's possible to have a classic match without the wrestlers involved showing any anger and I'm better for it. 


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