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  1. Loss

    Ric Flair

    For those who want to criticize Flair, I think the better tack is that when he figured out what worked, he became complacent -- not in the sense that he didn't work hard or continue to perform at a high level, but he didn't challenge himself to break out of his routine. His matches varied because he didn't pull literally everything out of his toolbox in every single big match, but it was rare that Flair did something in a match that surprised me as a viewer. I don't see that as a huge negative personally, but I think it's a more worthwhile criticism than arguing that his collar-and-elbow tie-ups and side headlocks didn't play into the finish of his match, as if any wrestler has ever done that. You could also criticize him for being the first working champion to perform under a national spotlight and not realizing that certain things that worked brilliantly in the territory days -- namely, the concept of signature defense -- were going to have drawbacks when working in front of a national audience. Other wrestlers had signature defense too; Rick Rude had an entire Twitter account dedicated to his atomic drop selling last year. But Rude was rarely in as high-profile a spot as Flair, so I think he could get away with it, where Flair getting slammed off the top became an actual running gag spot by the time he was doing his WWE run in 2004. I think it got to a point by the late 80s when even casual viewers could call Flair matches, at least when he was a heel. Make of that what you will. I think there are counterpoints to those things, but arguing that Great Matches aren't the end-all, be-all, but you don't take note of things in matches you don't like to make your point is a self-contradicting viewpoint. Either the match quality matters or it doesn't, and that's a choice I suppose everyone can make for themselves, but I don't think it's right to say they matter unless you don't want them to matter anymore. If you dismiss the idea of using Great Matches to rate certain wrestlers, but advocate for other wrestlers on their matches, you just leave me confused.
  2. Loss

    Is the empire crumbling before our eyes?

    I love people blaming John Laurinitis for this. His role is to take the heat so that Vince McMahon doesn't have to, and I thought everyone understood that by now.
  3. Loss

    All Elite Wrestling

    I don't think Jericho will be allowed back on the WWE Network anytime soon.
  4. Loss

    All Elite Wrestling

    Happy for AEW drawing such an impressive number last night, even though Dynamite has left me cold lately. I still think there's room to grow that number and improve the show, and I hope they do so.
  5. Loss

    Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat

    The criticisms of Steamboat in Japan speak to something larger about the types of wrestlers who get over there. I think Japanese audiences value aggression. Big selling performances might get over, but only if they come from people who are already over in part for their level of aggression. Steamboat is a defensive wrestler and I don't just mean that his matches are mostly built around selling. They are also built mostly around counters. I don't think you need to have a ton of great moves to get over in Japan necessarily, and Abdullah getting over is a great example of that. But I do think demonstrating a mean streak is important.
  6. Loss

    Wrestlemania 37

    Just leaving this here for people to chew on. Multiple championship matches on major shows spanning years at this point.
  7. Loss

    AEW Dynamite - April 7, 2021

    I think there's a balance. You can run the same matches multiple times as long as the matches themselves are worked differently and the circumstances change from match to match. Rematch after rematch with nothing at stake gets old fast.
  8. Loss

    AEW Dynamite - April 7, 2021

    Yes, Jericho never being interested in regaining the title after he lost it is another example of this.
  9. Loss


    Let's start with an easy one ... Rock N Wrestling. (Some may consider this time period a little different and they may be correct, but for my purposes here, I want to look at 1984-1986 WWF. I'll explain why.) What makes this era stand out, good and bad? First, we should talk about the good. The wrestlers have the benefit and burden of working in a company that's growing so fast it can barely keep up with itself. By the fall of 1986, the WWF turned up the house lights for Saturday Night's Main Event and debuted Superstars and Challenge. The "brand" effect was taking hold in terms of a consistent look and feel and generally expected working style, and they started running a formula, which one could argue that they've just been continuing to iterate since then. That's not really what you see in 1984-1986. You see a company looking for an identity and at least at first, you see a lot of wrestlers just carrying over what they've always done. The "family friendly" WWF may have been bringing in Cyndi Lauper and trying to find ways for Hulk Hogan to appeal to kids, but the Iron Sheik and Sgt. Slaughter were also working violent bloodbaths while Tito Santana and Greg Valentine were working stiff and athletic matches over the IC title. Neither feud would have felt out of place in the more workrate-centric Jim Crockett Promotions at all. Hulk Hogan was doing brawls with Kamala that felt more like Mid South in execution than what we currently think of as the WWF/WWE style. Eventually, reality set in. The WWF was running the most insane schedule in wrestling history in the 1980s -- not just in terms of the number of dates, but in terms of flying all over the map. They would in some cases go coast to coast and back again in a single week's time. People who encountered them on the road near the end of month-long tours have described them as "zombies" by the end of it. It was an exciting time, but it was also a demanding time. We started seeing those matches less for a couple of reasons. One, it's hard to give that level of effort every night when you're on such a brutal schedule and two, it's not really the vision Vince McMahon had for the company. The best thing about watching the WWF during these formative years is how uneven it is. 1985 has less traditional wrestling than 1984, and 1986 less than 1985. And 1984 WWF would barely recognize 1987 or 1988 WWF in terms of the working style, the types of crowds, the look and feel of the shows or the in-ring style. Things changed very quickly. The WWF was not at all the place to go if you were a hardcore fan in the 1980s looking for good matches or wild angles. Occasionally, they'd pull one out, but it was rare. What was the general working style at the time? For the most part, the talent was just trying to get through the night. They might dial it up if they were working SNME, an MSG card, or another big show, but by and large, they were going through the motions. Lots of cheap heat and easy crowd pleasing spots. Get through the match, don't hurt yourself, because you've got another match the next day, or maybe even later the same day. The attraction was not the promise of a great show as much as it was the experience of seeing your TV favorites in person. How much footage do we have and how complete is it? A lot, and it's mostly complete. We don't have ALL of the WWF TV during this time frame, but we have enough to draw conclusions. Almost every major house show was recorded and is in circulation. There were SNME TV specials, a couple of pay-per-views, The Big Event, etc. Syndicated TV was mostly short squashes and interview segments where you might see an angle 4-5 times in a year. Who are the best wrestlers of this era based on footage we have? To me, the names that stand out the most are: - Randy Savage - Tito Santana - Greg Valentine - Hulk Hogan - Roddy Piper They aren't the only ones who did things worth watching during this time, but to me, all five of them have matches during this time that strengthen their cases for GWE. Perhaps you could add Slaughter or Sheik, although most of Sarge's peak preceded this, and the Sheik-Volkoff team wasn't exactly inspiring anyone. However, the Slaughter-Sheik match is as good or better as anything we have from either of them, and this would be important to point to when making a case for either of them. If you like Orndorff, these years are likely going to be the bulk of his case. Some other wrestlers that "passed through" that may have hurt their case during this time (or at best not helped it very much): - Barry Windham (Not sure the team with Rotunda produced any hugely memorable matches, despite them being pushed to the moon) - Dick Murdoch (The team with Adonis wasn't the most giving to other teams and did have some good matches, but also had so many disappointing ones) Is there any reason to think anyone might be better or worse than the footage suggests? If so, who? I don't see this as a period like the earlier territory days where you have a lot of talent that you suspect may have been better than the footage lets on. Available WWF footage during this time paints a pretty clear picture. What are some comparable eras and how do the best wrestlers compare to each other? I don't think there's another era in wrestling history quite like this one, at least in terms of the demands on the wrestlers. I don't think other boom periods are really comparable -- the late 90s in the U.S. happened more on television than in the arenas. Surprisingly, the most comparable era (in a very roundabout way that I'm not even completely comfortable with, but just putting the idea out there) might be early 90s AAA, where lucha libre was going through a television boom and the wrestlers were having to adjust to that reality, but I don't even know how much adaptation they really had to go through during that time. It's a question worth asking, I suppose. Even before this era, match quality was probably less important here than in any territory in America. However, I think that can lead to some incorrect takeaways about how good people on the roster were at this time. If you look at the roster during this time, almost every major name had some generally well-received run elsewhere where they were having good matches that people like. Even guys like Bundy and Studd, whether you love their ring style or not, had plenty of stuff where they were part of exciting and effective matches before they arrived in the WWF.
  10. Loss


    I think it's useful to break wrestling down into eras and then look at the top performers in each of those eras. I'll do a series of posts here and there trying to isolate different areas and point out the expectations and such, and who I think are the top candidates from those eras. In some eras, I may get really specific and drill down to a time period in a specific company and in others, I might cast a wider net. So for example, you're just like as likely to see something like "2000 WWE" as you would be "the 1970s". There will be overlap too. But this is how I generally think about wrestling as a whole and I think there might be value in applying this lens to this project as well. For each time period I tackle, I'm going to try to answer these basic questions: - What makes this era stand out, both good and bad? - What was the general working style at the time? - How much footage do we have and how complete is it? - Who are the best wrestlers of this era based on the footage we have? - Is there any reason to think anyone might be better or worse than the footage suggests? If so, who? - What are some comparable eras and how do the best wrestlers compare to each other? My suspicion is that a lot of the same names will start popping up over and over in multiple contexts, and certain patterns will be clear. But we'll see. First post in a moment.
  11. Loss

    Buzz Sawyer

    I should add that the early '86 match against Doc on the DVDVR Mid South set was the most slept-upon match on that set in my opinion. A top-tier selection that I think finished somewhere in the middle.
  12. Loss

    Buzz Sawyer

    I have been organizing my footage for the last few months and found something about every single Buzz Sawyer squash in the early 80s to love. Whether he was the best wrestler in the world during those years or not, he was certainly the most compelling, to the point that I think literally every TV match he had from 1980 until he turned babyface in 1983 is a must-see. I like him after that, but to me, he wasn't quite the same after that. Still, he would definitely fare better for me this time than last time.
  13. Loss

    AEW Dynamite - April 7, 2021

    He talked about how he used to think 12 PPVs was too much, and Vince McMahon believed that for years himself. Then, Eric Bischoff started running monthly (and raised the price!) and PPV buys went up. Then Vince followed suit and after raising the prices instead of having second-tier discount PPVs, his business also went up. There's an interesting thing in wrestling where higher ticket prices and PPV prices often result in bigger business. The idea being that buying $10 tickets to take a date to a wrestling show makes you a cheap date, but buying $40 tickets is a little more special.
  14. Loss

    AEW Dynamite - April 7, 2021

    Dave thinks at this point they should be running more PPVs. Not only would it make them more profitable, but so much TV is aimless and has no real destination because the big PPVs are so far apart, and in the modern era, if something happened more than 3 weeks ago, it might as well not have happened. He pointed to things like Jungle Boy-Dax that were done really well, but probably mean nothing now because they had no immediate follow-up.