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To what extent does a guy need great matches to be considered an all-time great?


JerryvonKramer
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The recent DiBiase talk has precipitated this question.

 

For me, DiBiase is close to being a total package. Incredibly solid in the ring, both as a brawler and as a technician (don't quite understand the arguments against the latter, his execution of the basics - suplexes, piledrivers, backbreakers, that SWEET powerslam, etc. - is pretty much perfect), he can talk with the best of them, he can act, he has natural charisma, he can work the crowd into a frenzy - what more do you want in a wrestler? I say "close", because he's probably more like a B+/A- in most of those areas than an A*.

 

But from the conversations we've been having here, he'd automatically be disqualified from GOAT-type conversations because he never applied those skills to produce a great match. But when the match is only one part of the product, does that matter? Can we not say that DiBiase (for example) had some ***** skits (e.g. basketball one)? And if not, why doesn't it work like that? Wouldn't he be on, like, your top 5 or 10 heels list? Wouldn't Heenan?

 

For me, I'd easily, and I mean EASILY rate those guys above a charisma blackhole like Benoit. Doesn't matter how many german suplexes he did.

 

I mean the obvious example is not DiBiase, really, it's Hogan. While his in-ring work IS underappreciated (I think he's a much better seller than he's often credited for), he was never amazing in the ring.

 

Why don't we talk about ***** promos like we talk about ***** matches?

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I am going to save you from yourself. Don't go down that path.

I do not like it when people incorrectly say that people like Bret Hart -- TREMENDOUSLY charasmatic -- or I would say Dean Malenko too aren't charasmatic. Charisma is a lot more than the over the top personas that so many (not saying this is Jerry) associate it with. James Bond or Bruce Lee are charasmatic as anything but they don't have to shout it out from the rooftops.

 

 

 

Jerry -- What are your feelings on Arn Anderson being an all time great? One of the best promos of all time and he was very strong in a lot of areas. Plus he has some high end matches.

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Again, Arn is close to being a total package for me, but for me a phoned-in Arn match is often worse than a phoned-in DiBiase match. Arn had a lot of matches against good opposition which, for whatever reason, didn't take off.

 

I put that down to charisma alone, which is kind of a hard to define X-factor. I properly LOVE Arn, great psychology, probably the best worked "intelligent"/ thinking-man's heel there has been, but I don't think he had "X-factor" charisma, whereas I think DiBiase did.

 

This isn't about playing an over-the-top character, it's just about a little something. I mean if we were to do a pound-for-pound break down of DiBiase vs. AA, for me it'd go something like this:

 

All round in-ring ability: equal

Psychology: Arn

Workrate: DiBiase

Mic work: Arn

Charisma: DiBiase

Working-the-crowd: DiBiase

 

That's probably not an exhaustive list of assessable traits, but the point is that for me it is a close calll. If you then had "matches" as a measurable then probably Arn wins on that - if you accept the idea that DiBiase had a dozen great matches in Mid-South and 0 in the WWF - but then he worked most of his career in NWA and against some of the best tag-teams.

 

I do not like it when people incorrectly say that people like Bret Hart -- TREMENDOUSLY charasmatic -- or I would say Dean Malenko too aren't charasmatic. Charisma is a lot more than the over the top personas that so many (not saying this is Jerry) associate it with. James Bond or Bruce Lee are charasmatic as anything but they don't have to shout it out from the rooftops.

There is scope to be subtle and I think Malenko had some charisma. But even being as generous as you can be, he is absolutely incomparible to a Flair or Hogan (through the roof charisma) or even to an Arn.

 

What's the best example of a guy who was subtly charismatic? Jake Roberts. He never shouted from the rooftops.

 

I stand by my assessment of Benoit though. No charisma at all for my money. He had intensity, but that that was about it.

 

So if I was to do my pound-for-pound Arn vs. Benoit it'd be more like:

 

All round in-ring ability: Benoit

Psychology: Arn

Workrate: Benoit

Mic work: Arn

Charisma: Arn

Working-the-crowd: Arn

 

To my mind, Benoit isn't even in the GOAT discussion. If it's GOAT purely for workrate, then sure, but if it's total package not close to the Top 50.

 

This seems to be quite at odds with how I see most people discussing these things.

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Dibiase was a very good all-around performer. But for me, it was instructive to watch him team with Hansen in Japan. From his ring entrance to the way he portrayed his character with every movement in the ring, Stan came off larger than life. Ted, bereft of creative booking or the ability to cut promos, came off as a solid hand, nothing more. I though watching them together, in a foreign setting, it was beyond obvious why one was Top 20 all-time and the other was merely very good.

 

As for the broader question about great matches, it depends what question you're trying to answer. Can someone be an all-time great performer without a bevy of great matches? Sure. I don't think many people would deny that Hogan was an all-time great figure in the business. But if you're debating the merits of guys as in-ring workers, it does matter. I love William Regal. He did all kinds of nifty shit that made me excited to watch his matches, even if they were only 10 minutes each. But I couldn't put him above Flair or Tenryu or Hansen given that they produced dozens of great matches for every one that Regal produced.

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As for the broader question about great matches, it depends what question you're trying to answer. Can someone be an all-time great performer without a bevy of great matches? Sure.

I agree but I'd also like to point out that if you are not in with the common opinion, no matter how good your matches are, your opponent will be the one who made them so good.
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I think some folks aren't asking for "bevy" but for "some".

 

Set aside Ted, since folks seem to disagree whether the Mid South matches hit the spot. Take Wrestler X:

 

Can Wrestler X be considered an all-time great worker if there isn't a single "great" matches that folks can point to that not only he was in, but that he was a pretty big reason it was great?

 

Or moving beyond *one* to "several" or "a handful"?

 

I tend to think within the context of WWF 80s Matches (faint praise indeed), Rude vs Warrior is a "great" match. I also think that it wasn't just because of Rude (and whoever laid it out for them), as Warrior had a very good performance in it.

 

One match doesn't make Warrior great worker.

 

But if we're talking about Arn Anderson, you kind of would like a few great singles matches to take him from being what we'd consider a great tag team worker into being a great worker overall. You would like to see his Rude-Warrior matches.

 

There is nothing wrong with being a "good worker" or a "solid worker". Great is pretty elite, and you'd like to see it supported by some great matches where the worker wasn't just along for the ride.

 

Thing of great bands. You'd like some great songs, right?

 

Eight Days A Week is a solid enough pop song. It went #1, has a hook, works for the fans. Not one of my favorite Beatles songs, but I'm not going to argue that it wasn't effective.

 

If the Beatles career was made up of 20 Eight Days A Week, some of which went #1 and some of which went #20 for being repetative/derivative of the original, then you'd probably say that the Beatles were a solid/good pop band.

 

They're "great" because of She Loves You, Revolver, Pepper, side 2 of Abbey Road, Hey Jude, etc. (give one's own taste of what was truly great Beatles).

 

With a worker... you kind of want to know what his Hey Jude is. Where's the Day Tripper + We Can Work It Out + Rubber Soul --> Paperback Writer + Rain + Revolver --> Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields --> Pepper peak run of his career? Where's the "hidden gem" Yesterday of his career, a song that was on the B non-soundtrack side of an album that you look at and think, "Wait a minute... they're treated *this* fucker like album Filler? Holy shit?!?!"

 

A great worker doesn't have to do all that shit to be great. But if someone asks what his great matches are, and you're stuck tossing out the equiv of Eight Days A Week and Do You Want To Know A Secret (which went to #2 in the US) as the great matches, folks are going to wonder WTF.

 

That's an example... if you don't like The Beatles, pick your own.

 

If Wrestler X (or Band Y or Director Z) is an all-time great, you really need some examples of Greatness.

 

Otherwise, you're an All-Time Good. Which really isn't that bad.

 

John

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If a guy is good more often than he's bad, he's good. The more often a guy is good and the less often he's bad, the better he is.

 

I think we have to be careful not to create metrics to define what a good wrestler is. I'm quite the devotee, but I think that would be an exercise in frustration. Most great wrestlers (and some good or average ones) have some intangible quality that makes them seem better than they really are, which is a huge positive. Breaking it down into categories is tough for me, because I don't think it's the right way to compare wrestlers to each other.

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I think Dibiase has as much of a rep as he has BECAUSE of his character so I don't see what the point is. I mean, is Dibiase without the Million Dollar Man gimmick a WON HoF first class guy? I don't know, maybe to some people he would be. I wouldn't have put him in the first class period. But it seems to me that the MDM gimmick is what puts him over the top as a guy that was on the radar for that first class. Butch Reed was great in Mid-South too, and probably had as many good performances post Mid-South as Dibiase did in the ring if not more (Doom was underated, the "Natural" had a handful of good matches), but I don't think he would even come up in a discussion like this. Dibiase does. That is telling.

 

Also I think Arn beats Dibiase across the board.

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Arn does beat Ted across the board. Overrated to most, but appreciated by us. The dude could out bump luchadores, cut scathing and insanely intense promos which were simplified for the average man to understand, and he was the #2 guy on the greatest stable of all-time.

 

To answer the question of the extent of great matches a worker needs to be an all-time great = enough. More than a handful would be my estimation, which really depends on the greatness of said match.

 

If Misawa had five matches to the caliber of 1-20-97, he would be an immortal icon, of which he is, and also, of which he has. But this is where the subjective nature of what is good and what is not good comes into play. I love Misawa versus Kobashi more than his matches against Kawada - not everyone shares that same mentality. I also rate 1-20-97 over 6-3-94, which again, a lot of people disagree. Does it mean I am wrong, no. Nevertheless, even if Misawa only had one match to the caliber of 1-20-97 or 6-3-94, he would likely still be considered an all-time great worker simply because of that one match. DiBiase has good matches, but in my opinion, not a match that can transcend time like Misawa's.

 

Would Kobashi be a legend if he didn't have the legal pad page full of 4*+ matches? Maybe, maybe not. More likely no than yes. KiKuchi, while an awesome worker, has fewer 4*+ matches on his resume than Kobashi and he doesn't get nearly the amount of credit he deserves. Akira Taue doesn't get the attention either, more than Kikuchi, but no where near Kobashi, Misawa, or Kawada. He was involved in all of the epic tags, six-mans, and many singles matches that get ranked high (*****), but he is not labeled like the Other Three ©. Some may dislike him for his goofiness, awkwardness, or similarities to Baba, but for whatever reasoning it may be, his stellar in-ring work suffers because of it.

 

Another example would be Liger. Or Ric Flair. If either man didn't have their coup de théâtre, for Liger the series with Sano, matches against El Samurai, and his 96-97 matches, then he'd be closer to an afterthought like a Koji Kanemoto, who is awesome, but falls in the Kikuchi category. The same applies to Flair. If he didn't have those 60 minute draws, matches with Race, Jumbo, Windham, Steamboat, Sting, etc - he would not be the Ric Flair we know today.

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I really don't think Warrior is as bad as everyone makes him out to be. He plays his gimmick really well and wrestles just like he should. He was also involved in alot of good matches

I like Warrior as a character, but I would not go as far as saying he has a lot of good matches. Three come to mind - vs. Rude at SummerSlam '88, against Hogan at WM 6, and the retirement match with Savage. What are the ones you're talking about?
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Warrior was carryable in the right circumstance, but there were plenty of guys who couldn't heft that load. I forget who said it, but someone once brought up a great point when discussing this topic, specifically regarding Warrior. That being, his best matches are better than anything he'd ever seen from a guy like Brad Armstrong; but despite that, Brad was clearly the overall better worker of the two. Measuring someone by just a tiny handful of their very best matches isn't the best way to weigh their overall merits.

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Regarding Warrior, here's a question to ask as it pertains to DiBiase: Can anyone name a good DiBiase/Warrior match. We know Warrior had at least good matches with Rude and Savage (although I don't think Warrior/Hogan holds up as well, and in that case, it's the only one they ever had), and if I was to look at the body of work, I'd only put Savage for certain above DiBiase (with Rude, it's debatable, as early-WWF Rude was not very good).

 

Another comparison: Would we still consider DiBiase to be in his prime when he was facing Razor Ramon? Because Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels both had at least good matches with Ramon, but the Ramon-DiBiase match at SummerSlam is mediocre.

 

What about other guys DiBiase faced who wouldn't be considered, at least, good workers? I can't think of a good match he had, for example, during Muraco's face run (when Muraco was past his prime). His WWF work with Hacksaw Jim Duggan wasn't what I would consider good, either.

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Arn was in a borderline great match with Windham on the TBS show. The Regal match at Superbrawl IV is one of the best WCW matches ever.

I like the SB match as well but I know others have described it as dull. What is your take on why the match is so great? Also, give me some context on the Windham match.

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The Windham match was a twenty minute time limit draw on TBS for the Western States belt. Arn and Barry just do a great job working holds. The only thing that bothered me was it was formatted like a heel defending a belt. Like at one point Arn takes a walk after losing an exchange and Barry carries him back to the ring. Barry is champ so it makes no sense either way. Then Barry gets the pin fall as the time limit expires. He keeps the belt either way. But still a very very good match.

 

http://www.megavideo.com/?v=K90M1H4L You can judge for your self.

 

The thing I loved with Arn/Regal was the story. Arn was the old guard heel TV champ taking on the new heel TV champ Regal. The story has Regal getting frustrated and constantly shifting strategy. First he tries to take Arn on the mat and Arn out wrestles him because he's an Anderson. So egal tries out cheating him but Arn was an original Horsemen so no go. Finally Regal starts draining the clock. Just as it looks like its going to be a draw Regal steals the win with Sir William's help.

 

So good story telling combined with hard hitting action and entertaining characters. What pro wrestling is all about.

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Regarding Warrior, here's a question to ask as it pertains to DiBiase: Can anyone name a good DiBiase/Warrior match.

Depends on how narrowly you define "good". Their match at the 1990 All Japan summit was pretty decent, but it was only six minutes long and fairly simplistic.
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But my point jdw, is that with a wrestler it isn't as simple as saying matches = their "works".

 

What about great promos, skits and so on?

 

Why can't, for example, DiBiase's "Abbey Road" be the Basket ball skit?

 

Did I just ask that question? Ha ha.

Hulk Hogan is an all-time great becasue he drew. We can debate whether he had "great" matches rather than a number of "great" ones.

 

So if that's what you're really getting at, then Yes, someone can be an all-time great without having a number of great matches.

 

But I don't really think that's what you're talking about. You're kind of edging around Performer.

 

I really don't see why we can't talk about Worker (in the ring), Mic, etc as seperate things. We've been doing that for several decades already.

 

People have talked about Lawler's mic work, his ring work and his drawing ability.

 

People have talked about Hogan's mic work, his ring work, his drawing ability, his influence and his impact.

 

When people talk about GOAT (Which you referenced in your intial post), they're talking Work in the ring. How do we know this? Go back to the GOAT thread and see how many times Hulk Hogan is offered up as GOAT.

 

I love Jumbo. But if GOAT expands beyond just ring work, than Hulk Hogan >>>> Jumbo.

 

And frankly over everyone else mentioned in the GOAT thread. Hulk is the post-WWII GOAT unless we narrow it down to just In Ring Work.

 

John

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I think Dibiase has as much of a rep as he has BECAUSE of his character so I don't see what the point is. I mean, is Dibiase without the Million Dollar Man gimmick a WON HoF first class guy? I don't know, maybe to some people he would be. I wouldn't have put him in the first class period.

I'm pretty confident that Dave would have put him in the original class without the Million Dollar Man gimmick. He could have gone to the WWF and just been another Greg Valentine and Dave would have put him in. Or he could have stayed in Crockett and Japan. Dave thought he was one of the best workers of the era... as in very best. I doubt that Dave thought there were 5 better workers in the 80s than Ted, and that's even considering that he wasn't ga-ga over Ted's WWF work in the ring.

 

John

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But my point jdw, is that with a wrestler it isn't as simple as saying matches = their "works".

 

What about great promos, skits and so on?

 

Why can't, for example, DiBiase's "Abbey Road" be the Basket ball skit?

Are Dibiasse's skits and promos more or less memorable than Piper, Jake Roberts, Rude, Henning, Lawler, Dusty, Akeem the African Dream, The Grand Wizard, Heenan, Paul Bearer, Mr Mcmahon, etc?

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