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2. There are some inseparable ravines here on what makes for good wrestling and why, and I think there are some moving goalposts too which are blurring matters and a lack of acceptance or attempts to understand. There's also some dismissal out of hand which is a shame, but that's how it goes.

Does it have to go that way, though?

 

Well, probably, yeah, but maybe we could at least try to clear the air. Look, we all like the professional wrestling. I think that's kinda obvious. But the why's and how's of it can be pretty variable. There's nothing wrong with that. I want to make that perfectly clear. But I do want to get this out of the open, stripped of the other subjects these arguments tend to manifest in (Mark Henry, anyone?), so that we all know where we're coming from in other threads. I think a lot of us have an idea of what a lot of other posters look for in wrestling, but some of those ideas are probably more accurate than others, and in any case, you won't get a better answer than a definitive statement from the poster themselves. And if comments elsewhere don't line up with comments here, well, then we can know if there's any goalpost-moving going on.

 

So, simplified: on the most basic level, what makes for good wrestling to you and why?

 

I have an All-Request Friday Night to write, but when I'm done, if this thread has any legs, I'll give my own answer.

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Being able to suspend my disbelief and be drawn in to whatever is being presented on the television.

 

To expand, as an example, botched spots or stammering on the microphone can take me completely out of the moment. Also when you can just not buy into a character whatsoever (an example for me being The Miz). It has to be believable to a degree. Do I think The Undertaker is really a zombie? No, of course not. Do I think a 6'10", 300+ pound tatted up old biker could kick the shit out of some people? Hell yeah.

 

I'm not real high on a lot of Lucha/Cruiserweight wrestling that I have seen, but it's mainly for the above reason. It takes me out of the moment. Some of the moves are really cool but to me, it's not really about the moves anyway, it's about the story and emotion. That's why WWE seems so dull, there's no emotion anymore.

 

The stories themselves, even when in their most basic form, can be compelling enough to draw you in. Even as lowest common denominator writing (which shouldn't be hard), a slow building good vs. evil or guy gets the girl story can be fun to watch. People remember Savage and Elizabeth reuniting at Wrestlemania 7.

 

Oh and probably the most important thing (and seemingly a lost art) is continuity. If a babyface turns heel, he should not magically just become friends with all the other heels, especially if they just feuded recently. I also love when wrestlers do throwbacks to old matches they have had together and "learn" from them. Christian/Orton have done this well.

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1.) You really don't want me to get any work done today, do you?

 

2.) I think already straight off from post #2, we're already diving into a tricky area when it comes to "in ring" vs "out of ring and in ring as a total package."

I actually think that this is going to be one of the biggest problems we're going to deal with here. I look at matches for structure and fairly analytically (and yes, I'm going to expand upon this later, once I get some work done and can rationalize it), BUT I also try to look at things in context. I'd rather watch an entertaining hour of wrestling TV than 3 isolated excellent matches.

 

Matches often only make sense in context, within their program, within their match series, within their specific show. For example, the Vader vs Duggan match from Starccade 94 cannot be understood at all unless you realize that they're holding back some traditional big man spots due to Sting vs Avalanche later in the night.

 

But none of that really deals with the divide listed above.

 

I'll give a real answer later.

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I'm in agreement with Coffey. What makes wrestling work for me is when it allows me to suspend my disbelief. I'm also drawn to emotion, good selling and storytelling. When I watch championship matches between heavyweights, I don't like them to be laden with rest holds and playing too much to the crowd. I like there to be a good level of psychology. Rock and Austin did this really well in all of their matches, the crowd was behind both of them and just a simple expression from either one would provoke a response.

 

I do enjoy Luchadores and Cruiserweight wrestling. I'm not so into TNA's X division anymore, instead I enjoy the likes of Dragon Gate, where its about innovation and redefining the sport with fast paced and athletic wrestling. ROH is also really good for storytelling and emotion, when Kenta Kobashi fought with Samoa Joe, they literally did nothing but chop, kick and smash each other for the majority of the match. But what made this good was the crowd reaction. They both sold each others moves wonderfully and the psychology about being the 'better man' and trying to outdo each other in the power game was what made it such a special match. I was able to suspend my disbelief because it actually looked like they really beat the crap out of each other.

 

You don't see a lot of good storytelling, wrestling and psychology in WWE anymore and thats one of the reasons I don't really enjoy the product. I'm not one of those people who thinks "Oh the attitude era was the best thing ever", rather, i'm one of those people that misses the days when a big match over a title really meant something and when performers were so evenly matched it was hard to predict a clear winner.

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Guest Rob Naylor

I absolutely am at the point in current wrestling where I need to see something new. Highspots, moves, athleticism. Just something fucking different. I cannot stand how stale/safe/plain WWF has gotten over the years and just don't watch it that much anymore. I realize some folks thinks they have "good stories", but I just don't see it (good stories would be all it would take to hook me for them, too). I see most of my favorite indy guys go there and I get excited and then just ultimately lose interest cause they aren't put in positions that really matter or engage me (Punk many times was in a great spot, but ultimately, it was always just a letdown based on where they took things).

 

But highflying wrestling means a whole hell of a lot to me. ECW, Lucha and countless Japanese feds were what kept me a fan in the early/mid 90's, as I was really close to just calling it a day on the hobby. Then things got reallly nutty and I was drawn back and by that time, wrestling hit a wave of popularity and stayed super strong and was filled with interesting characters/stories till at least like 2004.

 

The indies in the 2000's basically kept my interested when ECW died. They still do and I'm happy to work with seemingly 18 different promotions as I type this at the moment!!!! But my enthusiasm for athleticism and jaw dropping moves is very real!!!! I just love when wrestlers take it to the next level athletically. Not asking for people to kill themselves, just asking for some outside of the box stuff.

 

And this is all coming from a dude that can sit back and enjoy the fuck out of Buddy Rose, Terry Gordy, Nick Bockwinkle, etc... I just don't see much of that great halcyon days of wrestling in the 80's creeping into what I watch on tv these days. Everything is overproduced and pre-fabbed. There's moments where I get pumped for it (hell, I think I'll be at at least two WWE house shows this week)... but ultimately, the spark is just missing. Count me as someone that's really excited for HHH to take over for creative. He's a "wrestling" guy. He'll help fix stuff, imo. Vince badly has to leave. He's been out of his fucking mind/ideas for a decade already.

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To me, blown spots aren't always a bad thing. I mean, things don't always go according to plan all the time so the occasional screw up is understandable. It's when a botch reveals way too much co-operation that takes me out of a match. I like lucha a lot, but there's a lot of those kind of blown spots going on in those matches. Hell, even a lot of spots that go according to plan reveal too much co-operation. Wrestling at least should look like two guys trying to win a match, not a tryout for "So You Think You Can Dance".

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2.) I think already straight off from post #2, we're already diving into a tricky area when it comes to "in ring" vs "out of ring and in ring as a total package."

We kinda did that to death, here: http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?showtopic=13068

 

I'm not going to write a big long essay here. I want the following things from most matches with one or two exceptions:

 

1. Discernible personalities and attitudes that get a response from the crowd. Rick Rude cutting his standard in-ring promo; Mr. Perfect coming to the ring arrogant as hell and throwing out his gum in a flamboyant way. That sort of thing. Modern-day WWE struggles to do this, because it all seems so manufactured and in-genuine -- you can tell they are acting. Can't watch Randy Orton's snake thing without turning the TV over.

 

2. Actual wrestling moves. This might be frowned on, but I don't care: I just LOVE seeing a well-executed vertical suplex. I fucking love it. I love the moment in a match when a heel is working over the face and decides to step it up from strikes and punches to suplexes and piledrivers. When it FEELS like he's busting out the real artillery to put this guy away.

 

3. Structure that elicits an emotional response. Doesn't have to be 100% logical, because what real fight is "logical"? But it has to elicit an emotional response. So to continue the story above, the heel is on top of the match and he's bringing his A-game now: suplexes, piledrivers, big impact moves, goes for the cover 1! 2! NO! Another suplex, maybe a powerslam, 1! 2! NO! Heel is getting frustrated now, restorts to punches, face blocks it, gets a little hope spot in, etc. That's the bread and butter really, I will never dispute that. BUTTTTTTTTTT for me, a match needs to have 2., that is "actual wrestling moves" other than punches and kicks for me to get into it. Structure alone is not enough for me. The build and solid matwork are both essential components to a good match, but you NEED the suplexes and the piledrivers and the swinging neckbreakers and shoulderbreakers and powerslams too. I don't want to see just punches and kicks, or just submission holds, I want to see high impact.

 

Take a match like Nick Bockwinkel vs. Billy Robinson, if they hadn't have pulled out the big moves in the last quarter, then it wouldn't be anywhere near as good.

 

The only exception to this is in an all-out blood feud brawl. Then you can substitute all of the above for brutality, hatred and blood.

 

4. Good selling. Pretty self-explanatory really, but no-selling is something that can really hurt a match. Selling has to be consistent too, if someone has just had their left leg worked over for the past 15 minutes, it's still going to be hurting 10 minutes later. I don't get annoyed, as some people do, if someone has been working a leg and then they switch to working the back or something else -- one of the most common criticisms leveled at Flair* -- but I do get annoyed if someone suddenly forgets about an injured body part.

 

* The reason I'm not so fussed about this is because it's not NECESSARILY the case that someone in a real contest would consistently work over the same body part, they might just want to hurt their opponent in whatever way they can. But it IS necessarily the case that someone with a hurt leg has a hurt leg. That's my reasoning on that.

 

Finally, highly desirable but not essential:

 

5. Good commentary.

 

The best commentary consistently puts the match or the workers over and then fills in the quieter moments in the match with entertaining banter, or funny observations. So many times I've watched a match and Jesse Ventura will take it from enjoyable to highly enjoyable. Hell, there are even matches on the All Japan set where the commentator has made it more enjoyable for me and I can't understand a word he's saying.

 

Everyone talks about Monsoon and Heenan, but I think my favourite team is Vince and Jesse though. Vince was just such a fucking psycho on commentary and so absurdly pro-face that it was easy for Jesse to make convincing arguments and point out all the little hypocrisies of the face morality. I've also got a lot of time Tony Schiavone pre-1995, especially when paired with Jesse. Bill Watts is great on the Mid-South set, prefer JR in his NWA/ WCW days.

 

6. Engaging wider context, be it an angle, a tournament or whatever. See the thread I linked for further thoughts on that from me. In a way I think "context" is as important as the match. Stone Cold Steve Austin without the persona, charisma, mic work and so on is just Terry Taylor, right?

 

-------------------

 

That's it then. I'm probably more easily pleased than most people here, but at the same time I'm probably more critical of punchy kicky wrestlers because I NEED AND CRAVE the suplexes.

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So, simplified: on the most basic level, what makes for good wrestling to you and why?

( a ) I want to be entertained

 

( b ) I don't mind entertainment that makes me think a bit / reflects some thought could have been put into it

 

( c ) I really hate feeling like the wrestlers are trying way to hard to wrap a hand around my wrestling cock and play to what they think my wrestling fantasies are

 

Generico-Ricochet entertained me.

 

Generico-Ricochet made me think a bit with it's Established Star vs Newcomer/Rising Star in the promotion storyline.

 

Generico-Ricochet didn't feel like they were trying to hard to play to me or a specific type of hardcore in general. They had their match, and sure the highspots in general play to indy fans, but it's not like they were doing going over the top with what they were doing.

 

John

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There are a lot of different reasons why a wrestling match might be good and I don't really see the need to pick one element over another. If pressed, I would probably say selling since that's what matters to me most, but my definition of selling encompasses quite a lot. In the past I broke it down into acting and selling with the end result being everything they do to put the match over.

 

This isn't the only wrestling I enjoy, however. If you watch a lot of wrestling, as I do in phases, you'll know that there isn't one particular way that works. There's a few comments in this page that suggest that all lucha is the same, but "lucha" isn't a style in the same sense that "puroresu" isn't a style. Ultimately, I think it's better for wrestling fans to dig deeper, look harder and have less preconceptions about what's good and what's bad, because wrestling for the most part is imperfect and being a fan is about finding good matches in whatever form they come.

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There are a lot of different reasons why a wrestling match might be good and I don't really see the need to pick one element over another.

This. If I really wanted to sit down and think hard about it, there's probably dozens of different factors and variables in why I enjoy one match more than another.

 

Technique and execution is one big part; I can forgive the occasional Baba whose moves look so bad that they're insulting to the audience's intelligence, but overall I'd prefer it to look at least halfway credible that these guys are supposed to be hurting each other. Yet paradoxically, safety is another issue; I've been on too many visits to too many wrestlers in too many hospitals to agree with some smarks that good wrestling is inherently dangerous, revolving around stiffness or big bumps or risky highspots or whatever. I prefer a balance between the two; it looks like it probably hurts, but it probably doesn't really hurt (too much).

 

Logic is a big part. I just want this shit to at least try to make sense. Yeah, the old Hulk-Up might pop the crowd huge, but I never understood how exactly it's supposed to work or why the opponents would go along with it. When he's shaking and stomping around the ring, why doesn't anyone just kick Hogan in the balls, or hit his finisher again and see if it works this time? (Which is one reason why I think the matches where Hulk actually jobs tend to be much better than his usual cookie-cutter affairs.)

 

Along similar lines, one thing I tend to dislike about the American style is their treatment of finishers. "I hit my One Big Move and I win." That's, like, the most boring story ever. And why don't they try to keep hitting their big move over and over again, right from the start? Why doesn't Voltron just form his goddamn Blazing Sword and cut the Ro-beast in half at the beginning of the battle? I know the real answer is "because then there wouldn't be any fight", but there are ways to get around that. The Japanese being the best example, where you never really know exactly which move is going to get the pin. Of course, that can lead to finisher overkill with way too many 2.99999999 counts, but looking at stuff like 90s AJPW it's totally possible to walk the tightrope and avoid both extremes.

 

Predictability can be a killer when it's done too much. Yeah, I know that having the "heels cut off the ring, face in peril, then hot tag" formula is tried and true. But when it's done every time in the same manner, that shit gets old. Shake it up every once in a while, just to prove that we don't always know what's gonna happen. But on the flipside, you can't be doing swerves just for the sake of swerves. That way madness lies, as any sane wrestling fan could tell Vince Russo.

 

Good commentary is good; but, ironically considering my experience, I don't think the commentary necessarily plays a make-or-break part of the match. A great match is gonna remain great, no matter if Jim Ross or Mongo McMichael is on the microphone. Truly great commentary is such a rare commodity that I don't expect it and don't think anyone else should either. As long as it's "not so bad that it's distracting from the match", that's fine with me.

 

And above all, don't make it too complicated unless you really know what you're doing. The old rule of Keep It Simple, Stupid is one which should be drilled into every rookie's head. How many times have you sighed at some bullshit indy match where untalented guys were trying dumb highspots which were clearly beyond their ability? If you can't do something competently, don't do it at all. A mundane spot performed correctly is always preferable to a wild highspot which is 90% botched.

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Good commentary is good; but, ironically considering my experience, I don't think the commentary necessarily plays a make-or-break part of the match. A great match is gonna remain great, no matter if Jim Ross or Mongo McMichael is on the microphone. Truly great commentary is such a rare commodity that I don't expect it and don't think anyone else should either. As long as it's "not so bad that it's distracting from the match", that's fine with me.

Just want to chime in on this, that it is rare to find GREAT commentary on a great match.

 

You'll always find the absolutely amazing memorable commentary on a nothing PPV match. When I was going through all those long early 90s WCW PPV cards, the time for Ventura to come alive is not during Rick Rude vs. Steamboat Ironman, it's during an awful Erik Watts match or some random midcard match like Dustin Rhodes vs. Tex Slazinger.

 

That's the time where the truly GREAT commentary shines.

 

You don't get that anymore. You got it whenever Ventura was doing color (with Vince, Monsoon, JR or Schiavone), you got it to a lesser degree with Heenan in WWF. But since about 1995, they always always use those sorts of matches to talk about upcoming matches or shill future shows. Always. But it was exactly in those sorts of matches where Ventura or Heenan would be giving you absolute gold. Ventura bugging the shit out of Tony Schiavone by claiming that he beats up his own kids or berating Monsoon for eating too many hotdogs, or arguing with Vince about some very minor incident involving the ref.

 

Great commentary comes during mediocre matches.

 

A great match is a great match and it's rare that the commentary will actually enhance that. Although there are exceptions - 92 Rumble being one where it wouldn't be the same match without Heenan. Those cases are extremely rare though.

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Great responses thus far.

 

I absolutely am at the point in current wrestling where I need to see something new. Highspots, moves, athleticism. Just something fucking different. I cannot stand how stale/safe/plain WWF has gotten over the years and just don't watch it that much anymore. I realize some folks thinks they have "good stories", but I just don't see it (good stories would be all it would take to hook me for them, too). I see most of my favorite indy guys go there and I get excited and then just ultimately lose interest cause they aren't put in positions that really matter or engage me (Punk many times was in a great spot, but ultimately, it was always just a letdown based on where they took things).

 

But highflying wrestling means a whole hell of a lot to me. ECW, Lucha and countless Japanese feds were what kept me a fan in the early/mid 90's, as I was really close to just calling it a day on the hobby. Then things got reallly nutty and I was drawn back and by that time, wrestling hit a wave of popularity and stayed super strong and was filled with interesting characters/stories till at least like 2004.

 

The indies in the 2000's basically kept my interested when ECW died. They still do and I'm happy to work with seemingly 18 different promotions as I type this at the moment!!!! But my enthusiasm for athleticism and jaw dropping moves is very real!!!! I just love when wrestlers take it to the next level athletically. Not asking for people to kill themselves, just asking for some outside of the box stuff.

 

And this is all coming from a dude that can sit back and enjoy the fuck out of Buddy Rose, Terry Gordy, Nick Bockwinkle, etc... I just don't see much of that great halcyon days of wrestling in the 80's creeping into what I watch on tv these days. Everything is overproduced and pre-fabbed. There's moments where I get pumped for it (hell, I think I'll be at at least two WWE house shows this week)... but ultimately, the spark is just missing. Count me as someone that's really excited for HHH to take over for creative. He's a "wrestling" guy. He'll help fix stuff, imo. Vince badly has to leave. He's been out of his fucking mind/ideas for a decade already.

I agree wholeheartedly. I have been watching a lot of All Japan from the nineties lately, the stuff that has flown under the radar, like none of the TC matches, or Carny Finals, or tag league finals, it is the stuff that was "filler" for tours or "not the first or second best match from _____ show." I am impressed tremendously of the quality I had never seen, let alone ever hear anything about. I doubt I would be doing that unless the current product of wrestling was completely dead (WWE to an extent and definitely TNA) to me, is too expensive to keep up with (ROH, PWG, Indies), or my favorites have either retired, died, or become laughable (WWE & Puro specifically). I just needed to find a different avenue for the time being and of course All Japan of the nineties had open arms for my viewing pleasure :)

 

I am curious though, when does too much athleticism (i.e sport) with not enough wrestler (i.e performer) become a bad thing? I ask because of wrestlers like a Dynamite Kid or Davey Richards.

 

To me, blown spots aren't always a bad thing. I mean, things don't always go according to plan all the time so the occasional screw up is understandable. It's when a botch reveals way too much co-operation that takes me out of a match. I like lucha a lot, but there's a lot of those kind of blown spots going on in those matches. Hell, even a lot of spots that go according to plan reveal too much co-operation. Wrestling at least should look like two guys trying to win a match, not a tryout for "So You Think You Can Dance".

Great point. In my more cynical days of reviewing wrestling, blown spots meant immediate star reduction. Not anymore. I watch a Carny match between Vader and Misawa last night - it wasn't the prettiest of matches with connected/miss spot ratio, but it was a fine match nonetheless. Might be my favorite AJ match from 1999. There is another match I can recall off the top of my head - the Super Junior Tag League Finals. There is a huge blown spot. Doesn't detract from its greatness one bit to me now. I'm not a professional movie reviewer. I'm a fan of professional wrestling. Nothing more, nothing less :)
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This isn't the only wrestling I enjoy, however. If you watch a lot of wrestling, as I do in phases, you'll know that there isn't one particular way that works. There's a few comments in this page that suggest that all lucha is the same, but "lucha" isn't a style in the same sense that "puroresu" isn't a style. Ultimately, I think it's better for wrestling fans to dig deeper, look harder and have less preconceptions about what's good and what's bad, because wrestling for the most part is imperfect and being a fan is about finding good matches in whatever form they come.

 

I don't know if that was directed at my comments on blown lucha spots, but even if it wasn't I feel the need to clarify. High flying lucha is what I tend to have issue with. Heavyweight style lucha is one of my favorite styles to watch, but the high flyer guys just kill me with how they tend to turn every match into a "can you top this" contest. Dives are cool, flippy spots are cool, but like I said before I prefer wrestling of any style or origin to at least have the pretense of two guys engaging in an athletic contest rather than an Olympic floor exercise.

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Along similar lines, one thing I tend to dislike about the American style is their treatment of finishers. "I hit my One Big Move and I win." That's, like, the most boring story ever. And why don't they try to keep hitting their big move over and over again, right from the start? Why doesn't Voltron just form his goddamn Blazing Sword and cut the Ro-beast in half at the beginning of the battle? I know the real answer is "because then there wouldn't be any fight", but there are ways to get around that. The Japanese being the best example, where you never really know exactly which move is going to get the pin. Of course, that can lead to finisher overkill with way too many 2.99999999 counts, but looking at stuff like 90s AJPW it's totally possible to walk the tightrope and avoid both extremes.

the "I must win with my finisher" routine started in the attitude era. Even in the early mid 90s big matches could still end on high impact transition moves or quick pins. Sting beating Cactus with a flying clothesline at Beach Blast 1992. Shawn pinning Vader with a moonsault at Summerslam 96, Flair/Vader finish at Starrcade 93, Bret/Diesel at Survivor Series 95. I much preferred this to the finisher merry go round

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Agreed. I particularly dislike it when one or several workers are clearly standing still waiting for the other or several workers to do their plancha, topes, or whatever to them. It is exposing.

The problem is, it takes a really first-class worker to be able to make the Big Dive Catch spots look plausible. Unless they're doing the "one guy holds a couple of opponents in place so his partner can dive on them all" setup, there's no reliable way to have everyone standing together in a tightly-packed bunch as someone else Just So Happens to hit a plancha. You can have them brawling or clawing at each other or something, but it takes good peripheral vision and stellar timing for two guys to stop punching one another, turn around, and catch a guy all in a split-second. It's one of those spots whose popularity is unfortunate, because it's really damn hard to get it right at all.

 

 

the "I must win with my finisher" routine started in the attitude era. Even in the early mid 90s big matches could still end on high impact transition moves or quick pins. Sting beating Cactus with a flying clothesline at Beach Blast 1992. Shawn pinning Vader with a moonsault at Summerslam 96, Flair/Vader finish at Starrcade 93, Bret/Diesel at Survivor Series 95. I much preferred this to the finisher merry go round

No, it goes back even further than that. Consider Hogan, for example. In the earlier years of Hulkamania, sometimes he'd get the pin from a rollup or a weapon shot or whatever. But after a certain point, it seemed like he basically demanded to do the exact same Hulk Up, Three Punches, Irish Whip, Big Boot, Legdrop, 1-2-3 sequence in every single match. That kind of thing kills my suspension of disbelief, when I know exactly how a match is gonna end even before I watch the damn thing. (Stone Cold sometimes had the same problem; although I'm a certified Austin mark, it got damn tiring how he could never win a match with any move besides a Stunner.) Oddly, the WWE is much better about that sort of thing nowadays than it used to be. Most of the guys tend to have multiple finishers, and they do a lot more early teases of going for their finishers in the build-up portions of the match.
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Wrestling parlays into many forms of entertainment, like comedy for instance. A comedian on tour is going to use pretty much all the same jokes in every city he or she frequents. If wrestlers used too many variations from the norm they would all be like CAW's, which would be just as bad (maybe worse) as the same thing over and over. The same logic applies for comedians or any other entertainer. Too much old material without fresh new material is a bad thing. Nevertheless, I do like seeing new match finishes as much as the next fan, but I can understand why it doesn't happen all of the time considering the work load and popularity of particular moves, like the atomic leg drop or stunner for instance.

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Agreed. I particularly dislike it when one or several workers are clearly standing still waiting for the other or several workers to do their plancha, topes, or whatever to them. It is exposing.

The problem is, it takes a really first-class worker to be able to make the Big Dive Catch spots look plausible. Unless they're doing the "one guy holds a couple of opponents in place so his partner can dive on them all" setup, there's no reliable way to have everyone standing together in a tightly-packed bunch as someone else Just So Happens to hit a plancha. You can have them brawling or clawing at each other or something, but it takes good peripheral vision and stellar timing for two guys to stop punching one another, turn around, and catch a guy all in a split-second. It's one of those spots whose popularity is unfortunate, because it's really damn hard to get it right at all.

 

 

the "I must win with my finisher" routine started in the attitude era. Even in the early mid 90s big matches could still end on high impact transition moves or quick pins. Sting beating Cactus with a flying clothesline at Beach Blast 1992. Shawn pinning Vader with a moonsault at Summerslam 96, Flair/Vader finish at Starrcade 93, Bret/Diesel at Survivor Series 95. I much preferred this to the finisher merry go round

No, it goes back even further than that. Consider Hogan, for example. In the earlier years of Hulkamania, sometimes he'd get the pin from a rollup or a weapon shot or whatever. But after a certain point, it seemed like he basically demanded to do the exact same Hulk Up, Three Punches, Irish Whip, Big Boot, Legdrop, 1-2-3 sequence in every single match. That kind of thing kills my suspension of disbelief, when I know exactly how a match is gonna end even before I watch the damn thing. (Stone Cold sometimes had the same problem; although I'm a certified Austin mark, it got damn tiring how he could never win a match with any move besides a Stunner.) Oddly, the WWE is much better about that sort of thing nowadays than it used to be. Most of the guys tend to have multiple finishers, and they do a lot more early teases of going for their finishers in the build-up portions of the match.

 

Hogan did beat Undertaker with a rollup at Tuesday in Texas. Off the top of my head that's all I remember

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A comedian on tour is going to use pretty much all the same jokes in every city he or she frequents.

That's not a good example, because we're not talking about house shows here. That would be more like if Jon Stewart kept hitting the exact same punchlines on every single episode of The Daily Show. (Some of his detractors might claim that he does precisely that, but you get my point.) I know that some media is considered comfort food; you can be pretty sure that David Caruso is gonna use his wacky hi-tech CSI techniques to inevitably catch the bad guys at the end of the episode. But wrestling's soap-opera style of ongoing storylines make it a different medium entirely. It would be more like as if Spider-man beat the Green Goblin in the exact same manner in every single fight they ever had. Comic fans would naturally rebel if such a thing happened, and they'd be right to do so. Wrestling has traditionally been such a debased, uncreative, intellectually undemanding form of storytelling that we've become numb to just how goddamn stupid and lazy it is much of the time.
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Hogan did beat Undertaker with a rollup at Tuesday in Texas. Off the top of my head that's all I remember

I remember, and man was I disgusted as a young mark. I didn't like Hogan to begin with, and Untertaker was the apex of cool character to me, and he was unbeatable. Hogan putting a stain on Taker's record with a freaking rollup angered me to no end back then.

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This isn't the only wrestling I enjoy, however. If you watch a lot of wrestling, as I do in phases, you'll know that there isn't one particular way that works. There's a few comments in this page that suggest that all lucha is the same, but "lucha" isn't a style in the same sense that "puroresu" isn't a style. Ultimately, I think it's better for wrestling fans to dig deeper, look harder and have less preconceptions about what's good and what's bad, because wrestling for the most part is imperfect and being a fan is about finding good matches in whatever form they come.

 

I don't know if that was directed at my comments on blown lucha spots, but even if it wasn't I feel the need to clarify. High flying lucha is what I tend to have issue with. Heavyweight style lucha is one of my favorite styles to watch, but the high flyer guys just kill me with how they tend to turn every match into a "can you top this" contest. Dives are cool, flippy spots are cool, but like I said before I prefer wrestling of any style or origin to at least have the pretense of two guys engaging in an athletic contest rather than an Olympic floor exercise.

 

I wasn't trying to direct my comment at anyone. I just saw lucha being lumped together with highflyers and cruiserweights. Some of the breakneck stuff can be good like minis matches in recent years. It's a matter of doing it well, really.

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This is tough for me, especially since I enjoy such a broad range of wrestling styles. I see wrestling as a sort of folk art community theatre. It appeals to the lowest common denominator and it's pretty campy but it can also be very raw in a way that few other mediums ever accomplish.

 

If I could sum it up in one image it's Villano III having his mask removed by his weeping father and revealing years of scars in front of an audience of fans, many of whom are lost in that very emotional moment.

 

It's ugly but for it's fans it can be very cathartic. For those who create wrestling it can be tragic and on some level I find that fascinating as well.

 

I appreciate plausibility but I can accept something like the Iron Claw as long as it can be explained withing the parameters of the fictional universe in which it's being used. The blurred line between reality and fantasy is pretty intriguing to me. I love how good shoot style conjures up the aura that great boxing matches have. I love reading about wrestlers living their gimmick in the public eye.

 

When it comes to matches, I value selling above anything else. I like matches that feature matwork or well executed striking between the moves or instead of moves. That said, when an exchange of moves has a great rhythm like in a great MPro tag or a great CMLL minis match, the lack of matwork doesn't really matter to me. I have a morbid fascination with the most realistic wrestling violence that might come from watching ECW and later FMW when I was first "smartening up." After that I discovered 90s AJPW, lucha, MPro, Memphis, shoot style, and I even enjoy the peak years of the US indies. Stuff like the DVDVR 80s projects have also expanded my pallet. I went through a phase where I decided I didn't like ECW (without rewatching it) but when my nostalgia coincided with the Smarkschoice poll I went back and found that I still liked a lot of that stuff as well.

 

I am one of those people that value matches over promos and angles. The latter enriches the former but if all of those values I'm talking about don't show up in the ring then they don't matter to me.

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