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What did you learn about your fandom from GWE?

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I guess the only one I'd feel strongly about is #2. I am very pro-619, for starters. In fact you can pretty much sum up the differences between our respective tastes with how we each feel about Rey Mysterio.

 

But in general, I mean I don't think I love exhibitionism all that much, but spectacle and flippydoes, sure, I love that shit. Wrestling is a spectacle to me, and if that involves doing things that are ridiculous or not really realistic looking, so be it. I love Rey, I love Kofi, I love AJ Styles, I love dive trains, I love a certain level of flippydoes.

 

I'd like to note though, that this doesn't mean I don't also love effective offense or realistic moves or whatever else you'd consider to be opposite to flippydoes. It's not a zero sum game to me. I love both. I love anything as long as it's good. That's what I mean when I say I can't nail down a set criteria. I could try to do what you do above and say "I love this, this, that, that, not this, not that" and end up listing a lot of things that would sound contradictory, and not really be able to say anything without the caveat that there are many exceptions where I don't like/dislike it. Because it all depends, depends on context, and really just depends on whether or not I like it, for reasons that are literally undefinable to me.

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I think there's a difference between Sheamus/Christian/Rey/Matt Hardy/Bryan (not in that order) TV workers and Morrison/Kofi/Ziggler when it comes to "learned psychology" in spots. I might be overstating that though. One group comes off as more organic and natural to me and "believably creative" and meaningful to me than the other.

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I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

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I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

That is 100% what I meant when I said this...

 

 

Not everything has to make sense. Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit. Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him. What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.

I can analyze matches to death, but some wrestlers just work because they work. Trying to figure out why every little thing matters is kind of against the point. My process is to do a first watch and to see whether or not I like a match before doing a rewatch and figure out why I did or did not like it. There are plenty of matches I've enjoyed and thought, "wow, that was great," and then realized that it doesn't really lend itself to further analysis. Somethings are just good because they are good, and I'm fine with that.

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I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

 

That is 100% what I meant when I said this...

 

 

Not everything has to make sense. Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit. Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him. What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.

I can analyze matches to death, but some wrestlers just work because they work. Trying to figure out why every little thing matters is kind of ageainst the point. My process is to do a first watch and to see whether or not I like a match before doing a rewatch and figure out why I did or did not like it. There are plenty of matches I've enjoyed and thought, "wow, that was great," and then realized that it doesn't really lend itself to further analysis. Somethings are just good because they are good, and I'm fine with that.

To me this would be fine if we were rating matches, but that's not the question GWE asks.

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I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

That is 100% what I meant when I said this...

 

 

Not everything has to make sense. Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit. Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him. What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.

I can analyze matches to death, but some wrestlers just work because they work. Trying to figure out why every little thing matters is kind of ageainst the point. My process is to do a first watch and to see whether or not I like a match before doing a rewatch and figure out why I did or did not like it. There are plenty of matches I've enjoyed and thought, "wow, that was great," and then realized that it doesn't really lend itself to further analysis. Somethings are just good because they are good, and I'm fine with that.

To me this would be fine if we were rating matches, but that's not the question GWE asks.

 

Except guys like Hogan, Tanahashi, and The Rock made careers out of having good to great matches that don't necessarily hold up under a microscope. I honestly think that is one of the most defining factors of the "It Factor." Those guys have a level of in ring charisma that accentuates their positives and diminishes their negatives in a way that doesn't hold up to deep analysis, but undoubtedly works in their matches. I also think that is why those guys' work is so polarizing. If a guy had one of those matches I'd understand the argument that they aren't good workers. Those guys do it over and over again, and at a certain point I felt the need to give them credit for being able to repeatedly pull good to great performances out of their asses. I think the ultimate gauge for how good someone is in the ring is whether or not their matches are good. Most workers go in the ring, put two and two together and end up with four. I acknowledge that there are some workers who put two and two together, and despite how often I run the numbers in my head, come up with five. It doesn't make sense, but that is a very valuable quality to have as a wrestler.

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I'm not great at self-reflection but I think I sorta came to a realization about what makes a great wrestler to me that is similar to what supremebve is talking about above.

If it seems like a wrestler is doing the right thing but the match as a whole isn't enhanced by it, I'm pretty sure it's not actually worth anything. If it seems like they're doing the wrong thing but it doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the match then it wasn't really the wrong thing. How good the end product is is what matters to me not so much the process.

This doesn't mean simply saying A had better matches than B and therefore is a better wrestler because I have been thinking about the opportunity to have good matches, mostly in terms of the quality of opponents but also in terms of length and positioning of the match.

This has sorta turned into a ramble about what criteria am I using to form my list.

Who knows what I really learned, if anything.

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More than specific things, I learned that it's futile to worry too much about organization and planning. Diving in is really the only starting point and just trying to immerse myself in as much stuff as possible. Once I stopped worrying about where to start, what exactly to check out, etc... I was able to start making a lot more headway on previous blind spots.

 

Just as crucial was learning to just be true to myself. Today I'm watching Marty Jannetty and he'll probably sneak onto the bottom of my ballot. I loved Jannetty as a kid and I love him when I watch his matches today. It's easy when you start trying to expand and watch a wider scope of wrestling to fixate on having a "right" or "smart" opinion and that's not really any reason to watch wrestling. Some of my opinions fall in line with lots of other people. Others don't and that's the whole point. We all like different things. That's why I'm voting Matt Borne based primarily on his Doink run. Also why I'll probably rank Jannetty over other more highly regarded names.

 

Last thing is it's immensely easier to watch things in context. Watching 90s AJPW in order has helped shape my opinions of that crew so much better than just Youtubing Greg Valentine and picking and choosing from those options. After the project wraps up I'm taking a break to focus on other hobbies as this has been the most intensive wrestling heavy year of my life. But come late spring I'm going to be ready to undertake some new deep look at something. But yeah, context matters and it will shape how I approach my future viewing.

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After reading the Kofi stuff, I have to ask Jimmy if she is explicitly FOR any of the things after the "nots" in that list.

 

I feel like I want to ask Dylan too, given some of the guys he champions. Or anyone really. I'd love some reasoned counter arguments to those general principles.

 

I'm not sure I agree with the way you have a lot of those framed which is fine because it is your own thing. I'm just struggling a bit with it because I'm not sure what wrestlers I have touted who you feel run counter to your likes and are in step with your "nots."

 

I mean I can assume that you think lucha is to cooperative and "dancy" for example. And there is an extent to which I understand and even agree with that criticism. But then I look at a lucha brawl and to my eyes the stiffness, grittiness and authenticity in that setting honestly decimates anything from any other style. I can absolutely say with a straight face that I find a great lucha brawl to be like a great Mid-South brawl but substantially better and far more believable.

 

The area where I could point to the most clear disagreement I think would be your "big selling" v. "mugging for the camera." I don't quite get that. As someone who has gone to a shit ton of live shows in my life, a lot of the better selling performances I've ever seen both of individual moves and total accumulated damage have been built around small moments that can be seen and felt by people up close. Does that translate to someone in the cheapseats? Well on the indie shows there aren't cameras or cheapseats and in that respect I think there is a special skill in small room wrestling, but even on the bigger shows I think it can if the crowd gets up for it. By contrast I don't dislike big selling, in fact I often really love it...and then there are other times where I think it goes way to far and becomes over the top goofy and/or absurd and makes it hard for me to get into a match. It really depends on how the tactic is deployed, I simply don't see these things as universal, and I don't think "mugging for the camera" is the description I would use for non-big selling or whatever. Maybe I'm reading you wrong here.

 

On the offensive front I also don't believe in universals. The 619 debate has been done to death and I get why people dislike it. I will never in a million years understand how someone can have a strong negative reaction to that but not the stock defensive spots of Flair that to my eyes are far less believable and logical within their respective universes, but what can you do? It's just a difference of the way we view things I guess. In any event I think most things in wrestling are context dependent, but my instinct is to say that offense is the most context dependent of all things.

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Cena also has done some of the best subtle short and long term selling of anyone in the history of the company. Nature of the beast.

I didn't learn this just recently, as I've always been this way, but perhaps had it reaffirmed, that I don't believe in absolutes. Or Universals. There is no limit to the kind of wrestling I can learn to appreciate and enjoy. Now I might be a notoriously easy judge and it doesn't take much to entertain me, but if something isn't working for me, but has worked for hundreds of, thousands of, millions of others, then it, by all accounts, WORKS. Perhaps there's talisman out there needed to unlock all the goodness behind certain styles, and I would encourage everyone to find them if they hadn't already throughout this grueling process.

I think almost every style of wrestling has those performers and matches that stand out as fantastic no matter what stylistic idiosyncrasies bug even the most staunch viewer. Plenty of lucha, shoot style, european, american indy, deathmatch, joshi for dummies workers and matches. There's just simply been too much good wrestling from all over the world, of all kinds to just summarily dismiss because it does or doesn't "check one of my boxes"

But that's just me, and what one does or doesn't like is inconsequential to me.

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Probably quite a bit, but a few things stand out.

 

1) Action: I like my wrestling to have lots of activity. My favorite wrestling has always been late 80s/90s All Japan. If I were to list my all time favorite matches (coming soon - maybe), this era would produce more than that of any other promotion. But that doesn't mean its the only way to provide bell to bell action. I'll watch Ric Flair or Dick Murdoch work a headlock for minutes on end, as long as they're active. Wrench the hold, grind a forearm, tap a foot to keep the blood flowing. Do something that holds my attention and forces me to engage and take note of the activity. A hammerlock can be problematic to some, but I'll happily watch it the proponent is throwing knees at the arm or back, angling for position and the recipient comes up selling the arm as a reward for my investment.

 

On the other hand, just because its a headlock, wristlock, hammerock, scorpion or some other hold applied for a stretch does not on the surface make it acceptable. If this kind of matwork reaches a stalemate where there's not any effort to secure, break or improve a hold (yes, all eyes on you New Japan) then my attention will be lost. The one big outlier her is lucha. Big fan of the bloody brawls and there are notable exceptions to this next statement, but a lot of the highly touted mat workers don't measure up very well for me. There is no doubt that they pull off creative and intricate matwork that is not at all laying around filling up the tank, but its a bit too cirque du soleil for me. Just takes cooperative to a new level. But what about juniors lying around waiting to take a big move off the top, you ask? Yeah, that works. I can buy that the accumulation of damage leaves someone in position to take a big move without defending themselves. But a lot of lucha leaves me asking why a wrestler lets his opponent get away with as much as he does on the mat.

 

More to come!

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If it seems like a wrestler is doing the right thing but the match as a whole isn't enhanced by it, I'm pretty sure it's not actually worth anything. If it seems like they're doing the wrong thing but it doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the match then it wasn't really the wrong thing. How good the end product is is what matters to me not so much the process.

 

 

This is what I'm trying to say a lot of the time, so thank you.

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Sorry Steven. Its not about logic to me. Logic is a tool. Selling is a tool. Spots are tools. Physical ability is a tool. Blood is a tool. Stiffness is a tool. Jim Cornette at ringside is a tool.

 

Working smart is using the tools on the table efficiently and effectively to maximize the potential meaning of everything that happens in the ring.

 

I would add "in order to achieve a specific purpose" at the end of that sentence (or "in order to create a greater whole" works as well, or hey, "in order to achieve a specific purpose and to best build to a greater whole"), but that's something I'm still working out and I can see if other people care about that less.

 

And if anyone wants to get more clarification, ask me in 2017. I'm good for now.

I still think this way of looking at things comes out with Mr Fuji vs. Chief Jay Strongbow as the best match of all time. And if that is the case, surely something has gone wrong. In terms of "efficency and effectiveness", I cannot really think of a match that touches it.

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The thing that I've learned the most is that wrestling should be viewed with an open mind. Trying to view a joshi match the same way you judge an All Japan heavyweight match will just frustrate you. They are different things with different rules, and different logic.

I think this was an intelligent point well made. Believe it or not, I agree with it.

 

Another thing I've learned is that fun is important to me. I'm sorry, but I don't care about whether or not you are a great seller, have flawless psychology, and you have an arsenal of every move ever invented if I am not enjoying you wrestle. If I have to choose between a dry ass worker who is technically great and a super fun worker with obvious flaws, the fun worker wins out.

 

I also think the sum is more important that the collection of parts. If a worker is constantly in good to great matches, it doesn't matter if they don't fill every criteria. I don't care how good a painter's brush strokes are if they haven't painted any beautiful paintings, nor do I care if you have a seven octave range if you've never sang a good song. If what a worker does in the ring doesn't translate into good to great matches it is irrelevant to me.

 

Not everything has to make sense. Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit. Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him. What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.

I think I agree with all of this too.

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Probably quite a bit, but a few things stand out.

 

1) Action: I like my wrestling to have lots of activity. My favorite wrestling has always been late 80s/90s All Japan. If I were to list my all time favorite matches (coming soon - maybe), this era would produce more than that of any other promotion. But that doesn't mean its the only way to provide bell to bell action. I'll watch Ric Flair or Dick Murdoch work a headlock for minutes on end, as long as they're active. Wrench the hold, grind a forearm, tap a foot to keep the blood flowing. Do something that holds my attention and forces me to engage and take note of the activity. A hammerlock can be problematic to some, but I'll happily watch it the proponent is throwing knees at the arm or back, angling for position and the recipient comes up selling the arm as a reward for my investment.

 

On the other hand, just because its a headlock, wristlock, hammerock, scorpion or some other hold applied for a stretch does not on the surface make it acceptable. If this kind of matwork reaches a stalemate where there's not any effort to secure, break or improve a hold (yes, all eyes on you New Japan) then my attention will be lost. The one big outlier her is lucha. Big fan of the bloody brawls and there are notable exceptions to this next statement, but a lot of the highly touted mat workers don't measure up very well for me. There is no doubt that they pull off creative and intricate matwork that is not at all laying around filling up the tank, but its a bit too cirque du soleil for me. Just takes cooperative to a new level. But what about juniors lying around waiting to take a big move off the top, you ask? Yeah, that works. I can buy that the accumulation of damage leaves someone in position to take a big move without defending themselves. But a lot of lucha leaves me asking why a wrestler lets his opponent get away with as much as he does on the mat.

 

More to come!

I think I'd probably co-sign all of this. I think WingedEagle and I have a lot of similarities as fans.

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I've only really hung out on the periphery of this project, but the things I've learnt the most is that what most people consider fundamentally solid matwork is amongst the most tedious stuff for me to watch, and I don't think people pick up on the transitions in matwork they claim is too cooperative. I also think people are unaware of how much more trained in amateur wrestling your classic luchador is than most other styles. I also can't understand why it's okay for someone like Johnny Saint to have a completely choreographed, unbelievable style but not a luchador.

 

I also learnt I can watch a match two years apart and have polar opposite reactions. I don't think I'll be putting faith in my opinions from here on out.

 

I was glad a number of people took time to watch some of the British guys and pleasantly surprised that the heavyweights were well liked. That was cool.

 

I also learnt that I'm quite happy to keep pottering about living in my own little wrestling bubble while others seem burnt out.

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The thing that I've learned the most is that wrestling should be viewed with an open mind. Trying to view a joshi match the same way you judge an All Japan heavyweight match will just frustrate you. They are different things with different rules, and different logic.

I preach this regularly. Context matters. Selling and psychology are different for every promotion. Dragon Gate is different from 80's New Japan. Most wrestling is great, it's just different.

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The thing that I've learned the most is that wrestling should be viewed with an open mind. Trying to view a joshi match the same way you judge an All Japan heavyweight match will just frustrate you. They are different things with different rules, and different logic.

 

I preach this regularly. Context matters. Selling and psychology are different for every promotion. Dragon Gate is different from 80's New Japan. Most wrestling is great, it's just different.

I do agree that everything -- and I mean everything (not just wrestling) -- can be great if you get into it enough and understand it from the inside out.

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Sorry Steven. Its not about logic to me. Logic is a tool. Selling is a tool. Spots are tools. Physical ability is a tool. Blood is a tool. Stiffness is a tool. Jim Cornette at ringside is a tool.

 

Working smart is using the tools on the table efficiently and effectively to maximize the potential meaning of everything that happens in the ring.

 

I would add "in order to achieve a specific purpose" at the end of that sentence (or "in order to create a greater whole" works as well, or hey, "in order to achieve a specific purpose and to best build to a greater whole"), but that's something I'm still working out and I can see if other people care about that less.

 

And if anyone wants to get more clarification, ask me in 2017. I'm good for now.

I still think this way of looking at things comes out with Mr Fuji vs. Chief Jay Strongbow as the best match of all time. And if that is the case, surely something has gone wrong. In terms of "efficency and effectiveness", I cannot really think of a match that touches it.

 

I think this gets lost in the semantics and attempts at definition and explanation but 1.) Working Smart isn't the only thing I value when it comes to the GWE process 2.) What I value for the GWE process is not entirely what I enjoy in wrestling, though there's a lot of overlap. There is a difference between favorite and great. I acknowledge that, though usually if someone is your favorite then you find a lot of what they do great. I won't have anyone on my list that I'll sneer at, like how Parv said Low Ki on the podcast, but I'll have some wrestlers higher than wrestlers I enjoy more, because I think they are greater or better. They just happen to go against some of my preferences. We're trying to make the best lists we can. Getting OUT of GWE mode is going to take a few weeks I think. And 3.) I get that people might not believe this, but those of you who say "I enjoy what I enjoy because I enjoy it!"... That's not a radical thought. I think we're all in that boat. Have I found patterns in what I enjoy? Sure. Is it likely that if a match has certain qualities, I'll enjoy it more than ones that don't? Sure, but there are exceptions. Its not at all a science. I think there's a lot of value in trying to figure out why we like what we like, or why we think something is good, or not good, or what might have made it better in our eyes based on things within the realm of possible. That's the starting point for interacting with one another on matches and wrestlers.

 

But it's not a case where I decided on a philosophical point of view first and then sought out matches second. I can understand why people might think that way, but it stemmed organically from me liking matches and not liking others and trying to figure out just why that was the case for both.

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