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Most "natural" wrestlers


Loss
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Bix and I were talking on AIM a while back about the most "natural" wrestlers, meaning the ones that seemed to be really good, really early on, and didn't really go through all that ugly a learning curve in their early years. The guys we came up with were Jumbo Tsuruta, Ricky Morton, Barry Windham, Bobby Eaton, Owen Hart, and Eddy Guerrero that it would apply to most. There are probably others, but footage in the early years of guys like Ricky Steamboat or whoever is somewhat limited.

 

Are there any others you would add to that list?

 

This was the result of talking about how people who like Kurt Angle seem to think him being at the level he was in 2001-2002 was out of the ordinary considering his experience level, when we were able to think of quite a few guys who were as good or better at that respective stage of their careers.

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Most natural? When I think of most natural I think of who looks like they worn born in the ring. They can't look like they're awkard in there.

 

Owen Hart. I believe Lyger himself said that while it took him or other guys several attempts to get a move down pat while Owen on the other hand would nail it on the first try and often be able to do it better than the teacher.

 

Obviously the Dynamite Kid tops the list

 

Tiger Mask is top 5 without a doubt.

 

Hiro Hase

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Not kidding at all.

 

I should qualify this a bit by saying that I didn't see any OVW Lesnar, so it is possible that I am way off.

 

Anyhow, I thought he was obviously great right from his WWE debut. Did he have some bad habits early on? Yeah, but they were mostly errors born out of trying TOO hard. He had a tendency to overbump for example, but so did Vader and you almost never see that used as a knock against him (furthermore Lesnar was working in a naturally theatrical enviornment and taking cues from guys like The Rock). Still as a package, right away he had all the obvious tools; he new how to sell and bump well, he was instantly great at pacing, he was good at getting over "big moves", he had presence, good moveset especially for a bigger guy, awesome snap to his movements in general, et.

 

Go back and watch Brock's stuff. I did about six or seven months ago and was stunned at how universally good and interesting it was from the early stuff opposite the Hardyz and Bubba Dudley on down the line.

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I have seen the Lesnar stuff from when he debuted and onward, and the only thing that struck me as remarkable was his presence and the booking that had him knocking people out. When I think of most "natural" I think of wrestlers that just "got" it in terms of knowledge of how things worked in the ring. Someone like DK or Owen Hart would qualify, but Lesnar? Not so much. You proved the point when you said he had to learn from Rock and others.

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I didn't say he learned from The Rock..I said he took cues from The Rock and the broader theatrical style of the WWE at the time.

 

Pretending that wrestlers exist in vacuums and don't cues from others is sort of ridiculous. The "natural" Owen Hart sure as shit wasn't running on a blank slate for example.

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RE's mention of Dynamite Kid makes me think that Davey Boy Smith is a good choice, too, as he's as good as any of the teen idol babyface technicians on World of Sport. His matches with Clive Myers and Jim Breaks were as good as anything you'd ever see from a rookie, and while being in with 2 all time greats surely had to do with it, he kept up with them every step of the way.

 

Ben Bassarab was incredibly smooth as a rookie. At the rate he was going, he would've been an all-time great if he didn't quit a few years in.

 

Pat Tanaka seemed really comfortable at beginning as a JCP job guy and looked then great when he got his first push in Memphis.

 

Jeff Jarrett seemed to get it right away, and was a great wrestler early on mixing Memphis babyface shtick/punches with athletic highspots like an incredible dropkick.

 

He who shall not be named was good early on, but others in Stampede like Hase, Bassarab, and Owen were better.

 

When Loss and I were discussing this, I mentioned that while Angle got good fast, he wasn't a natural like the others that we've named, if it makes any sense. He had a certain awkwardness and didn't necessarily look comfortable yet.

 

When I think about this topic, Flair's line from his DVD about Barry Windham comes to mind: "Barry fit me like a glove." It's a certain smoothness and comfort level that's really hard to describe but you know it when you see it.

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As far as the original list that I made w/ Loss in an AIM chat, I was thinking of wrestlers who were smooth, largely psychologically sound, and just looked at home like a veteran.

 

Jumbo Tsuruta: Looked credible as a rookie in world title matches, also benefitted from being pretty explosive for the early '70s.

 

Ricky Morton: Sold like you'd expect from Ricky Morton right out of the gate. He said in his original shoot interview with Highspots that he really learned how to work when he teamed wth Ken Lucas in Texas, but he clearly had a good base for it from the beginning.

 

Barry Windham: The Flair quote sticks out. He just moved so perfectly and did everything you'd want from a wrestler well.

 

Bobby Eaton: Nothing is available of him as a rookie, but legend has it that he was so great at the beginning that he carried George Gulas to a great tag team..

 

Owen Hart: Long considered the gold standard for great rookies based on his initial full time run (he had wrestled part time for a few years in England and under a mask in Canada).

 

Eddy Guerrero: I think this was a Loss pick as he debuted in '87 and the earliest footage is from '89. Still, it was early on and he was good enough that Terry Funk requested that he be flown into Atlanta so 5'6" Eddy, smaller than anyone on US TV other than WCW jobber Lee Scott (and maybe still shorter than Scott) could get a tryout and so Funk could have a great competitive squash. As Dave Meltzer always tells the story, he would've been hired if he was taller.

 

Terry Gordy: Loss forgot to mention him. I think Vincent Verhei of F4W put it best in a review of a Freebirds vs Rock 'n' Roll Express match from Mid-South:

 

"So, in summary, the Rock & Roll Express were the most beloved tag team ever, Buddy Roberts was an awesome heel tag team wrestler and Terry Gordy was put on earth by God for the express purpose of being a phenomenally great professional wrestler. I feel kind of guilty saying that like it's a good thing, considering his eventual fate, but Jesus Christ, he was awesome."

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We have footage of both Terry Gordy and Rey Jr from when they were like 14/15. And I think Juventud from when he was 17. All seemed to get it out of the block. Gordy in my mind is most impressive since most superheavyweights dont have stuff figured out till their 30s.

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Juve was a natural as well, with a lot of his Dad's rudo shtick.

 

Perro Jr. seemed to get it early that first year as well, though he didn't wrestle much. Of course bleed like hell like his old man, and then had that busted nose that seemed to set him back.

 

 

John

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RE's mention of Dynamite Kid makes me think that Davey Boy Smith is a good choice, too, as he's as good as any of the teen idol babyface technicians on World of Sport. His matches with Clive Myers and Jim Breaks were as good as anything you'd ever see from a rookie, and while being in with 2 all time greats surely had to do with it, he kept up with them every step of the way.

 

Ben Bassarab was incredibly smooth as a rookie. At the rate he was going, he would've been an all-time great if he didn't quit a few years in.

 

Pat Tanaka seemed really comfortable at beginning as a JCP job guy and looked then great when he got his first push in Memphis.

 

Jeff Jarrett seemed to get it right away, and was a great wrestler early on mixing Memphis babyface shtick/punches with athletic highspots like an incredible dropkick.

 

He who shall not be named was good early on, but others in Stampede like Hase, Bassarab, and Owen were better.

 

When Loss and I were discussing this, I mentioned that while Angle got good fast, he wasn't a natural like the others that we've named, if it makes any sense. He had a certain awkwardness and didn't necessarily look comfortable yet.

 

When I think about this topic, Flair's line from his DVD about Barry Windham comes to mind: "Barry fit me like a glove." It's a certain smoothness and comfort level that's really hard to describe but you know it when you see it.

Davey yes. Even as a very young guy in Stampede he had that special wow factor about him. Very fast, different, energetic and smooth in there. He wrestled like he had been in the ring for a long time.

 

Basserb would've been a big star. There's no doubt about that.

 

Hiro Hase is a no brainer. The guy was awesome right off the bat. Fantastic work ethic and out of all the people mentioned here he was the guy who most reminded me of a veteran in his early years.

 

Benoit was good in Stampede from the get go and it was obvious he was someone to keep your eye on as he had lots of potential. However, he wasn't as natural as say Owen or Hase right off the bat. But sometime in 1988, I think he had actually eclipsed Owen as a wrestler. Owen though had more wow factor and was imo the best choice for Stampede top guy as he was amazing.

 

 

 

I was wondering when Scorpio started in the ring. When watching him, I always thought of him as a natural wrestler because everything he did looked really smooth. Really natural.

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Takehiro Murahama from Osaka Pro seemed to pick things up pretty quickly once he ditched the boxing gloves and worked shooter-stylings. He debuted in the spring of 2000 and by the fall and winter he was pretty good. Liger must have seen something in him that's for sure.

 

Takeshi Sugiura looked really comfortable in his debut in late 2000 period NOAH. It is a lot harder picking guys out now for some reason. Its hard to judge how good the New Japan rookies of the past eight to ten years are when they were mostly kept in supporting roles or opening shows for the first few years. Guys like Inoue, Shibata, Kenzo Suzuki, Tanahashi, Goto and others looked like natural athletes with a good grasp of timing and how to wrestle the "rookie style". Okay, Suzuki wasn't as good as the others but he stood out more than Tanahashi at first glance to me. Only guys like Nakamura and Suwama get the opportunities to shine early on. I've seen only a couple of Suwama matches but he doesn't have any kind of positive buzz about him at all. I'm still not sure how good Kazuya Yuasa/GAINA is after wrestling for an incredible length of time in MPro in the rookie role. Battlarts had a few decent rookies like Nayuki Taira(sp?) or Nagai...although I'm not sure if Nagai came from somewhere else beforehand.

 

Davey Boy Smith's greatness stands out even more when compared to his cousin's bitter bitter BITTER dislike of him in Pure Dynamite. That was such a good book but almost any wrestling fan with two eyes, and me with my horrible eyesight, could tell that Davey was a natural. I guess by the time he was working as a singles guy in the WWF Bret didn't have the most confidence in Davey either. I'm guessing steroids and recreational drugs had more to do with that than Davey just losing it. He had several very good years right up until he went to WCW in 1998. He was awesome in the WWF right up until the Survivor Series fallout. That's another case where his knees, drugs of choice and motivation probably played a bigger role in him sucking in WCW than any supposed innate lack of ability that guys like Dynamite Kid claimed about Davey.

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I've been seeing some of Atlantis' work from the early 80s and he definately belongs on this list. I was watching the famous Atlantis/Santo vs Rubio/Guerrera match from November of 83, it was really spectacular and according to the luchawiki Atlantis' debut was in June 12, 1983. Sure Fuerza was in there with him, but for such an inexperienced worker, Atlantis looked phenomenal and so did Santo. Another match that really impressed me was Atlantis vs Emilio Charles Jr. from 1984 (ohtani's jacket has an excellent match review on his great lucha blog), which featured some really excellent fast pace matwork and was a match I really loved.

 

I haven't seen as much of Santo's work during this period, but his Arena Mexico debut tag match and the mask match with Espanto Jr. lead me to think that he was also just a natural.

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