Over the weekend I was hanging out with some of my Wrestler friends (I donâ€™t need to namedrop, but between them theyâ€™ve worked for all three of todayâ€™s major companies â€“ WWE, TNA, and ROH) and we got into an interesting discussion about whatâ€™s entertaining in wrestling these days.
Having recently watched ROHâ€™s â€œRichards Vs. Danielsâ€ DVD, and noted that while the main event was a typical â€œgreat match,â€ the fact that the word â€œtypicalâ€ entered the sentence made it something worth discussing. Davey Richards and Christopher Daniels are two very talented wrestlers and great athletes, and theyâ€™ve had numerous great matches with a variety of opponents. But I feel like Iâ€™ve come to the point where just seeing a â€œgreat matchâ€ doesnâ€™t do it for me anymore â€“ especially when the competitors get on the microphone after the match to cry and tell the audience what a great match it was. I donâ€™t remember Shawn Michaels or the Undertaker getting on the microphone to talk about what a great match they just had.
Iâ€™ve been watching Ring of Honor since about 2004, and Iâ€™ve seen so many great matches over the years. After a while itâ€™s hard not to become desensitized to it. Take for example the match Daniels had with Richards â€“ both men have had similar matches with other opponents. Variety starts to go out the window when you get characters like Richards (who it seems doesnâ€™t view himself as a â€œcharacterâ€) who want to treat wrestling as being realer than it is. I donâ€™t want to see a real fight. I want to see a Wrestling Match. Those are two very different things.
With the popularity of MMA and a lot of wrestling fans gravitating more towards that, itâ€™s understandable that some wrestlers would try to capitalize on that. But what I think some are forgetting is that the most successful Pro Wrestlers have been so because they are entertaining. Stone Cold Steve Austin is a great wrestler, but he was also extremely entertaining. Davey Richards and others can pretend all they want that their style of wrestling is more â€œreal,â€ and while Iâ€™m sure they hit harder than some of the guys in WWE, that doesnâ€™t change the fact that they win and lose based on what the booker tells them to do.
Itâ€™s time to stop treating â€œentertainmentâ€ as a dirty word in wrestling, because thatâ€™s what wrestling has always been, and always will be, designed to provide.
And now, the reunion of one of the greatest reviewing tag teams of all time is upon us, as Brad Garoon has agreed to add his thoughts on this matter. After reading what he has to say, head over to his blog Open the Garoon Gate for the most comprehensive series of Dragon Gate reviews anywhere, and check out his hilarious Grapefruit Chronicles on the YouTube.
“I was a fan of Ring of Honor right from the beginning. As each show was released on tape I rabidly waited for it to arrive at my apartment. From 2002 until just before Gabe Sapolskyâ€™s departure from the company ROH was far and away my favorite company to watch. However, it was near the end of his tenure that Sapolsky started using â€œgreat matchesâ€ as a crutch. The man who formerly had crafted some of the most interesting storylines and angles of the decade was using Great Wrester X vs. Great Wrestler Y as the selling point for his shows. And while I could watch great matches forever, Iâ€™ll forget every one of them if they donâ€™t have a compelling storyline behind them. These storylines donâ€™t need to be built up for months, but there has to be SOME reason that the two guys in the ring are fighting each other, especially when no title is on the line.
Jake spoke primarily about Christopher Daniels vs. Davey Richards. That match was billed as one â€œsix months in the making.â€ But what about this pairing was supposed to get fans excited? Was it that Daniels was in TNA when Richards was coming up in ROH? A lot of good wrestlers were in TNA and WWE while Davey Richards was honing his skills in ROH, so why should a match against Daniels in particular excite me? The answer is that thereâ€™s no reason, so while the match might be great, it will also be completely forgettable.
Jake also mentioned the MMA influence here. I love MMA, and typically welcome its influence in wrestling. The one place where I donâ€™t welcome it is when it is used to replace an angle for a match. In fact, the presence of angles is something that MMA organizations, and boxing organizations for that matter, regularly borrow from professional wrestling. I think back to Matt Sera vs. George St. Pierre in particular. In the build to that fight the two talked an unbelievable amount of trash about each other, and right after his defeat Sera admitted that almost all of his talk was hot air used to promote the fight. So if the UFC, a growing promotion, knows that a backstory is important to selling a PPV, why would ROH get lazy and not use the same tactic in promoting their shows?
I recently listened to a podcast in which Sapolsky addressed this issue. He said he was using the same old tricks during the end of his ROH tenure and the beginning of his Dragon Gate USA booking. He promised that in 2011 he would be more creative, and so far we have seen and benefitted from the fruits of that promise. ROH produced one of the most compelling angles of 2010 in Kevin Steen vs. El Generico, but in 2011 theyâ€™ll have to work just as hard as Sapolsky to keep from becoming forgettable.”
What do you think?