Wrestling Backfire: The Build For a Wrestling Match Matters (John Cena, The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan)

Hey, guess what? If a wrestling fan ever told you build doesn’t matter, they lied to you!

The word build means to construct something by putting elements together over a length of time. The movie Matrix is a perfect example of the definition because it built up the best scene outstandingly.

Neo was believed to be the one that could save the Matrix, but he lacked certain attributes the one was supposed to have according the Oracle. Morpheus, however, thought Neo was the one if he could start to believe it himself.

For example, Morpheus had a rule for his other troops: when you see an Agent, you run away. Neo disobeyed that law when he decided to fight Agent Smith. Morpheus didn’t care because he knew he was starting to believe.

The dual started off with both trying to shoot each other until they ran out of bullets. They then started to fight back and forth at a melodramatic speed. Eventually, Smith got the upper hand when he punched Neo into the wall and down on top of the train tracks. As the  train was coming and  Neo was held down,  he sparked a rush of certainty as he managed to escape out of the train’s way while Smith got trampled over.

The action scene was great, but what made it better was the anticipation and build. The writers built each layer of the pyramid until it reached its apex,  which made the fight seem not only more epic but also truly significant.

A wrestling match CAN be epic on its own. AJ Styles versus  Daniels versus Samoa Joe from 2009, for instance, had no build except “this match was the best in the history of TNA, so we’re going to do it again”, but they made it epic. However, they busted their asses harder than they would’ve had to because it lacked a strong build.

A logical reason two wrestlers are wrestling is all a match usually needs for fans to have some emotional investment in it. The downside of trying too hard would be companies such as WCW, which tried make their angles so unpredictable and edgy that it wound up turning the angle into a perplexed and convoluted cartoon.

The WWE has been guilty for doing this as well. The Rock vs. John Cena is like Superman vs Batman, so even if they hardly build the match between the two up, both wrestlers have enough credibility to bring to the table that it needs no hype. It’s an ultimate showdown between two of the greatest successful wrestlers of all time.

I wish I remembered whose column I commented on (it was a very well-written piece I recall), but nevertheless, I said the Rock and John Cena match is equivalent to knowing the two Super Bowl teams before the season started. The match being set in concrete destroyed the unpredictability of whether the Rock and Cena will ever have their dream match and what the WrestleMania main event might be. Who needs dirtsheets these days when you have WWE to spoil matches on their own?

If WWE’s intentions are entirely to make John Cena more likable, they’ve done a decent job. If they’re intentions were to sell this match more or make it seem more special, they’ve failed. The WWE has tried to make these promos witty and “insider” to elevate the match’s spirit but have instead deteriorated it to middle-aged men acting like immature teenagers.

On the flip side, The Undertaker and Triple H match has been terrifically built. At Wrestlemania 27, I thought Undertaker’s post-match sell job would be great to enhance the feud, but still didn’t want to see this match again. Due to the build being perfectly illustrated as to how a feud elevates itself up to my self-made pyramid, this match became a major selling-point for me and others at Wrestlemania, though.

In spite of a few nit-picks  someone could make about this feud–like Shawn Michaels hindering the match or Undertaker should’ve just said he’d quit if HHH didn’t accept his challenge—it’s difficult to deny that  the build hasn’t been  built logically and consistently.   Not to mention they’ve added every week a new layer to the build to help make the match heighten to a new level.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Undertaker versus  Triple H will be better than Rock versus John Cena because of the build. I am saying the idea of Rock versus John Cena seemed awesome before Wrestlemania 27 because it was a rare dream match, but it has lost its luster and sizzle because it’s been booked. Essentially,  the iron doesn’t seem as hot as it once was or even close as it should be now for a match of this caliber. Meanwhile, Undertaker versus Triple H was a match that I didn’t want to see because it seemed lazy to do again, but now I do because of the build. Therefore, a match I had all the intentions in the world to see has been surpassed by a match I didn’t want to see because of the way it was built.

A match’s build matters a lot for the better or worse. A match not built up albeit how good it was (usually) cannot withstand a match with great build. That is – of course – why matches crummy like Andre the Giant versus Hulk Hogan are more discussed than a great exhibition match like Evan Bourne versus Chris Jericho.

To sum up, matches that don’t look good can eventually become greater than a match that appearances looks amazing on paper because of the way it was built. Anything that involves a story that’s engaging to the average wrestling fan will more often than outweigh something that has no story involved. Needless to say, people’s common interests are knowing the journey of how something happened. People don’t like hearing the end of stories. They like the beginning, the middle and then end to be able to illustrate the story. After all, not many people only watch the end of movies or read the last pages of a book. Do they?

Notwithstanding what some fans will say, wrestling and real life aren’t much different at all. Human emotions, needs, and wants are still the same. And little to those fans know, they care about storytelling too even if they’re not educated enough to realize it when they’re watching a match.

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