Last week I had my first go in a wrestling ring for a long time, and it was with a group of people I had not ever wrestled with before. Yes, it was not with Riot City Wrestling. I lasted half an hour of strength training, half an hour of cardio and then an hour in the ring. Because some people in the wrestling community know me, I was allowed to sort of go in off the street (although they did know I was coming) and not go through the whole rookie/green-horn thing. Now, to be fair, I am pretty crappy as a wrestler, but I’ve been doing this thing for a long time.
We finished my brief session with a spot match. The guy I was against was quite a deal better than me, but we had a match that, we were told, was not too bad, especially considering one of the participants has only one working knee, is carrying 25kg of excess body fat and a shoulder that looks like a rat has decided to hibernate under the skin.
The way we did this was by working to the strengths of the weaker wrestler – me. Lots of holds, a few suplexes and slams, I bumped around the place, we didn’t leave the ring, some corner work, not a huge amount of running from me. I delivered a running splash, took a moonsault press and tapped out to a knee bar.
The point of this is that we had an adequate match in training, one that with a few tweaks could well have been quite good in front of a paying audience, and we didn’t do anything beyond what we knew. We not only did what we knew and did it well, we played to our strengths. The way we drag an audience in is through psychology, selling, and making what we do in the ring look believable.
Now, for all the WWE bashing that goes on, this is something that is done well by the big boy. They have toned down the big moves so that when they happen they mean something and, in the whole, matches are built around the abilities of the weaker worker. Yes, that does mean wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Antonio Cesaro et al often have trouble showcasing what they can do, but that is another matter.
(And that matter is where you are placed on the card and the standard of the main event should dictate what you bring to the table. If your main event is going to be Sheamus v the Big Show in a grunting noises match, then it doesn’t matter what you do; but if your main event is Daniel Bryan v CM Punk, then you need to tone down because of what your main event will bring. Main events bring in crowds; undercards entertain them.)
Now, having said that, many WWE wrestlers have an issue with psychology and selling (John Cena, I’m looking at you) and how they sell. What this does is take the viewer out of that believability zone. What you see in the ring must have some basis in reality. Rey Mysterio Jr hip-tossing Big Show might look good, but we know it can’t really happen. Ditto for him giving a hurricanrana to the Great Khali. Sure, looks good, but we know it’s impossible, and so it loses something and the viewer thinks what the hell? We might all know wrestling is “fake” (for want of a better term), but we still want a sense of reality in our fighting, otherwise we might as well watch the stunt show at MovieWorld.
So why am I writing this? I have been watching a lot of independent wrestling from around the world thanks to the joys of YouTube just lately, especially with more and more guys from that world popping up in WWE and TNA. Then people get online and complain about them being “dumbed down”, having their unique personalities wiped, forced into certain main even styles, and whatever else. The latest one is, of course, El Generico, who has lost his mask and been given his real name. I guess I have an issue with some of the names (Joe Hennig is Michael McGillicuty? Seriously?) but that is all I have a problem with.
The big times is not the place to be a spot monkey out to steal everyone’s limelight in order to get themselves over. Everyone works together for the betterment of the company, like it or not. If the company suffers, everyone suffers. So the WWE makes wrestlers do what is best for the company, not for the individual wrestler. Maybe if more independent promotions followed this and stopped the wrestlers going into business for themselves, then maybe they would last longer and there would be more avenues for an independent wrestler to get out on the circuit and actually learn their trade as opposed to being forced to become an undertrained gymnast.
Just a thought.
Tags: Australia, big show, cm punk, Daniel Bryan, El Generico, Injury, john cena, rey mysterio, sheamus, TNA, wrestling, WWE