Coming out of last Friday’s New Japan show, the biggest talking point I was expecting was the debate over how to rate the main event. Granted, at the time I said that the match was easily four stars, but was also below five. That’s just another way of saying “it was a great match”, however the weekend saw the emergence of an entirely different, and divisive train of thought: those who audibly voiced their displeasure at the style of the match itself.
This isn’t a new argument, but it’s the first time in a long while since it’s generated this much furore. At it’s base, it’s the Jim Cornette argument: “professional wrestling has turned into flippy-do gymnastics with no semblance of psychology or genuine combat”. At it’s worst, the style of wrestling we saw can be like that – God knows how many times I’ve bemoaned Young Bucks matches which have felt like a parade of moves with no storyline apart from “we just want to get our stuff in”.
Whilst there were some parts of Friday’s match that were irritating – to myself, the death valley driver from Ricochet onto the apron, followed by a hurricanrana from Ospreay on the floor was the worst example of forgetful selling. However, that didn’t ruin the entire match for me… but it did raise the ire of one of wrestling’s legendary big men.
The following three tweets were sent by the man they call Vader in the hours after Friday’s match (typos left intact for posterity): “This is a memorized gymnastic/dance rountine it saddenens me to see the direction wrestling is headed” … “Im all forwrestling evoling as long as it staysconsitent with someone winning and somene losing Tell that story Demonstrate that” … “Blantant acrobatics,no story,is there anything done… that relates to winning u could get 2 high school gymnast and put ona show”
Those tweets, and others, set off a firestorm – with Twitter in general seemingly in a hurry to reduce things to a lowest common denominator, because of course, all matches which contain acrobatic spots never contain selling… much like how every “strong style” match in Japan has to contain an errant thumb to the eye that leads to the “pop the eye back in spot” being included in every match (and yes, I’m being sarcastic!)
In writing Random Reviews, show reviews and #BACKFILL articles on this site, there’s one thing I’ve quickly learned, even having gone from a standing start of watching virtually little in the way of wrestling at the start of 2016. You *need* variety in order to be able to enjoy wrestling to its fullest. If you watch nothing but amateur-style wrestling, you’ll eventually grow sick of it. Likewise, if all you watch is lucha-inspired “flippy do” wrestling, or even the blood-and-guts deathmatch stuff, you’ll eventually become desensitised to guys flying around in a form of a stunt show.
There’s been times where I’ve binged on PROGRESS, WWE, EVOLVE or New Japan, and after a few days of shows, I’ve been longing for something different. A different cast of characters. A different style of action. A different set of moves where I know a guy going for a handspring into the ropes isn’t always going to lead to either a springboard Ace Crusher or a corkscrew kick. Or a guy going to the top rope won’t end in a 450 Splash.
William Regal perhaps said it best: “I watched the match and was shocked.You need to start doing real stuff like people from my era like kip ups,flying head scissors,cart wheels and criss crosses.Get a grip!
“When I started the job in ’83 a lot of the older fellas used to say that Marc Rocco and Marty Jones(who were the real pioneers of the CW style) had killed the business because they did to much. Although they may not admit it anymore,most of the heavyweights in Europe thought the brilliant lightweight and middleweight wrestlers were bad for the job because their style was “not believable enough”..Every country I worked in before I came to the US had different styles and ways of doing things.As long as there’s effort then it’s right.If the people paying you are happy and you get reactions then make your stuff as good as it can be with what skills you have.May not be for everyone but that’s ok.In the match I saw two fellas who looked like fighters having an excellent,hard competed match in a different style.Win win!”
Perhaps instead of chastising performers because their style of match isn’t your cup of tea, we should just embrace the fact that there is variety. That a well-booked card will likely contain something you enjoy. At the end of the day, history has shown that the adage “the cream always rises to the top” is true; and if these people really don’t have a clue what they’re doing (save for flips), then they won’t trouble the radars of the biggest companies in the world for anything longer than a cup of coffee.