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BIG wrestling vs. small wrestling


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#1 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 10:20 AM

I did a show with Will last night (see here -- and I'd definitely LOVE to hear other people's views on those two matches) in which I think we nailed some of the real differences in what we like as fans.

I like big performers. I love Pat Patterson who plays to the cheap seats. I love guys like Jack Brisco, Rick Martel and Ricky Steamboat who do HUGE selling that you just can't miss. All three of those guys sell a punch like they've been shot, they'll sell a piledriver with full body convulsions and the shaky leg. I think this sort of large over-the-top performance is fantastic. A lot of the guys I am high on -- Flair, Funk, Arn, DiBiase, Race, Heenan -- excel at the big stuff. I think wrestling in some sense is pantomime and the performance SHOULD be large. Even I think Mr. Perfect probably goes too far, but I still dig him.

Will seems to favour a smaller performance. He's looking for tiny little things in matches like the positioning of a guy's knee during a hammerlock. He seems to privilege this sort of nuance over aspects of a performance that are more "obvious". I think at times where I'm seeing a guy lying in a hold for 15 minutes, he's appreciating these little things.

Where do you tend to lie on this? Is it a false dichotomy? Do you dig both things? Is this something you've ever thought about?

#2 BillThompson

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 10:27 AM

I like both, but I tend to side with Will more than you on this one. Even when someone is doing something big I'm looking for the little things they are doing within that one big thing. I think the modern day #GrappleFuck movement appeals to me so much because it's essentially an approach that is all about the little things. It's about a knee to the small of the back to hold someone down while they are in a Hammerlock. It's about pulling back the fingers when your opponent leaves such an opening. But, at the same time it's about how the finish can come out of nowhere thanks to a big move, or has instances like Thatcher's Kawada sell of his own Headbutts.

 

I'm a little things guy, but I can appreciate the big stuff, and I think both are essential to pro wrestling.



#3 Matt D

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 10:40 AM

I like big emotional moments and payoff, but I also like the little nuances in the build to those moments. The little moments underpin the big ones. I also value some of the little things that Will values and don't value other ones that he values. 



#4 WingedEagle

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 10:45 AM

I definitely prefer the big, speak loudly to you stuff. But I want it spoken to me, not screamed at me.  I also appreciate the little things as the stuff that goes on a sandwich besides the meat -- condiment, cheese, bread, maybe some vegetables.  You can have an excellent sandwich without them, but something excellent needs those twists.  But I'm a meateater.  If you serve me a sandwich with nothing but greens and mayo -- even on some out of this world bread -- I'm either going to throw it at you or throw it up. 

 

How's that for stream of consciousness?



#5 Loss

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 10:56 AM

I don't think they exist on a binary, really, and I think in an ideal case they work in tandem. If the wrestlers aren't aiming to hook an audience, they are just jerking off, but I do think there is more than one way to hook an audience. Smaller and more intimate venues make details matter more. Wrestling being broadcast in HD makes details matter more. Studio wrestling makes details matter more. Audiences in Japan are silent at times when American fans are traditionally more involved, typically during the opening build, so in those isolated moments, details matter more. Priorities should be different when working big arenas and stadiums, and probably even more different in a dome setting. I don't expect a one-size-fits-all approach, nor do I think that would be appropriate. I am impressed by matches involving wrestlers who understand that not all settings are the same and adapt accordingly.



#6 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 03:58 PM

I'm having a hard time deciding whether big wrestling that's over the top is worse than detail work that is boring. 



#7 dawho5

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 06:32 PM

I'm a big fan of small wrestling, but not when overdone to the point where the bigger picture is ignored.  The small things are there to enhance the big moments and if focused on too much it seems like it takes away from a match.  The same goes for either too manny big moments or too much focus on them.  It's all about the right amount of each.  Different matches, feuds and arenas demand a different approach as well.  It's something that when it's right you know it and when it's wrong by enough it becomes apparent as well.



#8 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 06:42 PM

I think this was the point I was trying to make about Bret the other day. Too much small stuff, not enough big stuff.

#9 Laz

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 06:43 PM

I would think it would depend on the era and audience. A WWWF match wouldn't have the same subtleties as a Georgia match, and World Class would be a different mix too. Even today, you see people working differently in Chikara than they do elsewhere.

#10 Zoo Enthusiast

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 06:44 PM

I am probably more drawn to the BIG stuff, though I appreciate the small stuff, especially when it sneaks up on me. Absurdity is a big thing that has always drawn me to wrestling, and that is just more prevalent in the big things.

#11 PhilTLL

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 08:12 PM

Where do you tend to lie on this? Is it a false dichotomy? Do you dig both things? Is this something you've ever thought about?

 

Bit of a false dichotomy, as plenty of guys are great at both and mix them well to get results. You mentioned Arn--he had maybe the biggest, best reaction moment ever (Clash 17) and was great at big selling and beatdowns, but he also had one of my favorite "small work" matches ever (Regal at SuperBrawl IV) and was generally amazing at details.



#12 Danish Dynamite

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 06:46 PM

In a way both. But if I had to rank the four "options" mentioned by people here (good/bad big and good/bad small), I think I'd go:
1: Good small, where the details are as close to believable as possible, but still entertaining and engaging.
2: Good big, where the huge bumps are well done and the big selling has a point.
3: Bad big, where it's over the top and pointless bumping. The circus.
4: Bad small, where the attempt at realism and focus on detail forgets character and story. The cliche of boring mat work.
I'd rather be entertained by the stupidity, than bored to tears. Yet, I'd rather be impressed by storytelling, character and detail than just by spectacle.

#13 concrete1992

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 07:04 PM

I have looked at this question multiple times and still not exactly sure where I stand. In 2015 I find myself leaning more towards SMALL but that might just be because there is more stuff worked well in the SMALL department and less wrestlers "playing to the cheap seats".

 

Like Thatcher right now is a hot fella on the message boards. He works small I dig it because while some say he is simply working a hold for 10 minutes, to me he is actually doing work in that time period versus some random Japanese juniors match that could do lots of STUFF that is BIG but it takes longer to set up and "sell" than it does to perform in a meaningful manner. At the same time you have someone like Dragon Lee who I think works BIG. His ability to bump like a mad man, to the point anyone could see he might die out there, is as enjoyable to watch, there just doesn't seem to be as much of that stuff done well right now. Cena vs. Owens comes off as something I would consider "big" but at the same time not stellar yet gets wildly praised. If that is what we have for the upper echelon of BIG wrestling than maybe it is just not as hot these days. Or I'm looking the in wrong places. 

 

The question is which do you prefer? I don't really think I prefer either one. If you are being wildly expressive, that's great. If you are angling for a hold for a good 5 minutes in an interesting manner, that's equally great. They aren't mutually exclusive ideas obviously either. I don't know where I was going with any of this tbh.



#14 pantherwagner

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Posted 08 August 2015 - 02:10 AM

Wrestling being broadcast in HD makes details matter more.

 

I completely agree with your entire post but this point is often kind of negated by the WWE style camera angles.



#15 GOTNW

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Posted 08 July 2016 - 04:26 PM

Bad minimalistic wrestling easily becomes self indulgent and very boring. Bad maximalistic wrestling can easily turn into a self-parody that might be easier to turn into a meme but is equally as bad as the bad minimalistic wrestling judging it on its quality as a wrestling alone. A great worker might lean towards one more than the other but HAS to combine both otherwise he is not a great worker. Ideally you'd want a worker to be able to do both. Take Yoshiaki Fujiwara for instance-the Takada 10/25 match is a masterpiece combining so many details that make it as great as it is. But he can also do stuff like the Choshu match from 1987 which, to steal a line from Schneider, is basically Rock vs Hogan if they were great wrestlers. Wrestlers who work too minimalistic will lack the characters to make their tehnically sound holds interesting, wrestlers who rely too much on flash will lack substance in their matches. I don't really have a preference-my favourite wrestling is a spectrum of different philosophies on how to do pro wrestling. My least favourite type of wrestling is an easy answer though-it's the one that tries too hard to be "big" and feels even smaller as a result.



#16 Microstatistics

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Posted 08 July 2016 - 05:26 PM

The ideal wrestling is where the focus is on the big picture but the matches are filled with cool little touches and details that enhance the overall picture. That being said I think big wrestling is more significant. For example that's why I think Kiyoshi Tamura is better than Volk Han and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. The latter two can focus too much on detail work and small things (especially Fujiwara) and so matches are sometimes less than the sum of their parts. An average Tamura match might not contain many quirky spots or flashy details but the match as a whole is better.



#17 GOTNW

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Posted 08 July 2016 - 06:04 PM

I don't really get that example. Han was a much flashier and bigger worker than Tamura on average. I could easily see arguments for Tamura's work verging on being self indulgent. What makes it work for me is that he was an absolutely amazing matworker-even if he isn't feeling particularly motivated in terms of experimenting with ideas and just wants to roll and go through a bunch of cool stuff there's no one that does cooler stuff than him. HIs willingness to create epics is what makes me rate him as high as I do in terms of all time great wrestlers but Han and Fujiwara had successful formulas due to which their lows aren't as low as Tamura's.



#18 Microstatistics

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Posted 08 July 2016 - 06:49 PM

 I could easily see arguments for Tamura's work verging on being self indulgent.

 

It's funny you say that but I have heard people say Han was self indulgent in that he was more about doing cool and fancy stuff in a vacuum instead of actually trying to work a match. I can see where both viewpoints are coming from even if I don't agree with them.

 

Also I agree Han worked flashier but not bigger. Using the Tamura is Kenta Kobashi analogy, then Han is Mitsuharu Misawa: tons of flashy offense but more subtle and detailed oriented in nature.



#19 GOTNW

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Posted 08 July 2016 - 08:25 PM

Han didn't work in a vacuum. That's nonsense. He had excellent timing and used his big spots in way that would get great heat from the crowd (while you could point to a fair amount of heatless Tamura bouts). I honestly don't see much subtlety in his work. In fact it kinda turned me off him initially since everyone talked about him as this shoot style master and there he was doing armdrags and figure four leglocks. His character might be a stoic one but that's not what the discussion is about.

#20 Loss

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 04:45 AM

Bad minimalistic wrestling easily becomes self indulgent and very boring. Bad maximalistic wrestling can easily turn into a self-parody that might be easier to turn into a meme but is equally as bad as the bad minimalistic wrestling judging it on its quality as a wrestling alone. A great worker might lean towards one more than the other but HAS to combine both otherwise he is not a great worker. Ideally you'd want a worker to be able to do both. Take Yoshiaki Fujiwara for instance-the Takada 10/25 match is a masterpiece combining so many details that make it as great as it is. But he can also do stuff like the Choshu match from 1987 which, to steal a line from Schneider, is basically Rock vs Hogan if they were great wrestlers. Wrestlers who work too minimalistic will lack the characters to make their tehnically sound holds interesting, wrestlers who rely too much on flash will lack substance in their matches. I don't really have a preference-my favourite wrestling is a spectrum of different philosophies on how to do pro wrestling. My least favourite type of wrestling is an easy answer though-it's the one that tries too hard to be "big" and feels even smaller as a result.

 

I think this is what I was getting at with the whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts discussion, but I was coming at it in a different way. It's not completely the same thing, but there is overlap.






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