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What did you learn about your fandom from GWE?


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#21 Badlittlekitten

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 12:03 PM

I didn't know where to put this - just wanted to say that this place has been on fire lately. The content in the GWE threads has not only inspired me to put together my own list but it has sparked my interest in watching wrestling again. And I'm loving it again.

 

I guess I've learned that it will never truly go away.



#22 supremebve

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 03:44 PM

The thing that I've learned the most is that wrestling should be viewed with an open mind.  Trying to view a joshi match the same way you judge an All Japan heavyweight match will just frustrate you.  They are different things with different rules, and different logic.  

 

Another thing I've learned is that fun is important to me.  I'm sorry, but I don't care about whether or not you are a great seller, have flawless psychology, and you have an arsenal of every move ever invented if I am not enjoying you wrestle.  If I have to choose between a dry ass worker who is technically great and a super fun worker with obvious flaws, the fun worker wins out.  

 

I also think the sum is more important that the collection of parts.  If a worker is constantly in good to great matches, it doesn't matter if they don't fill every criteria.  I don't care how good a painter's brush strokes are if they haven't painted any beautiful paintings, nor do I care if you have a seven octave range if you've never sang a good song.  If what a worker does in the ring doesn't translate into good to great matches it is irrelevant to me.  

 

Not everything has to make sense.  Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit.  Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him.  What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.  



#23 Childs

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 11:33 PM

I learned I can no longer watch slow-build matches after midnight, because I am old and I will fall asleep.

#24 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 13 March 2016 - 06:50 AM

2. Different styles of work

One of the things I became known for during this project was my defence of Dory Funk Jr from the revisionist view that, contrary to the old received opinion, he wasn't a great wrestler. In some ways, that is profoundly ironic because Dory represents a style of wrestling that that isn't exactly my favourite:


If Vince's vision of pro wrestling was the Wrestlemania moment or if Bill Watts's was a standup American male jock overcoming an evil doer / foreigner / sissy boy, then Sam Muchnick's was the idea of wrestling as a legit sporting contest played out as much in the mind as in the ring.

One could make an argument that it is wrestling in its purest form. You could draw a straight line from the 19th-century shooters through Thesz to Dory and Brisco and Inoki and from them through Maeda and Fujiwara to modern shoot style. One narrative gives you that as the purest tradition.

Now I respect the hell out of the way OJ watches pro-wrestling, but as I've come to realise over the this process, it isn't what I'm about. I can appreciate the game of human chess, but ultimately a lot of the time I find it dull.

The term I've started to use to describe what I value most highly is "baroque wrestling". Stories can be painted using different techniques. I favour broad brush strokes, bold colours and strong contrasts. I've had a go at trying to itemise all of these things.

JvK's Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins of Pro Wrestling

1. Big selling that can be seen from the cheap seats, not mugging for the camera

2. Cool and effective offense, not spectacle, flippiness or exhibitionism (e.g. Billy Robinson backbreaker good, Rey 619 bad)

3. Grittiness and authenticity not self-consciousness or knowing referentiality / meta-wrestling

4. Violence, brutality and hatred not gimmickry

5. Stiffness and snugness not choreography or "dance wrestling"

6. Natural showmanship, character work and crowd control not artificially "playing a role"

7. Real heat not crowds being "appreciative"

It is no coincidence that the times and places that most hit the sweet spot at the cross-section of all of these -- mid-80s Crockett, Mid-South and AJPW 86-90s -- also happen to be my favourite wrestling promotions. Most of the wrestling I dislike tends to break one of these seven broad rules.

I guess I kinda knew these things before the process started, but they were not made explicit and clear nor were they fully articulated until now.

#25 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 06:27 AM

After reading the Kofi stuff, I have to ask Jimmy if she is explicitly FOR any of the things after the "nots" in that list.

I feel like I want to ask Dylan too, given some of the guys he champions. Or anyone really. I'd love some reasoned counter arguments to those general principles.

#26 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 06:57 AM

I guess the only one I'd feel strongly about is #2. I am very pro-619, for starters. In fact you can pretty much sum up the differences between our respective tastes with how we each feel about Rey Mysterio.

 

But in general, I mean I don't think I love exhibitionism all that much, but spectacle and flippydoes, sure, I love that shit. Wrestling is a spectacle to me, and if that involves doing things that are ridiculous or not really realistic looking, so be it. I love Rey, I love Kofi, I love AJ Styles, I love dive trains, I love a certain level of flippydoes.

 

I'd like to note though, that this doesn't mean I don't also love effective offense or realistic moves or whatever else you'd consider to be opposite to flippydoes. It's not a zero sum game to me. I love both. I love anything as long as it's good. That's what I mean when I say I can't nail down a set criteria. I could try to do what you do above and say "I love this, this, that, that, not this, not that" and end up listing a lot of things that would sound contradictory, and not really be able to say anything without the caveat that there are many exceptions where I don't like/dislike it. Because it all depends, depends on context, and really just depends on whether or not I like it, for reasons that are literally undefinable to me.



#27 Matt D

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 07:02 AM

I think there's a difference between Sheamus/Christian/Rey/Matt Hardy/Bryan (not in that order) TV workers and Morrison/Kofi/Ziggler when it comes to "learned psychology" in spots. I might be overstating that though. One group comes off as more organic and natural to me and "believably creative" and meaningful to me than the other. 



#28 Cross Face Chicken Wing

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 08:28 AM

I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?



#29 supremebve

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 08:56 AM

I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

That is 100% what I meant when I said this...

 

 

Not everything has to make sense.  Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit.  Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him.  What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.  

I can analyze matches to death, but some wrestlers just work because they work.  Trying to figure out why every little thing matters is kind of against the point.  My process is to do a first watch and to see whether or not I like a match before doing a rewatch and figure out why I did or did not like it.  There are plenty of matches I've enjoyed and thought, "wow, that was great," and then realized that it doesn't really lend itself to further analysis.  Somethings are just good because they are good, and I'm fine with that.  



#30 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 09:03 AM

I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

That is 100% what I meant when I said this...

 
 
Not everything has to make sense.  Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit.  Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him.  What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.  

I can analyze matches to death, but some wrestlers just work because they work.  Trying to figure out why every little thing matters is kind of ageainst the point.  My process is to do a first watch and to see whether or not I like a match before doing a rewatch and figure out why I did or did not like it.  There are plenty of matches I've enjoyed and thought, "wow, that was great," and then realized that it doesn't really lend itself to further analysis.  Somethings are just good because they are good, and I'm fine with that.

To me this would be fine if we were rating matches, but that's not the question GWE asks.

#31 supremebve

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 09:23 AM

 

 

I learned that I'm still pretty much a cave man when it comes to watching wrestling. I enjoy reading the in-depth posts breaking down a match from guys like Matt and others. I also love diving into Parv's BIGLAV system. But when I watch wrestling, no matter how hard I try, my brain turns off and I just ask myself: Did I like, love, dislike or hate what I just saw?

That is 100% what I meant when I said this...

 
 
Not everything has to make sense.  Even if I understand what you are doing is dumb, if you can make it work I'll give you credit.  Hogan wrestles in a way that doesn't really make any sense, but he has too many good to great matches for me to hold it against him.  What he does works, and it doesn't matter that it wouldn't work for anyone else.  

I can analyze matches to death, but some wrestlers just work because they work.  Trying to figure out why every little thing matters is kind of ageainst the point.  My process is to do a first watch and to see whether or not I like a match before doing a rewatch and figure out why I did or did not like it.  There are plenty of matches I've enjoyed and thought, "wow, that was great," and then realized that it doesn't really lend itself to further analysis.  Somethings are just good because they are good, and I'm fine with that.

To me this would be fine if we were rating matches, but that's not the question GWE asks.

 

Except guys like Hogan, Tanahashi, and The Rock  made careers out of having good to great matches that don't necessarily hold up under a microscope.  I honestly think that is one of the most defining factors of the "It Factor."  Those guys have a level of in ring charisma that accentuates their positives and diminishes their negatives in a way that doesn't hold up to deep analysis, but undoubtedly works in their matches.  I also think that is why those guys' work is so polarizing.  If a guy had one of those matches I'd understand the argument that they aren't good workers.  Those guys do it over and over again, and at a certain point I felt the need to give them credit for being able to repeatedly pull good to great performances out of their asses.  I think the ultimate gauge for how good someone is in the ring is whether or not their matches are good. Most workers go in the ring, put two and two together and end up with four.  I acknowledge that there are some workers who put two and two together, and despite how often I run the numbers in my head, come up with five.  It doesn't make sense, but that is a very valuable quality to have as a wrestler.  



#32 El McKell

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 11:01 AM

I'm not great at self-reflection but I think I sorta came to a realization about what makes a great wrestler to me that is similar to what supremebve is talking about above.

If it seems like a wrestler is doing the right thing but the match as a whole isn't enhanced by it, I'm pretty sure it's not actually worth anything. If it seems like they're doing the wrong thing but it doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the match then it wasn't really the wrong thing. How good the end product is is what matters to me not so much the process. 

This doesn't mean simply saying A had better matches than B and therefore is a better wrestler because I have been thinking about the opportunity to have good matches, mostly in terms of the quality of opponents but also in terms of length and positioning of the match.

This has sorta turned into a ramble about what criteria am I using to form my list.

Who knows what I really learned, if anything.



#33 AstroBoy

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 11:57 AM

More than specific things, I learned that it's futile to worry too much about organization and planning.  Diving in is really the only starting point and just trying to immerse myself in as much stuff as possible.  Once I stopped worrying about where to start, what exactly to check out, etc... I was able to start making a lot more headway on previous blind spots. 

 

Just as crucial was learning to just be true to myself.  Today I'm watching Marty Jannetty and he'll probably sneak onto the bottom of my ballot.  I loved Jannetty as a kid and I love him when I watch his matches today.  It's easy when you start trying to expand and watch a wider scope of wrestling to fixate on having a "right" or "smart" opinion and that's not really any reason to watch wrestling.  Some of my opinions fall in line with lots of other people.  Others don't and that's the whole point.  We all like different things.  That's why I'm voting Matt Borne based primarily on his Doink run.  Also why I'll probably rank Jannetty over other more highly regarded names.

 

Last thing is it's immensely easier to watch things in context.  Watching 90s AJPW in order has helped shape my opinions of that crew so much better than just Youtubing Greg Valentine and picking and choosing from those options.  After the project wraps up I'm taking a break to focus on other hobbies as this has been the most intensive wrestling heavy year of my life.  But come late spring I'm going to be ready to undertake some new deep look at something.  But yeah, context matters and it will shape how I approach my future viewing.



#34 Dylan Waco

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 12:06 PM

After reading the Kofi stuff, I have to ask Jimmy if she is explicitly FOR any of the things after the "nots" in that list.

I feel like I want to ask Dylan too, given some of the guys he champions. Or anyone really. I'd love some reasoned counter arguments to those general principles.

 

I'm not sure I agree with the way you have a lot of those framed which is fine because it is your own thing.  I'm just struggling a bit with it because I'm not sure what wrestlers I have touted who you feel run counter to your likes and are in step with your "nots."  

 

I mean I can assume that you think lucha is to cooperative and "dancy" for example.  And there is an extent to which I understand and even agree with that criticism.  But then I look at a lucha brawl and to my eyes the stiffness, grittiness and authenticity in that setting honestly decimates anything from any other style.  I can absolutely say with a straight face that I find a great lucha brawl to be like a great Mid-South brawl but substantially better and far more believable.  

 

The area where I could point to the most clear disagreement I think would be your "big selling" v. "mugging for the camera."  I don't quite get that.  As someone who has gone to a shit ton of live shows in my life, a lot of the better selling performances I've ever seen both of individual moves and total accumulated damage have been built around small moments that can be seen and felt by people up close.  Does that translate to someone in the cheapseats?  Well on the indie shows there aren't cameras or cheapseats and in that respect I think there is a special skill in small room wrestling, but even on the bigger shows I think it can if the crowd gets up for it.  By contrast I don't dislike big selling, in fact I often really love it...and then there are other times where I think it goes way to far and becomes over the top goofy and/or absurd and makes it hard for me to get into a match.  It really depends on how the tactic is deployed, I simply don't see these things as universal, and I don't think "mugging for the camera" is the description I would use for non-big selling or whatever.  Maybe I'm reading you wrong here.

 

On the offensive front I also don't believe in universals.  The 619 debate has been done to death and I get why people dislike it.  I will never in a million years understand how someone can have a strong negative reaction to that but not the stock defensive spots of Flair that to my eyes are far less believable and logical within their respective universes, but what can you do?  It's just a difference of the way we view things I guess.  In any event I think most things in wrestling are context dependent, but my instinct is to say that offense is the most context dependent of all things.  



#35 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 01:24 PM

The mugging for the camera line comes from my recent viewing of Tanahashi vs Suzuki in which that seemed to fill in for actual selling.

I think Cena might be guilty of it too on occasion.

#36 Benbeeach

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 03:39 PM

Cena also has done some of the best subtle short and long term selling of anyone in the history of the company. Nature of the beast.

I didn't learn this just recently, as I've always been this way, but perhaps had it reaffirmed, that I don't believe in absolutes. Or Universals. There is no limit to the kind of wrestling I can learn to appreciate and enjoy. Now I might be a notoriously easy judge and it doesn't take much to entertain me, but if something isn't working for me, but has worked for hundreds of, thousands of, millions of others, then it, by all accounts, WORKS. Perhaps there's talisman out there needed to unlock all the goodness behind certain styles, and I would encourage everyone to find them if they hadn't already throughout this grueling process.

I think almost every style of wrestling has those performers and matches that stand out as fantastic no matter what stylistic idiosyncrasies bug even the most  staunch viewer. Plenty of lucha, shoot style, european, american indy, deathmatch, joshi for dummies workers and matches. There's just simply been too much good wrestling from all over the world, of all kinds to just summarily dismiss because it does or doesn't "check one of my boxes"

But that's just me, and what one does or doesn't like is inconsequential to me. 



#37 WingedEagle

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 04:09 PM

Probably quite a bit, but a few things stand out.

 

1) Action: I like my wrestling to have lots of activity.  My favorite wrestling has always been late 80s/90s All Japan.  If I were to list my all time favorite matches (coming soon - maybe), this era would produce more than that of any other promotion.  But that doesn't mean its the only way to provide bell to bell action. I'll watch Ric Flair or Dick Murdoch work a headlock for minutes on end, as long as they're active.  Wrench the hold, grind a forearm, tap a foot to keep the blood flowing.  Do something that holds my attention and forces me to engage and take note of the activity.  A hammerlock can be problematic to some, but I'll happily watch it the proponent is throwing knees at the arm or back, angling for position and the recipient comes up selling the arm as a reward for my investment. 

 

On the other hand, just because its a headlock, wristlock, hammerock, scorpion or some other hold applied for a stretch does not on the surface make it acceptable.  If this kind of matwork reaches a stalemate where there's not any effort to secure, break or improve a hold (yes, all eyes on you New Japan) then my attention will be lost.  The one big outlier her is lucha.  Big fan of the bloody brawls and there are notable exceptions to this next statement, but a lot of the highly touted mat workers don't measure up very well for me.  There is no doubt that they pull off creative and intricate matwork that is not at all laying around filling up the tank, but its a bit too cirque du soleil for me.  Just takes cooperative to a new level.  But what about juniors lying around waiting to take a big move off the top, you ask?  Yeah, that works.  I can buy that the accumulation of damage leaves someone in position to take a big move without defending themselves.  But a lot of lucha leaves me asking why a wrestler lets his opponent get away with as much as he does on the mat.

 

More to come!



#38 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 04:50 PM

If it seems like a wrestler is doing the right thing but the match as a whole isn't enhanced by it, I'm pretty sure it's not actually worth anything. If it seems like they're doing the wrong thing but it doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the match then it wasn't really the wrong thing. How good the end product is is what matters to me not so much the process. 
 

 

This is what I'm trying to say a lot of the time, so thank you.



#39 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 05:44 PM

I thought this thread needed more of this picture.

tumblr_n94bi9XQFM1sdqajoo1_400.gif

I am actually going to read it properly now from the start.

#40 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 05:56 PM

Sorry Steven. Its not about logic to me. Logic is a tool. Selling is a tool. Spots are tools. Physical ability is a tool. Blood is a tool. Stiffness is a tool. Jim Cornette at ringside is a tool.
 
Working smart is using the tools on the table efficiently and effectively to maximize the potential meaning of everything that happens in the ring. 
 
I would add "in order to achieve a specific purpose" at the end of that sentence (or "in order to create a greater whole" works as well, or hey, "in order to achieve a specific purpose and to best build to a greater whole"), but that's something I'm still working out and I can see if other people care about that less.
 
And if anyone wants to get more clarification, ask me in 2017. I'm good for now.


I still think this way of looking at things comes out with Mr Fuji vs. Chief Jay Strongbow as the best match of all time. And if that is the case, surely something has gone wrong. In terms of "efficency and effectiveness", I cannot really think of a match that touches it.




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