Jump to content


Photo

The self-conscious epic in AJPW vs. The self-conscious epic in 00s WWE / indies


  • Please log in to reply
81 replies to this topic

#1 JerryvonKramer

JerryvonKramer
  • DVDVR 80s Project
  • 11324 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 05:46 AM

Dylan wrote a thing about Kenta Kobashi and Shawn Michaels. He said that one reason I was rejecting the comparison was because it might force me to self-reflect a little too much.
 
I think at the heart of that comment was a critque of 90s AJPW from Dylan that says something like "it's not all that different from self-conscious 00s WWE and indie stuff that YOU Parv criticise and rail on!"
 
I could be reading it wrong, but I think that's what he was getting at.
 
I am musing on this, but I thought it might be an interesting thing to ponder: what in your view are the differences between the huge matches between Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi and so on, and the 00s wank-a-thons that I hate so much?
 
A few considerations:
 
1. Are there differences between the 00s WWE main event epic style and the 00s indy Daniel Bryan style. If so, what are they?
2. What are the differences between 90s AJPW and those two styles?
3. Why DON'T criticisms that can be drawn against 00s WWE main event style also apply to 90s AJPW or 00s Indy style?
 
Hopefully some interesting stuff will come of this.
 
As for me, currently, I don't know the answers. And I'm thinking about the questions.

#2 El-P

El-P
  • Members
  • 8859 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:02 AM

Since I basically coined the term "self-conscious epic", let's me just say that you can't apply it to All Japan in the 90's, because pro-wrestling became totally self-conscious when the indies tried to emulate puroresu for all the wrong reasons as a reaction to the mainstream US promotions (much like ECW emulated Puerto Rico and FMW a few years before, with different effects).

 

The indies like ROH are the product of tape-trading "smart mark" wanting ***** matches, which to them was symbolized by All Japan style which hat this point had already derailed into head-dropping galore. But it was just an organic stylistic evolution over there. A bad one, but I doubt there was much thought about "Ok, Dave Meltzer gave us ****3/4 in last months Observer, how can we top that ?". Self-conscious epic is different from "let's try to have the best match possible". Self-conscious epic comes from a "let's get the snowflake" mentality which goes along the "this is awesome" chant, by that I mean, not try to have the *best match you can have together* but try to have the *best match the smart marks audience wants to see*. The whole nearfalls galore which had a meaning in All Japan became just another gimmick in the indies because it was totally self-conscious.

 

That mentality, I'm not sure how, got up to the big leagues, and WWE made it its own with the infamous formula of : kicking out of finishers, using the opponent's finisher and kicking out of it etc... which in the eyes of Meltzer and smark marks raised on the indie mentality was "the way to get snowflakes". Then you get Shawn Michaels and Taker not simply working the *best match possible* and steal the show like they would in 97, which of course was done in pure consciousness, but they work a match that is using the formula of "self-conscious epic" with the notion that exchanging finishers and kicking out of it until the audience either vomits or loses their shit is the only right way to go (and make a Mania Moment tm).

 

I have honestly no idea how things evolved in Japan since I really didn't follow it as it went, but it seems like it was more organic into excess since it evolved that way since the mid-90's. I might say that the US indies probably had a bad influence on Japan too when they got to work over there, as showed by the ridiculness of the junior matches involving guys like the Young Bucks, or the pure cosplay match that Samoa Joe worked with Kobashi. So in a way, I think the boomerang got back to Japan too, sadly.

 

But talking about "self-conscious epic" like I envision it about All Japan 90's is like applying a 20th century concept and applying it to the 19th century, with no regard for historical context. Self-conscious (and meta) pro-wrestling is a product of the smark mark culture and really was born in the late 90's.



#3 JerryvonKramer

JerryvonKramer
  • DVDVR 80s Project
  • 11324 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:06 AM

Since I basically coined the term "self-conscious epic", let's me just say that you can't apply it to All Japan in the 90's, because pro-wrestling became totally self-conscious when the indies tried to emulate puroresu for all the wrong reasons as a reaction to the mainstream US promotions (much like ECW emulated Puerto Rico and FMW a few years before, with different effects).
 
The indies like ROH are the product of tape-trading "smart mark" wanting ***** matches, which to them was symbolized by All Japan style which hat this point had already derailed into head-dropping galore. But it was just an organic stylistic evolution over there. A bad one, but I doubt there was much thought about "Ok, Dave Meltzer gave us ****3/4 in last months Observer, how can we top that ?". Self-conscious epic is different from "let's try to have the best match possible". Self-conscious epic comes from a "let's get the snowflake" mentality which goes along the "this is awesome" chant, by that I mean, not try to have the *best match you can have together* but try to have the *best match the smart marks audience wants to see*. The whole nearfalls galore which had a meaning in All Japan became just another gimmick in the indies because it was totally self-conscious.
 
That mentality, I'm not sure how, got up to the big leagues, and WWE made it its own with the infamous formula of : kicking out of finishers, using the opponent's finisher and kicking out of it etc... which in the eyes of Meltzer and smark marks raised on the indie mentality was "the way to get snowflakes". Then you get Shawn Michaels and Taker not simply working the *best match possible* and steal the show like they would in 97, which of course was done in pure conscious, but they work a match that is using the formula of "self-conscious epic" with the notion that exchanging finishers and kicking out of it until the audience either vomits or loses their shit is the only right way to go.
 
I have honestly no idea how things evolved in Japan since I really didn't followed it as it went, but it seems like it was more organic into excess since it evolved that way since the mid-90's. I might say that the US indies probably had a bad influence on Japan too since they worked with them, as showed by the ridiculness of the junior matches involving guys like the Young Bucks, or the pure cosplay match that Samoa Joe worked with Kobashi. So in a way, I think the boomerang got back to Japan too, sadly.
 
But talking about "self-conscious epic" like I envision it about All Japan 90's is like applying a 20th century concept and applying it to the 19th century, with no regard for historical context. Self-conscious (and meta) pro-wrestling is a product of the smark mark culture and really was born in the late 90's.


Thanks El-P, this is similar to what I probably think about this too.

It comes down to a question of authenticity to me.

#4 Loss

Loss
  • Admins
  • 43471 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:10 AM

There is no in-ring talking or playing to the hard camera in the best All Japan matches. There are no mythmaking video packages set to pseudo-classical music that won't let the match speak for itself. The stuff in the opening minutes often matters. They don't do spots on announce tables. The execution and fundamentals are so much better. There is absolutely nothing in All Japan that I can even begin to compare to the nightmare that is HHH-Undertaker at Wrestlemania 28. 

 

In the end, most great matches build drama in a similar way, and "big" feeling matches across all genres are fairly similar, even if we can point to some differences. I don't see the WWE style as bloated at any point, really. It's just that they are too naked about their intentions to make history and entertain the fans, rather than win a title or kick someone's ass. I think that's what is meant by self-conscious -- the difference between a match where the manipulation is so controlled and obvious, and a match that feels like it escalates in an organic way. We all know WWE can't help but be heavy handed.

 

As for the Kobashi-Shawn comparisons, Shawn with Kobashi's offense would make him an all-time elite worker, so that's not a point that bugs me too much. The biggest difference between the two is that Kobashi is likeable.



#5 ohtani's jacket

ohtani's jacket
  • DVDVR 80s Project
  • 5724 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:11 AM

I really only skimmed over the argument, but I believe Dylan was referring to the late 90s where things started falling apart for All Japan. Specifically, he mentioned the 6/99 Misawa/Kobashi match. 



#6 El-P

El-P
  • Members
  • 8859 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:18 AM

I really only skimmed over the argument, but I believe Dylan was referring to the late 90s where things started falling apart for All Japan. Specifically, he mentioned the 6/99 Misawa/Kobashi match. 

 

It was just the style evolving into more and more excess. It was a bad thing, but it was purely stylistic. I don't think they were aiming at a "This is awesome" chant from the Budokan crowd. Of course they did it consciously, but it was more about escalation than anything else.

 

You could argue that a self-conscious epic style was born in Japan with Noah as they had that heavy AJ heritage that they tried to built on and couldn't think of any other idea than make every match an absolute epic, which couldn't work once the workers were not the four pillars anymore. But I'm no expert on NOAH at all, although I've seen about every big title match until the mid 00's.



#7 GOTNW

GOTNW

    save all japan pro wrestling

  • Members
  • 1891 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Croatia

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:36 AM

Early NOAH has nothing to do with that. You could argue for it once they put the belt on Kobashi but he (like Danielson) had his own formula that worked to a great degree.

#8 ghost

ghost
  • Members
  • 17 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:56 AM

One thing I dislike about the indies in particular is that often times they just feel inauthentic. I hated Joe/Kobashi, not just the match but the crowd and presentation. I don't want to see Joe cosplay an AJPW big four. I don't want to see Davey Richards cosplay his favourite wrestlers from when he was a kid etc. To give an analogy, there are plenty of heavy metal bands today aping Slayer or whoever, and whilst technically proficient, they feel kinda like tribute bands and I want the real deal. I hate the self-consciousness of it because it just feels like they're pretending, there's a certain level of mock-"irony" even.

 

There's also a big drop off point in AJPW, the late '90s stuff is worlds apart in terms of quality from what they were doing in the early part of the decade. They really descended into mindless excess.



#9 ohtani's jacket

ohtani's jacket
  • DVDVR 80s Project
  • 5724 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 07:02 AM

There's a big drop off in all Japanese pro-wrestling in the late 90s. The wrestlers were damned if they did and damned if they didn't. They couldn't maintain the status quo and the audience weren't going to accept a minimalist aesthetic, so bigger and better became the mantra. Blame the promoters/television execs for not drawing new talent to upset the apple cart. 



#10 fxnj

fxnj
  • Members
  • 491 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 07:40 AM

In NOAH the self-conscious epics were more something that worked their way into the juniors matches in the mid-2000s due to American influence rather than anything you ever saw from the heavyweights. Example would be the 2005 KENTA/SUWA match, which starts out great with some awesome SUWA heeling before forgetting about that getting into a bunch of near falls for the finish just to make it epic.

#11 stomperspc

stomperspc
  • Members
  • 475 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 07:52 AM

I think it boils down to some wrestlers imitating aspects of pro wrestling that they know have worked before without a full understanding of (or maybe just not caring) why those things worked. 90’s All Japan and head dropping is a good example. 90’s All Japan worked for a lot of reasons. The fact that guys took suplexes are their necks was a relatively small part for most of that run. That stuff was used to supplement and to get over big moments. When it became commonplace and excessive towards the latter part of the decade and into the 2000’s, that is not-so-coincidentally when All Japan fell hard. But I think that detail gets missed a lot. The most often imitated stuff from any style is usually the stuff that is the obvious, surface level stuff. That stuff gets picked up and (unfortunately, I guess) fans/critics/promoters have lent credibility to the notion that they are doing the right things by praising those matches.

 

So to me it is not so much a mentality issue. I think wrestlers can decide that they want to “go for 5-stars”, accomplish their goal, and have a good match that doesn’t come off as self-conscious or inauthentic. I think there have been matches like in the last 5, 10 or 15 years. The issue is not one of intent, but execution. When wrestlers think they can have a heavily praised match just through big offense, lots of kick outs to the point the match comes off as inauthentic rather than naturally dramatic that’s where the problem is. It is about wrestling a match that feels natural and creates drama rather than feels put on and forces a sense of drama through shortcuts or tricks.



#12 Laz

Laz
  • Members
  • 385 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 10:40 AM

To give an analogy, there are plenty of heavy metal bands today aping Slayer or whoever, and whilst technically proficient, they feel kinda like tribute bands and I want the real deal. I hate the self-consciousness of it because it just feels like they're pretending, there's a certain level of mock-"irony" even.


Spot on analogy, especially with how many of those influenced miss the point entirely and focus on the superficial layers.

#13 Loss

Loss
  • Admins
  • 43471 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 10:50 AM

I remember when the great false finishes were not about what was kicked out of, but rather the timing of them -- he kicked out of a finisher vs he got out of that one at the last millisecond.



#14 El-P

El-P
  • Members
  • 8859 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 10:59 AM

I remember when the great false finishes were not about what was kicked out of, but rather the timing of them -- he kicked out of a finisher vs he got out of that one at the last millisecond.

 

Indeed. It doesn't matter one bit today in WWE though, thanks to the infamous Michael Cole "For the win/championship !" call, which has spread to NXT too BTW.



#15 goodhelmet

goodhelmet
  • Admins
  • 18952 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:07 AM

Just watched HHH vs Daniel Bryan on rewatch last night for the DA podcast. It is the very Antithesis of a Self Conscious epic. It's all why it is probably HHH ' S best match.

#16 Matt D

Matt D

    4:40

  • Members
  • 10257 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:09 AM

Just watched HHH vs Daniel Bryan on rewatch last night for the DA podcast. It is the very Antithesis of a Self Conscious epic. It's all why it is probably HHH ' S best match.

 

The one HHH match that feels shorter than it actually is.



#17 jdw

jdw
  • Members
  • 8040 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 04:11 PM

I really only skimmed over the argument, but I believe Dylan was referring to the late 90s where things started falling apart for All Japan. Specifically, he mentioned the 6/99 Misawa/Kobashi match. 

 

I would agree that All Japan had a feel of self-conscious epic mode not later than some big matches in 1997. One could argue that it happened at times earlier than 1997. In the other direction, it was there later in 1998 & 1999. Some of us were critical of it at the time, though we used different terms in trying to express it.

 

There's a fine line between what we viewed as self-conscious epics in the 00s and 10s and All Japan's growing "top this" and "escalation" and "bloat" in the second half of the 90s.



#18 Zenjo

Zenjo

    Lost in Time

  • Members
  • 2142 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:England

Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:40 PM

The key difference is the audiences they're performing to. Wrestling fans used to go to shows and allow the performers to entertain them. Sure they let their feelings be known, but they didn't think they could do their job better than them. In 00's ROH and 10's WWE the fans tell the sports entertainers and bookers what they want them to do and give feedback. In 90's AJ any 'self-conscious epic' aspect was the aim to top what they had done before. It wasn't done with snowflake accumulation in mind.

#19 Bierschwale

Bierschwale
  • Members
  • 1059 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 08:02 PM

I find the idea of Kobashi not wanting to win the Best Bout Award kind of insane, I'll be honest.



#20 pol

pol
  • Members
  • 818 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 April 2016 - 10:15 PM

I can definitely see this said of Kobashi's ace run in NOAH. Particularly the 2003 Misawa match and the 2004 Akiyama match. The stretch runs consisting of huge bomb -> 2.9 -> both guys lay around selling like death -> repeat are kind of at the centre of the "self-conscious epic" to me and a huge negative influence on all wrestling going forward.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users