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


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#21 pol

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 10:29 PM

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.

 

One thing the All Japan guys were good at is graduating their timing of kickouts to reflect the amount of damage received. When a guy kicked out at 2.9 it meant something, and the announcers let you know it - listen for "nitenkyu!" :)

 

This seems to be something largely overlooked by guys following them, many of whom think it's all about kicking out at 2.9 after any big move.

 

As an aside, I'm always amused by fans (and there seem to be a lot of them) that list with amazement the amount of stuff kicked out of when talking up how good a match was. It's like, you do know it's a work, right?



#22 joeg

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:42 PM

The over the top epic in AJPW I think really started with the Tiger Driver 91. From there the head drops just got worse and the moves got crazier. The really excessive epic match that comes to mind was the gonza bomb match. I mean fuck Misawa is spiked vertically straight down onto his head, and then kicks out, That I thought was the peak of AJPW excess. 

 

In NOAH I thought the peak of excess was Kobashi's title run. At some point in each match he had to take the craziest bump in the history of wrestling.  I shudder just thinking about some of them.

 

On the indies I think early 00s was actually really good. Everybody was trying to emulate Battlarts and 90s NJPW juniors, so it wasn't totally excessive. By the late 2000s, nobody who was worth watching 5-10 years earlier was still on the indies. Then  indie style became more flippy and over the top as opposed to the hard hitting Battlarts wannabe indie style popularized by Danielson, Ki, Joe, Corino, etc. So it went from the biggest draw on the indies when I started watching indy wrestling being American Dragon vs Low Ki  to Kevin Steen and El Generico doing crazy stunts and building forts out of furniture. That was the point I stopped following the indies closely. Now I'd guess the top draw on the indies are super flippy guys who intentionally go for the meta like the Young Bucks or Mike Bailey. I will give the Young Bucks credit for being "good workers" in the old carny sense. If you mean a "good worker" is somebody who is able to milk a "mark" out of as much money is possible, the Young Buck do that better than probably anybody I've ever seen on the indies. 



#23 Microstatistics

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:52 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.

Strongly disagree, those finishing stretches are nothing like some ROH main events or something like Shawn vs. Taker WM25 where the "greatness" resides with the finisher kickouts and artificial drama like overdramatic selling. The greatness of the finishing runs of Kobashi vs. Misawa/Akiyama is based on classic storytelling and the nearfalls play into it rather than becoming the main focus.

 

3/1/2003 - About whether Kobashi can recover from ramp tiger suplex unlike previous big matches between the two where Misawa managed to hit a big move that permanently turned the tide. Nearfalls show his growth and how Misawa eventually realizes he has been surpassed. Also the way Kobashi slowly regains his senses was out of this world great selling.

7/10/2004 - About how Kobashi's resilience forces Akiyama to changes strategies and play into Kobashi's game of trading high impact offense (the way Misawa used to beat Kobashi and Kawada). Also the nearfalls at the end put over Akiyama as the strongest challenger yet.



#24 joeg

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 12:31 AM

Piggy backing on the previous posts- while I do believe the finishing run and the bumps to the floor in the those matches were excessive (tiger suplex off the ramp, exploder from the top rope to the floor!!) those matches were the culmination of epic feuds. Misawa vs Kobashi was a title feud so it didn't have as much heat. What it did have was all sorts of call back spots to previous matches. It cemented Kobashi as finally firmly surpassing Misawa, making him the #1 draw in Japan, if not the world, at the time. 

Kobashi vs Akiyama was a former tag partners turned mortal enemies fued. It was either the first or second NOAH show where Akiyama cracked his then mentor and tag partner Kobashi with a vicious chair shot. This feud had 3 or 4 singles matches, and dozens of tags and 6 mans over the course of 4 years. That match was the culmination of everything Burning vs Sterness. While the crazy, excessive, finishing stretch makes Akiyama look more competive against Kobashi that Misawa, which made him the #2 guy sort of, a win like that at the Tokyo Dome could have potentially brought Akiyama to Kobashi's level. Instead Kobashi dropped the title to Rikio and NOAH has been a dumpster fire ever since.



#25 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 12:53 AM

When people say things like "the storytelling was key in Misawa/Kobashi, the kickouts just added to it as an expression of the story" I just...like, that is exactly how I would describe Shawn/Taker or Hunter/Taker. People acting like they were kicking out of moves in a vacuum is preposterous in the extreme to me.

 

I think the only real difference is whether you as a viewer buy into the story and buy into them kicking out. If you do, it's a masterpiece. If you don't, it's bloated wanking. Lots of you don't care for Shawn/Taker so the kicking bothers you, but I don't think the excess in itself is any more or less excessive than something like Misawa/Kobashi or Davey/Elgin.

 

I remember watching something like Kobashi/Akiyama 2004 and thinking it was ridiculously excessive and a kickout fest. I wasn't invested in any story that was there, so the kicking was all I saw.



#26 Microstatistics

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 01:08 AM

When people say things like "the storytelling was key in Misawa/Kobashi, the kickouts just added to it as an expression of the story" I just...like, that is exactly how I would describe Shawn/Taker or Hunter/Taker. People acting like they were kicking out of moves in a vacuum is preposterous in the extreme to me.

 

I think the only real difference is whether you as a viewer buy into the story and buy into them kicking out. If you do, it's a masterpiece. If you don't, it's bloated wanking. Lots of you don't care for Shawn/Taker so the kicking bothers you, but I don't think the excess in itself is any more or less excessive than something like Misawa/Kobashi or Davey/Elgin.

 

I remember watching something like Kobashi/Akiyama 2004 and thinking it was ridiculously excessive and a kickout fest. I wasn't invested in any story that was there, so the kicking was all I saw.

That is fair, it is a matter of perspective . I will say though that even though I don't like Shawn/Taker WM 25, I thought WM 26 was excellent with Shawn wrestling desperately and incorporating a lot of his past opponents offense to beat Taker. The kickouts all made sense, like after the second SCM where Shawn realizes he can't beat him. It parallels Kobashi/Akiyama 2004 for me actually with Shawn and Akiyama trying different things to win but eventually realize they can't overcome their opponents but are defiant to the end (Shawn with the gesture, Akiyama forcing Kobashi to bust out his ultimate finisher). Davey/Elgin is pretty bad though.



#27 Dylan Waco

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 01:21 AM

My memory of Taker v. Shawn two is that it was carried by Taker's selling, but I havent' seen it in years.



#28 El-P

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 01:49 AM

My memory of Taker vs Shawn two is that it was the same match as the previous year, only with more banged up participants and even more complacent and lazy and the self-conscious epic scale. I haven't rewatched it since it happened, but I thought it was a"good" match then, although any match that reaches for epic and ends up "good" should be considered a failure.



#29 MoS

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 01:50 AM

There is a very famous online reviewer with a book out whose criteria once upon a time - haven't read him in years - for a great match was "total number of nearfalls". As in, more the nearfalls, better the match was the rule of thumb. To me, that school of thought and the people who adhere to it - and quite a lot do - are the reason why "self-conscious" epics exist; they are targeted to that group. I may hate Shawn, but he can work a great match with almost no nearfalls if he wants to; Mind Games is a prime example of that. But he is smart about how he wants his legacy to survive, burnish and perpetuate, and he chose to do those matches.

Then again, Jimmy is right when she says that it is a matter of investment. I love Austin and prime Rock, so I mark out like crazy whenever I watch the WM 17 main event, despite the fact that it probably has more nearfalls than HHH-Taker, a match I loathe. I will say that the logical reason for those nearfalls in WM 17 was that it was a story of how Rock had caught up to Austin, making Austin paranoid and making him agree to a Faustian deal. But I am sure such arguments can also be made by fans of HHH-Taker.

#30 fxnj

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 06:21 AM

Maybe Cena/Rock WM 29 would be a better example of the self-conscious epic than these Undertaker and Kobashi matches? It's pretty much a textbook example of 2 guys who think kicking out of finishers is the key to an epic match and I haven't seen anyone defend it as much more since they barely even sell the cumulative damage.

#31 blueminister

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 09:26 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.

 

 

In fairness to Cole, this isn't a novelty.  "ANDHEGOTHIMNOHEDIDNT" was Vince's got-to move as an announcer.  He even took it to hilarious lengths when he somberly began to eulogize Hulk Hogan's career mid-Earthquake splash.



#32 The Russian Daydream

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 04:56 PM

There was a programme on a few years back called James May's 21st Century or something and in one of the films, he looked at artificial intelligence. One example featured was how a computer had been programmed with Beethoven's style of composition and then commanded to write a piece of music. When the computer's composition was played back, it did sound like a piece of classical piano music. When played back-to-back with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, though, it became apparent that although the computerised piece had all the hallmarks of Beethoven's work, it definitely lacked the 'feel' of the true classic.

JVonK's original question here reminded me of that film because, for me, many of the 'self-conscious epics' of the last decade, partularly the Undertaker vs HHH and Michaels matches, have felt like someone has programmed the key features of what a huge, wrestling classic should contain into a computer and asked it to design a match. The big AJPW epic encounters of the 90s however have a much deeper, more human 'feeling' about them. It's something that is impossible to exactly put your finger on, or put into words what the real difference is, because it's beyond words. It is just something that is just there.

#33 Jingus

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 05:58 PM

When people say things like "the storytelling was key in Misawa/Kobashi, the kickouts just added to it as an expression of the story" I just...like, that is exactly how I would describe Shawn/Taker or Hunter/Taker. People acting like they were kicking out of moves in a vacuum is preposterous in the extreme to me.

That's a good point.  One thing that matters is I think Shawn is great at milking those kickouts and timing them to a ridiculously perfect fraction-of-a-second level.  Doing a bunch of kickouts is simply a tool; the skill in execution comes in deciding when, where, and how to kick out of things.  
 

 

Then again, Jimmy is right when she says that it is a matter of investment. I love Austin and prime Rock, so I mark out like crazy whenever I watch the WM 17 main event, despite the fact that it probably has more nearfalls than HHH-Taker, a match I loathe. I will say that the logical reason for those nearfalls in WM 17 was that it was a story of how Rock had caught up to Austin, making Austin paranoid and making him agree to a Faustian deal. But I am sure such arguments can also be made by fans of HHH-Taker.

Another thing is that Austin/Rock was simply wrestled with much more energy and intensity than Trips/Taker.  Austin and Rock rarely had any downtime in their match; even the most heavily-sold moves only kept them down for like ten or fifteen seconds, tops, before they were up and going to the next spot.  And those two guys in their prime were brilliant enough in their planning and pacing that it never felt like they were no-selling or prematurely blowing off the previous spot just because they had Stuff To Do, every action grew organically out of whatever had just happened before.  

 

In comparison, Trips/Taker was fucking slow.  They'd stall, pose, circle, do a staredown, and then do one move and sell it for the next minute straight.  That's a big part of the "self-conscious" style in my mind, when they take forever to oversell every spot as if it were the greatest thing that ever happened.  Diamond Dallas Page used to be bad about that in his shittier matches, he'd do a couple of regular spots and then be crawling around and gasping for air as if he was in the final stretch of an hour broadway.  It's hard to act like a tombstone-to-pedigree reversal is the most amazing spot of all time when it's sloppily done at half speed, as opposed to Shawn's much more fluidly-executed spots with Taker in their matches.  Shawn's botches tend to look crisper than Hunter's cleanest-hit spots.  

 

The big AJPW epic encounters of the 90s however have a much deeper, more human 'feeling' about them. It's something that is impossible to exactly put your finger on, or put into words what the real difference is, because it's beyond words. It is just something that is just there.

I'll put a finger on it: it was the first time people were wrestling that style.  Nobody had ever really done the house style of "hit a BUNCH of patented finishing maneuvers, and you never know which one will finally end the match" before.  There had been isolated incidents of wrestlers occasionally doing that for a big match, but it had never been done so commonly that the audience had come to expect it as the regular way things were done.  Misawa & Co. basically invented that entire genre of wrestling, where the crowd was hyper-educated about each different wrestler having half-a-dozen different moves which were proven capable of pinning the other guy.  

 

In comparison, the American matches of the 21st century feel like a wannabe ripoff because they are a wannabe ripoff.  They're copying the style, and often missing a bunch of the important details about how and why the All Japan guys did what they did.  "Big moves and kicking out at 2.999999" is cool and all, but you're missing the other hundred nuances that made King's Road into what it was.  



#34 goodhelmet

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 07:57 PM

You should list the hundred nuances of the Kings Road style as an exercise.

#35 Jingus

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 09:00 PM

1. Fighting spirit
2. Sell by pulling up your tights after getting dropped on your head.  

3. Punches are treated like low blows, low blows don't exist.  

4. Fighting Spirit~!

5. An elbow strike is more likely to pin you than a Tiger Driver.  

6. Only pussies and rookies submit.  

7. LOL at the idea that titles should be defended every thirty days.  

8. No, you can't just call in sick on the days you gotta work Hansen.  

9. FIGHTING SPIRITO~!

10....................



#36 MoS

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 09:05 AM

I think Jingus makes a good point about the selling of those HHH-Taker matches. Many people think of no-selling when y comes to modern epics, but the ridiculous exhausted over-selling is also something that irritates me. In a weird way, I think that is round-about no-selling; Triple H getting up, grinning, giving Taker the tombstone, and then both of them lying on the mat for 10 minutes after that takes me out of my suspension just as much.

#37 Grimmas

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 09:35 AM

I think Jingus makes a good point about the selling of those HHH-Taker matches. Many people think of no-selling when y comes to modern epics, but the ridiculous exhausted over-selling is also something that irritates me. In a weird way, I think that is round-about no-selling; Triple H getting up, grinning, giving Taker the tombstone, and then both of them lying on the mat for 10 minutes after that takes me out of my suspension just as much.

Watch Survivor Series 96 where Bret sells exhaustion from being in a battle, but doesn't actually no sell any moves or anything. It can be done right, what Triple H and Taker did was not right. Well, at least not good.



#38 World's Worst Man

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 09:51 AM

I think Jingus makes a good point about the selling of those HHH-Taker matches. Many people think of no-selling when y comes to modern epics, but the ridiculous exhausted over-selling is also something that irritates me. In a weird way, I think that is round-about no-selling; Triple H getting up, grinning, giving Taker the tombstone, and then both of them lying on the mat for 10 minutes after that takes me out of my suspension just as much.

 

Senseless double selling is something I've been noticing a lot in the stuff I've been watching lately. A guy is in control, hasn't been hit by anything recently, hits a move and they both sell. The double selling should be used during a transition, but it seems like in a lot of cases it's just another shortcut used to create drama.



#39 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 09:54 AM

My least fave modern WWE trope is the endless waiting around for certain finishers to hit. It's another one I blame on HBK: namely, his "winding up" of the sweet chin music.

Fucking awful trope.

#40 Loss

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 12:05 PM

Any spots that require setup shouldn't be done.






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