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


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#41 El McKell

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 12:43 PM

Any spots that require setup shouldn't be done.

​What does setup mean here? Does this include Ric Flair getting thrown off the top rope? Dive Trains? Setting up a table to put someone through it?



#42 goc

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 01:04 PM

Yea you could take that idea to extremes and say no one should do moves off the top rope because it has to be set up by having his opponent laying down in the ring.



#43 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 03:36 PM

I specifically mean the scenario where you can clearly see one worker waiting for the other worker to hit a particular move. They stagger like they are in a video game until Shawn hits that kick or Rock hits the Rock Bottom or whatever it is. Absolutely abysmal trope. Video game wrestling of the lowest order.

A variation on this is when the guy doing the move is gesturing for the other guy to get up so he can hit their move. Bottom-drawer work of the most bottom of drawers. This trope also plagues most John Cena matches.

#44 Tabe

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 10:50 PM

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.
Bob Backlund was the king of that. In control on offense, hits a piledriver, suddenly he's dead from exhaustion. Tons of that in his MSG match against Race.

#45 MoS

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 04:52 AM

I think I might be irrationally hateful of the slow sweet chin music spot because of my utter dislike of HBK's facial expressions and selling when he is trying to show how he is exhausted and yet wants to fight. That running his hands through his hair and screaming is only slightly better than Edge's psycho shit. It is pretty striking that Hulk Hogan, someone who in so many ways was much less skilfull than both, would do the exhausted babyface trying to catch his breath and go all out spot so ridiculously better.

#46 Loss

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 06:10 AM

I mean guys setting up folding tables or spending what seems like an eternity taking a turnbuckle pad off or having to go under the ring and look for stuff or long superplex battles on the top rope.



#47 Matt D

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 06:11 AM

"Sabu-ing."



#48 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 06:13 AM

Sabu innovated the self-conscious botch.

#49 Cross Face Chicken Wing

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 07:46 AM

What makes the modern WWE self-conscious epics even worse these days is the production truck's insistence on dozens of close-up face shots throughout a match. Fox does the same thing on its NFL broadcasts and it's annoying. "These guys are stars! We need long close-ups of their face after a big first down/impactful move/near fall/turnover! The people need Tom Brady's/HHH's mug right up close on their 50-inch screens, in HD!"

 

Often, the NFL players have no expression on their faces, so it's just a dull shot. WWE wrestlers have obviously been trained to contort their faces in various ways to try and convey some type of emotion, but it usually just comes across as terrible acting and lame.



#50 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 07:52 AM

Mugging for the camera

#51 pol

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 08:01 AM

I mean guys setting up folding tables or spending what seems like an eternity taking a turnbuckle pad off or having to go under the ring and look for stuff or long superplex battles on the top rope.

 

God, I detest extended stretches of fighting on the top rope. Especially when it's to set up some unusual top rope move (usually a super finisher) that it's impossible to get into position for without looking incredibly co-operative.



#52 dawho5

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 07:12 PM

I have a lot of material for this one, so here goes.

 

All Japan once you hit mid-1997 (maybe sometime in 96 or 95?) is absolutely a series of self-conscious epics.  They are matches between two (or four) of the same five guys that had been escalating since 1993 with the exception of Akiyama.  Even guys who were friends went up against one another tooth and nail.  And the only real additions were big name gaijin like Vader and Johnny Ace as he progressed.  Hansen had been moved more into the background by this period.  So they had to keep adding more.  And making things bigger and "better."  Moves that used to put people away were now just nearfalls unless it was a very, very late use of it, probably after something much more recently added.  Submissions really lost their meaning.  It was the evolution of the earlier style of the Jumbo days into the more fleshed out "4 Pillars" style after Jumbo went, then to the more head-droppy, over the top stuff that kept on going into NOAH.  The double selling had been there in the earlier 4 Pillars work, but it was not as predominant.  It was used late in big matches once in a while at that point.  But they needed to go forward somehow.  It seemed like Taue, Kawada, Kobashi and Misawa each had their own ideas on how that should be done.  Kobashi and Misawa's methods each involved a lot of head drops and laying around.  Kawada took quite a while to embrace that style of things and I'm not sure Taue ever did fully.  Not sure Kawada willingly went over or just finally gave up on getting his way.  Either way, I'd say Kawada was the least likely of the four to rely on a lot of bombs and kickouts to build drama.  Taue was more the "sprinty" guy who liked bomb throwing, but tended to work to the bombs in ways that I really appreciate.  Misawa liked his formula and it worked.  Use the elbows to make the slow, methodical comeback and start working in the big spots for nearfalls.  And take a ton of head drops, ever increasing in big matches.  Kobashi I never much cared for the way he built matches.  Too much stuff just to keep the crowd going and popping.  That's not to say it isn't viable, just not my cup of tea.  Akiyama always had to follow the lead of those four, so his matches really became their matches.  He did well with it though.

 

There was also some talk of the nuance of the AJPW style.  I have a few to add.

 

1. Strike exchanges

 

All Japan strike exchanges were nothing like the elbow-elbow into oblivion NJPW snoozefests.  Each guy had multiple facets they brought to striking and used all of them in a given match.  Misawa relied on the elbow.  A lot.  But it was the weapon that got him the big upset against Jumbo.  It was the primary weapon in his patented long term comeback.  It KOed Stan fucking Hansen.  Twice.  I think any one of us would be going back to that well pretty often.  He had other things he used, the jumping kicks primarily.  Kawada had chops, elbows, kicks, the head pull down punts, lots of ways he would attack.  And he used the ropes enough to make things varied between the same moves.  And he had the arm psychology he used to set people up for the jumping high kick.  Block it and your arm is gonna hurt bad enough that you don't go back on offense.  Kobashi had his variety of chops, lariats, and that sweet spinning back kick/spinning back chop mix-up.  And Taue, the guy had decent enough strikes, but he also knew he was outclassed striking.  So he'd just toss guys down instead of keep up the exchange (something that Tanahashi should have developed, an alternative to throwing the elbow in return when it wasn't working).  One thing I will note is that Kawada and Kobashi would get into pissing contests with chops (and leg work).  But this was specifically against one another.  It was a part of both of their characters.  Kawada would also have brief forays into elbow contests with Misawa before he started back in with kicks because he knew he was losing.  And you add in that when big strikes started coming out as escalations, people blocked and ducked.  They didn't just eat the big move every time.  The exchanges were nuanced and they learned from them going match to match.

 

2. Move level

 

There was a heirarchy of moves and what they meant in All Japan.  The majority of the time (the TD 91 is a big exception) the move a guy started using earlier is considered "weaker" than a later move.  A big example of this is Kobashi's half nelson suplex.  For years his use of this move pissed me off.  Why was it a transition?  Because it was never used as a finisher in big matches.  It was just something he did.  Seems completely out of place, but that's the way it worked.  Problem with that system ends up being that as time went on, as Parv noted, the tiger driver became a nearfall.  And then head-droppy moves started being less and less effective.  Five or six were needed to finish a guy off.  It got out of hand due to the sheer amount of dangerous suplexes and drivers.  Misawa's frog splash was midrange offense way too soon.

 

3. Use of the floor and apron

 

Seems to me in early to mid 90s AJPW early runs of offense were very often either started or ended with a DDT or something similar on the floor.  Kobashi and Taue used this quite a bit.  Transitions were common on the floor.  Another Hansen influence maybe?  Things moved to (again) bigger and "better" with apron spots later on in the 90s.  And top rope tigerdrivers made an appearance either late 90s or in NOAH.  Thankfully Taue used the top rope nodowa mainly as a tease.  At least they were treated like death until NOAH as far as I remember.

 

4. No-Selling/Overselling

 

As mentioned above, there was the double down forever spot in 93-95.  But it was used a bit more intelligently.  And there were no-sells of big suplexes and the like, but they showed up once in a match.  Again, as we get bigger and "better" it starts showing up more often and becomes a lot more ineffective.

 

From what I have seen the modern NJPW style likes to incorporate a lot of badly done strike exchanges and no-selling.  Where the one counts on big suplexes came from I don't know.  Modern WWE main event style seems like a poorly thought out cosplay of 90s AJPW as well.  It's sort of like Undertaker and Shawn meets the 2000s indies.  Which makes a lot of sense.  I won't say that I hate the 90s AJPW style.  I still like watching the matches.  Some of them.  What I tend towards is thinking that a LOT of wrestlers and fans fell in love with it for obvious reasons.  But the imitations it has produced have ignored the small parts that made the bigger pieces fit together.  And I feel like at some point some promotion in Japan or the U.S. is going to have to achieve breakout success using a different formula for their "big" matches for there to be any kind of changes.  I still love the original style for it's highs, but I feel like it actually poisoned the wrestling industry by creating a bunch of well-meaning imitators who just don't have the understanding to pull it off.



#53 jdw

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 01:30 AM

I have a lot of material for this one, so here goes.

 

All Japan once you hit mid-1997 (maybe sometime in 96 or 95?) is absolutely a series of self-conscious epics.  They are matches between two (or four) of the same five guys that had been escalating since 1993 with the exception of Akiyama.

 

Jun's had been escalating as well. Jun's work in 1996 after moving up to be Misawa's primary partner is quite a distance beyond his 1993 work. It went on from there to his Triple Crown matches in 1997 & 1998.



#54 pol

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 03:15 AM

The "1 count where there should be a 2.9" thing was started by Kobashi during his big GHC run, I think.

 

I've been playing with the idea recently that some of the very things that made the King's Road style great also made it untenable long term. The learned psychology, the sense of escalation across matches, the way in-ring action reflected the booking and guys getting stronger and stronger as time went on... at some point you can't keep adding new stuff to the equation. I love that rigidly logical hierachy-based booking, but I think it, combined with a lack of new guys who could keep up with the style, and the desire to keep making increasingly desensitised fans pop was really their undoing.



#55 dawho5

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 04:13 AM

 

I have a lot of material for this one, so here goes.

 

All Japan once you hit mid-1997 (maybe sometime in 96 or 95?) is absolutely a series of self-conscious epics.  They are matches between two (or four) of the same five guys that had been escalating since 1993 with the exception of Akiyama.

 

Jun's had been escalating as well. Jun's work in 1996 after moving up to be Misawa's primary partner is quite a distance beyond his 1993 work. It went on from there to his Triple Crown matches in 1997 & 1998.

 

Absolutely true, which is why I separated him from the rest.  Jun had just joined the party, so to speak, in 96, where the other four had been building on prior stuff for years by that point.  Was in no way trying to undermine Akiyama, just making the point that he hit that level later than the rest.



#56 supersonic

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 02:55 AM

As the VoW honchos say, I hate it when exciting things happen in matches, especially when it tells a story of competitors pushing each other to the limit and picking up on one another's habits and arsenal.

#57 fxnj

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 05:29 AM

Glad this thread got bumped. I was watching the Negro Casas/Rush hair match the other day and struck me as odd that it seemed to get praised at the time from a lot of people who aren't high on near-fall heavy stuff like Shawn/Taker. The first half was pretty great but then it felt forced how the match just went into near fall after near fall to make it "epic" and it didn't feel like something the match needed at all. It could have been forgiven if it ended in a good finish but instead all it built to was an utter bullshit low blow finish that destroyed any good will I had left towards the match.

To me, the match highlights CMLL aping the self-conscious epic and it's far from the worst example I've seen. In the Atlantis Anniversary show matches from the last few years, for example, it was pretty much the same thing as Shawn/Taker with half the match pretty much just being move->near fall->lay around->repeat. In a way, I think big lucha matches might be the worst example of the style period as at least in the big WWE and puro matches you have guys trying to get big runs of offense and the drama of looking for their finisher instead of just trying to sell every move as a potential match ended. I'd be interested to hear what others think about these CMLL finish runs as, again, it seems odd that most of the people pimping these matches are generally not the ones who dig the style elsewhere.

#58 pol

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 12:56 PM

As the VoW honchos say, I hate it when exciting things happen in matches, especially when it tells a story of competitors pushing each other to the limit and picking up on one another's habits and arsenal.

 

Imitating the Joe Lanza approach to discussion isn't a desirable quality, my dude.



#59 supersonic

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 01:56 PM

Be ready for more of it. I change for no one.

#60 Dylan Waco

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 02:42 PM

Glad this thread got bumped. I was watching the Negro Casas/Rush hair match the other day and struck me as odd that it seemed to get praised at the time from a lot of people who aren't high on near-fall heavy stuff like Shawn/Taker. The first half was pretty great but then it felt forced how the match just went into near fall after near fall to make it "epic" and it didn't feel like something the match needed at all. It could have been forgiven if it ended in a good finish but instead all it built to was an utter bullshit low blow finish that destroyed any good will I had left towards the match.

To me, the match highlights CMLL aping the self-conscious epic and it's far from the worst example I've seen. In the Atlantis Anniversary show matches from the last few years, for example, it was pretty much the same thing as Shawn/Taker with half the match pretty much just being move->near fall->lay around->repeat. In a way, I think big lucha matches might be the worst example of the style period as at least in the big WWE and puro matches you have guys trying to get big runs of offense and the drama of looking for their finisher instead of just trying to sell every move as a potential match ended. I'd be interested to hear what others think about these CMLL finish runs as, again, it seems odd that most of the people pimping these matches are generally not the ones who dig the style elsewhere.

 

I wasn't as high on Rush v. Casas as some, so I'm probably not the guy to defend that.  What i would say is that something like the Dragon Lee v. Kamatiachi series is probably a reasonable example of what you are talking about here.  I love that stuff precisely because it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is - cutting edge, crazy, highspot wrestling, with enough learned psychology and build to make it more than just fun.  I absolutely think it's fair to criticize it along the lines of what you wrote above.  What I would say though is that the uniqueness of the way lucha uses near falls, and the nature of finishes within lucha, allows me to enjoy those matches more. 






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