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Is there a better way of critiquing wrestling than focusing on matches?


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#21 Grimmas

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 11:30 AM

This is why the old DVDR workrate reports were perfect. Simply one section for what worked, one section for what didn't.



#22 El-P

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 12:55 PM

This is why the old DVDR workrate reports were perfect. Simply one section for what worked, one section for what didn't.

 

I kinda agree with this. That's why it was fun to read and seemed unpretentious too. That's basically what I was doing in my WCW Highway to Hell thread and my TNA stuff too for a while, although it was not divided in two. But yeah.



#23 Microstatistics

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 12:57 PM

For me almost all of pro wrestling's greatness lies in the matches/in ring work. Being able to play characters, tell stories etc all through non-verbal "fake" fighting in the ring.

 

I have never been high on the angle/promo driven stuff in US wrestling. They can be effective in initially setting up a feud but then too much emphasis is placed on random skits and on talking in general. Intensity, hatred, arrogance etc. can easily and clearly be presented in matches, non-verbally. Far too much talking for my taste. The only real exception might be the Funk-Lawler Empty Area match but I consider that to be a match.

 

Same with comedy which can be organically incorporated into matches like Yoshiaki Fujiwara or Negro Casas are able to do. Don't need to dedicate huge amounts of time to tangential segments of comedy. I don't mind pre-match interviews though.

 

So for me the better the matches, the better the wrestling.



#24 Mattsdmf

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:00 PM

I really love this discussion.  I find that many different approaches to discussing and dissecting wrestling will be very helpful.  I don't like to use any kind of rating scale when viewing whole shows like when I'm watching SMW, ECW, Memphis and such.

 

I think one of the only programs you could dissect like a typical TV show is Lucha Underground.  It seems like most episodes have an overall arch including the matches.  It will be interesting if they or someone else could even evolve the format even further.



#25 Grimmas

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:05 PM

The problem with giving the whole show a grade or even a match or angle is those are individual chapters in a larger story.

 

The issue in wrestling is that each match is a chapter, but a TV show or PPV make up a variety of chapters of different books.

 

Summerslam was filled with final chapters, second chapters, sixth chapters, ninth chapters, etc... how would you even go about grading a book if it contained a variety of different chapters from different books inside of it?



#26 Loss

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:16 PM

I look at a card as being like an album and a match as being like a track. Most album reviews don't walk through each track, so I don't think most show reviews need to walk through each individual match. Of course, if a match warrants the review, that's fine.



#27 GOTNW

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:20 PM

We're never moving away from the music comparisons are we? -_-

 

The only album a wrestling show can be compared to is a compilation featuring different acts for every track and just typing that out screams trying too hard.



#28 Grimmas

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:20 PM

I look at a card as being like an album and a match as being like a track. Most album reviews don't walk through each track, so I don't think most show reviews need to walk through each individual match. Of course, if a match warrants the review, that's fine.

The issue with that is that songs don't usually have previous released songs or poems or books written before hand that make that song either worse or better.



#29 overbooked

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 03:17 PM

The problem with giving the whole show a grade or even a match or angle is those are individual chapters in a larger story.
 
The issue in wrestling is that each match is a chapter, but a TV show or PPV make up a variety of chapters of different books.
 
Summerslam was filled with final chapters, second chapters, sixth chapters, ninth chapters, etc... how would you even go about grading a book if it contained a variety of different chapters from different books inside of it?


That complexity is what makes the focus on matches so understandable, yet also so inadequate as a way of articulating how wrestling works.

#30 Loss

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 04:16 PM

We're never moving away from the music comparisons are we? -_-

 

The only album a wrestling show can be compared to is a compilation featuring different acts for every track and just typing that out screams trying too hard.

 

No, we're never moving away from the music comparisons. And all are under the auspices of the promotion's banner, so to me, it's the exact same thing. WWE is the band and Summerslam was the album featuring band members AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, John Cena and Brock Lesnar, among others.



#31 Loss

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 04:17 PM

 

I look at a card as being like an album and a match as being like a track. Most album reviews don't walk through each track, so I don't think most show reviews need to walk through each individual match. Of course, if a match warrants the review, that's fine.

The issue with that is that songs don't usually have previous released songs or poems or books written before hand that make that song either worse or better.

 

 

It's the job of the review to point those things out where they happen. Lots of music is greatly enhanced by understanding the political climate in which it was produced or the artist's personal history, so I think it works.



#32 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 05:32 PM

So, are we missing a trick just viewing wrestling through its matches? And how else could we construct a critique?

 

 

People don't just view wrestling through its matches, though. A lot of people focus on workers, others focus on promotions, TV shows, and entire years or decades worth of footage. It seems to me that there is already plenty of variety out there. 



#33 GOTNW

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 07:09 PM


We're never moving away from the music comparisons are we? -_-
 
The only album a wrestling show can be compared to is a compilation featuring different acts for every track and just typing that out screams trying too hard.

 
No, we're never moving away from the music comparisons. And all are under the auspices of the promotion's banner, so to me, it's the exact same thing. WWE is the band and Summerslam was the album featuring band members AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, John Cena and Brock Lesnar, among others.
But you don't have different band members perform on each track, especially not the way wrestling operates. It would be more similar to having a music festival and each match represents one act.

I think there might be something to this point though. You can connect the songs on the album and make them feel like one entity and you can do this in wrestling too by intertwining the promos, matches and segments. Or just combine things completely unrelated to one another and mash them into one. The biggest problem here is that comparison really only fits the model of US TV wrestling. The big shows are supposed to be the pay off and are thus more like a greatest hits album. But if the matches become too similar (like in PWG) watching the whole show is a chore. Still I know *my* opinion of the matches isn't any different when I watch one vs when I watch five in a roe because I only watch five in a row if I feel like I really want to and aren't doing it just to finish the show. There's also the question of whether or not this model of big shows should change in a post-PPV world. How matches are perceived on their own vs as a part of a show would also be an interesting discussion on its own.

#34 Parties

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 09:19 PM

So, are we missing a trick just viewing wrestling through its matches? And how else could we construct a critique?

 

And would this lead to a greater variety of wrestling writing? While there is some great wrestling writing out there, it feels like there aren’t that many modes of writing about wrestling. And for wrestling analysis or appreciation to take the next step it feels like the writing needs to adopt more sophisticated forms than a match review.

 

As others have noted, wrestling's discussed/critiqued in ways far surpassing mere match synopsis all the time. That said, match reviews are getting short shrift in this conversation. DVDVR/Segunda Caida were/are match reviews as high art. The context of a match and date are really just a springboard for talking about wrestling however the writer is capable of tackling it. Even the bell-to-bell isn't a confined beginning or end point when you see the best of our peers at work. Sure, there are reviews in some places that are too focused on simply writing down the play-by-play of moves. But I likewise think there are folks here and elsewhere who prattle on with vague, needlessly obtuse theories that simply read as self-aggrandizing. When I read eight paragraph essays of why someone liked or didn't like a match via an attempt to coin capital-T Theories, I'm reminded of H.G. Frankfurt's "On Bullshit", which clarifies how bullshit is neither true or untrue, but an attempt to cloud thoughts in such word salad that they're technically irrefutable, or cause your audience to just shrug and surrender.

 

The happy medium in match reviews would be to capture what happened while contextualizing it in your own original, entertaining voice. Which many fans have thoughtfully done for decades. I'm not sure I buy that there's such a thing as a "sophisticated form" of writing, or the idea that match reviews aren't one. There are sophisticated and unsophisticated writers, and we shouldn't be fooled in either case by crayons or a quill.

 

EDIT: One last thing that I meant to add here - I do think it's a flaw in much/most modern wrestling that what happens in skits/promos/"the rest of the show" too rarely has an impact on the matches themselves. It's probably one of the more valid arguments against something like Gabe's booking, or WWE TV matches often being deemed "Autopilot", void of what gets called "storytelling": the matches don't play upon previously set-up character work in a way that would invite foreshadowing, logic, etc. Part of why you may be seeing wrestling writers struggling to contextualize matches within the shape of everything else is that most bookers aren't crafting scenarios in which the action of a match plays with the kinds of dramatic ironies (or "poetic justice" as Gorilla would call it) that make for really fulfilling moments. In the case of something brilliant like the Funk-Lawler Empty Arena Match (itself almost a hybrid or simultaneous match and angle at once), there are countless nuances to what Funk says vs. what he is, how the match is set up and executed, Lance's role, etc. It's often said that the best theater contains moments that at once feel to the audience both surprising and inevitable. You see the way a great play/episode/movie ends and think, "I never saw that coming, but of course! It could only end that way!" Pat Patterson knew what Euripedes knew.



#35 Migs

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 09:38 PM

The problem with giving the whole show a grade or even a match or angle is those are individual chapters in a larger story.

 

The issue in wrestling is that each match is a chapter, but a TV show or PPV make up a variety of chapters of different books.

 

Summerslam was filled with final chapters, second chapters, sixth chapters, ninth chapters, etc... how would you even go about grading a book if it contained a variety of different chapters from different books inside of it?

 

TV shows often have episodes where one plot is ending, one is starting, one is advanced, etc. That doesn't prevent the discussion of a complete episode. 



#36 overbooked

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 04:07 AM

 

So, are we missing a trick just viewing wrestling through its matches? And how else could we construct a critique?

 

And would this lead to a greater variety of wrestling writing? While there is some great wrestling writing out there, it feels like there aren’t that many modes of writing about wrestling. And for wrestling analysis or appreciation to take the next step it feels like the writing needs to adopt more sophisticated forms than a match review.

 

As others have noted, wrestling's discussed/critiqued in ways far surpassing mere match synopsis all the time. That said, match reviews are getting short shrift in this conversation. DVDVR/Segunda Caida were/are match reviews as high art. The context of a match and date are really just a springboard for talking about wrestling however the writer is capable of tackling it. Even the bell-to-bell isn't a confined beginning or end point when you see the best of our peers at work. Sure, there are reviews in some places that are too focused on simply writing down the play-by-play of moves. But I likewise think there are folks here and elsewhere who prattle on with vague, needlessly obtuse theories that simply read as self-aggrandizing. When I read eight paragraph essays of why someone liked or didn't like a match via an attempt to coin capital-T Theories, I'm reminded of H.G. Frankfurt's "On Bullshit", which clarifies how bullshit is neither true or untrue, but an attempt to cloud thoughts in such word salad that they're technically irrefutable, or cause your audience to just shrug and surrender.

 

The happy medium in match reviews would be to capture what happened while contextualizing it in your own original, entertaining voice. Which many fans have thoughtfully done for decades. I'm not sure I buy that there's such a thing as a "sophisticated form" of writing, or the idea that match reviews aren't one. There are sophisticated and unsophisticated writers, and we shouldn't be fooled in either case by crayons or a quill.

 

 

I'm a big fan of the DVDVR/Segunda Caida styles of writing, where while a "match review" is the leaping-off point, it is far more a general riff, or an insight into the writer/viewer, or whatever else.

 

However, I think this Gonzo-esque writing is only one direction wrestling writing can move in, and match reviews as the predominant currency for wrestling writing perhaps limits the writing styles we see. There aren't that many "genres" or "schools" of wrestling writing, and not that many truly great writers who would be an enjoyable, enlightening read whether you'd followed wrestling for five minutes or 50 years.

 

I see a "sophisticated form" to be an original, entertaining voice, and also to be a form that steers clear of capital-T Theories (although I think there is plenty of room for theory, or borrowing theories from other forms, if done right), bullshit, or whatever cloudy, vague nonsense we have all come across, and have all probably written at some point.

 

I just think there is still a lot of untapped potential in writing about pro wrestling where it is tackled from different angles, in different ways with the sort of clarity and humanity that could help us engage with the medium even more.



#37 overbooked

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 04:08 AM

 

So, are we missing a trick just viewing wrestling through its matches? And how else could we construct a critique?

 

 

People don't just view wrestling through its matches, though. A lot of people focus on workers, others focus on promotions, TV shows, and entire years or decades worth of footage. It seems to me that there is already plenty of variety out there. 

 

 

Which writers/bloggers/etc are writing well, without falling back on match reviews? I'd love to pointed in their direction.

 

If anything, this thread is a call for variety - in how we approach pro wrestling, and then, in the ways we write about it.



#38 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 05:27 AM

I don't follow wrestling writing that closely. I mainly read this site and a few others like Segunda Caida and Paul Cooke's site. I honestly care more about match recs than anything else at this stage, but even if I were interested in new theories on wrestling I don't they would be able to escape the match as the primary text. 



#39 fxnj

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 03:32 PM

So, are we missing a trick just viewing wrestling through its matches? And how else could we construct a critique?

 
And would this lead to a greater variety of wrestling writing? While there is some great wrestling writing out there, it feels like there arent that many modes of writing about wrestling. And for wrestling analysis or appreciation to take the next step it feels like the writing needs to adopt more sophisticated forms than a match review.

 
As others have noted, wrestling's discussed/critiqued in ways far surpassing mere match synopsis all the time. That said, match reviews are getting short shrift in this conversation. DVDVR/Segunda Caida were/are match reviews as high art. The context of a match and date are really just a springboard for talking about wrestling however the writer is capable of tackling it. Even the bell-to-bell isn't a confined beginning or end point when you see the best of our peers at work. Sure, there are reviews in some places that are too focused on simply writing down the play-by-play of moves. But I likewise think there are folks here and elsewhere who prattle on with vague, needlessly obtuse theories that simply read as self-aggrandizing. When I read eight paragraph essays of why someone liked or didn't like a match via an attempt to coin capital-T Theories, I'm reminded of H.G. Frankfurt's "On Bullshit", which clarifies how bullshit is neither true or untrue, but an attempt to cloud thoughts in such word salad that they're technically irrefutable, or cause your audience to just shrug and surrender.
I would be interested in some examples of what you see as word salad reviews. I seriously can't remember ever thinking of a match review as being like that.




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