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How do you factor in agents/trainers when evaluating wrestlers?


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#21 Loss

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 11:01 AM

Is the wrestler good or bad? That requires some degree of knowledge beyond just watching, I suppose, depending on your outlook.

Is the match good or bad? You can answer that question by just watching.

#22 Slasher

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 11:21 AM

I do agree that it is hard to properly credit the agents or producers backstage for a good match because the information is usually not available to the fans, however the reality is that at this point the wrestlers are more like just actors who plays a role in the match, with directions coming from those in the backstage area. I also think there is a correlation between there being a lot of solid matches nowadays and the power of planning matches being stripped from wrestlers and given to the agents. I think there are a lot of wrestlers in WWE, males and females both, who we think are good, because they have the benefit of having someone there with the wrestlers to help merge both the overarching storyline and the in-match story being told in a way that makes sense (for the most part). Wrestlers are no longer required to call the matches so those who can are just luxuries that the WWE doesn't utilize very much in the way they used to be.

#23 El-P

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 11:50 AM

I think there are a lot of wrestlers in WWE, males and females both, who we think are good, because they have the benefit of having someone there with the wrestlers to help merge both the overarching storyline and the in-match story being told in a way that makes sense (for the most part).

 

Agreed. Which is why I'd say that by default, most of the WWE-only workers are overrated by default. Unless they go work in a different context where everything is not as micro-managed, there's no way of knowing what they are really able to do outside the context of machine. I'd argue that Kurt Angle became a better worker in TNA. Ditto Christian Cage. That's from current viewing experience.

 

Is the match good or bad? You can answer that question by just watching.

 

 

True. But we can't ignore what we know about the context (ie : the agenting, for instance Pat Patterson putting Hogan vs Warrior at Mania 6 together and them rehearsing it) and the workers in question from other matches or simply verified informations (like Flair & Steamboat calling it in the ring, but also having worked a hundred times together, or Savage and DDP laying it in advance and getting the best matches ever out of super limited guys in the process)

 

Then again, the match being good/bad is very subjective. Meanwhile, a match can be poor but one of the guys involved can be clearly responsible for it sucking, while the other still has a good showing. From there, you can point to positives and negatives about each worker, the match itself being less important in putting out an evaluation.

 

And then again, all of it is from an outside perspective, where only matters what is produced. The production itself we could not give a shit about, which is where stuff like people loving to work with Kane or Randy Orton comes from, despite the fact it doesn't matter in the end result, seen from the audience's perspective.

 

So yeah, what do we know...  ;)



#24 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 04:35 PM

 

We dont really know the inner workings of any creative endeavour. All we can do is judge the final product.


This sounds like Great Match Theory.

 

 

I can't remember if I was for or against Great Match Theory. 

 

People can appreciate different aspects of the finished product but if I'm enjoying a match because of a wrestler's technique, for example, I never think about how it felt to be the guy he was wrestling. Just like I never think about how many takes it took to shoot a scene or whose idea it was to shoot something a certain way. Those things would be interesting to know but I don't think the people involved want you to know them. 

I think you can judge a wrestler by how consistently good they are. Whose stuff always looks good? Who always gives a solid performance? That sort of thing. Personally. I just like whoever I like at the moment but just like there are actors who can give good performances in bad films or with lousy scripts there are ways to judge wrestlers regardless of pre-production. I get the point about the modern worker and the new requirements they're faced with but even in that context surely it's possible to gauge who does a better job of working the agent style than others.

The original point about Kim may have had as much to do with her not adjusting to the WWE house style as it did any failing on the production side. How many times did we see someone jump ship to the WWE and struggle to adjust to the wrestling style? In some cases it took them years to learn how to wrestle the "WWF way."

 

Anyway, this is all very complicated. I like the guys who wrestle well and make interesting faces.



#25 cheapshot

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 01:56 PM

 

 

I don't. Wrestling is about execution.

 
You don't think there's a huge difference of talent between a guy who's able to execute a script and a guy who's able to put his own match together or even call it in the ring ?

There is but since we arent privy to the details of how matches are put together most of the time, I can only call what I see.

 

 

Even if you know you're comparing Apples to Oranges if you're comparing a New Japan match vs. a WWE match based on one having no agent layout / input vs. one that you know does? 



#26 Loss

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 04:37 PM

Yes. 



#27 WingedEagle

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 06:37 PM

 

 

 

I don't. Wrestling is about execution.

 
You don't think there's a huge difference of talent between a guy who's able to execute a script and a guy who's able to put his own match together or even call it in the ring ?

There is but since we arent privy to the details of how matches are put together most of the time, I can only call what I see.

 

 

Even if you know you're comparing Apples to Oranges if you're comparing a New Japan match vs. a WWE match based on one having no agent layout / input vs. one that you know does? 

 

 

Yes, doubly so when we don't have the knowledge of (1) an agent's impact on a given match, much less match to match, or (2) how management/talent may override of ignore the agent.  Not to mention that the wrestlers are responsible for what they do in the ring.



#28 Loss

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 06:40 PM

We dont know all possible things. Therefore, I try to consider only the things that can be known about every match.

#29 fxnj

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 09:39 PM

I think one thing which really doesn't matter for this argument, however, is what other wrestlers feel unless we can make a connection between those feelings and the footage, positive or negative. Do we care whether Lance Storm was a light touch with a chair if the chair shot looked terrible and took away from the match? I don't blame him for not wanting to hurt someone but I do blame himself for letting himself be talked into doing a spot that he can't actually execute both safely and while looking good. Do we care if wrestlers liked working with Brody because he never got winded when the stuff he was doing with that wind was often crummy both in layout AND execution? On the other hand, if someone's a light touch but his stuff looks great or if he has amazing cardio and does amazing things with it, I think maybe those could be useful things to know. If someone's a heavy touch and his stuff looks good? Well, maybe that's good to know too. But it's how WE use it to judge; that's the point. As viewers, we don't inherently judge wrestling/value skills of wrestlers the same way other wrestlers do and nor should we. 

I can't get on board with that. You could say there's four distinct audiences that wrestlers have to perform for. You've got the other wrestlers in the ring, the management, the fans supporting the promotion, and then the fans watching on tape from a distance. We are that fourth group, so I understood why we would be included to prioritize that sector, but I also don't think those other three should be discounted as they are really far more important. A lot of workers place great pride in making their stuff look good without actually hurting the other guy. Bret Hart pretty much sees wrestling as being about making it look like you're hurting someone without actually doing it. It seems wrong to just discount that simply because it doesn't have much effect on how much matches entertain us, or because some guys' stuff might look a tad soft at times even though it works fine for the fans at the time. Brody is a weird case and I think we could easily have another thread devoted to him about why is there is such a disconnect between us and those other three audiences, but I do think he is definitely an example of why you need to take into account things besides just taped matches.

 

To me, great matches were the starting point, not the ending point. You come out of a great match and then think "Ok, I felt like this was a great match. Why?" 

Taped matches are a piece of the puzzle, but they are far from the only piece and a very blurry one as well. I would argue that great matches are not even a starting point. They're a dead end. When you try to look at a wrestler solely based on their matches all you're doing reviewing a bunch of matches that happen to involve the same guy in extremely vague and generalized terms. It's impossible to escape great match theory when you're restricting yourself to taped matches as the criteria.  To me, the GWE and GME projects are basically the same game, with the difference that the ruleset for GME is a lot better. There's people who might not have an issue with using great match theory and even enjoy talking about wrestling in those vague terms, but I think it should be stressed that if you do use great match theory you are merely evaluating matches and not wrestlers.

 

 

First of all, I don't really get how ranking wrestlers is like ranking dishes just by looking at each dish. Wrestling is supposed to be consumed just by looking at it. Fans aren't supposed to have a deeper experience than that. I don't see how that ties into the food analogy. When you see some article like "We tried every major fast food burger--see which one ranks best!" it never goes into detail beyond what's on the burger, how it's presented, what it tastes like. There's no behind the scenes, here's how it's made information, just the things any consumer can sense when they buy it.

That argument applies to ranking matches, not wrestlers. I actually am on board with the ongoing GME project, so I would agree there. When it comes to ranking wrestlers, though, maybe chefs would be a better comparison than food. If I were to look for a chef to hire, then, I absolutely would want to know that behind the scenes information. Instant noodles are tasty but it doesn't take much skill to make them.

 

 

I joined this site during the big ranking project, and even though I didn't vote and barely made any comments I knew that there were plenty of people talking about how they weren't going on conventionally great matches and taking risks on guys who didn't have much on tape. Arn Anderson made the top twenty, didn't he? We don't have as much information as those who actually participate in the matches, that's true, but it's not like the exercise was an attempt to determine who had objectively contributed the most to quality professional wrestling in its history. If the project had been more like that and required participants to cite arguments with opinions of other wrestlers, it would have gotten a hell of a lot less participation. Probably less interest in the results too. Even then, why should I care about Chris Jericho's opinion of Ric Flair when he's never stepped in the ring with Mick McManus? No one was claiming to know more than those people. They were making the best list they could, and most people wouldn't have done so if theirs would have been the only list and their biases wouldn't have had any other ballots to balance them out.

 

You are looking at things a bit rose colored here. You got some people doing some nice work discovering hidden gems and that's cool, but, from what I saw, there really wasn't much real debate going on. Any disagreements basically boiled down to people talking past each other because that's really about all great style theory allows for. I read Shawn Michaels thread hoping to see some of his detractors breaking down his matches and explaining why his post-comeback stuff sucked and didn't even get that. The whole thing basically boiled down to people agreeing that his pre-comeback work was good, and then some saying his post-comeback stuff was great while others said it sucked. The discussion didn't seem to evolve much beyond that in the thread's many pages because, as far as I could tell, the whole thing pretty much boiled down to some people digging his brand of melodrama while others hated it. Some of the big names involved in the project have also said that it had a bad long-term effect on the the board. Stylistic preferences don't seem to be a good vehicle for serious discussion.

 

 

I think anyone could tell it was halfway between "greatest wrestler ever" and "wrestler I most enjoy watching" and that the end result would always skew towards certain styles. That can be frustrating, but judging one style as subjectively less enjoyable than another isn't a whole lot different from judging one wrestler's bumping style as subjectively less enjoyable than another's.

There definitely were people who took the thing very seriously, otherwise there wouldn't have been so much anger over the results and the project. Secondly, I think there is a big difference when one topic ends in "I like this match but not this match" while the other topics makes actual debate possible. The WON HOF takes everything into account and I find the quality of discussion and research it inspires much more interesting than anything I saw during the GWE. I don't know of any lasting grudges that came out of WON HOF discussion either.

 

 

In this case, I wonder why they dont just make every single match exactly what it should be, whether thats to be great or to accomplish a more specific goal. Why is there sometimes failure?

 

In WWE almost every single match does end up what it's supposed to be. When guys make mistakes or veer off script they get in trouble. Look at Cass getting heat for following up a big boot with punches rather than just doing a big boot and walking away for a recent example of how strict WWE is on that. From an athletic perspective, the barrier for entry into WWE is way higher than it's been at any other point in history and I think a big part of that stems from how produced the whole thing is getting and the people charge needing people who they know will be able to accurately translate their vision onto the screen. Notice that people rarely complain about the WWE in-ring product and it's generally the storytelling behind the matches that draws ire. 



#30 fxnj

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 09:57 PM

I think you can judge a wrestler by how consistently good they are. Whose stuff always looks good? Who always gives a solid performance? That sort of thing. Personally. I just like whoever I like at the moment but just like there are actors who can give good performances in bad films or with lousy scripts there are ways to judge wrestlers regardless of pre-production. I get the point about the modern worker and the new requirements they're faced with but even in that context surely it's possible to gauge who does a better job of working the agent style than others.

 

The Kane and Randy Orton example brought up before is good in getting across that things aren't so simple. These days, great matches in WWE can basically be seen as a storytelling device like any other with agents deliberately laying them out for the purpose of getting guys over. I don't think it's a coincidence that Roman Reigns's in-ring work picked up in a big way right when the company started their rocket push on him. You could say that it's the guys that the company relies on to have the most great matches are naturally the better workers, but that seems a shallow way of looking at things and you still end up with the issue that you're basically just ranking styles.

 

The original point about Kim may have had as much to do with her not adjusting to the WWE house style as it did any failing on the production side. How many times did we see someone jump ship to the WWE and struggle to adjust to the wrestling style? In some cases it took them years to learn how to wrestle the "WWF way."

Well, it seems to have been more or less impossible for a 2000's WWE divas match to end up good barring a rare miracle. I think people tend to forget the impact that hiring Sara Del Rey as a trainer had on the division. People might point to WWE's women's revolution thing and the good publicity they want from it, but the quality on the women's side had been steadily picking up for years ever since they hired Del Rey.



#31 Matt D

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 06:39 AM

I respectfully disagree with Loss and fxnj but not along lines that would necessarily lead to constructive discussion.

 

Footage is our god and we, possessors of context and learning, its profits, able to interpret it to discern the truth within.



#32 Loss

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 06:59 AM

Does truth exist?

#33 Matt D

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 07:01 AM

We define it and give it meaning.

 

One could argue that the current WWE environment actually has led to the death of truth, and I think people in this thread have occasionally done just that, but I think the discussions we have here all the time about specific matches and wrestlers say otherwise.



#34 Mad Dog

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 07:14 AM

Does truth exist?

 

In the sense of math.

 

Things that people see and remember... fuck no. Eyewitness testimony is some of the worst evidence you can present in a trial.



#35 Matt D

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:21 AM

Look, here's my background. In my senior year of college, I was in a BA/MA program. It meant I had to write a Master's thesis that year. I was getting a degree in Comparative History. The problem was this: in 2003, history had been ravaged by post-modernism. You couldn't do history with women unless you were a woman. You couldn't do history about Africa unless you were African. You had to use literary theory to examine the unspoken biases in sources. It no longer mattered what happened but how it affected movie posters twenty years later. Cultural History was basically everything. Most of that was well and good, except for two things. First, they were all initially deconstructionist and then ultimately reductionist. It became about just one of those theories or another. Really, they should have been integrating all of this back into conventional history to make a strong whole but no one was doing it. Second, I was a medievalist. I literally could not do medieval history based on those new rules and focuses because we were lacking sources. In many ways, they all sprung up because we had too many sources for modern history; we knew too much and academics had to find other ways at getting at what they already knew. I had the opposite problem. 

 

I did my research on the naval aspects of the Hundred Years' War. I didn't lead with a theory, but instead took the T to ye olde catholic institution, Boston College and sat in the basement of their library manually going through 200 year old reproductions of 700 year old "Rolls" that the king had sent out to issue fines, patents, gifts, etc. From there, I noted any time a ship or the sea came up and by the end of it, I had a pretty good sense of how Edward III raised his navy. It wasn't exactly what I was looking to find, but it was where the evidence took me.

 

I tend to look at wrestlers and matches the same way. 

 

If we continuously get run sheets which let us know the agents, great. That's a good thing, not a bad one. It gives us one more piece of data we can churn through the machine and now we can take a look at how Seth Rollins operates differently in a TJ Wilson agented match than a Jamie Noble one. Over time, we can see patterns there and we can learn something about Rollins as a wrestler. We can take what we learn there and use it as a lens to examine and analyze other matches in his career. 

 

It's not that we shouldn't listen to wrestlers when they talk about one another. It gives us other things we can look for. For instance, with Rollins, I'm going to continue to suggest he has agency and interest in putting together his matches even in a heavily agented environment. Why? A few reasons, some indirect like his indy background and long-term interest in wrestling, but also because I know from an Orton interview that it was Rollins who came up with their Wrestlemania finish and talked Orton into trying it. In that same interview, Orton talked about how generally conservative he was in the ring, which is something that we can go back and look for in his matches; and also the reason behind, for instance, his babyface jumping jacks, which gives us another piece of the puzzle, both in working out those matches in specific and him as a whole wrestler. 

 

We're never going to get a complete picture, but I do think we can get an ever-more complete one, and most certainly we can get an informed, meaningful, worthwhile one. I find the entire exercise far more worthwhile than just taking a match at it's bare minimum. We can do so much more than that.



#36 Mad Dog

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:31 AM

I think with agents, they interject themselves into the matches in ways that the workers can't necessarily overcome. Take the AJ/Nakamura Backlash match. I don't care how good you are in the ring, you aren't saving a match with that kind of finish. Look at how many good to great matches are tossed into the dust bin of history because it didn't have a conclusive finish or a really bad one. An agent could have 10% input into a match and if that 10% includes the most important parts like the finish then the wrestlers can only do so much.



#37 Loss

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:38 AM

My primary issue with that I think is that it suggests part of being a good worker is the ability to articulate instincts, and some are better at explaining how they think than others. That doesnt make them better. It just means they are better at explaining themselves. The ability to clearly explain the work isnt part of the job description, and their word on these matters has little or no credibility by design. (They are carnies who rarely provide unfiltered truth.)

For me, the primary goal of reviewing and talking about matches is to effectively compare any match to any match. That means finding universal criteria and sticking to it, which in this case is the performance in the ring. Is it the only way? No. But to me, a ****1/2 match in 2018 is equal in quality to a ****1/2 match in 1974. Mileage may vary for others. And because of all these limitations that can skew how we rate wrestlers, I prefer matches since they can all be treated fairly, especially if you are like me and care not at all about production values.

#38 WingedEagle

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:42 AM

My issue with a run sheet identifying agents is that at most it tells you someone else that may be held responsible if things don't work out.  It doesn't provide any understanding of the depth of an agent's involvement.  Did the agent review what the wrestlers came up with and sign off on it?  Suggest a finish or transition and fill in the gaps around that?  Provide a match time and nothing more?  I don't see any way to resolve that for matches in general, even if anecdotally we can piece together somewhat of a picture in very rare circumstances.



#39 Mad Dog

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:49 AM

My issue with a run sheet identifying agents is that at most it tells you someone else that may be held responsible if things don't work out.  It doesn't provide any understanding of the depth of an agent's involvement.  Did the agent review what the wrestlers came up with and sign off on it?  Suggest a finish or transition and fill in the gaps around that?  Provide a match time and nothing more?  I don't see any way to resolve that for matches in general, even if anecdotally we can piece together somewhat of a picture in very rare circumstances.

 

I think the value there is in volume. If we saw the next 6 months there we would know who was effecting what.



#40 El-P

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:02 AM

Off-topic :

 

Second, I was a medievalist. 

 

(...)

 

I did my research on the naval aspects of the Hundred Years' War.

 

Holy shit man. In another life (the previous century), I was a medievalist too. I wrote my Master's thesis on Normand lineages in the Celtic fringes in the XI & XII centuries.






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