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How do you self-identify as a wrestling fan?

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#81 Graham Crackers

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 04:23 PM

I was a wrestling fan as a kid throughout the 90s but I didn't become truly obsessed until the late 90s boom. When I reminisce about that era I often talk about wrestlers I loved back then and I still do now. Mick Foley was my favorite and because I was just a big fan of masked wrestlers back then I loved La Parka, Rey Misterio, Psicosis, and Juvy. I still love those guys now. Of course, I also loved the Higher Power and Corporate Ministry storylines. Last time I tried to watch those segments I kept alternating between laughing and cringing. I loved matches with lots of run ins as a kid but nowadays unless it's a really great angle and it's used sparingly it can be so fucking annoying. Plus, when I was a kid I hated every guy in WCW who didn't wear a mask or have face paint. I don't remember being aware of William Regal or Finlay until their WWF runs but I'm sure if I saw them back then I would not have liked them. Now Finlay is one of my all time favorites and Regal isn't too far behind. It's okay to be nostalgic because there has been great wrestling in every era. You just need to be honest and keep an open mind.

#82 jdw

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 04:42 PM

I think you Can compare matches / wrestlers / work across time / promotions. I don't think you Must. Can one compare Tito vs Savage from 1986 with what was going on in All Japan, New Japan, JCP, Memphis or PR? Sure. Must you? Not really. I don't know if it matters whether the best Tito-Macho is better than the best Choshu & Yatsu vs Jumbo & Tenryu... or the best of the NJPW vs UWF match of that year... or better than R'n'R vs MX from that year. Or if it's better than Austin vs Bret. Or whether Savage and Tito are better workers than those other guys. It certainly can be fun if one wants to go in for it, or enlightening if there's a good conversation about it. Is it needed? No. Don't know if that makes sense. An example: When I'm pimping WWF 80s matches, am I pimping them in a way that they're comparable to Misawa-Kawada? Not really. I think I had Rude-Warrior as my #1 WWF match in the old SmacksChoice poll. Was I thinking Jumbo-Tenryu when watching it, or typing up my thoughts, or pimping it? No. That other match wasn't relevant. I was just thinking about WWF matches, or WWF 80s matches... and I really didn't give a crap about what Flair would have done in the match rather than Rude, or what Luger did against Flair compared to Warrior. When I say it's a great WWF match, do I mean that's comperable to a great JCP match or great NJPW match? It really doesn't matter, and not the point I would want to get across at the time. It's a bit like the recommendations in the Hogan thread. We're looking at Hogan Matches. Jumbo-Kerry doesn't really matter when looking at Hogan's matches in 1984. :) I know that's not exactly your point, Loss. There are any number of ways to look at a match / wrestlers / work.

#83 Loss

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 04:44 PM

I don't disagree with any of that.

#84 jdw

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 05:36 PM

So ... I guess there are two questions here:

1. Accepting the idea that people have this sort of [wrestling origins] "soft spot", to what extent does it actually form your view of what wrestling should be like? I mean, you've got to get your benchmarks and expectations from somewhere right?

I'm not sure if "what wrestling should be like", "benchmarks" and "expectations" are quite the right fit for me. Along those lines, perhaps different shades.

I got into pro wrestling at the age of 20 in 1986 thinking it was entertaining. Never saw it as more than that, and it was pretty good stoner fun. I was entertained by three things:

1. Good matches
2. Good mic work (Flair and Cornette)
3. Good angles / storyline

Was there an expectation that wrestling needed to have those things for me to enjoy it, or an expectation? Not really. When I got into puoresu in 1989, it was just matches. There wasn't mic work, and storylines/angles weren't exactly akin to Baby Doll turning on Dusty.

Was there any expectation / benchmark on what made for good matches? That's hard to say. It's not like I expected all tag matches to be worked like MX vs R'nR and be Southern Tag format... as if I even know what the hell that was at the time (or if people within the business even gave a shit at the time about that term). MX tag matches were just "good", Road Warrior tag matches were "less good", and the stuff I watched later in the 80s was "different good". It's not like I had an expectation that singles matches should be worked Flair-style.

Specifics of "good"? Perhaps some. I like a match that had good action, that moved things along... if I could go back I'd probably recognize that I like matches that if they were going long balance working up and down rather than just laying around for 10 minutes to kill time. Since the guys who almost always had good matches that I likes were heels like Flair and the MX, I got to appreciate the aspect of heels making faces look good... and in turn liked the faces who would make the heels look good such a Barry rather than the faces who gobbled up heels like the Road Warriors.

But did it give me an expectation of liking wrestling only when heels screwed over faces? Not really. I actually at the time wished that Flair could win a few more matches since that Hogan champ guy in the other fed won all the time. :)

On things like mic spots... Flair and Corny were good, while Paul Jones sucked and Boggie Woogie bored the shit out of me. Did that make me like heel talkers? Not really. Rich playboys? No. Pampered rich children like Corny? No. Heels talking shit that faces would payback against? No. They just were terrific talkers, either funny or serious, doing a good job of talking up the feuds / matches, and really competent in doing their spots. Since then, I've liked guys who are good on the mic (Austin, Rock, Foley). Doesn't really matter if they're face or heel. Even with them, there were a ton of times over the years where I thought Mic wasn't entertaining and didn't care for some of his shit. Hell, I hated Flair on the mic after he turned into Hyper Ric. So it's not a style or method... it's just "good". Akin to what I'd like out of acting in movies or TV, regardless of genre: play the role well, if I give a shit about the role.

So it's more general: I like pro wrestling, what I like most in pro wrestling are matches, I also mic work, and I like angles/storyline. I tend to like what I find entertaining/good. In the end it revolves around matches because that's what I want to watch most: given me a match that I'll enjoy. Does it have to fit into a type or benchmark? Not really. Hokuto-Kandori isn't Flair-Barry, and MX vs R'n'R isn't Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue. Other than...

They were all "good" to me.

2. Can you ever really turn your back on the thing that brought you to the dance?

Sure. If I never watch another 80s Ric Flair match in my life, I'd be perfectly fine.

That doesn't mean I won't ever watch another Flair match. I'll have to run across his stuff when watching every AJPW match I can get my hands on from 1972 through the split. He'll pop up when I watch stuff with Yohe and Hoback. But...

I don't find Ric's stuff fun or entertaining anymore. I don't think they're horrid, or bad, or fail to see them as quality matches. It's not a revisionist thing. They just don't entertain me at all like they did in the 80s.

On the other hand, I still love the MX & Corny when I come across it.

Even if we expand this to "Ric's style of wrestling"... bumping stooging heels... they aren't a benchmark for what I look for in wrestling, and never have been. I don't hate them, and can appreciate Patera's selling and bumping in 1980 reflecting what looks like a good bag of things learned from his time in Mid Atlantic. But I don't seek out Flair type of workers. I pretty much have shat all over Hennig's work in the WWF as boring the crap out of me. I never liked heel HBK as a worker as much as most hardcores do.

Ironically, I prefer watching 80s Hogan match now to 80s Flair matches... and I HATED Hogan in the 80s, and there's no benchmark or expectation from watching Flair matches that I'm applying to liking Hogan matches.

So... yeah... odd.

It's actually similar to the original question of the thread. There's an attempt to put a label on us / ourselves. I kept coming back to the simple:

I'm a wrestling fan / big wrestling fan.

We went around in circles on it, with some feeling the same way, and some feeling the need for something more.

On this one, I'm entertained by good wrestling. My origin story is that I found what hit me as good entertaining wrestling. It shaped me in the sense that I found it, and then over the years have found more of it, a ton of it that isn't very similar to what originally sucked me in... other than I found it to be good and entertaining to me.

#85 Matt D

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 08:03 AM

I think there are elements that I am drawn to in every match and it comes down, in the end, to "good, consistent storytelling." But I'm not a robot. That's just one element of one element of pro wrestling. I will say this. I've been catching up on NXT and I just saw the promo for the april show where Dusty books four title matches and the fact that they called it Clash of the Champions made me outright GIDDY. Just seeing that on the screen.

#86 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 10:12 AM

I am not sure that anyone is actually disagreeing here, even though it seems like it.

Consider these two statements from myself and Loss:

(2) A great match is a great match. If I call something great, it's not something I think it's great for its time, or great for the people involved. A four-star match in 1980 is a reasonable comparison to a four-star match in 1996. Styles change, but if you strip wrestling down its most basic elements, all versions of pro wrestling basically set out to do the same things -- connect with the audience and encourage a suspension of disbelief. The tools and techniques for getting to that point may change across time periods, cultures and wrestlers, but they are all ultimately trying to get to the same end goal. Any wrestling that isn't aiming to do those two things is not wrestling I am really going to connect with all that much.

By that I mean, when watching AWA, you have to judge it by AWA standards, NWA by NWA standards, Lucha by Lucha standards and so on. That's not to suggest that one "standard" is above or better than the other, just that there's no point in trying to evaluate the thing outside of its own context. I was talking to Chad and Brad about this recently when they did their debate about ratings. For me, each set of ratings is contingent within the promotion itself. So like, an AWA **** match is "4 stars within an AWA context". But that's worth the same as 4 stars from any other company, if that makes any sense.

I don't know if we're all that far apart in what we're ultimately saying, but it seems like we're getting there in a different way.

Enjoying reading people's responses to these questions.

#87 efrim

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 11:25 AM

I'm new around here, this seems as good a place as any to write a formal introduction. I was born in '84 and started watching wrestling via my grandpa sometime around '89 - probably had my peak as a pure childhood fan around 94. Had my first live show that year which was Summerslam '94. Grew up in Chicago and during this time it was a pure WWF diet for me. I had kind of seen Sting and Vader just from around, but I wrote off WCW as a second rate show thanks to childhood reasoning that largely revolved around a lack of ice cream bars. I was pretty devoted to renting VHS PPV tapes from blockbuster video, so I had a much better knowledge of the preceding boom era WWF than anybody else I knew. The first show I ever watched was my grandpa's VHS copy of Wrestlemania IV, and while that's a pretty lackluster show, its somewhat fateful because Savage is my all-time favorite and at no point has ever been less than a top 5 guy for me. Was able to watch on a much more consistent basis in 1996 and became a devoted Monday Night Wars watcher. Kind of rapidly became a prototypical "smark" type fan as I went deeper and deeper. Got really into ECW sometime around their 2nd or third PPV and did my only real tape collecting to get older ECW stuff. After the Invasion angle I became a much more casual fan and mostly got burned out on the intense vulgarity of WWE around that time. Combined with a lack of wrestling fan friends, I felt pretty alienated from the form. Really dropped off the map as a wrestling fan from 2004-2010, watching raw maybe about once a month if I felt like it. Since 2010 though I've had a really enjoyable renaissance as a wrestling fan that I mostly ascribe to the internet. Between the availability of video and the ease of finding likeminded fans on twitter and other blogs/social media, its just an easy time to be a wrestling fan. I joined up here after being impressed with the breadth of knowledge on the pro wrestling culture podcast. At this point I've done some reasonable dabbling in stuff like puro, old nwa, old memphis, modern indies - but its pretty negligible compared to the level of discussion here. I feel like for the most part I've gone as far as I can go with the WWF sanctioned version of wrestling history and I need a community like this to get to the next level as a fan. I've enjoyed what I've seen from the board so far, looking forward to more.

#88 kewf1988

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:36 AM

I don't know if this warrants a new thread and it's only sort of related to the topic of this one, and I am not sure entirely how to put it into words but ...

Can you ever truly shed your wrestling origins?

For example, one of the sort of "knocks" that often gets flung my way on this board is that I tend to filter everything through the prism of the late 80s / early 90s WWF product. I'm pretty sure some people here might even think of me as some sort of die-hard apologist for that era. True, it's usually from people who don't listen to the two podcasts I put out (one on NWA, one on an earlier period of WWF), but still -- the perception is there that "this guy sees things from this perspective ... and therefore [insert conclusion here]".

Leaving aside the issue of whether this is or is not true of me (not a very interesting topic), I want to scrutinise that train of thought a little bit.

There are people here who I've come to know who definitely have "soft spots" which usually happens to be the promotion in which they had an emotional investment as a mark kid. For Will it's mid-80s NWA and maybe Watts. For Johnny Sorrow it's early-mid-80s WWF. For khawk and Smack2k it's probably AWA. For other dudes here it'll be the early 90s, for others still it's the attitude era.

So ... I guess there are two questions here:

1. Accepting the idea that people have this sort of "soft spot", to what extent does it actually form your view of what wrestling should be like? I mean, you've got to get your benchmarks and expectations from somewhere right?

2. Can you ever really turn your back on the thing that brought you to the dance?


I'll have a bash at answering these questions myself:

1. The view I've developed myself over the past couple of years is that to a certain extent, you have to be a kind of relativist watching wrestling from different promotions.

By that I mean, when watching AWA, you have to judge it by AWA standards, NWA by NWA standards, Lucha by Lucha standards and so on. That's not to suggest that one "standard" is above or better than the other, just that there's no point in trying to evaluate the thing outside of its own context. I was talking to Chad and Brad about this recently when they did their debate about ratings. For me, each set of ratings is contingent within the promotion itself. So like, an AWA **** match is "4 stars within an AWA context". But that's worth the same as 4 stars from any other company, if that makes any sense.

So what I've tried to do when watching footage from different places is establish NEW benchmarks and expectations per territory.

A lot of the time then, I'm mainly looking to judge matches against other matches from within the same sort of timeframe and within that promotion. So if I'm watching a match from 1979 WWF, I only really want to consider other matches from around then. I'm not going to start trying to compare Patterson vs. Backlund to Jumbo vs. Tenryu 89. I don't really see the point in it.

So for myself, even though my "soft spot" will always be 88-92 WWF, my benchmarks in terms of evaluating matches are almost never coming from there. In fact, my benchmarks switch according to what I'm watching.

I'm interested in this because I wonder if Loss, for example, with his "yearbook-style" watching switches up his criteria relative to context in this way or whether he has more "absolute" benchmarks.

2. I honestly don't think you can. Or at least, personally, I won't turn my back on the shit that first got me into wrestling. It goes back to the first post I made in this thread over 2 years ago: I don't like smarkiness, or the point of view that sees "work" as being the only game in town.

A lot of the time, that means I'm going to be batting for Vince's goofy crap: I dunno fucking Dino Bravo doing bench presses, or Jesse Ventura shitting on Uncle Elmer's wedding. I'll defend it time and again, and argue that such "crap" was instrumental in making fans of millions of people.

This was a bit of an incoherent ramble, but keen to get anyone else's take on any of this stuff.

My "soft spot" would be 96-97 WCW, 2000 WWF, and 2005-2006 TNA.

The common theme of these eras? Great workers... WCW then had Benoit, Eddie, Finlay, Rey, Chavo, Jericho, Juvy, Psicosis, Kidman, Ultimo, etc. along with the big names I saw on TV when I was real little (Hogan, Savage, Sting, Flair, Piper, Luger, Duggan, Bossman, DiBiase, Hennig, Steiners, Heenan, Okerlund, Jimmy Hart, etc.), and 2000 WWF had Benoit, Eddie, Jericho, and Angle in the midcard and the Hardys, E&C, and the Dudleys dominating the tag division, while The Rock was the top face (and also a good worker).

05-06 TNA, most notably the D'Amore era, is different in that it was still in my early days as a smark, and that time was probably the peak of anybody who can do a moonsault being labeled as a good worker online. Being a young smark and 17 years old, I was pretty easily influenced. While that era still easily holds up, I was one of those who thought the Canadian Destroyer was the coolest thing ever regardless of who was doing the actual work, thought Lance Hoyt was one of the best big men in the business because he did a moonsault (on the contrary, I was one of those who thought Cena couldn't wrestle then, until he had a watchable match with Khali), thought Elix Skipper was one of the best in the X Division because he did the hurricanrana off the top of the cage and had cool finishers, and even marked out for Sonjay Dutt's sprinkler move. In those days, if you did cool moves in the ring, you got my seal of approval. I still am a fan of "moves" matches like those of the X Division in its prime (the work of the likes of AJ, Daniels, Joe, Sabin, Shelley, Aries, Lethal, and Low Ki still holds up very well for me today as a 29 year old), though I'm more aware of psychology and storytelling now and have been for a few years. So I do agree with you in that it's very hard, if not impossible, to turn your back on what made you a fan, especially if it made you a diehard fan.

As for being a relativist, I rate matches the same for every promotion. If the AJ/Joe/Daniels series happened in the early 90s, the matches still would have gotten the same ratings, and the same would happen if the Sting/Vader series took place today. Good matches are good matches regardless of the time period they took place in. Both of those series would feel different in the other's era, but with a knowledge of psychology and storytelling (not just seeing AJ, Joe, and Daniels as guys who do cool moves and nothing else, and not just seeing Vader as a fat guy) and an appreciation of all styles, I'm pretty sure they'd get similar recognition for being the classics that they are.

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