The Wrestling Framework 04.28.11: What's in a Match?
Posted by Aaron Frame on 04.28.2011
This week we take a different path on the Framework. This week we will look in to the five things I look for in a match, break them down and talk about what I think a good match comprises.
Welcome wrestling fans to episode number 3 of The Wrestling Framework. This week I decided to take a different path with the Framework. I wanted to get away from the "show review" type of column. That's not what this is all about. This column is about discussing the good and bad of wrestling matches. While the promos and different segments like that are important to build up the matches and garner interest, I like to look at the wrestling itself. That's what fans tune in to see. That's where the entertainment is. That's what it's all about. So, let's take a look at the Big 5 as I like to call them and I'll discuss what they mean to me. Let's go!
This is the main staple of a wrestling match. Many people say it doesn't exist, but if it didn't exist, there would be no point to anything in the match. It would be the "trampoline spotfests" or whatever that people complain about. There's a lot to say about psychology. It's a general term, I think. It's used to explain the chemistry and the story telling ability of the workers. The power to make every little thing they do mean something. Every slam, every hold, every flip. Take HBK vs. Taker from WM 26 for example.
Everything they did was for a reason. It was all part of the story they were telling. It was 'Taker fighting for his WrestleMania streak. It was HBK fighting for his career. Both men coming in with a reason to walk out the winner. This is what psychology is all about. And that's what a lot of people seem to miss. Those big profile matches are all about the story they are telling. I know I'm being redundant, but it's really that important. Psychology is the structure of the match. It's the reason for it. And it's one of the only things that can stand alone in a match. You can have two guys who aren't as work rate heavy as others. Take people like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, John Cena, etc. They don't necessarily put on a clinic when they step in the ring but psychology is one of two things they bring to a match, the other being another of the Big 5 that we'll talk about later, crowd reaction. Take a look at Rock vs. Hogan at WM X-8. These two didn't do much in terms of work, but what little they did they put meaning behind. I'll touch more on this match more when I talk about crowd reaction/interaction.
Overall summary, psychology is important to make the match relevant to the fans. I had a discussion with a friend the other day about wrestling when he brought up how much more he likes ROH, PWG, etc. rather than WWE or TNA. But when I brought up the point that while every match has a lot going on as far as work rate and all, how much of the match is he emotionally invested in? Upon hearing that question, his opinion changed a bit because most people don't stop and think about why they're watching the match other than the fact that it's on and they're a wrestling fan.
What's Your Opinion? Is psychology important to you? Do you think that a match is good without it? Let me know what you think and I'll add it to the discussion next week.
Now here's something that lots of people rant and rave about. Work rate is good, in fact it's what most every wrestling fan watches wrestling for. But, it can't stand alone. There has been many times that I'm watching ROH and the match is phenomenal. But there's no investment from me.
A lot of people will go on and on about how awesome work rate can make a company. How if every match is ***+ as far as in ring work, it'll make everything better. And I have to agree to a point that the big stage could use some flare in their matches. To some people work rate is what makes the wrestling world spin. I have to admit that I have enjoyed a lot of matches, mostly from the indies, that have been nothing but work rate. A good wrestling match here and there doesn't hurt anything. That's what TNA's X-Division was all about. Unique work styles, but the best work styles at that. And there's so many different styles that work rate can be sub categorized in. You've got your high flyers, your luchadores, the puro, the submissionists. The list goes on. I even enjoy a good brawl every once in a while. Bully Ray is a good example of that. His hard hitting style works well because it's also adaptive. Not everyone has that though. There are some guys that stick to their style and don't try to make it work with another type of style. You can have a high flyer that works a slightly slow and some what grounded style to make the slow and heavy brawler look like he can dominate still as easily. And when he needs to turn it up, the high flyer can speed things up and look flashy and what not. A good example of this was the Bully Ray vs. Christopher Daniels match the night after The Fallen Angels return. They worked really well together and it added to the match. Others say it was garbage, but in my opinion it was good work by two veteran grapplers.
Overall summary, work rate makes a match exciting. Makes it even watchable. But it's not the end all, be all. I enjoy a good bout between wrestlers who know what they're doing and how to do it. But without a rhyme or reason as to why, it's just that, a flashy match that will make every wrestling fan ooh and aah.
What's Your Opinion? Does work rate matter? Can it make or break a match? Let me know and I'll feature it next week.
What's more important than the crowd? Very little. But the interaction of the wrestler and the crowd is monumental. This, in my opinion, can make or break a match. Ask any wrestler, the crowd reaction is legit a factor in any match. If two guys go out there ready to put on the best match of the night but the crowd just shits all over them, then it'll break the moral of these two workers and they're not going to put on as good a match as they wanted to. But if they come out and the crowd is in to every move, every action and going crazy for even every little step(it's an exaggeration, I know), then that will motivate them to do great things in the ring and indeed put on the show stealer. A a couple of good examples are Lesnar vs. Goldberg and Rock vs. Hogan. Lesnar and Goldberg were damn near booed out of the building, with good reason, and it effected the possibility of a decent match. Not even Stone Cold Steve Austin could save them from that. Rock and Hogan are actually an example of how lack of work rate can be made up by the how the crowd reacts. These two icons held the crowd in their hands and took them for a thrill ride. It was awesome.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
Sorry for all the videos, but it's best if you get a visual and audio representation to get the full idea of what I'm trying to explain.
Have you ever been to an indy show like ROH or PWG? Or even watched it on TV? How about an ECW show from back in the day? Do you remember how rabid and loud the crowd was? How they chanted and yelled and were just all out crazy and energetic? These are raw emotions that these crowds bring to the shows and it adds a lot to the shows. And take it from me, I've been to a few shows, by the end of it, you're exhausted. I remember when I went to Wrestle Reunion this last year in LA, the PWG show was INSANE! The crowd was loud and intense and everybody was yelling and it pulled everyone in to it. I was hoarse and completely worn out by the end of the show. And maybe drunk...
Overall summary, a crowds energy can motivate wrestlers to put on great matches or complete stinkers. A great wrestling match will also pull on the emotions of the crowd and really get them to invest emotionally in the match which adds so much more to it. And in the end, isn't that what most wrestlers do it for? The awesome reaction of the crowd? That's what it's all about, the fans.
What's Your Opinion? Do you think that crowd reaction matters? Can a crowd make or break a match? Let me know and it'll be featured next week.
Spots. What can be said about spots? Well, most people think of spots as these big bumps that people take. And a lot of times, too many spots will degrade a match. I view the term of spots a little differently. I generalize a lot of things in to the spots category. There's the usual bumps, the use of weapons and all that. But here's also shifts of momentum, little things like outside interference, use of big moves. I think spots really help in keeping the match fresh. And everyone loves the face in peril. But, for the sake of everyone else, I'll talk about how the big bumps can add to a match.
Bumps of all shapes and sizes can really give a match a big profile feeling. Think about the crazy bumps in a ladder match. Or the spots used in the Taker/HHH match. It all made it just that much more exciting. Everyone loves watching Jeff Hardy jump off of the highest place possible. Or the Dudleys put someone through a table. It just makes a match awesome. Most everyone wants to see that type of stuff. But, on a downside, it's something that can take away from a match too. A match with too many spots can really make it seem like it's too much. Oversaturation of spots just drags it on and makes it what's known as a "spotfest". On the other hand, there's also the chance that if the spots are spread out enough or with a change in pace and just how big they are, it can be a good match. Like the TLC matches between The Dudleys, The Hardys and Edge and Christian.
It doesn't get much better than that. This is how a match can be made by spots. But if you get to the shitty, a good example of that would be ECW or CZW. That's just over indulging in the "hardcore" aspect of wrestling. Most people in the business, mostly the older guys, think of this as shit wrestling. And most times, I have to agree. It's blood letting for the sake of blood letting. It's useless gore for rabid, blood thirsty fans and it just makes wrestling look barbaric. And there's times that even in WWE there have been times that spots have made me uncomfortable. Remember The Rock vs. Mankind in the I Quit match? And all those chair shots that Rock delivered to Mick? That was just uncomfortable for me to watch. It made the whole experience feel like I was watching a murder or something. It was just terrible.
Overall summary, spots can make a match fun and exciting, but at the same time it can make it just an overall terrible spectacle to behold. But I guess it comes down to personal preference as it does for me. Some people like the blood and bumps and overall insane spots, but others think it degrades matches and wrestling as a whole. And, I guess, it also comes down to what the wrestlers do in the ring and how they do it that could make it good or bad.
What's Your Opinion? Do you think spots make a match exciting? Do you think they make wrestling look like shit? Let me know and I'll feature it next week.
A good finish is always something that a match needs. That big blow off win for the face ending the feud. The cheap win for the heel to continue the feud. Even a time limit draw could be a good finish. But it all depends on a lot. All of the Big 5 are dependent on each other to make up the framework of a good match. And the finish is just as important as the other 4 topics. If a match ends badly, it can ruin what they just did. In my opinion, the ending of Taker/HHH was just too antic-climatic a finish for the high profile match it was. Sadly, I can't find a video that works for the finish, but I have too many videos in this anyhow.
There have been countless finishes that have been good and bad. And unfortunately, bad finishes seem to be plaguing wrestling these days. TNA and WWE seem to like the cheap finish a lot these days. Can't go one show without one. Cheap finishes should be used sparingly or they just lose their effect, which is to get the heel heat. The face just had a long fight against the heel nemesis and hits his finisher and gets the clean pin. There's a ton of great finishes that can be used for different things, but when used over and over, they lose their meaning. Who doesn't love watching someone like Randy Orton pull off an RKO from nowhere. Or Rey Mysterio suddenly jumping up and hitting some crazy move that sets up for the 619. It's all in the finish.
Overall summary, a finish is the final part of the match. Duh. And it can be a deciding factor whether all that work was for nothing or for the best finish possible. But an overuse of certain finishes can make them useless for their purpose.
What's Your Opinion? Does the finish matter that much? Does seeing the same finish over and over make it lose it's meaning? Let me know and I'll feature it next week.
It all just comes down to opinion. And this is all mine. I really want to know what other minds think and even if there's anything I'm missing that goes in to what makes a match good. I'm a fan of wrestling whether it be WWE, TNA, ROH, PWG, DG:USA, etc. I like it all. I watch wrestling for the wrestling. Not necessarily for this or that wrestler, but more for what they do in the ring. But don't get me wrong, I love promo work too. And it's just as important as the match itself. The build-up is ever so important. But I just like to focus on the main part of it all: wrestling. So email me or leave a comment and let me hear your thoughts on the Big 5 and even let me know if I missed something.
Until next time wrestling fans, always remember...