First of all, before I get into this, I should say that what works is usually what’s best when it comes to wrestling. Indeed, whether it is booking or matches, if it gets over…then it is what should have been done. I have said this before and I am sure that I will say it again, pro wrestling should be analyzed more on a reactive than a proactive basis because the goal of wrestling is to get over. If something gets over than it’s good. If it does not get over, then it needs some tweaking at least and it should be overhauled at most.
With all of the above said, there is part of me that takes issue with Dave Meltzer’s claim that if it gets over, that’s all that matters. I want to point out that I am complete agreement with him if we are talking about drawing money, as long as it is not unethical…then if it draws money or ratings…then it is all that matters. I am not so sure about that position when it comes to a match. It is something that I would have to think more deeply about.
I’ve heard Meltzer debate this with Jim Cornette and there is part of me that agrees with the latter that making a mockery of wrestling is dangerous even if the match gets over. Of course, the Young Bucks in general, Joey Ryan’s penis gimmick and infamous matches featuring Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are examples that go to the heart of the argument. I would argue that wrestling styles in general should be included when looking at this argument (ie: are there some styles that keep people from taking less seriously).
While I am not sure where I stand on this argument, one thing to keep in mind is that if wrestling styles get people booked and help them make money…then it is tough to argue with what the wrestlers are doing. On the other hand, another important thing to keep in mind is that some things can go too far. A prime example of that is Lio Rush no-selling a powerbomb off a ladder through a table. That is one of those things that whether “it worked” or not, probably should not be happening.
I’m all for throwing away wrestling conventions in the pursuit of getting over and making money, but there are some things that if they are encouraged keep wrestling from even being wrestling. As subjective as I think wrestling is (outside of acknowledging what works and what doesn’t), I do believe that we need to have some standards.
I was thinking about whether or not someone else should just win the Elimination Chamber match because of the (well-documented) problems that Reigns has in getting positive reactions from the crowd. My ultimate opinion is that they should just go with Reigns. There is nothing they can do about the crowd reaction in general, maybe they can turn some people around before, during and after Wrestlemania, but as I said in general it is going to be what it is going to be for now. The issue is that there is no one else that has so much momentum that they would have to go away from what has been their plan for years and certainly for the last year.
I know Braun Strowman is very popular. I personally am a big fan of Strowman. There are several issues with Strowman though.
Issue number 1 is that I don’t think he is over enough for WWE to change their one year plans. If they were going to “go with Strowman”, he should have just won at No Mercy. He is borderline over enough. If management (meaning Vince) decided to go with Strowman over Reigns, I would not argue it…I just would not do it. I would like to see a little more in terms of some kind of metrics that show Strowman could be a draw with just one more push towards the top (meaning winning the Universal Title at WM).
Issue number 2 is that while Strowman is popular, I would contend that a great deal of his popularity is based on his destroying things and beating up Roman Reigns. Those are two easy ways to get over. I would think that there are diminishing returns to breaking things and lifting things every week. He also cannot beat up Roman Reigns every week either…I mean he could, but then it just becomes a meme. I would need to see a little more before I change my long-term plans one month before the end of those plans materialize.
Issue number 3 is related to issue number 2, Strowman is a limited performer. He is great at what he does and what he is asked to do. Moreover, he is charismatic. At the same time, in this era in order to avoid backlash, there probably has to be a bit more. It would be great if the day came where someone had so much charisma that he or she could be a big draw and become accepted by fans even with limitations. I am not sure that Strowman is that guy. I just think that there could be push back against a main event push for someone who by most standards is not a great worker nor a great promo. I believe he benefits a great deal from the fact that Roman Reigns is seen as the chosen one. I am not certain that Strowman’s popularity would survive that perception.
No one else in the chamber (including any of the four who may be added to it on Monday’s Raw) is even close to being an argument in juxtaposition to Reigns. Even if the idea was to turn Reigns heel (which is something that I want to get into another time), I would probably just do it at Wrestlemania at this point or the night after.
In short….screw it. Do Reigns versus Lesnar. You’ve come this far…time to see it through. See what happens with Reigns as a long-term champion.
I have to go back to this idea that fans have an obligation to boo the heels. I disagree with it so much that I have to say something even if it comes off as repetitive. For this I will use the Miz Test.
The Miz Test is simple (I should note that I named it after the Miz, but it could be any heel). The hypothetical example is if the Miz is wrestling Seth Rollins, Finn Balor or real. y any other babyface and you as a fan want the Miz to win, then you should not boo him. It’s not real heat if you are only booing him because you think you are supposed to. I hesitate to say “should not boo him,” because I believe fans should be able to do what they want. At the same time, booing a heel just because that is the role he or she plays is something that I would argue does not really help anything, which is especially true now.
In this era where WWE says any reaction is a good reaction, booing a heel just because he or she is a heel only hurts the performer in this sense….who knows what WWE could have on their hands if fans reacted viscerally at all times. WWE may be casting the next big babyface as a heel, when they could have the next merchandise-selling money drawing babyface.
I have made this argument before, booing a heel just because that performer is a heel is as meta as cheering a heel because you think he or she is a good performer. Any reaction where the fan has to think is meta, which is actually the basis for the flawed argument that heels should be booed.
Ultimately, it is like a PWTorch.com writer said (not Wade Keller, he is too close-minded and stuck in what wrestling was to see what I am about to say), heel heat that does not lead to drawing money is almost useless. I won’t say completely useless because the appearance of a strong heel-face dynamic does at least sound good. At the same time, it does not really help, especially today when fans are so dispassionate about heels. Indeed, heels today get boos because fans are trying to help (the point of this post) or because the fans do not want to see the wrestler and are booing to express their satisfaction or because the heel does something cheap that the fans are obviously going to boo. People are so concerned about cheers and boos that they are settling for boos that are not really heat.
My wish is for all fans to react naturally and then the company’s response to that will likely lead to better numbers. One thing, I am not saying that a really strong face-heel dynamic will not draw in wrestling. What I am saying is that people are confusing boos for heat and the former is not going to lead to uptick in business. In fact the former in today’s wrestling is more of a sign of indifference than emotional connection to the product.
In my first post for this blog, I mentioned some wrestling characters that I have commonalities with. Since then I have started watching New Japan Pro Wrestling and that has introduced me to more characters that remind me of who I am in real life. This post will be naming some wrestlers (including those in NJPW) who remind me of…me.
Why? Anti-authority, felt/feels like he does not get enough respect, not afraid to say what he thinks of someone.
Why? Well, I don’t drink…but I am anti-authority. I also do not care for most people.
Why? Brooding, angsy, can be emo, feels rejected by society.
This is the guy. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I wish I was more like his character…I kind of am. When you look deeply into his character, he never stopped caring about acceptance, he just acts like he does not care. The WrestleKingdom match shows that he does still care…just like I still care. That does not mean he is not anti-authority because he is (just like me). That does not mean that he does not lack effort at times when working on lower-leverage situations because he does (just like me). That does not mean he is not still angry about being rejected by his society because he is (just like me). That does not mean he does not like to have fun because he does (just like me).