Both the Men's rumble match and the World title matches were the best of the night.
Wyatt/LA Knight match was okay but that mask.....
Wyatt vs Knight was terrible. After not having a televised match in like two years, his first back is an add for mountain dew. The Uncle Howdy spot was bad too. Didn't look even a little like he actually hit him or that there wasn't a crash pad underneath.
I’ve never been impressed by Wyatt’s matches. But pro-wrestling has never been one size fits all.
Wrestlers tell stories in the ring, different types and they all have their places: you have your repetitive comic strips by Hogan and Warrior, your novels by Bret and Shawn (Gargano and Ciampa more recently), but in the ring, I think Wyatt should stick to short stories… maybe not even that, flash fiction. He’s a great character, and can draw a lot of attention, but he’s kind of like Undertaker - unless you have a Bret caliber guy running the match, his matches are going to be mainly going to find their strength in the pageantry.
Now I’m drifting onto another topic:
Telling a story in the ring is more than just being able to chain a hierarchy of moves together. but that seems to be the main takeaway a lot of more modern matches have. I love the flashy new stuff, but so much of it isn’t sold—or if they sell it, the consequences of the move are reset in 45 seconds, like some kind of video game, then it doesn’t matter how flashy the move is, its meaning is lost. Those all flash and no substance matches might be impressive the one time, but they are forgettable and disposable. The ones that people remember for decades are the ones with excellent story… otherwise, the only thing about the match that gets remembered is a spot, like Andre getting slammed. And often in the great matches those climactic moments are the most remembered part, but the rest of the match, the context, is also memorable.
I love the wrestlers, who even in the long 35 minute matches, know that after the midpoint, or maybe earlier than that, they have to basically get their signature stuff out, BUT something has to happen to escalate from their on, something new and unexpected Even if a wrestler tries a move and it doesn’t quite work out, the attempt still doesn’t hurt the escalation, it may even still help. A setback is a setback. If a wrestler has 7-12 minute matches that end in a people’s elbow and Rock Bottom, then minute 13 something should go drastically wrong, and something more desperate has to be attempted. There has to be foreshadowing to the depths of hell that Rock is going to take his opponent to overcome him. Handcuffing Foley and smashing him (well, maybe something safer, as I’m pretty sure that spot caused brain damage) maybe at the end his opponent won’t submit, won’t quit, and Rock finishes with a fake recording on the mic of Foley yelling “I Quit!”
Benoit vs Angle, Royal Rumble - everyone remembers that match, but the full 360 spin on the suplex was something that hadn’t really been done in WWE at that point. That was the big moment, but the match itself that led to the context of that moment also made that moment.
Or, maybe (switching to the Bret vs Austin, an even more famous match) Austin’s head gets busted open, and he sells the shit out of that, it fucking rocked the wrestling world and remains one of the most iconic moments ever.
More recent examples of great selling are the Ciampa leg stuff in that match, that actually got me marking out legitimately marking out. I knew it was story, but in the back of my head “Is he still recovering? Is he still covering for the fact he can’t do much? Even if this is the story, is this going to be his demise?” They even brought back a moment where Gargano sat down beside Ciampa, a memory of a time when the two were friends and Ciampa’s injury was a real thing: and Ciampa went for the opportunity to smash the guy.
So, I think great novel matches do happen, but it sometimes looks like part of the art of storytelling is going away.
Last edited by Jumpin - on 10 February 2023