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The Importance of Pacing

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Pretty much anybody who has participated in organized sports at any level can attest to the importance of setting a pace. Too much adrenaline or aggression and you will burn yourself out too quickly; too much patience or hesitation and you waste valuable time and can end up costing yourself vital opportunities. This logic applies as much (if not more so) to wrestling.

We have all seen those matches where the two combatants circle each other for several minutes and then proceed to take up 15 of their allotted 20 minute match with a combination of wristlocks, headlocks, armbars, etc. each lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes. Think back to the greatest performers you've seen in the squared-circle: HBK, Ric Flair, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, etc. etc.; they all share the ability to set and control the pace of every match they are in.

One of the problems going for the WWE today is the lack of a good pace to many of their matches. Randy Orton vs. The Miz at the Royal Rumble is the perfect example: a well-executed match that featured two big names with a fairly solid storyline. But it was very, very slow. Every move seemed almost in slow-motion and the inability of either to pick up the pace of the match dragged down what otherwise would have been an excellent contest.

And therein lies the problem. So many of the modern wrestling stars try to set a pace based on their character's persona rather than what would make a great match. Back to the Orton example, all of his matches a slow, meticulous, calculating pace, which reflects his character, but in the long run leads to matches that are repetitive and generally don't live up to his actual abilities.

Currently there are a few superstars who do an excellent job of pacing a match which leads to quality in-ring work with virtually any other performer. John Morrison, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan come to mind. The best example would be the Shemus/Morrison feud. Until that feud Shemus had been in very slow and IMO boring matches, which, despite his obvious talent, left me disappointed. Enter Morrison. His quick pacing and seemless transition from one move to the next forced Shemus to speed up his attack which culminated in one of the best in-ring feuds of the last six months.

Currently we have CM Punk in feuds with both Orton and Cena. The critical element for the success of any in-ring confrontation will require Punk to control the pacing. Despite my tone I actually am a big fan of Orton and even get some enjoyment out of Cena's work; all three men have the talent and ability to put on a top-notch match; but it all comes down to the pace. A back-and-forth struggle with chain wrestling and smooth transitions. No 40 second pauses between moves (i.e. Orton) or 15 minute beat-down before the inevitable resurgence and 5-moves of doom (i.e. Cena).

The WWE has talent. And while we all clamour for a rebirth of the Attitude Era, this era has its own strengths that it can capitalize on (PG or not), but the faces of the industry (Orton, Cena, Miz, etc.) must be put into situations in which they are forced to set a pace that maximizes their abilities and has the fans leaving energized by a hard-faught contest, rather than disappointed by an exhibition that fails to live up to the hype.

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Tags: wrestling, wwe
Thoughts and Opinions


  1. cainecollin's Avatar
    Se while I agree pacing is majorly important I think it's more of the wrestlers don't know how to pace themselves for their character to make the match exciting when 2 completely different styles hit it in the ring. Example back in the mid 90's Taker was Slow and methodical BUT it was perfect for his character and worked extremely well against others no matter their style or pacing because he was very good at pacing his character right for amazing counters, (countering the green mist thing was great) and the others knew their own pacing well too. (Example of a really good slow paced match Mable of Men on a Mission vs Undertaker in the casket match).

    I personally Like Orton's pacing I think some of the younger stars need to learn what pacing works well for them and can be adapted for a great match. And I fully agree a faster pacing was def. what Sheamus needed
  2. Anyrysm's Avatar
    Thanks for the comment. Although I should clarify, as a huge Orton fan myself, I'm not saying the methodical pacing is necessarily a bad thing, but it works best with someone else who when on the offensive can push the pace. When he wrestled Miz, even though I enjoyed the match, the pace was slow because of Orton's style and because of Miz's undefined pace. Btw, like the Mable/Taker example.
  3. cainecollin's Avatar
    Agreed, While not a Miz fan, I have to admit he has improved much over the past year, unfortunately pacing is something he still needs to work on, but once he gets that down I believe he'll be an amazing star.
  4. Justdawg08's Avatar
    Selling is also a problem... John Cena takes a punch and falls down for 3 minutes, where is the realism in that?
  5. cainecollin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Justdawg08
    Selling is also a problem... John Cena takes a punch and falls down for 3 minutes, where is the realism in that?
    Or gets jumped by 5 people in a "gauntlet match" is put in multiple submissions during it and gets right up as if nothing happened. he's as bad as hogan when it comes to selling
  6. Trips88's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by cainecollin
    Or gets jumped by 5 people in a "gauntlet match" is put in multiple submissions during it and gets right up as if nothing happened. he's as bad as hogan when it comes to selling
    O so your saying that John Cena is as amazing at telling a story in the Ring as Hulk Hogan? He sould thank you for the compliment. Look I get tired of the Super Cena BS from time to time too but he is, like Hogan was, SO popular because there are people both young and old that love to see that gimmick. People wanna see the hero win after getting beat down. They want him to seem like he feels no pain and that nothing can stop him, because that brings hope to people who need it the most. Say what you will about Cena but one thing is for sure. He is, just like hogan was, the hero that people want and that they need.
  7. Stihltygre's Avatar
    interesting i read this when you first posted it, but i have a relevant anecdote, pacing for the rest of the world is referred to a rhythm or phrasing. ( Surprisingly musicians use Phrasing as Rhythm has a different meaning to them.

    So i'm directing a play, i wrote it , 10 person cast funny as shit. basically a dark comedy. One of the lines was just not working right for me, and it's part of an ongoing bit. So Mr. Writer/ Director grabs our production assistants cane and starts to Tapping, not loud, just enough for the actors to get the rhythm in their head. Result? the bit goes without a hitch and was funny enough that it made two of the people involved in the play lose their lines ( they are not off book yet). how does this pertain to wrestling? it's an example of how Rhythm and pacing will make a match work. we had good jokes we had a great cast but the bit was only sort of working , funny but not memorable... get the rhythm tight and BANG we're 1/2 expecting people to shoot beer out of their noses ( there is food and drink at the play).
    Pacing can be the world of difference you need.

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