The Importance of Pacing
by, 02-07-2011 at 06:35 PM (3894 Views)
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.