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    The Professional Wrestling Fan's Guide To The Internet(Up Until 2000), Still Accurate

    I just copied the more important stuff, for the whole article, and it's fucking long, so don't even bother, see this link: http://rspw.org/faq/4-keithfaq.txt


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------0.1 RSPW FAQ Prelude - Everything you ever wanted to know about professional wrestling but were afraid to ask

    0.1. Is wrestling fake?
    In a word, yes. In many more words, yes, very, totally, completely, utterly fake. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either very misguided or simply attempting to add to the myth surrounding the sport known as "kayfabe." On the other hand, "fake" is relative. The sport is fake in that the results are predetermined and the athletes cooperate with each other, but the actual moves are generally executed with contact made and pain inflicted. Only the best wrestlers can pull off devastating-looking moves with causing some sort of pain to the opponent. Wrestling has been predetermined since before the turn of the century (1880s to be exact) no matter what anyone may try to tell you. Unless the person who is so nostalgically telling you about "when it was real" is 120 years old, they are mistaken.

    0.1.1. Is wrestling even a sport?
    Legally, no. In order to be classified as a sports event, you have to have a certain number of state-certified doctors at ringside in case of injuries. Both the WWF and WCW have forgone this measure in exchange for the monetary savings. As well, Vince McMahon stated as a matter of record to a Seattle court that wrestling was predetermined, which prevented it from being promoted as a "sport" or a "competition" in that state or any other. So the end result is Vince McMahon promoting "sports entertainment," a term which means nothing outside of professional wrestling, and WCW referring to the "wrestling industry" or "wrestling business," both of which circumvent calling it a sport. Unless of course it's in Maryland, in which case a doctor must be present at ringside by law. But this seems to be unique to that state. On a sidenote, the newsgroup is called "rec.SPORT.pro-wrestling" because it's a spinoff the original rec.sport.misc group. The original proposal was for the less catchy "rec.ARTS.pro-wrestling" but it was felt that since the group's principles were already established in the sports hierarchy it would be best to remain there.

    0.1.2 What is "kayfabe"?
    The term Kay Fabe comes from ancient carnival talk, appropriate as professional wrestling has it's origins in the carnivals. Kay Fabe practices were old tricks, from three card monte to cure all elixirs and, of course, magic acts. A kay fabe violator exposed the secrets behind these practices. In wrestling, the term has come to mean not exposing that the business is worked. In the 80s, Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, wrote a book entitled Kay Fabe, exposing many secrets of the business.

    0.1.4 How do I rate a match?
    When rating a match, or reading match ratings, it is important to consider what exactly is being rated. Some people prefer to rate matches based on how much they enjoyed the match, others rate matches based on the workrate involved in the match. The most popular way of rating matches is through the 5-star system, originated by Norm Dooley and Jim Cornette. It was originally designed to rate the workrate of a match. Here's how Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, has described the 5-star rating system
    ***** Match of the year candidate
    ****1/2 An almost-perfect match
    **** Excellent
    ***1/2 Extremely good
    *** Good
    **1/2 Better than average but nothing special
    ** Average
    *1/2 Below average but not atrocious
    * Pretty bad, but at least some action
    1/2* Terrible, but at least a high spot in there somewhere
    DUD Of no value
    -stars Not only terrible, but completely offensive to the ticket-buying public.
    In the end, any form of match ratings is *always* a matter of personal opinion. One person's match of the year is another person's snoozer.

    0.1.5 Are matches scripted or improvised?
    A bit of both. Type "A" wrestlers (like most of WCW's cruiserweights and people with strong training backgrounds like the Armstrongs and the Harts) can usually go into a ring and make up a watchable match with no time needed beforehand. Brad Armstrong and the Great Muta once improvised a ****1/2 match on five minutes notice for WCW Saturday Night, for instance. Type "B" wrestlers (most everyone else) will generally have an idea of the finish and flow of a match, and will "call spots" during the match (whisper moves into their opponent's ear) to keep the match fresh and interesting. This is the most common match method. Type "C" wrestlers (Hogan, Kevin Nash and most roided monsters) will generally plan out the entire match beforehand, and sometimes choreograph the action days in advance to ensure a minimum of trouble. The Hulk Hogan-Ultimate Warrior match from 1990 was rehearsed several times, weeks before the event. The rule is generally that one type of wrestler v. the same type of wrestler are usually capable of producing at least a decent match, because the styles are compatible. The trouble comes when the "C" type wrestlers fight "B" type wrestlers, because those on the lowest tier of match quality are generally incapable of improvising a match, and a wrestler who *is* capable of doing so will be bored and disinterested in a choreographed match. The most glaring example of completely mismatched styles was Shane Douglas v. Pitbull #2 at ECW's Barely Legal PPV, where Shane attempted to improvise a match and the Pitbull was desperately trying to maintain a match flow devised hours before the match began. In the end, of course, the above is merely a general guide and not an iron-clad classification of wrestling styles. Feel free to use your own judgment.

    0.1.6 How do wrestlers bleed?
    There are two ways, and two ways only, for a wrestler to draw blood during the course of a match: The first and by far the most common, is by blading. A wrestler will wrap tape around his wrists in order to conceal a razor blade underneath. Some put the tape on their fingertips, as a matter of personal preference. When the time to bleed comes, the wrestler will generally roll out of the ring and hide himself from view of the fans as best he can, then expose the razor blade and quickly swipe his wrist across his forehead to cause himself to bleed. Cutting one's self anywhere but the forehead is EXTREMELY dangerous and is rarely done for obvious reasons. The other way to bleed is "hardway," that is to say a legitimate cut or injury which causes blood to flow. The most common cases are a broken nose, or a particularly hard shot to the ear. The mythical "blood capsule," which supposedly resides in the wrestler's mouth until the time to bite down on it comes, DOES NOT EXIST IN WRESTLING. This urban legend came about because Hollywood uses it on a regular basis, and those outside the wrestling business assumed wrestlers were simply actors and thus used fake blood. Any blood coming from a wrestler's mouth is probably there because he bit his tongue, not a blood capsule. The AIDS scare of recent times had diminished the thirst for blood somewhat in North America, but the recent direction of the WWF and the ECW fanbase have contributed to a resurgance in popularity for the venerated blade.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:20 PM.

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    0.1.7 What is work?
    What is workrate? You may have read people on RSPW calling themselves fans of "workrate" or calling someone a good "worker" and are probably wondering just what they're talking about. Well, they're talking about a lot of things, actually. For instance, "work" is the general term for any match performed by one or more wrestlers. They are said to "work" a match. Wrestlers are thus called "workers" and the more talented they are, the better a "worker" they are considered. Now, as a match progresses, it is possible to separate the match into "action" and "inaction" portions. When the wrestlers are doing something (working, in this case), that's the action, and when they're in a resthold or lying on the mat after a double-knockout or whatever, that's the inaction. The ratio of action to inaction is the workrate, and that's what everyone gets so high-and-mighty about. A wrestler whose matches have lots of action and a minimum of resting has good workrate, and a wrestler who spends the entire match in a reverse chinlock has bad workrate. But wait, there's more! In a more general sense, anything in wrestling that is faked for the purpose of making money is "a work". If the promotion is doing so knowingly, they are "working us". The opposite of work in this sense is "shoot". If a given event is a work, it is generally part of an angle.

    0.1.8 What is an angle?
    How is different from a feud? It is important to remember that in any wrestling match, there are generally three things that can be determined with good "acting" on the part of the wrestlers: The gimmick, the feud and the angle. This tells who is wrestling, who they're fighting, and why they're fighting, in that order. Take, for instance, the nWo. The gimmick is their "raison d'etre", the central concept behind the wrestlers. In the case of the nWo, they are a group of renegade wrestlers who are trying to take over WCW. That's the gimmick. They are fighting with the rest of WCW. That's the feud. And the nWo constantly attacks WCW wrestlers before, during and after the matches. That's the angle. Gimmicks are more prevalent in the WWF, which is much more character-based. Thus, you get cartoonish characters like the Undertaker and Kane, whose whole range of wrestling moves is centered around their gimmick: Immortal dead men. In the WWF, it's generally very easy to take a given wrestler and point out his gimmick (eg, TL Hopper is a wrestling plumber). The feud is pretty straight-forward. Wrestler A doesn't like Wrestler B and they fight. The reasons behind it and actual people involved generally don't affect that basic formula. The angle can sometimes be more complex. We never really know anymore if the reasons for fighting are part of the storyline or based on some real-life problem the wrestlers have with each other, and both promotions have been known to exploit that. However, an angle can be best summed up as "Why is this wrestler fighting that wrestler?"

    0.1.9 What is a booker?
    What is booking? Once the reason for the wrestlers to fight each other has been established, someone has to pick which one will win and how. That's the job of the booker. The person who "gets the book" is in charge of picking winners. You may also hear a match described as "overbooked", which generally means that there's either too many stipulations (barbed-wire baseball bat cage match, with 4 titles on the line, a manager locked in a cage at ringside, etc.) or too many people running in to allow the pin to take place (Sting v. Randy Savage from Spring Stampede 98 is a very good example of overbooking). Remember, wrestling is aimed at the lowest common denominator, and less is always more.

    0.1.10 What is a face?
    What is a heel? What is a tweener? This one is pretty easy: A face, short for babyface, is the "good guy". He acts in the interests of the fans first, will save his friends from being attacked, and will not attempt to purposely hurt another wrestler. A heel is the "bad guy". He acts in his own interests, he will insult the fans, he will turn on his friends, and will often maliciously attempt to injure other wrestlers. A tweener is a term invented in 1996 to describe Diesel's final run in the WWF, as he was acting like a heel while getting a face reaction from the fans. This would also apply to the current behavior of Rocky Maivia, who is acting like a heel but getting a massive babyface reaction. Generally "tweeners" are actually heels. A wrestler will "turn" from one to another. A face will do a "heel turn" and a heel will do a "face turn". It should be noted that these designations are universal, although some aspects are played up more in America than in Japan, and vice versa.

    0.1.11 What is heat?
    If a wrestler does his job correctly, he will draw a strong reaction from the fans, which is heat. If both wrestlers are on their game, the fans will sustain the "heat" throughout the entire match. Heat also refers to the reaction that a certain wrestler draws from the fans outside of the ring. A wrestler who the fans particularly hate is said to be drawing "heel heat" and will need to be beaten by a babyface to "take the heat off him." It is best for a wrestler to draw heat the same as their orientation (ie, a heel should draw heel heat). If a heel is drawing face heat, then he will usually be made into a babyface to sustain that heat. The Undertaker is the best example of that. Rocky Maivia (before he became "The Rock") is the best example of the opposite: A babyface drawing heel heat. Ironically, Rocky is now experiencing the exact opposite phenomenon a year later, which shows how weird the tastes of fans can be. The "face getting booed" syndrome is much more rare and shows bad booking on the part of the WWF more than anything. Drawing no heat all is the kiss of death in wrestling. There is also "bad" heat, which is unintended negative heat. When either a face or a heel draws bad heat, it is generally not because of any actions done by the character, but simply because the fans can no longer tolerate the person. Jeff Jarrett drew massive amounts of bad heat while in WCW, and as a result was not brought back when his contract expired. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff are moving from heel heat towards bad heat -- ie, the fans are simply tired of seeing them and boo out of frustration rather than genuine dislike of anything they say. Bad heat is considered undesirable because it can actually hurt the drawing power of the person receiving it, since it can never be resolved in the ring.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:22 PM.

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    0.1.12 What is a job?

    What is a jobber? Job is the all-purpose term for a loss in pro wrestling. Any loss, by any means, is a job. It has nothing to do with the amount of interference or the severity of the loss or the position on the card -- a loss is a job, period. If one jobs constantly, then one is defined as a jobber. The pure jobber is becoming a rarity in wrestling and is usually found on WCW Worldwide Wrestling, a syndicated program. Barry Horowitz is the most famous of the "pure" jobbers, those who never win and exist merely to make their opponent look really, really good. Many times the jobber is actually the more talented wrestler. Up one notch from the jobber is the somewhat-less-lowly "jobber to the stars," abbreviated JTTS. A JTTS can beat a jobber, but is not in serious contention for any titles and will usually lose major matches. Most of the current roster of the WWF can be classified as "jobbers to the stars". There are different kinds of job. If a wrestler is pinned or submits without falling prey to blatant illegalities, than he has "jobbed cleanly". "Clean" is relative when it comes to wrestling, by the way. A certain amount of cheating on the heel's part is expected and tolerated within the boundaries of what is considered "clean." Hitting your opponents with brass knuckles while the referee's back is turned and pinning him is a clean win. Having the Four Horsemen run in and hit your opponent with brass knuckles and pinning him is considered to be screwy, a term which will be covered in a moment. Generally, a one-on-one victory with a pinfall is considered to be clean. The grey area occurs with the term "screwy", a variation of the word "screw-job" which comes later. A screwy win is a pinfall or submission which probably wouldn't have occured had some drastic action on the part of the heel not taken place. Here's an example, purely hypothetical: Chris Benoit is wrestling Hulk Hogan. Benoit is dominating and hits his submission move, and were the match to continue along this path it would not be reasonable to assume Hogan could win. But Hogan's friends come into the ring and distract the referee, allowing one of them to do something to Benoit which DIRECTLY allows Hogan to get the pin and the unlikely victory. This is "screwy" because Hogan wasn't going to win unless something illegal happened. However, if Benoit were to kick out of Hogan's pin attempt and continue the match without Hogan's friends interfering further, then the eventual outcome would be *clean* because the interference didn't have a DIRECT effect on the outcome. As you can tell, this is a very hazy area to cover. The other extreme comes with the venerable "screw-job". A screw-job is any disqualification, countout, draw, or other ending which is not a pinfall or submission. It is, in other words, any non-ending. If one wrestler is disqualified, it's a screw-job. If they battle to an exciting 60-minute draw, it's a screw-job. If they're both counted out of the ring, it's a screw-job. If the Maryland State Athletic Commission stops the match because one guy has a trickle of blood on his forehead, it's a screw-job. Any time the fans are deprived of seeing one wrestler "go over" another cleanly (or even somewhat cleanly) they are being "screwed". The screw-job is considered extremely damaging if used as the finish to a major match, as can be evidenced by the booking style of Dusty Rhodes. There are other variants of the "-job" family, but the only widely used one is the "stretcher-job", in which the loser ends up going out on a stretcher.

    0.1.13 What is a mark?
    What is a smart? There are many interpretations and beliefs on this matter, and hopefully this will educate you enough for you to make your own decision on it. The first, and most traditional, meaning of the word "mark" comes from carnivals and con-men, who called the paying customers "marks" in reference to them being the target of the scam. Under this criteria, we are all marks, because we are all wrestling fans and thus all the targets of the giant scam that is wrestling. But... Modern times have changed the meaning of the word somewhat. Thanks to the proliferation of the internet and "insider" newsletters, the word "mark" has come to stand for the ever-dwindling group of wrestling fans who still "believe." That is to say, those who think that wrestling is real and will cheer and boo those that the federations wish them to. But... The booking style of both major federations has changed drastically in the past few years, to the point where the face/heel orientation of a given wrestler is almost dictated by the fans, so that a wrestler will be a babyface not because that is how they are booked, but because that is how the fans respond to them. Under these conditions, fan response due to booking can hardly be classified as "markdom". But... There are another group of fans, the self-proclaimed "smarts", who have access to what they think is the inner workings of the business and who tend to view wrestling on a different level than the so-called "marks." These fans will tend to cheer the heels and boo the babyfaces. Most people who are actually connected inside the wrestling business refer to these "smarts" as "smart marks" or "smarks" for short. 98% of the fans on the internet are "smart marks". Always remember that we only know what they want us to know, and any information divulged by either Eric Bischoff or Vince McMahon is probably a lie told to sell tickets. But... Many "smart marks" will actually classify themselves as "marks" for specific things. For example, WWF fans will call themselves a "WWF mark" because they watch WWF programming and buy WWF merchandise. Some even extend this to a given wrestler (Chris Benoit being the best example). But.... Futhermore, many of the "smart marks" will actually end up displaying the very behavior they think they oppose, upon entrance into the atmosphere of a given live wrestling show. ECW fans go out of their way to act the opposite of what they think "marks" should act like, while at the same time actually going all the way around and becoming marks themselves because that's how ECW expects them to act. So.... In the end, a mark is whatever you want it to be. Many times on the 'net the term "marks" is used as a blanket reference to those who are not "in the know" and who generate the majority of the revenue for the various promotions. This is the most popular usage and most generally accepted. But, of course, we are all marks.

    0.1.14 What does "over" mean?
    "Over" can mean many things. The most common usage is to say that a wrestler is "over". That is to say, the wrestler draws either strong face heat or strong heel heat. "Getting over" is the main objective in wrestling. This can also apply to a move which draws an instant reaction from the fans and/or can be reasonably expected to end a match when applied. This would apply not only to recent finishers like the Diamond Cutter, Stone Cold Stunner and Liontamer, but also to older moves which can still end a match, like the sleeperhold, figure-four leglock and DDT. In all cases, it can be said that the move is "over". "Over" is also a verb, which is to say that one wrestler can be "put over" another, and get the win.0.1.15 What is a pop? A "pop" is a loud and instantaneous reaction from the fans for anything. This can include a ring entrance, big move, pinfall, interview segment, chairshot or whatever. For the best example of a "pop", listen to the crowd when Steve Austin enters an arena today or when Hulk Hogan did so 10 years ago.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:23 PM.

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    0.1.16 What is a push?

    This one is also debatable. A wrestler who is given a series of wins in order to improve his standing in the eyes of the fans is said to be "pushed." This is the standard way to push a wrestler. But... Chris Benoit, in WCW, wins more matches than he loses, yet hardly any are against quality opponents and he has yet to win a title in that promotion. He is not "pushed" because he is not considered a serious threat to anyone's title or position in the company by the fans. He receives minimal airtime to develop his character and is left to get over through his ringwork. But... Bill Goldberg is pushed, despite a complete lack of quality opponents. He receives no airtime to develop his character and has gotten over entirely on his ringwork. He draws massive crowd reactions and is thus featured heavily and is thus a "pushed" wrestler. But... The WWF's recent move to mainly interviews on their weekly TV has generated a different kind of push, one where the wrestler in question gets massive amounts of air-time and gets over huge, without actually stepping in the ring. Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and Steve Austin all enjoyed massive increases in heat through interview segments with a minimum of wrestling. Undertaker rarely wrestles on TV, yet has enjoyed one of the biggest non-stop pushes in wrestling history, one lasting over 7 years without a period of heavy jobbing. And... There is also the matter of the "negative push", whereby a wrestler actually *loses* a string of matches and ends up with a better position in the company than when he started the streak. Chris Jericho was turned into a heel by way of a negative push, and Leif Cassidy was on the same track before leaving the WWF for ECW. This push is rare and only works in some circumstances, but it does exist. So... Whereas in the past a push could be described as winning a lot, now it's more like winning + airtime + quality of wins + quality of opponent + other intangibles = push. It is no longer a simple question to answer, that much is for sure.

    0.1.17 What is a resthold?
    When wrestlers need to take a rest during a match, or figure out the next series of moves, or just can't decide what to do next, they will apply a reverse chinlock, an armbar, a side headlock, or any other equally non-damaging hold which only serves to stretch out the match and give the wrestlers time to breathe. These are called restholds, and they are incredibly boring for the fans if applied longer than about a minute and will usually incite "Boring" chants from the more vocal segments of the audience.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:24 PM.

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    0.1.18 What is selling? What are ring psychology and transitions?

    [Note: The following was written by Herb Kunze and is reprinted with permission] The easiest way to simultaneously describe transitions and psychology is to note that in the absence of these two elements a pro-wrestling match reduces to a choreographed series of spots. The word spot is used to described an event (or sometimes a sequence of events) in a wrestling match. For example, a german suplex attempt reversed with a go-behind into a german suplex might (not surprisingly) be called a german suplex reversal spot. A high spot is a particular type of spot involving a wrestler flying through the air in some way. In the 1980s in North America, exciting high spots were top rope splashes (Jimmy Snuka), top rope cross body blocks (Kevin von Erich), and top rope leg drops (Bobby Eaton); wrestlers like Ricky Steamboat and Greg Gagne were thought of and promoted as high-flying wrestlers. In the 1990s, moonsaults have become routine; Twisting dives, splashes, and cross-body blocks are now state of the art. Somersault topes (pronounced toe-pay, generic term for a dive out of the ring), corkscrew topes, and firebird (450) splashes are moves of top flying wrestlers. To repeat then, in the absence of transitions and psychology, a wrestling match becames little more than a collection of spots. Some of the most glaring examples of this in my memory are the Eliminators vs. Dudleys match from the Barely Legal PPV on 04/13/97, the Rob van Dam vs. Too Cold Scorpio match from the Living Dangerously PPV on 03/01/98, and Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila from the WrestleMania XIV PPV on 03/29/98. In each of these matches, the wrestlers glaringly moved from one spot to the next, essentially putting on a gymnastic stunt show.

    In the context of pro-wrestling, I've seen psychology defined as doing the right thing at the right time. Of course, that means doing the right thing to build a match (i.e. keep the fans focused on the match, draw heat, etc.). Psychology encompasses a lot of things, and sometimes seems to conflict a bit with match booking, especially in this era in North America where matches often have far more than the finish booked out in advance. As time passes, psychology changes: good psychology in the early 1980s may not work well in the late 1990s; matches are often shorter (even on PPV), loads of new moves have surfaced, and the style of wrestling evolves. In Japan, psychology plays an essential part in the story that a match tells; in North America, it's often an afterthought or forgotten altogether. Let's look at some elements of psychology: Selling - reacting appropriately to the supposed impact of a move. It means staggering for a punch and taking a bump (falling down) for the third punch, say. It means using facial expressions to show pain or anguish while in a submission move or as a tough match wears on. It means using mannerisms that suggest that a body part is sore after a move that supposedly hurts it has been applied (limping after a leg-lock, favouring an arm after an arm hold, etc.).

    Now that long matches don't happen much any more in North America, the idea of selling in the fifteenth minute of a match a leg injury that occured in the third minute is slowly becoming a lost art. Guys like Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair were the masters of this idea in the 1980s. Of the top guys in this era, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels stand out. Of the younger guys, really only the lighter weight guys with international experience have a deeper level of ability when it comes to selling. To complicate matters, some guys develop into draws even though they do not sell many moves. Sid (Vicious, Eudy) and Ultimate Warrior rose to the top in an era that disregarded ability despite the fact that they couldn't sell to save their lives. On the other extreme of the scale, Curt Hennig developed a reputation for overselling simple moves: who can forget those insane twisting bumps from a simple clothesline (in recent times carried on by Goldust)? And Terry Funk has turned his selling into a punch drunk comedic adventure.

    Pacing - leaving the right amount of time between moves. After a doubleknockdown spot, how long should a wrestler lie on the mat, how slowly should he regain his senses, etc.? The best answer is that it depends on the match, on how deeply the fans are into things, on the story that the match is trying to tell. In this era of quick matches for short attention spans, there have been some two-minute television matches that had enough action in them to fill a ten-minute chunk and, with wrestlers with limited ability being pushed, we've also seen ten-minute matches that really only merited two-minutes of time for the story they had to tell. Even in North America, it is often said that matches have an initial "feeling-out" period as the wrestlers act more tentatively before going into the body of the match. In Mexican trios matches, the wrestlers often pair up: when A & B & C face D & E & F, we first see A & D trade a few moves, typically with one of them winning the battle for machismo that is lucha libre, then B & E take their turn, and then C & F take their turn, before we return to A & D. Only after those initial periods do we enter the body of the match. In the key Japanese groups, after a slow match body with some key spots, the match builds to a time interval in which hot moves are traded back and forth, with many near falls to build the excitement. All of these ideas have to do with pacing. Sensible moves. This is a function of booking these days. It doesn't particularly make sense for a wrestler to perform moves that affect lots of different parts of his opponent's body. From a story-telling standpoint, it makes sense to settle down to a single body part or tactic to build to a sensible finish.

    Some holds, like the facelock in All Japan are used as generic wear-down holds that the fans accept as fatiguing the recipient of the move; in this case, it doesn't much matter whether a match ends with a power bomb or a submission because both are believable. However, it's bad form to spend an entire match working over an opponent's leg before ending the match with a surprise armbar submission; this just doesn't happen in Japan. In North America, no effort is put towards this aspect of a wrestling match. While both the WWF and WCW have tried to establish various submission or finishing moves as devastating, with limited exception, they put very little effort into building to those moves. Diamond Dallas Page, Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho can hit their finishers from any position; the lure is when the finisher will come along not what needs to be done along the way to make sure it sticks. Is it any wonder that the typical crowd reaction for a match is a large pop at the start, mostly silence throughout, and then a pop for the finishing move? Or that bookers and wrestlers alike have increasingly little idea how to fill the match time between those two pops? All Japan pro-wrestling probably has consistently the best in-match psychology of any promotion in the world, thanks to the top four players in the group: Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, and Jun Akiyama. A typical marquee match in the group lasts 20+ minutes, often with every move from the get-go meaning something; in other words, the match builds logically to the "near fall" spots that pepper the last few (sometimes ten) minutes. For example, who can forget the famous backdrop driver finish of the 08/31/93 Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve Williams match. Kobashi's selling at the end of the match was a masterpiece (in general, the top four guys listed above have a knack for taking a series of hot moves and getting up just a notch or two more slowly each time). The psychology of the match was great.

    Taking a broader view, my favourite series of matches from a story-telling and match quality standpoint might well be the Naoki Sano vs. Jushin Liger series from 07/89 through to 01/90. A detailed rundown is on the web. The beauty of that series is how the psychology in each match was based on the previous bout. From the intensity of the wrestlers to the moves and reversals (and reversals of reversals), this series was a work of art the likes of which we'll never see in North American wrestling. Remember the finish to WrestleMania XIV's Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels main event? Superkick attempt, stunner attempt, etc., with each guy trying to counter with his big move. This same subtle "learning of an opponent's moves" comes into All Japan pro-wrestling matches as well. Often, the counters are peppered throughout matches. This means that somebody watching tapes of matches from Japan better appreciates the matches once he's developed some understanding of the large assortment of moves that different wrestlers use.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:26 PM.

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    Consider the much-beloved "table spot," wherein a wrestler crashes through a table, be it in the ring or on the floor. The table spot where Bret Hart was sent crashing through a commentators table was fantastic. Compare it to a typical table spot: the table has to be set up, a wrestler has to be plopped onto the table, the wrestler doing the spot has to get into position or run off the ropes, somebody goes through a table. Throughout all of this, time stand stills. It's not unusual to see a minute or two pass wherein the victim of the table spot has to act comatose. Unless the person doing the spot misses, it's nonsense. And if he misses time and time again, it becomes nonsense for that reason. It's a great stunt, though.

    Transitions are the bridging maneuvers between spots. They are the staple of pro-wrestling, the essential elements holding the spots together to build a match. When somebody runs down a match, it often becomes a list like "clothesline, body slam, suplex, pin." That disjoint list of moves sounds more like a wrestling move exhibition than a wrestling match because the transitions are not listed...because they aren't important, right? I don't think so; I think it is very important to recognize the difference between a move exhibition and a match. I remember with amazement how Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat could work off an armbar for ten minutes without a single "boring" chant. This was a time when the psychology of such action was clear to fans; don't get me wrong: I don't want to see that today and I don't think it would work today.

    The point was that they had dozens of ways to move out of an armbar into a spot of some sort and then return to the armbar. It's a tremendous skill that is lacking today in North America. That ability to float from spot to spot seamlessly is what makes the top four All Japan guys so great. It's what makes the past half-year of Jushin Liger & co. vs. Shinjiro Otani & co. in New Japan so great. It's what made the 1988-or-so to 1994-or-so All Japan Women's product so incredible. In this latter promotion, the rookie girls were only allowed to use a few elementary maneuvers (dropkicks, slams, clotheslines) in their matches while they learned about psychology and transitions; only later, did they add in the modern moves. Recall the Eliminators vs. Dudleys match from the ECW Barely Legal PPV on 04/13/97. I remember the raves that that match drew on the net. With a clear mind, watch the match and see how many times the wrestlers just stand there before moving into the next spot. It's like somebody took a tape of a match and cut out all of the transitions, replacing them with a shot of the wrestlers standing still. It's a highlight reel, not a match. The same is true of the other two matches mentioned at the start of this discussion.

    One of the worst spots that has surfaced in wrestling in recent times is the top rope leg drop across an opponent who conveniently sits on the second rope with legs out of the ring while leaning backwards into the ring and holding on to the top rope awaiting the move. This was the finishing spot in the La Parka vs. Psicosis match at Spring Stampede a few nights ago. The first few times I saw it (in ECW, by Sabu), the victim literally got into that position pretty much on his own, sometimes waiting forever for the bump. It's a horrible spot. La Parka tried to sell that he'd been crotched by the second rope and that he was losing his balance in the tangle, but it still came across weakly. I recall Billy Kidman being the recipient of this spot on a Nitro/Thunder show recently. In that instance, he was standing on the second rope, yelling at the crowd. He was dropkicked in the back, almost fell over the top rope, hung on, wobbled back towards the ring, lost his footing on the second rope, and held on to the top rope to avoid slipping all the way through. In the time it took for him to bounce around like that, his opponent (a Mexican wrestler) climbed to the top rope and hit him with the leg drop exactly as he was turning into the right position. That's the best transition into an this awkward spot that I've seen. Jump to Jushin Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani from 03/17/96; the match had phenomenal transitions, the pacing was excellent, the selling was top-notch. The match ended with Liger hitting a palm strike to Otani's chin, knocking him senseless for the pin. To New Japan fans, that finish instantly established the palm strike as a finishing blow. The Observer called this a must-see match that was very close to match of the year calibre. Since that time, Liger has used that blow as a finisher in many matches, wrapping psychology and transitions around it, to the point that it has become an integral part of Liger's offence. It allowed Liger's matches to tease an over finisher while the reducing the number of crazy spots that Liger has to do.

    Since the majority of the brawling matches we see (here or in Japan) are deficient when it comes to psychology (the pacing in Japan is better, but that's about it), we're left looking for transitions from one nonsensical spot with poor selling to the next one. It doesn't really happen in ECW all-out brawling matches. In matches that mix in some wrestling, like the famous triangle match on 02/05/94 in ECW or the Masato Tanaka vs. Wing Kanemura match on 08/01/96 in FMW, a **** affair can result and receive level praise from some fans. Maybe those fans don't think that psychology and transitions are important, opting instead to judge matches like highlight reels or stunt man performances, but I find that too unfair an approach to the wrestlers that actually tell sensible stories with great matches. And that's why I comment about psychology and transitions when discussing wrestling.0.1.19 What is a squash? A match, usually featuring a name star against a jobber, in which one person gets in 99% of the offense and is allowed to showcase his moves and/or get himself over with the crowd. Common in the 80s and almost nonexistant with the onset of the Monday Night Wars.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:28 PM.

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  7. #7
    Black Ninja! Automatic's Avatar
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    0.1.20 What does "stiff" mean?
    "Stiff" refers to three different things: The meaning within context of a match is to say that one or both wrestlers is connecting with their moves hard enough to either hurt the wrestler, or at least make it seem like it "really hurt" the other wrestler. Ken Shamrock worked extremely "stiff" during the initial period of his current WWF run, before he learned to pull his punches better. Vader is also noted for "working stiff", although in his case he simply makes it appear that he's hitting very hard. The other common meaning is usually applied to bodybuilders who move to wrestling: They are unable to move with much fluidity and grace, and are thus "stiff". Doug Furnas is a perfect example of someone who started out "stiff" before his exhibition muscles became "real" muscles which allowed him more flexibility in the ring. The third, and most snide, meaning, is that which is applied to large, muscular wrestlers who are able to move quickly but choose not to as part of the characters, or who are generally considered untalented. Sid Vicious is the wrestler most commonly called a "big stiff". Current WWF wrestler Kurrgan would also fit this description.

    0.1.21 What is a "Sabu match?"
    ECW wrestler Sabu, who made a large name for himself on the independant circuit, also single-handedly created a new match formula. This was not a good thing. If you'll recall the discussion on transitions and psychology from question 0.18, one of the points was that a match devoid of them will seem to be lacking something. Sabu's heat came from his amazing spots, usually involving tables and chairs. However, because that's *all* the ECW crowds would pop for, he eventually stopped *anything* in between the eye-popping spots. He would simply rest or walk around aimlessly. Hence, the "Sabu match", which is spot-rest-spot with nothing in between. Further, as the ECW wrestlers were signed by the WWF and WCW, other wrestlers began adopting this style, usually the younger luchadores who didn't know better. For the best example of a "Sabu match", watch the Saturn v. Kanyon match from WCW Great American Bash 98, or taken to the largest extreme, Mankind v. Undertaker from King of the Ring 98.

    0.1.22 What is the "tag team formula?"
    Many people call certain tag team matches formulaic, but not many people have actually explained what that formula is. First, one team must be a well-defined face and the other a well-defined heel. The two teams will be evenly matched to begin, or the faces will dominate. The heels never dominate the early portion of the match. Many tags are generally made on both sides Eventually, at a point when it appears the faces will get a quick and decisive win, the heels will cheat and temporarily injure a member of the face team and gain the advantage. That wrestler is now known as the "Face in Peril" or, as I like to say, the one playing Ricky Morton. This wrestler is almost always the more talented one. As an aside, the formula was perfected by the Midnight Express v. Rock N Roll Express feud, during which Ricky Morton was the Face in Peril 9 times out of 10 and the one most often associated with the role. The Face in Peril will be beaten mercilessly by the heels, as they "cut the ring in half" by making sure he doesn't get anywhere near his corner. At some point, he will escape their clutches and make the tag, but the referee will be distracted by the heel on the apron, allowing the heel in the ring to do further damage while the referee escorts the other face back out of the ring. Finally, the heels will make a critical tactical error, allowing the Face in Peril to gain just enough energy to somersault to his corner and make "the hot tag", namely the tag that brings in the fresh man. The energized wrestler will take on both heels, dominating them by himself. From here a chaotic brawl will ensue as all four wrestlers battle in the ring and the referee fights for control. The booking of the match dictates the finish. This formula is applicable to almost any tag team match in the WWF after 1986 and any match in WCW after about 1993. Some variations may occur, but the formula has worked for years and continues to do so unchanged.

    0.1.23 What is a "blowoff match"?
    Quite simply, the big money match to settle a feud between two hated rivals. It is called a blowoff because the tension builds until it needs to be blown off.
    Last edited by Automatic; 11-10-2012 at 05:29 PM.

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    Moderator Robstar's Avatar
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    Ladies and gentlemen....we have a new C&P king! lol



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    Black Ninja! Automatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robstar View Post
    Ladies and gentlemen....we have a new C&P king! lol
    STFU and lock this thread.

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    Black Ninja! Automatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Automatic View Post
    STFU and lock this thread.
    Please.
    ...........Please.

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