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Finishing Moves and the Art of Suspense

Telegraph me more!

Telegraph me more!

This is a guest post from one of our listeners, @ult_warrior. It does not necessarily support our views or opinions, but we think it’s a part of an interesting discussion. Got something to say, looking for an outlet, and able to be articulate? Send us your thoughts and you might see them here!

It’s a frantic back and forth. They’re both standing.. barely.. trading forearms. It was only a moment ago that the heel had nearly stolen the match with a handful of tights, but something lit a fire under this babyface and he’s back in the fight. Now’s his chance. Two punches connect. Three. The heel is rocked. A whip to the ropes, and a big slam on the rebound. The crowd goes, to quote Pat Patterson, banana. A cover, and.. silence.

You see, the babyface didn’t hit a finishing move, and didn’t get a surprise roll-up. So there’s no way this is going to be a three count. And if there isn’t a chance of it succeeding, there’s no tension in watching it. At this point in pro wrestling, the idea of the “finisher” has become so fetishised that it’s almost impossible to tune into a match anywhere and see a clean finish without one. Which isn’t to say they don’t have their place — a good, recognisable finishing move is part of a wrestler’s overall presentation, and seeing Hogan dropping the leg or Shawn Michaels tuning up the band were always spots that got the crowd going. Finishers evolved for a reason and there’s no point in trying to do away with

That said, pro wrestling, and the art of storytelling — which any number of veterans and fans will tell you is waning in the face of sheer workrate — would benefit greatly from wrestlers, or more accurately their bookers and match agents, learning not to rely solely on finishers to end a match. Although it’s a phenomenon seen across multiple companies, WWE seems to be the most enamoured with the idea of a finisher-only environment, and it completely escapes this writer when they last televised a match which ended without either one (or several) being hit, or something “unsportsmanly” like a surprise roll-up, a foot on the ropes or an object shot. The art of an uncommon, but impressive, move signalling the three count is dead, and without it, the vast majority of the near-falls throughout any wrestling match mean nothing.

Now any of us actively reading something like this all know that our enjoyment of pro wrestling is one that requires a suspension of disbelief. We know the result is predetermined, the winning sequence of moves worked out in advance. We don’t think that these big power moves really matter in a real sense, and that waiting for that moment when Bobby Roode hoists his opponent into the fireman’s carry for his Roode Bomb is that match’s equivalent to a movie’s climactic chase scene. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. It makes perfect sense. But of course, this is the climax to a story, and no good story goes from start to finish without some interesting detours and red herrings along the way.

I’ve compared wrestling storytelling to cinema already, so take a topical example: Star Wars. Let’s go back to A New Hope and look at how we came to love it as a film. It hit a lot of predictable storytelling beats along the way — the bright-eyed hero, against all odds, saves the day by sheer pluck and daring. There’s a damsel in distress, a wise mentor, a beeping-and-whistling macguffin loaded with Death Star schematics. But to throw viewers off the trail, to give them the sense that anything could happen — and, therefore, to raise the tension for the big finale — we got to see some unexpected turns. When Obi Wan Kenobi challenges Darth Vader to a duel, conventional storytelling would probably have expected the do-gooder to triumph against the forces of evil, for the wise old man who was secretly a hero to reveal his true ability and save the day. But he died — and pretty easily at that. And from there on, throughout the film and its sequels, we knew anything could happen. No one was safe. Han Solo was frozen in carbonite. Yoda dies without finishing Luke’s training. The view is on tenterhooks the whole time, because every fight and every battle could be someone’s last.

So why not try to get back to this in pro wrestling? We already have a built-in tier system for most large promotions, where television matches on weekly programming aren’t as “big” as the pay-per-view or “special event” matches. No one’s going to argue that a given episode of NXT or Impact is meant to be as exciting as TakeOver or Slammiversary are, which gives agents on those shows a chance to experiment. Let a few TV matches end with a big power move, not a finisher. The next time Eric Young steps into the ring, have him score the three count with a superplex. Let Apollo Crews throw out a big Arn Anderson spinebuster out of nowhere just once. Get the viewers invested in every near-fall, just in case that once-inconsequential pin is actually the one that counts. Start small, maybe testing it out in early-card job matches. Even if the idea goes down like a lead balloon in this day and age, it won’t do any damage to test it in some foregone-conclusion match like Roman Reigns and whichever filler heel he’s getting the win over this week.

The benefits, if it’s done right, would be appreciable. Every fan, casual or committed, would be able to invest more emotion into the big matches if they’ve come to see matches regularly — not all the time, but a noticeable amount of the time — ending just when it feels one wrestler has hit something big enough. We’ll still know that the main event of Wrestlemania isn’t going to end with a momentum-changing neckbreaker or some sleeper hold countered into a snapmare. But if we just saw the United States title change hands after John Cena’s spin-out powerbomb, then maybe. Just maybe. But at the very least, we’re going to watch those two-counts a lot more closely.



Are the Slammy Awards Legitimate?

Is it possible that fans voted in a heel as Superstar of the Year?

Is it possible that fans voted in a heel as Superstar of the Year?

This is a guest post from one of our listeners, @ZBadane. It does not necessarily support our views or opinions, but we think it’s a part of an interesting discussion. Got something to say, looking for an outlet, and able to be articulate? Send us your thoughts and you might see them here!

The Slammy Awards “voting” should not be considered real by anyone willing to second guess it. I’m bringing it up cuz Billi said it was legitimate and no one argued. Let’s start at 2014 Thuperstar of the year Roman Reigns. On that day a guy who has been out 3 months and never been champion, beat Daniel Bryan and kid favourite John Cena on “app vote”. Some ppl say that because DB’s name was next to RR every vote counted to Bryan went to Reigns. I just say it was fake and a tactic to prepare us for Reigns winning the rumble he would d-d-d-declare himself into.

Now lets go to 2015. New Day lost Tag Team of the Year on social media votes to The Usos. This was pre-Raw where results of voting were open to the public. WWE.com admits to using a 2nd party @Telescope_inc to count votes. So I’m calling this real.

1st Slammy of RAW was to Adrian Neville for Breakout Star of the Year beating KO. Forget whether I think that was real or not, assuming its real what does this data tell us. That good guy was picked over the bad guy. The majority of “voters” will vote babyfaces. Maybe it was kids maybe Kayfabe is real to a lot of the audience. (I’ve met these ppl). Results did not go the way management wanted but this was a category that did NOT matter. It wasn’t worth changing. It gave WWE and its viewers opportunity to point and say “if it were rigged why didn’t Kevin Owens win”.

Among awards that didn’t matter so were probably real: Extreme Moment of the Year, LOL Moment, OMG Moment I was gonna continue but that’s how little these matter.

Superstar of the Year. This Slammy mattered. They didn’t fly out Seth Rollins for nothing. They didn’t have Stephanie presenting this one by coincidence. And wait a minute. How did a bad guy win this award? We set a precedence with Owens and Neville? I thought babyface John Cena was an option. What, did the east coast kids all go to sleep?

Now Diva of the Year, and this isn’t about Sasha Banks. I know Raw viewers did not vote for her. I think it was very convenient that the injured N. Bella was in Minnesota and Instagraming she was ready to receive an award. This Slammy mattered. It was in WWE’s favour to have anti-AJ Lee win. It also puts over importance of holding the title. To be fair, I can believe Nicki won legitimately from her own bizzaro popularity. And this is off-topic but you guys sure showed restraint by not mentioning she gave a female empowerment speech in see-through clothing. I guess ur take is a woman can wear whatever she wants. I respect that. I see it differently. But hey I also e-mailed to defending “You Suck Cena” chants. Back to topic ->

The WWE is a company that loves&#X1f60d they’re social media. “Look we’re trending MAGGLE”. To not have twitter voting during the body of the show is pure stupidity. Thats free advertising that their universe fans are doing for them. Instead they keeps votes on the private app where literally only 1 person has to know what the real results are (I believe its Murpho from UpUpDownDown). Pay the man enough and he’ll keep a secret. Its the wrestling business he’ll keep kayfabe. Then he’ll tell the writers and anyone who asks ______ won_______of the Year. In conclusion lol, I don’t trust that the voting done on their app is real because I don’t trust WWE.

Sources



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