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garynysmon

A Golden Age of Wrestling?

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I was reading a Dave Meltzer twitter thread a few weeks ago, and was truly astounded that someone considered this period to be a 'golden age' in terms of match quality.

Personally, I have never given less of a shit about wrestling and find 'workrate' to be massively overrated in its importance to a good product, with character building being much more vital. But is that just me though? Hardcore fans seem to enjoy the current match style.

As a kid I was always tempted to fast forward to the end of bouts and usually enjoyed the promos, entrances and cool finishers more than the mechanics of a match. Maybe that means I was more of a casual fan all along?

Edited by garynysmon

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I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have fallen out of love with it completely in the last few years.  The current way in which matches are set up just isn't for me. Not to say it isn't good, but just not my bag. I struggle with nothing meaning anything, it's all a bit like a grot film with the pop shot within the first ten seconds, what's the point? 

Edited by Gus Mears

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I don't think it necessarily means you were more casual, so much as this match quality thing is being viewed all wrong. Is Braun Strowman so over with the current audience because he sniffs four stars? Why do those Cruiserweights still not get over on Raw when the matches are good? Because the same things that always worked still do - personality, charisma, booking. Great action is a bonus. We might be in a golden age of action and athleticism in wrestling on a worldwide basis, I'll say that much, but that doesn't mean a squirt of shit for the mainstream. It makes indies healthier because a section of diehard fans want to see something different and in some cases, be open in their self-indulgent esoteric interest. But those diehards are still chanting CM Punk in the cruiser matches, or marking out for Braun.

And if that was wrong, then the casual fan base would be gravitating to wrestling in droves right now, and it isn't. Doesn't mean you are "just a casual fan" if it doesn't work for you. It means that a section of the "diehard" fans want something different, and they're getting catered to because it works better for the indy business to do that. And since a lot of the WWE guys get scooped from the indies, it breeds itself.

Edited by Liam O'Rourke

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We all know when the golden age in terms of fan interest from the average Joe was, but if you don't think of it in number crunching it all just comes down to taste 

I'd say that for the regularly watching, indie following, show going fan, it's never been more rewarding - especially over here. 

I can use my own experience as an example, I'm sure many people's first live wrestling show was Fake Undertaker v Not Jeff Hardy or something equally low rent. I've only started going to shows this year and have already seen Kota Ibushi, Pentagon Jr, British Strong Style, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jr. to name just a few. Had I started travelling a couple of years earlier you could add in AJ Styles, Nakamura to that list. It's never been easier to see talent you can truly fawn over and non-WWE talent haven't had so much leverage in a long long time, I'd say the scene's in good shape. Workrate is emphasised now and there are some fairly bland wrestle-by-numbers guys about but there's no shortage of great fun gimmicks and characters on the scene now, you just have to look. 

As an aside, as a woman the way women's wrestling has risen in stature this decade has been wonderful to witness, and the seeds are there with companies like Pro-Wrestling:EVE that it can keep growing for a long long time. I've been on a spree of 00s ROH/CZW lately and the presentation any time a woman happens to appear is a world away from today. It wasn't that long ago at all!

I'd say without a shadow of doubt there's never been a better time to be a female wrestling fan, or indeed an LGBT fan. It's come a long way from faggot chants and mudbath matches in the Edgy-tude era

Edited by sj5522

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As wrestling becomes more of a niche its easier to appeal to that smaller more defined audience. Thus easier to create the idea that wrestling is at a high point. 

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I saw a show here recently with a main event between two established guys on the scene where they were clearly giving it their all, as evidenced by the stiff attack, grunts and yells, but it was the match I was least invested in on the night. Nothing meant anything - it was a blur with no time to digest anything that happened. They ticked off the near falls box, ticked off the stiff strikes box, ticked off the drop them on their head box and I just thought 'is it worth putting your body through this for what you're getting out of it?' Work smarter, not harder. I think the intentions are in the right place - they want to give their fans 100% - but I don't think many go the right way about it. You can get as much if not more reaction and exposure by working hard on the fundamentals, gauging how the audience are reacting, and working on character. In this match, I didn't care who won and it was for the title.

And if you do go for that style - work smarter in terms of if things make sense in a match. Benoit is someone who worked a stiff, physical style but who also had his selling down, told a story well, and didn't do things that were illogical. The face/heel dynamic wasn't made particularly clear for a newcomer, there was no character and I think the crowd were pretty burnt out by it - especially as a fast-paced match was also on prior.

 

Edit: for balance, I watched Armageddon 99 last night and was more grateful for the quality of matches we have now. I also agree with @sj5522 that there is a lot of great characters on the scene and great wrestlers. It's just the whole forearm battles and superkicks are predictable and seem to be a pre-requisite for a lot of matches now. It's formulaic and feels phoney to me. You become completely desensitised to it.

Edited by Sphinx

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I'm with @sj5522 on this one, for sure.

Aside from a tribute show as a kid, and one FWA show in my teens, I started going to shows in 2013. I live in Jersey, so can't get to shows as often as I'd like - to get over to the UK at all is likely to cost me £100+ on flights, plus trains, and sometimes another £100 or so on accommodation, plus potentially needing to take time off work, so I have to be pretty choosy about when I can make it over.

In spite of that, between 2013 and 2016 I was only going to one or two shows a year (this year I've upped my game a little!), yet I've had chance to see Jushin Liger, Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Meiko Satomura, Emi Sakura, Pentagon Jr., Fenix, to see CHIKARA live, and much more besides, to see the likes of British Strong Style, Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr go from strength to strength, and that's with the limited number of shows I've made it to. For those able to go to shows far more regularly than me, the scene is absolutely incredible - I've missed out, over that time period, on seeing Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega, Okada, Tanahashi, Manami Toyota, and so many more.

For a show-going "indie" fan, it's absolutely a golden age. Wrestling as a whole, though, I think is going through a bit of an identity crisis - I talked about the cross-pollination of wrestling styles in another thread, but we're seeing that turn into homogenisation, where the "indie style" is now more prevalent in WWE, and the differences between promotions and styles isn't as apparent as it once was, and where there's a focus on "workrate" and old school ROH-style kickpads and superkicks movefests...but, at the same time, there are more and more fun gimmicks or characters starting to emerge, and I think wrestling is due a swing back in that direction, and finding a space somewhere in the middle that will allow the real new stars to start emerging.

Ultimately, I'd say if anything makes this a golden age it's the accessibility of wrestling - for Japanese and Lucha stars to be bonafide draws for indie shows in the UK, and UK stars to be draws for indie promotions in the US, would have been unthinkable ten years ago, let alone what the Network and other streaming services are offering us.

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1 hour ago, BomberPat said:

For a show-going "indie" fan, it's absolutely a golden age. Wrestling as a whole, though, I think is going through a bit of an identity crisis - I talked about the cross-pollination of wrestling styles in another thread, but we're seeing that turn into homogenisation, where the "indie style" is now more prevalent in WWE, and the differences between promotions and styles isn't as apparent as it once was, and where there's a focus on "workrate" and old school ROH-style kickpads and superkicks movefests...

This is spot on for me, as a show-going fan. From a number of about four companies I've been to shows from in the last 3 years, a single show has probably not passed where I haven't seen at least one match which would have cracked the top 15 of best matches I'd ever seen live between, say 2007 and 2011, something like that. I get as much buzz from live shows as I ever did. Conversely however, I've never had less interest in watching on TV. The only WWE, for example, I've watched since Mania, was Payback round a mate's house. Nothing's getting presented in a way that makes me care about the stakes or about who's going to win, so I don't watch. I used to watch any wrestling on the strength of "good matches" but today I need to give a shit about what's happening and increasingly that's not happening. I'm also watching nothing "spoiled" for the first view as I've stopped caring if I already know the result and will only re-watch a small number of matches that I DID watch unspoiled/live and that were awesome.

Match quality from an execution point of view might be in a golden age but wrestling as an interest is losing me. I'll only get excited about matches where I'm particularly supportive of certain wrestlers or invested in the relative importance of the matches or the development/story/successes or failures of the individual wrestlers, and that's basically down to Progress (in person) and New Japan (on telly). There's probably something to be said about infrequency of either shows or big singles matches, the importance placed on the matches and other factors, but there has never been a time in my wrestling fandom where more companies have been churning out "great matches" but I've given a shit about fewer of those matches.

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Yeah, I'm watching less WWE than I have done in more than a decade - when they have considerably more content available, that's obviously not a good sign for them. Though as I'm paying for the Network, it probably doesn't matter anyway.

I've not watched Smackdown in years, not gone out of my to watch RAW in about two years, with the exception of the one where Shane McMahon came back. I stopped watching 205 Live a couple of weeks ago because it just wasn't doing much for me, even though there are a few wrestlers I'm a fan of on that show. Money In The Bank was the first time I've not watched a WWE PPV at all in probably over a decade.

There's great wrestling all over the world, but there's a lack of great angles and great presentation. I can't remember the last time I got really excited for a match announcement at a show I'm not going to - though I suppose Joe/Lesnar fits that bill for many - or heard a promo, or saw an angle, that made me think "I can't wait to see these two fight".

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Match quality its a golden age. Appeal in actually wanting to watch the matches its in the shits.

Amazingly, I think I've watched one full episode of Raw in about 3 years (probably had Sting on it or someone). I've completely knocked it on the head. Sad really. If I'm walking away from it, it must be shite.

Edited by IANdrewDiceClay

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I just hate 50/50 shit. Growing up I knew who the chaps were, Hogan, Warrior, Savage..........on to Austin, Rock, Bret etc etc etc. They are all interchangeable now, and hell maybe that is a good strategy as they sell tickets and PPV's on the brand not a star, means anybody that takes their ball and fucks off can simply be replaced by one of about 8 others and you wouldn't know. It's all vanilla, everybody wearing black, people brooding around like fucking spoilt kids. I will keep watching though, every now and then a Brock/Joe feud comes along, or they pop me with a tremendous main event match that gives me goosebumps.

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I always compare watching WWE to watching Doctor Who over the past few years. You sit through countless episodes that range from crap to mediocre, wondering why you bother, one comes along that's so god-awful that you think, "that's it, I'm done with this shit", only for them to sucker you back in with something good enough that you'll keep watching and push all the crap to the back of your mind, and then you start the process all over again.

Edited by BomberPat

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48 minutes ago, IANdrewDiceClay said:

Match quality its a golden age. Appeal in actually wanting to watch the matches its in the shits.

Amazingly, I think I've watched one full episode of Raw in about 3 years (probably had Sting on it or someone). I've completely knocked it on the head. Sad really. If I'm walking away from it, it must be shite.

Same here ‚ÄĒ I just tailed off once I realized that it was a massive chore to get through the shows. I've had periods of low interest before, but in terms of televised wrestling, I could barely give a stuff about the match quality, I'm all about the storylines and characters. I was made up for Bryan and Punk in how far they went, but I think they played a decent part in me losing interest, really.

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Talking from the point of view of the WWE, the focus on providing endless amounts of high standard matches rather than providing a more story-line based TV show that people can sink their teeth into is a little bit bizarre, especially when you think back to the 'we make movies' Vince type speeches. Somewhere along the line that theory got lost and the WWE just seem to continually churn out material/matches that it feels like you've seen a hundred times before, it all feels very lazy. PPV standard matches on Raw/Smackdown used to be a bit of a treat, nowaways they happen every week, i don't get that.

 

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