Jump to content

What happened to wrestling?


Smokin'
 Share

Recommended Posts

So in the past 6 months or so, I've been watching a bit more wrestling after years away from it. I joined UKFF in 2006, which was probably around the last time I was a serious wrestling fan and I used to love watching ROH at the time, TNA was fun back then, the WWE was good to watch, but I eventually lost interest and stopped watching.

Having come back and watched a good amount of shows in the last 6 months, it's shocking to me how much the style of wrestling has changed. For me personally, it's not as good but I don't want to be too critical of it because that's a preference, but I am curious as to why wrestling seems to have abandoned psychology in the matches? And more to the point, why people like Meltzer - whose newsletter I subscribed to for years - have done a 180 on psychology and what was once the foundation of every match is now considered to be irrelevant?

I've watched most AEW shows in the last 6 months and you can see this when watching, say, The Young Bucks. Their matches are noticable in the way they go from spot to spot to spot without any basic, fundamental psychology linking this together. The selling is very poor, to the point where I'm questioning whether they actually want to sell, and you have these convoluted spots thrown in where both teams will obviously be working together. If these matches were being torn apart - as they were 10+ years ago - then that'd be fine, but what baffles me is why people just don't seem to care about psychology anymore. I remember forums like this used to be full of people rightly calling wrestlers out for being "spot monkeys", having "spotfests" but now, that just seems to be the style that wrestling has fallen into and people don't think it's a negative aspect of a match.

It's interesting to me. I've seen some brilliant wrestling lately too, by the way, and I'd say that Kyle O'Reilly/Finn Balor was one of the best matches I've ever seen, but I find it strange how wrestling fans can see a guy like Adam Cole in the same light as someone like Finn Balor when, in my opinion, they're at completely different ends of the spectrum.  This is why it seems to me as an outsider, someone who has missed the last 10 years of evolution, that psychology has completely fallen off the radar and it's now no longer a factor in whether a wrestler is talented or not.

As a side note, I think there's a lot of young talent coming out of the deveolpment facilities but they're coming out with the right mentality. The Varsity Blondes, for example, get it. They have a better foundation to be top wrestlers than the The Young Bucks have, they have far more potential. I know FTR live and die by their old school image but they're an incredible tag team, they're exactly what young teams like The Varsity Blondes should be aspiring to be. Guys like Ogogo, again, are very impressive too, even if they are green and the fact that the developmental facilities are producing guys with a good foundation gives me hope. When you look at Corbin, Reigns, Gable, Otis etc., it's obvious why the WWE is more than happy to be recruiting athletes rather than scouring the indies for talent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
Posted (edited)

One of the biggest red flags with pro-wrestling fans is over-using the word, “psychology.” It’s an absolute platitude. Just something you think you should say to sound smart to da biz. “That guy doesn’t have psychology.” “I prefer more psychology and less spot fests.” Get in the bin. Almost every time, whenever pushed as to what, “psychology,” actually means, they’ll fall to pieces and start talking bollocks about working a body part or whatever.

Psychology is whatever it needs to be. Did the heel anger you? Did the babyface garner sympathy or support? Did the momentum swing and generate excitement? Were there a couple of crazy moments that had you jumping out of your seat? Was there a big comeback that had the crowd going mental? Did it end on a huge crescendo where the entire building counted the three count before roaring in delight? Or did you find yourself muttering, “bastards!” when the heels stole the win? Then that’s good psychology. Whether it was fast-paced or full of high-flying moves is irrelevant.

The real reason less people complain about, “spot fests,” or, “a lack of psychology,” nowadays isn’t because the, “art of psychology is lost.” It’s because the dickheads who used to say stuff like that, that first generation of internet wrestling fans, have for the most part grown up and realised what a load of shit it is. The few that haven’t are the same melts who still won’t admit to liking pop music. It’s okay. We’re not fourteen anymore. You can admit the Young Bucks are brilliant and Girls Aloud released a tonne of bangers.

Edited by Supremo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

If the crowd are cheering the faces, booing the heels, and reacting to the finish, the match has psychology. All of that is true of every Young Bucks match I've seen in AEW, and most of their matches elsewhere. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

I might not be the biggest fan in the world these days, but even I can see that the hottest feud in all of wrestling at the moment is built around 'psychology' In Omega / Hangman. The whole feud had been built around subtle hints, slow burns and keeping the men apart as much as possible to the point that fans are now rabid for them to meet. If that's not 'Psychology 101' in wrestling then I don't know what is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Smokin' said:

 

 The Varsity Blondes, for example, get it. They have a better foundation to be top wrestlers than the The Young Bucks have, they have far more potential. 

Erm, Young Bucks are easily the top tag team in the world right now (and have been for several years), a whole company was literally built around them and their mates. I'm not sure how to take your stance on Varsity have more potential? Potential for what? Be one of WWE's 6 Tag Team Champions?

Whilst I do agree with you in general, Wrestling, like music or film, will always do what the fans like in that era. Spot fest are popular and the crowd reacts so they continue. My wife absolutely hates Superhero movies for example, she watches one now and again and just moans they are all the same (Which she is right to an extent) but the box office receipts tell us people are not bored so they will continue.

Psychology has moved on because the world has moved on. When i was a kid Saturday morning cartoons were 30 mins, now my niece watches 5 minute YouTube animations all day and that's probably a reflection of modern wrestling- Spot fests are instantly entertaining over a slow build to a high spot. I can only imagine during the rock and wrestling boom you had British fans moaning that WWE were no longer using rounds.

I also think it's noting there can be a big difference between a 'good wrestler' and a 'popular wrestler'. Some talents i see praised non stop on twitter so i check out their work and it's honestly a joke but then i realize they are very good at social media so they get popular through that. Although I am not of the following opinion, it could be said Young Bucks were very good at Vblogging.

Also, look at the product you are watching, AEW is supposed to appeal to indy fans and fans who have fallen out of love with WWE. WWE is supposed to appeal to 'general audience' (seriously, they stopped aiming their shows at wrestling fans years ago), NWA is probably a product that sounds like would be more up your street.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

Wrestling always changes. The musclemen of the 80s had the proper wrestlers of the 70s scratching their heads and wondering where it all went wrong. In the mid-late 90s, WCW had guys having lightening quick, lucha inspired spot fests, the WWF went on to have 2 minute matches galore between name wrestlers and ECW made a name of all sorts of gimmicks and garbage matches. None of that would have seen the light on national TV 10 years earlier. It evolves, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Matches have "psychology" as @BomberPatalready mentioned. It depends on whether you think "psychology" is what Jake Roberts and Raven told everyone every match needed to be in their numerous shoot interviews. "Psychology" is understanding your audience, illiciting the reaction you want from them and taking them and the people at home on a journey. It's not some A to B to C set of rules.

Most of my favourite matches down the years have a traditional "psychology". But what I've realised along the way is that caring about the people and caring who wins is much, much, much more important than any "psychology" of a match. I've never loved spot fests, but a Young Bucks match were I really want the other team to win makes the style irrelevant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
Posted (edited)

Let’s say for argument’s sake that you’re stuck in 2003 and still watch, rate and discuss wrestling like you’re Scott Keith or Fin Martin. I still think you’d struggle to accuse the Young Bucks of, “no psychology.” Hasn’t Matt Jackson been selling his lower back for the better part of five years? Isn’t that psychology? Psychology to the max. Maximum psychology.

Edited by Supremo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slightly off topic because this isn't something the OP mentioned, but it's always funny to me when people talk about psychology and the only thing they mean is working a body part. That is one story you can tell in a wrestling ring out of *thousands*. 

There's stuff that happens in wrestling that I do think is a bit stupid, the dives in every other match with people milling about waiting to catch them is pretty hokey, but it certainly no worse that ECW in the 90s.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, Supremo said:

Maximum psychology.

The Bucks need to start calling one of their mental tag finishers that, perhaps a top rope 450 spike tombstone. And I'd fucking love it.

I've seen the Bucks wrestle live against The Briscoes. Me and my mates wanted The Briscoes to get their homophobic, redneck heads kicked in so we booed the fuck out of them. They looked like winning until The Bucks repeatedly kicked them in the face so we cheered. We went home happy. Thus concludes today's lesson on psychology.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Supremo said:

One of the biggest red flags with pro-wrestling fans is over-using the word, “psychology.” It’s an absolute platitude. Just something you think you should say to sound smart to da biz. “That guy doesn’t have psychology.” “I prefer more psychology and less spot fests.” Get in the bin. Almost every time, whenever pushed as to what, “psychology,” actually means, they’ll fall to pieces and start talking bollocks about working a body part or whatever.

Off subject, one time on Twitter some troll came in someone's mentions (might even have been someone from here) and mistakenly said "ring philosophy". Instead of admitting his mistake (which we all make) he double downed and insisted he meant 'philosophy'. When pushed on what he meant by that, he blocked everyone and then deactivated the account. This was all in the space of about 10 minutes. Amazing.

It's just something that has lost all meaning in wrestling terms for me. Like workrate.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
13 minutes ago, gmoney said:

Ring Philosopher is a great, great gimmick. 

What is Damian Sandow up to these days anyway? 

In other news, it'd be interesting to hear the OP's counter points because I agree with most of the responses - psychology is attributed in the mind of many to purely body parts. Which indeed misses the point and makes discussion about psychology or not redundant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree that psychology is about getting the reactions and if that's working then they have it. The issue I've found watching recently is a complete lack of logic that seems to have come in over the last decade (and not storyline wise as that's always been nuts).

For me there is an excess of stuff to create a pop or a moment that is very unrealistic (multiple kicks to the head doesn't win a match, people visibly working together to engineer a spot, big dangerous moves not being the finish etc.). There's been loads of matches I've gone into then puffed off the end as all the logic goes out of the window and then it's a sprint to get the big spots in. 

Obviously historically certain moves that were finishers probably wouldn't hurt a fly but in the world they were in they worked. Now a lower card guy may kick out out of a top rope tombstone. If I see someone getting kicked in the head 3 times etc. then I don't think that person is tough -  it just makes the person doing the move look cack 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over the years, I've equated 'ring psychology' with 'believability', and that goes hand-in-hand with the work being good enough that I suspend my disbelief regardless of style.

Luchasaurus is a university-educated dinosaur, and most of the time I find him to be hokey but entertaining choreographed bollox. However, FTR sold and worked Jurassic Express in such a way that I 'believed' when Luchasaurus would get the tag, he'd fuck them up and send them packing. You can do whatever you like in the ring, as long as in that match everything you do makes sense in its internal logic, and the high spots are built and timed well.

Andrade vs Sydal was a disappointment, because, despite the fact that they are both clearly good workers with great athleticism and solid storytelling, I could see all the repositioning and clunky spot setups. Similarly with Bucks vs Penta/Eddie - you've got Eddie selling plunder spots like death, then Nick landing a senton on a 'steel' bin and hopping up like it's nothing. Come time for Omega vs Page, I won't care if it's a psychology-free stuntfest - their character work beforehand means that, barring some royal blatant fuckups by both, I'm going to be cheering and booing along with whatever they do and loving it.

Edited by CavemanLynn
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Supremo said:

One of the biggest red flags with pro-wrestling fans is over-using the word, “psychology.” It’s an absolute platitude. Just something you think you should say to sound smart to da biz. “That guy doesn’t have psychology.” “I prefer more psychology and less spot fests.” Get in the bin. Almost every time, whenever pushed as to what, “psychology,” actually means, they’ll fall to pieces and start talking bollocks about working a body part or whatever.

Psychology is whatever it needs to be. Did the heel anger you? Did the babyface garner sympathy or support? Did the momentum swing and generate excitement? Were there a couple of crazy moments that had you jumping out of your seat? Was there a big comeback that had the crowd going mental? Did it end on a huge crescendo where the entire building counted the three count before roaring in delight? Or did you find yourself muttering, “bastards!” when the heels stole the win? Then that’s good psychology. Whether it was fast-paced or full of high-flying moves is irrelevant.

The real reason less people complain about, “spot fests,” or, “a lack of psychology,” nowadays isn’t because the, “art of psychology is lost.” It’s because the dickheads who used to say stuff like that, that first generation of internet wrestling fans, have for the most part grown up and realised what a load of shit it is. The few that haven’t are the same melts who still won’t admit to liking pop music. It’s okay. We’re not fourteen anymore. You can admit the Young Bucks are brilliant and Girls Aloud released a tonne of bangers.

I disagree, especially with the part about how "psychology" can't be defined. I think it's very easy to define, it's the simple notion of what makes sense as a wrestling contest. I put in "wrestling contest" because the obvious rebuttal to "contest" would be the impossibility of an Irish whip or why wrestlers just don't punch each other but there's a large grey area between a realistic fight and an unrealistic spotfest.

The issue that I see in wrestling today is that things just don't make sense, therefore the psychology is poor. If a wrestler has his back worked on for the entire match and then starts powerbombing people, it's poor psychology. If a wrestler isn't strong enough to do a move early in the match but does something equally impressive as a feat of strength later, it's poor psychology. If a wrestler is sat in a choke for 30 seconds without giving a plausible reason they're not out cold, it's lacking psychology. If a wrestler is in an armbar for 30 seconds without it being snapped, it's illogical and therefore poor psychology. A wrestler choosing to do a standing shooting star press (notably Sammy Guevara) is poor psychology because it obviously looks less painful to receive than a simple elbow drop, so why is it being done?

These things aren't hard to define at all and they loosely fall under the bracket of what psychology is. It's another word for "making sense". If two wrestlers are clearly working together (Just as Matt Jackson and Fenix have done many, many times) then it doesn't make sense. Why would two wrestlers who are meant to be winning a match be working together? Did Terry Funk and Ric Flair look like they were working together or did they make it look like a wrestling contest? Convoluted, contrived sequences in wrestling are poor psychology because you're telling the audience that it's not real, therefore you can't buy into it as a contest, merely an athletic spectacle.

A lot of wrestling these days is like the equivalent of a Michael Bay film. I get it as a spectacle, it's impressive to watch millions of dollars of explosions go off...but it's at the expense of the basic story. As athletically impressive as wrestling is these days (far beyond Funk/Flair), it seems to have come at the expense of wrestling actually making sense as a contest. That seems secondary to the desire to get pops from athletic spots, which is why I can't understand the connection with this brand of wrestling.

Edited by Smokin'
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...