This is a really good point, but I will say that since then, most people seem to have ended up agreeing with me on matches like the one you mentioned in addition to both Taker/Trips matches and the like. These days, its pretty rare that I ever see a match promoted without control, so I was just wondering if maybe I missed something that illustrates what people like about that format. If Eddie/Davey is really the best example, I guess its just hopeless for me to ever like that kind of match.
I don't know if it's the best example; it's just the most obvious example I can think of right now of a match you hated that the majority (including me) thought was great. It's true that opinion on it has soured in the past year-and-a-half, but it seems to me that the majority of people who've "learned" to dislike it did so out of a more general learned distaste for Davey matches or some such, rather than for the reasons why you hated it from the start. And again, I seem to remember the reason you hated it from the start being its non-adherence to a formula you say you're trying to see beyond. That might not be the best match for you to revisit for the start of such a project, but think of a match you disliked for similar reasons but with less of a visceral hatred; trying to examine it in a new light might be illuminating.
Thanks guys, this gave me a lot to chew on. I think I understand what you guys are saying a lot more.
So when analyzing matches with very little control, what makes any one better than another? Quality of spots, or flow, or what, exactly? You mentioned execution, which makes sense, but again I go back to Richards/Elgin which didnt seem to have execution problems but was universally panned. I honestly don't think I know how to analyze matches without control other than thinking to myself 'that was cool.' I was just curious how you guys do that.
I've said this before, but I'll reiterate for purposes of this particular discussion: I view pro wrestling first and foremost as a fake sport
, rather than a fake
sport. Therefore, it's very
rare that I'll dislike a pro wrestling match for "not telling a story," because every one does: "Two guys are gonna fight. Who's gonna win?" The scripted, pre-determined, performative aspects of pro wrestling allow for more layers to be added to this story, and for it to be told in a variety of different ways, but that's always the key story; it's the one that's always being told, and there are so many different ways to tell it that it seems odd to me to think that only one of them is any good. The "underdog fighting from behind" story isn't the only way to generate emotion and engagement on the audience's part; it's not even necessarily the best way.
Quality of spots absolutely matters to me, though I care more about presentation than impact or difficulty to pull off. Flow is huge. Execution is even bigger; for my part, I love Davey/Elgin and that's a big part of the reason why.
The thing that probably matters most to me in terms of matches that most people don't consider good from a "story" standpoint and degrade for the "MOVEZ" factor is performance -- not of the moves themselves (though that absolutely matters) but of character. And I don't mean gimmick or persona, but the more basic level of "Do I believe in this person as a competitor who's doing everything he has to do to win a match?" That's why I'm a lot less bothered by no-selling and fighting spirit" than most on this board; if it's something I see real athletes doing all the time, not only does it not bother me when I see it in pro wrestling, it actually bothers me quite a bit when I don't
see it. The way I've explained it before is that I see two kinds of "hurt" in real sports: The kind where you can continue, and the kind where you can't, and the first kind doesn't look much like being hurt at all. That goes double for sports in which taking bumps is just part of the routine, and when pro wrestling tries to portray a different way of working, it makes suspension of disbelief very difficult for me. (Just as a for-instance: I've fallen on my head in the way most "head drop" moves work. It hurt like hell, but if I was trying to win a competition and running on adrenaline when I got hurt like that, it'd take a few such drops before I was hurt enough not to at least try to kick out, and I'm not a particularly tough guy. That's not to say I need to see double-digit head drops before I can believe in a guy staying down for the count; just that it doesn't particularly bother me when a Davey Richards comes roaring back to life after a big superplex spot or whatever. And while John Cena's Superman act can strain credulity even in that regard, it's why I had no problem with him winning the Lesnar match.) I cut some older American wrestling a lot of slack in this regard, because most of the best practitioners -- the Flairs, the Steamboats, et al -- do so many other things so well, but in modern wrestling, that's what I look for. (Puro seems to have this problem a lot less than American wrestling, especially American indy wrestling, which is why it tends to be US indies that produce most of the most controversial matches in this type of discussion.)
So that's my two cents, which I'll admit seems fairly different from most posters on this board, even the ones who've liked long-control-segment-free matches that you've hated. It's entirely possible this all sounds very stupid to you, but hopefully it at least sheds some light on a way of looking at that type of match.