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And yeah, less wrestlers would be better. You could probably scrap everyone in the Andre Battle Royal every year. If each promotion cut their rosters in half and fired the bottom halves, then things would probably get a lot, lot better.
There’s too many wrestlers and they’re not booked with enough of a clear gap between them.

As a result of “pushing the brand”, nobody matters, and they’re given less creative freedom than ever.

I guess they flip, flop and fly because they lack any other means to stand out and be successful.

The rigid character structure and giant soup of a roster are the main cause of the drop in nuance IMO, and indeed it’s to the industry’s severe detriment.

There only used to be about 10 wrestlers involved in title programs across the entire company for a whole year, with maybe another 10 wrestlers involved or posing a threat. That felt special, and with less competition at their level, they all had the security and incentive to collaborate the nuances together. Face and heel carrying whole body forward.

Now, we’ve got the 80th best wrestler on the roster competing for one of the 100’s of titles and fans are questioning why the 95th best wrestler isn’t getting a shot.

Where does the show’s structure encourage nuance?

I think WWE’s overly corporate, brand-centered entertainment style is to blame.
 

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"Workrate" is such a weird term. What works is what draws. Basically every draw of all-time has been a good worker, and when you look at what they do in the ring, it all makes sense. It's a bit of a myth that the top guys have been guys who can't really go. Hogan was a master at selling. Austin was a fucking dynamo in the ring. The Rock was a natural. Brock is phenomenal bell-to-bell.

What has rooted them is the death of kayfabe. Because once you stop believing in it, the only reason to watch is the "performance," and that changes the work. Pushes are now rejected. It's now about whether or not you "deserve" it. And that means being around for a long time, earning snowflakes, but there probably being a reason you haven't been the chosen one.

And that chases away casuals, leaving you only the loudest voices who don't want stars, but influence. John Cena is rejected. Roman Reigns is rejected. It's not that they aren't talented. People just know that is who Vince wants.

Honestly, I think it was 2004 that this really started to go sour for them. Not that the WWE was not declining before then, or that the lack of competition meant that Triple H could spray his stink everywhere without reprisal. But that is when the culture of "deserving it" really clicked into place. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero -- both of whom should have been stars, don't get me wrong -- were pushed with the story of defiance. They were told they wouldn't make it, but somehow talent has risen to the top. What does that even mean?

Eddie Guerrero was ready to be a star in 1995. WCW did market research and found out he was the most likeable wrestler. He was having five star matches. In 1997 he has the classic with Rey Mysterio. He was ready to be a star in 1998. It was time to move past Hogan and put guys like Eddie into spots with guys of a decent size that wouldn't look ridiculous working with him.

Chris Benoit turned the business on its head in 1995 with the Best of the Super Juniors. That influence still permeates today. He was having emotionally charged matches in 1996 with Kevin Sullivan and was someone ear-marked then. They just didn't go anywhere with it because none of the old guys that stopped drawing would get out of the way. But he should have been right in there with that class of Eddie Guerrero, Sting, Bret Hart and Goldberg to take WCW further in 1998 after the nWo stopped working.

You don't push them because they fucking deserved it. Because they deserved it you push them. There's a key difference in there. The story isn't "hey, love these guys, they've been around forever." The story is "these guys are fucking ace."

But you keep hearing that "d" word around 2004. Rey Mysterio is another guy I remember hearing it. And this is where people expected you to start climbing a ladder instead of accepting the narrative put in front of them.

I don't know how you change that other than finding a guy that the fans feel deserves it, giving them a giant kayfabe push and hoping that sparks enough of a movement around the guy that you can plug people into his orbit and no one really cares. Drew McIntyre is a good shot at that. Big guy, looks amazing, can go in the ring, has years of experience, "paid his dues." With him on top, you can maybe start looking for stars again instead of needing to put everyone through a decade-long grinder.
God damn, this is perhaps the best post I’ve ever read on this forum.

I even stopped watching in 2004 for 10+ years for the very reason you described.

Somebody sticky this post!
 

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The wrestlers who complain that the fans are complaining about this what do they have to say now that its the Undertaker saying it?
 

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What works for one wrestler doesn't mean it will work for all. Look at the reaction Big Daddy gets here when just knocking his opponent down at 1 minute 15. No other wrestler on Earth could probably make that kind of thing work.

When 100 people on the street were surveyed couple of years back in the UK about 3/4 could recognize Daddy in a photo, half of them Hogan, less than a third Rock and Daddy had been dead 15 years and off national TV 25 years at that point.

 

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The wrestlers who complain that the fans are complaining about this what do they have to say now that its the Undertaker saying it?
Hell, what about what Bobby Heenan said to aspiring wrestlers about how it'd be better for them to just put a.38 to the roofs of their mouths than to even bother getting into a business he saw as dead?
 

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I will never deny that Undertaker was a draw both domestically and internationally. But in ring work and drawing ability are 2 different things. Hogan ain't no Bret Hart in the in ring department but he's the biggest draw in the history of the wrestling business.

Undertaker's in ring psychology is nothing to write home about. It has a lot of holes in it. For example, why would a supposed 6'10" wrestler try to do a plancha on a guy literally half his size or less? Why would a large heavyweight try to do a jumping clothesline where he almost sommersaults forward on opponents half his size? He takes a bigger bump than the guy he's giving the move to, and it doesn't make much sense.

We got people like Omega, Okada and Ibushi tell a more compelling story in the ring far better than Undertaker who has been in the business for twice or thrice as long as they have while not being backed up a wrestling conglomerate.
Just to be a stickler though, Hogan may not have been as smooth as Bret Hart, but god damn could he work. He could tell an amazing story. The sympathy he would elicit from crowds with his facial expressions and body language was basically unparalleled. That's being an excellent in-ring worker. The aim of everything you do in the ring is to foster an environment that people are going to spend money on a ticket, watch you on television, feel good about ordering the PPV you are on, etc. It's all about making money. That's the work. Hogan is one of the best workers of all-time, because he separated the most people from their money.

You can pull apart anyone like that. Why does Kurt Angle go for a moonsault he rarely ever hit? Why did Austin risk compacting his spine with the Stunner? Why did The Rock take so much time with the People's Elbow. Why do people try and clothesline Daniel Bryan after he backflips off the top? There is suspension of disbelief. The Undertaker doing the old Spoiler spot is a bit theatrical. It's to highlight that he has got control of his opponent, and then he smashes them in the fucking neck. It's whatever. You can suspend disbelief in certain contexts. Needing to do it all the time for every move is where it gets frustrating. When there is no effort put it is where it gets insulting. And the more you suspend your disbelief the more likely you are to walk away.

Omega, Okada and Ibushi being more compelling is a completely subjective opinion. Of those three, the only guy I would even try and make the argument for is Okada. And I am NOT a Taker fan. Okada is a brilliant storyteller, an amazing worker and someone that Taker would probably do great business with. Ibushi has his moments, but he's way too spotty. I had to skip his match with Will Ospreay from Wrestle Kingdom last year where he Ibushi backflipped into the guy's foot for no reason seconds in. Yuck. But that's my taste. You might consider that compelling.

What we've got to measure are the metrics though. We can look at what most people have enjoyed historically. What engages people. It's Hogan and Taker over Ibushi and Omega. Sorry. You might like one set more, but you are in a minority of people who are going to grade on that scale.
 

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If it was up to me, wrestlers would slow down. Less flips, less people jumping off the top rope, less of all the flashy stuff. Get back to basics. If you can't get people excited from a ground level, the flashy stuff doesn't matter anymore.
 

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If it was up to me, wrestlers would slow down. Less flips, less people jumping off the top rope, less of all the flashy stuff. Get back to basics. If you can't get people excited from a ground level, the flashy stuff doesn't matter anymore.
This would be awesome. I think it’s more likely to hold attention on TV and make PPVs and house shows matter more too.
 

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Cody and Dustin had the most emotionally-wrought and psychologically-adept storytelling match of the year, and for all the so-called classic matches of last year, the one which stuck was that match.

Work-rate matches with 1000 moves and breathless choreography is very much like a good action movie. There's a lot happening, you're really engaged when you're watching it, but you just kind of forget about immediately afterwards because there was no depth to it.

Wrestling is no different than movies in that respect. Storytelling is THE most important aspect of a good match.
 

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It's the law of diminishing returns.

What made RVD interesting? he was unique amongst the roster in that he did great kicks and some high-flying stuff. It didn't get boring because only he (and very few others did it). Fast-forward to now, and 3/4 of the roster do it. What was unique is now the status quo. It kills character uniqueness.

Every boundary you push has a limited time wherein that thing is seen as exciting. Eventually even the most acrobatic of performance, done often enough, becomes wearisome.

One of two things have to occur.

1. Continue to do the same performance feats throughout the roster and the product continues in its stagnant state, or even declines.

2. Shift the product to a much more style-diverse roster and allow the general audience to recover from overexposure to work-rate style matches.
 

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I've heard Taker point this out before. I agree with him. Not that big spots can't happen, but if they happen frequently they won't mean as much. Over time wrestlers will then need to start doing more and more crazy stuff until they simply can't. Then when the audience just sees the same stuff over and over again it's not going to get the same reaction. On top of that, the more riskier things you try to get a pop, the higher chance an injury happens. Plus I think it also contributes to fans caring less and less about wrestlers, and more about the spots they do

The WWE... hell wrestling a whole need to figure out how to turn things back a bit on the high risk action without losing interest from the audience in the process. That's a very difficult task because we're already pretty deep into that hole. I think part of making the storytelling within matches engaging is making the storylines/storytelling leading up to the match amazing. Not just between the wrestlers, but any video packages (which WWE is usually on point with), commentators building it up/helping tell the story, and taking the live crowds into consideration for things. You get all these things right, and you make the match feel far more important and thus far better than it would be otherwise.

Miz/Ziggler from No Mercy 2016 is a perfect example of this. They'd wrestled and feuded numerous times in years prior. The in-ring work itself in that match, while really good, wasn't exactly an athletic spectacle. That isn't what made it a strong MOTYC for 2016. It was the story they had to play off of in that match. The crowd being engaged in whatever they did was due to how strong the build to the match was. How Miz was tired of being disrespected as a champion and wanting to cement his reign as an all-time great. How Ziggler's journey to the IC Title became more and more engaging with each match that Miz managed to cheat a win in. The promos they cut that made the story they were telling feel special (even though there had been retirement angles in WWE prior). Heck the video package, which usually tends to be the best part of feuds nowadays, felt kinda weak compared to the build-up itself. People even wanted that match to main event. A mid-card title match between two guys who had wrestled against each other for mid-card titles several times over the years... and if it had main evented the show it would've felt appropriate since that arguably was the main attraction for the show.

Anyways, kinda went a little off topic. All of that to say, I think the writing/storytelling needs to improve first and foremost. Once that's done, you can dial back the athleticism a bit and keep those highly athletic matches with minimal story few and far between... which will then make them feel special again when we do happen to see that.
 

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Reminder that two GOATS with the most basic movesets of all time elicited the biggest reactions of all time:
I was at X-8 it was my first WrestleMania that I attended. Not only was this match a goddamn masterclass in how to work a crowd, it literally left the crowd so fulfilled(How in the hell WWE didn't put this on last I do not know but it wasn't a smart move.) that Trish Stratus wearing a Canadian Flag on her hot ass in her hometown barely "popped" the crowd.

Rock and Hogan are fucking artists and Masters at that and this match is the proof. Hell, they even managed a double turn during the match as Rock had top work heel and Hogan face despite going into the match as the opposite.
 

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Is it a case of. Its easier to have a great match than to write great storylines and characters?

Just throw these two dudes out there for twenty minutes. Include lots of flips. Crowd is happy. Rather that than spend hours on creative.

The spotty, flipping style has rose just as the characters and storylines have decreased. Coincidence?
 

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Discussion Starter #118
I was at X-8 it was my first WrestleMania that I attended. Not only was this match a goddamn masterclass in how to work a crowd, it literally left the crowd so fulfilled(How in the hell WWE didn't put this on last I do not know but it wasn't a smart move.) that Trish Stratus wearing a Canadian Flag on her hot ass in her hometown barely "popped" the crowd.

Rock and Hogan are fucking artists and Masters at that and this match is the proof. Hell, they even managed a double turn during the match as Rock had top work heel and Hogan face despite going into the match as the opposite.
It was Triple H's idea to main event as champion. Jericho told the story on his podcast.
 

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It's the law of diminishing returns.

What made RVD interesting? he was unique amongst the roster in that he did great kicks and some high-flying stuff. It didn't get boring because only he (and very few others did it). Fast-forward to now, and 3/4 of the roster do it. What was unique is now the status quo. It kills character uniqueness.

Every boundary you push has a limited time wherein that thing is seen as exciting. Eventually even the most acrobatic of performance, done often enough, becomes wearisome.

One of two things have to occur.

1. Continue to do the same performance feats throughout the roster and the product continues in its stagnant state, or even declines.

2. Shift the product to a much more style-diverse roster and allow the general audience to recover from overexposure to work-rate style matches.
I think that is why the characters nowadays are getting over a lot. Look at Velveteen Dream, Elias, The New Day, The Fiend. Yes they can all go in the ring but they are getting huge responses due to actually having a character.

Its just a role reversal today where characters are fewer but more over whereas back in the day high spot workers were fewer but more over.
 
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