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Stone Cold, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan arguably the best and most entertaining wrestlers of all time. And none of them were good "wrestlers" in their prime. So why is wrestling so important to so many fans nowadays?
Great wrestling is awesome if it works within the story.... But just wrasslin' on its own? It belongs on the weekends like we used to get with WCW Saturday Night and stuff like that.
 

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Austin was a great worker and his big breakout moment came in arguably the best WrestleMania match ever ie vs Bret. Of course Austin's run in-ring in 2001 is as good as anyone in a calendar year.

Rock was fine worker. He too had his big star making moment in a match ie ladder match against hhh at summerslam. He worked numerous 4+ star matches over the next 3-4 years and came back to work a 30 minute match with cena in 2012. If rock couldn't work he would be considered all bark and no bite and fans will quickly lose interest. Look at bray Wyatt whose in-ring stuff is very underpar. Look at Eli drake who can't work but can talk. Even miz struggled for years to be accepted because his ring work was quite poor.

Ring work means more than moves too. Its how you get a crowd interested and work them. Hogan is one of best ever at that even if Vince turned him into a cartoon

I mean you are asking why is the wrestling part of pro wrestling important..its like asking why is the boxing part of boxing important of the football part of superbowl important..i much rather the build up/theme/fireworks/cheerleaders/half-time music act
 

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TEAM KICK!
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Because in the modern day, a great and exciting match is absolutely required to keep the crowd's attention most of the time. This is especially important because WWE are piss poor with storytelling and feuds in general these days, so wrestlers going in there and putting on great wrestling matches can often be the only thing that can keep the crowds, and people watching at home, invested.

If a wrestler can't put on an exciting match which keeps the crowd on the edge of their seat wondering what's going to happen next, then they're going to be limited in how much the crowd are going to get into them, unless of course they play an excellent character and have pre existing heat/overness with a crowd. A great example of this? The Revival in NXT, they became one of the most popular acts arguably in all of pro wrestling, why? Because they're great wrestlers who know how to work an exciting and unpredictable match and use heel tactics efficiently. Are they good characters? Sure, but their matches were absolutely exceptional. Entertainment comes in many forms and great matches are definitely one of them.
 

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In the grand scheme of things it means close to nothing. Most of the weekly TV matches are pointless with performers operating at half their capacity and next to no build up. The only wrestling that actually matters is on the PPVs, which is barely 20-30 minutes at best in a one month program, the storytelling / build up aspect of a feud occupies at least 80-100 minutes a month which is the most responsible for the making or breaking of a feud. The attributes that really matter there are your character role play abilities, charisma and mic skills. These are the attributes which are showcased much much more prominently on a weekly basis and are paramount to make the eventual matches even matter irrespective of the quality of work which would be on display in the match.

Different people watch for different reasons, also, with the advent of the Internet and the increasing virtual proximity to the various fringe organisations operating primarily on ring work as their major selling points, have led to a section of the WWE audience demanding higher standards of in ring proficiency in WWE as well, when in fact all the success of the WWE in the past 20 years or so has been solely due to it's ability to present engrossing storylines and characters on a weekly basis. Personally, an in ring driven product is the last thing I'd want WWE to become, it's also for these reasons that I absolutely detest these "tournaments" that WWE has started hosting as some sort of pure wrestling and atheltic contests with little to no storytelling to any of their matches. Seem like a colossal waste of time to me as evidenced by the absolutely atrocious reaction to the Crusierweight division in it's early days which was directly following the outcome of an elaborate tournament. Give me a storytelling driven product with 2.5 * PPV matches over a storytelling dead show with 4.5 * PPV matches any damn day of the week.
 

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Because in the modern day, a great and exciting match is absolutely required to keep the crowd's attention most of the time. This is especially important because WWE are piss poor with storytelling and feuds in general these days, so wrestlers going in there and putting on great wrestling matches can often be the only thing that can keep the crowds, and people watching at home, invested.

If a wrestler can't put on an exciting match which keeps the crowd on the edge of their seat wondering what's going to happen next, then they're going to be limited in how much the crowd are going to get into them, unless of course they play an excellent character and have pre existing heat/overness with a crowd. A great example of this? The Revival in NXT, they became one of the most popular acts arguably in all of pro wrestling, why? Because they're great wrestlers who know how to work an exciting and unpredictable match and use heel tactics efficiently. Are they good characters? Sure, but their matches were absolutely exceptional. Entertainment comes in many forms and great matches are definitely one of them.
And the charcters reflected the wrestling, and vice versa. They look, walk and talk like old-school heels, and they work like old-school heels.

That's where I think a lot wrestlers today struggle. The character and what they do in the ring are separate. Austin, Rock, and Hogan all worked like the character they played.
 

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Ring work is very important. You need to be able to tell a story in the ring and draw in the audience. Your wrestling ability needs to be at least decent, otherwise if you are sloppy, it will disengage the audience and you might end up injuring yourself and/or your opponent.
 

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TEAM KICK!
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And the charcters reflected the wrestling, and vice versa. They look, walk and talk like old-school heels, and they work like old-school heels.

That's where I think a lot wrestlers today struggle. The character and what they do in the ring are separate. Austin, Rock, and Hogan all worked like the character they played.
I won't disagree with that, though say if they used the same kind of tactics, but they were considerably slower, and failed to do anything outside of the norm (WWE tag wrestling is very formulaic these days, but teams like Revival and DIY sort of broke away from that mould), you could still use the argument that they were wrestling like their characters, but i virtually guarantee they'd be nowhere near as popular, because the matches would have been unremarkable, hell, they probably wouldn't even be on the main roster at the minute if they didn't catch people's eye with their vast number of MOTY contenders.

I totally agree that the number of good characters in today's WWE isn't particularly high at all, and that's something that desperately needs to be improved on, but that also come part and parcel with how WWE puts some of their talent on a leash, refuses to adapt when it's obvious things need to change, and neuter a lot of characters, especially babyfaces (Compare Rollins to what he was post Shield and it's not even close), or people from NXT (Compare Joe in NXT to what he is now), add that to WWE's poor attempts at storytelling in feuds, and i do think ring work is a very important factor these days. Not saying that the talent is blameless, because some of them do lack the presence and the charisma, but some of them do a great job in getting people's attention through their own wrestling ability, it's not a case of them flipping around and performing constant high spots, but it's just getting the crowd invested through various means, and some of them do it well.
 

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Baby It's Violence
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is it? fans have turned away from this workrate oriented product
Fans has turned away from there being next to NO good storylines. While the workrate part has its flaws, the quality of it is much better than their own characters and storylines they put on.

Name 1 hot storyline currently on Raw; that itself is a challenge.
 

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There's so much more better entertainment options if you seek only character work and talking, why would you even bother with wrestling if you don't care for in ring action? I'll never get this anti-smark way of thinking.

inb4 b-b-b-but it's fake fighting, g-go watch UFC if you want action!
That's nice and all but I'll take exciting 20 minutes long scripted match over two guys humping each other for 2 minutes any day.
 

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Team Narcisse
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Just because a performer's character has more emphasis placed on their character/mic work doesn't automatically make them a bad ring worker. The three men you named all have matches that are considered classics. You don't get multiple classics without being a good ring worker and I've never seen anyone claim that you had to be able to go out and win a gold medal in wrestling or be able to complete Jericho's list of wrestling holds to be a great ring worker. If anyone thinks that's the only way they have a very narrow way of seeing ring work.
 
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