Wrestling Forum banner

What Makes A Great Match?

  • Storytelling

    Votes: 19 79.2%
  • Wrestling

    Votes: 5 20.8%

What Makes A Great Match: Storytelling or Wrestling?

5618 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  dave 1981
Throughout the years wrestling matches have always been the finalization of battles between some of the wrestling industries greatest competitors. Everyone has a favorite wrestler that encompasses characteristics that exemplify themselves or sets them apart from everybody else. When it comes to deciding when something is great a consensus needs to be accounted for in order for it to stand the test of time. Great matches normally have two qualities that help them stand out above the rest: great storytelling and great wrestling. Storytelling is a huge part of what makes a match great because if you don't give the fans a reason to care then your losing the battle of wills. Matches with great storytelling (i.e. Hogan v. Rock I, Undertaker v. HHH this year, CM Punk vs. Cena, etc...) don't necessarily have great wrestling but, convey more emotions through spots and facial expressions than an armbar or a wrestling counter ever do. Then there are the great technichal wrestling matches (i.e. Shawn v. Bret, Angle v. Benoit, Flair v. Steamboat, etc...) that bring a sense of realism that pro wrestling lacks. These kinds of matches make legends out of those who compete in them. So what is the one thing you guys think makes a great match: Storytelling or Wrestling?

p.s. Don't say both because that is obvious!!!!
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Storytelling, if the moves mean nothing then i cant get into the match. Unless your match is just a plain spot fest like most MITB matches then its about storytelling in my opinion.
The obvious answer is missing in the poll:

Storytelling AND wrestling

Storytelling can lead to a decent match, wrestling can lead to a decent match, but only the combination of both can lead to a GREAT match.

And yes, I do say both of 'em, BECAUSE its obvious :troll
Storytelling to me. No doubt about it. It's awesome to see good matches that are MOTY caliber but the ones with awesome storytelling that will be with me for the longest of times. The ones that get you into the match no matter the actual wrestling ability.

The ability to talk to your crowd. Although guys who could do that like HBK are gone. I seen how much better it was compared to the great matches this year with HBK in HHH vs Taker. It was an unforgettable experience. These are the matches that I believe most people want to see. Playing out characters is after all storytelling.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Story-telling every time. That being said you need a fair amount of wrestling in a match to tell a good story. But you can throw a load of great wrestling spots together but without a story it means nothing.
The obvious answer is missing in the poll:

Storytelling AND wrestling

Storytelling can lead to a decent match, wrestling can lead to a decent match, but only the combination of both can lead to a GREAT match.

And yes, I do say both of 'em, BECAUSE its obvious :troll
Storytelling for sure.

It's real hard to have matches with no meaning at all in them.

That's the biggest thing about matches WWE is lacking. The actual matches themselves aren't bad, but how can you be interested if nothings happening. It's just like people who watch sports. Many will say that they don't really care about something like NBA or NHL until later on because that's when games start meaning more(especially playoff ones).

Same with Olympics. Do you think this amount of people will watch running,swimming and stuff like that on a random day in October? They watch Olympics because these events mean way more.

For WWE, I'd rather watch Sheamus vs Del Rio(in a feud that's had LOTS of build,storylines and stuff) over a thrown together, Cena-Big Show match.
Storytelling. Without that it's all just a bunch of random moves in a ring with no purpose. I'd rather watch a story play out in the ring and be told by the performers unless its MITB or something where it's all about the spots etc. The matches with the best story/feud heading in and then which encapsulate the story/feud within in the match, even going further to expand upon it, are the true classics to me and the ones that stay with you forever.
Storytelling. Even if both the wrestlers aren't really great at wrestling technically, they can make it worth watching wit storytelling.

Btw even the casuals dont notice the technical aspect, the storytelling aspect is the reason why they stick their butts on their seats instead of changing the channel. That is why squash matches lose viewers and good matches gain more.
Storytelling, that doesn't necessarily mean a long running feud/angle, but rather a story that develops within the actual match and is accentuated through the moves/holds.

Things like student v teacher, veteran challenger v rookie champion (or vice versa), a blood feud, chickenshit heel v dominating/powerhouse challenger are all examples of classic in-ring stories.

Without a story, the match is just a collection of moves. Now this isn't to say that every match needs to be a drawn out storytelling epic...because opening matches and undercard matches obviously have to deviate from that aspect due to their card positioning and their role in terms of providing flow to the PPV.

Character work plays a huge part in telling a story in the ring, heels should wrestle like heels: choking the opponent, closed fist punches, stalling, pulling hair, hiding behind the ref to open up a sucker punch etc. Wrestling is a performance and the main objective is to draw people into the match, and then working the holds/moves which develop that story. Watch Eddie Guerrero for a wrestler who understands the importance of a story in a match, whether he was a babyface, the chickenshit heel in 97 and 2003 or the deranged psychopath in 2005, he wrestled differently under each persona because he understood that his 2003 character needed to rely more on stalling and cheap heel tactics, whereas his 2005 persona relied more on brutality, facial expressions and someone like Mysterio to compliment the character dynamic.

Wrestling is built on a work where wrestlers try to create a story that gets people invested in their matchup, and as a result there needs to be a structure and meaning behind the moves. Ric Flair was pretty much the master of this, whether he wrestled 20 minutes, 30 minutes or whether he went the distance (60 mins and more) he always ensured a structure and meaning went into every aspect of the match:

Step 1: The beginning. He'd play up his character, he'd act, talk and walk like he was better than his opponent and instantly got the fans riled up, especially when he'd do this sctick in front of a smaller regional audience whilst wrestling a hometown hero/rookie. Throughout the beginning, Flair would play a heel-in-peril, basically pinballing and bumping big for everything his opponent threw at him, and throwing in some comedy spots whereby he was made to look amateur/a fool by his opponent. Instantly the sequence of moves have meaning, Flair is getting manhandled because he was cocky, arrogant and not taking his opponent seriously, and moreover this compliments and furthers the eventual story of the match, which centres around how Flair gets back into the match, and whether his inexperienced opponent can turn this advantage into a victory.

Step 2: The Middle. This varied depending on the length and nature of the match Flair worked, but the main nucleus of this section of the match would centre around Flair finally working a transition spot and taking control of the match, whether it be by dirty tactics, a moment of desperation/veteran genius or by some aggressive moves, Flair would take control and then work over his opponent, and again his demeanour and attitude would be far more aggressive compared to his nonchalant attitude in the beginning. This again serves to add a story and character progression in the match, the opponent has successfully made himself look a threat and worried Flair, the moves/earlier sequences had merit in that they built to this moment where Flair would now control the match and the story then became about Flair weakening his opponent and whether the rookie had anything left to give.

Step 3: The Ending. This is where the entire match story has come together, Flair is now desperate/angry and looking to finish the match, and the middle section of the match reinforces his status as 'the champ' and makes him look a threat, but at the same time the beginning of the match where he was outclassed serves to reinforce the message that Flair can be beaten, especially if his natural character traits of arrogance take over and he loses sight of his opponent's ability. The typical Flair ending featured a variety of near falls, usually centred around the rookie countering some of Flair's signature offence, as well as Flair usually trying to play for a draw or breaking out some desperation pin attempts. This usually put over both men, with Flair looking dangerous and someone who could find a way to win, but crucially also looking vulnerable with the viewer being reminded of the beginning of the match where his opponent looked a class above him.

That formula in of itself created a multitude of stories in Flair matches. His character served to build each sequence upon the last, with him usually getting more aggressive later in the match after his arrogance made him get out-wrestled in the beginning. Very rarely did a sequence/spot seem out of place, with the clear structure making the progression in the match obvious and creating a dynamic in the two wrestlers, this was most evident in your typical Windham/Flair match where Windham would dominate the vast majority of the bout and Flair would have to wait for Windham's eagerness/inexperience to cost him and give Flair an opportunity. Again these character traits factored into nearly every major sequence of the match, ensuring that at no point where moves being traded with little thought for their reasoning, and both men wrestled exactly as their characters dictated they should.

Compare that to some matches today, featuring guys like Angle and you can see a clear difference. Angle has basically had the exact same match since 2003, it has its fans for its high octane pacing and spots, but it is very hard for Angle to create a match these days which has any sort of positive afterthought since nye on each of his matches feels like a carbon copy of the last. Transitions, in ring stories are dropped before they can even be explored, and this in part is down to Angle being brought into the business at a later age, rather than working the territories and understanding the nuances of pro-wrestling. Its not his fault per se, but there's a clear difference between Ric Flair/Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle, who both represent the dynamic between storytelling and wrestling: Angle is a fine 'wrestler', but in pro-wrestling that natural ability can only get him so far and he fails at the niche aspects such as character work, structure, building to big spots and so on.

Storytelling helps to create a lasting image of a match, its why Windham/Flair matches still get talked about to this day, because the stories in their matches can capture and speak to people regardless of whether they've watched the match before. Matches solely based on wrestling can be great in the short-term, but fail long-term especially when there are wider implications like trying to get a young guy over. The best matches are where storytelling meets wrestling, and whereby you get well wrestled and executed matches but with a clear story that adds to each sequence/section of a match and gives it meaning and depth, instead of turning into a moves exhibition.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
To make a truly great match you need a good storyline leading into the match, a good crowd that is into the match, two wrestlers who can tell a good story whilst in the ring and then have a good match itself in regards to actual wrestling. This is why Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair are generally regarded as the two greatest all round in ring performers of all time as they more often than not manage to incorporate all four ingredients into their matches which is why they have had better matches than almost everyone else.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.