The more I look, the more I realize that no matter what area of human culture I examine, there are always some parallels that can be drawn to the world of professional wrestling. After studying Chinese philosophical ideas, I can draw another such parallel. The Chinese term “De” is very often translated as a quality one possesses described as an “effortless grace”. It is also associated with a certain charisma one possesses. This effortless grace can be described as a talent which seems to flow from an individual naturally. In fact, the cultivation of that talent probably took years of hard work to reach its pinnacle but at that pinnacle, it looks totally effortless. One who possess “de” also possesses a charisma that draws others toward him or her, almost irresistibly.
The best professional wrestlers, in my mind, possess “de”. This thought initially came to my mind after the untimely passion of Eddie Guerrero. The outpouring of emotion from the wrestling world was my first inclination of the charisma that Eddie possessed. He had the quality about him to pull us in and, through this power, he then gathered a huge following of fans and admirers. Other wrestlers come to mind when I think of this as well. Men like The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Steve Austin have the ability through their personality and charisma, among other things, to draw us in as we eat up every thing they say and do.
The term “drawing power” in relation to an individual wrestler many times directly relates to this term, “de”. They draw because we as fans are enticed by their personality and are drawn in by their charisma. Some wrestlers, with their charisma alone, possess this quality of “de”. John Cena is one of the best examples. Most would agree that he is very limited in the ring, but through his personality and charisma he has placed himself at the top of the wrestling world. (Granted, this power he once held over the fans may be waning.)
Eddie Guerrero is unique in the sense that he not only possessed this charisma through his personality but through his “effortless grace” in the ring as well. In respect to wrestling, the ability to make the in ring work look realistic, fluid, and most importantly natural and effortless could fit under the category of “de”. Quite often wrestling seems contrived and forced, but when it flows naturally and effortlessly magic is truly produced. We are drawn in to what we witness by the grace and charisma on display.
Two examples come to mind. The first is Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle at Royal Rumble 2003. While we know that wrestling is preplanned, they had the ability in this match to transcend that idea and produce something very natural and real. We lose ourselves in the match and by the same token in the wrestlers themselves. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit at Vengeance 2003 is another great example of this sort of effortless grace on display in the ring.
Chris Benoit in particular is one who possesses both a charisma and grace merely through his in ring work. He need not open his mouth in a promo but just wrestle in order to generate a strong following as he exude his brand of charisma.
Eddie and Angle, are in my mind, even more unique. They may possess, and once possessed in Guerrero’s case, the ultimate embodiment of “de” in the world of professional wrestling. I think these two are great examples because they have the ability to incorporate this charismatic personality within the context of their matches. Eddie’s motto of “Lie, Cheat, and Steal” could be displayed both through a great promo or an in ring display. The ending of his match against Angle at Wrestlemania XX gives evidence to this. It is this combination of effortless grace and charisma in and out of the ring that makes Angle and Guerrero two of the greatest wrestlers of our era.
The best wrestlers possess some form of “de”. It may be through only one ability, such as Benoit’s in ring ability or Cena’s ability to capture a crowd on the microphone. It could be multi faceted, like Angle’s ability to both put on a natural, effortless match and also interact with the audience through a promo. And then there is Eddie Guerrero. He had effortless in ring skill, a great charismatic personality, and he had the ability to roll it all into one every time he stepped in the ring. This is why Eddie was great and why he will always be remembered as such. “De” may be possessed by different wrestlers in different ways, but all of the greats have it.
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