Hey party people, I have come to prove that I am the true “Great Zanzibar” of wrestling, the challenge has been issued, the boast has been made, and I’m up in arms over the very notion!
Speaking of Notions, let’s get into it.
The IWC’s Sheep Mentality
Yes! I’m going to talk about it! I’m going to do it, even if it’s going to get me hate mail from ignorant people who don’t quite see what I’m talking about. If you don’t get it, I’m talking about you, damnit!
Now, I’m not saying that they’re all mindless drones, that they’re all devoid of independent thought or that they do whatever anyone suggests… But on certain topics, people are seemingly centered and set on believing what is, essentially, a modern myth. People got together and somehow convince themselves, and each other that something is set in stone, and they argue that it is as if it were such biblical truth, that other people become convinced by the mere fervor of the arguments, and how much these idiots seem to believe it, that they’re convinced. It isn’t the actual issue that gets them interested, it’s the fact that these people seem so damn worked up about the issue, it looks like fun.
This bugs me! This bugs me so much, because people who actually present an intelligent argument to the contrary, are looked at as if they’ve got two heads, they’re judged as idiots and wild theorists, not because they’re wrong, but because they’re going against the so-called accepted truth. People have just said a certain thing is a certain way for so long, it’s what people think without really thinking about it.
This is changing, slowly but surely, in some of the better parts of the IWC. People are coming around to the realization that they have to re-examine what they believe every know and then, get to the point that they realize that they might have been wrong about something they used to think was true.
It’s natural, it’s normal, but it happens.
Let me give you some big examples, and I want you to really think about this.
“Ric Flair is a Great Technical Wrestler, he’s much better than Hogan in the ring!”
I want to hit these people with a rolled up newspaper, this is stupid, you hear me! Ric Flair is not, I repeat, not a great Technical wrestler. His move list, offensively, consists of back drops/back body drops, atomic drops, the occasional shin breaker, chops, stomps, some fairly poor quality punching, and the figure four, which is an easy move to learn, I can do it very convincingly.
Hogan had a similar move list, with clotheslines, clubbing (terrible) punches, a big boot, a leg drop, a vertical suplex, back body drop, back-rake, scoop slam, and on one or two occasions, a superplex. The difference between the two, and that which makes Ric Flair better, is their generosity. Ric Flair has a tremendous respect for the business, and wants to make sure “wrestling” succeeds, not so with Hulk Hogan. Ric Flair has a whole arsenal of falls and bumps and taunts designed to make his opponents look devastating, Hulk Hogan has his super-man come-back, where he no-sells everything and makes himself look like a super-hero.
Ric Flair was the thinking-man’s wrestler, he was human, he cheated and played dirty, and he made everyone he was in the ring with look like solid gold, be they pure rookie or seasoned veteran or even over-the-hill has-beens, he busts his ass for them. Hulk Hogan appeals to the fans of comic book wrestling, fans who appreciate the show less, and imagine themselves as Hulk Hogan more, those who live vicariously through super-powers.
The Younger Audience! That’s who liked Hulk Hogan, who had a cartoon, Ric Flair appealed to the guys who fantasized about being a rich, party animal. Adult wrestling fans wanted to be Ric Flair, kids wanted to be Hulk Hogan.
They appealed to completely different demographics, Ric Flair was edgy when the word “edgy” didn’t exist! (It still shoulded. Words that rhyme with “Budgie” and “fudgie” shouldn’t be considered cool.)
Ric Flair was not a better pure wrestler than Hogan, he was just more passionate, and that’s why people love him, that’s why he has so much respect within the industry.
The Rock was not a Technical Wrestler
No, damnit! That’s wrong too! Tim got me started on this with a brief comment in an overly good column. He proposed that Chris Jericho is the Randy Savage of today, and that’s a very valid and I think very true point. I agree with that, and almost everything else Tim thinks about Wrestling. His in no way less of a student of the business as I am, and I consider him one of the best minds in the IWC, with all sincerity. I just happen to think that, in this one instance, Tim is very, very, very wrong.
Dwayne Johnson, soon to be Flex Kavana, soon to be Rocky Maivia, soon to be the Rock, is a very talented technical performer. He is not the best, but he is very good.
His in ring talent is over-shadowed by his charisma and talent on the microphone. This doesn’t mean he was bad. People naturally, especially when developing the mob mentality, hate someone to be good at everything, (we’ll see this again later) and cannot for some reason accept that “The Rock” is indeed a total package wrestler, perhaps like none we’ve ever seen before, except Steve Austin, who exists in that same ultra-elite league, but is recognized for it.
The Rock has a fairly deep move-set; Spine Buster, Suplex, Snap Suplex, Sharp-shooter, Rock Bottom (which is in fact a “sambo-suplex”), scoop slam, high angle back-body-drop, Stone Cold Stunner, bunches (electrifying, exciting punches), DDT’s, Float over DDT’s, clotheslines, german suplexes, enziguri’s, missile drop-kicks, top rope clotheslines, shoulder blocks, flying forearms, superplexes, dragon-screw, sleeper hold, European uppercuts, and even the people’s elbow, which like it or not, is a move! On top of that, he’s capable of working almost any pace of match, be they long, slow matches with The Undertaker and the Big Show, Technical showpieces with the likes of Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, high speed counter fests with the likes of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho, drawn out psychological “masterpieces” with Steve Austin and Triple H, and even spot-for-spot matches with the likes of Rob Van Dam and Booker T.
The Rock has been in a lot of great matches, including a match at WrestleMania eighteen against an aging Hulk Hogan, a match that I think was the very best of Hogan’s career, and at the end, should have been his legacy. He’s had a few stinkers too, early in his career, and when he was working against Goldberg and even an injured Steve Austin at WM19. But honestly, very few people are good enough and high enough in the company to get a good match out of the inflexible egotist that is Bill Goldberg, (Brock Lesnar did, but they didn’t do well, though it wasn’t nearly as bad a match as people seem to think it was), and Steve Austin was really too hurt and too sick to be out there.
But for some reason, even though the Rock has been in memorable ladder matches, great feuds, and in my opinion, the best Wrestlemania Match ever at X-7 against Steve Austin, for which I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time, it was captivating, he still gets no respect. He’s generous too, he obviously has a great deal of respect for Wrestling and he always comes back even when he’s making ten to fifteen million dollars per movie, he makes an appearance because he wants to, there’s no reason for him to “have to”, people couldn’t honestly hold it against him if he didn’t. He was good for wrestling, he made everybody money, he doesn’t realistically owe it anything… And, he goes out of his way to make people look good. Chris Jericho, who was a midcarder at WCW that everyone said had all the potential in the world, was fed up, and believed he deserved better, and when he went to the WWE, he was put into a feud with the Rock, when Jericho was in reality, a completely untested product. The Rock put him over, the Rock was generous in the ring and in the gimmick, and he definitely didn’t have to do that, he didn’t have to put Jericho over, that guy was from the competition, he hasn’t proven he deserves to be here with the Rock.
The Rock trained, he was a natural athlete, with explosive speed in the ring, strength, a muscular body, a great look, and more charisma than anyone had ever seen in such a capable performer. The Rock isn’t one of the best performers in the history of Wrestling, he doesn’t have the pure technical skill of a Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, Dean Malenko, Jushin “Thunder” Lyger, or Kurt Angle, but he’s not anywhere near the bottom of the pile, he’s definitely above average.
Then There’s Kurt Angle, and the somewhat ignorant Belief that Kurt Angle is not a great technical wrestler…
What the hell kind of thinking is that? These guy is not only a great technical wrestler, he’s a legit, Gold-Goddamn Medallist! Do you know what being a technical wrestler is all about? Do you? It’s about making it look real! That’s right! It’s about make a believable match, it’s about making it look like you’re in a real fight, that you two are beating the hell out of each other!
Bret Hart did it, with everything he did! His kicks, his punches, his moves, his entire offense! He did it, and he was an absolute pro, he never hurt anyone! Shawn Michaels does it, Shawn Michaels sells it like there’s no tomorrow! Steve Austin can do it, because he fights like a dirty, human being, a real, human being… Others can too, but you get my point. Kurt Angle does so many things, so many things that are so subtle. First, with the possible exception of Farooq and Bradshaw, the stiffest worker in the WWE today… Kurt Angle isn’t going to injure you, but he’s not going to work light either. He wants it look very real, and that’s evident in how hard he hits you.
Second, Kurt Angle is a legitimate, real Olympic Gold Medallist. He was, at one point, the best wrestler in the world. When it comes to getting down on the mat, and making it look like real wrestler, he’s the very best in the world because, well, he was the best in the world at really wrestling. There’s no ignoring that, there’s no looking at that and saying “Pro Wrestling is Totally Different” because, while Pro Wrestling is totally different, the Technical Wrestlers are the ones who can make it look like it’s real wrestling!!! And he can do that, damnit, better than anyone else, ever!
Kurt Angle hates using the ropes, he hates when people seem to compulsively bounce off them, when there’s no reason at all that they’d keep running like that after someone spun them from the arm. It’s just too stupid. Believes in suplexes, hard shots, dirty tactics, and selling the move… He believes very much in selling the move, making it look as great as it should.
Kurt Angle is, in my opinion, one of the very best ever, all around. He’s one of few modern wrestlers who’s capable of working two distinctly different styles, one as a face, and one as a heel. Kurt can do it, Hogan did it very well surprisingly, Lance Storm and Chris Jericho are both masters of it, the absolute best, and Bret Hart could do it like nobodies business.
When a face, Kurt takes to the air, Kurt fights back from near defeat, using brains and technical skill to defeat cheating and underhanded tactics. Kurt knows when to mount his come back, when to go up top and fly, when to take a tremendous beating, and when to hit his “big pop” moves.
As a heel, Kurt knows when to cheat, when to play dirty, when too be unnaturally aggressive, when to be a coward, when to be cocky, and when to be a devastating force in the ring.
Kurt is, and always has been, an absolute pleasure to watch. Bret Hart, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, says that Kurt is the one person he’d like to wrestle above all others, if he could, which he can’t.
Chris Benoit’s best matches in the WWE have been against Kurt Angle.
His matches and feud with Brock Lesnar was the most anticipated one of the modern generation, it’s the one match everyone wanted to see.
He is the standard by which all future talent is judged, no one knew how quickly he’d be able to adapt his amateur style to that of the ring, no one knew how much of a natural Kurt Angle would prove to be. He opened the door for guys like Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, and Brock Lesnar to come in and showcase their amazing talent. Even more, he made it ok for Amateur Wrestling to appreciate aspects of pro wrestling, he made it ok for the two worlds to meet, when amateur wrestling really hated pro wrestling, but didn’t realize that it had evolved to be more athletic and impressive over recent years.
These are not small achievements, they are not undeserved accolades, it’s not as if Kurt Angle has not proven himself worthy of such praise and stature. He truly had such an impact on the business, in such a short amount of time, and should be regarded as nothing less than a real pioneer.
But some significantly populated groups of wrestling fans are dead set against these ideas. Some people, large groups of people, say that the Rock is terrible, that he got by because he was charismatic… They say that Kurt Angle isn’t as good as the WWE say he is, that he hasn’t really earned his spot, that he’s not in the same league as Chris Benoit and Bret Hart… And people say that Ric Flair was way better than Hogan, that he was much better in the ring… But they support it, they never offer up that good an argument. When called upon to defend their opinions of Ric Flair, the act insulted, and just repeat their credo: “Ric Flair is great, he’s Ric Flair”… Sometimes they even “Wooo” at you over the Internet. They insult Hulk Hogan, that say he only knew a few moves, that he was all talk, ignoring the fact that Ric Flair was certainly a better talker than Hogan, and that’s one of the thing’s he’s most famous for. The same thing with The Rock, people just say that he’s all talk, that he’s just a stick man, and that he’s no good in the ring. But they don’t give me examples, they don’t tell me when he was bad in the ring. I can list a whole bunch of great, not merely good, but “great” matches that the Rock was in, they can’t list more than one or two times that he stunk.
And don’t me started on Kurt Angle, people don’t even define what “Technical Wrestler” is supposed to mean, they largely have no idea what the term refers to, but they spend hours arguing over who’s the best, with no real idea what they think he’s the best at! It’s stupid! It’s downright stupid!
But like I said, the landscape is changing, people are cluing in, columnists of old are being replaced with a more intuitive, less negative wannabe-insiders generation. Fans are growing savvier, learning to form more and more of their own opinions.
I respect a lot of people here, and I think we all love wrestling, but I think it’s very important to stay away from the high school mentality that we all blindly accept what our “alpha-males” tell us. We’re better than that as a community.
Peace my brothers! Peace and Love!
The Reverend C-Nub