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JANUARY 2021 Discussion of Wrestling


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3 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Nerve injury? I watched the Finlay documentary and they said they almost had to CUT HIS LEG OFF. 

Correct but he lost feeling in that leg and still doesn't have feeling in that leg, permanent Nerve damage 

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23 minutes ago, Brisco said:

Work smart, not hard

Or do both, just don't end up like Benoit or Dynamite. I guess that means they didn't work smart, so work like Regal and thsoe types of guys and try to avoid neck damage.

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46 minutes ago, mattdangerously said:

Would Lawler count in the discussion, or is he disqualified because he never worked an athletic style to begin with? 

In the early 2000's him and Terry Funk had a match on a 3PW show in Philly that was as good as any match that took place anywhere in the US that year.

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Here's my GWE case for Bock, with a lot of it being that the entire case for him is when he was older than 45. It's from 2016 so since then we've gotten some more matches and I've seen more but I stand by it for the most part.

Spoiler

There are so many things that Nick Bockwinkel did so well that it's hard to even know where to start. What I'd like to do, to begin, is list out his range, a number of roles that he was effective in playing, and that he was able to wrestle good to great matches (some all-timers) while achieving. This is in no order:

1. Bumping, stooging heel for aging legend (Vs Verne, Mad Dog, Crusher, Baron)

2. Bumping, stooging vulnerable champion for up and and coming Ace babyface (Vs Hogan)

3. Reluctantly cheered champion holding the line vs a foreign threat (Vs Al-Kassie)

4. Comedy kingpin with a bunch of goons vs Super-babyfaces (with Heenan family Vs. Andre and Hogan)

5. Heel champion Ace vs technical up and coming babyfaces (vs Rheingans)

6. Tag role of the same (With Stevens vs High Flyers)

7. Southern tag heel (w/Saito vs Gagnes or Hennigs, or High-flyers)

8. Confident heel champ vs established technical opponent (vs Martel)

9. Same as a heel challenger establishing said new babyface champ.

10. Vulnerable but dangerous heel champion against deadly brawler (vs Wahoo)

11. Travelling champ who underestimates local hero (vs Chavo)

12. Snobby outsider champ who DOESN'T underestimate local hero but has to have a number of varied matches with him without losing the title (vs Lawler)

13. Fiery babyface wanting revenge (crazy sprint vs Zbyszko)

14. John Wayne (vs Hansen)

15. Super technical in front of a Japanese audience (vs Funk and vs Robinson)

16. Aging, cagey veteran trying to survive against a young babyface slowly surpassing him (vs Hennig)

17. US Supermatch that has to end in a draw (vs. Flair)

18. Travelling heel champ stooging big for the local hero while staying credible (vs JYD)

19. Desperate heel up against monsters (the clips we have vs Andre or Ladd)

20. Very strong shorter match TV worker during the Showboat era (vs. Debeers)

 

And that's what we have from maybe 76-86, when he around 40 to just over 50. He spent decades of his career as a babyface. And there are more. I just picked twenty different in-ring functions that he had to do and had to do well, many of them calling upon different skills and talents, that involve someone actively wrestling differently. I could have given more examples of matches for almost every category too, with almost all of them being very good to great. That, to me is amazing. The only other people who would come close to this are #1 contenders, and almost all of those benefit from us having much more of their physical prime on tape or from working more broadly in multiple territories (though Bock, of course did. We just don't have a ton of that on tape; most of what we do is great).

He was able to accomplish this through deeply and thoroughly understanding pro wrestling and storytelling, through engaging the crowd, through knowing when to give and when to take, knowing how to maximize moments and momentum, to fully committing to his role at all times. He was incredible at portraying emotion in matches, jubilant when causing punishment and terrified when getting overwhelmed. He refused to let the crowd dictate what he was doing, but instead forced them into line with what was best for them and the match, adapting but never surrendering ("You're boring them Martel!" being my favorite single wrestling moment I've seen in the last five years, maybe?).

Everything had purpose. There are wrestlers, great wrestlers, who can string more-or-less unrelated chapters together so that their matches are better than the sum of their parts, so that they make a symbolic, thematic, more or less satisfying whole, but Bockwinkel was able to relate the chapters to one another so that he never had to do that. There wasn't that need for symbolism because the text stood on its own. It was finding the perfect moment to turn the babyface's offensive rush into a King of the Mountain heat segment, or how to start countering one bit of bodypart work with the opposite equivalent, and so on. There's no sixty minute match I've ever seen which tells so involved a story as Hennig vs Bockwinkel. I've never been satisfied with the idea that wrestling isn't a good medium for storytelling, because I've seen it. That match shows that it's possible, and not just over ten minutes but over sixty, and that it can be the most compelling thing in the world. He created stories that mattered to people, that resonated, that moved them, and he made it seem so flawless and so natural. There was so much variation, too. I can barely wrap my head around how he managed it.

And of course the fundamentals were there. He bumps around the ring like a pinball for Verne Gagne. His long-term limb selling is exceptional, and he had a way of selling fatigue from a long match in the finishing stretch like almost no one else. I believe that selling is the key to creating meaning in wrestling and it's hard not to watch his performances and think that he'd been through a war and that maybe, just maybe, he was going to lose that title (and if he did, the babyface would have EARNED it). His matwork was wonderful, holds and counters, perfect timing, great facial expressions and trash talk, and screaming in pain when he was on the wrong end of it. His strikes were snug. His offense was varied. He moved in and out of holds so well in the opening segment of a match; there was such flow to it. He cheated extremely well (and man was he a great southern tag heel), and as a babyface, he could both garner sympathy and swallow the heel alive with righteous fury. That's the thing. he's not just a smart worker. He's a total package. At age 45, he could still outFunk prime Funk, outFlair prime Flair and even, at times, outHansen prime Hansen. But, almost always, he only goes to that level when it makes sense to go there, when the value is there, when the needs of the match calls for it.

 

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I might like Super Porky more than Brazo de Plata, as per the past-physical prime workers. I considered Lawler but he was always a smart worker. All incarnations of Terry Funk are great - we all love later era Middle Aged Crazy TF but he was amazing in his younger days as well. I don't think he ever really slowed down.

- RAF

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Would Becky Lynch count? Memory is very hazy but wasn't she in her prime when she retired due to injuries way back?

Maybe also go with Rey Mysterio, changed up his whole moveset i feel like due to the many surgeries and the guy can still go, I think, with the right opponent and right pace

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28 minutes ago, Matt D said:

Here's my GWE case for Bock, with a lot of it being that the entire case for him is when he was older than 45. It's from 2016 so since then we've gotten some more matches and I've seen more but I stand by it for the most part.

  Reveal hidden contents

There are so many things that Nick Bockwinkel did so well that it's hard to even know where to start. What I'd like to do, to begin, is list out his range, a number of roles that he was effective in playing, and that he was able to wrestle good to great matches (some all-timers) while achieving. This is in no order:

1. Bumping, stooging heel for aging legend (Vs Verne, Mad Dog, Crusher, Baron)

2. Bumping, stooging vulnerable champion for up and and coming Ace babyface (Vs Hogan)

3. Reluctantly cheered champion holding the line vs a foreign threat (Vs Al-Kassie)

4. Comedy kingpin with a bunch of goons vs Super-babyfaces (with Heenan family Vs. Andre and Hogan)

5. Heel champion Ace vs technical up and coming babyfaces (vs Rheingans)

6. Tag role of the same (With Stevens vs High Flyers)

7. Southern tag heel (w/Saito vs Gagnes or Hennigs, or High-flyers)

8. Confident heel champ vs established technical opponent (vs Martel)

9. Same as a heel challenger establishing said new babyface champ.

10. Vulnerable but dangerous heel champion against deadly brawler (vs Wahoo)

11. Travelling champ who underestimates local hero (vs Chavo)

12. Snobby outsider champ who DOESN'T underestimate local hero but has to have a number of varied matches with him without losing the title (vs Lawler)

13. Fiery babyface wanting revenge (crazy sprint vs Zbyszko)

14. John Wayne (vs Hansen)

15. Super technical in front of a Japanese audience (vs Funk and vs Robinson)

16. Aging, cagey veteran trying to survive against a young babyface slowly surpassing him (vs Hennig)

17. US Supermatch that has to end in a draw (vs. Flair)

18. Travelling heel champ stooging big for the local hero while staying credible (vs JYD)

19. Desperate heel up against monsters (the clips we have vs Andre or Ladd)

20. Very strong shorter match TV worker during the Showboat era (vs. Debeers)

 

And that's what we have from maybe 76-86, when he around 40 to just over 50. He spent decades of his career as a babyface. And there are more. I just picked twenty different in-ring functions that he had to do and had to do well, many of them calling upon different skills and talents, that involve someone actively wrestling differently. I could have given more examples of matches for almost every category too, with almost all of them being very good to great. That, to me is amazing. The only other people who would come close to this are #1 contenders, and almost all of those benefit from us having much more of their physical prime on tape or from working more broadly in multiple territories (though Bock, of course did. We just don't have a ton of that on tape; most of what we do is great).

He was able to accomplish this through deeply and thoroughly understanding pro wrestling and storytelling, through engaging the crowd, through knowing when to give and when to take, knowing how to maximize moments and momentum, to fully committing to his role at all times. He was incredible at portraying emotion in matches, jubilant when causing punishment and terrified when getting overwhelmed. He refused to let the crowd dictate what he was doing, but instead forced them into line with what was best for them and the match, adapting but never surrendering ("You're boring them Martel!" being my favorite single wrestling moment I've seen in the last five years, maybe?).

Everything had purpose. There are wrestlers, great wrestlers, who can string more-or-less unrelated chapters together so that their matches are better than the sum of their parts, so that they make a symbolic, thematic, more or less satisfying whole, but Bockwinkel was able to relate the chapters to one another so that he never had to do that. There wasn't that need for symbolism because the text stood on its own. It was finding the perfect moment to turn the babyface's offensive rush into a King of the Mountain heat segment, or how to start countering one bit of bodypart work with the opposite equivalent, and so on. There's no sixty minute match I've ever seen which tells so involved a story as Hennig vs Bockwinkel. I've never been satisfied with the idea that wrestling isn't a good medium for storytelling, because I've seen it. That match shows that it's possible, and not just over ten minutes but over sixty, and that it can be the most compelling thing in the world. He created stories that mattered to people, that resonated, that moved them, and he made it seem so flawless and so natural. There was so much variation, too. I can barely wrap my head around how he managed it.

And of course the fundamentals were there. He bumps around the ring like a pinball for Verne Gagne. His long-term limb selling is exceptional, and he had a way of selling fatigue from a long match in the finishing stretch like almost no one else. I believe that selling is the key to creating meaning in wrestling and it's hard not to watch his performances and think that he'd been through a war and that maybe, just maybe, he was going to lose that title (and if he did, the babyface would have EARNED it). His matwork was wonderful, holds and counters, perfect timing, great facial expressions and trash talk, and screaming in pain when he was on the wrong end of it. His strikes were snug. His offense was varied. He moved in and out of holds so well in the opening segment of a match; there was such flow to it. He cheated extremely well (and man was he a great southern tag heel), and as a babyface, he could both garner sympathy and swallow the heel alive with righteous fury. That's the thing. he's not just a smart worker. He's a total package. At age 45, he could still outFunk prime Funk, outFlair prime Flair and even, at times, outHansen prime Hansen. But, almost always, he only goes to that level when it makes sense to go there, when the value is there, when the needs of the match calls for it.

 

A great case for Bock as the in ring GOAT which I remember helping push him into my top 15 during GWE, a bumper crop of his younger days stuff is probably my ultimate holy grail.

Edited by Jimbo_Tsuruta
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When I first started watching AWA (popped up on ESPN in late ‘85, right?), I though Bock was a shitty, boring old man. Kids are fucking dumb. There are few guys now who I get more excited to see new to me footage of. 

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Re: past their prime

The PWG Cena thing was fun. There's an argument for both Hogan's NWO run and '02 return. Michaels, Flair, and Funk for longevity. Taker's in the conversation because of all the great Mania matches.

Edited by Zakk_Sabbath
Striking Lawler off my list based on earlier criteria
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John Cena in the 2008 Royal Rumble match is still the best ever surprise entrant in the illustrious history of the match. So unexpected. Cena returns in three months from a pectoral tear having to vacate the WWE Championship after holding it from September 2006-October 2007. First wrestler to have a year long reign since Randy Savage. I like how the crowd forget to boo Cena as he makes his entrance before normal service resumes. I miss that MSG entrance way as well.

Edited by The Natural
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2 hours ago, RolandTHTG said:

Tatanka in 2005

Why not. I remember people on this board going relatively nuts for his stiff chops and surly attitude, at least, back in the day. I discussed it with my lapsed fan-friend (who was in the midst of his active fan period at the time) and was lamenting how much and fast time had passed if Tatanka (may have added F'N for emphasis at the time) is now (then) considered a legend. The fact that this was more than 15 years ago, should make me want to cry, but somehow it doesn't.

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6 hours ago, Zakk_Sabbath said:

Re: past their prime

The PWG Cena thing was fun. There's an argument for both Hogan's NWO run and '02 return. Michaels, Flair, and Funk for longevity. Taker's in the conversation because of all the great Mania matches.

The Undertaker's 21-0 WrestleMania undefeated streak is legendary. One that isn't talked about is that The Undertaker had the MOTN seven years running. Here's how I'd rank them and my star ratings.

7. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk, WrestleMania XXIX. ****1/2.

6. The Undertaker vs. Triple H, WrestleMania XXVII. ****1/2.

5. The Undertaker vs. Batista, WrestleMania 23. ****1/2.

4. The Undertaker vs. Edge, WrestleMania XXIV. ****1/2. My 2008 MOTY.

3. The Undertaker vs. Triple H, WrestleMania XXVIII. *****.

2. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XXVI. *****. My 2010 MOTY.

1. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XXV. *****. My 2009 MOTY.

Even before WrestleMania 23, I thought and still do that Batista vs. The Undertaker should have gone on last. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels as the final two in the Royal Rumble match having a mini match, the Batista/Undertaker build and 'Taker challenging for the world title at WrestleMania 23 ten years after beating Sycho Sid for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania 13.

Edited by The Natural
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Stan Hansen. A lot of his AJPW 80s contemporaries (or guys younger than him) didn't have much left in the tank once they were over 40, for reasons variously tragic and unfortunate. But he was better in the 90s than he was in the 80s.

If Brody lived, if Jumbo didn't get ill, if Gordy didn't get brain damage, if Onita's knee didn't blow out, if Tenryu's boys didn't go with him, if Choshu stayed... so many reasons why Misawa and Kawada became top guys ahead of schedule.

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30 minutes ago, AxB said:

Stan Hansen. A lot of his AJPW 80s contemporaries (or guys younger than him) didn't have much left in the tank once they were over 40, for reasons variously tragic and unfortunate. But he was better in the 90s than he was in the 80s.

If Brody lived, if Jumbo didn't get ill, if Gordy didn't get brain damage, if Onita's knee didn't blow out, if Tenryu's boys didn't go with him, if Choshu stayed... so many reasons why Misawa and Kawada became top guys ahead of schedule.

Brody dying did wonders for his tag output. So many miserable, disappointing tags in the early-mid 80s.

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Don Callis is using The Invisible Hand as his nickname. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Maybe The Hand is going to be the name of that Chinese heel group in NXT, with Xia Li and those lads. 

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4 hours ago, AxB said:

If Brody lived, if Jumbo didn't get ill, if Gordy didn't get brain damage, if Onita's knee didn't blow out, if Tenryu's boys didn't go with him, if Choshu stayed... so many reasons why Misawa and Kawada became top guys ahead of schedule.

I don't think Choshu would have ever stayed. Was Onita popular enough that he would have been pushed beyond the junior division? Pretty sure even Jumbo remained healthy the crown to the top would have passed around the same time it did. I think the Tenryu's boys not leaving with him is the most interesting what if.

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