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Thread: Is The Standard Too High?

  1. #1
    Word Enthusiast Steve's Avatar
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    Is The Standard Too High?

    I've seen a lot of talk about the potential quality of the upcoming match between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega. When discussing it with mizfan on Twitter, he said something along the lines of what I've seen many other say, that being that he questions whether Jericho can "keep up" with Omega.

    It makes me wonder if perhaps the standard is now way out of wack. You have a matches like those put forth by Omega and Okada last year that were hyped huge as fuck, being hailed as instant classics. That's cool. Hell, it's more than cool. It's fucking great.

    But I'm getting the impression that if Omega and Jericho don't live up to that standard, then blame will fall upon Jericho and he'll be derided as being "over the hill" or whatever. Hell, it's happening already. But I guess I question whether the flat out in ring athleticism and all that should be the end all, be all?

    A match doesn't have to be a technical marvel to be great. Many laughed at me last year when I said that Goldberg vs Lesnar from Survivor Series was one of the best matches of the year. It was, though. It was EXACTLY what it needed to be. On top of that, it had a great build, it told an good story and, most important, it got the wrestling world talking like nothing else. I've mentioned it elsewhere before, but the numbers on LOP Radio for any show with "Goldberg/Lesnar" in the title or description literally doubled the next week. I've been on LOPR for over 4 years now and I've never seen anything impact interest like that.

    I'd argue the same for their WM match this year. It was perfect. It clicked off every box that a showcase match needs to. The same goes for many great, all time classic matches of the past, despite them not exactly being the most technically awesome contests. Hulk Hogan vs The Rock. Hogan vs Warrior. Mankind vs Undertaker. None of those matches could even come close to matching the athleticism of an Omega vs Okada match... but they're legendary, nonetheless.

    Isn't it possible that Jericho, despite having perhaps lost a step as it pertains to pure athleticism, could put on a hellacious showing with his innate psychology and fantastic character work? Or is the match already condemned to be deemed a failure just because Chris is no longer in his athletic prime, despite being at arguably his creative peak? And, if it's the latter, is that really fair?

    Or, on a broader scale, can a match that leans more heavily upon character and psychology be judged fairly against one that's full of exceptional athleticism in today's environment?

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    I think fans have their own personal expectations and you have to weigh them differently each time and also, not to make a WWE/NJPW debate but in WWE, each feud, they're trying to do something that ties to the characters, whether its effective or not. They have weekly TV that builds and rarely is their a match where we see them testing each other wrestling skills (Thnk Cena/Bryan, Cena/Styles and the like.) Brock/Goldberg was a spectacle and worked for what it was. No one expected them to have 30 min mat classic and it would be unfair to both to even try.

    NJPW, while has some acts that are more i'd say character based (Toru Yano is like Santino to the extreme) most of their top acts are expected to go 30 mins and have a great match. Considering how NJPW builds feuds, its usually always who is better, they have a series of tags interacting and then they have a big blow off match or two. So i think its very fair to ask the question: Will Jericho keep up?

    I don't know the answer to that, it could be a 20 min classic and Jericho would cement his status if he hasn't already as an all time great. Or it could be disappointing and slow but you have two guys that think outside the box, and will probably make any match work... But to me, this match isn't about being a great match... To kind of support your point, its about growing NJPW and doing something special for your biggest show. its about business and selling the most tickets you can. A great match is great but its secondary.

    if a great match doesn't lead to or do good business for a company, is it a really great match?

    If Rock/Hogan played to crickets does anyone remember it?

    Sometimes, wrestling is as simple as whether its good business or not and from all the buzz, i think Omega/Jericho is good business

  3. #3
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    I've felt for a while now that athleticism has become the replacement for a real wrestling work. It's great to bust out an athletic spot when it makes sense, but doing it all the time hurts way more than it helps. Ted DiBiase used to get more of a reaction with a headlock, but no one can get any reaction if everyone flies around like there's no tomorrow.

    So yeah, I agree with you. There's more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes. First and foremost wrestling is about buzz, hype. The other thing to remember is that the great matches of the past stood out so much more a) because they knew when to pick their spots and b) because there were more shades of grey on the card than there are now. It seems to me like that is a thing of the past.

  4. #4
    The Brain
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    I can only speak for myself, of course. Goldberg/Lesnar did big numbers, definitely. I still fucking hated it.

    I also think all the Omega/Okada matches were grotesquely overrated though, so I'm a weird cat in some ways.

    I am no in way a mark for pure athleticism, BUT it is absolutely the house style of New Japan, so I don't think it's a question of standards to look at Jericho's recent work and wonder how well he will fit in that style, especially when he's given pretty clear signs that he might not be savvy enough to take a different approach. I didn't enjoy watching him try to keep up physically with guys like Neville or AJ in the last couple years, and if it's more of the same in New Japan I just don't think it will be very entertaining. If he takes a different route though, I'm all for it. I love Jericho when he's working on something psychologically based or character driven. But sometimes he wants to try to be even-stevens physically with guys half his age, and that doesn't do it for me.

    So for me, it's not a question of whether the match will be athletic enough or have the maximum number of big moves. It's actually exactly more in line with what you're also looking for. Will it be worked smartly, or will they fall into the pitfalls of the purely athletic house style?

    As I also said on Twitter, it almost doesn't matter because they've already accomplished their biggest goal, which is to create major buzz among western fans. It is GREAT business, and New Japan absolutely made the right call to have the match. And, in case I'm being misunderstood, I don't think they're going to shit the bed or anything regardless of how they work the match. But there's a big emphasis among New Japan fans (and among the roster too) in having that "six star" athletic match, and if they go that route I just think it will ultimately be disappointing. I could be totally wrong on that of course, just my impression.

    Speaking in a general sense, I don't think my personal standards are too high at all, they're just different from others. One of my top 10 matches from this year is an obscure comedy battle royal from Japan that I absolutely lost my mind at because it was so purely fun and clever, so I don't think I'm out there chasing down only the Dave Meltzer approved six star classics. For god's sake, my favorite promotion is CHIKARA, where about half the roster is guys in their first year doing goofy shtick as they learn the ropes against the backdrop of slow burn storytelling which often stretches for years before the payoff. Everyone has their own standards, if you're into the heavy athletics of Omega/Okada or PWG, or the sheer spectacle of Goldberg/Lesnar (which I do get, even though I really did hate it personally), or something more story/character driven like LU, it's ultimately just a question of taste.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    I've felt for a while now that athleticism has become the replacement for a real wrestling work. It's great to bust out an athletic spot when it makes sense, but doing it all the time hurts way more than it helps. Ted DiBiase used to get more of a reaction with a headlock, but no one can get any reaction if everyone flies around like there's no tomorrow.
    This! So much this!

    Some of these dudes bust out as much athleticism as humanly possible in hopes of getting six stars from Meltzer, when they should be more focused on telling stories and wrestling.

    I would rather genuine sympathy and a crowd rooting for a baby, and genuine (what people think is "go away") heat for a heel than "this is awesome" chants or constant pops throughout the match.

    I have trouble watching PWG, for example. It drives me crazy to see that "flips for the sake of flips" style.
    Last edited by Team Farrell; 11-07-2017 at 02:02 PM.

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    I would hope Omega/Jericho are smart enough to realize not to shoot for a six star meltzer match. I hate star ratings personally but the fact is, Omega likes to bring that up, in a serious or kayfabe way and this match is just not going to be that. Omega/Okada was and is something entirely different than what Omega/Jericho should be. Plus its not the main event of WK so i don't think it should or need to try to out shine the expected epic that is Okada/Naito. Like if it tries to be a 30 min match, i'm gonna be like wtf are they doing? lol

    Omega's work in the past tells me he'll know how to handle a match like this.

  7. #7
    Word Enthusiast Steve's Avatar
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    I suppose my larger point was about the fans, themselves. I don't think any intelligent fan wants to see them shoot for an Omega/Okada style, 45 minute long match. Plenty of "smart" fans, though, will likely talk mad shit about Jericho and the match, in general, if they DON'T shoot for that style, simply because of what they saw the year prior.

    I guess I'm just an old Jerichoholic who bristles at the thought of people hating on my dude simply because they don't really understand the art of psychology, be it in the ring or in the structuring of a match, in general. Where it is on the card, how long it should go, what style it should be, so forth. Essentially, I can see a scenario where Jericho is setting himself up to be the WWE proxy that takes all sorts of heat from folks who want to blame him for "making Okada wrestle a WWE style match", completely missing the nuances that everyone has mentioned in this thread thus far.

    I hope that makes sense.

  8. #8
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    I think fans will always look for a reason to hate on a match.. Even if Omega/Jericho have the greatest, well worked match of all time, you're gonna have people see it differently. If you go in with proper expectations though, i don't see many being disappointed.

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    I think Jericho has already proven in his recent WWE run to be slower and have lost a step in the ring so I doubt it will all of a sudden be a talking point now. And that's not a knock. It happens when you get old.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    I suppose my larger point was about the fans, themselves. I don't think any intelligent fan wants to see them shoot for an Omega/Okada style, 45 minute long match. Plenty of "smart" fans, though, will likely talk mad shit about Jericho and the match, in general, if they DON'T shoot for that style, simply because of what they saw the year prior.

    I guess I'm just an old Jerichoholic who bristles at the thought of people hating on my dude simply because they don't really understand the art of psychology, be it in the ring or in the structuring of a match, in general. Where it is on the card, how long it should go, what style it should be, so forth. Essentially, I can see a scenario where Jericho is setting himself up to be the WWE proxy that takes all sorts of heat from folks who want to blame him for "making Okada wrestle a WWE style match", completely missing the nuances that everyone has mentioned in this thread thus far.

    I hope that makes sense.
    That actually does make me understand your point a lot better. If Jericho DOES work smart and people hate on him for it, then those people are straight up idiots. My main fear is that he will actually try to match Omega's style, which would be the least interesting possibility for me in 2017.

  11. #11
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    Not to hijack the thread, but I'm not sure it does just come down to a question of taste. If you like something but it's bad for the business as a whole, is that fine or is your taste just a bit shit? I dunno. Interesting philosophical question.

    For what it's worth I would agree with the post above, and the general sense that if the match delivers a good bout of the type Jericho does well, then you can't complain about that - and I wouldn't think much of the so-called fandom of anyone who did.

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    Everybody has their own personal taste and the only one that matters as far as whether its good for business or not, is the booker. Like if the booker likes something so much and he forces it and it doesn't connect, doesn't make money, then people call the booker a bad booker, or at the very least a booker that ran a bad angle. Not to rail on WWE cause other bigger promotions have made mistakes, but this listening to the universe bullshit is such a lie when really, its just Vince picking his favorites and then adjusting if it doesn't work.

    That's not really the in ring but my feeling is simple, whatever makes a fan connect is good for them, doesn't mean its good for business and you can't cater to one fan... You have to have your pulse on what will make the most money.

  13. #13
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    What, do I hold stock in the wrestling business? I'm not going to deny my own tastes because of someone else's dollars and cents. The market doesn't dictate good art, after all. Sometimes I can hate something but still acknowledge it's good for business, but that doesn't mean I don't think it's shit creatively/artistically. I never fault a promotion for running with something hot/profitable, but that doesn't mean I'm always interested in watching.

  14. #14
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    We've transitioned from 'good for the business' to just 'good for business', and I'm not sure it's the same thing.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    I've seen a lot of talk about the potential quality of the upcoming match between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega. When discussing it with mizfan on Twitter, he said something along the lines of what I've seen many other say, that being that he questions whether Jericho can "keep up" with Omega.

    It makes me wonder if perhaps the standard is now way out of wack. You have a matches like those put forth by Omega and Okada last year that were hyped huge as fuck, being hailed as instant classics. That's cool. Hell, it's more than cool. It's fucking great.

    But I'm getting the impression that if Omega and Jericho don't live up to that standard, then blame will fall upon Jericho and he'll be derided as being "over the hill" or whatever. Hell, it's happening already. But I guess I question whether the flat out in ring athleticism and all that should be the end all, be all?
    The blame will fall and Jericho and it should if the match fails (it won't). It would be one thing if Jericho was in there with a guy like Davey Richards who has great athleticism but has the storytelling ability of Uwe Boll. Kenny Omega isn't like that. Yes the athleticism and high flying he does sticks out the most but the reason those Okada matches are so revered by so many is because he used those things towards telling a captivating story. On top of that, he's also proven (at least to me) through his matches with Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki this year that he can adapt to other styles and work a match accordingly. So whether he and Jericho decide to work a fast paced match where Jericho tries to keep up or a slow paced bout suited towards Jericho's ability now, Omega will be ready and will hold up his end of the bargain. That's why Jericho will get knocked if the match isn't a "classic", not because Jericho can't keep up.

    As to whether the standard is too high, in this case yes but only because it's Omega involved. What he and Okada did this past year, in my opinion, is the sort of magic that's only happened a handful of times; it's legitimately Kobashi-Misawa, Rock-Austin, Flair-Steamboat levels of chemistry. Everything Kenny does from this point will be in some shape or form compared to that, including this Jericho match. The good news is that all sane wrestling fans out there know Jericho isn't going to try and do the same thing with Omega that Okada did, and that the match is already a huge success based on the fact that its happening as has people like yourself Steve (a WWE only fan for the most part) talking about New Japan. So there's very little reason to be concerned about anything other than a small minority of idiots.


  16. #16
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    Ah, ok I get the distinction you're making. Not what draws at the door, but what makes for a sustainable wrestling industry, right? I definitely get that. You might create some buzz with dangerous head shots or trying to flip your way to a "six star" classic every night, but it's not what's going to keep the business going long term. That I can get behind.

    The good news is that all sane wrestling fans out there know Jericho isn't going to try and do the same thing with Omega that Okada did
    Curious, Cult, don't you think to some extent he did exactly that already with guys like Neville and AJ Styles in the past couple years?
    Last edited by mizfan; 11-08-2017 at 01:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Ah, ok I get the distinction you're making. Not what draws at the door, but what makes for a sustainable wrestling industry, right? I definitely get that. You might create some buzz with dangerous head shots or trying to flip your way to a "six star" classic every night, but it's not what's going to keep the business going long term. That I can get behind.
    Yeah, that's exactly what I'm driving at.

    I'd also throw in that if everyone's taste is the same then by logical extension, there'd be no 'good' anyway, so what people would really mean is just that they like it. But again, it's more of a philosophical point.

  18. #18
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    Sometimes I think about the concept of "good art" and get overwhelmed by how much that can mean, but yeah I'm going to refrain from getting too existential here...

    It is funny how 'good for the business' and 'good for business' can run potentially run counter to each other. For example, one possible outcome of this Jericho thing is New Japan will start pushing to bring in more ex-WWE guys and jump them straight to main roles, which I think would have diminishing returns pretty quickly. Not saying that will happen, but the possibility occurred to me.

  19. #19
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    Oh, sure. I mean the Attitude era is the biggest example of that. Both companies were hot-shot to shit and the one who went biggest won, but what happened when it got old and people got bored? The biggest boom crashed down within 3 years and while the WWE makes decent money now, it's mainly come from opening up new markets. I don't think anyone thinks the American market has recovered, and here in Britain the days of half the people you know watching at least one major promotion regularly are long gone.


    Also, McMahon became a billionaire from going international, so it clearly worked for his business. But the business as a whole was healthiest in the territorial era, and putting them all out of business had consequences that we didn't fully feel until the 21st century.
    Last edited by Prime Time; 11-08-2017 at 01:46 PM.

  20. #20
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    Haha, for sure. People here still ask me if I watch WWF! Definitely fell off the mainstream radar hard after the Attitude Era.

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