Monday, June 22, 2009

The Reborn Wrestling Fan: Saying No to the Hardcore

I recently received a compilation video from a funny, lucha-inspired independent wrestling company because I wanted to broaden my horizons as a wrestling fan, and I highly enjoyed what I watched (and something from that merry band of entertainers will be the Midweek video.)

And after I watched the DVD, I decided to watch the previews on it as well, expecting to see more trailers from some of their recorded shows. But instead, I ended up watching previews for some of the hardcore compilations the production company also produced.

For those who are luckily unfamiliar with what hardcore/extreme wrestling is, basically it is a type of wrestling that has fewer rules limitations, and at times it can get really out of hand. The way that mainstream pro wrestling defines it involves things like Ladder, First Blood and even Steel Cage matches along with various other match stipulations which are seemingly more dangerous than your average match.

And then some of the indy promotions and Japanese companies just took that model and ran with it by amping it up to new levels. Barb wire, nails, fluorescent tubes, tacks, land mine matches, electrified ropes, razor blade... all kinds of weird and dangerous stuff.

It is these kinds of spectacles that I usually bring up when people whip out the "wrestling is fake" line because if you think about it, in front of a live audience which surrounds the participants 360 degrees, it would be hard to fake hitting someone with a fluorescent light tube and the resulting cascade of blood... especially on the budgets these promotions run on. I am sure TNA or the WWE could make such a hit work completely safely with their resources, but in the indies, that just isn't going to fly.

And the less said about the spectacle of someone being tied up in the ropes and getting attacked across their bare belly with a weed whacker, the better.

I know there is all kinds of weird stuff out there, and I don't have to like everything, but to me, this kind of spectacle is repellent. And this is coming from someone who loves horror and action movies, violent video games and the like.

When I think about pro wrestling (you'll be hard pressed to get me to call it sports entertainment on a consistent basis), I am ok with occasionally seeing someone getting busted up, but that isn't the point of the whole thing. I don't have blood lust when I watch it. Some people do, and while I am not going to call them sick, I just know that isn't for me. I mean, it really isn't for me. What I want is a simulation of violence and pain rather than actually watching two people doing things which are all too real. I want to see two or more people going out and doing solid, skilled matches where in the end, no one really gets hurt. On some level, I might even be able to let a few things slide on the technical side if what is being presented is interesting, clever or funny.

You see, if you ever saw me watching wrestling, and I am enjoying a match and I really liked something I just saw (particularly a clever aerobatic move or reversal... especially a clever reversal), I laugh a little bit, not because it was funny in most cases, but rather because what I just witnessed was very entertaining.

I mean, if it was between seeing someone smashed over the head with a fluorescent tube or seeing someone do something like this or this consistently, well, I chose the latter two options. I mean, to me, that is worlds apart from the brutality of hardcore wrestling, and as a whole, I respect that kind of athleticism far more than someone being able to take a lot of real physical abuse just to try to entertain me. I guess that is my love for lucha libre is really influencing my view on what I really like to see in wrestling (smaller, more agile wrestlers, colorful and fun acrobatic moves and a slightly looser style).

I guess I just appreciate showmanship more than any other aspect in wrestling. After coming back to it after almost a decade and a half, I guess I've had a lot of time to think about that very issue. I know for a fact that I don't have to see someone almost kill themselves to be entertained. I just hope more indies start getting this message as well (as the places where new wrestlers break into the industry), as I am sure I am surely not alone in feeling that they want more fun and less blood.


Dalton J. Fox said...

I also prefer good wrestling over "hardcore" wrestling. However, I also think that hardcore wrestling has its place. I mean, every now and then you just wanna see somebody get their head bashed in. But, for the most part, I'd rather avoid most CZW and the like.

ECW was the exception. Sure, they had their share of bloody, violent brawls, but they had just as many awesome wrestling matches. And even the bloody, violent brawls still seemed to have some psychology behind them. Unfortunately for them, they're mostly remembered for the violence instead of the awesome WRESTLING matches that were put on night after night by guys like Lance Storm, Jerry Lynn, RVD, Tajiri, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, etc.

Yes, I still miss the original ECW.

MC said...

A little bit is ok... but there is a line that a lot of indy promoters seem to be not just crossing, but running over with a riding lawn mower.