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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: "If you were going to show a non fan 10 different styles of matches, what would they be?"
By The Doc
Dec 1, 2013 - 4:58:53 PM

Recently, I posted in a column that I'd like to increase my fan interaction to having you guys ask me questions that you'd like me to answer either through the written (Doctor's Orders) word or the spoken ("The Doc Says...") word. This afternoon, I received a helluva question on Twitter. Geed Wilde asks, "If you were going to show a non fan 10 different styles of matches, what would they be?"

My answer begins with a caveat - I only would show a non-fan matches from the modern era. Wrestling fans love the old timers, but I would want the non-fan to see the vibrant colors of the high definition sets and top notch production quality of the modern WWE show.

Elimination Chamber - This is just a kick ass gimmick, frankly. It is visually stunning in a way that Hell in a Cell is not. The Chamber looks intimidating - as in bone breaking, "there's no way that it is fake" intimidating. I have chosen the 2011 version featuring John Morrison, CM Punk, Randy Orton, John Cena, Sheamus, and R-Truth because it features the combination of athleticism, drama, and high spots that I believe would be most likely to entice a non-fan to stay in-tune through the entire match. Morrison adds the flare with his Spider-Man-esque use of the sides and roof of the structure. Sheamus has a unique look and intensity. Randy Orton is good looking, but has a palpable vicious side that makes you legitimately wonder if he might kill someone. John Cena's charisma jumps off the screen. CM Punk's cowardly attempt to avoid Orton would be that kind of mid-match hook that kept the non-fan engaged through the middle stages leading into the climax.

Ladder Match - Perhaps no better example exists in the combat dramatic arts than a Ladder match, in regards to drawing in people with a "wow" factor. It has the potential to tell a story that makes a one-time non-fan into a fan, as well. For that reason, I would show the non-fan Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk from Summerslam 2009 so that he/she could see the eye-popping Hardy stunts and Punk's ability to craft a masterpiece on the 20'X20' canvas. Nobody in ladder match history was better able to provide the shock value in a stunt brawl like Jeff Hardy, but I think that he had matured by 2009 to the point where he better chose his spots. The big gold belt (the World Heavyweight Championship) is also a more visually impressive title than the WWE title; an extra detail that might make a difference to a person unfamiliar with pro wrestling.

The Royal Rumble - There's a reason why the Rumble match has endured as a major draw (increasingly so, in fact) when the rest of the gimmick matches from the 80s and prior to have drifted off to some place between irrelevant and not-nearly-as-important. The Battle Royal is just a lot of fun. Everything about the match is designed to attract fan participation and excitement. If I'm choosing a best option, I would choose one that is a little bit shorter and one that features top stars that incite the crowd early and often. Thus, I'd go with Royal Rumble 2008. Shawn Michaels and Undertaker were awesome in their first-thirty-minute efforts. The total match time was just 50-55 minutes, so it didn't overstay its welcome. John Cena's return would have the potential to make a non-fan get amped alongside the fans, as well. A Madison Square Garden crowd wouldn't hurt.

Hardcore Match - Many things about the modern era irk the fan brought up on yesteryear's product, but one advantage that I've identified is a greater attention to storytelling detail. As such, I did not choose a Hardcore-style bout from the 90s or early 2000s. I wanted to go with either Jeff Hardy vs. RVD from Invasion or RVD vs. Jerry Lynn from late '99 in ECW, but I went against the grain and chose Mick Foley vs. Edge from Wrestlemania 22 because it was so intelligently worked. The barbed wire is there. The flaming table is there. The blood is there. Yet, what ties it all together with a very non-fan-friendly ribbon is the little details. The barbed wire was wrapped around Foley to start, causing Edge's Spear to also cut him open. Master stroke. The flaming table spot was an incredible finish to an expertly wrestled "fight" without rules. There was a legitimacy, thanks to those little details, that I don't feel was always present in matches such as the aforementioned others.

(Attitude Era-style) Brawl - I parenthetically mentioned the Attitude Era because it had its own, distinct main-event style. And, for that style, which is still relevant in educating a non-fan despite the era being more than a decade removed, there is one match that shines above all others: The Rock vs. Steve Austin at Wrestlemania X-Seven. Rock-Austin encompassed just about everything that you could want in that unique style. They fought through the crowd and all that (silliness), but never had a larger audience been present to respond to it...and did they ever respond to it? Choosing matches with hot crowds is a must if you're selection involves the non-fan. If the people at the show appear to be having an amazing time, then it helps calm the negativity of the non-fan viewer. The length of the match really doesn't matter because, thanks to the format, it flies by. Vince's involvement might be a little bit confusing, but a quick explanation on the fan's part would fix that. Then, the non-fan could get sucked back in as Austin and Rock finish the match of the era with a wild series of false finishes sure to temporarily make the non-fan forget that they're watching wrestling.

Submission-based - I went back and forth about whether or not to include this category, but I thought of a match that I felt could be shown to a non-fan and him/her not get bored to tears: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle from Unforgiven 2002. Why not the Rumble '03 classic? While there is no questioning that the latter was better, the former had a faster pace and actually would benefit the non-fan, in my mind, from not having an updated storyline behind it. It was just 14-minutes of one-upsmanship. It flirts with not being modern given that the pace has slowed considerably since that time for main-eventers, but its right on the cusp. The bottom line was that Benoit-Angle were the hybrid submission artists of their time and there were no two better at engrossing the audience into their work.

Sports Entertainment - Call this match-type what you will, but I had a specific match in mind while writing: The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania X-8. The category could be "audience participation-driven" or "suspended disbelief at its best" - whatever you want to call it, Rock vs. Hogan was an excellent example of how a crowd and an aura could create for a classic, memorable experience for any person watching wrestling - be it for the first or millionth time. I showed this match to a friend of mine before he watched a Wrestlemania with me years ago and he was blown away by the energy on display - from the wrestlers to the crowd to the announcers. Everything about that match (including the length and the finish) were ready-made to tailor to a broader audience.

High Flying - We may as well call this the "Rey Mysterio" category. I could conceivably choose a TNA match, such as the Samoa Joe-Christopher Daniels-AJ Styles classic from 2005, but the video quality looks bad in comparison to the WWE productions involving Mysterio. Coming in at under 9-minutes, Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle from Summerslam 2002 was an absolutely fabulous match that showcased Mysterio to the greatest extent of his talents against a grappler with a phenomenal ability to catch and counter a cruiserweight's offense. The match was also very realistic, in that the bout was dominated by Angle, allowing Mysterio to work in short bursts of aesthetically-pleasing moves sure to do two things for the non-fan: 1) keep him/her from making claims of in-authenticity and 2) raise their eyebrows in a way that no other match of this type could do in quite so compact a package.

"WWE Storytellers" - I'd refer to this as the modern WWE main-event style, in which a heavy emphasis is placed on facial expressions and dramatic false finishes. I would not show a non-fan an Undertaker match, though his work at Wrestlemania with Edge, HBK, or CM Punk would be awesome examples of the style. I just don't think that the non-fan would understand the gimmick and, even if he/she did, I think it would hinder his/her ability to suspend his/her respective disbelief. Thus, I would choose a CM Punk vs. John Cena match. Non-fans should be treated to matches with clean finishes that best represent the genre, so Punk vs. Cena from the February 25, 2013 Raw gets the nod. Punk has a knack for pushing Cena to the limit in a way that even the non-fan can appreciate, especially if that non-fan had any knowledge of the momentum swings often present in a sporting event.

Tag Team - It is difficult to choose a modern tag team match that truly expresses the nuances that best exemplify tag wrestling. So, I've got to skirt the line again and go back to 2002. Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit from No Mercy 2002 was arguably the best tag team match of all-time. It had an excitement factor that goes beyond the standard tag team formula. Even the combinations of duos from the golden age of tag wrestling in the 80s fail to measure up to the No Mercy match in terms of pure athleticism and entertainment. It was a fascinating contrast in styles. The sad thing is that the non-fan might see this match, go searching for other matches like it, and end up disappointed when they couldn't.


QUESTION OF THE DAY: I'll repeat the question asked to me, "If you were going to show a non fan 10 different styles of matches, what would they be?"

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