It’s Christmas and that means a lot of people will be focusing on the gifts (this is at least tied to the more important part of Jesus (look up to him, because I heard there is) a good book about him was born)). Since I’m a Christmas weirdo, that seems like a good place to bring to wrestling, which is where we’re going today. This week, we’re looking at gift-focused wrestlers in their ring, unfortunately this has gotten a little more complicated than it should be.
Back in Wrestlemania XIII, Shawn Michaels was guest commenting on the main event between Sid and Undertaker. As happens with most of his fights, Sid wrestled in a power style, not the most intensive style in the world. However, as Michaels pointed out, strength got him to the WWF Title, so why would he switch things up now? Strength is his gift, and that’s where we start today.
One of the common criticisms you’ll hear from some fans is that wrestlers aren’t very good because they can’t do certain moves. There is this rather annoying theory that a wrestler’s skill is determined by the number of moves he or she can make in the ring, which is as far from the truth as possible. Being able to do more moves is flashy, but it doesn’t have much to do with the qualities of a wrestler’s abilities.
An important factor to remember is that ultimately, save for some power and high-flying moves, the vast majority of wrestlers are likely to learn and use any move around. With a little practice, Kofi Kingston can learn to throw a German tumble, and Jon Moxley can find a knee that runs into LeBell Lock. These wrestlers are (mostly) highly trained and have access to a handful of polished workers in the ring who can crack the Big Book Of Moves and teach them anything they need. That’s not the problem and that’s what I’m having.
What is more important is being able to arrange a meaningful and effective match for the wrestlers involved. In some cases, ala Bryan Danielson, it makes sense to give different moves, as Danielson is considered a master technician with all kinds of experience in different fields. That won’t be the right move for everyone, though, and that’s where the changes come in.
Instead, the idea should be for wrestlers to play to their strengths. What may work for one person may not work for another, and it would be ridiculous to see some wrestlers go in a different direction. How ridiculous is it that Big Show just uses its legs to set up a spinner or lets Rey Mysterio brawl like Steve Austin? It goes against what they are better suited to do, which is what we will be looking at today.
Consider a fairly prominent example right now, the reigning WWE champion Big E. Now, Big E. has a certain set of skills that not everyone can claim: he’s almost as strong. a small and muscular elephant than a decent seafood buffet. You don’t often find wrestlers like Big E. and there is a certain style that suits him.
Thankfully, that’s exactly what Big E. usually does. His use of the authority style makes sense and that’s what you get. Big E. uses the natural powers he has to throw people around, including a finishing blow that involves picking them up, placing them on his shoulder, and then… .and then Drop them on their face, that might be a weird way to go, but it’s the lifting them that matters anyway.
Big E. is a great example of someone who (at least mostly) plays to his strengths (pun intended). He’s not preoccupied with a bunch of submissions or high-flying, but rather going out there and giving energy to those around him that few others can. Fans looking at him will be staring at his insanely muscular physique, and expect him to use them to his advantage. It makes sense, and that’s one of the reasons he’s been as successful as he has been.
Now with that, there’s another level a wrestler can go to, and that’s what Big E. has done. Also, and often amplified by his power play, Big E. throws in some jets of water and that spear pierces the ropes. They’re still strength-based, but it’s built more around using his size/muscle, and therefore weight, to his advantage, thus offering a bit more.
What makes this style work a bit better is that it diverges from Big E’s more sensible power game (or his gift in this case). That’s what Big E. still has to do and makes things a lot more real. By taking things in a slightly different but still connected direction, it makes him much more flexible and allows him to grow a little more. That kind of adaptability is pretty important, especially to someone who is likely to appear prominently on a card more often than not.
The combination of the two styles is a great example of how Big E. has stuck to its natural gifts and made it a success. While he has strived to be better and more inclusive, he hasn’t strayed from what got him working in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with spreading your wings and getting much better, but it’s not likely to work well without what made someone successful in the first place. Sticking with what worked in the first place is the kind of thing that can be forgotten in a hurry, which often creates a lot of problems in a hurry.
The gift also doesn’t have to be in the ring, as some wrestlers can use the microphone to promote their abilities. While he may not be the most famous, few wrestlers have had more success with a microphone in recent times than Maxwell Jacob Friedman. He can certainly win a good enough match given the chance, but in the end it’s his words that will get him wherever he needs to go.
Sure, Friedman could learn to do all sorts of things in the ring or fight his own battles, but it wouldn’t make much sense for someone like him to do that. Fighting is what Wardlow, a wealthy Friedman paid man, does best, so why mess with an effective formula? Friedman talking to get everyone’s skin and then being able to back it up in the ring works great (see also Roddy Piper for a more classic example), as seen in pay matches for each of his larger views. In the end though, it’s all just talk, because that’s what he does best.
There’s nothing wrong with learning a new style or becoming a more well-rounded ring wrestler. However, at the same time, the wrestlers you see have a reason. They’ve found something that works for them, and they shouldn’t stray far from that base in the end. You’re watching talented wrestlers on many national TV shows, and they’re there for a pretty good reason (at least most of the time). Let them do well at what they do and more often than not they will be able to perform well. For wrestling fans, it’s a gift that doesn’t stop giving year-round.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has watched over 60,000 wrestling matches. He’s also been a wrestling critic since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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https://wrestlingrumors.net/tommyhall/kbs-review-gift-keeps-giving/ KB REVIEW: The gift keeps on giving