Last weekend at Ring of Honor’s Final Battle, there was a six-man tag match that featured The Young Bucks & Hangman Page vs Flip Gordon, Dragon Lee & Titan which birthed what became a viral GIF, and civil war between MMA fighters, Washed MMA Fighters, Old Timers and “Wrestling Is Fake” meme sharers on one side, and forward thinking wrestlers, and fans who appreciate them on the other.
Speaking on the side that defended this and many other shocks to the system such as the famed Ricochet vs Will Osperay match from the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament, I can’t believe we have to keep having this same conversation not only in the wrestling community but beyond it. I understand people that may not recognize the wrestling that is presented in some areas because it conflicts with their memories of either their youth or older times in the sport.
However, culture whether in Wrestling, Music, legit sport, or any other entertainment medium always moves forward, but especially in wrestling, there is an obsession with either the past, or teaching the ways that things were always done. Anyone challenging that is deemed to be disrespectful to the business, and fans that actually dig what is going on end up in debates that neither side learns anything from. It just turns into a flame war.
I’m not referring to the fundamentals that have to be in place no matter what era folks are part of simply because of safety. I’m talking about the willingness to further push this entertainment medium into being potentially more entertaining. If things like The Bucks, Ricochet and Ospreay and others are doing don’t entertain you because it’s not how things were when you used to watch guys get put in a bear hug for 7 minutes of a 12-minute match, I really can’t help you. You’ve missed too much for it to be explained to you in 280 characters on Twitter.
These types of things in matches didn’t just appear one day, it is the gradual evolution of the sport since the early 1900’s. Every subsequent generation does more than the one prior to it while being scolded for doing too much in matches. I heard this story from older friends of mine, and longtime journalists of the sport, but there was a time when Harley Race was looked at in horror by old timers of his day for doing a headbutt off of the second rope. Did people miss 96’ Rey Mysterio Jr. in WCW? Even the greatness of Okada vs Omega was subject to a subset of people not realizing that this is the modern Flair/Steamboat.
In another 30 years, two other guys will blow away the rest of the business as well. This whole argument is centered on the same thing every time this happens. “It doesn’t look real.” Newsflash, it never has. As much as everyone freaked out over this…I ask, if “realism” is your hill to die on…
HOW IS A TRIPLE MISSED DROPKICK ANY MORE UNREALISTIC THAN THE IRISH WHIP?
Yes, the move that involves throwing your opponent away from you, the opponent willingly running away, hitting the ropes, and then running immediately back to you to be attacked, is seemingly forgotten every single time this stuff comes up. Years ago, my co-host of One Nation Radio, James Boyd pointed that move out to me while one of these situations arose. It made all the sense in the world. From there it breaks down to this, once one starts watching this stuff they can either accept the gimmickry full-on like many of us do, or start looking really funny when you’re asked to explain why one thing is okay and not the other when they are both equally ridiculous in a vacuum.
This happens several times during more than 95% percent of matches that have ever happened. If you’ve never considered that just think about it. Why would anyone run away from then back to someone to be attacked? This requires such a suspension of disbelief; the only difference is, people are used to it. And a triple missed dropkick isn’t going to happen in every match.
This broke down on Twitter into a debate with Cody Rhodes, and Daniel Cormier in the highest profile spat, with Rhodes coming to his fellow Bullet Club members defense with the paying customer argument, and he went on to take cheap shots at MMA fighters who want to turn to wrestling when they get knocked into that “Bolivion” Mike Tyson was talking about. I also got into it with Phil Baroni who wanted to Irish Whip me to prove a point. Not shockingly he missed the point completely after being knocked out several times during his MMA career, and never responded when I told him I was unwilling to run away from him then back to him to complete the sequence.
This isn’t so much a message to meme sharers who are looking for a good meme to pass along, but those that are so disgusted that these guys would have the gall to do things that may get over and keep their lights on. In 1975, we hadn’t seen everything we would see later on. 40 plus years later, the innovators have to compete with everything that came before them and not get called rip-offs to truly be special. Whether folks want to foster a landscape that encourages such risk-taking is up to them. However, one move unites most of these generations, The Irish Whip, the most absurd one of them all. Feel free to reference this the next time something else goes viral.
Rich Latta is a writer for LordsofPain.net & host of the One Nation Radio Podcast on www.SocialSuplex.com He appears monthly on Chad Matthews’ podcast The Doc Says after Raw PPVs.GFX by @SirMikeFergus Give him a follow on Twitter, @RichLatta32 or drop him a comment below. If you like hip-hop, check out his music here. www.Soundcloud.com/RichLatta
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*Author’s Note, Washed Does Not Refer To Lightweight Champion Daniel Cormier.