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Geez, Brew - it's been AGES!: Yeah, yeah, I know. But I'm back now, and plan to be back once a week. I think everybody should try writing a column on a weekly basis - at the very least, it'll sure make you respect the guys who have never missed a week posting up theirs!

Greetings, salutations, and howarya? Welcome to the column that grabs hold of an issue and beats the heck out of it from both sides; BrewGuy's Yin and Yang. As always:

The Yin is the bad. The Yang is the good.
The Yin is pessimism. The Yang is optimism.
The Yin is a glass half empty.The Yang is a glass half full.
The Yin is why I don't like it. The Yang is why I do.

The Subject:

I was reading a Raw Report on the Observer from two or three weeks ago, curious to see what whoever reviewing the show was going to say about the Lance Storm/William Regal match. The reviewer (I forget who it was) said that due to a wayward leg drop, Storm bloodied up Regal's nose, causing Regal to get super-stiff on Storm "for two glorious minutes".

Those four words got me to thinking about something I'd noticed during the Tajiri/Rhyno match at Unforgiven; something I'd like to share with you all right now.

Did you tape Unforgiven? Good. Does your VCR have a slow-motion or frame-by-frame advance feature? If not, immediately purchase one that does. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Got one? Good. Fast-forward to the part just before Rhyno attempts to gore Torrie Wilson. Are you there? Good. Now watch the kick Tajiri lands on Rhyno.

Wow, that was some kick, eh? Tajiri reeeeally nailed 'em. Great stuff.

Now...rewind back to just before Tajiri lands that kick, and watch the kick in slow motion, or better yet, frame by frame....

....and now you know what I noticed. Besides a very small brush to Rhyno's shoulder, Tajiri NEVER EVEN TOUCHED 'EM. Tajiri finishes his kick a fraction of a second before Rhyno gets there, while slapping his leg for the sound effect. The crack WWF production crew then immediately cut to a wider picture to see Rhyno fall perfectly, and the end result is one outstanding and totally believable snippet of sports-entertainment.

After reading that Observer recap and seeing this, I asked myself the question which I now pose to you: How 'stiff' does wrestling really need to be?

Let's go over the Yin and Yang of stiffness. And I'm going to do it in a way that hasn't been done before - by putting YOU right in the middle of the action! Got your gear on? Good! Let's get started. Your opponent - Bob "Hardcore" Holly!

The Yin

OWW! That hurt!
Yer darn right it hurt - you just got punched in the face by Bob Holly, arguably the stiffist man in wrestling! The man who pulls no punches! Hurt, didn't it? (Not that *I* would know, but I'm betting it did, along with most other moves Holly does to you).

I don't know about you, but getting punched in the face is not something I enjoy. And it's not something that feels good either. And when it comes to telling a story in the ring, punches are important - but are they THAT important? I mean, people are NOT going to pop like a wine cork for you throwing a PUNCH (unless you're The Rock, which you're not, so let's move on). Now don't get me wrong - while punches may not be the most enthralling move you do (unless you're The Rock, which you're not, so let's move on), they ARE important when it comes to telling a good story. Thus, the art of throwing a good-looking punch must be mastered as part of your schooling. Kurt Angle's punches look great, and he barely touches his opponent. And hey, isn't using a closed fist illegal, anyway? Man, those refs really ARE blind.

Alright, let's pause your match with Mr. Holly for a second. Climb out of the ring for a second and catch your breath.

Think of the road ahead, young grasshopper
So, you've taken your first few shots from Hardcore. You're hurting - a lot. But, you still have a match to finish. Hey, you're lucky I called the first-ever wrestling "time-out", or you'd still be in there taking punishment! And this is your first match! What about your 10th? Your 100th? Your 500th? Not to mention the 200+ days you're on the road with the WWF. That's going to add up, and in a big hurry. Chris Jericho has had around 15-20 stitches put in his face just over the last month or so from various injuries, and stiff wrestlers are going to make the likelihood of getting hurt even higher. In fact, it's pretty much a guarantee you're going to get hurt in your career, anyway. It's just a case of when, how many times, and how severe each injury is. Mick Foley isn't even 40 (....right?), and he can't even get on his knees to play with his kids. Don't look at me like that - yes, things were different when Foley got started and yes, not everybody wrestled in Japanese C4 Exploding Barbed Wire Death Matches, but you understand my point. And a painful point it is.

Alright, break's over. Get yer butt back in there and show Hardcore a thing or two.

The Yang

It's GOTTA look good
Oooh, Hardcore just clotheslined you down in a super-painful way. But you jump back up, and OW!!! You just super-kicked Holly right in the nose and busted him open!!! Uh oh - I don't like that look in his eye. I think you're about to experience some severe pain. But the crowd is on it's feet and enjoying your work!

Bloodshed and stiff moves can definately add to a story and, done correctly, really helps get the crowd into a match. The harder you hit and the more you or your opponent bleed, the more interested the crowd becomes. This is a time-tested fact of sports-entertainment. A "sports-entertainment" punch can look weak, but it's pretty tough to make a real punch to the face look bad. And looking bad is not good; not good at all, because in the Great Pressure Cooker known as sports-entertainment, you cannot afford to not look good...especially now. Look at your co-workers. They're also your competition for TV time. And that's some pretty stiff competition (if you'll pardon the pun). The competition for a spot on the WWF roster has never been tougher, and while it may hurt, the fans are gonna crap on ya if something looks bad. And that's not somewhere you want to be.

To quote Ali G: "Maximum Respect"
Your match is over. You're tired, your nose is broken from Bob punching it so hard after you super-kicked him, but the match was good, and Holly just came over, shook your hand, and congratulated you on a good match.

Feel pretty good, don't you?

It's very, very important that your peers respect you - especially in the WWF. If you don't have their respect, they won't want to work with you, and if they don't want to work with you, you'll be off the roster faster than you can say "Naked Mideon". Paying your dues is part of the business, like it or not. Just think of the beating Maven is going to get when he reports to HWA. It's like putting a chicken in a pen full of foxes. They'll whip his ass something fierce in order to ensure he respects them, and the business. So, you can look forward to many more beatings like this one as your career continues. But, keep it up, and don't complain, and you've got a bright future, my friend. Now go shower up before you drip blood on me.

The Question
Does stiffness have a place in wrestling?

My Answer
Yes, it a point. It is required for rookies to show respect the business and to their peers - I'm not wild about that, but that's the way the business goes. And, when you're in the middle of a big match (a PPV match, for instance), it can really add to the story you're telling. But, I don't believe it has to be this way.

I would much rather see well-executed matches and clever psychology then two guys wailing on each other. If I WANT to see two guys beating the shit out of each other just to see who's the better man, I'll go watch UFC.

I hope that wrestlers spend more time practicing the art of making it LOOK like you're destroying somebody while not actually doing it - just like Tajiri did with Rhyno on that kick. Their job is to entertain us, not kill their opponent. They've got a top-notch production crew and great play-by-play teams to assist with the illusion. Let them do their jobs. That's what they're there for. The stiff shots thrown by Regal after Storm's mistake served absolutely no purpose, except to shatter my enjoyment of the story of the match, and cause me to wonder how badly hurt the two guys were after the match. I felt really bad for the guy who made a mistake on Perry Saturn in a dark match some months ago, after which Saturn proceded to beating the living tar out of him for the rest of the match. That's not sports-entertainment to me - not at all. Hey, mistakes happen. Granted, when I make a mistake while coding an HTML page, nobody gets hurt, but still - is destroying the guy with stiff moves the best way to remedy these mistakes?

The business, and the fans, will be better off in the long run if stiffness is kept to a minimum. Yes, all wrestlers should respect the business, no matter what level they're at. But, there must be a better way to do it than to make them bleed.

Your Answer
Hey, you tell me!

'Till next time!

[slash] wrestling

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