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Leftovers: None. I am, however, attending RAW in Baltimore next week and should have some kind of on-site report sent to CRZ before I collapse from exhaustion. Stay tuned!

Feedback Question of the Week: Boy, that Rey Mysterio debut was something, huh? Seems a lot of folk are upset over the fact that Rey is wearing a mask again. I know enough tangentially about lucha to know that losing the mask back when was a big deal and that putting it back on is a problem on a lot of levels. My questions to WWE fans and lucha fans and fans of both are: What are your thoughts on this? Who gets crucified this time around: Rey or Vince? Both? Is it all really that big a deal within the WWE context? Do you even care? Let me know.

Welcome to another 10 minutes inside my brain. Enjoy the ride. Or not.

Who Betta?

A short time ago, I was having a chat with a few friends when one guy said that he'd rather see RVD wrestle than HHH. In my sleep-deprived state, I took this to mean that he thought that RVD was better than HHH. Hilarity ensued. We eventually cleared up the misunderstanding which was his saying, "I'd rather see RVD wrestle because his matches over the past six months have been better than HHH's" and me hearing "RVD is better than HHH." Since then I've been thinking: just how do/should we got about deciding if Wrestler A is as good as or better than Wrestler B? You see these debates and arguments all over the Net on message boards and chat rooms everywhere. People often don't agree on what makes anyone a truly great or interesting wrestler.

What components need consideration? Technical ability? Story telling, selling and psychology? Charisma and promos? Character development? Does any one factor demand or deserve more weight than others? And if so, how does that skew the results? For example, if brawling were the defining category than you'd have people like Austin, Foley and maybe HHH (if we're talking strictly WWE folk) at the top of the totem pole. If it's pure technical ability, then you have people like Eddie Guerrero, Benoit and Angle rise to the top. If we talk pure sports entertainment, then clearly people like the Rock and Austin dominate with folks like Angle and Jericho potentially trailing closely behind the upper tier.

Do you take into consideration that everyone has a few slumps throughout their career? RVD has certainly had better matches in the past six months than HHH, but does that mean that RVD as a wrestler is as good as or better than HHH? My first instinct is to say no (and we'll get into the whys later). I think it's highly unlikely to look at a group of wrestlers in any federation or division and have them all hit a level where they are all putting on good to great matches at the same time. The "good old days" of the WWF in 2000 that the IWC longs for was a lightning strike, folks. What made that year so great, in my opinion, is partially the fact that you had a group of core guys who were hitting their individual and collective strides as wrestlers at the same time. Think about it. That year you had HHH, Rock and Foley tearing up the main event scene with Eddie, Benoit, Angle, and Jericho electrifying the mid card. How often does that happen? How often can that happen?

But, I digress. When comparing wrestlers, I think its paramount that we look at the body of work that a wrestler has laid before us on TV and PPV. This "Body of Work" should include moveset and ability, number of good to great matches, and developing a compelling character. Some elaboration on what I mean by these categories:

  • Moveset and Ability speaks to what a wrestler does in the ring. Technical skills are a must, but they are not the be-all-end-all, especially in the WWE. Brawling is required, especially of main eventers. This area also encompasses a wrestler's ability to tell a story in the ring through psychology and selling and the ability to have good matches with just about anyone. Bret Hart, Arn Anderson, and Shawn Michaels were/are awesome in-ring storytellers. Bret was also a great seller, especially of long-term injuries. Angle is currently pulling good matches out of everyone he faces (Kane, Edge, Hogan).

  • Good to Great Matches speaks to matches that stand the test of time and demand tape review and repeated watching. These are your ***1/2 to ***** classics. In this sense, a good to great match doesn't have to be 90% technically sound or even a technical affair. Rock-Hogan, Angle-Shane, Taker-Foley HitC, and any of the TLC matches immediately come to mind, as do Bret-Austin, Bret-Michaels, Austin-HHH 2/3 falls, and the HHH-Foley series. One thing is usually certain: the crowd eats it up and becomes part of the match.

  • Developing a Compelling Character speaks to having a character that does a few things. One, it connects with the fans. People come to see you wrestle, talk shit, whip ass or get your butt kicked. Two, it means you have the ability to make the mundane interesting. Here, I'm thinking of the Rock's feud with Big Show from a while back. Promo ability means a lot here. Three, it means having a unique motivation that underscores just about everything your character does. And fourth, it means that you are able to rise above inept and asinine booking to become a fan favorite and hold championships. RVD overcame default heel status during the InVasion to become very popular; Booker is beginning to overcome being booked (pardon the pun) as a second tier worker.

Now let's get back to the original debate. Is RVD as a wrestler as good or better than HHH? Using these criteria and looking back at each wrestler's body of work you have RVD having good matches in both ECW and the Fed. Each match, however good, remains mostly a well-sewn string of spots and inconsistent selling. For HHH, you have his awful "snob" run, his PPV dominance when he pulled a new move out his ass every month and his current 'returning-from injury' slump. I say HHH still comes out on top. To say (or think) that RVD is better or as good as HHH is to say that a Best of RVD comp will entertain the average wrestling fan as well as a best of HHH comp. Or a best of Austin Comp. Or a Best of Benoit comp. Or Bret. Or Michaels. You get the general idea.

Taken inside a vacuum-two PPVs, brawling as valued skill, seven months, etc.-any wrestler can put on a better showing than another who happens to not be on his game and any wrestler can be argued as best. Thus Austin can be a better brawler than Foley. Or Angle can be a better wrestler than Austin. Or Rock can be a better sports entertainer than Benoit. But are they really better? Or are they just your favorite?

Think about this the next time you say that Lance Storm is better than the Undertaker or Test is better than Edge.

Until next time, send hatemail and/or feedback to the addy in the link below.

I'm out.

[slash] wrestling

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