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Matt Talbot



The Little Things

I know I wrote a column just the other day (Go back and read it, it is called "Memorial Fights Collection"), but I had a stroke of genius. Well maybe not genius, but I came up with a list. For better or worse, I have been watching a lot of wrestling (mostly Puroresu, although a little Joshi) lately. Not every match I have seen has been an awesome match, but a lot of matches, which do not include great moves, chess like psychology, or massive bumps are raised in my eyes by some of the little things. I think these are things that can help make matches that much better. By the way, the name of the wrester in the debut match against TM II was La Fiera. Thanks to mooky for that information.

Ok, the first big thing is effort. You do not have to do Springboard 450 Splashes or Powerbombs through tables to have good matches. All you need is some effort. Actually, it is not as much that a strong effort can raise a bad match (as most bad matches won't have strong effort), but that a lack of effort can hurt a match between two good workers. I remember a match from Nitro a while back between Konnan and Kanyon. Now, you would expect some good moves from these pretty good wrestlers. They had some good spots, but in a lot of cases they were just plain lazy. I remember Kanyon Irish whipping Konnan into the ropes and Konnan jogging into the ropes. That is why a lot of people like Dynamite Kid, because he had that fire. He never just jogged into the ropes. He was always very intense. Same with Benoit. A lot of big man matches have become watchable because they at least tried out there. Paul Wight, in both his WCW and WWF persona, has had matches that would scald the most fervent fan. But he has also had matches where he puts some effort in, and, while not improving on moves or bumps, puts out a watchable product. There was a match between The Giant, Paul in WCW, and Meng that was pretty decent. They were not flying through the air with the greatest of ease or smoothly moving from armbar to wrist lock, instead just pummeling on each other. Still, because they put some effort in, the match was not half bad.

Another little thing that can improve the match is type of kick out. This also relates to waiting until the last second to kick out, but I notice that people who do not telegraph their kick outs are more exciting. A good example of this is Kenta Kobashi. I just watched a TC match between him and Taue from '98, which was pretty good. In this match Kenta kept kicking out at the last second and he would not telegraph it. You know how sometimes a wrestler will start to kick up his legs and then kick up his whole body. They move their legs at 2, so you subconsciously think "OK he is going to kick out." In this match, Kenta was still until 2 9/10ths. There were several times that I thought Taue had him, because he was not moving up until right at the end. That heightens the enjoy ability of the match, because just when you think it is over they draw you right back in. Of course, it is kinda dependant on the cover that the other wrestler puts on. If he puts on a really strong cover then you kinda have to do a big kick out, which might start earlier. If he leaves a shoulder open, you can be absolutely lifeless right until the second you move your arm. It is a very small thing, but makes the near falls hotter.

Sloppiness is something else that can ruin a good match. For the sake of the article called "The Small Things," I am not talking about somebody falling off the top turnbuckle or totally missing a dropkick (actually I later will). I am talking about not landing after some chain wrestling or losing the arm when trying to do an armbar. Small things like that can make the wrestling not as enjoyable. I noticed, when I was watching Misawa, that he always hit his landings. His mat wrestling was superb and flawless, but when I was watching Sayama, it was not the case. He would try to land on his feet after a back body drop and slip to his knees. Sure, it is not a very big thing, but it is the little things that count. What is really nice is when somebody screws up, but they incorporate it into the match or smoothly move onto the next spot. Remember when I was ranting about the Night the Line Was Crossed 3-Way? I was talking about how Sabu would screw up a moonsault or an huricanrana and then do the move right over again. It makes it look like he actually screwed up, when he does the move again. I saw an example of a really good screw up being glossed over in an All Japan Women's match between Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue. Manami had Inoue on her shoulders and was going to fall onto her back, slamming Inoue to the ground. Inoue was supposed to counter that by slipping to the ground and hitting a German Suplex. Inoue slipped off Toyota's back, but then went too far by slipping on the ground. The best part was that Toyota immediately turned around and threw a lariat. Inoue ducked the lariat and jumped around to hit the German Suplex. Inoue had screwed up slightly, but instead of them standing around and Inoue kicking Toyota a few times before getting back into the groove, they, without a second of hesitation, fluidly moved back into pace. Another example is the Sasuke-Liger match from J Cup 94. Now, yes the screw up here was immense, probably the biggest I have ever seen, so it is not a "little thing," per se. For those who have not seen the match, Sasuke was supposed to win with a Springboard Huricanrana. He slipped off the ropes and slammed to the mat on what was supposed to be the finishing maneuver of the match. But Liger at least tried to salvage it by mocking and laughing at Sasuke. He tried to turn it from a screw up shoot, where Keiichi Yamada would be concerned about his friend, to a screw up work, where Jyushin Lyger would mock his opponent's miscue, which would get over Liger's arrogant persona. If the wrestler can incorporate these screw ups into the match, it will not make them seem as glaring.

The last thing I noticed is stiff strikes. This is mostly for the non-brawlers who do not depend on strikes. If they can put out some credible kicks or punches in between moves, it can make the impression that they are softening up the opponent before the Shooting Star Press or the Figure Four Leglock. Take RVD, for example, as a person who did not have good strikes. His punches were the worse that I have ever seen. They seemed more as something he would do as a sports entertainer wasting time before the next spot, than as a legit contender (which they all want to make the aura of) trying to defeat his opponent. Thankfully, he has taken to using the forearm (stolen from Misawa no doubt). His forearm is far more stiffer than his punch (but then again what is not) and does not look stupid. As for brawlers, using weak strikes can ruin them. You want to know why Tank Abbot is NOT over? Because his strikes are too weak. All he does is punch and they look poor enough. Especially considering the fact that he seems to be only beating up on non-wrestlers, he does not (or cannot) put out full force. I mean it is all well and nice that he beats up Mark Madden or Bob Ryder (Go A1!), but he did like 2 punches each (and they all kinda missed). Goldberg was over as a no nonsense shooter, because he put that extra oomph into his moves. Tank does not put it into his strikes and that is all he has. Stiff offense equals credible offense and that bleeds into other moves, helping raise the level of the match.

These are just a few of the smaller things that can help raise a match. Sure, they are not going to make a Mark Henry-Viscera match *****, but they will at least ensure you won't change the channel. It takes a really good wrestling acumen to time your kick out or smoothly gloss over an unfortunate error, so this takes some skill to get good at. But as Homer Simpson once said "It is really just a bunch of little things."

Anyway if you have any comments, complaints, concerns, or criticisms, or just wanna chat about how much the New Japan Heavies suck, then please, by all means, email me at

Matt Talbot

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