10.14.2005

Strong Style in America (Pro Wrestling)

Japanese wrestling is pretty rad. It's an accepted fact. It's built on totally different honor systems, so the confrontations are usually sporting instead of dramatic, but they can be, with the right types (Usually Americans or young wrestlers). I understand for people who have never seen it before, it's a really astounding experience. I was mesmerized by my first puroresu match (Keiji Mutoh Vs. Masahiro Chono, 2001 some time). It was everything I had expected pro wrestling to be, and most importantly, it was completely open to interpretation. I understand how awesome that is.

What's not awesome is the fact that wrestlers who watch these awesome things begin to employ these tactics, with some not understanding what makes it all work.

I'm not going to lie and pretend I know everything about pro wrestling. I don't really have a right to speak about deep philisophical intricacies (or whatever), but I'm pretty intuitive, and I know some pretty smart guys who have shown me the tiny things that makes "Strong Style."

The first problem is this simple fact; in America, unless it's one of five exceptions, strikes are not finishes. It's a sad truth. But, lets look through the wrestlers today. Specifically, Samoa Joe. He's got some pretty bad ass kicks, and some real looking strikes. Has he ever finished someone with the Enzuigiri? Or a simple roundhouse to a kneeling opponent? Hell, even a Savate kick? Nope. Because no one buys it. He can do it all he likes, but no one will ever say "oh, wow, what a slap, that's gotta be it," much as a few fanbases would lead you to believe. However, he has used the Lariat as a finish, which is exception one.

The other three are the Shining Wizard and it's children, Super Kick (which, oddly enough, is pretty dead in Japan), Axe Kick, and the Yakuza Kick/Big Boot.

My original outline for this was Low Ki, but Low Ki has changed so radically over the last two years that it's unfair to say that. His initial problem was he used the same style, of a Strong Style junior, in both Japan and America. Well, in Japan, that's fine; the kicks look strong, and people could buy those as finishes. In America, he can growl and scream all he likes, and kick as hard as he likes with pretty unprotected kicks. Lets look at that match he had in 2002 against Christopher Daniels in ROH. Plain as day, he roundhoused him straight in the head. He was on his knees, and got kicked squarely in the head. The crowd went up for it, yeah, but they didn't buy it as the end of the match. The announcers sold it as such, but you could tell the fans 'knew' that wasn't it.

An even better example was Low Ki Vs. Samoa Joe, in that same year (I believe.) The match was almost all strikes, and when the last one came, the crowd was just dead. No one bought the knockout blow. That's bad. Of course, they cheered 'respectfully' for the victory, but the silence before hand was telling.

Last is also ROH. 2003, "Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies." Low Ki's Tidal Krush kick, from the middle rope, legitimately Dan Maff out. The next time he did it? Nothing. Everyone thought that was an isolated incident, and it would never happen again. When Misawa KOed Masanobu Fuchi with an Elbow Suicida, the crowd would totally buy the dive as a finish. Think about that. Mitsuharu Misawa made a dive a finish. There's no such thing over here.

Nowadays, Low Ki uses an American Style. He's got his three big finishes (Ki Krusher, which put down a lot of big guys in ROH) the Double Stomp (which is a flying move that he makes look absolutely wicked) and the Dragon Clutch (see Ki Krusher). He doesnt pretend that his other, spiffy kicks will get the job done over here.

Second: Mixed Martial Arts holds are not used properly. Ever. In Japan, a Jujigatame is a lethal thing, and if it's in tight, you can't really last that long. Same with a Triangle Choke, or a Kneebar. You either reverse it in the first ten seconds, or it's all over. In America, people last far too long in such holds, and dont even kind of struggle. For example, Damian Vs. Kevin Steen. Steen fought a Triangle choke for almost five minutes. You dont come close to half a minute in a properly applied Triangle Choke. So what did this do? It killed the Triangle Choke dead in IWS. No one buys it as the instant doom finisher it should be, and it's too late to change it, due to the 'educated' state of the fans.

Third: Strong Style is used as an excuse. The common misconception is Strong Style is that it's "Real but worked." In a sense, this is all of pro wrestling. But that doesnt mean to strike recklessly and to endanger your opponent with real headdrops. This same conclusion is drawn from 1990s AJPW, and I'll speak more on that the more I learn and collect about it. If nothing else, Strong Style is about Toukon; fighting spirit. It's about not giving up. It's about leaving it all out there. It's not about putting the other person in mortal danger. I mean, look at Yoshihiro Takayama. Because of Strong Style, we have lost the greatest all around heavyweight in the last decade.

What cheeses me off even more about this is wrestlers wanting Kayfabe back. Well, if you want kayfabe back, don't you think that YOU should help? The fans wont go back to the state it was at if we all act like flippy bitches or that strikes don't really mean that much. Point in case: The Taped Fist Match. It's dead, due to the sheer amount of people that tape their fists during matches. It used to be one of the biggest blow off matches you could have, and now, thanks to modern wrestling, and wrestlers not having foresite, it's completely gone. Pretty soon, wrestling will be dead, and Mixed Martial Arts will reign supreme, unless everyone goes back to the basics and calms the fuck down.

1 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

Great articles and nice content... Thanks for posting this informative blog

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