Psychology or Action?

Hey Scott, long time etc etc etc etc


I was watching two matches the other day in my ongoing attempts to educate myself on Puro, and I stumbled upon some very interesting points about wrestling in general I wanted the blog to chew on while watching a pair of Joshi matches. One match featured Megumi Kudo vs Aja Kong, the other was an Explosive Barbwire match between the same Kudo and Combat Toyoda. (Links are http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiBfx9yqZUU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBW-Nwxwqps respectively)

The Kong v Kudo match was pretty entertaining, as Aja Kong is an awesome, high-caliber Vader/Samoa Joe style worker with a great skillset, blending well with the typical JOSHI FIGHTING SPIRIT~! of Kudo. However, there was some stuff in that match that bugged the hell out of me, namely a parity sequence at the start involving the wiry Kudo and the butch, dangerous-looking Kong. I thought it'd make a hell of a lot more sense to have a storyline of "Kong maims Kudo. Kudo gets brief comeback. Kong shrugs it off, resumes acting like total destructive monster heel by maiming Kudo more." would work. Then, Kudo used a series of armbars to neutralize the spinning backfist, Kong's finisher. Sound psychology, but they had Kong sell the armbars, which made no sense cause Kong, while a good seller, looks like a total monster that shouldn't feel pain from a glorified resthold. She then proceeded to do the finisher something like 6 times anyways with the bad arm for the eventual win, thus nullifying the whole point of doing the armbars.

Then, the other match came along, the Explosive Barbwire match, which was totally different despite featuring someone similar to Kong in Toyoda being Kudo's opponent. A lot of stalling was involved, and there were some rather simple spots like a test of strength, knuckle lock and irish whips where they tried to shove each other into the barbed wire in order to cause major damage to their opponent. This match, by contrast, told a really excellent story, in that both were trying to use their brain and simpler techniques to get their opponent into the Barbed wire, but the action was subpar, until they built to a hot finish leading to Toyoda kicking out of a very scary botched neck-drop powerbomb which would've left her wheelchair-bound in any other universe, then almost getting hurt again with a Vertebreaker for the pin.

I liked both matches though, which got me to thinking: Obviously, the best matches include both a quality story being told by the participants in the ring and solid, high-caliber action to build the story up. But really, which one is more important to have in a match? Is it sometimes better to have a match with jaw-dropping action but no real flow to it, or is it better to have a slow, methodical match that tells a strong story? Is less sometimes more when it comes to the point you want to convey to the audience with your booking?

Yeah, that's a toughie.  I think it comes down to knowing your audience and adjusting based on their needs, rather than doing the same thing for everyone. For me personally, sometimes I have patience to watch Randy Orton working a headlock for 15 minutes on John Cena, and sometimes I don't.  Mostly I don't.  So even by individual fans, reactions can vary wildly.  I'd like to think it's "safer" to err on the side of having a crazy action-packed match that can at least disguise weaknesses, but by the same token when something like that doesn't mesh it can go wrong FAST.  However, if you're actually trying to tell a story to the audience, it is often better to do something slower and more deliberate.  
What I'm saying is that wrestling is a very very tricky artform to master, especially with the variable of giant crowds of fickle fans sometimes changing plans that people had.  That's likely no help whatsoever, but that's what I got for you.