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An interesting Al Snow interview...
Wickedfrost - 11-12-2008 at 08:34 PM

Interesting article from Al Snow at slam. About halfway down he has an interesting discourse about a hypothetical match between Funaki and CM Punk and why they don't go balls out and put on a match of the night.

I'm wondering what you folks think...

Here's the link:

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2008/11/10/7366301.html


Jazzman - 11-12-2008 at 08:45 PM

For some reason, this was "filtered" out. Do you mind cutting and pasting the text? TIA


El_Diablo - 11-12-2008 at 09:29 PM

It's quite a long article, but a very interesting read. Here's the snippit that Wickedfrost was referring to.

quote:
"There are only three types of business in wrestling. The first is to make somebody. You have to make an audience believe in a person, and if you don't you won't be able to get heat on them or get them over. You have to make yourself believable. You have an opportunity to do that whether you win or lose. Secondly, as a heel, you have to put heat on a face and there are a million ways to do that. Let's say a heel is sent out to the ring and they won't tell you, wrestling is not a verbal business, but they will say, 'We will have you work with wrestler A and this is what we want you to do.' You have got to understand this is your opportunity, they are trying to put heat on you. Not to have the best match on the goddamn card. So if you go out there and try to have the best match instead of getting heat on yourself, are you going to get the chance to do it again? Probably not."

"I will give you a for instance. We all know Funaki and how he is used and he is very good at it, it is not a disparagement upon him. Let's say CM Punk is brought in to work Funaki in his first match in the WWE. They are putting Punk in with Funaki to get himself over. To get himself over means that he wants to eventually put himself over to the point where he can eventually wrestle Triple H for the heavyweight title. So Punk goes out there going, 'I am going to have the best match on the card' and he does. Problem is, because he had the best match on the card he had to give Funaki a lot of stuff. So does he look like he is on Funaki's level or Triple H's level? If Triple H were to go out there and work with Funaki, he'd make Funaki but would he still look like the heavyweight champion? He would, and look like he was on the top of the ladder and Funaki on the bottom. So if CM Punk worked on Funaki's level in an effort to have the best match on the card, did he truly take advantage of his opportunity? No. Thirty seconds on RAW costs $30,000 so for a six-minute match that was going to paint a picture that this new guy was a threat to Triple H and the heavyweight championship, now Punk went out and painted a picture that Funaki is as good as CM Punk. So at more than $240,000 for six minutes how many more opportunities would Punk get to go out there and show he is on Triple H's level?"


Psycho Penguin - 11-12-2008 at 10:37 PM

His shoot interview is pretty weird too. I don't know what to think of this guy.


Chris Is Good517 - 11-13-2008 at 01:09 AM

What he said makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint. I think Snow might just have a pretty good idea of some of what goes through Vince's head.

That whole concept is what I really like about ROH. There's really not too much of an established pecking order. Like the NFL, anybody can conceivably beat anybody else on any given night. If WWE and TNA were more like that, then a guy like Jamie Noble could go out there and have a 20 minute match with, say, Chris Jericho, that could blow the roof off the arena and not cause either guy to lose much face regardless of the outcome.

Part of why wrestling has become a bit of a chore to watch for me is the predictability of it. If I thought Santino had a shot at beating Batista it wouldn't be so obnoxious to actually have to watch it. But WWE seems to have this pecking order in place that pretty much validates what Snow said up there.


zombiecraig - 11-13-2008 at 02:47 AM

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Is Good517
What he said makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint. I think Snow might just have a pretty good idea of some of what goes through Vince's head.

That whole concept is what I really like about ROH. There's really not too much of an established pecking order. Like the NFL, anybody can conceivably beat anybody else on any given night. If WWE and TNA were more like that, then a guy like Jamie Noble could go out there and have a 20 minute match with, say, Chris Jericho, that could blow the roof off the arena and not cause either guy to lose much face regardless of the outcome.

Part of why wrestling has become a bit of a chore to watch for me is the predictability of it. If I thought Santino had a shot at beating Batista it wouldn't be so obnoxious to actually have to watch it. But WWE seems to have this pecking order in place that pretty much validates what Snow said up there.


That is an interesting idea that I wouldn't mind seeing put into place, at least for a trial run. I've never seen any ROH stuff, but the "no pecking order" approach does seem like it would make things more interesting.

I personally get really sick of seeing Batista smiling and laughing out in the ring while someone is cutting a promo on him. With Santino, sure is was played for comedy, but if Santino has no realistic chance of beating Batista in the ring, then why is this even being teased? I know, I know, the comedy. And hell, I'm fine with some comedy in wrestling.

You also had Batista shouting, "oh, come on!" in the direction of Cody Rhodes when Cody said that he would beat him on Monday. Of course, that's the same thing that everyone watching is saying. Why are you wasting television time on this if the result is the conclusion that everyone expects? We all know that Batista is going to kill Cody. Why bother? Unless the Orton/Rhodes angle actually goes somewhere...which it probably won't.


denverpunk - 11-13-2008 at 06:03 AM

I agree, but then we had people who were getting all pissy when CM Punk would lose a match now and again while he had the title. I would argue that it brings legitimacy to the title, since if everyone is good enough to beat the champ then you must be REALLY good to be the champ! I think it would be much more interesting to watch a hotly contested title company-wide rather than the same four people fighting for it week after week.


Wickedfrost - 11-13-2008 at 04:07 PM

This struck me as interesting from the interview as well.

quote:
People make similar comparisons today in seeing wrestlers they saw on the independent scene working in WWE as a different wrestler. A frequent example, and the one mentioned to Snow, is CM Punk, who wrestled 60-minute draws in Ring of Honor, and prior to winning the world title earlier this year, was working much shorter bouts.

"It brings up a good point. How great was his match in Ring of Honor? I am not talking about Punk in particular but everybody. I said this to CM Punk and everybody in OVW. If the building holds 2,000 people, and 500 people were there and you run the same building a month later and it only draws 382, how great was that match? Ultimately a professional wrestlers job is to do one thing, to sell tickets. It is like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? If you have a great match and nobody is there to see it, how great was it? It was the greatest match in the history of wrestling, Jesus Christ took on Satan, it was two-out-of-three falls, and they went three hours. Nobody was there, but you just have to take my word for it that it was awesome."


I read this and on the surface I get it -- but then the only Raw episode that I can remember distinctly in the last three years for not being crap is Cena and HBK going for an hour.

Now everyone who was in that arena -- they're going to be back and bringing a friend if you have Cena and/or HBK on that card...

Also -- how does it play out in Japan -- don't they sell out their shows and have incredible workrate too?


doctorb - 11-13-2008 at 07:39 PM

quote:
It is like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? If you have a great match and nobody is there to see it, how great was it?


There was a time when I would go to the Rosemont horizon (I don't know what it's called now) to watch wrestling when the wwf came to town and was always struck at how much better the tv matches were. In person they seemed slower and nowhere near as risky. This was early 90s. Then I was in Fairbanks and the wwf came to town for a night so I went. My friend and I were in the building with a couple dozen people, no more than 30 in the whole place. I didn't realize shawn michaels was a heel because I hadn't paid much attention lately so I was cheering him. I don't remember who he wrestled, what I remember well was how really good the match was. He interacted with the crowd to get heat, they did flippy shit, it was tv quality in front of 30 people. The rest of the card were going through the motions and I'm sure it's disheartening to fly all day to a frozen wasteland, get paid minimum wage, and have nearly nobody show up, and the loudest guy in the place is cheering the heel. I give michaels a lot of props for his performance there.


FistHiccups - 11-13-2008 at 07:49 PM

quote:
Originally posted by Wickedfrost
I read this and on the surface I get it -- but then the only Raw episode that I can remember distinctly in the last three years for not being crap is Cena and HBK going for an hour.

Now everyone who was in that arena -- they're going to be back and bringing a friend if you have Cena and/or HBK on that card...

Also -- how does it play out in Japan -- don't they sell out their shows and have incredible workrate too?


He's not saying that "Good match = Bad idea" he's saying that the job is to sell tickets and get people to come back next month. "ZOMG Workrate~!" isn't necessarily going to bring more fans in next month.

Your bit about "but then the only Raw episode that I can remember distinctly in the last three years for not being crap is Cena and HBK going for an hour" goes on the assumption that the average wrestling fan shares your opinion about wrestling shows. Perhaps ZOMG Workrate~! is what it would require to make you enjoy the show every week. But then (in hypothetical terms), you're probably one of the 382 from the 500 that went back the next month.

The point Snow is making is also a bit more relevant to indie guys (who want to make it to WWE) than it is to WWE guys. Indie guys who do flippy shit and ZOMG Workrate~! are ten a penny. Those things are synonymous with American independent wrestling. And as long as you're content with being an "indie darling" and getting the good reviews from the Internet crowd and wrestling in front of a couple hundred people, that's the style to emulate. But more indie guys would get noticed, and help the groups they work for, if instead of worrying about those five-star ratings on forums, they worried about creating characters and performing in such a way that makes more people feel like they have to see the next month's show. And that's not necessarily going to be "these guys went at it for an hour! Next month, come and see their rematch - it'll be an hour too!"

Also, isn't the Japanese scene (which tends to work a bit differently from America anyway) suffering quite a bit at the moment due to a lack of any new stars in the last five years?


BBMN - 11-15-2008 at 12:23 AM

Interesting topic...

I see where both sides are coming from. If you had the idea in place that anyone can make it to the top, it is interesting, but realistically then there would be no Stone Cold, no Rock, no Hogan, no Undertaker, No Flair, ect... The pecking order is what creates super stars. They aren't just good wrestlers, they're great characters. That is what drives the E and it has worked for them tremendously well.

I do like the idea of matches that aren't completely predictable however. So yea, work rate dorks like me love ROH because there is a sense that everyone (okay half the roster) is talented enough to beat their champ. However people want to see bigger than life wrestlers, and they don't have those. Indies can get away with that idea, but the E can't go out there and have Funaki put on a 30 minute match with the likes of Batista. It would be ridiculous.

As for more realistic match ups (in terms of size) I do think it could work if done sparingly. When the 123 Kid beat Razor it was huge. And the E could try to have more upsets likes this from time to time. If they go overboard though, they venture into OMG SHOCKER Vince Russo territory and that's not good for long term booking or storytelling.

It would be nice to have the occasional upset, and the occasional match where the fans gets to see a more competitive match than expected. They could offer more work rate to keep guys like me tuning in, and they could have more competitive and occasional upsets too. I'm not holding my breath though.


Chris Is Good517 - 11-15-2008 at 04:48 PM

I remember back in early 2000 or so when Triple H actually went about 15 minutes with TAKA in a match on Raw, and it was so back and forth that there for a few minutes everyone was almost thinking "hey, maybe TAKA can win this!". And then in 2004 he had that match with Shelton where Shelton more or less pulled off a clean upset.

I suppose it really is probably asking a lot for us to think Brian Kendrick could go a competitive 20 minutes a week with Undertaker on a regular basis. I think BBMN's point that a pecking order is what establishes true stars is valid. But I'd like to see a whole lot more competitiveness because these squash matches aren't really doing shit for anybody.


BBMN - 11-15-2008 at 07:00 PM

Yea, the E does give us good and unexpected matches like the two you pointed out, but having to wait literally years between noteworthy ones isn't very compelling tv. Smackdown felt super competitive for a while a few years back... it would be nice to see that type of action return. Then again when you have Benoit/Eddie/Angle/Rey/Edge/Lesnar as your guys pushing that style, its easy to do. Now they don't seem to have that talent, nor the will to try it.

And that is why I pretty much watch about 12 minutes of the E a month.


Stu - 11-16-2008 at 01:09 AM

I generally don't think that there's anything wrong with wwe having a pecking order that prohibits the lower guys from living up to their full potential in workrate. They are after all their own company and should be free to operate independantly of how other companies have with the same talent.
But WWE sometimes wants to have it's cake and eat it too. For instance, when WWE buys ECW, hires some of it's stars and makes DVDs using their video library, they're acknowledging all that talent and ability. They back an ECW PPV where they have the freedom to do what they want and work without the usual restrictions. They even tie this into WWE storylines, making it "official". So if WWE is happy to acknowledge these people having these sorts of high impact, gruelling, violent matches, how am I supposed to take seriously the idea of these guys jobbing in standard rules matches to the likes of Chris Masters, Lance Cade and so on? How am I meant to be able to believe that Sabu is going to tap out to a John Cena STF when WWE itself is happy to sell me DVDs and Video On Demand of Sabu toughing it out through much worse?


madiq - 11-16-2008 at 04:35 PM

It's all about establishing a universe where everything fits logically. There's some room for a pecking order, where Superstars are viewed as the elite wrestlers in the company, but I think that nearly everyone else should be an up and comer or on the cusp of stardom. Journeymen and enhancement talent are expendable, and should be treated as such.

And this idea of "putting on a good match = giving away a lot of stuff" is kinda illusory. It's about telling a believable story. If you're a rookie having your first match in the WWE, under the bright lights, and competing for a roster spot against a veteran who has experienced *some* success, then that can be taken into account as a justification for over-aggressiveness, and the so-called "rookie mistake." Or if you're the badass heel who has numerous offensive moves, but wants to show how dominant you are by passing on multiple opportunities to go for the pinfall, maybe you are nearly-upset by the plucky babyface who is used to taking punishment before pulling out the win.

The bottom line is that if you know who your character is, and how you want to be remembered by fans, that goes a long way towards putting on that "great match." Two stiff-striking, flippy-offense having, high octane wrestlers playing "can you top this" for 15 minutes is fine, so long as that's the story you want told in the ring, and sold by the announcers.


theflammablemanimal - 11-18-2008 at 02:45 PM

A pecking order is fine but there's no reason for this ridiculous WWE idea of protecting wrestlers. We've seen it when they were pushing Edge or Randy Orton and they refuse to let them take a loss to anyone because they might suddenly lose all credibility. How many times have they had a DQ finish or some other BS because they didn't want either wrestler to take a loss? They should be treating themselves like the NFL, where there are the best teams (Giants) and the worst teams (Browns), but even the best teams can get upset on any given Sunday. Just because the Eagles and their pathetic overrated QB and their brainless coach just got beaten by the hapless Cincinnati Bungholes (I know it was a tie, but that's still pretty much losing, especially against the Bungholes) doesn't mean that they suck. Okay, bad example because the Eagles do suck, but even so, they can bounce back against the Ravens next week (who will be looking to bounce back after being embarrassed by the Super Bowl Champion NY Giants). The same thing can easily work in wrestling. That Taka/HHH match someone mentioned earlier was awesome and so were the HHH/Shelton Benjamin matches that but Shelton on the map. And sometimes just letting the other wrestler hang, like in the Cena/Angle match or the Taker/Hardy match can be awesome television and make both wrestlers look good. Even if Angle and Taker had lost those matches, they'd still be looked at as superstars. Just embarrassed superstars who'd have to work a bit to repair their wounded pride.


FistHiccups - 11-19-2008 at 12:59 AM

When WWE uses a copout DQ finish, it's usually to easily/lazily prolong a feud rather than to protect a wrestler.

In their respective matches against Angle and Undertaker, Cena and Hardy gained more overall from the narrow loss than they would've from a win. Neither of them, at the time, were anywhere near ready to be thrust into the position they'd have been in had they won. And with the close loss, it gets the sympathy and fans get on their side for the next time they try to climb the mountain. Also, in both cases, the guys blew their momentum.

Which is also one of the prime reasons why top guys shouldn't lose willy-nilly to lower guys. Because those lower guys aren't necessarily going to do anything with it. HHH and Shelton is a perfect example. Triple H lost to Shelton in a big way, which did put Shelton on the map, but then Shelton completely failed to capitalise on it. For years, the usual bunch of idiots blame "WWE writer monkeys" or "UNcreative team" for Shelton's failure to connect with the audience, but ultimately, it was in his lap. He had one of the worst long IC title reigns of all time, and he was lost until his resurfacing as the Gold Standard about a year ago. Those times Hunter lost to him were all for nought, as far as the TV show and creating a star went.

Also, I haven't seen the HHH-Taka match since it first aired, but I remember it being basically a squash except for some exciting hope spots that Taka got in, which were almost all brought on by interference from the APA. It was cute and all, but it didn't make Taka any more of a star (and did far less for his marketability than the "EVIL" gimmick did).


theflammablemanimal - 11-19-2008 at 03:31 PM

I think we agree on the Hardy/Taker and Cena/Angle matches. I wasn't saying they should have won, but Angle and Taker could have handled the losses. Also, it was nice to see Cena/Hardy take them to the limit instead of getting basically squashed, which happens so often.

For example, remember when Hardy beat HHH for the IC title during the days of the power trip? Awesome match, great moment, could have pushed him up the ladder, but they came back the next week and had HHH crush him to regain his momentum and completely nullify Hardy's win.

By the way, it's funny that they still mention those HHH/Benjamin matches almost every time they reboot his character and want to talk about how great he is.