It's About In-Ring Psychology, Stupid

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Branden Harvey
Posts: 116
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:44 am

Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:56 pm

A short while ago I was having a debate about putting wrestlers over. In other words, I was debating that guys like Triple H and the Undertaker didn't do squat to give back to the business, while guys like the Rock and Bret Hart have. I argued that TRULY putting a wrestler over would be to make it believeable and to show fans that the wrestler is either giving up their spot OR making fans believe he's an equal.

A great example would be the Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart match from Wrestlemania 13. While Bret Hart won the match, the fashion in which he did it actually put Austin over as an equal to Bret Hart. Bret beat Austin that day with the Sharpshooter, but only because Austin passed out from the pain. Then, afterward, Bret Hart turned heel by attacking Austin and then in the months of storylines thereafter, Bret Hart was AFRAID OF Steve Austin on every turn. Bret Hart sold to the fans that Steve Austin was his equal.

In contrast, those daring to debate me tried to suggest that Triple H put over Batista. I scratch my head at that one. For one, everyone counts the Batista victories as automatic indicators of Triple H putting him over. WRONG. The matches versus Batista, themselves, were bad. Triple H wasn't selling moves like Batista was his equal or better, and after the matches, Triple H, despite losing, was still showing himself as a stronger, more dominant wrestler in the WWE than Batista. Granted, it's up to Batista to step it up, but you know who is a creative director behind the scenes in the WWE. Ditto for the Benoit "put over", as Triple H's feud with Eugene was a bigger deal than anything Benoit did as champion.

It's not just the match itself, it's how you ACT during and after the match.

It's all part of PSYCHOLOGY... It's not just the moves or actions, but it's the thought process behind those moves or actions. Take a recent example with Sheamus vs. John Morrison, the King of the Ring Final this past Monday. The first part of the match was Morrison bumping around for Sheamus and the crowd was silent. Then, Morrison injured his shoulder and Sheamus WORKED ON THE SHOULDER. The crowd instantly got into the match because Sheamus was attacking a wounded bird in Morrison and thereby cheering for Morrison to overcome that adversity.

Of course, the absolute reverse of psychology soon followed as the WWE tried to convince us that a 61 year old inactive wrestler could beat the current WWE Champion in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.

A great example of psychology is Jake "the Snake" Roberts... He's not the most fundamentally sound or flashy wrestlers in the world, but the style of which he worked on a wrestler played with fans' heads, both when Jake was a face and when he was a heel. Go YouTube one of his matches and see it for yourself, as he constantly worked on the limbs and methodically tore apart his opponent. He was a real bastard as a heel, as some of the Macho Man stuff from 1991-1992 was stuff that baited fans into wanting to jump over the rails and attack Roberts. Consequently, Jake acted in reversal of roles during 1988-1989 when Rick Rude was taunting Roberts over his wife. Rude's feud with Roberts put over Rude and the Ravishing one then went onto Wrestlemania 5 to become the Intercontinental Champion.

A match, for example, that lacks psychology is Chris Benoit vs. Dean Malenko at Hog Wild 1996. It was move for move, a beautiful looking match... But both Benoit and Malenko lack charisma to sell it to a bunch of bikers at Sturges that this is a fantastic match. Even the most polished looking match involving 2 of the best in-ring technicians won't mean squat with fans who aren't dedicated wrestling fans. However, if you show a casual fan a Jake Roberts vs. Macho Man match OR Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart from Wrestlemania 13, they might get into the match.

After all, the psychology of a match or of a character is the LAST STRING to keep a wrestling fan emotionally into a match. Wrestling has a solid 20 years of being KNOWN to be staged... But in those 20 years, there were wrestlers and matches that kept fans emotionally involved in wrestling EVEN THOUGH wrestling was now fully known to be fake.

It's as easy as that... Today's wrestlers DON'T get that and the WWE wonders why RAW's ratings went from 6.0 ratings through late 2000 to now challenging to be under 3.0. Wrestling has lost its emotional ties with fans.

Here's Macho Man vs. Jake Roberts during early 1992 as a blowoff of the "slapping Elizabeth" and "King Cobra eating Macho's arm" feud... Just look at the seething hatred of the two in this match and the crowd is clearly invested in the match emotionally.

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^ You just don't see that kind of emotion in matches these days. It's all about PSYCHOLOGY, stupid!
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