by Victor Parenza (@ParenzaBooks)
Much has been made of Rip Rogers’ “critique” of the independent wrestling match. To the point where even a guy as high-profile as Randy Orton was chiming in. Whether you agree or not is your choice, just like it’s his choice to vent his opinion on the matter.
I love the Indy guys’ athleticism as much anyone, but he makes some valid points. And it’s not limited to the Indy scene. WWE has these same problems in almost every match. While the wrestlers can’t control the whored-out chants like “fight forever,” or “this is awesome,” they have lost all meaning, in what otherwise was a neat little way to say, “hey man I love what you’re doing.” Fun fact: I throw up in my mouth a little every time I hear “this is awesome” nowadays.
What about the infamous “dive” comment? Unlike the Indies, there may only be one per match in a WWE ring, but it’s the same fucking tope every single time. Sure, Zayn or Balor will bust out a flipping dive to break up the monotony, but nonetheless there is still a dive in 90% of the matches. No I’m not suggesting trying double, triple, or twisting flip dives, I’m saying don’t have dives in all the matches. And damn sure don’t have heels doing dives. Neville is the best high-flyer on the roster, and since his heel turn you haven’t seen his spaceman plancha used since. That’s smart booking, but I won’t gush over Neville again. You can read that in my last post.
Dives actually aren’t my biggest hang-up though. What infuriates me most in wrestling, other than Vince refusing to turn Roman heel, is finisher kick outs. On every level of wrestling this is a huge problem. I will preface this by saying when used correctly, a kick out of a finisher is the icing on the 5 star match cake. It should never happen on regular TV though. Big matches only. Styles kicking out of the AA at Summerslam and Royal Rumble was magical. Ziggler kicking out the Skull Crushing Finale at Backlash ‘16, when his career was on the line worked tremendously. When Mojo Rawley kicks out of Fandango’s top rope leg drop, on a random Smackdown it doesn’t work.
Part of the reason is because neither guy is over, but that is a much different argument for a different blog. If you see a guy repeatedly win a match with his big move, whether you care about him or not, you will start to assume “game over” when he hits it. When his opponent kicks out of it then you will have a nice mark out moment because you weren’t expecting it. Jinder would be a perfect experiment for this. In the most unlikely rise from jobber to champion in history, no one takes him seriously as a main event guy, let alone the champion. Give him a few months of hitting the Khallas slam (yes I had to look up the name) and pinning legitimate stars cleanly, we cynical bastards may start to take the move and him seriously.
I love PWG, but they are the prime example of this offense. They are the number one Indy group, so they are a representation of the style as a whole, like it or not. They may have as many finisher kick outs as they do dives. I realize PWG is a different beast, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is probably a finisher kick out legitimately in every single match, and multiple in the final few matches. Just recently at the Revolver show in Des Moines, we saw three Canadian Destroyers in three different matches. Seriously what the fuck? Oh and did I mention that none of them lead to a finish? Jim Cornette just fainted in Louisville.
In 2005 the Canadian Destroyer was the coolest, most innovative move in wrestling. The crowd popped when Petey would just signal for it. In those early days of TNA on Spike TV they made sure to have Petey hit the Destroyer basically every show to showcase the maneuver and make it the “Morphoplex move of the night.” (Please tell me someone else remembers that besides me!) So not only was it the move of the night, but it won the match every damn time. As soon as he hit it and Don West and Mike Tenay were through yelling, “OH MY GOD, THAT THING IS SICK” you know the 1,2,3 was academic. Now it’s relegated to a high spot in three different matches on an Indy show. Seriously doesn’t that seem tragic? It’s fallen by the wayside with the likes of the standard piledriver, powerbomb, DDT, or Stunner. Once dreaded maneuvers that people paid to see, now are cheap imitations of themselves due to being whored out (third time I’ve used that phrase).
Speaking of the “Stunner,” it actually is the move that made realize this all in the first place. Are you ready for story time? I mean come on, you’ve come this far! Okay cool, just a bit more to go I promise.
For my money the Stone Cold Stunner is the greatest finishing move of all time. You can hit it out of anywhere, and on anyone regardless of their size. It just so happens to be the finishing move of the biggest star of the biggest time period in wrestling. Austin reached a level of fame where it didn’t even matter if he wrestled or not, as long as he came out and stunned someone, you went home happy. The middle fingers and beer were nice, but the Stunner is what made the crowd explode biggest, other than the initial glass-breaking.
Throughout ’98 the Stunner would beat anyone, unless some shenanigans were involved. Now I may be missing a random one, but I truly don’t think anyone kicked out of the Stunner once Stone Cold became the champion. Fast forward to ’99 and Wrestlemania 15. The Rock was the champion, the number two guy in terms of popularity, even though he was the heel, and was rapidly approaching Austin-like territory.
They needed something special for their match. Something that hadn’t been done. In a criminally underrated match, Rock kicked out of the Stunner. The crowd was shocked. Why? BECAUSE THE MOVE WAS ESTABLISHED AS UN-KICKOUTABLE! (Is that even a word?) And even then, there was a ref bump prior to the move, so once he made the cover a new ref had to run to the ring to make the count. Rock was technically down for much more than a three count, but the Stunner was so over that people still believed that it would get the job done even after all that time had passed. So yes Rock did kick out, but it still protected the Stunner in the process.
Genius right? It’s a wonder people can’t figure this shit out now. Another amazing kick out was the time when HBK kicked out of the Tombstone at Wrestlemania 25. When I rewatch it to this day, I still fall for it every time. But just like everything else, every Wrestlemania someone kicks out of the Tombstone, making it lose all credibility. Now if you’re arguing that it’s a big match and I should be all for it, remember that the Undertaker wrestled only once a year (roughly) so it’s hard to establish the move as dominant when every match he has for that year involves someone kicking out of it.
If nothing else but for my own personal enjoyment of wrestling, I want to see 99.9% of finisher kick outs eliminated. In the long run, I believe with all my heart that it would improve the product. It would add some semblance of logic to an illogical world. As Good Ole J.R. suggests almost weekly on his podcast, if you insist on those kinds of false finishers, at least have the guy grab the ropes instead of the full-fledged kick outs, to protect the move. You want the move to mean something.
If you completely disagree with this and hate me for writing it, I’m fine with that. I would like to hear your argument though. I don’t know how you could logically do so. Swig of beer for the Stunner, man!