East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Ten favourite wrestling matches of the year, part 1

10. Yuki Ishikawa vs Carl Greco, BattlArts, June 1st
Yes, there are schools of wrestling criticism. Let's call the principal axis of disagreement fantasy-realism. Ishikawa and Greco are as far as you can go to the "realism" end, so much so that they disrupt wrestling's usual ideal narrative build to a conclusion. Instead, the logic is moment-to-moment: one submission attempt leads to another. It's not quite Ashberian, though: there are only a finite number of rope breaks (some of which are conceded). And there's a winner.

9. Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels, WWE Wrestlemania XXIV, March 30th
The realists are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt: they want to see you hurt. The fantasists will suspend their belief as long as you can excite or move them. This is a match for fantasists: whiffed moves are sprinkled throughout, but if you can get past that, you get two masters of character going at it one last time. Flair plays the old GOAT who knows he should hang up his boots, but hubris prevents him; Michaels plays the GOAT in waiting who knows his hero needs to be bumped off. As tragedy, it's basic; but for a wrestling tragedy to be fictional for once is especially cathartic.

Part 2
Part 3

8. Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle, TNA Lockdown, April 13th
Now the realist-fantasist distinction is getting confused. There are a ton of MMA spots, but it soon becomes clear that they're worked into a typical American pro big match structure. Or: we're gonna need another axis.

Part 2

7. Jimmy Jacobs vs B.J. Whitmer, IWA Mid-South I Quit match, March 1st
A more familiar form of realism: the guys make it look like they're really hurting each other by really hurting each other. Not to be confused with the Jacobs-Whitmer no-rope barbed wire match: there's sick, and then there's sick.

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