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  1. #1
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    Bulldog's Bottom Line: Generation eXcess (YLC-RD2)

    When the topic of binge watching was announced for this round, my initial thoughts were a complete blank. I donít do binge watching. I simply donít have time for that. If I get through 2 or 3 episodes of anything on Netflix in a week Iím doing well. Or so I thought, until I realised that watching WWE makes me a binge watcher by default. When you consider that most shows in other genres are 30-60 minutes long, in an evening itís probably easy to binge watch 3-6 episodes. Compare that to WWE Ė a single episode of Raw is 3 hours. Thatís binging for any other programme. Then if you add Smackdown, NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live youíre at 8 hours of viewing just to keep up to date. On a PPV week that could add another 5-8 hours. If you hit 16 hours of viewing most shows on Netflix in a week, youíre going to run out of content. Running out of content isnít a problem with wresting. Unfortunately I think the problem with wrestling isnít one of binge watching, but watching the binge that wrestling has become.

    Binging is essentially doing something to excess. Take for example drinking. You reach a point where alcohol stops having any further effect on you and become sick. In my opinion wrestling itself has reached the point where certain elements no longer have the desired effect and Iím becoming sick of it.

    Unfortunately, despite the undoubted level of talent todayís WWE roster has they are guilty of applying those elements with ever increasing repetition. Take for example the number of false finishes and kick outs from moves that should probably kill the opponent. Think back to the main event of NXT Takeover 25, a match that featured around 20 minutes of fantastic wrestlingÖ.but the match was 32 minutes long. Those last 10ish minutes ruined the match for me, being little more than a process of finishing move, pin, kickout, repeat. As another example, look at the recent Corbin/Rollins match where a DDT to a chair (following several other high impact moves) didnít end the match, whereas that same move used to be enough for Jake The Snake to guarantee a victory. With very few exceptions, a single finishing move should be sufficient, but in todayís product we have come to expect multiple kick outs so when a finishing move does actually end a match we are disappointed. We should be surprised when it doesnít.

    Those false finishes have also led to the increase in wrestlers performing high risk moves, either from the top rope or diving outside the ring. I often reminisce about my early years as a wrestling fan when I was in awe of the high flying moves guys like The Rockers did. Back then it made them stand out from the crowd. Although there were exceptions such as Vader and Randy Savage, the top rope was primarily the realm of cruiserweights; their sole advantage over the larger guys and a single move was usually enough to finish a match. Today I struggle to think of a wrestler that doesnít regularly use some form of high flying offense multiple times per match for the sake of another false finish, totally negating any advantage the traditional high flyers once had.

    High flying offense and false finishes have been done beyond the point of excess, there is no shock and awe value left in either.

    Those false finishes lead me on to what in my opinion is the worst offender of something that has been done such an excess it has lost all impact: hardcore wrestling. Do you remember when a single chair shot regularly ended matches? In the past any form of hardcore match, be it a ladder match, cage match, or even a simple no disqualification match was the culmination of an ongoing storyline, something youíd rarely see unless absolutely necessary. This year alone PPVs include MITB, Elimination Chamber, Extreme Rules and TLC. All these events will include various forms of hardcore wrestling, often for no reason besides the name of the event, totally negating the impact it should have.

    As an example, think back to what is often recognised as the birth of hardcore Ė the Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl. A feud was ongoing between Jerry Lawler, his cousin Wayne Ferris and their respective tag partners. They completed the scheduled match, but the storyline had developed such heat the teams continued fighting as the TV show went off the air, creating a huge cliff-hanger to make people watch the next episode. That follow-up showed a brawl the likes of which had never been seen before, completely trashing the venueís concession stand and earning the brawl its name.

    From a behind the scenes perspective, the storyline was built to reach its crescendo at that event because the bookers knew the place was a dump and could be smashed up without any further implications. To the viewers, it was a group of guys beating the crap out of each other because the hatred between them was so strong. In those days people still believed, but what they were seeing was unbelievable.

    Had things ended there, the issue of binging would not have come into play. However, they played exactly the same trick at the same venue a short while later using guys lower on the card and a less developed storyline. Then to top things off, the next time that venue was used they went to the same well again. Even though this was only the third time it had been done, the shock value was gone completely. The audience had arrived expecting to see the place get smashed to pieces despite no justifying storyline being in place. Although they left the venue having seen what theyíd paid for, there was absolutely no shock value left and the follow ups never had the impact of the original brawl. The point of excess was reached.

    Compare any ladder match of today to the Razor Ramon vs HBK ladder match. One is a wrestling match telling the concluding part of a story, and that story had reached a point where the stipulation of a ladder match was the logical conclusion. The other will be little more than a series of dangerous stunts pushing the human body far beyond what it is designed to take, usually with little to no build and certainly not a storyline where a ladder match was the logical way to settle the differences. You are guaranteed to see countless moves that should kill the recipient, but which actually just lead to another false finish as they recover within seconds to perform the next potentially suicidal stunt.

    And that is exactly the problem wrestling has now. We have binged so much on hardcore wrestling, we are numb to it.


    The Bottom Line

    Like the alcoholic reaching for another drink, we have reached the point where these aspects of wrestling have no impact whatsoever.

    Wrestlers used to pretend to hurt each other and we believed it. Now they genuinely hurt each other and we think itís fake.

    We canít get any more drunk. Itís time to go cold turkey.

  2. #2
    Really liked this. Matter of fact, it may be the best column I've read from you. There were some good lines like this

    "Wrestlers used to pretend to hurt each other and we believed it. Now they genuinely hurt each other and we think it’s fake."

    Wrestling to me is at it's best when things are specail. That's why I love when they promote things and build to them.

    And since I've watched all the AEW shows, and haven't watched WWE in awhile, I will say the things I like least about them are the things you mentioned. The excess of big moves and false finishes. To me, entertaining wrestling is taking something and getting the most meaning for it. The value of the DDT is about like the value of a dollar, nowadays.

    I agree on all points. To much TV takes away from the big match feel when the guys square off.

    Good piece.

  3. #3
    The Brain
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    The piece you originally sent me was pretty good, but you've applied the feedback (from me and I'm sure from others) and turned it into a column that honestly I would say is pretty great. I agree with Benny, this has turned out to be one of your better pieces to date.

    As for the subject itself, I don't exactly disagree... to be honest there are times I can enjoy the excess of modern wrestling, but if only it were something we only saw once in a while. The glut of matches that go past the point where I wish they'd stop only seems to be growing. Everyone has their own line to draw and everyone has their own tastes, but this was a good look at some of the stuff which seems to have stretched beyond the point of credibility and in some cases enjoyment. Really enjoyed the bit about Memphis specifically, as hot as that territory for so long was they did create crutches for themselves that only got worse as more and more promotions picked them up and built on top of them.

  4. #4
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    Ben:
    If AEW does go that way (which I strongly suspected it might), it won't be getting my attention. Glad you enjoyed the column, thanks for the kind words.

    Miz:
    I only actually got feedback from you & Skul in time for the post, it was 50/50 as to whether I kept the intro in. You suggested taking it out, Skull suggested keeping it. I guess if you like the final product leaving it in turned out to be the best decision - so long as the judges agree!



    As for the topic itself, a lot of this stuff is reaching the point where it's just a joke. I know the stipulation match argument has been presented by a few people, and it's true. These matches shouldn't just happen because it's a Sunday in July, they should happen because they need to happen. That's been an issue for a few years now. With the over use of false finishes, I don't know exactly when it started but it's been going on long enough for me to realise it's an issue. It's the sort of thing you only recognise once it's too late though - when it starts, it's the occasional match which is acceptable... and it has the desired impact. It's when it's spread to the entire product it stops having any impact, and that's definitely where we're at right now.

  5. #5
    Main Pager Maverick's Avatar
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    Be careful with your words when you're writing to a word count - you expended so much on things that weren't essential to your message. The entire intro and definition of a binge were completely empty words, which you'd have been much better off using to expand on your point of wrestling having moved towards an age of more is more excess (a point I very much agree with - that Gargano vs Cole 2 match was one of the worst things I have ever seen. Gross). You also picked quite a lot of historical examples that you had no space to really get your teeth into. That being the case, one or two comparisons might have been better. I also hated the bottom line thing at the end - what was the point of that? If you've written a good column, you shouldn't need to tell people in a single sentence what your opinion was.

    Some promise here, and an interesting way around the topic, but I seriously question the structure.

  6. #6
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Good stuff man. You explored a topic that you admittedly didn't have a lot of idea with initially in an interesting way. While I have certainly heard these sentiments before I really enjoyed the historic examples you used. I do agree with you on much of this (although not all of it) but particularly on the finisher spam which has invaded certain styles. One of the things I've loved about NJPW for instance is the protection of the finisher in most normal matches and they way they work around it is through smart counters. It also makes the few times something does get kicked out of mean so much more.

    Beyond some of the suggestions from the other guys, one thing I would have liked to have seen is an attempt on your part at putting forward a solution to the problem. You kind of say right at the end 'we have to go cold turkey' but don't given any explanation of what that actually means. I always find it is good form to have at least some suggestion to help the problem you are pointing out.

    All in all though this is quite a solid piece that with a few tweaks would be at home on the main page. Really enjoyed reading it.

  7. #7
    Mediocrity at it's finest kingzak13's Avatar
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    Wrestlers used to pretend to hurt each other and we believed it. Now they genuinely hurt each other and we think it’s fake.
    That is a genuinely great line, such a perfect summary of wrestling nowadays.

    I hadn't really thought much about the bingeing desensitization of wrestling, it is incredibly evident the more stunty, spotty nature of the sport. Sometimes it does work to add to the match, but other times it doesn't.

    This was pretty great, makes you think.
    Creating the greatest card in Survivor Series history.
    Booking by Committee: Survivor Series

  8. #8
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    "Unfortunately I think the problem with wrestling isn’t one of binge watching, but watching the binge that wrestling has become. "

    Loved that line. A creative line like that in the first paragraph will make quick fans of your work because it sets you apart.

    Rock solid column in this round with a topic quite easy to connect with for any fan, whether you agree or disagree.
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  9. #9
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Rock solid is the phrase I would use as well. For someone who openly had no real idea about where to go with the topic, I think you were forced into a very creative solution that resulted in possibly my favourite interpretation of the round. So major boon there, my friend!

    I wasn't fussed either way with your intro, frankly. Perhaps the compromise solution to consider in the future is to simply try and reduce the words used in such intros - this is something I regularly end up doing in second drafts. Often you can cut the fat and keep the best lines in and everything feels better for it. In a column like this, the greatest strength of which was its concise focus I felt, I think that's especially true.

    I do echo Mav on the final few lines though. I recall, at school, my Lit teacher always told me that, if I run out of time in an exam, throw some bullet points down detailing what I didn't get to cover. I never did (I tried to manage my time effectively instead!) and I think that applies here - it felt superfluous, almost as if you found yourself out of words but with a desire to finish off with a flourish. I think had you stopped where you had before those last three lines, the piece would've been stronger for it. Don't be afraid to be concise - it's something I always fight with, in literally every column I write!

    My last pointer would be to ensure you adequately qualify statements. There was a heavy implication at one stage that literally every ladder match since the 'Mania X one has been the same thing. This is an over-simplification frankly, and comes off as presumptive at worst, poorly researched at best. If you do genuinely feel that way however, simply throwing in an "In my opinion" or the like can do wonders in gently adjusting the tone away from something that comes off as less journalistic. Is it a small, even pedantic thing? Probably, but I see so many writers do it all the time and it drives me nuts!

    Overall, though, I think this was clean, strong and concise. I enjoyed it - though I always would, and would be far harsher on the excess and lost artistry of today compared to yesteryear! Especially in NXT....

  10. #10
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    Doc:
    That line is why I kept the intro about the time needed to be a wrestling fan. All wrestling fans have to be binge watchers, by definition it's the only way to watch a show. Despite not watching regularly these days, that was one of my favourite things about NXT when I managed to keep up with it - at only an hour long, the weekly show doesn't take up too much of your time.

    Mav:
    As per my response to Doc, I wanted to keep that intro to get to the line where I switched binge watching to watching a binge. I also had personal reasons for wanting to keep the definition of binging in - not sure how much you're in the chat thread, but this has come up in there a couple of times; I've had a lot of alcohol issues in the past and reached the point where I had to quit and go cold turkey on it. I've been sober a little over 19 years now, so keeping that part of the issue in there was an important part of it for me personally.

    With the Bottom Line section at the end, that's something Ive been doing for a while now and it's usually been fairly well received. I will be honest though, I normally keep it to a one liner, the column was built to get to the line about wrestlers hurting each other - the cold turkey bit came in as the column evolved and I added the alcoholism references. I guess if you didn't like the comparison at the start of the column, you weren't going to like it at the end either.

    SirSam:
    All that stuff I talked about? That's what we need to go cold turkey on. PPVs named after matches that then become the focus of the PPV for no reason other than the PPV name? Quit. Ridiculousness of kick outs? Quit. At the end of the day, it's all part of the wider booking problem WWE has - to fill the content, they feel the need to do all this stuff. But every time they do it, they have to go a step further. It's gone too far, and when a problem gets too big the only real answer is to remove the problem.

    Zak:
    That desensitization is the issue. We're so used to seeing this stuff that it's become business as usual. To get that shock value, they have to push things further. I think WWE are generally at that point where they need a full on reset. The early 2000s are often considered a bit of a lull in the quality of wrestling, with not much to remember it by. There was nothing wrong with it, aside from the fact that period followed the Attitude Era; an era which pushed the excesses so far a full reset was required. I beliieve that point has been reached again.

    Sam Plan:
    Over simplification and presumptuousness? Presenting opinions as facts? Those are the main feature of about half my columns! Especially when I do the Bull from a Bulldog ones....

    That lost artistry you mention is the true issue though. And it's such a shame - as I acknowledge in the column, today's roster is potentially the most talented of all time. I'm 100% confident they could tell the stories we used to see better than we've ever seen them told. We just need the creative department to let them.

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