Friday, August 10, 2012

What Makes a Great Worker?

Worker. That is the word that is used to describe someone in pro wrestling who can work and audience through speaking and/or wrestling. Sometimes, but rarely, you get a performer who can work an audience into wanting  to watch a weekly television program, buy a pay per view, or buy tickets to an event("puttin asses in seats" is the colloquial term) by using both methods. The list of performers that can, or could, fo that is extremely short, but if you ask any fan of wrestling the list would include the names of guys like Ric Flair, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Dusty Rhodes, Curt Hennig, CM Punk, and very few others. Now, the reason for that short explanation is because of an interview Kevin Nash gave to Grantland . In the interview Nash said the wrestling boom of the Attitude era died when Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit won and celebrated their title wins with each other at the end of Wrestlemania XX due to the size, or lack thereof, of both performers physically and personality wise.

So what makes a great a great worker? Does it matter if a wrestler is almost seven feet tall or barely 5'10"? I, as a lifelong wrestling fan, have been entertained by wrestlers of all shapes and sizes. I have never once thought, "Well, I can't be entertained by this guy because he isn't tall or extremely jacked.". What always mattered to me was a couple of things; 1: can the guy actually wrestle and make his matches seem realistic and 2: can the guy deliver an entertaining promo. Now, there are guys who were great promos, but only average or below average in the ring. Kevin Nash,Hulk Hogan, and John Cena are examples of those type of guys. You aren't going to be wowed by their ring work, but you either want to see them get beat up or win based off of what they say in their promos or because of the actions of their characters leading up to the pay off match at a PPV. Then you have the guys like Benoit, Guerrero(who was actually a decent promo guy later in his career), Daniel Bryan(who has become really comfortable behind the mic), and several other guys who, while not the best promo guys, are some of the most incredible ring workers I have ever seen. They know how to build a story within their matches so well that you also become interested in their characters.

Then there is the third type, the rarest breed of wrestlers, the wrestler who not only can work the mic, but also work matches. Those guys are the ones who, if you ask most fans and wrestlers, are the most influential workers of all time . Guys like Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Dusty Rhodes,Tommaso Ciampa (ROH star,trust me he is awesome, Google him.)Randy Savage, and CM Punk. Now, if you look up each guy's height you will notice that they while still bigger than your average person, they weren't hulking giants, sure the Rock is a big man, but compared to a lot of wrestlers, he isn't going to wow you with his size.

But, back to Nash's point about the business dying because Guerrero and Benoit were, as he put it, "the size of the refs"; the wrestling business circular, there times when the business is as hot as can be, and then there are down year. Right now business is down due to repetitive storylines, MMA becoming mainstream, and the lack of a breakout star. Not because of the size of wrestlers performing today is below what it was during the 80s and the Attitude era. While I am aware that Nash was probably saying this to work an angle with the WWE, there is also a real possibility that he and several other people agree with this point of view. Wrestling isn't about the size of performers, but rather their ability to make you believe that their matches matter. That ability comes in performers of all shapes and sizes. If you're watching wrestling and you can't get into it because the performers aren't seven foot tall and jacked, the problem isn't with the performers, the problem is you.

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