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Guest TSMAdmin

Match Endings and Creativity

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Guest TSMAdmin

Thanks for all the feedback on the last column, it was all appreciated. If you want to e-mail me about this column, or about anything at all, my address is [email protected]



This column will be weekly now, coming every Friday at thesmartmarks.com, so check it out.



I was watching the Cactus Jack vs. Sting match from Beach Blast ’92, when I noticed something strange. Early on in the match, Sting got a reverse backslide on Cactus and the referee counted... 1... kickout.


For some reason, Foley’s kickout was wrong; he should have waited until 2. But there is nothing wrong with a wrestler kicking out on one. I mean, it made sense in terms of the match, as it was only a backslide and it was about a minute into the match.


There was a reason that one kickout had meant so much. In WWE (and I hate saying “WWE” without the word “the” in front of it), nobody EVER kicks out on one. To be fair though, I must say that Chavo Guerrero is just about the only exception to this that I’ve seen, but I’m sure that I’m going to get plenty of feedback saying that “actually, on HeAT on 12/12/02 Stevie Richards kicked out on one”. I admit that I am over generalising, but I can honestly say that I have rarely, if ever, seen anyone kick out on one.


There are three kinds (well, actually 4, but one’s slightly different) of pins in the WWF.


Firstly, there’s the 1.. 2.. kickout, which follows pretty much every move early on in the match. Even wrestlers like Bubba Ray can get a two count on HHH from some silly move, which cheapens the two count. A two count should be for when the wrestler is tiring, and could lose the match at any moment.


Next up, there’s 1.. 2.. We’vegotanewchampionohmygodhekickedout! This follows most finishers the first time round in PPV matches. It’s the general, all purpose false finish to matches. It’s a cheap pop, in other words. Sadly, this is reaching the point of overuse now with things that should be the end of the match occurring just to get the cheap reaction. These are things like a ref bump and chairshot, run-ins, finishing moves, etc. Once, these would have instantly meant that it was game over. Sure, it’s cool to swerve the fans now and again by having someone kick out of a finishing move, but it’s almost become an expected part of main events and the overall effect is to cheapen it.



Kurt Angle’s kicking out of the F5 at Wrestlemania is a pretty good example of this – the F5 has consistently put people away over the course of a year; from Mark Henry right up to The Rock, everyone has been KO’d by the move. Finally, Kurt Angle shows that he has the strength, he has stepped up the pace and has been able to kick out of the move. This should have been a huge occasion, but it just lacked that special something. It fell flat because we’ve seen it all before.


Finally, there’s 1.. 2.. 3. There’s not a lot to say about this, except that you can telegraph an Earl Hebner (and most other referees) three count, because his arm goes down smoothly, and doesn’t jolt before the final count.


There’s also the 0.. 0.. 0.. 0.. 0.. which is when the referee is knocked out, or being distracted by Ric Flair. It is an excellent heat making device, but the WWE should try to make it meaningful. Have the wrestler argue with the referee about it, or bring it up in an interview, but this isn’t happening, and it’s becoming another stale spot.


A quick aside about tag team matches. Isn’t it a shame the way that the “rules” have changed regarding breaking pins. For as long as I can remember, it has been that a tag partner can break a pin by knocking the pinner off. Recently though, the partner just needs to kick them and the pin is automatically broken. It’s really poor attention to detail, and just serves to water down the match even more.


There are so many possibilities for pins/kickouts that could be utilised. There’s the “don’t even think you can pin me, you arrogant bastard” kickout at 1. You can even not make the one count – just kick out before the referee is even down.


Pin duration should be an indication to the audience of how much longer the match has to go – how worn down the wrestlers are. Consistently getting two counts tells them nothing. Are we really supposed to believe that it is that easy to get a two count, yet a three count is extremely difficult? Or is it that wrestlers know they can kick out, and decide to have a two second break before doing so? If that is the case, could WWE please tell us!


The WWF has trained its fans that matches won’t end until a finishing move has hit, so any pins before that point are a waste of time anyway.


Big matches only ever end one of three ways; a finishing move; a sneak roll up; a foreign object / wrestler interference.


Finishing moves, as I have already said are becoming more and more watered down. Multiple finishers are different at the moment, in that they guarantee victory (for example, the WWF vs. WCW Survivor Series match), but there’s no telling how long that will last.



The (Raw) World Title matches from this year have ended as follows:


Royal Rumble featured HHH vs. Steiner. Steiner won after HHH hit him with a sledgehammer.


No Way Out had the HHH vs. Steiner rematch. Triple H won after cheating, then a Pedigree.


Wrestlemania showcased HHH against Booker T. HHH retained the title with a Pedigree.


Backlash featured a 6 man tag between Team HHH and Team Nash. HHH won with a sledgehammer shot, then a Pedigree.


Ignoring any HHHate, which I’ll leave to the professionals, this shows the problem with WWE’s booking. The last three of HHH’s PPV matches have ended with a Pedigree. Isn’t this just training the fans to pop for the move, and to expect the end of the match with it? “Holy shit! He kicked out of the Pedigree” heat is limited, but HHH has another 50 or so PPV matches in him, and the fans think he will only win with the Pedigree. It is so counter-productive to book in that way. In minor, or meaningless matches, why not have victories via less wrestler-specific moves? What difference does it make if HHH wins on Raw with a DDT? He’s still going to be known for the Pedigree, but this gets the DDT over as a more important move.


Because at the end of the day, whatever move you are doing to someone, you are hurting them. Sure, a hip-toss may not cause that much damage on it’s own, but after 20 minutes of wrestling, it could be the move that pushes you over the limit. In the Cactus vs. Sting match I referenced earlier, the move that Sting wins with is a top-tope clothesline. It makes sense in the context of the match, because Cactus is just too worn down to continue. WWE really needs a situation where any wrestler could conceivably win the match at any time.


This is where sneak roll ups work. They are a great step in the right direction because they add an air of unpredictability to the match. It is so weird that WWE have figured out that fans buy roll-up pins as legitimate match finishers, but won’t extend this to more moves.


Wrestler interference too seems to happen a little less often now. Back in 2000 WCW and 2001 WWF, fans automatically looked down the ramp to see who would run in for the finish, but thankfully this has stopped now. Sure, Ric Flair gets involved in all of HHH’s PPV matches, but they are really pulling out all the stops to get past HHH’s unenthusiastic reaction from the fans. But unimaginative booking is ruining good matches.


In Mick Foley’s second book, Foley is Good, he says about his Hell in a Cell match against HHH:


“Triple H went for the cover, but oddly, my kick-out barely elicited a reaction. A DDT put me down again. Another kick-out, another barely audible reaction. Why? … The lack of response was really concerning me. A Russian leg sweep brought his head down backward on the chair for another two-count and another lacklustre response. The response was no longer concerning me; it was downright bothering the hell out of me. … I suddenly realised why our two-counts had garnered such weak reactions. Not a soul in the place believed that the match would end inside the cage. Not until we got outside of it, anyway.”


WWE have trained fans to think that Hell in a Cell means someone will fall off the cage. From Hell in a Cell 1’s bump from Shawn Michaels, to Mick Foley’s infamous falls, through Rikishi’s silly fall, there’s always been at least one big fall. The only exception at the time Foley writes about was the Big Bossman vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania XV, which was horrible anyway.


So when Foley and HHH try and do something different, the fans have been taught that the match will not end at that point, so the match loses heat. These moves that got no reaction included Mankind’s finisher, a double arm DDT onto a CHAIR. This is a huge move, and indeed a finisher onto a chair was the finish of the recent Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar title match. In this instance though, the fans shit on it.


Creativity and innovation are nearly always given a good reaction – look at Rey Mysterio’s moveset, for example, as well as most of the Benoit / Angle matches. Yet a great deal of the roster shun new moves. An obvious example would be “4 move Goldberg”, who repeats the same punch-kick-spear-jackhammer combination in every match. Why should The Rock bother attempting a powerbomb when he can get a huge pop for the Sharpshooter?


Anyway, that was a huge tangent. Back to finishing matches. Non-clean finishes are a really cheap way out of booking the end of a match. Wrestler A should beat Wrestler B because he is better than him, not because Wrester A’s friend throws him a chair. The point of a sporting competition (which I assume is what WWE wants us to think the match is) is to have a winner. What’s the point of sitting through an excellent match just to have it ruined by an cheaply booked finish.


An excellent example of this is the Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin match at SummerSlam 2001. This match had an excellent storyline of “Stone Cold throws everything he’s got at Angle, who just keeps coming back for more.” Austin tried EVERYTHING to beat Angle, including three stunners, four headbutts into the ringpost and a Million Dollar Dream – Austin’s original finisher from 10 years ago. When Austin realises that he just can’t win, he turns and attacks several referees, drawing a disqualification. The finish was horrible, and ruined what could have been a ***** match. Angle really needed to win, to show that yes – he is better than Stone Cold, and push him firmly onto the next level. Instead, Austin gets to retain the belt, and the crowd were NOT happy. They felt cheated, and who can blame them?


When was the last time a baseball match ended with a chairshot? It sounds silly, but every other sport copes without having teams look “weak” – sure, if the Yankees go out and lose every week, then they’ll look weak, but wrestling is fucking pre-determined. Vince should know how to keep wrestler’s heat, especially since he has had 20 years in charge of the company.



Again, there was no need for all the silly booking of the Rock vs. Hogan rematch at No Way Out. Hogan is Hogan, and will ALWAYS be over. Even if he is 75 and comes out once to Real American in a fucking wheelchair, he will blow the roof off the place. The Rock has been called the Saving Grace of Raw multiple times, and was getting over fine as a heel. They played off each other perfectly leading into the match, so why not allow this to continue while they fight?


There was zero need for Vince McMahon to get involved (if he really had to continue his feud with Hogan, post match is as good a time as any.) The “creative” booking with the crooked referee was horribly worked too, as there was NO NEED FOR IT.


If Hogan really wouldn’t lay down cleanly for the Rock again, Rocky could have just as easily done something to humiliate Hogan to finish the match. He could have Rockbottomed him, left him in the ring without pinning him and walked out. He’d lose by count out, but then his arrogant character just points out that he didn’t NEED to pin Hogan. Rocky had already beaten Hogan and the pin was just a formality that he “couldn’t be bothered” with. Simple, yet effective.


The X screwed Y angle is so overplayed at this point that it is really, really boring. It’s a really lazy way of extending a feud for another month, or just not resolving things. The problem is that PPV matches aren’t being used as just the ends of feuds, they are used to draw out the feud for even longer. If they really want to extend feuds for more than one month (which I have no problem with) and have more than one Pay Per View match, the best route they can take is almost what they did with Michaels and Jericho.


Let them fight each other in gimmicked matches – the Royal Rumble worked perfectly for this, or tag team matches. Then in the final month have a straight, one on one match with a clear cut winner. THEN move on to the next feud. Lesnar jumping from The Big Show, to Angle, to Cena, and back to the Big Show all in the space of 5 months is a little much.


With some forward planning, they could have run two PPV matches against the Big Show back to back, and then gone onto the feud with Angle.


Well, that was another tangent, but to summarise the points I’m trying to make about pinning:

Firstly, the length of a pin should be determined by how tired the wrestler is. Not a bunch of 2 counts, a couple of 2.9s and then a 3.


Secondly, there are SO MANY ways of creatively finishing a match that we don’t need to resort to “By God, McMahon just screwed The Rock”. But the most important finish of all: Cleanly in the middle of the ring.



From this week, I'll be running a caption competition. Drop me an e-mail with your caption to this photo, and the best will be showcased next week.



Also, as a special one-off contest, send me your booking for a match ending. The wrestlers and type of match can be anything you like, but just send me how you'd finish the match - go for ultra violence (15 chairshots), or silly (the roof collapses) or anything you want. Again, the best will be showcased next week.



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