By Will Pruett
I am frequently overwhelmed with the amount of wrestling I can watch today. Living in the future is pretty cool, but when it loads up my dance card with wrestling from three continents and something like ten companies without me having to do much more than type, I feel like I’m underwater. This has been one of the bigger challenges for me as I transition into the glorious streaming future: How do I enjoy professional wrestling without overdosing?
The answer has been really simple: give up my belief in completionism. For a long time, I’ve needed to see every entrance, every video package, and every second of every match in order to watch/review/enjoy a wrestling show. In order to not quit all of my jobs and become a Wall-E-esque blob of a human (see photo), I had to do something.
Most of us have watched wrestling long enough to know when something is important. We know there is a difference between a random six man tag team match on Raw and the WWE Championship match in a pay-per-view main event. We know there is a difference between another cryptic Bray Wyatt promo and anything exciting happening. Generally, we can tell if something cool is going to happen or not. I follow these instincts.
It started with 90 minute Raw on Hulu, the greatest invention in wrestling history (especially if you pay those extra $4 for ad free Hulu). Then came fast-forwarding through that even. I just don’t need a video package of a show I watched a week ago. WWE isn’t pointing out important storyline points from years before like Game of Thrones, they’re just setting last week’s events to ominous music. They aren’t telling new stories, they’re catching up people who never watch.
You see, WWE television is not made for completionists. It’s made for the person watching one or two episodes per month, and only casually paying attention. How else could someone explain the frequent replays of everything worth remembering? What about the commentator’s obsessive desire to review every story point for each wrestling while they are wrestling? Completionists might think they need to see everything in WWE, but WWE itself is screaming their disagreement with this.
Moreover, giving up on completionism has allowed me to see and enjoy wrestling I haven’t had time for in the past. I’ve avoided NJPW’s G1 shows over the past few years because it was too hard to see every match of the tournament. Well, this year I decided to catch highlights from just about every show and it’s been amazing. I’ve seen most of the great matches. I understand the stories happening. I am quite invested in the end of the tournament, even though I purposefully avoided watching a single Yoshi-Hashi match.
I know liberally fast-forward, picking and choosing, or relying on reviews (shout out to Voices of Wrestling for their great G1 coverage, which allowed me to easily pick what I needed to see) feels weird at first, but it’s the best feeling ever.
I’m not watching every match of every show. Heck, sometimes I may not see every match of a WWE pay-per-view. I haven’t watched a WWE pre-show since WrestleMania. They just aren’t important. There is a ton of great wrestling out there to invest in and you can see even more if you skip what doesn’t connect with you!
Last week’s essential viewing:
What matches do you need to see from the last week of wrestles? Note: There are spoilers in the write-ups on each match.
From NJPW’s G1 Climax 27 Tournament:
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 13, August 4, 2017) – ZSJ is a technical wizard and seeing him match up against a variety of styles and opponents has made the G1 pretty fun. This was Naito getting the best of Sabre Jr and finding his way to the top of the A Block. Naito was awesome here as well.
Kenny Omega vs. Juice Robinson (NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 14, August 5, 2017) – It’s hard to pull off a good surprise in a tournament. It’s even harder to pull off two in one night. Robinson beating Omega was an absolute shock. Robinson is performing far above what I thought he was capable of in this G1 and it’s really exciting. Omega is his consistently awesome self. This match is a really fun journey with a super high point at the end.
Evil vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 14, August 5, 2017) – And the upsets rolled on with this match surprising the cuss word out of me. Evil has had an awesome tournament. He’s not the MVP, but he has proven to be better than a sidekick role. Okada losing here was a total shock. I half expected him to go to the finals without a loss (or at least to the Omega match). This win should mean big things for Evil in the coming months.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW G1 Climax Night 15, August 6, 2017) – This match told a remarkable story of the immovable Ishii taking every shot Tanahashi had to offer and fighting to stay in the G1. If Tanahashi won, it set the A Block finals and took Ishii out of the running. It was two experts putting together a match where both men had exceptionally high stakes and Tanahashi finally made his way to victory.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in a Last Man Standing Match (WWE Raw, August 7, 2017) – As always, Braun and Roman are great wrestlers who produce magic together. You’re not going to get a technical classic, you’re going to see two unmovable men clash. It’s awesome and I will never turn down an opportunity to see it.
Hideo Itami vs. Kassius Ohno (WWE NXT Live in Los Angeles, August 9, 2017) – The best match on a loaded NXT live show from The Novo in Los Angeles. Watching wrestling in a unique venue with passionate fans is always cool. Seeing a great match at the same time is even cooler. I know people can’t watch this particular match, but wanted to shout it out anyways.
What I absolutely positively love in wrestling this week:
Wrestling Outside of Arenas – Wrestling from anywhere that is not a traditional United States basketball or hockey arena is the greatest thing this week. We rarely see a diversity of venue on a WWE show outside of WrestleMania and it’s a bummer. Buildings are made to have their own personality. I love when a wrestling show lets that personality shine. Light the theater, church, community center, concert venue, or whatever other place you’re in and let it shine! Wrestling that isn’t in major arenas is the best.
What I absolutely positively love in the world this week:
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I’m not big on World War II stories and novels. While I understand the heroics of the time, I also think it’s a genre just slightly overdone. I was reluctant to read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel because of this. I was wrong to be reluctant. Doerr wrote the touching story of a young blind French girl and a young German boy’s path to a fateful meeting expertly. I had trouble putting this book down to sleep. It’s totally worth the time to read and absorb this touching tale.
Got something to say/react to in today’s piece? Write to me at email@example.com or on Twitter @wilpruett. Just let me know whether you’d like your name attached to your statement or not. Alternately, there’s a comment section just below this article, so comment away!
@wilpruett Never thought I'd see a quote from Ragtime in a post about pro-wrestling…
— David Meyers (@DaveActs) August 4, 2017
Quoting random musical lyrics is my jam. This is as good of an excuse as any to post a video of Brian Stokes Mitchell singing Wheels of a Dream. This man is too brilliant and too nice. It’s almost obnoxious.
It’s cool seeing that you’ve become a Kenny Omega fan in what seems like a short amount of time. I’ve been a fan of Kenny’s ever since I saw a replay of one of his matched on the AXS run of NJPW a few years ago. From his entrance to his in-ring work, I was just captivated by Kenny and what he brought to the match. Not only is a great talent in-ring, he’s also quite the talent outside of the ring, from his interviews to downtime stuff that he does (YouTube stuff that he does with the Young Bucks coming to mind). All around, Kenny is quite the talented guy, and here’s to hoping that if/when he meets Kazuchika Okada in the ring again, Kenny finally wins it (and provides another stellar match at the same time).
Oh man, this weekend is going to be fun. I cannot wait to see Omega vs. Okada III on Saturday morning. Color me whatever color hyped is supposed to be colored. Anyone know what brand of tanner Mojo Rawley uses? Color me that.
SSMGOTW (Superfluous Shane McMahon Gif of the Week):
This week’s wrestling reading:
From time to time, I want to highlight some of the best wrestling reading I’ve found over the past week.
#PWGrrrlGang – This isn’t by a single person, but is an important alliance of people trying to make wrestling a welcoming and inviting thing for everyone! Inclusivity is my jam.
We’re Done Here:
We are just a couple days away from the G1 being over and just over a week away from the biggest slam jam bam bam party jam of the summer: SummerSlam. Wrestling is fun! Life is fun! I am happy and everyone should be! Celebrate!!!
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To contact, check him out on Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.