Great column! Made me remember why I love visiting the slash...
Seriously though, you nailed the point with Benoit, Austin, and Hogan. And I think you've got a good handle on HHH.
I just think with HHH that also detracting from his ability to love are his concerns over his physical health and the fact that he's constantly got to watch the rising undercard taking his spot (regardless whether or not the allegations of him trying to fight that are true...)
But yeah, back in the day, I would not have minded seeing him on my tv in about five segments. Hell, he used to and I did enjoy it.
Also, I think, among others, the Rock, Kurt Angle, and JR stand out as prime examples of your love theory. The Rock and Kurt Angle simply love what they are doing and therefore do it so incredibly well, and JR lately has not loved the product as much as he used to, and therefore Good Ol's commentary has been suffering.
Add another heaping of praise on debaser from yours truly.
And EddieBurkett, you are 100% correct on Rock and Angle being in that company.
I'm about to get cable and television back after not having it (and consequently, not watching any of the shows) for geez, over a month now. I'm really curious how I will feel about what I will see.
My father, the nuclear physics guy, had high hopes I would also turn to the sciences. but the best lesson he ever taught us as we were growing up, is you have to pick a career you love. Because if you don't love doing it, you won't do well at it *and* you will be unhappy. Which is why he fully and happily supported my becoming an English major.
OK, I am rambling now. debaser, again, thanks.
"Nothing remains interesting where anything may happen." -H.G. Wells
I am yet another reader who will give you kudos on your article, Debaser. And after reading it, it made me reflect on why wrestling continues to be entertaining for me, and that's being able to appreciate those workers who bust their butts and enjoy it.
I can recall, throughout much of 2000, that Rikishi was another wrestler who felt that joy of performing. Whether he was duking it out with members of the Radicalz, or squaring off one on one with Rock, it was quite visible that Rikishi couldn't wipe the grin off of his face. He definitely felt the love, so to speak.
And it's not like he needs anyone to vouch for his article, but I'd say that a prime example of Debaser's opinion would be the ten man main-event from RAW in early 2000 from Dallas. Rock, Too Cool, Cactus, Rikishi, DX and the Radicalz displayed exactly why wrestling is so great. They also knew that the fans were loving every millisecond. And we as fans, recognize that type of effort.
Right on, Debaser. Sometimes, I thinksome of us fans need to keep that love of the mat game in our hearts, too. I know I'm guilty of not doing so from time to time.
(Didn't mean to be so long-winded. )
David Crockett sez it best, folks: "Look at 'im! Look at 'im, Tony!"
Thanks for the kind words everyone. In retrospect, there are some things I would have done differently (i.e., PROOFRREADING), but I'm happy a few people dug on it.
I would certainly append anyone mentioned in this thread as guys who fit the mold, I simply chose who I chose because they were the most illustrative of my point. Benoit because his love seemed most purely directed to the actual in ring product; Austin, Hogan, and HHH because their waxing and waning were highly visible.
Judging from interviews, Angle's one of those guys who I think would be happy doing almost anything provided he could push himself hard and do it really really well. Especially on the physical end, which is probably a lot of the reason he developed so quickly in ring. I remember them saying it took him a bit to really find his voice as a character, which is why he was in the indies so long; though obviously he's caught on real nice now.
Back when I was younger and stupider, I used to refer to the Rock as a "crowd whore". In some ways that's a fair assessment: you can see it in the way he structures his matches that his primary concern at all times is how much the fans are into it. Of course, I've since realized it's idiotic to apply a derogatory term to a guy just because he likes entertaining people. I'm pretty sure that, if anything can, it's that love of a live response that might be able to hold Mr. Mavia to at least a part time wrestling schedule. I mean, unless his directors can convince the interns and pages to chant "Rocky!" during key scenes and then edit it out in post.
I don't really understand what Debaser said but I agree with him.
I agree with your general principle... I'm not sure if we can necessarily call it "love"... it is, after all, possible to ACT like you're having fun. But yes, committing yourself to being entertaining and fun is ultimately what it's all about, and commentators often lose sight of that.
If you do wanna call it "love", then it might be misapplied to Benoit. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure in this particular case that Benoit does love wrestling, but, I don't think it shows in any other way except that he is very good at it. He wrestles like he's in an empty arena... he does not acknowledge the crowd at all. If he did connect with the crowd on an emotional level, then I have no doubt that he would be solidly in the main event. That's what is missing, from him.
gonna build a giant drill and bore straight into hell releasing ancient demons from their sleep-forever spell so they can walk upon the earth and get recituated and run the diet pill pyramid that MC Pee Pants has created
"If you do wanna call it "love", then it might be misapplied to Benoit. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure in this particular case that Benoit does love wrestling, but, I don't think it shows in any other way except that he is very good at it. He wrestles like he's in an empty arena... he does not acknowledge the crowd at all. If he did connect with the crowd on an emotional level, then I have no doubt that he would be solidly in the main event. That's what is missing, from him."
Nah, Benoit plays to the crowd plenty. It's not in the traditional WWE pavlov mold, but it's how he's found his in-ring character over the years. He plays to the crowd with his work and unrivaled intensity. But perhaps even more so with his selflessness and generalship in the ring. I remember Eddy Guerrero in an interview awhile back said when talking professionalism and how most guys in the business work the match for themselves, to get themselves over. That's the basics of the business. But he said guys like Benoit and Liger are rare birds in that they work for the match itself and nothing but the match. They bring you up to their level. I think that about sums up Benoit.
I'm not arguing the point that Benoit's lack of playing to the crowd has hindered his connection with WWE audiences, but I don't think it's for a lack of passion for the fans or his art. If anything it's a lack of ego and perhaps confidence to play that part of the game. Bell to bell is what he's been about through his entire 16 year career.
I'm not sure if we can necessarily call it "love"... it is, after all, possible to ACT like you're having fun.
Well, yes and no. These people are untrained actors giving an at least partially improvised performance in front of a live crowd. If they're not into it, it's a lot easier to tell than it is if, say, John Cusack suddenly decided he wanted to rethink the whole acting thing partway through the middle of "High Fidelity".
And furthermore, if you see the same show I do, you can see really sharp changes in a person's performance when the only real difference is morale. Witness Bret Hart in that "Owen Memorial" match vs. Benoit as opposed to Bret Hart during essentially anything during Russo's tenure. And the ultimate, key source of morale is going to be how much you enjoy the work you're doing.
And you're right, Benoit doesn't connect with the crowd. He loves the actual physical art of wrestling, which is why he focuses so intensely on it that it seems like he's in "an empty arena". This is contrasted, by my theory at least, with a Rock or a Hogan who love entertaining people, or a HHH or a Raven who are (or were) primarily enamoured with the characters they played.
I don't really understand what Debaser said but I agree with him.