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The W - Pro Wrestling - What Makes A Good Storyline?
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Liz
Chipolata








Since: 26.8.03
From: Ironton, Ohio

Since last post: 2588 days
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#1 Posted on
I've been using my 'Net time to read through the archives of this message board, because I have tons of questions and don't want to ask things that have been answered 4,923 times already. And I've learned a *lot* from the twenty some pages of threads I've been through so far.

I do want to ask one question, though. What makes a good storyline? I see a lot of hatred (or worse, apathy) towards the current angling and writing in the WWE. And trust me -- I'm right there with a lot of it. RIGHT THERE. The only reason I didn't shriek and carry on about the alluded rape angle was because it gave screen time to My Beloved CEO. But it was bad. Pointless, confusing and badly written (okay, okay -- and badly acted).

A lot of smarks (not necessarily here) derided that angle specifically because it was *so* soap opera. But really -- isn't that what wrestling is unofficially billed as? The 'soap opera for men'? In my honest opinion, I didn't find the angle THAT horrid. In bad taste? Unquestionably, but it was no Mae Young births hand segment. And really, I can't recall too many storylines that *haven't* been in somewhat bad taste. Coffin Surfing comes to mind. Trish being 'mopped'. Trips marrying an unconcious Steph. That's honestly *some* of the appeal of the WWE for me; it pushes the limits of what's acceptable and appropriate.

Anyway. All of that said, what really does make a good, solid storyline? Beyond that, what makes a GREAT storyline? Can you guys give me some examples of storylines that you found to be five star? Have patience if I don't instantly recognize some things. I wasn't able to watch wrestling for a very long time, and a lot of things you guys talk about I know only from recaps and references on the Internet. Because you know -- God forbid Vinnie & Linnie Mac actually thread the storylines together in a comprehensible fashion!

Thanks in advance.

I also want to know why everyone hates my favorite man Hunter, but I'll save that until I'm completely done with the archives. I'm *sure* that's been addressed. ;)!



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BigVitoMark
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Since: 10.8.02
From: Queen's University, Canada

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#2 Posted on
The elements most necessary for a good storyline, I think, are as follows:

1. A reason for conflict: throwing two guys (or four for a tag team feud) out there to fight with each other for no reason makes for bland TV. It doesn't even have to be something complex and soap-opera like. Look at Smackdown: One week one of the Bashams faces either Billy Gunn or Jamie Noble (I forget which). After the match the heels double-team the face because, well, they're heels and that's what heels do. The other face makes the save and bam, there you have a reason for a feud.

2. Plausability: Every action and reaction in the storyline needs to be conceivable. The biggest reason people didn't care for the "Kane sets Jim Ross on fire" angle was because it wasn't consistent with real life. If Kane had really set Jim Ross on fire he wouldn't have been allowed to show up at work next week. If JR was really about to be set on fire, all the stagehands you could hear in that segment wouldn't have just stood by and watched their co-worker almost being murdered. The most successful storylines in wrestling history have been the ones that were believable, often because they were kept simple. Things seemed like they could be real. At heart, wrestling fans want to believe what they're watching is legit, but when something is presented that couldn't possibly be real, it winds up in RD Reynolds' next book.

3. The payoff: This is what separates a serviceable storyline (Gunn/Noble vs. Bashams) from a great one (Austin/McMahon). The great storylines build to something climactic that people will pay to see. SummerSlam '98 is an example of this. They spent the whole summer building towards Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker and Rocky vs. HHH, which people wanted to see, and the show did a great buyrate. In the end, wrestling companies live and die by the matches they make. A great storyline needs to lead to a match people want to see, otherwise it's just another angle.
Ringmistress
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Since: 15.1.02
From: Philly

Since last post: 2588 days
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#3 Posted on
I have five ingredients for a great storyline in my eyes, and four of them involve logic. The fifth, is simply, a clear reason for us the fans to give a damn about the people involved. If we're given nothing, then you get nothing out of us. Gail Kim's a good example, so is Orlando Jordan. .



"Friendship - The art of using somebody to your advantage so that they can help you succeed in life. Once they can no longer help you, they are no longer your friend." Brock Lesnar, Philosopher

1200 bitches and counting....
ShotGunShep
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Since: 20.2.03

Since last post: 2450 days
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#4 Posted on
Good wrestlers. That's really all. Sure, some good writing is required, but a great wrestler can make something out of nothing. Either with their skills on the mic or on the mat. If a wrestler establishes himself in the ring, people start to give a damn about him. When people CARE about who wins a match, the storyline is good.
Really really horrible writing can ruin this, but the WWE could get by with old school storylines. Nothing fancy, just big guys getting pissed at each other, with some humor thrown in.
dMr
Andouille








Since: 2.11.02
From: Edinburgh, Scotland

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#5 Posted on
    Originally posted by BigVitoMark
    2. Plausability: Every action and reaction in the storyline needs to be conceivable. The biggest reason people didn't care for the "Kane sets Jim Ross on fire" angle was because it wasn't consistent with real life. If Kane had really set Jim Ross on fire he wouldn't have been allowed to show up at work next week. If JR was really about to be set on fire, all the stagehands you could hear in that segment wouldn't have just stood by and watched their co-worker almost being murdered.


See I figure that just comes down to suspension of disbelief which you need almost irrespective of what drama tickles your fancy. Its the reason why we're all so quick to accept that goodies are instilled with an ability too shoot straight while baddies can't hit a cows arse with a banjo.

Heck if the Kane thing had really happened and I had been standin there I dont think I would have been to keen on getting involved for fear of pissing of the 7 foot psycho with the can of petrol and the penchanct for arson.




Liz
Chipolata








Since: 26.8.03
From: Ironton, Ohio

Since last post: 2588 days
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#6 Posted on
Reason for conflict -- YES. It never fails to irritate me when two wrestlers (who have previously had jackshit to do with each other) suddenly are in a match. What the fuck for? The actually wrestling is the *most* important aspect of it for me, but don't count on me giving a shit either way when Viscera is wrestling Crash for some mysterious reason.

Payoff -- ITA. If it doesn't have a decent payoff, we just end up with that '...that's it?' feeling, which was my main beef with (haw, haw, I brought her up again!) the Linda/Eric storyline. Yeah, he was due for a match with Shane, but to quote a very underused wrestler '...what about Linda?!' Wow, she slaps him at SummerSlam. Oooh. The drama overwhelmed me. Zero payoff for that particular skit. The one that always nagged at the back of my mind, though, was the 'Rikishi did it for the Rock!' angle. What was that about? So, Rikishi did it for the Rock...why? To help a fellow Samoan? Fucked if *I* know -- the bastards never told me.

Plausability - This one I'm not so sure about. ITA some things are just ridiculous (Mae Young's hand), but I'm with dMr about the suspension of disbelief. I used to mark out huge for 'Taker when he was still the dead man (especially during the Ministry days, what little I got to see of it). But...completely unbelievable. Under EVERY stretch of the imagination. He crucifies Steph (I think) on some big ass pentacle surrounded with those little Grim Reaper wannabes, and the police (or any other entity) don't try to stop *that*? It took SCSA to save her terrified ass from being wed to the Undertaker and taken away for a honeymoon in...THE DARK SIDE!

kgriffey79, I'm not sure if a wrestler can really 'put themselves over'. If that's the case, would we hear the constant complaining about such-and-such (HHH) holding down such-and-such (Booker, Jericho)? Now Booker and Jericho DID get over, storylines notwithstanding. Do you think, though, if Chris had constantly been booked for Heat and/or Velocity, people would still care? I'm not so sure.

Anyway! Good thoughts, all. Thank you.

:)!



Sole defender and champion of Linda McMahon!



The true dominant female of the WWE!
Hunger hurts, but starving works.
fuelinjected
Banger








Since: 12.10.02
From: Canada

Since last post: 3175 days
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.15
A good storyline is one that makes you want to pay to see the wrestling match.

Personally, I like storylines that don't insult my intelligence and ones that allow me to suspend my disbelief. We all know it's a work, we all know it's show business but we don't need it slapped in our face with people getting set on fire and corpse fucking. When stuff like that happens, I can no longer suspend my disbelief as a fan.

I don't remember many times that the convulted corny logic snapping hollywood gaga writing junk ever made me want to pay to see a wrestling match.

The crowd was pretty flat for RVD/Kane and I think they would have been more interested if Kane had been destroying people with wrestling violence and his former friend was going to try and stop the wrestling monster by beating him in a wrestling match. But what good is a wrestling match when people are getting burned alive? That's where the suspension of disbelief is killed for me.
Quezzy
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Since: 6.1.02
From: The Moon

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#8 Posted on
    Originally posted by Liz
    Reason for conflict -- YES. It never fails to irritate me when two wrestlers (who have previously had jackshit to do with each other) suddenly are in a match. What the fuck for? The actually wrestling is the *most* important aspect of it for me, but don't count on me giving a shit either way when Viscera is wrestling Crash for some mysterious reason.




Well two wrestlers shouldn't feud unless they have a reason but I don't believe that wrestlers have be feuding to have a reason to wrestle. I remember times when almost all the matches were just random people wrestling each other, there wasn't a feud to every wrestling match and it was fine. Now naturally I don't want to see Crash wrestling Viscera either, but if Eddie decided to wrestle Ultimo Dragon with no reason behind it then I'd watch that anyday.

I thought the best storyline writing recently is probably the Angle/Benoit feud. The way they feuded with each other and at the same time worked together to feud against Los Guerreros and Edge/Rey was great. Eddie and Chavo manipulating Benoit to be angry at Kurt was great too. Of course it helps that Eddie, Chavo, Kurt, and Edge are all great talkers. Which is a big key. You could've done the same thing with the tag teams on Raw and it would've had worked as well because none of them are as good.

I really can't think of many storylines that stick out as being really good though. I think one of the reasons is every reason for breaking up is so cliche now. It's either a tag team breaking up, fighting over a woman, or interfering in a match. I'm also tired of family members being involved in storylines (unless it's a family member who is really in the business like the Hardy Boys).



Lance's Response:

THAT IS AWESOME!
redsoxnation
Scrapple








Since: 24.7.02

Since last post: 392 days
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#9 Posted on
I'll give an example of an 80's WWF storyline that worked, and example of an NWA/WCW storyline from the 80's that worked and a classic example from World Class. The key actually is the simplicity of the storyline.

Hogan/Orndorff:

One of the biggest, non-PPV money making storylines of all time. Starts during the build-up to Mania I, with Orndorff being Piper's partner (yes, Mania technically was a PPV, but the Hogan/Orndorff pay-off feud wasn't on PPV). Orndorff gets pinned at Mania, and on Saturday Night's Main Event, Piper treats him like shit and Orndorff becomes a face and a Friend Of Hogan. Orndorff is stuck in mid-card face-land for a year, culminating with a Mania II match with 'The Rock', the Magnificient Muraco that jerked the curtain. Shortly after, Orndorff gets goaded by the Heenan Family that Hogan doesn't consider him a friend. Orndorff tries to contact Hogan, but he's to busy lifting weights to take the call. Eventually, Hogan teams with Orndorff against the Moondogs, and Orndorff stays in the whole time, pissing off the crowd who wanted to see Hogan. The next week, Hogan and Orndorff tag against Bundy and Studd, and Hogan gets knocked into Orndorff, sending him off the railing and 'injuring' him. Eventually, Orndorff recovers enough to save Hogan, only to turn on him with a clothesline and a piledriver. Voila: jealousy, insecurity, lack of respect wrapped into one for a World Title feud. Orndorff then steals Hogan's theme song, and a summertime feud that filled arenas commences, culminating in a controversial cage match victory for Hogan (I still think Orndorff touched the floor first).

Flair vs. Funk:

Ric Flair finishes the epic Ricky Steamboat Trilogy, and Terry Funk (who was a judge at ringside in case of a draw), shakes Flair's hand and challenges him to a future title shot. Flair thinks Funk is washed up, and Funk snaps, ending up piledriving Flair on a table and putting him out of action for 76 days. This does the impossible, and turns Flair face (and also required a waiver on the 30 day rule). GAB '89, Funk and Flair face each other, with Great Muta and Sting interfering (thus helping elevate other wrestlers). Clash of Champions in September, Funk attacks Flair during a tag match, and does the infamous Tie a Trashbag Around Flair's Head move. They meet in a tag team cage match that ends in controversy at Havoc '89, and have one final battle left in them. The last battle would be an I Quit Match at the Clash of Champions, with Funk quitting and shaking Flair's hand in a show of respect. Feud begins with Flair not respecting Funk but ends in a show of respect.

Von Erich's vs. Freebirds

Freebirds come to Texas in '82, and get along with the Von Erich's. Michael Hayes is ref in an NWA World Title Cage Match on XMas night '82, and beats down Ric Flair in order to help Kerry Von Erich beat Flair. Kerry refuses the help, so Hayes turns on Von Erich. This begins an 18 month war between the clean living, God-fearing Von Erich's (I know, I know), vs. the hard living, hell raising Freebirds. Epitomy of a good vs. evil feud. Also for good vs. evil, see Kevin Sullivan vs. Dusty Rhodes in Florida in the early 80's.



(edited by redsoxnation on 31.8.03 1938)


Time to do a Red Sox pennant chase supply list: Arsenic: check. Cyanide: check. Booze: check. Fully loaded gun for full chamber Russian Roulette: check. Ok, I'm prepared, let the pennant race commence.
Doc_whiskey
Frankfurter








Since: 6.8.02
From: St. Louis

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#10 Posted on
    Originally posted by Quezzy
      Originally posted by Liz




    Well two wrestlers shouldn't feud unless they have a reason but I don't believe that wrestlers have be feuding to have a reason to wrestle.


I couldnt agree more. However, if it bothers people that much, all they have to say is something like....they are trying to move up the ranks for a title shot, or something like that.



Brazen Snatch
ShotGunShep
Frankfurter








Since: 20.2.03

Since last post: 2450 days
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#11 Posted on
    Originally posted by Liz
    >kgriffey79, I'm not sure if a wrestler can really 'put themselves over'. If that's the case, would we hear the constant complaining about such-and-such (HHH) holding down such-and-such (Booker, Jericho)? Now Booker and Jericho DID get over, storylines notwithstanding. Do you think, though, if Chris had constantly been booked for Heat and/or Velocity, people would still care? I'm not so sure.

    Anyway! Good thoughts, all. Thank you.

    :)!

You are missing my point. You are saying, if Jericho had been constantly only on Heat, he wouldn't get over. It is simple capitalism. The booker would look at his Heat performances and say,"We need this guy on Raw." Everyone wants to make money. If someone can draw a crowd, and is not a huge problem backstage, he will be pushed(in due time). Rey Misterio Jr. is completely over because of what he does in the ring. People root for him because of what he can do. That's what I mean.

People buy into storylines because they buy into the CHARACTERS. Crossover wrestlers never really work. Let's say Austin was an actor before he went into wrestling. It wouldn't work. People have to believe in the characters to believe in the storylines. That is what I mean when I say the wrestlers make the storylines. They have to make it seem reasonable even though everyone knwo it is fake.
Big G
Potato korv








Since: 21.8.03
From: the people who brought you Steel Magnolias....

Since last post: 8 days
Last activity: 1 hour
#12 Posted on
    Originally posted by redsoxnation
    Hogan/Orndorff:

    One of the biggest, non-PPV money making storylines of all time. Starts during the build-up to Mania I, with Orndorff being Piper's partner (yes, Mania technically was a PPV, but the Hogan/Orndorff pay-off feud wasn't on PPV). Orndorff gets pinned at Mania, and on Saturday Night's Main Event, Piper treats him like shit and Orndorff becomes a face and a Friend Of Hogan. Orndorff is stuck in mid-card face-land for a year, culminating with a Mania II match with 'The Rock', the Magnificient Muraco that jerked the curtain. Shortly after, Orndorff gets goaded by the Heenan Family that Hogan doesn't consider him a friend. Orndorff tries to contact Hogan, but he's to busy lifting weights to take the call. Eventually, Hogan teams with Orndorff against the Moondogs, and Orndorff stays in the whole time, pissing off the crowd who wanted to see Hogan. The next week, Hogan and Orndorff tag against Bundy and Studd, and Hogan gets knocked into Orndorff, sending him off the railing and 'injuring' him. Eventually, Orndorff recovers enough to save Hogan, only to turn on him with a clothesline and a piledriver. Voila: jealousy, insecurity, lack of respect wrapped into one for a World Title feud. Orndorff then steals Hogan's theme song, and a summertime feud that filled arenas commences, culminating in a controversial cage match victory for Hogan (I still think Orndorff touched the floor first


I was thinking of this one as well. It's a good example of how a story can start off at the forefront, then simmer in the background and inter-twine with other stories while still remaining current and then be heated up again when needed with all that 'History'.

Another one I was thinking of was the heel turn of Andre prior to WM3. The reaction of Hogan made it more believable. Instead of initially trotting out the old 'I'm gonna kick your ass, watcha gonna do....' spiel he seemed upset and saddened by the turning of his friend. Also the suspension of disbelief was kicked in as well because all us young wrestling marks were under the impression that Andre couldn't be beaten.

G



Warrior Quote: "Presuming initial consensualness, where exactly do we draw the lines of our judgment pinning down the responsibility and accountability inextricably attached to each human life? "

Umm Indeed!
knightvibe
Salami








Since: 12.7.03
From: st louis, missouri

Since last post: 3485 days
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#13 Posted on
I thin a key is the cliffhanger. Something that makes you wonder where the story is going. When you have no clue where the story is going and can't wait until the next chapter/episode in the story. Suspense is a key.



and thats all i have to say about that!
SKLOKAZOID
Bratwurst








Since: 20.3.02
From: California

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#14 Posted on
I wouldn't even say that plausability should be factored in all that much. This IS wrestling, after all.

I think the essential elements are simple. An interesting protagonist ("over babyface"), an interesting heel ("Over heel"), and a a basis for the feud. The heel gets heat on the babyface, then the babyface comes back to blow off all that heat.

Sometimes, the face has to lose and be "sacrificed" to get the heel over, but only to set up a bigger face beating the heel in the longrun.

The blowoff match doesn't even have to be good.
Big Bad
Scrapple








Since: 4.1.02
From: Dorchester, Ontario

Since last post: 3 days
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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.54
The Hogan/Orndorff feud wasn't as textbook as history makes it out to be. Watching old tapes, it always struck me that HOGAN was one acting like a real dick, i.e. hopping out in front of Orndorff to pose and steal Paul's thunder.

In terms of suspension of disbelief, wacky 'non-wrestling' stuff only works if it is somewhat believable. For example, Undertaker putting the Warrior into the (ahem) airtight casket back in 1991, for no other reason than to intimidate the UW. It was a goofy storyline, but as a lifelong claustrophobic, thinking about the Warrior stuck without air (and then, when the casket was opened, seeing the claw marks on the roof), it freaked me out.



"When this bogus term alternative rock was being thrown at every '70s retro rehash folk group, we were challenging people to new sonic ideas. If some little snotty anarchist with an Apple Mac and an attitude thinks he invented dance music and the big rock group is coming into his territory, [that's] ridiculous." - Bono, 1997
H-and-a-half
Weisswurst








Since: 27.7.03
From: New York

Since last post: 3982 days
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#16 Posted on
I think the need for it to be a match people want to see is the most important, and the storyline should be just an entertaining way to set it up.

Random thoughts:

Nobody really cared about Rikishi-Austin, but it helped pave the way for the six-man HIAC and HHH-Austin after that. But plausability is important too. It didn't make sense for Jericho to beat Austin and the Rock in one night. They each had six title reigns at the time; Y2J had none, and was also physically smaller than either of them.

The "Invasion" angle failed because most WWF fans didn't know who any of the WCW/ECW guys were. Their most famous guys -- Goldberg, Flair, Hogan, the nWo -- didn't show up until later on. Taker-DDP never had a chance.

HHH-Jericho and Brock-Angle didn't work because they were completely telegraphed. Everyone knew HHH and Brock would win the Royal Rumble and go on to win WM. In contrast, nobody could guess who would win Austin-Rock (WM17) or Rock-Hogan (WM18). Everyone sort-of knew Rock would beat HHH at Backlash 2000, but there was just enough uncertainty to keep it interesting. Same with Andre-Hogan at WM3.
HarleM HeAt
Pickled pork








Since: 23.3.02
From: Nova Scotia,Canada

Since last post: 3677 days
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ICQ:  
#17 Posted on
i thought that the eddie -cena segament and match form this weeks SD was good example of storytelling as in they made the reason for cena to challenge eddie was for the belt. no bad blood he just wants the us title. but at the end of there 1st meeting cena F-Us him on the tire, leaves him bloody, and still wants the belt. now there certainly will be bad blood and a good feud can be made.





Fuckin' rights, I already got half a fuckin' buzz on
oldschoolhero
Knackwurst








Since: 2.1.02
From: nWo Country

Since last post: 1900 days
Last activity: 1834 days
#18 Posted on
The Invasion storyline failed simply because the execution of it absolutely blew. The outside companies shouldn't have been depicted as one block of faces or one block of heels, but a layered organisation just like the WWF was. Turning the entirety of WCW into the bad guys was a sure-fire way of reducing the company to "just another angle" status. The Invasion was a time for massive, never-seen-before things to happen-new announcers, Raw being lost to WCW, an absence of soap opera McMahon theatrics, etc. But because it was about Vince Vs. Shane right from the start, things never even got off the ground.

The other major problem was, as mentioned, the lack of knowledge the WWF fans had of the WCW superstars. That could have so easily been remedied by the WWF putting some of their exemplary video editors onto the task of knocking together intro packages for the major players-images from famous matches, interview snippets, historical chitchats, ec. Instead they were thrown out there was no backstory, no heat, no nothing. All they had to rely on was residual heat from being associated with Shane 'n' Steph. And Vince was SURPRISED that it failed?



And Lo, The Urine Shall Flow Freely In The Aisles, As Small Children And Frail Old Ladies Flee Before The Brutality, The Might, The Sheer Viciousness...Of ~EVIL COACH~!

jwrestle
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Since: 4.4.03
From: Nitro WV

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Y!:
#19 Posted on
Nowadays the key elements are a few good twists and turns. Mainly right ones because something screwy will make people run for the hills. Mainly the most important thing is the PAYOFF. If we don't see who we want at the end to win we simply turn off our TV. Genric enough? I think everybody else has covered the bases here.



This is getting annoying now isn't it?
Banned Once! The independant thought alarm went off, knew to much about b*tching.
FMW
Salami








Since: 3.1.02
From: Niagara Falls ONT. Canada

Since last post: 3179 days
Last activity: 2815 days
#20 Posted on
I'm going to use a short paragraph that Meltzer wrote in an Observer a while back to describe current IWA Puerto Rico booker Dutch Mantell (this is paraphrasing a bit):

"Mantell's angles are old school, slow building, and highly predictable. That's why he is the most successfull booker on the planet today."



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