The 5 Star Truth: Styles Clash

Mike Steele

No, this is not a column solely based on A.J. Styles’ finisher. This column is about the appreciation of the many various styles of wrestling. This column is about acknowledging the different types of wrestling and how fans put values on each style. You see, I feel that each different style of wrestling has its place and therefore should not be outcast. To be more specific, many fans of technical wrestling and/or high flying action can’t stand to watch brawlers such as John Cena and Batista wrestle. They label them as “talentless”. While I can certainly see that Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio utilize a style that takes more talent and effort, I don’t believe that John Cena and Batista have useless wrestling styles. Form follows function. Just like every character has a purpose, so too should their wrestling style follow along the same lines.

When you get the feel for Rey Mysterio, you think of a lightweight, someone who is fast and clever perhaps. He can get himself out of a jam in the blink of an eye. His wrestling style matches this perception and enhances it. He flies around the ring and performs amazing feats of athleticism with complex maneuvers and lightning fast counters. This is not only what we like, but what we expect. When we see a giant such as the Big Show we perceive someone who is not so quick but has a dominating strength that outweighs the lack of wit and quickness. We don’t expect Big Show to perform a hurricanrana to gain the advantage in a match because he doesn’t need to. His best weapon is his strength and leverage of size. Rey Mysterio NEEDS to use his quickness and agility to combat others who may be bigger and stronger or even use a similar style to his own.

Some wrestlers are actually quite good as mat technicians but as time goes on and they find their niche, they adjust their style to their character. John Cena used to use more takedown maneuvers and had a mat based style. But as his gimmick has evolved he has become more of a brawler, using his punches to literally beat down his opponent, which further shows what a “thug” he is. Obviously someone like Batista is not on the level of Kurt Angle when it comes to maneuvering around the ring and using ring psychology. But Batista has a strength of his own in that he can power out of anything that Kurt Angle could throw at him. This is his way to survive. There are many types of species of animals on this planet. Though different, they have each found a way to survive. In nature there is no right or wrong when it comes to what works, just so long as it does. Why should it be any different in wrestling?

As long as a wrestler has a natural charisma, knows how to work a match, can tell a story in the ring, and makes a strong connection with the crowd, why should it matter what style he uses? I believe that the lack of respect for big wrestlers these days is unfounded. As soon as a big wrestler debuts he is immediately jumped on by the fans. One example is Gene Snitsky. I personally feel that Gene Snitsky knows how to work a match and a crowd very well. His matches with Kane were fantastic. He has an entertaining character and has been able to establish a great deal of heat. On the other hand, Tyson Tomko has often botched his matches and lacks any sort of a character at all so far. But the point is, big isn’t bad. There are many different styles of wrestling such as high flying, brawling, mat based/technical, and many more. Each category has the potential to have amazing matches and horrible matches. Undertaker and JBL wrestled in a brawling style and had a couple of great matches during their feud. Batista and JBL however have not. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe had an amazing fast paced/high flying match at Unbreakable. Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, and Petey Williams had an absolutely pathetic match on IMPACT! this past Saturday. While I understand that each fan has their individual preference as to which type of match they would rather watch, I don’t think fans truly respect the entire spectrum of styles like they truly deserve to be respected.

While watching the ladder match between Edge and Matt Hardy just a little while ago on RAW Homecoming, I was thinking to myself that Edge’s dive onto Hardy through the table would have been so much cooler if he had done some sort of flip first. But I realized that yeah, it would be cool, but it wouldn’t be Edge. That’s not Edge’s personal style. He is more of a grounded wrestler that happens to be able to include high risk maneuvers when the opportunity arises. As we have all learned from Austin’s “turned up a notch” persona, wrestlers are at their best when they are being true to themselves. We don’t need to have high flying big men. Kane doesn’t need to be doing a shooting star press. There has been plenty of back and forth criticism about brawlers who are too stiff and can’t work a match and high flyers who make a match look ridiculous by using too many high spots in one match. But the real issue is not about the style itself, but how each individual match is structured and worked. Wrestling would truly be suffering if any of the current styles disappeared. So please, don’t discriminate as a wrestling fan. Judge each match fairly, not based on who you usually don’t like as a wrestler or what style the match is performed in. Be opened minded to the entire spectrum. You will be able to enjoy the full card of a wrestling show much easier that way.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike Steele

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