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Daily DeMarco: Do Wins And Losses Matter?

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Macho Man Randy Savage WWE Wins and Losses

Greg DeMarco offers his thoughts on a controversial question in the world of pro wrestling: Do Wins And Losses Matter?

Professional wrestling is based on the carnival act of staging a fight, originally in a boxing ring, and challenging members of the audience to pay for an attempt to knock the big act off, with the promise of winning back a larger portion of money for a win. Eventually someone would win, but they were also part of the show. It was all about the work–from day one.

Wrestling - Sikeston, MO 1938 - 1.jpg

Wrestling in Missouri, circa 1938

But wrestling (minus the “pro”) also has its Olympic roots, as a true competitive sport. In the 1896 Olympics, Carl Schuhmann pinned Georgios Tsitas on the second day of their match, as the first day saw them grapple for 40 minutes before the match was suspended for darkness.

There were five Olympians total in this open weight competition, with Schuhmann scoring the events only pinfalls in both of his matches. Schuhmann was a gymnast, by the way. The four matches in these Olympic games were contested with Greco Roman Rules, but there was no time limit and no scoring. The two non pinfall “finishes” saw one wrestler retiring from the match, and the other ended due to a shoulder injury.

Believed to be a wrestling match from the 1896 Olympics

While completely different in nature, scope, and presentation, both of these early wrestling examples shared one common thread: Wins and Losses Mattered.

What happened?

Wrestling, the professional variety anyway, evolved from its carnival roots to start staging multiple matches, not using audience challengers or plants. Matches were still staged, but the stakes were changed. At first the biggest stake was a championship, with other stakes usually coming in the form of… you guessed it… wins and losses!

The carnival roots still held strong, since early champions tended to be a champion you had to overcome. Fans traveled miles and paid good money to see championships defended in the main event, and men (and sometimes women) battle for wins and losses on the undercard.

Boxing also had an influence on early wrestling, as early boxing was more of a fight. The earliest written rules of boxing that I could find reference to was in 1713, and they included headbutts, chokes, throws, and even eye pokes! Boxing obviously changed, but it established the idea of rankings, championships, and the structure of a card. Wrestling (and later MMA) would take this format on.

But even in eras we are old enough to remember or read/watch, wrestling was still about winning and losing. Even when personal issue was added in as a stake, in the end you got your revenge by making your opponent suffer a loss–not being set on fire, buried alive, being sacrificed to the Gods, etc. Granted, those things are still losses, but they weren’t deemed necessary.

Something else came to the forefront as professional wrestling progressed–it was really a form of entertainment. While being presented as a sport, it was selling because it was an entertaining one.

Again, WHAT HAPPENED?

Well, this answer is easy: Vince McMahon happened. Or more accurately, Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

Vince McMahon had to fight to get into the wrestling business, but you also have to understand why he fell in love it to begin with. When his father took him to his first ever show, he didn’t fall in love with sport. He fell in love with the characters and the showmanship- the larger-than-life characters. “Larger than life” is in his own words, and that’s why it’s so often used to describe the ideal WWE Superstar.

It was Vince McMahon who had to make a balloon payment to his dad and his business partners, a payment that if he missed even by a day, would have meant Vince lost everything. WrestleMania was the gamble that allowed Vince to make that payment. It was seen by 19,000+ at Madison Square Garden, and over a million paying normal ticket prices to watch on closed circuit television.

What made WrestleMania different? Spectacle. Liberace was the timekeeper for the main event. former Yankees manager Billy Martin was the ring announcer. Muhammad Ali the referee. The Rockettes performed in the ring. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T won the main event. It wasn’t built–or sold–on competition. Wins and losses really didn’t matter. It was built on larger-than-life characters performing in a larger-than-life spectacle.

And it allowed Vince McMahon to fully own what would become the WWE we know and love (love to hate?) today. Pushing wins and losses aside allowed the the business’s most powerful figure to take full ownership of the business’s most powerful entity.

Dammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmnnnnn man! That is a huge statement to swallow!

Let it sink in: once Vince McMahon put on an event where wins and losses took a back seat to being a larger-than-life spectacle, the business took off. Once Vince has his moneymaking model, the rest of the business was ripe for the picking. Vince couldn’t have gone national–thus running in others’ territories–without a larger-than-life spectacle. Without Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Roman Reigns. As Vince himself has said, they “broke the mold.”

Once Vince McMahon created Sports Entertainment, there was no looking back. It was about performing first, winning second. Pro wrestling became a show, but more importantly it became about the show. And in some parts of the story, the show would be about Vince McMahon.

The regional territories couldn’t compete with Vince McMahon, and most of them died off. Killing the territories wasn’t Vince McMahon’s intention, but it was a byproduct of his success. He bought a lot of his competitors, paying them handsomely in the process. Others refused to be bought, and that decision was usually futile. Vince McMahon, using Hulk Hogan, had changed the business, and they had to change or get out.

So…do Wins and Losses matter?

Wrestling is a show. The wrestlers in the ring are telling a story, and the best stories have a stake that the performers–and the audience–are invested in. That stake is the biggest part of the story. Sometimes that stake is a championship (or the quest for a championship), other times it’s a personal issue. Rarely do two wrestlers stand face-to-face in the center of the ring, with an invested crowd hanging at each movement, with the main stake simply being a win. And the match is rarely judged on the stake, it’s usually judged on the performance.

That is the biggest way the wrestling business has changed. At their simplest form, wins and losses do not matter. The result of a win or a loss is the true stake, although there are plenty of times where a winner loses in the end. That’s part of the story.

But the importance of a win–or a loss–can be built into the story. It can be sold by the promotion…the performers…the announcers…the fans. It’s a simple principle: the stakes matter. If wins and losses are the stakes, then wins wins and losses matter. When the stakes are something else, wins and losses don’t matter.

That’s why I have coined the phrase that I maintain today: “Wins and Losses don’t matter–except when they matter.

Good Reads On The Chairshot

And that’s it for today’s blog post! Thank you for reading the 7th Daily DeMarco–here’s to many more!

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Daily DeMarco: NXT & NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool Ratings & Review

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Pete Dunne WALTER WWE NXT UK Takeover Blackpool

Greg DeMarco is here with his match ratings for the UK’s first Takeover, WWE NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool!

The WWE’s NXT UK brand presented their first ever Takeover on Saturday, from the place it all started, The Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. The

  • Zack Gibson & James Drake defeated Mustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) in 23:43 to become the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions – ****3/4

This match was fantastic. I can’t speak enough to it. It built to the third act, which delivered in a big way. All four men had their strengths highlighted, and their weaknesses used against them. Zack Gibson and Trent Seven did an amazing job directing traffic, and all four sold like champs in this match.

I noticed one thing that sets this match apart. The tag team offense came as a result of communication. It wasn’t automatic. This felt real, and is the type of thing that could reinvent tag team wrestling again for WWE. Kudos to everyone involved.

  • Finn Balor pinned Jordan Devlin in 11:51 with the Coup De Grace – ***1/2

The rating here is for the entire story, including Travis Banks’ pre-match attack on Jordan Devlin that led him being helped to the back, and Finn Balor being introduced as “Plan B.”

Balor and Devlin put on a storytelling classic, with Balor taking the early advantage, and Devlin being at his cheating best to steal that advantage back. The match itself was “shorter” than you’d expect, but Balor is a former Universal Champion and is poised for a big 2019. Devlin still looked great in the loss, and this could be a thread in NXT UK over the next year.

By the way, Devlin’s Yanking Backdrop Driver is amazing.

  • Eddie Dennis beat Dave Mastiff in a No Disqualification Match at 10:48 – **1/2

The shortest match on the card, and it only took a few minutes for the stairs to end up in the ring, a Kendo Stick to be wielded, and the mats to be removed from the floor. Maybe it’s the over-used stipulation, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t offensive, but compared to other matches of this style we’ve seen over the past year, this one fell short.

  • Toni Storm pinned Rhea Ripley to win the NXT UK Women’s Championship in 14:48 – ***

A good match, yes. But it was lacking in some areas, sloppy in others, and slow still in others. That showed in the crowd, too, as they were lowest for this match (unless people were kicking out of finishers). Even the applause seemed to be more polite than passionate.

They still popped huge for the finish, as Toni Storm is one of the most likable people around. Not in the business, but in the entire world. I also think the right person won, on this night, but Rhea Ripley (who was possibly champion due to injuries to others) has the potential to be a legendary WWE performer.

  • Pete Dunne forced Joe Coffey to submit to retain the WWE United Kingdom Championship in 34:13 – ***1/2

Joe Coffey has always looked like an ultra-talented Jim Neidhart, but damn is he good. I kinda wish he won this match, because he would make one hell of a heel champion. Sadly, it’s Pete Dunne’s time in NXT UK.

This match was decidedly equal. Coffey looked like a star, and the two botches actually worked for this match. Dunne won via submission, which he’s done a few times recently. After the finish we saw the NXT UK debut of WALTER, and I half worry that he’ll be given the championship right away.  Not that he won’t make a great champion, but I’d like to see more of a build.

Overall this was a great first Takeover outing for NXT UK. It wasn’t perfect, but it set the table for this great brand. I think it’s my favorite brand at the moment, and I can’t wait for what they do next.

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Daily DeMarco: Could Finn Balor Win The Royal Rumble?

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WWE Finn Balor

After campaigning for Aleister Black to win the 2019 WWE Royal Rumble, Greg DeMarco is now wondering out loud about Finn Balor and his chances in the big match.

After a day of backend issues for the site, I am excited to focus on bringing the written word to you, the readers! IT’s frustrating when the only thing that won’t work is the button to add a new article! We got it fixed, and have a great slate of content coming out.

So let’s focus on what’s good, and that’s

Could Finn Balor win the Royal Rumble?

We are just a few short weeks away from the 2019 Royal Rumble, where two people will punch their ticket to the theoretical main event of WrestleMania. Now I fully expect Charlotte Flair to win the Women’s Rumble, and stake her claim at a shot at Ronda Rousey at MetLife Stadium, possibly closing out the yearly spectacle. It’s what I believe will happen, it’s what I want to happen, and it’s what I think should happen.

So what about the Men’s Royal Rumble? As 2018 comes to a close, WWE hasn’t positioned any front runners to challenge for Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship or Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35. Without any obvious challengers, the Royal rumble match itself is wide open.

I previously suggested WWE should go with a surprise winner in Aleister Black. I stand by it, as the company would be provided 2.5 months to build Black as the challenger for either Daniel Bryan or Brock Lesnar, and a win would solidify him on the main roster for years to come. But if it’s not Black, then who?

There is a good list of potential Royal Rumble winners, many of whom I can go into further detail about in the coming weeks:

  • Seth Rollins
  • Drew McIntyre
  • AJ Styles

Another candidate? Finn Balor.

And in my opinion, Finn Balor is the most intriguing option here. He was the first ever Universal Champion, which gives him a built in storyline against Brock Lesnar. For me, that raises the obvious question of if Finn Balor is credible against Brock Lesnar.

The answer is equally obvious: of course he is.

This has nothing to do with Finn being the first ever Universal Champion, as a champion like Brock Lesnar transcends wins and losses. Brock is a beast–a Beast Incarnate in fact. But Finn Balor has the equalizer: The Demon.

The Demon has never lost in WWE, but it’s also never faced a foe quite like Brock Lesnar. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for Lesnar to get the first win over Finn Balor’s Demon, but I don’t think that happens. WWE loves creating history, and keeping The Demon undefeated can play into the history of Finn Balor.

If The Demon is to beat The Beast at WrestleMania, is it The Demon that wins the Royal Rumble? If I’m holding the book, the answer is yes. Imagine this… The Demon enters the Royal Rumble at #1, lasting all the way to the end. Maybe he enters the final two with John Cena, who is of course seeking one more championship reign to break his tie with Ric Flair. Balor overcomes the legend, building his own in the process.

But that does more than elevate Finn Balor. Going through nearly 60-minutes of a Royal Rumble would wear away most if not all of The Demon paint, nearly humanizing The Demon and creating a greater link between Finn and his alter ego. It also adds a new element to the power of the paint, and the power of the man himself.

As WWE looks to (at least claims to) usher in a new era, Finn Balor is a great option to lead the charge. He has everything you want–look, charisma, skill. He has the all-important “it factor,” which you can’t instill in someone. Either they have it, or they don’t.

The title of this article asks if Finn Balor can win the Royal Rumble. For me, it’s really between AJ Styles and Finn Balor as my pick for the Royal Rumble. Finn Balor presents the greatest upside, and gains the most. Thus, the answer to the question…is yes.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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