Professional wrestling is, and will always be, one the premier social, entertaining spectacles in our society. The masked-luchadore, the 500 pound hairball, even the beautiful valets at ringside. The glitz, the glamour, and the spotlight. Every man that steps in the ring knows their duty; to perform in front of capacity crowds while enveloping each fan in the stands with a passion and characteristic of self-worth. The reassurance that even in a world where entropy seems destined to live, the good shall always prevail. The actors and playwrights in the drama explode through the camera using various different techniques or styles, which present each as having a “unique” quality to them. These artistic styles can be classified into one of the following categories: Technical, Lucha Libre or High-Flying, and Ground Grappling.
Until the break of 1980, wrestling was primarily a big man’s game. Sheer strength and intensity ruled the ring, forcing smaller wrestlers to take the extra leap to make a name for them. The real main-eventers were the Bruno Sammartinos, and the Bob Backlunds, and Killer Kowalskis. Men like Bret”Hitman”Hart, Tito Santana, Ricky Steamboat, and the “Macho King”Randy Savage had to add more excitement to their style due to the lack of strength. What they would devise became the most popular ring structure for over 15 years. Technical wrestling is best characterized by faster, moving
confrontations with endurance to the end. A good technical wrestler, such as Bret Hart, will use a series of fast-paced moves that don’t take much strength but rather his opponents’ momentum. He will use the ropes to give him more speed but he isn’t clumsy on the rebound. He’s quick to counter just about anything and he definitely isn’t afraid of taking his attack to the next level, such as ascending the turnbuckles. He will take risks but he can usually access second and third winds when endurance becomes an issue. The technical wrestler has a keen sense of his surrounding environment, and because he is always alert he usually finds himself controlling the situation.
Lucha Libre in Spanish means, “free fight.” And in the wrestling world it is just that, a “free fight.” The idea of high-flying was first realized in Mexico and Japan and became a very hot commodity in the mid-90’s. Beating your opponent using the most high-risk maneuvers gave the lighter wrestlers a chance to contend with the biggest stars. A high-flyer is best defined as a wrestler who spends at least 80% of the match in the air, on the turnbuckles, and in the ring using very rapid movements. Acceleration in the attack becomes simply vital to his defense. A flyer can usually be put out of the match with one vicious blow or grapple move. He will put his own body on the line to produce more punishing moves. The Lucha Libre art form has no doubt taken America by surprise and has become the most exciting style used in the ring. Men like the Killer Bees, the Rockers, and the late great Owen Hart developed a style that has transcended and is being emulated by today’s Rey Mysterio Jr., Billy Kidman, the Hardy Boyz, and possibly the greatest wrestler of all time, Shawn Michaels.
The next style is the Grapple or Ground/Mat Wrestling. Best demonstrated and most often used by wrestlers, whom possess huge amounts of strength, the Grapple form
can be very appropriate. This is the style that truly caught the crowds attention from the early 1930’s, when wrestling was still a baby, to about the mid-to-late 1970’s. Guys like
The aforementioned Sammartino and Andre the Giant began their illustrious world title reigns using straight on power moves. They would devastate their opposition with a fury of hard blows to the head. Then when the time was right, they could utilize such moves as the Suplex, and Bearhug to finish them off. In today’s ring, truth to be told that it is much harder to find the “Supermen” of the 60’s. The younger guys have taken over the sport with a variety of innovations and top turnbuckle moves. Because of this, the excitement once felt from a 350 pound heavyweight dropping his opponent with a clothesline is just not there. Today, even the biggest guys in the ring (which by the way are over 500 and 600 pounds) are the quickest and most agile. They usually use this unknown quickness to pick apart a confused opponent. Rikishi, also known as Fatu the Samoan, is clearly over 400 pounds and yet he still scales to the top rope and his also flexible even to execute a Superkick. The land of the giant has deteriorated yes, but because the giant can adapt to the changing forms, he can still reign supreme.
So there you have it. The wrestling world is full of new and great things. Even as we speak, wrestling is constantly changing. With the increase in salary and contracts, backstage politics have risen to an all-time high, making it so very vital that each wrestler
Whether you’re a technical wrestler or a high-flyer; if you’re a ground grappler or a wrestler who likes specialty matches, such as weapons and death matches; the objective is always the same: to make a name for yourself so you know in your heart that every fan in attendance has paid for a ticket just to see you perform for them. The passion is where it was 20 years ago, if not more now. You’ll just have to keep tuning in to see which direction and which styles take shape in the ever-changing world of professional wrestling.