I wanted to briefly comment on the Flair v Steamboat match that we saw on Monday. Sam asked us how we felt about it and its general status as match of the decade. Superlatives get thrown around a lot in wrestling - and that's understandable when you're trying to promote something - and I don't have the catalog of 80s matches to know how it stacked up. But I think I can say that it was very good. And here's why:
1. Tempo - the match kept going around the ring with very few rest holds or reelings from injury. Those that were there were brief or helped further the idea that one body part was being hurt. Chalk this up to the athleticism of the two.
2. The back and forth - Here I refer to the last 10ish minutes, where it seems that at any point either of the guys could be pinned. There is believability that these two-counts could have been three. This I think adds greatly to the crowd's excitement. But I think that I have seen more recent matches where this has been even better.
3. The inside cradle pin - Flair actually wins with a pretty standard wrestling move, not his figure four leg lock. It is sudden. Now a signature move win can still be dramatic, and good, but this really adds to the idea that this is a sporting competition and not rehearsed. The "amateur wrestling" aspect is evident in other parts of the match as well. It adds believability to the match, and shows despite their personalities, it is their athletic ability that makes them champions. This is a very unique bit. Most matches nowadays use the inside cradle or small package as a cheap/lucky win, where a small guy can get the move off quick and beat a big guy. We now expect the signature moves, and expect the drama and not the sport. (maybe this was more common in the 80s/NWA?)
4. The build up - I at least got from the sense from the promos that this was hyped well. These guys were tailored as main stars (Cena v Umaga today compared to white rapper Cena v Hurricane's sidekick) and it seemed that they did not often square off with each other in the past (as an example of this done wrong, I'm thinking of how TNA immediately matched Kurt Angle v Samoa Joe when they could have made people anticipate it for months) . I imagine if I was a fan in the 80s, this would make me eager to see it. So, good booking.
5. The finality - no run-ins, now illegal victories, no rematch demands with new stipulations. Just a hug, a raised arm, and Ricky Steamboat is out of the picture. Yes, Terry Funk's portion ruins the moment afterwards, but there is a strong sense of closure and dramatic satisfaction from it. A lot of matches now DON'T do this anymore, and I think that has hurt them.
I didn't see much else that made it essentially non-standard fare. As a final point, I have seen matches - I think - that performed these aspects as well as or better than Flair and Steamboat with the possible exception of #3. Lucha libre and table matches sometimes add the extra aspect of "the really cool big spots." But I must give the match credit, having all these aspects at once is something that is rare.