WWE: I May Not Know Wrestling Art, But I Know What I Like by Matt Corton

TJR Wrestling

I was eight once. It’s how I got to nine. The main thing I remember about being eight was, very little indeed left me nonplussed. I saw lots of amazing things that changed my world on an almost daily basis like the Transformers movie, stepping into the middle of a wasp nest and learning that Santa Claus was most definitely real and everybody was too stupid to realise it, the poor, poor things.

I also remember seeing something amazing. I remember watching a hero trying to slay a giant. Now I’ve openly admitted that I’m a newbie wrestling watcher in the sense that I didn’t really enjoy it as a kid. That said, I was on the world in 1987, when I was eight, so I did hear the slam.

The match in question was a terrible match. I believe a review-slinger known some about these parts gave it a solitary * out of five. I knew nothing about anything when I was eight let alone wrestling and thought that moment was awesome, but then I watched it again last night and I still think it’s awesome. I definitely know something about something now and I’m not eight. Yet that match is still in my top 3 moments ever. I learned the lesson that day that if you try you can do the impossible. The moment was the match in and of itself – it didn’t need to be a **** classic.

Nowadays, a lot more things make me feel nonplussed, like how I’m left nonplussed by an entirely insignificant Night of Champions and it makes me think of my ivy plant.

This ivy plant sits on the windowsill in my living room. It’s just a small one, in a pot, with a single ivy tendril stretching out not up the window, but out into the room like Pinocchio’s nose – and I say that because I swear sometimes I can see it growing. To prove to you that I do my research for these articles, I measured this piece of ivy and it stands at a proud eleven inches.

Now, having an eleven-inch piece of ivy sticking out into your living room might not be to everyone’s tastes. It’s certainly not to my fiancée’s, who keeps asking me to chop it off or plant it outside or something, anything, other than just leave it on the windowsill mindlessly tending to it every now and then.

The thing is, that’s what WWE seems to be doing with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. They seem to be leaving it dangling there wondering whether it’s going to grow viewers for them. When that title sort of went missing from a lot of shows we forgave that, because the champion at the time was the sort of man who probably could take high tea with the Wyatts and be safe. He also gave us awesome matches, didn’t he?

Yet the belt was just dangling there until Seth nicked it off him, much to Brock’s annoyance, and it returned home to the Authority, who seem to have been doing the same thing as me with my ivy – mindlessly tending to it every now and then by throwing the odd challenger in here and there who hasn’t really earned it. Kane hasn’t earned a title shot. Sting hadn’t earned a title shot. You don’t seem to need to do much to earn a title shot. From the reports that despite mounting mainstream media it looks like this approach isn’t working and it’s not working because this approach isn’t to everyone’s tastes – once again, just like my ivy.

Seth Rollins

My ivy is not significant. Seth’s title reign has not been significant. The thing is, my ivy isn’t mean to be significant, it’s meant to be ivy. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is meant to be significant. It’s meant to be the be all and end all. It should be about great feuds for the title, great builds, great matches and great moments. Only it seems to be just about having great matches and trying to let the rest take care of itself, or having some cursory story tacked on.

Matches aren’t enough when you have a title. Just having great matches and nothing else is lazy. It leaves me entertained but nonplussed.

Seth has had great matches with John Cena, a great WrestleMania ending with Brock and Roman, a great match with Dean Ambrose and some great attempts at some show-stopping moments. Seth started his reign with a bang, winning the title at Wrestlemania. He’s had interaction with Jon Stewart, a big moment for WWE in mainstream media. He’s now been dragged to hell, the poor lamb. Yet since that first big bang, Seth’s evolution has been a whimper filled with great matches but not great moments.

It does work the other way around. You can have great moments with some truly awful matches. Things don’t always have to be good to be good. Things can be momentous while containing little or no substance.

Flicking back in my mind to when I flicked back on to wrestling in the Attitude Era, you can take 2002 as another example. A match that I rate as my favourite match ever because of what it meant and that meaning was that I went from a dabbler, flicking in and out of watching wrestling, to being hooked from that day on.

rock hogan handshake

The Rock and Hulk Hogan had mainlined me with just a stare down and I didn’t want to go to rehab. I learned it was good to give in and let an addiction develop once in a while. Not a great match, but a great moment and it was great because it felt big.

There are many other moments like this. Bret putting the Sharpshooter on Vince in 2010 came in a terrible, awful match, but you wanted to see Vince lose and lose like that. Bret’s hand being raised in victory was enough to make that a great moment.

I remember the anger that burst forth into the world when Sheamus kicked Bryan in the face in 2012. Not a moment people liked perhaps – but a great moment. When Sheamus won in 18 seconds, it was the first time I saw my flatmate, who didn’t like wrestling but was watching with us, mark out. To him, that was how a finisher should be, like a heavyweight’s punch. It’s so devastating that you can win just like that in the first round or in the eleventh.

I hated it – I wanted to see the match – but I can’t deny it’s a moment.

The Undertaker streak is over

It happened again in 2014, when the Undertaker’s streaking was put to a halt. Everyone stopped at the count of three. We all stopped in my flat – not a single one of us had picked Brock to win in our predictions, we were legitimately speechless. The universe was shocked. It was a shocked face seen around the world. Another bad match. Another great moment.

But where are the moments from Seth that mainline me into the business? To those watching already, having great matches is enough but the numbers of those watching already are waning. The thing is, Seth won the title with such a bang, with such a moment, that it was only ever the loss – when he finally loses it – that was going to be the next moment.

Having terrible matches isn’t always a bad thing. I’d watch all of those five matches again because none of them leave me nonplussed. When Seth loses the title I won’t be nonplussed and perhaps that’s the aim because there’s a common theme in all the matches I mention above. They all occur at the grandest stage of them all. If Seth retains until that grandest stage, then his loss provides the next Wrestlemania moment before anyone has to write a word on a page.

So they’ll probably continue to mindlessly tend to the title every now and then with Kane and probably one more placeholder challenger until the new year, then things will start building.

If I don’t know much about the art of wrestling, I do know what I like. I like moments that make me mark out. I love all of those five terrible matches above just as much as I love Punk v Cena (all of them), Taker v Michaels I and the first TLC. I want to mark out again. I want Seth Rollins to lose the title because I can’t see anything else that is going to be the next moment for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Which is all of no sodding help whatsoever when trying to decide what to do with my ivy.