Excuse me for being late to the party, but we’ve got a controversy on our hands that needs to be discussed. For those that are also late, let me fill you in. Will Ospreay and Ricochet (aka Prince Puma in Lucha Underground) had a match on May 27th in Korakuen Hall as a part of the Battle of Super Juniors tournament. After said match, a couple .gif files went viral from the match and the IWC’s heads all exploded. However, as you see in the tweet below and as they always say, no good deed goes unpunished. Legends (like Vader) and fans alike killed the two participants for being too choreographed and not enough selling or story telling.
I finally got around to watching the match today. I had an idea how I would feel about it even before watching it, and now that I’ve seen it in its entirety, I was validated in my thoughts. Vader may be saddened to see where wrestling is headed, but I couldn’t have a bigger smile on my face about where it’s headed. Personally, I’m kinda tired of five minute Rusev vs. Jack Swagger or Alberto Del Rio vs. Zack Ryder squash matches. This match is a breath of fresh air. Sure, some of these spots are telegraphed, but who cares? This match is AMAZING. This style will be pro wrestling in 5 years, all throughout. So everyone should just get used to it now anyways. What’s most important though, you know who else felt this way? The crowd. Japanese crowds are respectful by nature and hard to pop, but these two guys accomplished that feat more than once in 20 minutes. That’s impressive and does not go unnoticed by me.
I could copy and paste tweets all night that speak to both sides of the situation. (Hint, only one side is right) But, I wanted to focus on these two tweets from Ricochet. He really drops the mic on this issue, especially with the points about wrestling being an art form. I personally am not a fan of the death match genre of wrestling. There are plenty of fans that will worship the Terry Funk vs. Sabu No Ropes, Barbed Wire match from ECW until the day they die. I’ve seen it once and that was once too many. It’s not for me. However, I can respect and understand why that resonates with certain fans and why they’re all in.
I grew up on Jim Crockett Promotions, and just because this isn’t Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, doesn’t mean bad. Times change. Styles change. In 30 years from now, this match could be looked at the way those matched of the late 1980’s were. One of the most favored matches in WrestleMania history is Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania 3. This match could also be the most choreographed match of all time as it’s well known that Savage made Steamboat memorize the match move for move and sequence for sequence. Does that make you think any less of the match? If it does, I respect your opinion, but it shouldn’t. In a business where the ultimate goal of wins and losses is predetermined, what does it matter how many moves on the way to said finish are predetermined and staged themselves?
The Stephen Curry comparison is also very well spoken. I think that is the perfect comparison. For my money, it’s hard to argue that anyone pound for pound is more exciting and entertaining than Ricochet is. He does things that defy logic. (Ospreay to his credit in this match did as well, but this was the first time I was able to see an Ospreay match and I’m much more familiar with Ricochet’s work. My apologies if it feels like I’m only focusing on one half of the match.) I personally love Steph Curry. I think he’s the best thing that has come along in the NBA since Kobe Bryant. My dad hates him though. He has been telling me for the last 24 hours that the NBA is rigged and that’s how Golden State came back against Oklahoma City. He hates him that much. Both my parents have been watching wrestling since before I was born, and I have a feeling much like dad’s feelings on Curry, they would feel the same negativity towards the likes of Ricochet and Ospreay. I feel confident about this because my mom has already told me that Finn Balor is far too small to take seriously and my dad hates A.J. Styles cause “he looks like a girl.”
I wish I was kidding.
That’s the fine line that this new age of wrestlers walk. As I stated above, I feel these type of matches are going to be the norm in five years. WWE will be filled with matches like these. Imagine a WrestleMania 37 main event of Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor. It will be just as fast paced, frenetic, and high spots sequenced. If you go back 15 years ago, we were all worried that the business was going to die because finishing moves didn’t finish matches anymore and there would be four Stunners and five Rock Bottoms in a single match. All that time later, that’s still an issue, yet the quality of matches are arguably better than ever. The Young Bucks get all sorts of heat for their work and overuse of past catchphrases and gimmicks, along with the complete gluttony of Superkicks used. You know what else they get? Money. A lot of it. Ricochet and Ospreay are well on their way to earning the same.
If it’s not your style, that’s fine, I understand. However, anyone that feels this match is killing the business should just stop watching now. You won’t want to see the “massacre” that’s to come. It’s going to be a bloodbath. Ricochet and Ospreay may have opened Pandora’s Box for the business, and there’s no way to close it now. I’ve had numerous non-wrestling fans tweet me or text me, asking about the .gifs that have gone viral and where it’s from. People are going to want to see what they can do next. They are going to want to see other wrestlers of their stature to play the game of, “Can you top that?” I for one, cannot wait to see what’s next. WWE may be branding themselves The New Era now, but the true New Era of wrestling is taking place across the Pacific and working its way stateside. I hope someone gets the likes of Vader a pair of sunglasses, because the future of pro wrestling is so bright, you’re gonna need to wear shades.
New Japan, very smartly capitalizing on the popularity of this match and conversation revolving it, has put the complete match up online for everyone to view free of charge. I’ve attached the match below for anyone to see and make their own opinions.