The Art of an Ewrestling Match
There are several ways to write a wrestling match. Some work with summary format, where they simply explain what happened in the match. This is a quick, simple way to get a match down, and I won’t talk much about it because like I said, it is quick and simple, and not too much thinking has to be put into it. Even the greatest matches can be cut into one paragraph of explanation. There is also commentary style, where everything is by the words of the commentators. I will cover this, and much of its qualities can apply to this tutorial, but my experience and ability in commentary writing isn’t high. Finally, you have the novel approach, writing a match in third person limited perspective, detailing every move and reaction of the crowd. This is most common in the E-Wrestling circles I’ve ventured, and the most common style I’ve worked with. Done wrong, it can be one long army of words that mean little until the last line. Done right, it can be a beautiful short story, with twists, turns, back story, cause and effect, and the end justifying the means. To write a good E-Wrestling match means to write a good short story. Interesting enough, the E-Wrestling match doesn’t follow the free form of a short story. It actually follows the fixed form of essay writing. Though not too many people realize this, this is one of the reasons it scares off many writers.
The qualities of an essay are:
– Introduction (Opening the essay topic)
– Thesis Statement (Stating what is to be answered)
– First Paragraph (Strong point #1)
– Second Paragraph (Strongest Point #2)
– Third Paragraph (Stronger Point #3)
– Conclusion (Summary)
– Re-statement of Thesis (Re-state thesis to prove answer)
In E-Wrestling matches, the format is:
– Introduction (Wrestler Entrances)
– Thesis Statement (The actual match. “Singles match between _ and _”)
– First Paragraph (The start of the match. Tie ups, hip tosses, etc. what moves the match to transition into the body)
– Second Paragraph (The body of the match. This is the most important point of the match, where what occurs is the means to the result)
– Third paragraph (The finale to the match. This is where the ending to the match occurs. The strongest holds and the climax occurs here)
– Conclusion (What happens once and after the bell is rung and the result is placed)
– Re-statement of Thesis (The result to the match. “Who won the Singles match between _ and _?” “_ defeated _ by _).
Once broken down like this, you can find a pattern in nearly every wrestling match you’ve watched. Sometimes, they changed where momentum is placed. Ever since the WWF Attitude era ushered in, “Sudden finishes” became popular, with wrestlers such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and Mankind using out of nowhere signature moves to finish off their opponent, nullifying whatever happened in the start and body of the match. Booking the ending to be the heavy part of the show can cause fans to lose interest in the body of the match. In E-Wrestling, the same is common. If there is nothing attaching the first two paragraphs to the final paragraph, you run into viewers who don’t read the entire match anymore, they just read the ending. Due to this, everything you had written before becomes meaningless. You should have just repeated the same arm lock over and over, until getting to that last paragraph. The way to reverse this is to make sure that unless the reader reads the body of the match, they’ll never understand why the finish occurred. To make sure the reader pays attention to the start of the match, you have to make sure the reader will never understand how the body of the match turned the way it did, and subsequently the finish of the match happened as such, until they read the starting paragraph. This allows the reader to go from start to finish, and be satisfied that the ends justify the means.
What does this mean, exactly? It means that what happens in the match, has to make sense by the ending. This is called the ring story. It would be best if I use two professional wrestling examples:
Kurt Angle matches: When Kurt Angle is wrestling a match, you’ll see that in the majority of it, he will work his opponents neck or back. He’ll use several german suplexes, belly to belly suplex variations, or neck cranks. However, around the conclusion to the match, he’ll immediately try to lock on an ankle lock for the win. If he does win with the ankle lock, the end did not justify the means. His back and neck work did not mean anything to the finish of the match.
Bret Hart matches: When Bret Hart is wrestling a match, you’ll see that his main focuses is on working his opponents back and legs. His leg work is usually late in the match, and includes everything from regular leg kicks to the ringpost figure four leglock (greatest wrestling move ever). His back work is dispersed throughout the match, from the Russian legsweep to the side backbreaker. This is to culminate to the Sharpshooter, which primarily works the back from hyper extention, to the legs pretzelled between Bret’s. If he does win with the Sharpshooter, the end did justify the means. He wore his opponents legs and back enough to be able to cause them to give up the match. The work he did throughout this match had a purpose.
However, there is more to the end justifying the means in what manuevers the wrestlers in the match use. Every wrestling match has the possibility of two stories being told: One in what they do, and another in what surrounds what they do. This is called the match story. The difference is the ring story is about what they do in the ring, while the match story is why they do what they do in the ring. The greatest example of a match story is this:
Steve Austin vs. The Rock, Wrestlemania X-7: The match story was asking what lengths both men would go to become the WWF World Champion, and who wanted and desired the main event win and the Title more. The Rock had never defended the WWF World Title against Austin at Wrestlemania, let alone defeat him. Back then, he was young and cocky, but now he is smart and determined, and quite possibly the true number one in the company. Steve Austin had left for a while and returned to find The Rock as the biggest star in the company, as well a much smarter, capable wrestler. Austin had won the Royal Rumble for a reason: to become WWF World Champ. He desired the belt, he craved it, it was his life. Austin said he would do whatever it takes to beat The Rock. In the match, Austin showed he had the more desire in what he would do: He would use early Stone Cold Stunners, he would use the Rock Bottom, he would cheat, he would use the Million Dollar Dream, he would even use the Stun gun to do whatever it took to finally put down The Rock. However, Rock showed his desire by kicking out of everything Austin threw at him, and throw a bunch of his own. It took one man selling out to everything he believed in, and selling out to the one man he hated the most, in Vince McMahon, to seal his win at Wrestlemania X-7. Austin sold his soul, the pinnacle proof of desire, to win.
For those who remember this match, it was in no way an intellectual technical affair. It was a brawl, but a well laid out, intelligent brawl. The purpose wasn’t to wear down a body part, but to wear down an entire human with everything you know how to do. Despite the ring story being weak in those terms, the match story was flawless. Now, can a match story and ring story exist at the same time, and both be strong? Of course, but it takes a lot of thinking, a lot of planning and preparation, and a good amount of building plans, to execute such a thing. A match which contains both ring story and match story (Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at Wrestlemania X or Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIII) are usually considered some of the greatest matches of all time.
Now let me break down tips for each section of an E-Wrestling match:
Regularly, this is the most repetitive part of writing a match. They usually begin the same way, with music and the wrestler coming down the ramp, then his opponent entering, some jaw jacking and posing, then the bell rings. Usually, this is what detracts someone from getting into writing their matches. Things immediately begin boring, writing something you’ve written many times before. If writing the entrances does set you off track, then skip it and move directly into after the bell rings. This allows your creative juices to immediately run, and you can work on the exterior later.
A good introduction is not too lengthy. If it fills more then a half of a page, you are way over and just wasting your reader’s time. Writing the lyrics in which are said in the theme song is a good way to space the introduction out, but do not over-do it. Displaying anything over 6 lines is overkill. To add originality, if you know that the body of your match will contain the opponent working the leg or head, having the wrestler coming down walking with a slight lean or moving gingerly, or constantly cracking his neck, are good ways to give off soft hints on what will occur in the match following. Try to move things allow at an elevated pace, so your reader can quickly get into the start of the match. Unless you are including something along the lines of a pre-match attack, spending too much time writing the entrance does no-one a favour.
Due to the format of most E-Wrestling cards, the thesis is stated at the top. However, if rules are needed to be said, or you are working on a commentator writing style, stating what the match is, is important. Referring to any history along the lines of past matches, past interactions and/or what is on the line is good, but again, keep it short. However, do not pass on mentioning that disqualifications or countouts are in effect if that becomes the result of the match. It is good to at least keep it fresh in the mind of your reader.
It should be good right now for me to state that “First paragraph” is just to keep in conjunction with an e-wrestling matches similarities to essay writing. The first part of a match does not have to be just one paragraph, and it is good to separate when a transition of what occurs is in effect, so that the reader doesn’t become intimidated by one large block of writing. They can now comfortably read through several small paragraphs instead of one monster.
The first paragraph is a way to introduce who is in the ring (with exception to the referee, unless he/she plays an important role in the outcome). In terms of plot structure, the first paragraph allows the reader to become familiar with who the wrestlers are (called the “introduction” on a plot graph). Their styles are usually revealed in how they set up tie ups, locks, tosses and running the ropes. You should be easy to tell if you are watching two brawlers, or a luchador and a mat tactician, or an untrained wrestler with a power choad (Think David Arquette vs. Ultimate Warrior). Similar to the entrance, the first paragraph should simply get the reader into what is going on. Usually, wrestlers are shown as even skilled competitors until an advantage is taken. On a plot graph, this would be called the “inciting force”. The inciting force in a match can be everything from a miscalculated mistake (ex. Ken Shamrock tries to execute a belly to belly Suplex, but is blocked, and then given an Ace Crusher by Ron Killings), finding the opponents weak spot (ex. After taking a set of hip tosses, Wretch kicks up at Frenchie, hitting him in the forehead as Pierre falls down to the mat. Wretch realizes that Frenchie has a weak head since his previous match, when Scott Slugger gave him a baseball bat shot), the heel cheating (ex. Eugene cranks back for a big Backlund-esque punch, but Ric Flair stabs him in the eye with his thumb) or simply hitting the power move first (Ex. Xias catches High Flyer and drops him with a hard spinebuster to the mat). It would be best to use whatever move they do use to move into the body of the match, that it is NOT a transitional move (Unless it is a cheating tactic such as an eye gouge or low blow). The character taking the advantage should use what will be the purpose to the ending of the match, and the majority of their focused arsenal in the body of the match. Wanting to end the match with a moonsault? Hit them with a flying body press to move into your body work, so that you can carefully work down their stomach/chest area to add maximum impact to that moonsault. Some things not to do:
A) Transitional moves. A transitional move can be anything, since it is simply used to move into what is important (Ex. If Wrestler A is focusing on Wrestler B’s back, you can use a clothesline to get them down to the mat to execute the surfboat without the focus on the offence being broken). You can use a transitional move however if it is cheating (low blow, eye gouge, closed fist in a pure match, etc.)
B) Signature moves. A signature move is something your character always uses, and the fans expect it. Signatures moves are the little “exemptions” into what a wrestler can use without it breaking their body work too badly. Since fans come to see those signature moves, they can be allowed, but to use it to move into the body of the work makes the reader believe that is what they’ll target. If the wrestler goes on the advantage by using their “dancing side kick”, but then works the offence by slamming their back, it hurts the fluidity from the First Paragraph to the Second Paragraph.
C) Early Finisher attempts. If the opponent is trying to use their finishing move early and reversing/capitalizing on them missing or being unable is how you transition into the body of the match, it will then be expected for the opponent to get that finishing move off sometime in the match. Having them continually miss will make them look weak and amateur, and being hit with the finisher and kicking out does the same damage. Unless the plan for the match is for that finisher to connect later on and win the match, avoid this being you’re inciting force.
This is the meat of the match. This is where the majority of moves will be executed, and where the story is written. On a plot graph, this is the rising action. Whoever took the advantage from the First Paragraph should be allowed a solid amount of time to wear down their opponent in hopes of defeating them. Unlike the First Paragraph, there is no “inciting force” so a reverse in who has the advantage can be done as many times needed until both wrestlers are exhausted and the finishing stretch is near. This is also where pinfall attempts begin, the opportunity for either wrestler to win the match. Remember, too many pinfall attempts make a wrestler look desperate. This can be good if the wrestler is a heel, defending their title any way they can, but it is bad for a wrestler who respects a hard fought victory.
Risks play a big role in the Second Paragraph. A high risk maneuver can mean a clear advantage, or allowing the opponent a clear advantage. A high risk isn’t going to the top rope. A high risk is everything from fighting the pain from the damage done to Wrestler A’s arm to hit a big clothesline, to over the top rope moves, to risking disqualification and using an illegal object or Belt, to exerting a huge amount of strength to lift a heavier opponent up for a German Suplex. A high risk will usually do an effective amount of damage to both opponents, but what is important is how much it does to the wrestler who has the move executed on them. Never in the Second Paragraph should executing a high risk do more harm to the one executing (Though it is open for the Third Paragraph). A high risk is an effective way to turn the match completely around without insulting your readers intelligence. While the opponent suddenly gaining a second wind from being constantly hit is insulting, the opponent having enough time to get their energy back after their opponent messed up a huge risk is plausible.
To effectively write the body of the match, never allow the offence to be 100% one sided. This means, have the other wrestler try to fight back, but have momentum against them. Have them throw a kick at the other wrestler, but be unable to follow through fast enough, and be thrown on an even worse disadvantage. This allows the reader to wonder just when the other wrestler will come back, and be more satisfied to see what they do to pull it off. As well, another great way to work this offence is to allow one wrestler to be only able to execute weak strikes, while the other with the powerful holds and moves. This will allow a picking at the opponent slowly, that’ll allow for a potential comeback. For instance, Wrestler A has been hitting bombs, slams and drivers, but before every big move, Wrestler B hits a couple quick leg strikes. When Wrestler A goes to execute that huge double arm powerbomb, their leg suddenly buckles under them, allowing for Wrestler B to take their advantage. This gives the reader something to look forward to every move, instead of just seeing what the writer is moving into. You want the reader not to ask themselves, “How is this going to end?” but “Where is this going to next?” In the Lord of the Rings, you knew that Frodo was going to throw the ring into the fires of Mt. Doom at one point or another. It was the journey of getting through and into Mt. Doom that made you purchase all three books. Remember this when writing the body of your match.
Now, to transition from your Second Paragraph to your Third Paragraph, you need to remember what was your inciting force. This transition should be similar, but at a much more powerful level. I used the example before of a flying body press since the ending would involve a moonsault. This time, using a top rope stomachbreaker should do the trick. This would incapacitate the opponent, but also leave the user on the mat as well from the bump off the top rope. It allows for a cross the ring pin for a good amount of anticipation, and is believable for being the finish. Remember that. You shouldn’t always have them parallel each other, as it also works for the opponent to now one of their biggest moves in their arsenal to move things from the body paragraph to the conclusion. Just remember that this is very vital in how the match is determined.
While not the climax, it does contain the climax of the match. What is done in the Third Paragraph should be believable in ending the match. Of course, most people look forward to the finishing manuever, but if Wrestler A’s back has been worked the entire match, when Wrestler B gets him to the top rope and slams him down with a Superplex, it should have the reader wondering if that will be all. Every pinfall counts. Suddenly, all of those early match errors culminate to this. It is good to make sure that if someone makes a calculation error, that should lead to the end of the match. Having Wrestler A miss a punch and get DDT’ed or a 2 ½ count, then Wrestler B wastes too much time for a powerbomb and gets small packaged for a 2 ½, you’ve already two appropriate endings and have caused your reader to be anti-climatic about the finish to the match. This is a bad thing. While fatigued, these wrestlers should be in the hopes to winning, and too many errors makes both look green.
Try not to have someone kick out of a finishing move unless it is absolutely necessary. At WWF Calgary Stampede, both TAKA Michinoku and Great Sasuke kicked out of each others finishers in the third match of the night. It wasn’t even for a title and was their first encounter. This totally made their finishing moves just a signature, instead of what people expect them to use to end the match. It is more plausible to see a main eventer kick out of a finisher, trying to win a Championship then an undercarder. However, there are exceptions. If the purpose of the match is to show the determination and valour of each wrestler, then a kick out can be appropriate. Too many, once again, washes out the finish for the reader.
If you are going for a surprise roll up for a pinfall, allow it to make sense. If the wrestler is executing a victory roll, having the other wrestler’s back or legs being work supports that they were unable to use strength to kick their body out. If it is a small package, build up throughout the match that the opponent is easily caught off guard. This allows the reader to look back and say, “Okay, I can see how three seconds was too long, it took two for them to realize just what happened.”
If the finish comes from one wrestler using their opponent’s finisher, make sure it makes sense. If Wrestler A has worked Wrestler B’s neck all match with DDT’s and piledrivers, using their opponents Bear Hug to win the match makes very little sense. However, if Wrestler B has worked Wrestler A’s legs all match, using Wrestler A’s Texas Cloverleaf makes sense. To help support the idea that the wrestler is trying to end things by humiliating their opponent with their own move, add signals to this in the First and Second Paragraphs of the match. Does Wrestler A use a lot of corner elbow smashes, or likes to use a hiptoss before locking on a crouching sleeper? Have Wrestler B do it in hopes the reader does know Wrestler A enough to catch this from the beginning as being unusual. It is the little things like this that separates a good match writer, from a great match writer. And chances are, you haven’t seen too many great match writers.
Also, remember that the final count should not go for too long. You may have a tendency to write a few more extra lines since it is the finish, but once again, this prolongs the reader from what they want to read: the number three being counted. Instead, try to not give it away that this is the moment the final count is done, even if anyone should easily realize it from it being the finishing move. This will help your reader wonder if they are truly reading the end of the match, and once they scroll that little bit down, they know they have.
In some circumstances, it is fine to have a long introduction. If there is more to the story to be told, and has to be told post match, having a lengthly beat down or conversation works. It keeps the reader finding out what happens. However, if there is nothing left to say, you can sometimes completely leave out a conclusion. The pinfall is sometimes all they need to hear. Having the wrestlers show how tired they are from the finish is also good, so the reader knows the wrestlers put their body and soul into the match. If a championship was involved, it is very important to state if it changed hands or was defended. Forgetting to do this de-values the title, whether you think it is hardly important or not.
Re-statement of Thesis:
Re-stating the thesis is sometimes needless, since the end of the match already has Winner: for you to write it. However, if there was a stipulation, simply reminding the reader that, “After a hard fought battle and lots of blood lost, Wrestler A has won the Cage match” so they always remember what the stipulation was (just in case they forget how many times you had Wrestler A thrown against the cage walls). Stating it once is fine, but always have it stated once.
The Art of an E-wrestling match is all about in what you put into it, and what you expect from it. If you expect something great, just writing, spell checking and submitting will only get you so far. The more attention to detail you put, the more attention to the overall story, and the more you try to convey without outright saying it, is when you find you’re creating a beautiful tale.
Today in E-Wrestling, people consider match writing a dying art because they feel it is too constricting. There is so much you can do in a ring, bound by rules, and once you’ve done it all, there is nothing left for creativity. Have to be frank, but that is complete and utter bullshit. Any mediocre writer can write a freestyle, no boundaries story. A great writer forces themselves into a bind of rules and boundaries, and creates even greater art out of it. A good writer doesn’t need to speak on the human psyche in E-Wrestling, they have a character to work with. Match writing is just the same. You have a wrestler, an opponent, a referee, an arena, the rules of gravity, human will, sacrifice and limitations, and a time limit. A masterpiece with that will always be held higher then any roleplay, segment or video piece. Remember that.
AUTHOR: Aaron Wrotkowski
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