Match Psychology

Match psychology: it’s more than just targeting someone else’s body part so as to set up your finisher, it’s about using every move from your moveset as a way to establish your character. Now there’s a good case for simply removing regular moves from an application list and offering a sufficiently detailed description of a wrestler’s general fighting style (along with a list of signatures and finishers) instead. Some e-feds do that, and you don’t see any real wrestling promotions offering a detailed list of moves done by its roster. The “regular moves” of an e-fed mostly serve to help the match writers fill space in their cards. They serve to break the wrestling archetypes most characters eventually fall into. Pushing the concept, they tell the reader your character’s story outside of the promos. Overall, it’s your guy’s attitude towards problem solving.

Which brings us to what moves should appear in your move list. If you really want to help out the match writers, you should be taking the attitude of “how does my wrestler solve the immediate problem right now”; treat your moveset as a mini-CAW from a wrestling videogame. If you’re struggling to come up with more than 10 moves, ask yourself the following questions.

How does my wrestler start off the match? It’s a fair estimate that the opening quarter (or as much as a third) of a match will be performed without any spots whatsoever. We’re talking actual takedowns and holds here, peppered with punches and strikes. I encourage you to think of this as a mini-CAW: with the handler thinking in terms of weak strikes, knockdown strikes and early grapples. Good spacing/formatting allows the match writer to classify the elements of your movelist, helping the writing process. What does this mean for you, the handler? This is your opportunity to show off the flavor of your character’s wrestling style during a full quarter of a match…

Have you thought about running spots? Most e-feds forget the ubiquitous “whip to the ropes” but with an innovative attack, he’ll hopefully be inspired. Imagine your character fighting seven foot tall BRUNO. He ain’t gonna sell just any clothesline, but that doesn’t mean you should give up the idea of clotheslines altogether! Think of running moves, diving moves and maybe even some manner of running slam to get yourself noticed: two important things to remember are that your techniques are indicative of your wrestler’s fighting style and that they fill a role in the general storyline of your match.

Similarly, what do you do when you’ve knocked your opponent down? What qualifies as a resthold for your guy? More importantly: how do I make sure my move doesn’t get confused with a submission? Because let’s face facts: if a submission appears in your “regular move” section, it’s going to be broken out of, in a non-dramatic manner, because it is just a regular move. This is specifically bad for submission wrestlers, as it implies that they don’t know how to apply a submission, because their submissions get broken out of in non-dramatic fashion. You follow? More on this on a future paper as I specifically approach e-wrestling from the aspect of a submission wrestler, with all of the muddling into the realm of MMA submissions that could occur…

By the way, the answer to the previous question? Generic holds, illegal holds, holds which have an established exit, or holds disguised as a bunch of strikes. Holds that involve lifting your opponent up generally work, the exit (when required) mostly being that the wrestler executing the hold just tires from lifting your fat ass. Just make sure you don’t need to be outwrestled as an exit for your resthold. That would imply your wrestler is a worse wrestler than the other guy…

As if it weren’t clear enough by this point: ALL OF THE TECHNIQUES IN THE “REGULAR MOVES” PORTION OF YOUR MOVELIST ARE DESIGNED TO BE KICKED OUT OF OR ESCAPED! So if someone rolls you up from your named Strangle Hold Gamma maneuver because the match writer wanted to exhibit your Strangle Hold Gamma but couldn’t think of an escape for it and therefore went with it’s natural counter instead, then it’s your fault for entering a move which could only be countered by… a school boy. Then it looks like your guy doesn’t know how to apply a SHG, because the match writer won’t let you end a match with it but can’t figure out a counter for this maneuver initially designed as a finish either. Or you get the situation where the wrestler just “drops” the SHG. Just an example, but certainly the most egregious one from what I’ve seen…

So let’s change the subject for a second: suppose you think you have too many moves in your moveset, extra moves cluttering everything… Where do you start cutting? Well even if you don’t think you have too many moves, check your moveset for any techniques with the same set up.

Suppose one of your regular moves is a quebrada reverse stalling DDT and your signature move is a “backflip off the ropes into a swinging DDT”… Gee, that isn’t suspicious at all! “Hmmm, I’m doing my springboard moonsault off the ropes into the other guy, shall I reverse stalling DDT ’em or swinging DDT ’em? Decisions, decisions…” Hopefully I’m just late to the party working from an out-of-date character’s moveset, but you get the crux of my point. The initial idea came from a discussion over puro wrestling, on the topic of vertical suplex called as brainbusters and thinking about it from the wrestler’s perspective: if he gets his opponent up for a vertical suplex, why would he want to drop them on their back when everyone knows he’d get more damage dropping them on their heads? Does he just not know how to drop people on their heads? The discussion came to a conclusion in which the vertical suplex was considered wholly unnecessary to the practice of pro-wrestling, and that the Japanese people were right in calling all vertical suplexes “brainbusters”, whether or not the move drops to the head or not being irrelevant. There’s no reason not to drop someone on their heads, so all vertical suplexes drop their victims on their heads. Whether it happens in reality or not is unimportant, it’s true in kayfabe from now on. In fact, it was decided that all vertical suplexes be called delayed brainbuster from now on, as it’s always in the interest of the wrestler to delay the brainbuster (blood rushing to the head and all that) but it’s understandable if sometimes the guy just can’t hold his opponent that long or didn’t have the right balance to initiate the maneuver, marking the creation of the “0 second delayed brainbuster”.

“But what if I want to drop people on their backs”, you whine? Well use a snap suplex instead. For a similar move, it’s more obvious from a visual standpoint and comes off as showing better skill. And if you’re too big of a stiff to work a snap suplex, then do a backbreaker when you want to hurt the back!

Now let’s approach the topic of technique diversity, which is what doesn’t happen when you have five different versions of the DDT in your moveset. “But my guy is a master of the DDT, he knows all variations of the DDT!!!”… A master doesn’t use all versions, he only uses the best. It implies the following caveat: if you’re such a master of the DDT, shouldn’t you have discovered the greatest DDT of them all as your finish? And if you use the greatest DDT of them all as your finish, why are you bothering with all those inferior DDTs? “Move mastery” makes for a great idea in theory but has two minuses: it ends up dismissive to anyone else trying any version of the move (for too poor a payoff) and it makes for lazy moveset building. You wanna show wrestling mastery? Show me a different kind of move for every occasion, in keeping with the fighting style that you’ve trained under.

With that, I leave you with a very simple movelist… a potential movelist! With your wrestler’s “fighting style” as reference, fill out what spots you think apply to your wrestler with the most appropriate technique, trying to avoid duplicates in set-ups and in the moves themselves… The goal here is to read for ideas that would help flesh out your movelist and make for a richer wrestling experience: just use the spots you think apply.

1. Preferred method of strike (you may want to have 2)
2. A knockdown strike
3. An early takedown
4. Another weak grapple, for variety’s sake
5. Headlock, arm wringer… don’t give me that look: most wrestlers of average size need to control the match for a sec, but what you do in that headlock/arm wringer can be character specific
6. A running attack to show off either your strength, agility or technique
7. A second running attack to show off a second quality from your wrestler
8. Anything that involves the corner
9. Anything that involves the ropes, whether jumping from them or using the ring ropes as a weapon
10. A ground strike
11. A resthold
12. A differing resthold (if previous resthold starts by the head, have this one start by the feet)
13. A flashy pin/cradle specific to your character
14. A CHEAT! (not to digress, but a cheat isn’t necessary a heel move, it’s a veteran move. If you’re a babyface veteran, show off your years in the ring with a dirty blow done subtly. It shows experience, not evil…)
15. A slam which does not require you to lift your opponent, but that could convincingly fell someone vastly heavier than you (imagine you’re facing BRUNO)
16. You’ve maneuvered yourself behind your opponent: make the most of it!
17. You whipped your opponent into the ropes and he’s coming back: use the momentum for a big move!
18. A front grapple. Or two. Or three… I’m just saying that I’ve seen movesets that had ten of them in a row: you don’t really need all that much. But match writers mostly have e-wrestlers trade moves one after the other, so a give a thought to this.
19. The most powerful move you’ve got that could only grant a 2.999999999 from the referee. Something that should make you yell in rage when they kick out.

That’s just a rough draft, no reason to follow it to the letter. I suggest you take inspiriation for moves according to how your wrestler would end up in each situation.

Brawlers: make a striking combination that’s all yours!
Acrobats: use the word “springboard” and “slingshot” somewhere!
How about a counter move? Put “Dragon screw” anywhere, and suddenly you’re prescient as to when your opponent delivers a kick!
Power wrestlers: short arm maneuvers! Overpower the Irish whip!
Combination moves, done sparsely, give a technical flavor to your moveset. In overabundance, it shows you can’t get the job done in one move.
Finally, you don’t really need that many moves to work a limb for your finish…. In your cases, the match only starts when you do your first “limb targeting” move, so give your opponent a lot of rope by not focusing every move into targeting the body part.


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