So you wanna be a match writer, huh?
Fella, you got some nerve.
It sounds easy. It looks easy. But it’s real easy to make a mess out of it.
First of all, I’m going to assume you know grammar and spelling. We can excuse typing fast and missing a letter or an often misspelled move like Hurricanrana…or is it Hurracanrana… I can never remember, but I betcha you don’t know the difference so don’t judge me. If you don’t know basic grammar and spelling, go learn that first. Then we’ll talk.
Most people that are going to read this have probably already written several matches and are good as it is. This is mostly directed towards the newbies that want to help out, but haven’t done it before. But there’s always something to learn and new techniques to employ, so whether you think you’re God’s gift to e-fed writing or whatever it can’t hurt to read.
|ii.ii||Know Who You’re Writing For|
|ii.iii||Know The Out-Of-Ring Story|
|ii.iv||Know The In-Ring Story|
|iii.iv.ii||Even Or Domination|
|iii.v.i||Middle Of The Match|
|iii.v.ii||Too Soon For The Big Guns|
|iii.v.iii||Slowing The Pacing Down|
|iii.vi.i||Nearing The End|
|iii.vi.ii||Near Falls Mean Something Now|
|iii.vi.iii||Countering Signatures & Finishers|
|iii.vi.iv||Variants Of Signatures & Finishers|
|iv.ii||Tag Team Matches|
|v.v||Writing Your Own Matches|
|v.vi||Know Your Limits|
|v.vii||Giving Opportunities For Stories|
|v.ix||Utilize That Referee|
A lot of what makes a good wrestling match is debatable–it’s an opinion, which is neither right nor wrong. But in this section, I’m going to have to insist that if you abide by all of this. There’s no special fluff here, just proper techniques and mindsets.
It sounds like a duh–kind of like that rule in every e-fed that tells you to have fun. But just in case it needs to be said–Imagination. You need a good imagination to write any match.
You absolutely must have respect for other people’s characters. What you write in a match can have an effect on their character, good or bad. Don’t have a man that is on his high horse about winning matches cleanly do something illegal–it’s going to cause some serious damage to that character’s reputation. Remember that these characters you’re writing for often aren’t your own.
You should always go into match writing with the intent of making everyone look good. No character should be left behind in that credence. Sometimes there are just so many sides to a battle someone has to be left behind, but avoid it at all costs. Even if you know this is Guy A’s last match, don’t be a dick and write him badly. Even if you’re having some OOC trouble with Guy B, don’t be a dick and write him badly. For one it reflects poorly on you, two again you can cause some serious damage to that character’s reputation.
There’s a couple different types of places where you write a match. Some just do it in the PM box so once they’re done they can hit send and it’s off. I can’t help you folks for when things just go wrong and you lose all that work.
For those of us that type in Notepad, Wordpad, Microsoft Word or what have you–all decent document writing programs have keyboard shortcuts and your new best friend, if it isn’t already, should be CTRL+S. I’ve heard so many horror stories about people just so into the flow of the match they didn’t save and blip! out goes the power. Every time you hesitate for even a fraction of a second your left hand should instinctively go left, hold in CTRL and press down that S button. Shit happens, that’s the motto. Doesn’t mean you should go to a Gallagher show without a poncho, right?
Unless you created the character or have witnessed and experienced a character long enough that it’s second nature to you, you should always open up those profiles in the character forum. That’s what they’re there for. It’s not for a sense of belonging. It’s to help you know these characters. Even for characters I’ve made–I have the pages open for quick reference.
Know who you’re writing for by taking the time to read their biography. Know the gimmick, the fighting style, the finishers, the signatures, the strategy. Get in their mind and know how they would operate. If the person who filled it out did it right, you should have everything you need to know about writing for this character in the ring. I wouldn’t write Jenny Chennault as a technical genius and strategy expert, and I wouldn’t want you writing Rurik Krychek as a shit-kickin’ brawler.
Throughout, I’ll be writing examples. Primarily they’ll focus on Rurik Krychek and William James, but others will pop up.
|QUOTE (Example #1)|
|Rurik Krychek: He is a genius in almost every regard you can imagine and harbors some form of resentment towards humanity. He’s a technical / submissionist mixture. He creates an injury early on (if it’s a feud he may have been working on the injury for weeks already) and focuses his attacks on that point. Finishes matches with the Aenima (koji clutch) or Kingdom’s Fall (death valley driver), with signatures being a sleeper hold, a figure four leg lock, the Ultimecia (reverse death valley driver).|
|QUOTE (Example #2)|
|William James: The new kid to wrestling who is rising fast in his popularity status, itching to make it to the top. He also is a technical / submissionist mixture. He focuses on the back of his opponent to soften them for his finishers–The Hard Goodbye (double underhook lift into over the shoulder sit-out backbreaker) and the Icon Lock (sharpshooter), with signatures being The Best Elbow In The World (a Low-Ki style elbow drop).|
Now then, Krychek is my guy so I know him front and back. William James stopped being an active character in the spring of 2010 as I’m writing this in the winter of 2010. I can’t recall a couple of his signatures, but I wrote the guy enough that I can still remember that much.
Know their out-of-ring story–just about every match on a card will have a story. Not necessarily at booking time, but if the roleplayers get off a couple back and forths you’ll get a sense of the story. And pay attention to these roleplays, when Havok says he’s gonna bite someone’s nose–you better believe Havok’s handler is going to be pleased to see it made it in. Sometimes the story will go deeper than just the one match, like a big feud blow-off at a pay-per-view. It helps to just plain pay attention to everything going on, but sometimes you gotta hope they’ll tell you everything through the roleplays of that week.
|The first encounter between Rurik Krychek and William James started out amicably enough–William James’ first match he offered respect and admiration towards those that had been in the business longer than he had. Krychek, not being a very friendly guy, called James out on talking about respecting the boys, but pointed out two things. One: Krychek wasn’t on good term with the boys, therefore showing him respect wasn’t earning James anything. Two: James had called Krychek by his first name, a rude gesture when you don’t know someone personally. The two spent much time bickering the rest of the week, with Krychek generally dismissing James.|
And that’s their story. While their first encounter wasn’t a singles match, it set the tone for these two. James was going to come out guns blazing, Krychek was going to be quite disrespectful. And that was a very important story to the match flow. It wasn’t just two people fighting for the sake of it, they had a reason.
Knowing their in-ring story is important to writing the good matches. Every character has an in-ring story to tell. It may be the same story week in and week out, but it’ll always help tell the story of the match, which any fully written match should have.
|QUOTE (Example #1)|
|Rurik Krychek, I feel, is best used when he is dominating the match through mind games. Leaving the ring to create distance, cheating sneakily to keep things in his favor, and just in general antagonizing his opponent into making mistakes and capitalizing off of those mistakes. Be aware at this juncture in Krychek’s career in the example he was on his high horse about not needing to cheat.|
|QUOTE (Example #2)|
|William James, I feel, is best used when he is being the rookie that is ahead of his learning curve. He may have just hit the scene, but he knows a thing or two. He knows to focus on that back and keep on it. Use submissions, back breakers, and combo moves to keep the hurt on. He should generally be at a disadvantage when facing more experienced characters.|
A few more examples:
|QUOTE (Example #3)|
|El Valiente, I feel, is best used in a match when he’s bravely fighting against the odds of evil doers. He should have to fight back from insurmountable odds like match-specific injuries, but be able to keep up when it’s move-for-move action.|
|QUOTE (Example #4)|
|Jenny Chennault, I feel, is best used when she keeps the match to a brawling contest with the occasional power move. She’s generally ripe for the pluckings against suplex-kings and technical wizards, but can take the match back in her favor with a good smash to the face. She should dominate for the most part, keeping the match in her style. But just when the opponent thinks they know all of what to expect, she’ll surprise you with some basic but unexpected technical move.|
It can be problematic if you don’t know a character’s out-of-ring story, and there’s no shame in not being able to find that story to tell in each match. Try as I might I struggle with some guys, and I feel it shows that they’re not telling a story–guys like Shaun Wilson and Havok I always have trouble with.
Once you know the characters you’re writing for you should be able to tell what move comes next, what counter, etcetera.
The big chapter. A good match is always much more than “suplex, powerbomb, counter, punch, finisher.” I already pointed out the need for a story in the match. If a match is just two people fighting and trading holds, it’s not going to be overly exciting no matter how many weapons or near falls you put in. Before we leap in to the full match, there’s some planning we’ve got to do first.
There’s some stuff you have to decide. You can’t just start the match for crying out loud. You need to know where you’re going. The most important pre-match decision is the victor and unless you’re the fed-head you’ve probably got your marching orders, soldier. So you probably don’t need to worry about that. Unless a specific finish is required for a story or character preservation usually I find you’ll be left to your own devices to decide how it ends.
First of all, depending on the story decided upon by knowing the characters, you should have an idea of how the match is going to flow.
|Rurik Krychek and William James will battle to a stalemate for the early portions of the match. As time wears on Krychek is going to antagonize James into making a mistake and likely hurting some body part–let’s say knee. Krychek will keep hurting this body part and nearly winning until a surge near the end by James puts Krychek on the defensive as James hits several high impact back-effecting moves that soften Krychek up real quick like.|
Now then, how is this shindig gonna end? Because I’m an egotist, I’m going to make Krychek win.
|After a minor come back from Krychek, James will hit one big back breaker and lock in the Icon Lock. After getting to the ropes, James will be forced to release. James pulls Krychek up, but Krychek will quickly pull him down with a school boy and get the three count.|
And we of course need some spots–some big moments to wow the audience. Sometimes it’s a big move, a series of exchanged moves, or a reversal of a submission. Sometimes it’s even a comedy bit.
|After working on the knee for a while, Krychek will lock in the figure four leg lock. Eventually James will turn the pair over and when Krychek unhooks his leg James will spring to his feet and lift Krychek’s legs into the Icon Lock.|
Sometimes the competitors might have a spot they want in. You should try to fit it in, it just seems polite. But don’t completely break the story or the flow of the match to fit it in. Sometimes some things would be cool, but just wouldn’t work.
The match’s pacing is important, and it’s important to know the characters in order to determine how fast or slow the match is going to go, and when it should change during the match. It should go without saying, but the traditional flippy-dippy cruiserweight is going to want to keep the match fast paced, the submissionist is going to want to slow it down. The pace isn’t going to remain at one steady pace throughout, even between two submissionists. There is the exception of between two traditional flippy-dippy cruiserweights where they’re both probably going to keep going at a fast pace until they burn out and one wins.
I can’t really provide an example for the match pacing. It varies from match to match. The same two people won’t have exactly the same match. You have to just consider the situation with each and make an educated guess.
Now that we have the ending, the spots, the pacing, etcetera–it’s time to actually get into the freakin’ ringside area (and about time, too!).
Before we ring that bell and let anarchy reign, we have to remember there’s more to the match than just the fighting. What? Yeah, you have to set the stage first. Most people have a pre-written entrance that you can just copy and paste, so at least that’s done. But I recommend adding some commentary even before that to briefly discuss the story to bring anyone that wasn’t paying attention up to date, or perhaps to discuss other storylines the competitors are active in. How much is at your discretion.
Not everyone–and in fact, I find it’s a rarity–add the ring announcer to their entrance. And I prefer it when they don’t. Everyone writes the ring announcer differently. Such a simple, one-note kind of guy, and yet there’s much diversity.
Before the entrances I always have the ring announcer go over the rules quickly. Most of the time it’s a simple “one fall to a finish” kind of announcement, other times there are other rules such as steel cage or even more complex rules like the cibernetico. The Cibernetico took some three paragraphs to explain. A steel cage you should always let the people know what kinds of endings are available–pinfall, submission, escape.
Also this is where you would declare whether a Championship is on the line. If the Championship is a ‘World’ Championship (as in the big singles title, the tag titles, perhaps the women’s title) then what I prefer, but certainly isn’t a required standard, is that you list the federation name, the championship sans the “World” part, and then end with “of the World.” Example below. If a competitor holds a Championship but isn’t defending it, you should declare it a non-title match.
In the event there is both a special stipulation and a Championship in the mix somewhere (whether it’s on the line or not), the stipulation should be declared first and followed by the Championship. The Championship is the most important thing and it should be the last thing you here–it is the climax of the sentence, the most exciting portion. Anything after would be less exciting, and thus no one would care.
|QUOTE (Multiple Examples)|
|RA: The following match is scheduled for one fall.RA: The following match is scheduled for one fall and it is for the NGIW Heavyweight Championship of the World.RA: The following match is scheduled for one fall and it is a non-title bout.RA: The following match is scheduled as a steel cage match and can only be won by escaping the cage.RA: The following match is scheduled as a submission match and it is for the NGIW Heavyweight Championship of the World.|
Announcing people comes with some style as well. The first person out should always be declared as “Introducing first” and the second as “And his/her opponent”. It’s just proper form, just ask the Fink.
Next should be the weight. Some people take the accepted short cut and just use the numbers (215)–but I feel it gives a greater sense of importance if it gets written out (two hundred and fifteen). That’s a preference, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it the short way. But I’ll rip your lungs out all the same.
Next is where they reside, generally announced as “hailing from…” and their city, and state. If they’re foriegn it generally uses their country. You probably don’t have to worry about anything more than copying and pasting.
(in the examples it declares William James as hailing from Miami, Florida. That isn’t accurate, I just can’t remember where he is from.)
Next, if available, is the Championship declaration. If they don’t have a Championship nothing is said, simple as that. If they’re holding a Championship, but it isn’t being defended they’re declared as “the current reigning Federation Acrynom Championship–the same rules for the opening announcement are in place. Acrynom, Championship, of the World. If they are defending it becomes “the current reigning and defending […]”
One exception is if they are a challenger, that designation “, the challenger,” should go between “Introducing first” and “weighing in at”. Note that I don’t give you the choice of using it after “and his opponent”–that’s because the Champion, unless noted by request of the competitors for story use, always comes out last.
And last is “he/she is…” followed by nickname and ringname. Adding a couple more vowels easily replicates the drawn out announcing of most ring announcers.
|RA: Introducing first, weighing in at two hundred fifteen pounds, hailing from Miami, Florida, he is “The Icon” Williaaam Jaaames!RA: And his opponent, weighing in at an even two hundred pounds, hailing from Provideniya, Siberia Russia, he is the current reigning FIW Cruiserweight Champion of the World, he is Ruriiik Kryyychek!RA: Introducing first, the challenger, weighing in at two hundred fifteen pounds, hailing from Miami, Florida, he is “The Icon” Williaaam Jaaames!RA: And his opponent, weighing in at at even two hundred pounds, hailing from Provideniya, Siberia, Russia, he is the current reigning and defending FIW Cruiserweight Champion of the World, he is Ruriiik Kryyychek!|
For multi-side matches, in place of “introducing first” use “introducing second,” “introducing third,” and so on. In place of “And his/her” opponent use “and the final competitor”.
For tag team introductions the usual openings apply (“introducing first,” “and their opponents”), followed by a combined weight. Order of the names, unless the character’s out-of-ring story clearly indicates a superior half of the team (I.E. mentor/student), is at your discretion. Say it with either member first and decide which rolls off the tongue easier. Tongue twisters have no place in wrestling…unless it’s a cool new submission…
|RA: Introducing first, weighing in at a combined weight of four hundred forty-five pounds, Shaun Wilson, “The Icon” William James–they are Graaandeuuur!|
It’s the same for trios matches. Usual openings, combined weight, and order of names depending on what rolls off the tongue easier.
Battle royals can be tricky as at bare minimum a battle royal is at least ten people usually. That’s a lot of people to announce. Unless it’s a pay-per-view, it may very well be better to simply have the show come back from commercial and everyone is there.
Royal Rumbles only announce the first two entrants. In place of “introducing first” and its ilk, it becomes “The man/woman who drew number number” and the rest of the announcement goes along as usual.
The announcements out of the way now, both competitors stand in the ring. If there’s a Championship on the line, the referee should show the belt off to the crowd before handing it out. Little things bring the match together. Have that referee check them for weapons, if it’s a special stipulation have the referee go over the rules–no need to write his dialogue, just say he goes over them.
Okay, phew–that was a long and boring point in this tutorial, but you’re setting the stage for the match and half-assing it at any stage can bring the match quality down.
The bell has rung. However you decided to detail that, whether the fed asks for a specific coding to designate (FIW uses align=center and bold for ‘Ding ding ding’) or if you just input it into the first paragraph. Whatever it works.
Every little portion of the match depends on knowing the characters, how they’ll react to situations, their style, etcetera. There’s a few ways for starting a match,
* Jump Start The Match. One character attacks the other before the opening bell. Good heel heat and it’s a good way for the face to show how antagonized he’s been. Use sparingly, and cautiously.
* Tie-Up. The most common way of starting any e-fed match. Just about any front strike or grapple can come from the position.
* Proper Pugilists. Another good way is to come out guns a-blazin’. Fists, elbows, kicks. Good for brawlers or people so upset with each other they’re willing to discard their strategies for the opening moments.
For this example match which we’ve been building up by understanding Rurik Krychek and William James, they’re both technicians and thus would go for a tie-up. You’ve gotta decide who will strike first, and how.
* Brawlers might simply rear back and slug.
* Powerhouses when facing a weaker opponent may show off their strength by shoving them backwards and to the mat.
* Luchadores I generally have start off with an arm drag, and if it’s a luchadore vs luchadore situation they’ll exchange them.
* Submissionists might use a quick take down and try to apply a submission, providing it doesn’t last very long.
You get the picture. In most instances I like Krychek to sucker his opponent–duck under the arms so he can use a back grapple or get to the ropes so he can stall and antagonize. James, I imagine, would also like to get behind so he can fire off a quick backbreaker.
If you want an even beginning, it’s probably best to exchange holds and attacks or give a small combination for one person and in a second tie-up the second competitor gets a small combination out. Sooner or later one side needs to come out to a clear advantage, even if only for a little while. While being close makes both sides look good, it doesn’t build a dramatic story.
The “feeling out process” that we hear every so often is where there sides are frequently trading small instances of dominating. Both sides are trying to get an idea of what their opponent’s strategy is. This is generally succeeded by a point in time where one strategy is more superior, allowing a time of dominating.
If you want a beginning where one side dominates, you should probably have the dominating side overwhelm the opposition. Keep them from getting to the ropes, counter their counters, and generally fluster them. This is a good beginning for a powerhouse or to be used against a heroic face that needs to overcome the odds.
Creating a temporary this-match-only injury is a good way to show the domination of one character and gives the other side something to fight against. Who doesn’t love rallying behind that beloved face when he takes a knee injury early on and has to battle on one leg the rest of the match? But it’s not just the good guys that can take the injury–the bad guys can be given an added incentive to cheat. But that’s a rarer story told and probably should be left until you have a good deal of experience.
Middle of the Match
By the middle of the match the feeling out process should be over. One or the other should have a distinct advantage over the other no matter how long it lasts.
No matter which path you chose in the opening moments, the side gettin’ a beat down needs a few shining moments fighting back against the oppressor. The only difference is how long it lasts. If it’s an even contest, they’ll get their licks in. They can keep it going into the ‘nearing the end’ stage or the original dominator can take it back before then.
If you went the dominating route, the oppressed should only get a few brief moves here or there before they’re beat down again. Only in the ‘nearing the end’ portion should the oppressed ever look like they can win the contest during this route.
Big guns shouldn’t be pulled out until later. You want basic moves in big forms in the middle of the match when you want a fall to look like it might end the match. A superplex is a good idea of a basic move in big form. A ddt on the apron really doesn’t do much more than a regular ddt, but it sounds more devastating so it’s good to use. You can use signatures for near falls here, but don’t over do it. The more signatures and finishers you use now lessens their impact later in the match. Remember that you’re building to an apex, not a plateau.
But what constitutes over doing it with signatures at this stage? Any more than one per person might be too much. If you blow your load now, the audience will be so exhausted by the time of the end that they’re a little disbelieving in how much these two can take. Remember they’re humans with limits (the characters, not the audience. We, the audience, are Gods), and as such there is only so much they can take before you hit the “I can’t believe they’re still going” part and that’s when too many big moves can break suspension of disbelief and kill the entire story you’ve been building.
For now focus on the story you’re telling. If one is injured, play that up. If one is flat dominating through power, build that up.
Finally there’s a great deal of little things to make the match come alive for the audience. There are a good number of them, and there is a specific section at the end of the tutorial discussing them in greater detail, but the one I want to pass along right now is slowing the pace down for the sake of effect.
Whether they’re a technical wrestler or a powerhouse, sometimes you don’t want to just go from one move to the next. It’s sometimes a good idea to allow a few moments for cockiness out of a character by not going right after the opponent or showing how devastating the onslaught has been thus far. It can be as simple as noting that Krychek takes a short walk in the ring, or that James straightens his tights or elbow pads. It can also easily give the victim a couple seconds of breathing room so that they can turn a corner in the match and be the oppressor instead of the oppressed.
Nearing The End
When nearing the end, both parties should be quite tired at this point and susceptible to beating beaten with a big move. Signatures can be brought out a little more frequently, but don’t turn them into nothing more than regular moves. They should still hit with a little more impact and result in a near fall.
Near falls will likely happen before now, but only now should the audience really feel like the match could end with any move. With any long match no one really believes any of the earlier counts are going to end it, but now they become dramatic. The competitors are tired and hurt.
Frequenting counters of signatures and finishes are quite dramatic as well as it makes it clear both competitors are in this section of the match and want that one big move that could end it all. Always review the finishers and signatures and see what you can do for reversals. Sometimes they’re not as clean of a counter from one signature into another like a superkick being reversed by an ankle lock. Some are like the figure four counter into the sharpshooter in an earlier example. And that’s okay–the point is they got reversed into another big move.
When you can doing a variant of a signature or finisher can surprise the audience. I wrote a match back in September of 2010–El Valiente’s finisher is a 450 splash from the top rope, but in the heat of the battle I had him do a standing version (which really only worked as he was noted to have a greater verticle leap than most). It was a move they honestly didn’t see coming, and that’s why it was dramatic.
The end is short and sweet. It’s really only going to be the last one to four paragraphs usually, and comes in a few varieties.
* A quick burst by one competitor as they head for the victory. It can be a complete domination and in those last few moments when they’re tired it won’t look bad for the loser in most instances.
* The last second counter. A good swerve for the above example, this one sees the victor counter the last strike/grapple with only one move for the victor.
* The flash pin. You don’t see it coming–you don’t possibly see how it’ll end with just this quick small package or roll up, but the loser is so tired that they can’t get out of it. With heels it’s often good to use tights or ropes to display desperation.
* Countering with a submission. The victor counters a move into a submission and is a stubborn ass in not letting the loser get anywhere near the ropes.
* The big move. A big move puts both men down. For instance a superplex hurts both people. This could create a race to who can recover fast enough to pin the other. Great for making both people look good with the ending.
Any good match is going to make all sides come out looking golden–win, loss or draw–and that’s important because a match written with a bad ending can cripple momentum for somebody.
If you’re a beginner at match writing, it’s probably best to just stick to a victory celebration. A raised hand by the referee and praise by the commentators it usually all you need. But as you get more experienced, and understand the characters real well you can easily help put the gimmick and temperament over by doing something on your own without prompting from administration. It’s risky, but when done right good can come out of it, especially if it saves a bit of face for the loser.
|QUOTE (Example #1)|
|Max Rowley vs. Blake Orange, FIW Fighting Spirit Championship. Orange was hell bent on taking the title, but when he lost the match I was rather afraid of his momentum halting no matter how well the end might have been. No management was on when I wrote the ending, so I opted for a post-match piece on my own. So Orange, frustrated at the loss, took a sledge hammer to the Championship. Gave Rowley some ammunition for a brief period of the Fighting Spirit Trophy, and I felt it gave Orange a mean streak of “if I can’t have it, neither can you.”|
|QUOTE (Example #2)|
|Another more recent example is El Valiente vs. Max Rowley, FIW Fighting Spirit Championship. El Valiente had more or less disrespected Rowley in an off hand comment a couple of weeks earlier and continued to address Rowley as a disrespectful luchadore. Rowley’s whole shtick, no matter how zany he can be, was that he was the most virtuous man in FIW. So following the match when Rowley lost, Rowley took the FSC and look as though he was going to bash Valiente’s face in, but handed the title over and shook Valiente’s hand as a sign of respect. I feel it was a good end to the short story and helped put Rowley over despite his loss.|
Okay then, we covered the standard singles match. Most, if not all, of it can be applied to just about any other match type, but there are some different or additional mindsets to have depending on variants.
First before we get into them, I stress that you understand the rules to any match you take. If you don’t know–ask. Research. Wikipedia has a couple pages devoted to variations. They might not have ’em all, but so long as the match isn’t outlandish they should help. Nothing sucks more than reading a match and the writer got the rules wrong. Know what sucks worse? When the actual wrestlers don’t understand the rules, like when Dean Malenko accidentally ended his match with Billy Kidman early because he didn’t know going over the top rope in a catch-as-catch-can match was a way to lose.
Tag Team Matches are without a doubt the second most common match in wrestling. Sadly, tag team wrestling is a dying art even in e-feds. Doesn’t mean when we get the opportunity to write a tag team match that we shouldn’t show it the same respect as a singles match.
Tag team matches can be trickier by the logistics of it. Four people involved, two are resting on the apron at any given time and resting up–by all means logistically that means the match must go on longer. It usually doesn’t, and normally, somehow, takes less time.
The best way to explain the shorter time is the use of double teams–that’s why if a tag team has a specifically defined tag team maneuver it should be utilized as the finish instead of a solo finisher. Utilize tag team moves over the course of the match to weaken people faster–even something as simple as a double suplex in the space of the allotted five count will help the job get done.
Of course, some teams are thrown together for one match or the person or persons behind the team is too lazy to have done the profile yet–that’s when you try to combine the solo finishers in some fashion. One right after the other is likely the most common, but I enjoyed it when while writing a Mutant Enemy match I had Jenny Chennault hit her Southern Lariat which thrust her opponent forward and into Havok’s Savate Kick. It worked as a combination and no matter how fresh the opponent may have been, it was enough to believably down him for three seconds.
If you choose the dominating route during tag team matches, there are different means of resolving it than in a singles match. If you’re a wrestling fan you’ve no doubt heard of “playing Ricky Morton”–where one member is trapped in the ring for a long period of time before getting the tag and the “Robert Gibson” cleans house on the other two, often getting a quick three count in the confusion, frustration and fluster of the opponents.
Speaking of tags, there are five tags style as I see it.
* Normal tag. This is as bland as it sounds. One guy walks up, high fives the other and they switch.
* Blind tag. The guy on the apron tags himself in without the legal opponent noticing, and thereby leading to confusion.
* Hot tag. When Morton finally gets to Gibson, providing at least Gibson is a face, the crowd erupts. This can often get heel heat as well, should the heels distract the referee from seeing the tag.
* Lucha tag. A truely freeing tag style when writing. It’s as simple as the legal competitor leaves the ring and if his partner decides he wants to be legal he can be. No physical tag required.
* Twin tag. As in the partners are twins and simply switch out whenever they so desire. Extremely rare in e-feds because most people don’t make twins.
Be aware of potential stories between the partners as well as between the teams. Often in booking two feuding people will be paired together in what I like to imagine is just management fucking with its roster. These two aren’t going to get along–and if they lose it ought to be because they couldn’t work together well enough. If they’re victorious they shouldn’t celebrate together, high fiving and all that. The post-match should experience glaring, one walking off from the ring refusing to celebrate, mother raping–you get the idea.
Think of other animosities to put between those two–tags could be blatant slaps to the face. A blind tag could result in an argument that causes an immediate end to the match. Walking out on a match is too simple and over used.
Elimination Matches can be tricky, especially if you’re one to abide the rule that everyone should come out looking good. Because no matter what there will be one person that eliminates absolutely no one–the first person out. And then depending on how many people are in the match there might be more people that don’t get the chance to eliminate someone.
The best advice I can give is to give a lot of battling before anyone is eliminated, and make sure the first one out gets their licks in before they’re gone. In fact, anyone that is going to be eliminated without getting a fall should get licks in before they’re gone. But no matter how hard you try–they’re the first ones out and it’s hard for that to not reflect on the character. Not your fault, just a casualty of logistics. Do what you can and hope it doesn’t screw the character(s).
One thing that can completely kill the drama in an elimination match is messing up the elimination process. I’ve seen some matches where Guy A eliminates Guy B, Guy C eliminates Guy A, Guy D eliminates Guy C, and so on. That can work if there’s only four people and it definitely gives the final three things to brag about in their upcoming roleplays, but when you’re dealing with large numbers it simply becomes predictable and even if you switch it so that the winner eliminates the last two people–the swerve does not help all the lost drama. It doesn’t magically make the minutes leading up to it better, because the audience has arrived at the swerve with a sense of knowing what is going to happen and therefore didn’t care about the eliminations prior.
I say it alot, but try to work in stories into the match–people working together, someone avoiding someone else. Someone might be trying to be a glory hound and want to cause as many eliminations as possible–providing management hasn’t told you precisely who is to eliminate who, you can help build up a character’s gimmick through this.
Who doesn’t love them a good cage match? Lock them sumbitches up and let ’em duke it out and toss each other into the cage a few times. Just thinking about it makes me want to write a cage match.
Let’s review the pool rules. Two hombres are locked inside this steel cage. The rules should be stated clearly when it is booked, but if not–ask. Standard cage fair, in my opinion, allows for the end to be pinfall, submission, or escape. I’m of two minds as to how cage matches should end, agreeing with two different people both with valid arguments. I’m going off terribly memory at the moment, but here’s how the view points basically are.
* Dai believes that the cage is there to keep people out and keep cowards from getting away. So why should the cowards be awarded with a special way to win? It should keep them in, and let that be that.
* AiR felt that it was more or less robbery to have a cage match that didn’t end with an escape, as cage matches are the only kind of matches that can feature it.
Both are valid arguments. So which should you go with? Depends on the story and situation. I feel if the victor is a cowardly heel champion, escape makes sense. If the victor is a face that has had to deal with interference or the heel running off to avoid being beat, pinfall/submission makes the most sense. Feel the situation and gauge as best as possible. Knowing the story will allow for the proper climax to the drama you build throughout.
My personal favorite reason in favor of escaping the cage ending is when you can do a race for the finish. I wrote a four-way steel cage match back in OSW. I won’t take credit for it being a stroke of genius for the ending; it was merely my way of providing a mostly written match to management without ruining for me who won the match (which was me by the way.) All four climbed up and all four fell down and you didn’t know who had won until the next paragraph. But it is a great way to save face for every single loser that was on the way down. They didn’t lose–Krychek simply hit the ground first.
Now remember when writing a cage match that the cage must come into play at some point. It’s an essential part of the match, it is a weapon to be used. It’s not very diverse in what it can offer you, like a chair, but use it for abuse and drama. One reason I love the Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart cage match of Summer Slam was because of the simplicity of Owen leaping towards the door and frantically crawling. There was desperation for everyone no matter which side you were on. Those on Bret’s side saw how fast Owen was approaching victory and sighed in relief every time Bret grabbed Owen’s foot–Owen fans were so elated when Owen was half hanging out of the cage and could’ve won if only he could free his foot from Bret’s grasp.
The escape attempts can’t simply be for the sake of throwing somebody off the top of the cage. Use the freakin’ door. It can be smashed into the victim’s face, it can burn up a couple of sentences in a paragraph as the escaper is asking for it to be opened.
Cage matches, when written, can be one of the worst violators of my insistence of not too many big moves. I understand that large drop is just begging to see how many moves you can have these men throw the other with from that height–limit yourself. Definitely plan one big move for each person throughout the match, one really big “holy crap” moment for each, but don’t have them both be a signature/finisher/move-in-general off the cage. Each time you do it lessens the move, and makes it more likely the audience will roll their eyes and go “oh, this again?” Yes, we expect someone to be tossed from it–but too many times in the same match makes it dull.
Finally, more of a rant against over selling the cage–the standard steel cage are not twenty feet tall. I was watching an old cage match at some point, I forget who the competitors were aside from Jimmy Snuka. I could hear clearly the commentator raving about a twenty foot tall cage keeping these guys in. Problem was Jimmy Snuka was only a few inches shorter than it (at least no more than a foot). I never met Snuka, but I’m willing to bet money that he was not nineteen feet tall. Cages are rarely more than ten feet tall, get it right.
I think that covers standard cage matches. Of course in our modern day wrestling world all sorts of variants have popped up. I’m not going to discuss thankfully rarely used ones like the Thunderdome where you won by some overly complicated means.
Hell in a Cell is only a little more than a standard cage match. There’s more room to maneuver and there has never been an escape condition applied (to my knowledge). It’s a little more tricky to get that cage into play, but it still should. Usually one person being locked in it absolutely does not want to be left alone in that cage with his opponent–play up that fear. Have them looking for a way out, running away, etcetera.
Occasionally the top of the cage has come into play, which is great for the big move moments. But I cannot stress enough that only one big move from the top of the cage should ever occur in one match. Falling from that height is medical attention worthy. Only near the end of the match and there had best be a damn good reason if it doesn’t end the match (such as it takes too long to get the victim in the ring).
One interesting point to the Hell in a Cell is that, although it has only happened once, pinfalls count on the top of the cage. Not sure how well I like that, but that’s an interesting idea to keep in mind.
Ladder matches are another big violator of the not too many big moves idea. Anything more than ten feet in the air seems to be a challenge to see how many times you can throw people from the top. I stress being absolutely aware of how much the competitors have taken and not going over board.
One thing I don’t think many people might consider is that ladders aren’t quite as abusive as cages coming down. What are you smoking? The ladder is often the same height as a cage! Most of the time when we hear a commentator going bezerk about someone being thrown from the top of the ladder, they’re really standing a couple of rungs down and thus less height they’re falling from and less impact.
You have to be aware of where they’re really falling from. A pair of quick examples:
* Let’s say Krychek grabs James by the neck and rotates off to the side, pulling James off with a neckbreaker. Well they never went over the top of the ladder, so that’s a mid-match style big move. It’s suped up a bit, but it’s not “oh-my-god!”
* But if James were to grab Krychek and pull him over with a mighty suplex, well that’s going over the top, that means Krychek was above the ladder during it and therefore it’s gonna hurt like a bitch. And bitches hurt good.
Writing a ladder match consists of a lot of the same pitfalls as a cage match, but there’s one huge creative aspect that the ladder match has over the cage match–the ladder is a much more creative weapon to write for. It can be a javelin, a see-saw, laid kitty-corner across the ropes, something to trap the opponent in and just slam the legs down on them, and much more. It’s not just a requirement to win the match, it’s a creative tool that needs to be used in any decent ladder match.
One thing that may need to be cleared up for some is whether other weapons are legal or not. Most of us are going “well duh, it’s no disqualification”–but there are some that confuse Ladder match with Ladders Are Legal match. In a Ladders Are Legal match, there is a specific rule stating that the ladders are legal, and nothing else. It’s not a common mistake, but one I wanted to be clear on. So don’t be afraid to bring out other weapons, but not too many–the ladder should generally be the focus.
There’s not as many variants to a Ladder match as there is with Cage matches. The one variant I want to touch on is that first beloved now over-rated variant in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. To me these will always be for tag teams and never singles matches, but that’s a booking preferrence and that’s not what I’m discussing here.
TLC is what is known as a spot-fest. There’s very little story to them usually–it’s just to see how many chairs you can dent, tables you can break, and how many ladders you can show. Try to get some story in, but these are basic anarchy especially if you’re writing a traditional three-way tag bout.
A major downside to any match is when there is just so many people in play that you can’t keep track of them all. It’s simply not easy. When you start to build momentum for one set of people it’s usually time to look at a different pairing. This is a time where a big move should put someone down for longer to try to reduce people in play for a while, and then switch people out as necessary to make sure people get their licks in and that the fighting stays fresh.
There’s several variations to hardcore matches, and many of them are really just a hardcore match under a different name. Raven’s Rules, Extreme Rules, etcetera, but they all contain the same basic idea. Beat the crap out of the other mothafucka with anything you can get your hands on.
The story building and drama aspect doesn’t change much from the singles match–same basic idea except with weapons and more locations. Yeah, most people are going to be drooling for mindless violence, but telling a story will make it more memorable.
One thing I’m often disappointed by when reading a hardcore match is the fact they stay around ringside and often end inside the ring. Why?! Pinfalls count outside of the ring, and in fact you don’t have to even stay inside the arena. I don’t recommend moving too far out of the arena, no further than the parking lot, but you get the point. Get backstage–bust into the boss’s office, flush your opponent’s head in the toilet, pour the hot grease from the concession stand on them. Make them suffer! It’s okay if the audience doesn’t see the backstage exactly like you do, just give them a general idea “non descript hallway,” “food court,” “bathroom”–that’s enough of a description usually.
And a hardcore match has no limits on the weapons, and in fact the stranger the weapon the better. Yeah use those normal things like chairs and trash cans, and the almost mandatory table at some point, but since we should be going backstage anyway you should find other things to abuse the characters with. Break a coffee pot over someone’s head, shove them down a flight of stairs. Remember the floor back there has no padding so it hurts more.
In these matches the end, as in the final move, has to be special to some degree. It cannot be as simple as hitting a finisher, it has to be special. Using a weapon, perhaps. Also in these matches, however, you can get away with ending the match without a finisher being the final move if the final move is sufficiently big. Consider that Big Show vs Kane vs Raven at Wrestlemania 17 ended after Raven and Big Show were shoved off the stage (and through portion of the stage) before Kane pinned. That doesn’t sound big, but the visual of it was big enough.
Battle royals are the absolute worst offenders of not everybody getting proper licks in. And really–there’s little to be done about it. It’s fast, frantic, and usually no less than ten people. It’s a clusterfuck and a battle just to keep your own bearings as to who is where and doing what let alone making sure the audience knows.
With all the frantic action going on it can be very easy to miss an elimination if you’re not careful. No matter when you decide to eliminate someone, break paragraph and announce it in someway–preferably more than just the commentators. Align=center, bold and “The Wrestler has just been eliminated!” is how I do it, but there’s no real right way to do it. Size twenty font and a penis-pink color is completely wrong, however. Keep that in mind.
Be aware not to use the same elimination move too many times. Having one guy grab someone by the back of the head and tossing them over for more than two or three eliminations gets boring and can still bring down later eliminations that might actually be awesome. I don’t see that happen very often, but when I do it stands out like a sore thumb. Keep it creative, and if you can find a way to make it hurt on the way down, do it.
Make sure to have people fighting to stay alive in it. Desperately clinging to the ropes as six people push them out might tell someone early they’re guy is on the way out, but it does show the will to win in the person before they leave.
I’ve said it before, but look for stories. Roleplays will give you a good clue as to who will gun for who and can very easily lead to a simple little feud going into a pay-per-view and give two people that might otherwise have not given themselves a story for the pay-per-view and get lost in the undercard.
It depends on the tag team, but a majority of all tag teams that are put in a battle royal will undoubtedly help each other. If they experience some tension going into the battle royal, it might not be a bad idea to have one “accidentally” eliminate the other in some way. If you’re not sure, ask management. Try to avoid asking the handlers, as spoiling a match is a terrible thing and is worse than kicking a puppy.
There’s almost always a temporary partnership formed in these kinds of matches, and I stress temporary. It almost always falls apart because one betrays, successfully or not, the other. Which can create a story for those two. My favorite instance of a betrayal was in the 1994 Royal Rumble (Hart/Luger co-winners)–Shawn Michaels had duped Diesel into a partnership, begging the big man off. Michaels later dumped Diesel over from behind and went about slugging someone without so much as a second thought. It played Michaels as devious quite well.
The most famous variant of a battle royal, which is without a doubt more famous than the original, is the Royal Rumble. These happen every so often in e-feds because they’re just cool to see on the card.
They can be just as bad as a battle royal if you’re not careful, but you can control how many people are in the ring at any one time. Figure out how many you can handle at once and make sure you don’t go over that.
Rumbles have two ways to go about writing it. You can be methodical and plan every detail–who will come in where, which is great for making damn sure you have stories throughout the entire thing. That’s wonderful, but rumbles can be a gauntlet to write, so it’s okay to do it on the fly. Find some way to randomize who comes in next and just write as it happens. I’ve seen both done to successful results.
Timing is tricky–there’s no standard for how much time passes during a paragraph. Try to keep track of how many paragraphs are between entrants and try to stay in that general area. It will seem odd if they come in every five paragraphs or so and one suddenly comes out fifteen paragraphs later. The first rumble I ever wrote I was careful about every two paragraphs someone came in, and the very last guy to enter I screwed up and had him enter a paragraph later. I covered it as well as I could as I didn’t want to re-write, but I had the commentators make a joke about it.
This little section is for additional thoughts on aspects of writing a wrestling match or a bunch of the little things that can make the matches come alive for the audience. I had considered mentioning much of this in chapter three (Assembling The Match), but I felt it would take us away from our goal with that chapter.
One of the most criminally under-used characters in e-feds are the managers. Not overly difficult to see why they’re so few and far between, usually our characters are the ones that do the talking while in actual federations someone is usually given to a wrestler because they’re terrible at talking. Just think of the great managers in the history of wrestling–Bobby Heenan in particular, he was simply charismatic and helped get his team over. But there isn’t a whole lot of room for that in e-feds.
But they still exist from time to time, and often are they not only not doing anything during a match concerning their client, they’re often not even at ringside. I’m as guilty about this as anyone, but we must make an effort to make it clear the managers are out there at ringside and affect the match. These characters, like wrestlers, will have a story to tell during the match.
The face manager will give encouragements to their client when they’re getting a beat down, and try to rally the crowd behind the client. Male or female, the face manager is a great damsel in distress.
The heel manager will obviously cheat, distract, argue and flat out get in the way of the match if it helps their client. This is great for turning the tide in the match and getting the manager much needed heat.
Bodyguards can be tricky–maybe they’ll interfere, maybe they won’t. I think a bodyguard is best used as someone for the heel to hide behind to get a breather while being chased. A bodyguard with a face just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially out at ringside.
A face valet is another good source of a damsel in distress, as sexist as that may sound. Be aware of the character, however, a Chyna-style amazon isn’t going to be a damsel in distress.
A heel valet is much like the heel manager, except there’s the added “of two minds” for the face of the match if they decide they have enough and are considering putting their hands on the heel valet.
Commentators are the single most inconsistently written characters in all of e-feds, trumping the crap out of ring announcers. And it’s really no wonder why–several different people write for these characters and pull them all in different directions because of their own personal feelings on how these two (or three) people should be.
Commentators are an important aspect of any match as they can tell the story that the match writing can’t. There’s no decent flowing way to tell in the description of the action to mention when a wrestler’s marriage has fallen apart. Oh, you can give little details like they seem distracted, but the commentators can point it out and add why that will effect the match.
There’s three ways to go about writing commentary,
* Not at all. You’re either lazy or don’t feel you do it right, whatever the case it doesn’t get done.
* You write it during the match. This is the most common practice, and I have never heard of anyone doing it any other way.
* You write the match, then go through and write commentary. I’ve taken to this in the last couple of years only because stopping to commentate breaks my match flow. I’ll make notes along the way, but otherwise I come at the match from beginning to end with a different set of eyes then.
Format wise for commentators, you have two choices. Either the initials or the last name followed by a colon–Chip Martin would be “CM:” or “Martin:”. Neither is wrong. I cannot recall a time when the name would not be bold. Sometimes the entire line and name will also be italicized. Depends on your and or the format rules set in place by management’s preference.
When writing for commentators usually we’ll have a brief synopsis on the commentators to go off of. A common pairing is the straight man and the comedian, along with the face and the heel. So we don’t have to make these people, we just have to try to stay true to them–that’s perhaps even harder, especially if you don’t like how they are.
One aspect of inconsistent commentators are who they like and who they don’t like. One match Chip Martin will be raving about how Max Rowley is as awesome as he says he is, and the next he’s never liked the little twerp and has tried to run him down with a car. One thing that can be done to remedy this is to go to your local e-fed management and demand they start a little thing that worked to success in both AWL and currently in FIW, where the handlers tell how they feel the commentators would react to their people. Compile it as a list and or add it straight into the profiles and that will help fix inconsistency.
I said help fix, not entirely fix. That can never be done unless there’s one man, or a pair of people, doing commentary. Which isn’t a terrible idea, but I think that would go into my next tutorial “So You Think You’re Competent Enough To Run An E-Fed.” It was used to much success with an old e-fed named OW!–two guys (Skell & Ant) would sit down and go through the show commentating as their respective characters. It was great for commentating even if Ant was a lazy little jerk that near the end I had to get his future wife to lock him in a hammerlock and force him to do it.
Paragraph style can make or break a match. So it’s not really a little thing, at least not to me.
I’ve seen a lot of matches over the years where the writer gives you huge, tall-as-your-screen paragraphs. The line of reasoning is always consistent, “that way it’s like non-stop action!” Yeah, maybe. But when I blink and lose my place in that paragraph and spend the next minute just trying to find where I was–that stops the action dead in its tracks.
Several smaller paragraphs are always preferably to huge blocks of text. You’re told that when you first start writing roleplays and that doesn’t change when it comes to writing the match.
Each paragraph should end on a special note. Something that leaves you wanting to see the next paragraph to see where the match is heading. A paragraph should never end with something as anti-climatic as “James picks Krychek up off the mat and…locks in a side headlock.” A headlock is not very exciting. It doesn’t have to be a big superplex. Someone finally breaking out of a submission can suffice. Signatures and finishers should never be in the beginning or the middle of a paragraph.
You can end a paragraph now and again without one of those small high-points, but don’t make it often and I’ll skin you alive if there’s two in a row. Of course you can always stretch the paragraphs out by a few sentences if it builds to something, but don’t make it a habit. Marijuana leads to crack cocaine, after all…
The example below shows a paragraph that doesn’t end with a small high-point, and the second paragraph shows a small high-point.
|Bo-Jack and Rurik Krychek are on the outside of the ring. Bo-Jack may have just reinjured Krychek’s internal tear.
Bo-Jack grabs a fistful of Krychek’s hair and pulls him up, and Krychek looks to be in even worse pain as he has to stretch out his abdomen. Bo-Jack slides Krychek into the ring, but Krychek grabs the adjacent ropes and pulls himself out on that side. Bo-Jack quickly storms around that side of the ring and Krychek takes off with a half-jog. That’s fine though, Bo-Jack’s not in great shape so it’s just the right pace that Bo-Jack might could catch up with him.Krychek reaches a corner of the ring with the commentators before he stops and starts breathing heavily as he clutches his stomach. Bo-Jack’s still on the move, however, and it’s a split second timing that might make you think it was pulled together in the tightening of a movie, but Krychek turns 90 degrees and commando rolls out of the way, leaving Bobo to crash into Michael Anderson, the ring announcer.
Of course there will be times where you might be showing some description that has to do with the match, but not the fighting. Not much you can do for small high points at these times. Do the dirty deed and press on. That was the case with the referee of the aforementioned Bo-Jack vs Krychek match checking on and later returning the ring announcer to his chair.
An iffy moment for anybody is the first time they tell any management they want to write their own match. It’s just rife with potential for abuse. Even if you’re booked to lose, you can still make your opponent look terrible simply to make yourself look better. But there’s no other way to prove whether or not you can be trusted with your own match.
Remember at all times the intent is to make everyone look good. Not just yourself, but everyone. So you should get yourself in the mindset that not only will your guy have to get beat up at some point, but that if it’s going to happen you ought to at least make it worth it by making the other guy look golden.
Being able to write your own matches is about trust. I don’t know how frequently it happens today, but I know a few years ago fed-heads were weary about allowing someone to write their own matches. Maybe we’ve all grown since then, but I haven’t see it in recent years. But if you weren’t trusted, they’d sooner give it a short-form result by themselves than a full-blown result by you.
So you’ve got a lot to prove if you’re going to write your own matches, and I wouldn’t be surprised about management not allowing you to take your own matches if you muddle it up badly enough.
Another portion about writing certain matches–be aware of your limitations in writing matches. Some people just aren’t good, or at least don’t feel they are, at certain matches or with certain characters. And that’s okay–stick to what you know and what are good at.
I’m not at all ashamed to admit I’m terrible with strikers, powerhouses, and women. There’s always an exception, one character that hits the creative juices just right (i.e. Jenny Chennault, both a striker and a woman). I know I’m bad with these characters, and therefore I try not to write for them if I can help it.
Don’t take this as a rigid rule never to take a match with certain types of characters–sometimes a show just needs to get up and a match needs a writer. Bite the bullet and do the best you can.
Part of your role as match writer is to tell a story, but another often over looked part is to create opportunities for stories. Battle royals, triple threat matches, tag teams that are thrown together for a match–all great opportunities to give people a story to work off of.
Let’s face it–some people are more than willing to just go week to week, match to match with no real story. And while they can be fine with it, it can often be frustrating for the bookers as they have no idea how to keep this person moving forward. Even if all you do is give a reason for a match on next week’s card–you’ll have helped management out in a big way. Yes, these are e-feds and not every match needs a reason, but like actual shows there should be a reason. People know when a match is just to get a couple of people on the card.
And that can not only help management, but help that person. They may be willing to go week to week, but that can absolutely halt momentum and depending on booking style could stop them from getting bigger opportunities because they’re not willingly getting into the thick of things.
I wrote a ten man tag a while back going into a Halloween show. Several stories were played out throughout. The showman on the face team got the most eliminations, the injured but valiant face was there until the very end, the cunning strategist heel captain refused to get in, etcetera. But the one story that got to play out past the match was when one of the heels disrespected the beau of the comical face and resulted in the comical face getting himself disqualified. That played over for the next month until the show just before the pay-per-view (and I felt could have kept going until the next pay-per-view).
That’s just to show the kind of power you have with these matches. A couple of small incidents in one match lead to a side-feud for a month. The heel was feuding with the top champion at the time, but it was such an incident that it couldn’t simply be ignored.
One matter in match writing that grinds my nerves to no end is the use of exclamation points. I’m probably alone on this, but I hate them. It isn’t that they’re used improperly, it’s that I feel the writer and or the match is trying to tell me what I’m supposed to find exciting. I don’t like being told what I should find exciting. It never makes the match more exciting, it just feels so very forced most of the time.
I can reasonably say that I have never used an exclamation point during the match anywhere other than commentary or the final three count. The ending of the match is of course exciting–therefore it’s justified.
Let’s discuss the referee. Nine times out of ten the referee is only ever used to make the counts–sometimes a match will go by and you’re not even told they’re in the ring. Of course we can assume they’re there, but we shouldn’t have to.
First and foremost, a referee is like a date–if you don’t know their name, it ain’t gonna end well. And no matter how smooth you think you are, they probably won’t put out at the end of it. So learn the referee’s name, and use it.
The referee is an important character in the drama and story of a match. If they weren’t in the ring, there would be no one to make sure they’re following the rules (or in the case of heels, always happen to be looking the other way when cheating goes down). Use them frequently. If someone pulls on hair, mention the referee makes a quick complaint. For a heel it can help get their character over better by then mentioning “but it’s not like the Wrestler will listen to him.”
A double standard is almost always practiced with referees. They’re so lenient for the cheating heel, but if the face so much as thinks about leaving the ring to chase their opponent down you better believe the referee is there to stop them. That helps build the drama, unfair practices help put everything against the face so they can rally back against the injustice.
Use the fact there is only one pair of eyes in that ring to your advantage during match with many people. Heel tag teams are notorious for causing the referee to miss the hot face tag, or when the referee’s back is turned to simply switch and clap their hands to make it sound like the tag was made. The referee has the best intentions, but they’re like mentally challenged people. That’s why they never count past ten–they ran out of fingers and can’t figure out how to untie their shoes.
There’s a couple of rarely utilized moments that happen in wrestling but not so much in e-feds. Granted they were exciting back in the 80’s and now are about as exciting as a hangnail. Doesn’t mean we can’t harken back to the days when we weren’t praying for Hogan not to return to the ring.
First of all is the criss-crossing spot, which I know happened several times but I can only ever recall Hogan vs Warrior at some WrestleMania. The essential is this, the two men being criss-crossing across the ring. One drops down, pops up and a stalemate of shoulder blocks before they repeat again with the other guy dropping down. There’s no real point to it, but it exists and therefore I feel it should be used every now and then. And since it doesn’t get used often you can very easily get creative and do things other people haven’t seen before.
And then there is the test of strength. Two guys lock fingers
and skip merrily along the beach front and try to shove the other one down. Also happened during the Hogan vs. Warrior match, but has happened many other times by many other wrestlers. This is a good way to show off the strength of one man (and perhaps the stupidity of the other), so this one has more place in an e-fed match than the criss-crossing spot.
Submissions, for me, are the most exciting part of any match when done well. More so than the 1090 degree flip someone is invariably trying to accomplish or the most well executed finisher. It’s all because of the decision process on the part of the man in the hold. He or she has to weigh how badly they’re in pain against how badly they want to win, and they have to settle their ego in that moment if they decide to tap or if they’re going to keep going until an injury is produced.
Submissions in e-feds I get the feeling has a stigma about them–where it’s embarrassing or otherwise taboo to actually tap out as you’ll get picked on about it. But particularly when it is a submissionist that has the submission on, or it is a signature / finisher, there’s no shame in submitting.
What you can do to help alleviate that is to be smart about it. You don’t work the leg all match and then win with a submission that works the arm. If you’re going to end it with a submission, work on one body part throughout the match and have the submission focus on that body part. Then it’s not ‘a little bit of pain’ they tapped out to, but a smarter reasoning that told the loser they might not live to fight another day if they didn’t submit.
Writing submissions are difficult–they’re not as simplistic as a pinfall where you have the zebra count to two and then say kick out. Describe the victim howling/groaning/growling/grunting in pain, describe the struggle and attempts to free themselves. Spend about a paragraph describing this and that will get the idea over with people that it has been locked in for a little bit before a counter takes place.
One important job that gets bestowed upon the writer of the match is when someone is leaving. Sometimes it’s the handler, sometimes it’s management, but someone might request this wrestler gets injured to explain their disappearance. A lot of the time when it’s management asking, there’s sore feelings about their leaving and they’re wanting to make the guy look bad on the way out. That’s bad management, but there’s nothing you can do except make sure the guy leaves with dignity–even if you don’t like the guy either.
Injuring someone is a careful balance, especially since some people pull the trigger on leaving too soon and wind up wanting to come back the next week. Well if you just wrote a bone is sticking through the skin of someone–they can’t come back next week without a whole lot of retconning. So unless you’re asked for a specific injury try not to say how bad the injury is.
To give an example, at FIW Violence Fetish 2010 I was told Havok was leaving with an injury, at least for a little while. Well I don’t know when Havok’s handler is intending to bring him back, if at all. What I did was I had Havok botch a landing after a dropkick–he tried to land on his feet, but landed awkwardly on his ankle. I didn’t say it was sprained, I didn’t say it was broken. But I made sure he was on the mat complaining about it. Then when his opponent locked in a submission on the ankle it was easy to see how it could make the matter worse and explain why he has to miss some time. It could have just been a real bad sprain if Havok’s handler wanted to be back a couple shows later, or it could be broken and he could quietly fade into the night if that’s what his handler wanted.
Basically if the guy has to leave on a stretcher, that’s probably too big of an injury. Preferably they can walk out with the help of a referee or friend.
Okay, by now you might be thinking “I just wasted an hour of my life and I want it back.” Or you might be wondering who the hell I think I am that I wrote a freakin’ tutorial on how to write a wrestling match.
I’ve written wrestling matches for nine years now, and I’ve broke each and every one of the pieces of advice I’ve told you. That’s how I learned–from mistakes. Wrote the match, looked back on it and went “What the hell was I thinking?” Things were learned on the fly and from trial and error–hopefully I’ll help you from having to do the same if you’re new to writing. If you’re a veteran and made all those mistakes already, then we’re alike. And there’s only room for one of us on this planet, buster. I got my eye on you.
In the last eleven months of FIW, I’ve written 7 match of the month nominees, and 3 have won. One of them was said by one guy to be in the top three matches he had ever read. If you’re not part of the FIW community, you probably don’t care. But that’s rather heart warming to me.
~ Billy Christian, “Clockman89”
This tutorial may be distributed freely, placed on other sites, etcetera, as long as it remains unaltered, proper credit is given, and a link to FIW is provided in the credit. In fact I encourage spreading it about. Just make sure credit is given.
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