Picture credit: Tony Knox
I remember as a fan, growing up I watched American wrestling, WWE/WCW I was mad for both. As I matured into my teen years and discovered our countries proud wrestling history, I decided to give it a watch. The first thing I noticed was how different the matches were. They wrestled a much slower, more mat based match. Audience participation and character fell second place to actual in ring work. Admittedly I never found it as entertaining it enjoyable to watch as an episode of Monday night RAW. However I did like what I saw and it intrigued me to open my eyes to more international wrestling.
As a youngster I was fortunate enough to be able to source a few matches from Japan and Mexico. They both stood out as something completely different to what was taking place in the states and in the UK. Japan was a lot more hard hitting and aggressive due to their strong martial arts culture. (That does it mean strong style. Strong style was actually just a period of time in Japanese wrestling much like the WWF Attitude era.) Mexico was a lot more colourful and athletic but again wrestled an extremely different pace of match. As a fan I loved this. I loved that they was a variety for wrestling fans. You could pick your favourite wrestlers from each country or even your favourite wrestlers all together. Your favourite promotions and more importantly your favourite style.
The birth of such things as YouTube made these matches much more accessible which was great, at least for a while. Now it understand that this is somewhat ironic coming from my self; as Nathan Cruz I perform as a very americanised wrestler with a strong focus on character and story telling. I can ‘wrestle’ but not to the standard that would have been expected of a British guy thirty years ago; which brings me to my point. Back then it was easy to identify four main different styles of wrestling. Today is there really any?
When those matches became easy to get a hold of online, many of the wrestlers of tomorrow began watching and dreaming of incorporating a lot of what they saw into what they wanted to do. I see it every time I wrestle and I’m guilty of it my self. I incorporate an aggressive hard hitting sport combat (Japan) with catch wrestling (Europe) story telling and character (America). The issue is that I watch a lot if wrestling still to this day, but I can no longer see that deifying style. The whole scene across the globe has just got this one international Independant style of simple characters, hard kicks and big flips. There’s a few stand outs that home more to one side and stand out as more professional; on my opinion, such as Rampage Brown, James Mason, CJ Banks. I too try to lean towards an American story teller more than a guy who relies on moves.
I do believe that travelling the world will make you a better wrestler and I honestly do believe that the talent we have these days is strong in some senses but the art of our British heritage is long gone. Audiences wanted something different and WWF gave them that. Audiences again wanted something different, Japan and Mexico gave them that. Now thanks to a few good remaining promotions we have the ability to give a wide variety of performances on our own soil but we also run the risk of loosing the circus rule of each having a different act. A fan can only sit through so many Indy matches before they all just start to merge into one. The way I see it, the more guys just try to define a style that they prefer and then use that, making it something that will help them stand out, the better the scene will become. Don’t neglect the other stuff, learn it, have it, but you don’t have to use it all. At school you learn a lot of math.. You never use it all. Remember wrestling is the worlds most popular variety show… Key word being VARIETY.