From time to time, I still get emails asking for my opinion on the wrestling business. I haven’t done the show in months, but somehow it always seems to make me pull out my mark card, lick it and slap it on my forehead while writing a reply.
This email though piqued my interest.
“Hey DF, I know you don’t do your show anymore…but how to you feel about wrestlers selling moves? If you had to choose between a wrestler that doesn’t sell and one that oversells, which one would you pay to see?”
First of all, I don’t have to pay to see wrestling. I’ve made enough connections locally that I’ve been told to just show up when I want. I choose to pay because I respect what the promoter and performers do and I want to support them. It’s the same for PPVs, iPPVs and televised shows. I choose to pay for something I see value in.
From totally green workers right up to the established marquee names, I have a lot of respect for what goes into creating a match, a card and a gimmick. If I know the wrestlers well enough to offer advice or encouragement from a fans perspective, I offer it.
Now, all that being said…there are dozens of kinds of workers. Some are stiff, some fly, some prefer the ground, some are prone to injuries, some work while injured…the examples are as diverse as they are.
My personal preference is for light workers with a flair for the dramatic, so it should come as no surprise that I like performers who oversell. To a point. If you’re a character who is meant to be over the top, silly and over-exaggerates everything, then oversell the shit out of a thumb to the eye. If you’re character is serious, overselling becomes kind of sad.
For example, we have a guy locally who is dead serious and cuts a mean heel promo. He wrestles light and takes the brunt of the bumps. But every now and then, he oversells shit so bad even my kid is taken out of the enjoyment of the match because he’s turned himself into a clown.
Another guy who wrestles here is a clown. He’s got a gimmick that no one can take seriously and he sells the hell out of it. He works a little stiff, but sells well and works the crowd like a pro. So when he oversells, it’s just another goofy thing he’s doing and part of the gimmick.
What it boils down to is this; you can’t have a preference because every gimmick needs a complimentary style. AJ Styles is a high flyer by anyone’s definition, and flyers aren’t typically stiff workers…but he is. It suits his character. Doink overselling works for the character. Warrior no-selling works for the character (even if it was really annoying sometimes).
It’s a very fine line, so choosing a side of the fence is nearly impossible. I love overselling because no-selling just ruins the experience for me. I end up more focused on the actual damage being done than the imaginary damage. But sometimes overselling can remind people that this is a “fake” fight and ruins the self-indulgent delusion.
That isn’t a bad thing. It’s a wonderful delusion. A delusion that I happily pass down to my daughter while running kayfabe just enough that she can see these performers as people that she cares about.