When a Hardcore Match is just Hardcore and not a Match.

Greetings to All!

Let’s jump right in with the most talked about match of the last two days, the unsanctioned Lights Out match between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega. This match was undeniably the most brutal match that has been seen in mainstream wrestling in quite some time. However, was that brutality enough to make it a good match?

The reaction to the match has been a mix between those who found the violence gratuitous and gross and hated the match, and those who loved seeing this level of sadism on display and have been rating it as a possible match of the year contender. None of the response to this match seems to be focused on analyzing it from the prospective of a professional wrestling match though, taking into consideration the story that’s been told and the psychology of the match. With many things AEW, some are irrationally biased against it and will trash it likely without even watching it, and others will ignore all objectivity and heap praise on something without applying any critical though. I’ve seen many people refer to this as the match of the year. That, however, is a bit of the insult to many very great matches that have taken place this year. This match was not as good as some fans reactions may lead you to believe.

Fans who’ve grown tired of the lack of good hardcore wrestling in WWE and fans who have never been exposed to promotions like CZW seem to be dazzled by the novelty of the match that they’re ignoring some glaring flaws in the match. For me, the problem in this match wasn’t that it was too violent. The problem was that the violence made no sense.

Now, we all know that what we’re watching isn’t real. That’s something that doesn’t really need to be addressed but it seems to be brought up whenever I’m critical of the logic behind something I see in the ring. Just because we know it’s not real, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect some form of consistent logic. Without that, the suspension of disbelief, the ability to pretend that what we’re watching in that ring is real, goes away.

There were two main ways that this match challenged a viewer’s suspension of disbelief. The first involved the stipulation of the match. This was not billed as hardcore match, a death match, or even a street fight. This was billed as an unsanctioned match. AEW made it clear that the reason they refused to sanction this match is because they did not want to be held accountable for what took place. Here’s where the believability gets challenged. Are we expected to believe that, even though AEW refused to sanction this match, AEW’s ring crew placed all the following items under the ring for Moxley and Omega to use: a barbed wire bat, a barbed wire broom, a mousetrap board, a duffle bag full of a broken glass table, and a bunch of steel chains. Why would they do that when AEW doesn’t want to bear any responsibility for what happens in the match? It’s insulting to the viewer’s intelligence, much in the same way that WWE does when they ignore logic.

The other challenge to the ability to suspend one’s disbelief was how the match seemed more in favor of cramming in as many insane spots as possible than trying to tell a story that makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a good brutal hardcore spot, but I will never be willing to place insane spots over proper ring psychology. Once I see a spot where everyone should be dead, that’s where the match should end. After about the 4th or 5th of those types of spots, it just becomes painfully obvious that I’m not watching a real fight. My suspension of disbelief goes out the window and I’m no longer watching two fighters trying to destroy each other. I’m just watching two stuntmen trying to see how they can top what they did before.

I understand that fans have been aching for some more brutality in mainstream wrestling, especially those who have not been exposed to other promotions outside of WWE, for years. Brutality for brutality’s sake is not what we should be accepting though. I think when people look back on this match, the rose colored glasses will be removed and it will be seen for the flaws it has. AEW sold themselves as being a higher standard of wrestling. This match didn’t show that to me.

Until we meet again,
Bryan Anthony

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