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LACK OF STYLE CAN GET YOU KILLED
â€“ Jamar Acid
June 4, 2008
The tag match formula.
Concessions stand brawls.
All these things are either emulated, revered, aspired to, or a combination of everything just mentioned. They all have one common
factorâ€¦their origins. The saddest part is, everyone seems to remember where they come from, EXCEPT those born into the pull and
royalty it once held over an entire wrestling nation; the children this territory has birthed turning their backs on the framework that
transformed wrestling into more than just a series of matchesâ€¦but true spectacle.
I speak of the South.
I look on at my peers, emulating (and at times copy-catting) Northern and Western independent wrestlers, in hopes of becoming the new
sensation upon everyoneâ€™s lips. Claudio, Aries, Danielson, Kazarian, even Human Tornado are welcomed into our homes by the
DVD; and workers see the celebrity they command, which naturally leads to the emulation of the flashy tactics that keep them on the tip of
the average DVDVRâ€™ers tongue (for better or worse). Too often, this is done without paying ANY attention to the underlying quality that
makes these workers special.
Qualities that I would say are distinctly Southern.
Ask many of the top-tier indy workers who their favorite wrestlers were and I guarantee names like Ric Flair, Harley Race, Steamboat,
Eddie Gilbert, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jake Roberts, and a â€œwhoâ€™s-whoâ€� of other Southern stars will
come out their mouths; their subtleties and ring-craft lifted by a new breed of wrestlers and infused with the kind of offense their
forefathers only imagined. The wrestlers dominating the West Coast and Northeast, in regards to bookings and popularity, manage to
set themselves apart from an already athletically deep talent pool by pulling crowds in with sound psychology, character, and attention to
detail that is ignored by their peers in favor of the new â€œYoutube Suicidal Spot of The Yearâ€� award.
For example, independent darling and current Money In the Bank winner, CM Punk. Punk was a success in every company he spent time
in, celebrated for compelling angles and excellent matches with a wide range of opponents. Some mentioned his Japanese-influenced
style, but it would be nothing if not for his attention to detail and psychology that were long staples of Southern wrestling. Punk has even
confessed to being quite the fan of Southern territory tapes, learning to hone his babyface and heel mannerisms for maximum heat;
coupled with the psychology to keep ADHD crowds interested in an hour long match that helped to put Ring of Honor on the map.
Our regionsâ€™ storied mastery of the basics and crowd control is the stuff wrestlers stress themselves to master; but we are subject to
a generation of wrestlers with that Southern pedigree in their veins and no will to use it. The South could mean more in the spectrum of
things if we challenged ourselves as wrestlers, but I sometimes think we settle for mediocrity.
I donâ€™t care that you hit four revolutions before you land your moonsault. Iâ€™m not too interested about your ability to snap off the
latest move from a Dragon Gate tape.
Want to know something else?
Neither does the crowd. Your move may drop their jaw, but your ability to make them care is what makes you a star. Your ability to convey
a story with actions and facials is far more valuable than any reversal in your arsenal. We were once the territory that you HAD to work in
order to consider yourself a legend, and it pains me to see how far we have fallen; the luster all but vanishing from our name.
I want better from my peers. And my peers should want better for our fans and fans beyond our regionsâ€™ dividing lines. When you
denounce the knowledge and the tactics that make our style distinctly Southern, it makes everything about our region look like the Ugly
Duckling of the wrestling world. If our tactics were good enough to build the TAG TEAM FORMULA around, why do you stand in our lake of
knowledge, dying of thirst?
Styles come and go. Hardcore, strong style, and lucha have all had their days as fads on the independent circuit. The true stars that
came from those fads were the wrestlers that rose above following the crowd, but instead; drawing them in. You can be successful
ignoring the groundwork that Southern wrestling has given to the wrestling worldâ€¦..
â€¦it just makes that path to success a hell of a road to travel.
I myself have even had my time where I thought it would be the moves I performed that would get me my notice and eventually, my
bookings. Then I found out what really makes a match from watching David Reigns; then seeing how his matches were love letters to our
beloved Southern greats. He jaw-jacked, neck cranked, stalled, sold, and story-told his way into having the hottest matches of the night;
drawing more heat from headlock takeovers than other workers got off of frog splashes and tope suicidas.
What good are your moves without the reason behind them and the ability to care about the ass-kicking youâ€™re giving (or often times
in my case, receiving.)?
How much longer are we going to wrestle a jambalaya of every major style that has swept the US, but our own?
What would we have left to define us if we continue down this path of duplication? With our legends dying off as time rages on, who will
carry on the greatness of our golden years if not us? I donâ€™t see anyone else looking to do it for us, and they shouldnâ€™t have to.
I canâ€™t decide for you or anyone else that wrestles in the South. Everyone must pave their own way and choose the path they think will
lead them to super-stardom. I just find it no secret that the best in our craft strive so hard to be like our forefathers and find their success;
while we wonder when our time is going to come. The tools we need to put the South at the tip of everyoneâ€™s tongue are all around
us. The history is in the VHS tapes, flyers, and even DVDs of the warriors that gave blood, sweat, and tears to see territories like
Memphis, Georgia, and Florida become the envy of wrestling. We tear down everything they worked for when we bitch-slap psychology for
a 450 splash.
So what if weâ€™re not putting on glorified stunt shows like the West Coast? Or mutilate our bodies like the Mid-West? Or no-sell so
much No Mercy offense that Kawada would shake his head? We are the South. We are wrestling. We made this sport better through our
innovations and we should not let that go away just so we could emulate others who bring nothing to the table in the long run.
What they added merely worked as Band-Aids for a business that was hemorrhaging during different intervals. Southern ideals KEEP the
business profitable and will live on beyond this generation and the next as the business presses on.
Every wrestler in our connected Southern states has an opportunity to take us back to the glory days of the Grahams and Crocketts. Itâ
€™s just a matter of if youâ€™ll show enough pride in what has been passed down to let that happen?
The way I see it, every match for me is a trip to 1970 with a few future shocks here and there. Iâ€™m daring the rest of you to come join
Letâ€™s make them envyâ€¦