Monday, August 15, 2011

HOSS FIGHT: An Appreciation

I love me a good ol' hoss fight, I reckon
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When SummerSlam came on the air, how many people out there were looking forward to Sheamus vs. Mark Henry? C'mon, don't be shy, raise those hands. I'm sure there were some of you out there like me who thought that a fight between two big ol' hosses would be one of the best matches on the card, but I'm betting the majority of viewers really weren't looking forward to this. Granted, I'm not sure I can blame a lot of people who haven't come to appreciate both the Celtic Warrior and the World's Strongest Man. In the past, similar matches between big guys have been on the oafish, plodding and boring side. They either featured two guys who were immobile and there just because of their size, or in the case of matches such as Kane vs. The Great Khali at WrestleMania 23, one guy was apt and one was a slug.

That certainly wasn't the case here, it hasn't always been the case in WWE, and especially now, it's certainly not going to be the case for a long time if the current roster develops the way it is. While the meme is that Vince McMahon loves big guys with muscles and nothing else, there have been a good number of mobile, athletic big men who've come through the halls of WWE and can work matches with guys of any size. Undertaker, Davey Boy Smith, Kane, Brock Lesnar, Batista and when he wasn't in his lazy modes, The Big Show have all been big men who could be counted upon to deliver in matches. With Chris Masters (pbuh), Henry, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Skip Sheffield coming into prominence in the last two years or so and with Claudio Castagnoli heavily rumored to be getting a contract if he hasn't already, the new breed of big hosses is as good as ever.

So, while everyone stereotypically loves the little guy cruiserweight MOVEZ-fests, and while everyone seems to enjoy a good David and Goliath story, the HOSS FIGHT genre is still in distant third when it comes to combinations of such body types. People are coming around on it, but at the same time, I think folks are still hesitant to pick up on two big ol' guys just wailing on each other in a veritable clash of the titans.

Last night's HOSS FIGHT to me felt like a watershed moment in the genre though. I think if there ever was a match that could change people's minds about having two big guys go in there and just beat the crap out of each other, it was the Sheamus/Henry match last night. The way they moved around the ring, well, they didn't remind anyone of the light heavyweight technicians and flyers, but I do think they were light years ahead of shitfests that would have come about with any combination of duds over the years like Ludvig Borga, Heidenreich, Luther Reigns, Big Daddy V/Viscera/Mabel, Khali or the like, even if they were in there with someone able. It wasn't just "good for a big guy" match, it was a good match, period. Both guys came raining thunder on each other. Both guys did their part to sell each other's offense. The feats of strength were plentiful, and no one needed to strain to believe that the stuff that was happening was actually happening.

And the finish? My God, that finish was amazing. You had to figure it was going to take an unreal act to finish either guy off, and I'd say slamming someone through the guardrail, not onto, but through, is a great way to leave that visual in the heads of those watching. It was one of the best bits of storytelling of the night and maybe all year.

So yeah, while the main event may have been better and while Bryan/Barrett might have had more technical finesse to it, the HOSS FIGHT to me was the most impressive match. The thing is, I was expecting Henry and Sheamus to impress me. I don't know about you, but I love when wrestling presents believably impressive Kaiju1 theater for me without needing the participants be dressed up as monsters to do it. When mortal men can appear as themselves but still make themselves appear as more than mortal men is one of the many instances when wrestling works.

1 - Kaiju = monsters from Japanese destruction porn movies. Think Godzilla, Mothra, etc. There is a subculture fed known as Kaiju Big Battel, which also employs Gavin Loudspeaker/Louden Noxious, where guys dress up in costumes and wrestle.

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