When was the last time that two wrestlers had three matches to be televised in three consecutive nights and totally knocked it out of the park all three times? It’s not unheard of for guys to have three great matches in a row, but it’s usually on the house show circuit where guys wrestle the same matches night in and night out. However, when you’ve got to do it for the cameras three nights in a row, the tendency can be to phone it in for at least one of those matches, even if one of those matches is a classic.
The two stole the show at Bragging Rights, opening the card with a non-title US vs. Intercontinental Champions match. People were blown away by the quality. I knew the two would wrestle a great match. Bryan’s pedigree is well-known, and Ziggler has been on my radar as an elite worker since his outstanding match against Rey Mysterio last year at SummerSlam. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw it finally through nefarious means. It met every one of my expectations, but given that the WWE has a track record of giving their PPV matches enough time to shine, even the undercard ones, I figured that it would play out as well as it did.
The next night on RAW though, they wrestled again. I didn’t think that it’d get the requisite time, especially when CM Punk came out before the match to call the action. I thought we’d see something truncated, something that would segue into the next feud between Punk and Bryan with Punk figuring in a screwy finish to a shortened match. To my surprise, Punk didn’t get involved at all, and they let Bryan and Ziggler wrestle again in a long match.
Often times, the WWE will ham-handedly build a feud by having guys wrestle over and over again for no reason other than having people wrestle. It’s a lazy way to build a feud, especially when the matches have no heat or there’s no extra something to put them over, like an angled finish or some interference or whatever. With two lesser wrestlers, maybe that series of matches wouldn’t have worked.
However, even without the extra angling, without any kind of out-of-match heat, both Bryan and Ziggler made that three-match series feel like a rivalry was being built. Even though Ziggler didn’t win a single match, he was put over through strong competition, by being game enough to go toe-to-toe with Bryan even though he lost each match. Bryan was put over as he’s been continually put over by winning competitive matches where he was able to display his acumen at wrestling and athleticism.
Look, it’s not rocket science. No matter what the disciples of Vince Russo want you to believe, wrestling still has appeal in part because of what happens in the ring. Yes, the larger-than-life personalities, storylines and promos are important too, but people watch wrestling to watch combat, to watch athletic competition. Matches like this between wrestlers who are serious about their craft and help keep eyes glued to the TV screen and the action in the ring are a big reason why pro wrestling still has appeal.
It’s been a maxim over the millennia of civilization that humans like to watch other humans fight or even pretend to fight. That’s why even if guys like The Rock, John Cena and Hulk Hogan get mega-over mainly because of their abilities to develop themselves as characters, there will always be a place for guys like Ziggler and Bryan (guys who have charisma and ability to develop characters outside of how they wrestle themselves) to go out there for fifteen minutes and wow crowds with how they can perform in the ring.
So I tip my cap to both men for their performance over those three days. They deserve recognition for being excellent at their craft and performing at an elevated rate, bringing the goods to the largest wrestling crowd possible.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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