Lost in the uproar that has surrounded the disqualification finish to the WWE tag team title match was the impressive realism portrayed by the four athletes involved.
Perhaps this is an unusual positive to draw from a wrestling match—especially one that prominently featured Kane—but the competitive atmosphere they created, which is felt at any normal sporting event, should be the blueprint for every other wrestling match that the WWE produces.
Key to their combined success was the level of realism implanted into the match.
This is easiest to notice in the striking, where every punch and kick looked like it landed. Part of the reason for this was that much of the striking was concentrated on the torso-region and this allows far more contact than strikes aimed at the head.
Even more intelligently, the majority of shots that were aimed at the head were the cue for a reversal, however brief, to take place. Interlacing exchanges with moments of equality helps crystalize the illusion that the fight is real, and that both men are trying their hardest to gain the upper-hand.
Kane being the bigger, stronger man, he was able to fight back far more effectively until he was taken off his feet and found it more difficult to return to his corner. Bryan was subdued far more quickly, but offered a much more dangerous grounded opponent as he worked reversals that Kane could not.
This individualism of character and abilities that was seen across all four combatants was a real highlight of the bout.
Another knock-on consequence of the head shots being few and far between was the way they looked far more devastating when they actually landed, compared to other matches on the card. Importantly, this was backed up by the wrestlers involved, who showed that big shots to the head had a greater impact on them.
Move selection, especially in the grappling, also helped build the atmosphere of a real fight. The match was interspersed with high impact moves at orchestrated moments designed to look as realistic as possible, and these were reinforced by the return to smaller, quicker moves when the action became more competitive.
This notably differed from the way the other matches on the card worked—those bouts generally progressed from smaller moves to a series of bigger ones, leading to a credscendo of finishers—but one that helped with the idea that the match was moving organically and that the finish could happen at any time.
More than anything else, it was the interplaying of personalities that really shone through. Kane’s protective association with Bryan could be seen once they were waiting for the match to begin, while Bryan’s competitiveness was also emphasized by his disregard for such ideas.
Almost the opposite was shown on the other side, as Rhodes clearly took a subordinate role to Sandow. These personality traits were displayed in the body language of each man in the ring and that helped identify the different athlete’s characteristics before the commentators talked all over the action.
These elements combined into an experience that felt so much more real than some of the other matches on the pay-per-view, which may be spectacular but are also obviously fake.
Matches like Team Hell No against Team Rhodes Scholars generate an excitement in wrestling fans that is rarely seen, and reinforces the desire to suspend disbelief in wrestling as a whole.
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