Ever since the brand split, Tuesday nights have been rather wild. This past episode of SmackDown was pretty solid too, but it was actually the post show, Talking Smack, that should have the Internet Wrestling Community jumping around as if “House of Pain” was playing in the background.
The Miz and Daniel Bryan ended up getting into a rather heated argument. It is too early to tell if it was a work or a shoot, but it boiled down to Bryan calling out The Miz for wrestling soft and being afraid to take stiff shots. As a retort, The Miz lost his mind and told the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion – in a rather heated fashion – that his style has kept him healthy for over a decade.
You should probably just watch the video to get the vibe.
The Miz would call out Bryan for being hurt, that if he loved wrestling in the ring so much that he should go to a bingo hall, and a few other lines that were pretty harsh. Honestly, scripted or not, and this is actually a good thing, the version of The Miz we witnessed on Talking Smack was not only terrific, but he was also right.
Well, at least in terms to wrestling a safe of a style.
Guys like Bryan, AJ Styles, Sasha Banks, etc., have all reached the pinnacle of their careers by never taking a night off. Talent that would otherwise be overlooked in previous generations of the WWE are now being put to the forefront. There’s no longer a need for the disgustingly muscular.
At the same time, guys like The Miz also exist. The type, as Bryan referred to, who would be a wrestler many independent names would consider molded from a WWE factory. Not exactly horrible, but no earth-shattering maneuvers are performed or bumps taken.
Obviously, every wrestling fan is different. Some like one style, but other can hold that same genre in disdain. Then there are people who care more about the characters than the abilities of the people competing in the ring. Finally, there’s the thousands of other nuanced ways in which we as fans value our sports entertainers/wrestlers.
That last line is of great importance, as I believe that’s where the sides will be drawn with this Miz-Bryan beef. If you believe in sports entertainment, you will fully understand what The Miz was saying. If you’re deeply rooted in pro wrestling, you will likely take what The Miz said and brush it off as WWE-brainwashing.
Thing is, you can be a wrestling-over-entertainment fan – as I am – and still comprehend some of the points The Miz was trying to make.
There’s zero need to put on a 5-star match at a house show or a random Monday Night Raw.
Does it suck to hear that? Of course. We are wrestling fans. We want to watch the very best wrestling in the ring, and anything less than that will be viewed as a disappointment.
But that removes not only the empathy we should have for how these wrestlers’ bodies suffer, but to expect each match to be on par with a WrestleMania contest is as unrealistic as it is shortsighted. After all, part of the appeal of ‘Mania is guys going “all out” in a way they would otherwise not. If we were gifted 5-star after 5-star match, that rarity would be gone, become expected, and we would take it for granted.
Naturally The Miz is right. His style of working in a way that protects himself and his opponent has a far less chance of injury than Bryan hurling his body around the squared circle without regard for his own body.
That doesn’t make Bryan’s (former) style wrong. It simply points out to what we obviously already know – that Bryan’s stiff, somewhat risk-taking, and often long matches ended his career far sooner than anyone would have liked.
So, yes, we are going to cheer every time Sasha Banks does a suicide dive to the outside, but at the same time, as it has been noted as of late, it comes with a risk of injury. Moreover, it appears inevitable that she will hurt herself performing the move.
Does that mean we want her to do it less? Probably not, but we all will collective tweet sad-face emojis when it happens. But hey, she’s got to go 100 miles per hour at all times, right?
All of that being said, both styles come with an inherent risk. The business in which these gifted athletes chose to apply their craft comes with a built-in chance of getting injured. But to pretend there isn’t value in trying to do it as safely as possible, even if it means “lesser” matches on non-Network Special events, is downright silly.
The Miz isn’t the first one to employ this mentality, either.
Shawn Michaels has gone down as one of the greatest in-ring performers in the history of the sport. Rightfully so. But what we have forgotten in our romanticizing of him is that he changed his style of wrestling as he got longer in the tooth. A change which likely saved and prolonged his career.
Early HBK – the Rockers to Intercontinental title days – tried to steal every show. It worked out well for him for the most part. However, time went by, he got hurt inside and outside of the ring and a different Michaels began to emerge.
Instead of this show-stealing monster was a man who more thoughtfully picked his spots. A regular edition of Monday Night Raw? The matches were shorter, the elbow drops from the top rope came with less elevation, and his bump-taking became a bit more withdrawn. A PPV-level event, however, came with the “Heartbreak Kid” in full form. He bumped harder, dropped that elbow from the Appalachian Mountains. Twenty-minute matches were the norm.
Wrestling safe is smart. More importantly, picking one’s spots to wrestle “all out” has as many direct positives as wrestling as if it were ‘Mania every night has its negatives.
We should want our wrestlers to be safe, have long careers, and leave the industry as healthy as humanly possible. If that means a seven-minute match on Raw didn’t feature your favorite wrestler doing a 450-springboard-headbutt, so be it.
In fact, deal with it.