Imagine a Star Wars movie where the Jedi and the Sith are dueling. They both stab each other with their lightsabers. They wince in pain, but do not die.
That ruins the scene, right?
That actually undoes the reality of that entire universe, right?
At Ring of Honor’s Final Battle, Eddie Edwards challenged his former tag team partner Davey Richards for the ROH Championship. It was the rubber match between the two, determining once and for all who was the better man.
Their match at Final Battle was a masterpiece of technical wrestling, but it came at the cost of their universe. They played the role of Samson and pulled down the temple around Ring of Honor.
Bear with me a moment.
Pro wrestling hinges on the suspension of disbelief. We know that the moves, while probably painful, don’t deal the damage that they seem. But we ignore that so that we can be told a story.
This means that there is an implicit contract between wrestling companies and viewers. Viewers suspend their disbelief as long as the companies regulate the amount of damage a wrestler can take before losing. No kicking out of finishers on television. One finisher kickout at pay-per-views, two for extraordinary circumstances.
You can’t sell the brutality of a superplex and then have someone roll through a superplex like it doesn’t hurt at all.
You can’t sell a running boot to the face like it’s a slap, especially not after it was used to defeat someone two matches earlier.
You can’t deliver a super hurricanrana, two powerbombs, a superkick, a Tombstone Piledriver and a finisher over the span of three minutes, and then have your two wrestlers jump up and trade Dragon Suplexes like they are clotheslines.
Needless to say, Richards and Edwards committed all of the abovementioned violations of good storytelling.
If nothing hurts, there’s no reason for a viewer to invest in a match. We accept that these men and women can absorb superhuman amounts of punishment and can bear pain we could only imagine. However, at some point, we can no longer suspend belief.
This match reminded me that wrestling is fake. I don’t think wrestlers, or wrestling, can commit a graver sin.