But It’s Not Wrestling…Is It? by Marc Madison

Have you ever seen something that amazes you? When the mere sight of it catches you off guard because it isn’t something you anticipated? It definitely has happened at some point, whether you were a child or an adult; it caught your attention and made you either chant, shout or clap your hands. It may have been a scene in a movie, a spectacular play in a sport, or a spot in a wrestling match that you really enjoyed seeing. The problem is, there are some that may question that same moment, and not appreciate it in the way you did. Recently, a moment from a wrestling match circulated on social media; a sequence in a six-man tag match between The Hung Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson and Hangman Page) and Flip Gordon, Titan and Dragon Lee. What took place was a 25-second spot that involved all six men, which has been dubbed the ‘flippy dropkick spot’. It has been called that because it involved a series of missed dropkicks and competing flips and kip ups until it ended in a standoff between all six men. The sharing of the clip has led to a great deal of debate by fans of contemporary wrestling and those that consider themselves wrestling purists.

One argument that was made by many that saw it and didn’t like it was that it wasn’t wrestling. It didn’t involve any submission moves or tell a story. While acknowledging it showed athleticism, they felt it wasn’t wrestling. Social media was abuzz with people either in support or criticism of what took place. Often the Young Bucks have been a lightning rod because of what they say and do, either rightly or wrongly. This particular incident has only added to an already ongoing debate between those that support these kinds of spots in wrestling, and those that question it. While both sides in their arguments acknowledge that wrestling has evolved, the critics say it has evolved. To the point where the moves represent very little because there are countless spots with no rhyme or reason for them. An interesting counter to that was an argument on social media that the sequence of moves does, in fact, tell a story. It often relates to the characters of the Young Bucks. Those familiar with them know that this is part of whom they are and part of what they do. This is why it seems the duo has become the most polarizing figures in wrestling outside the WWE.

It is interesting to read the various perspectives about the sequence. Fans are divided and either love it or hate it, there really isn’t any in between. Their critics declared that it is more about acrobatics than it is wrestling or storytelling; those that chose to support its statement that represents them and reflects their type of match. That said, this sequence didn’t involve just two men, but ultimately involved all six men in the tag match during a pay per view. Their commitment to the spot showed that they were determined to showcase their style above anything else. Those that don’t generally like the Young Bucks will easily point out that this spot is just another representation of how they ultimately go about their matches. Whether it’s a combination of the ridiculous with the sublime, we aren’t exactly sure. What is certain is that this isn’t the first instance where countless spots in a wrestling match by the Bucks, or independent wrestlers in general, has come under scrutiny. Whether they consider the criticism they receive justified or not, it is understandable that they take it personally. Still, it shows that there has to be more than the repeated spots in order to tell a story.

Without taking sides in this, let’s explore why a sequence like this even took place. As mentioned earlier, having it happen during a major pay per view event ensured there were a lot of eyes on the match. Those that were watching were sure to share their thoughts about the sequence of moves, whether it was seen as amusing or ridiculous and insulting. I showed the sequence to my wife and she immediately thought it was ridiculous, without hesitation. There was little in this sequence for those who want to see technical wrestling, something that Ring of Honor has always prided itself on because it was just meant to be fun. The argument that someone could change the channel doesn’t work because someone who paid to see the event and didn’t like the spot could only (collectively) roll their eyes. The Bucks style of match isn’t for everyone, however, often there are different stories being told in a different manner by different competitors. This sequence was more about standing out and getting people talking, and it certainly did that. Fans, whether they loved or hated it, we’re talking about it.

Various figures from around the wrestling world, both past and present, chimed in with their opinions. Vince Russo and Jim Cornette, who are usually at odds and opposed in their opinion, were in the same boat regarding what they watched take place at Ring of Honor’s Final Battle. Those not involved in professional wrestling, but other endeavors, such as UFC champion Daniel Cormier, also expressed their thoughts, and in Cormier’s case, he wasn’t in favor of it. Still, no publicity is bad publicity, and if the ultimate goal is to get people to re-watch the event, or watch it for the first time to see what the fuss is about, the moment and match achieved it. Here, we are weeks later discussing the validity of the moves involved.

Fans that don’t like it appear more upset with its presentation, and how it differs from what wrestling has been tied to and what they have always known. There has of course always been transitions and technical moves to showcase someone’s technical prowess. Having had the opportunity to speak to Flip Gordon, he shared what he feels needs to be done on the independents to turn heads. It doesn’t make him either right or wrong, as he’s the one experiencing it, and he knows that despite the criticism he will do what needs to be done to better himself. Many will showcase their utter dislike for the spot or sequence. However, he is of the mindset that it is better to have buzz and be booked than not, and not earn a living. Below is the excerpt of what we discussed. To read the interview in its entirety click here.

‘My take on it is, you have to do a lot to get your name out there and get noticed. That is how you are getting booked more. If people don’t know who you are, they aren’t going to book you. You have to do something to get your name out there, and once you get your name out there then you start learning how to work. You start working with better guys, and that is when you are going to start learning how to work. Obviously, you are not going to know everything about how to work when you start wrestling. Talent just has to get the buzz around them, and that is what a lot of guys do, get their name out there and do crazy sh**, boom, boom, boom. A quick highlight reel so they can share it. That’s what I do. For the first six months to a year, I did the craziest things I could think of to get me a lot of buzz. I put it in a highlight video to help build a lot of attention, and that helped me a lot when it came to bookings, and I started traveling.

I just think because the business has changed so much because the wrestling has changed and is much more fast-paced now. Whatever this ‘indy style’ is, as it is being called, you have to go out and show fans ‘Look what I can do,’ and as soon as they can see you for what you are doing, then that is when you start adding your character in there and start connecting with them, and show them who you are. If they don’t care about you, then they aren’t going to be interested in getting to know you, so you have to go out there and have them say ‘Oh that guy was really good’ or ‘Oh that was awesome’.

What exactly does this mean on the whole about what some have deemed ‘flippy sh**’? It isn’t going anywhere, and fans are either going to have to live with it, ignore it, or embrace it. It has caused a reaction from those that hate it and those that like it. Talent such as the Young Bucks have found a niche that works for them, and it hasn’t hurt them in the least. They will continue to be booked, they will continue to sell merchandise either on ProWrestlingTees or at Hot Topic, and fans will continue to watch their YouTube channel. Purists have every right to watch these matches and cringe, as again, that’s their prerogative. They aren’t dinosaurs that aren’t evolving with the times, but rather those that have watched and loved hard-hitting matches that embrace a strong style with a blend of acrobatics.

My late grandfather was always a fan of Bruno Sammartino, and I believe he would rather enjoy watching Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne take each other to task. To answer the question as to whether that video is wrestling is pretty simple. To those that appreciate it, they embrace it and call it wrestling. Those that dispute it and don’t recognize it as wrestling are also justified to feel that way because they don’t think wrestling has evolved to a point where the talent doesn’t touch or seldom makes contact with each other. Regardless, it is a style that will continue to generate traction, which ultimately is the intent.

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Feel Free to check out my site ProWrestlingPost.com including interviews with ROH top prospect tournament entrant, Curt Stallion, Sebastian Suave, Ring of Honor’s Frankie Kazarian, “All Good” Anthony Greene, ‘The Green Machine’ Mike Orlando, Josh Briggs, ROH top prospect finalist John Skyler and current rising Ring of Honor star Flip Gordon with interviews with Tyson Dux, Ivelisse and Madman Fulton (former WWE NXT superstar Sawyer Fulton) , Pepper Parks, Chris Sabin, and CZW’s DJ Hyde.