The Importance of Comic Relief and Wrestle-Logic!

Santino Marella: One of the best proponents of comic wrestling today

In my previous post, a review of this week’s RAW, I talked briefly about a divas ‘Summertime Spectacular’ match, generally praising it for providing adequate Comic Relief.

These segments are generally maligned by fans, at least in the Internet Wrestling Community, for being goofy and not a showcase of good wrestling. I can understand them not being a viewers’ favourite part of a wrestling show, but it is clear to me that these Comic (with a capital ‘C’) segments are essential to save the shows from being emotionally and mentally exhausting. When people say that wrestling is the modern equivalent of Shakespeare, I think it is a somewhat simplistic observation, but there is a similarity in the use of Comic Relief. Hamlet, for instance, is a play full of intense emotional drama which, did it consist of only that atmosphere, would be even more emotionally and intellectually exhausting than it already is. Apart from their humourous character traits, this is the reason the Comic characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are so beloved – they help make the witnessing (be it in performance or just reading) of one of the greatest plays in English Literature, frankly, bareable.

Think of Santino, and all of the other Comic characters in wrestling history, as the equivalent of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet. On this week’s RAW, we had the highly emotionally charged continuation of the Nexus angle, which included frequent bursts of brutality; we also had the high tension of the Sheamus-Orton championship feud. Watching this, for two hours, would have been hugely exhausting, and without the light relief provided by the Summertime Spectacular, some of the impact of what we were watching otherwise, may have been lost.

While missing such segments may be no great loss as a wrestling fan, they are often entertaining, especially when they include the naturally funny Santino. This so something companies like TNA and especially ROH choose to largely sideline in an attempt to gain some sort of credibility. Both companies, however, have frequent problems with confusing, difficult to follow storylines, and I think some of this is because they refuse to offer light relief in their shows. The key is to not jusge it as wrestling, but enjoy it for what it is – essentially, a necessary intermission.

The other part of this post will be perhaps more like stating the obvious, but i’m keen to talk about it nonetheless. I coined a phrase (I think!) in my previous post that I called ‘Wrestle-logic.’ What I mean by this is the special kind of logic (and sometimes even physics) that wrestling employs in it’s storytelling both in and out of the ring.

There are several incarnations of this. The most notable being:
1) One is simply the ability to disregard stories/stipulations that were previously used for the benefit of a past storyline, for the benefit of a current one. For instance, the rules to a triple-threat match changes almost every time one is fought, depending on how they want the match to pan out. This main flexible aspect of these matches is whether they are no-disqualifiction or not.

2) Another significant one is cummulative physics of double teams and weapon attacks. For instance, on this week’s RAW, the Nexus attacked Mark Henry by all seven of them pushing Henry in to the ring steps, knocking him out. If one person had have done that, Henry would have been fine, but, eventhough the impact was the same, the Wrestle-logic of seven people doing it made it credible that Henry would be 7x as hurt. It also applies to weapon attacks. Often you’ll see a victim either holding a ladder, for instance, and being hit through the ladder with a chair. Eventhough the victim has still only been hit by the ladder, it is sold like he has been hit cumulatively with a ladder and a chair.

3) A third one is of leverage. This mainly comes in to play when wrestlers use the ropes for some sort of leverage. For instance, when someone is holding someone in a figure four leg lock, a heel will often hold on to the ropes, ostensibly to add pressure to the hold. Eventhough holding on to the ropes doesn’t affect the hold, it is sold, using wrestle-logic, as inflicting extra pain on the victim. Another way this is utilised is in making certain moves seem more impactful. Mickie James’ finishing DDT, for instance, is performed by her victim lifting her in the air before letting her drop in to performing the DDT. Though there is some credence to this making the move more painful, it is still an example of wrestle-logic in action.

There are surely other examples of this, but I hope you get the idea!

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