Sunday, December 14, 2008

Koslov's Headbutt (or Striking Moves as Finishers in Pro Wrestling)

I have a lot of issues with pro-wrestling today (starting with the fact that almost no one calls it "pro-wrestling" anymore), but the biggest one, the absolute biggest one right now, is Koslov's headbutt. Yeah, I know, seems silly, but let's dissect this for a minute.

Koslov wrestles a guy for anywhere from 2-15 minutes, and at the end of it, he headbutts the guy in the chest and pins him. They call it "The Battering Ram." Why does this work? Ok, bare with me here, but I'm going somewhere with this. Let's take Umaga. Not the greatest performer ever, but miles better than Koslov. Now, we all know that wrestling's internal logic dictates that Samoans have incredibly hard heads (except the Rock, but he must've gotten the recessive "less hard head" gene because he's not full-blooded Samoan), and if he headbutts someone IN THE HEAD, they still don't go down for a three-count.

At what point does a headbutt, ahem, sorry, Battering Ram to the chest outclass and outdamage all the big slams and suplexes this "Sambo Champion" has been dealing out the entire match? And if his head is that hard, why does getting rammed into the turnbuckle faze him at all? Hell, why does getting punched in the head, or even getting hit with a folding chair faze this concrete-skulled monster? I mean, several of the biggest stars in WWE are getting dropped by a HEADBUTT TO THE CHEST.

And this isn't the first time something like this has happened, either. Oh, no. Exhibit A: "Hands of Stone" Ronnie Garvin. Ronnie Garvin, whose work I've never much cared for, used The Knockout Punch as his finisher during his NWA days. The Knockout Punch? So, what, exactly, differentiates "a punch" from "The Knockout Punch"? The only thing I can see is that one comes at the end of a match, the other comes every other second in Garvin's matches.

If Ronnie Garvin can K.O. a guy with a single punch, why doesn't the guy go down the first time he's punched in the head by Garvin? Why aren't ALL of his punches Knockout Punches? And even if there's something different about this supposed Knockout Punch, why does he have to wait until he's exhausted and beat up to use it? Wouldn't he be more likely to hit a good shot right at the beginning of the match? As you can see, this punch leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

You know what's really sad, though? It gets worse with Garvin. Oh, yeah, when he came to the WWF they gave him a new, yet somehow even dumber finisher. The Garvin Stomp. You read that right; The Garvin Stomp. This is where Garvin would systematically stomp on every extremity of this opponent, both arms, both legs, and, finally, their head. It's horrible. If your opponent will lay still long enough for you to walk around him and step on every part of them, wouldn't you just be able to pin them? Moreover, why wouldn't every other stomp cripple them? It's not as if Garvin didn't stomp at all throughout the match before the finish.

Yes, Randy Orton uses this same move now. They call it "The Orton Stomp," but it'll always be The Garvin Stomp, no matter how many good performers actually opt to use it. The differences with Orton are 1) he doesn't use it as a finisher and 2) he actually drops a knee on his opponent's face at the end. I mean, this doesn't save it from being the dumbest move in Orton's arsenal, and making me question if he really is one of the five best performers out there today, but it does make it less painful to watch.

Exhibit B: Johnny B. Badd. Yes, during Marc Mero's tenure with WCW, his finisher was The Tutti Frutti Left Hook. Now, this actually kind of makes sense, as Mero is an ex-boxer, however, he did exactly what Garvin did and punched from the opening bell. Shouldn't all of his punches have much more power than the average wrestler? Shouldn't any non-jab from Mero send his opponent reeling? Yes, yes it should, but it didn't.

Exhibit C: "Big" John Studd. John Studd was one of the best big men in the history of pro-wrestling, but his finisher... well, it was one of the worst. The Heart Punch saw Studd put his opponent in the turnbuckle and punch them in the chest. This supposedly caused some sort of borderline apoplexy, and allowed Studd to make the pin. The only problem is, if he's strong enough that his punches cause minor heart attacks, if directed at the head, as they were throughout matches, shouldn't they also cause the loss of both teeth and conciousness? I'm inclined to say yes. You've probably guessed by now that they didn't.

Now, I'm sure some people are thinking "but, Joe, what about the Superkick (a.k.a. Sweet Chin Music)? What about Kofi Kingston's Jamaican Buzzsaw? What about 'Bad News' Brown's Ghetto Blaster?"

To those people I say the following: those moves are all very specific kicks that require a very specific setup and have a very specific target, i.e. the head. In general in the wrestling business, kicks to the head are portrayed as very damaging, even when they're not finishing moves. You won't EVER see Shawn Michaels kick someone in the head during the course of a match prior to the finish. Brown's Ghetto Blaster was a leaping kick to the back of the head, and you wouldn't see anything like that in any of his matches prior to the finish.

So, back to Koslov and his headbutt. Are we really expected to believe that this headbutt is as devastating as The Pedigree or Tombstone Piledriver or legdrop? Well... ok, forget about that last one, but the answer, apparently, is yes, we are expected to believe it. And tonight, at Judgment Day, there's a good chance Koslov is going to beat Matt Hardy, someone who's been with the company for nearly a decade (with only a brief absence for that RoH thing, but I'm not entirely convinced that wasn't planned to further the Edge feud anyways) with a headbutt. Matt Hardy deserves better than that, and so does the WWE audience. Taz used a suplex as a finisher during his ECW days. Shelton Benjamin uses one now. Koslov's a "Sambo Champion," so why can't they just give him a devastating suplex (belly-to-belly off the top rope, perhaps?) as a finish, and stop making their top guys look like weaklings for getting pinned on a headbutt to the chest?

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