Featured image by Hub Pacheco
Many times on both this blog as well as my YouTube channel, I have reflected on the stark differences between live wrestling and wresting on footage. By its very nature, watching a wrestling show live creates a far more heightened experience. It engages all your sense, it taps into a sense of community as you chant with a crowd, and it draws your attention the large and spectacular while steering it away from the minute and momentary. It’s why I rate matches I’ve seen live on a scale separate from the traditional five star scale that I use when reviewing matches I watched on footage.
All this to say that, this match simply doesn’t hold up.
In my original review of this match after watching it live, I gushed about the visceral nature of the action in the ring. I talked about the literal physical sensation of watching this match live, the awe I felt seeing these two hit each other so hard that I could sweat misting in the air. That’s the benefit of watching a match live. It encourages an empathy with the performers that simply does not existed from behind the cold distance of a digital device.
There are problems that arise from this footage that simply could not exist watching it live in the Power Mac Center. When Mike Madrigal flips Zamora the finger only for Zamora to twist that same finger back, I didn’t have to rush around the ring like the cameraperson in this video to get a good view of the moment. I was right there, only feet away when Carlos Zamora tossed Madrigal head first into five rows of chairs–a spot that’s eliminated entirely from the footage. That edit on its own does a lot to rob this match of some of the intensity it carried in the moment. That spot felt like a real turning point that things had really escalated between these two fighters and it did a lot to make up for what’s a fairly standard and uneventful opening stretch.
The other problem with watching wrestling on footage is that my basis of comparison suddenly becomes much wider than before. Where I’ve only seen a decent handful of live wrestling shows, I have watched thousands of matches on footage. There is a certain baseline of what an “average” pro wrestling looks like formed by such extremes as Daniel Bryan all the way down to SANADA.
Most wrestling fans can tell on instinct when something looks off. It becomes clearer all of a sudden how there’s a slight awkwardness to how some moves are set up here. Both guys feel a bit cramped in the ring because of their size. Neither guy feels like they ever quite get the speed and momentum they want when hitting the ropes. While Zamora’s chops remain crisp and brutal looking, Madrigal’s hold up less so which robs the satisfaction of Zamora being the first to crumble when they trade strikes.
It’s the little things that add up all in all to make the viewing experience entirely different from the live one. As it stands now, this record of the match feels almost like a second hand joke passed down. You simply had to be there to get it.
Perhaps my fond memories influence this, but I’d say this match is still good. The strike exchange is worth seeing, Zamora puts in a hell of a heel performance both selling and reacting to Madrigal. But borderline good is a steep decline from This might be the best match I’ve ever seen live. As
It’s unfortunate and for some, maybe even unfair. But that’s just the nature of the beast. Memory is fallible and opinions change. The least we owe to ourselves is to be honest about it.