Today's generation of wrestling fans have forgotten what hardcore wrestling was all about and it's created a division in the wrestling fanbase. There are fans who love hardcore wrestling because of the art form and those who hate it because of it's lack of skill. Both sides have forgotten what made hardcore wrestling so great which is why most cannot tell the difference between talented hardcore wrestling and what i like to call "garbage wrestling." Here's a list of essential aspects that hardcore wrestlers and fans ought to grasp in order to be phenomenal:
* Story-telling - What made pro-wrestlers like Mick Foley so great? While they used weapons at their disposal, they told a dramatic story with their bodies. They have a build up from the beginning to middle until the end. Story-telling especially in hardcore matches are what cause audiences to react and jump out of their seats.
A great example of a brutal hardcore match incorporating story-telling aside is Pentagon Jr. vs Vampiro. As you watch, take note of how it builds up to the final act:
* Believable characters - Raven is a master at ring psychology and in this case, psychological heel tactics. He's arrogant, disrespectful, ambitious, ruthless, brutal both verbally and non-verbally. You can clearly see that in the way that he mocks his opponents, plays mind games, taunts them, does his signature pose, the list goes on. To stand out as a hardcore wrestler, you must have character be it heel or face. You can have the most brutal match of the century but if you have no character, your reduced to an extreme stuntman.
Watch his match against Sabu and pay attention to how he shows his character. Notice how Raven mockingly uses the Sheikh's camel clutch against Sabu.
* Ring Psychology - Sabu is another notable wrestler who skillfully uses ring psychology in his matches. Hardcore wrestlers apply the same principles of pure wrestling to hardcore matches. They still treat pro-wrestling as a sport as opposed to a blood bath by resorting to strategy and applying wrestling techniques in their matches. They are aware of their surroundings, the rules, etc. and use that to sell their moves to the crowd.
One of my favorite hardcore matches serving as an example of ring psychology is between Sabu and Abyss at TNA's Turning Point barbed wire match in 2005. Notice how both pro-wrestlers struggle over control and try to throw each other into the barbed wire while avoiding it at the same time. Take note of how they took the time to sell their moves as the match progresses.
* Creativity - Hardcore wrestling contrary to popular belief have creativity in their matches. A fantastic example of this is Tommy Dreamer. Whenever he was tossed a weapon by ECW fans regardless of what it was, he would instantly use it creatively and often painfully on his opponents. It's easy to see why he earned the title of "the innovator of violence." It doesn't matter what weapon you have, it's how you use them that matters.
Any hardcore match that completely lacks all three of these elements and more is what i define as garbage wrestling. There's nothing wrong with garbage wrestling. It's only when hardcore wrestlers and fans forget about the foundations of hardcore wrestling that problems arise. What's wrong with today's hardcore wrestlers? They think that by doing high spots, they are great at hardcore wrestling which isn't true. It doesn't matter how brutal your moves are or how bloody your matches are. If you rush your matches by over-saturating them with gore and lack story-telling, ring psychology, a believable character, and creativity then you won't be a memorable hardcore wrestler.