There are various things that irk me about Brock Lesnar's newest finishing hold for his current WWE stint. When he went for it at the Extreme Rules PPV against John Cena, long time play by play commentator Michael Cole straight away called it 'The Kimura'. Most fans that have followed MMA and have seen its influence in Pro Wrestling are probably thinking "Great! WWE are educating themselves and letting the MMA and Jiu Jitsu lexicon become a part of their program".
Unfortunately I see it as just another betrayal by WWE of their roots. They have forsaken their history of Catch As Catch Can Wrestling so much, they can't even refer to it as a Double Wrist Lock anymore.The last time I can even remember the phrase 'Catch As Catch Can' being used on WWE programming was in a match between Ken Shamrock and a returning Jeff Jarrett who was part of a Jim Cornette led NWA invasion, where the classic commentary team of Jerry Lawlor and Jim Ross called the match.
A favourite of many workers throughout history, including the late, great Lou Thesz, the Double Wrist Lock was a formidable hold even in a shoot environment.
Now WWE refer to a staple of their past as the renamed 'Kimura', named by the Gracie Jiu Jitsu family in tribute to the famous Judoka Masahiko Kimura who broke Helio Gracie's arm with the hold in a match they had in the 1950's. Kimura learned the hold as an Ude Garami, which essentially translates to 'arm entanglement'. Ironically Kimura was also a Pro Wrestler in Japan, so instead of a move called by its pro wrestling name, we have a move named after a pro wrestler. Not quite a Stone Cold Stunner though, is it?
Wrestling Legend Karl Gotch (left) and Masahiko Kimura (right)
But that's not what bothers me the most about Brock Lesnar using it. Arguing over semantics is a minor grumble, and at this point in time Jiu Jitsu is having the most success from a brand and marketing perspective. My biggest issue is with Brock Lesnar's application of it.
Continue reading after the jump ...
The first commandment of competitive wrestling is "Thou Shalt Not Be Pinned". OK, WWE has never been competitive, but it had for many years pretended to be so until the McMahons essentially said 'To Hell With It' and embraced what we now refer to as Sports Entertainment. Even so, the way the majority of worked matches can be booked to end is by Pin or by Submission, and this concept still exists today.
WWE and Pro Wrestling has in the past played with this concept to create controversy and continue programs between feuding rivals. Purposely poorly executed German Suplex pins have resulted in double pins when both wrestlers' shoulders are on the mat (Bret Hart has been in a couple of these finishes). A finish used 10 years ago between Kurt Angle and The Undertaker resulted in a simultaneous pin and submission tap out as The Undertaker stacked Kurt Angle who was attempting a Triangle Choke (Figure Four Headscissors) counter to 'Taker's Last Ride powerbomb finisher. Some thought this was a reference to the first Matt Hughes vs Carlos Newton UFC Welterweight title fight that ended in controversy when Hughes slammed Newton unconscious who was triangle choking him, only to appear passed out on the mat as well.
So why is Brock Lesnar willingly going to his back, pulling guard and applying a 'Kimura' without getting pinned? OK, in the case of him attacking Triple H it wasn't a match and just an assault, but even Jiu Jitsu guys worth their salt will admit to their preference of finishing the hold while on top - just like the Double Wrist Lock of old.
There used to be a gimmick in the 1990's on the Indy scene of some 'Jiu Jitsu' dressed guys pulling guard and getting immediately pinned, yet we're meant to buy Lesnar won't be pinned when he does the same and applies a Kimura? Are we to forget the infamous incident where Kurt Angle's roughing up of Tough Enough contestants goes horribly wrong when the Frank-Shamrock-trained Daniel Puder -- thinking he can use submissions -- locks in a 'Kimura' from his back and cranks on Angle's arm, only for the referee to have the foresight to count a pin and save Angle and WWE from absolute embarrassment?
Even the commentary from Tazz in the video above makes mention of "You don't go to your back in a wrestling contest".
Brock Lesnar isn't alone in the absurdity of his finishing move for a Pro Wrestling environment. The Undertaker's "Hells Gate" submission -- what is more commonly known as the Gogoplata in MMA and Grappling circles -- also puts him under the threat of a pin fall.
The lack of size and exaggeration to the Kimura from your back is also problematic from a Pro Wrestling presentation standpoint. Moves became bigger and bolder in Pro Wrestling so that the person in the last row could tell what was going on just as easily as someone sitting ringside. It's less of an issue now sports and sport entertainment benefit from from big screens and zoomed cameras capturing all the action and displaying it in real time and replays in an arena, but there is less engaging of the audience the smaller you make your movement. When moves like the Crippler Crossface, Figure Four Leglock, Sharpshooter etc are worked, it's done so with the focus on facial expression and body language of both workers. This important element is largely lost when you try to make moves look too real and 'small' for Pro Wrestling.
I have no hope nor realistic expectation of the 'Kimura' being referred to as a Double Wrist Lock in WWE unless Catch Wrestling can become in vogue and the flavour of the month again, which may or may not happen in the near future. But if Brock Lesnar is going to use it, it'd both look better and make more sense if it looked more like the Double Wrist Lock of the past.
The Double Wrist Lock, applied in a Pancrase Catch Wrestling tournament in Japan