Now that 2019 has come and gone many matches have been thrown about as Match of the Year contenders: Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi, Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston among others. There is however one match that deserves special consideration. On April 5, 2019, at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3, The Invisible Man defeated Invisible Stan in seven7 minutes of intense, invisible action.
Perhaps the fact that only referee Bryce Remsburg could actually see the match, he was wearing glasses that gave him “bad boy vision,” could disqualify it from Match of the Year candidacy. But this match is such a great deconstruction of pro wrestling that everyone who loves wrestling in the squared circle needs to check it out. It’s a hell of a lot of fun to boot.
Before the bell has rung the audience boos the introduction of Invisible Stan and chants of “F*** You Stan” echo through the ballroom. Once Stan is in the ring the referee checks him for weapons and gets into an argument with the competitor. The Invisible Man enters to cheers of “Welcome Back.” This is all pretty standard for a big match the audience really want to see, the difference is there aren’t in wrestlers here. The crowd cheers when a string pulls the entrance curtain to the side and no one walks out, they reach for high fives from no one, they curse and boo no one, the camera looks up at no one standing on the ropes, it’s an empty shot of the ceiling yet the audience understands everything that’s going on. They are deciding as one, with some direction from a cameraman or a referee, what is taking place inside the ring.
Once the match starts the wrestlers lock up, they trade near falls, they exchange blows to more cheers and boos from the crowd. What’s so great about this match is that while it becomes an entertaining piece of drama, it would not work at all without the audience’s involvement. One would assume you need two people to put on a match but this match proves otherwise. They boo the dirty tactics of the heel and cheer the comeback flashes of the face without ever seeing the action. The audience creates the match in their minds and the minds of those watching online.
This is not a new idea that the audience holds such power at a show. The whole idea of “being over” is about getting the crowd on your side. But nothing highlights how much a part of the action the crowd is then having a match without wrestlers. Nothing reveals all the tropes, techniques, and psychology of getting the crowd involved than a match with nothing but cliches. The match blazes through an exchange of blows, an eye poke, a brawl through the crowd, and even a grand finale of a spot where no one falls from a balcony to the floor down below. Then the crowd cheers the spectacle of the spot.
The match itself is brisk and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It hits the spots it needs to so the crowd stays hot the whole time. Perhaps it takes an understanding of wrestling to be appreciated but as long as you have that, the match is a must-see from 2019.