Top 5 Things In Pro Wrestling That Need To Go Away
Walk into any independent organization locker room, choose one of their wrestlers at random, and ask him the question “What is your main goal every time you step into the ring?” and I can practically GUARANTEE that you get the wrong answer.
To put on the best match possible. WRONG ANSWER.
To ensure my safety and the safety of my opponent. WRONG ANSWER.
To hit all our spots correctly. WRONG ANSWER.
The main goal every time a wrestler steps in the ring is to……….now lean in closely because this is a closely guarded secret – so good that most wrestlers themselves don’t even know it – is to WIN THE FRIGGIN’ MATCH.
I realize that much of what I say in this post is going to make me sound like an old fart, but in many ways, I AM an old fart. As I wrote in my previous column, kayfabe died way back in 1997. The “new work” I wrote about is the beginning to, if you’ll pardon a potentially Presidential pun, making pro wrestling great again.
For many many MANY years, professional wrestling thrived on a very simple formula. Two wrestlers have some issue between them, which is built up over several weeks or months, leading to a match between the two. A wrestling match is nothing more than simulated combat between the two. Two guys (and yes, it could be ladies as well, but that’s not the point of this article) playing their roles to perfection, listening to the audience and working, yes WORKING, to tell a captivating story and lead the fans on an emotional roller coaster. When the finish goes off, the crowd responds appropriately, and they move on the next chapter of the neverending story.
Since the death of kayfabe, most of the current wrestling fanbase knows that what goes on in the ring is not a life or death struggle. That said, they still get caught up in the emotions of what is being presented to them. They enjoy using a suspension of disbelief, similar to the way they will when they go to a movie. They know that Joe Pesci isn’t really getting shot, but react to the character he is portraying. Wrestling is unique in the sense that we are the only entertainment medium that can interact with our audience, and those who do it well know when and how to interact.
Goofy spots have always found their way into the business as well. There is nothing wrong with adding a little humor into the show. Little people madness, or “midget matches” as they were known when the entire world wasn’t so politically correct, spring immediately to mind. Running between the referee’s legs, biting his ass, and the chase spot were all designed to draw laughter from the audience. A more recent example took place a few years ago at a CZW event when a masked wrestler named Ophidian “hypnotized” his opponents and the entire locker room. The match fell apart instantly as the wrestlers, under hypnosis, broke into a huge breakdancing party.
The audience NEEDS this release from time to time. As long as the humor is presented in a somewhat realistic way, the fans will be entertained. The goofy stuff is fine for one portion of the show, but it should NOT be happening during actual matches. Any spot that forces the fans to BREAK the suspension of disbelief is a spot that shouldn’t be happening. Therefore, to educate, entertain, and inform, I have put together my own list of 5 things in pro wrestling that need to go away.
5. The Flippy Floppy Wristlock Reversal
It happens on almost every independent event. Collar and elbow tieup into the bottom wristlock spot. Reversal, slightly different reversal, slightly more complicated reversal, into the flippy floppy. As the wrestler on offense in this move, why in the world wouldn’t I just let go of your damn arm? Seriously, next time you see this ridiculous gymnastics display, concentrate on the guy holding the arm as he stares slack-jawed at his opponent rolling and flipping and expending tons of energy simply to reverse the most basic of moves.
If you go back to the olden days, you will see guys reversing and re-reversing arm locks of all kinds. Each move is accomplished SLOWLY so it actually means something. Less is more. Making simple moves more complicated does not necessarily make them better. If it were a real contest or fight, all the attacker would have to do is let go, watch you land on your head, and then finish the job.
4. Turning Your Back on Your Opponent
This one is also a beginning-of-the-match gem. Once the standard minute of chain wrestling is over and the headlock is applied, let’s walk together back to the ropes so I can shoot you to the other side and get ready to get tackled. As I’m down, recovering from the first back bump of the match, we’ll make eye contact. You then turn your back to me and point at the ropes as if to say “I’m going to run over there now!” And so you do.
Now then, if this were a real fight and you knocked me down, and then turned your back on me…..well, that would be all the opportunity I needed. Again, remember wrestling is simulated combat. If it wouldn’t work in a real-life situation, then you shouldn’t be trying it in the squared circle.
A similar trope occurs when wrestlers don’t defend themselves. Vince’s biggest pet peeve (other than sneezing) is when a wrestler (sorry, sports entertainer) is being choked out in the corner of the ring and his arms are lying on the ropes, instead of where a real person’s arms would be which is trying to get his attacker’s hands off of his damn neck.
3. Any Move That Requires One Competitor To Play Dead For An Exorbitant Amount Of Time
When a referee is bumped and is “knocked out” for a minute or two, it tends to make sense. Refs should be smaller than the wrestlers. If a heavily muscled 240 pound man crashes into a skinny 150 pounder, it is going to be bad for the smaller guy. There is a limit, though, to what is believable and when it is time to call the paramedics. If a ref is knocked out for over 5 minutes, it’s time to call a coroner.
This situation is even worse when it’s one of the wrestlers that need to play dead. Many of these spots tend to be fan favorites, but if you actually examine them, they are ridiculous. Let’s examine Scotty 2 Hotty’s “Worm” spot. First, he whips his opponent into a corner and they step out. He then bulldogs him right next to the ropes, at which point he inexplicably turns immediately over onto his back. Scotty throws out his arms to signal for the move, does a little dance, bounces around the ring 4 times so the crowd can spell W O R M, does a breakdancing move, does ANOTHER dance move so the crowd can chant WOO WOO WOO WOO, and finally gives his opponent a chop to the neck area, that at best, can be mildly annoying.
The entire process takes between 20 and 30 seconds to complete, and doesn’t even lead to a pinfall. So whoever is working with Scotty has to play dead for that long. If your opponent is unable to move for that long, why wouldn’t you just pin him?
Similar atrocities include the People’s Elbow, the 619, and the Five Knuckle Shuffle, though none of those spots require the time commitment that the Worm does.
2. Any Move Where it is Painfully Obvious that it Requires Your Opponent’s Full Cooperation
Most wrestling moves could be pulled off in a real fight situation. A hip toss, for example, is a modified judo throw. A suplex, a bodyslam, and even an armdrag, can all be performed without cooperation. It is believable, in the guise of simulated combat, for a wrestler to try to injure his opponent. What is NOT believable, however, is any move that requires the cooperation of your opponent to such a degree that it makes even the most jaded mark say “Oh, come on…”
In an effort to get over, wrestlers have invented and modified existing moves to make them look more spectacular. That is fine. But, some of them so far beyond the line of common sense, that they do more harm than good.
Take the Canadian Destroyer, for example. Made famous by Petey Williams, this move starts out as a standard piledriver. However, Petey (and others performing this move) then basically backdrop themselves over their opponent, flipping over into a seated position, inexplicably bringing their opponent with them to end back with a piledriver. I don’t care if you have legs with the strength of tree trunks, try this in a real fight and you just lost.
The Van Daminator is another one. On occasion, RVD and his opponent have made this look believable, but 9 times out of 10, it’s ridiculous. The first time it was pulled off is completely believable. However, in the process of “scouting your opponent”, if you watch tapes and see that every time you catch a chair thrown by Rob leads to him spin kicking it into your face, why wouldn’t you just knock the chair down when it’s thrown at you?
The most ridiculous one I’ve seen, however, is John Morrison’s Backflip Rock Bottom. It’s a backflip for the sake of a backflip. It doesn’t make the uranage hurt any more. But if somebody grabbed you in this position and then did a backflip, you would still be standing there.
1. The Dick/Ass Spot
Oh. My. God.
If you’ve never seen this, you owe it to yourself to search the Youtubes. To be fair, the spot is funny. Try to picture this.
The spot went viral after it was performed by Joey Ryan in a match against Danshoku Dino in Japan. Dino grabbed Ryan’s crotch area in a “testicular claw” hold. Instead of screaming in pain however, Ryan starts flexing like Hulk Hogan. Each time he does, Dino sells. After three flexes/sells, Ryan swings his arms and Danshoku takes a flip bump. If that’s hard to visualize, Joey Ryan makes it look like his penis was strong enough to flip Dino over.
Shaking my damn head.
WHY THE FUCK WOULDN’T DINO LET GO??????
To crank up the stupidity level, the spot became his trademark to a degree and he was brought into PWS, a large regional indy in the Northeast that later became WrestlePro. During a battle royal, one of their wrestlers makes the mistake of grabbing Ryan’s junk. Then a third wrestler grabs the second one’s crotch. Then a fourth. Then a fifth. When all is said and done, there are about 15 guys in the ring, all holding the dick of the guy next to them. Once they are all holding on, Ryan starts flexing and EVERYBODY else starts selling. So apparently his penis is so powerful that it gives strength to everybody else’s penis as well. After the same 3 flexes and sells, he twists his arm, and EVERY SINGLE WRESTLER FLIES OVER THE TOP ROPE giving Joey Ryan the win in the battle royal.
Still have some brain cells left? LET’S KICK IT UP A NOTCH.
Recently, at a PWG event, there was a multi-man match which included world-class wrestler Jushin “Thunder” Liger. Two of the other guys were working and it is apparently one of their gimmicks to shove his thumb up his opponent’s ass. Fine, I can let go of disbelief and see why that would be painful. In order to save his partner, Liger immediately jumps in and offers his own ass. Talk about taking one for the team. So Anal Molester Guy goes over and does his thing to Liger. Apparently, though, Liger’s ass muscles are even more impressive than Joey Ryan’s dick, because A.M.G. starts screaming in pain while Liger does his Kiegel exercises. For some unexplored yet baffling reason, all of the other wrestlers decide to form a similar train that PWS did, and we end up watching as 8 guys each have their thumb up somebody else’s ass like a really graphic Gay Pride Parade. Liger starts strutting around the ring, dragging the rest of the train behind him. On cue, all the wrestlers besides Liger proceed to bump.
What the fucking fuck?
There are those who will defend these spots, and to those people I say everybody has an opinion, and yours is wrong. If I want to see a comedy show, I’ll go to see a comedian. When I go to see wrestling, I want to put myself into a state of mind where I can get into the characters and their motivations.
I do not want to be reminded that what I’m watching is fake. I do not want to see Bruce Willis’ character get shot in a movie, then in the next scene, he pops up and tells me he is ok. I don’t want to see Elliott Stabler get stabbed on SVU, but then see Chris Meloni in the dressing room, cleaning up the fake blood. Stop reminding me that one of my favorite forms of entertainment is just that.
Like I said in my last post, the “new work” has an element of realism to it. Daniel Bryan and the Miz. Shane vs Stephanie. Let’s work on putting that realism back into the ring as well.
I’m the Hooded Jobber, and that’s my opinion.