Hello fellow Bleachers!
Welcome to the second edition of Bleacher Report Card. This is where I, using no criteria whatsoever, grade the finer points of the WWE.
Just like last week's article, the grades will be handed out using an A to F scale based on whatever random reasons I come up with at the time.
This week, I will be discussing the various ways for a match to end in the WWE. Are some endings always epic? Are there things that constantly feel like a let down? Let's see!
If you asked a friend who doesn't watch wrestling how a person wins a match, the first thing that they'd say would be the three-count pinfall.
Pinning an opponent with their shoulders on the mat is the bread and butter of winning a wrestling match. If wrestling was a Stallone movie, the pinfall would be the cheesy one-liner.
Regardless of whether the person going for the pin is a heel or a crowd favorite, the entire WWE Universe chants the familiar "One...Two...TWO!" with every near fall. Even after a simple clothesline that we know isn't going to end the match, we sing along with the referee.
While many of the top dogs in the business have a fairly predictable end-of-match execution (signature, signature, reversal, taunt, finisher, pin), there is still something special about the old "one, two, three."
Final Grade: A
If pinning your opponent is the Emperor Palpatine of ending matches, then making them submit is the Darth Vader.
For some time in the late 2000s, the art of winning matches by submission was lost in the WWE. Even major title contenders like Chris Jericho couldn't win matches with their patented submission move. From 2007 until 2010, televised matches ended in submissions at a ridiculous rate of about once a month.
We're talking about one of the most exciting aspects of watching a live event, here. Is he going to tap? Can he reach the ropes?
Submitting to an opponent's finisher is an excellent way to put them over. Anyone can get lucky and get a three count, but there aren't a lot of ways to cheat your way into a submission.
Luckily, with many of the WWE mainstays winning their matches via submission again (CM Punk with his Anaconda Vise, Daniel Bryan with the Labelle Lock, Chris Jericho with the Walls of Jericho and even John Cena using the STF), we can once again sit on the edge of our seats come WrestleMania as Triple H attempts to escape the Hell's Gate.
Final Grade: A
There are plenty of ways to get yourself disqualified in professional wrestling. For example:
- not letting go a hold on an opponent at the ropes through a five count
- attacking a referee
- using an illegal move (thumb to the eye, low blow, etc.)
The most common two reasons for a disqualification, however, are attacking someone with a foreign object and having an outsider interfere in the match on your behalf.
It is hard to grade disqualifications on a whole, because there is such a wide variety of uses for them.
When, for example, a title holder has himself intentionally disqualified to retain a title (provided this isn't overused but does lead to a stipulation match), it can be beneficial to the story. On the other hand, losing because you wouldn't let go of a submission move in a non-title match is rarely entertaining.
Run-ins are a mixed bag as well. As a general rule, if the interference sets up an alliance or rivalry, then I consider it a success. If it is used to build on an existing rivalry, I see it as neutral. And, of course, if the implications are never brought up again, then it is a miserable failure.
Final Grade: C+
I can't remember a time when a match ended in a count out and the crowd seemed pleased by it.
Randy Orton is arguably the most over crowd favorite in the WWE right now, and if he won a match through a count out the crowd would be silent at best.
I don't think I'd dislike the concept of not being able to leave the ring for too long if the referees could agree to a single pace for counting. Sometimes they count every couple of seconds, and sometimes they seem to let them stay out for three to five minutes without ending the match.
I understand that the idea is kayfabe, but it kills the suspension of disbelief if you count someone out in 15 seconds after you just let both men be out of the ring for 30.
Final Grade: D+
"I've got an idea," said the man sitting at the head of the table at WWE Creative. "How about instead of actually having a winner, we make it so nobody wins!"
"Give this man a Cadillac!" replied Vince McMahon.
I have to imagine this is how someone originally came up with the terrible idea of ending matches with a no contest.
There are many ways to end a match without a winner (double count out, double pinfall, have the ring collapse, both wrestlers abducted by aliens) and all of them are terrible.
When the Big Show and Brock Lesnar collapsed the ring after a massive superplex, I was stunned. For the first time I could remember, the WWE had ended a match without a winner in an amazingly entertaining and unique fashion. "They'll never be able to do this one again" I foolishly thought.
As we all know, lightning attempted to strike twice at Vengeance this past year, only to end with no flair whatsoever.
If I paid to attend a major WWE event and the main even ended without a clear winner, I'm pretty sure my head would explode into rage kittens.
Final Grade: D-
Escape the cage: B+
Ladder / TLC / Money in the Bank / "On a Pole": A-
"I Quit": A
Casket / Ambulance: C-
Bra and Panties: D
Iron Man: A
Kiss my Foot: D-
Battle Royal: B+
First Blood: C
Strap / Bull Rope: B
Buried Alive: D+
(Note: These grades are based solely on how one wins the match. This does not take into account the quality of any matches in the past, only the actual stipulation for winning)
That concludes episode two of Bleacher Report Card!
Disagree with any of the grades? Have an idea for a topic you'd like to see graded? Feel free to be your own Bleacher Teacher and give me your grades in the comment section!
Bobby "The Bleacher Teacher" Brandi is on Twitter! Follow him @BleacherTeacher for live coverage of WWE events and general complaining.