When WWE brought Brodus Clay back as "The Funkasaurus," his natural charisma, comedic in-ring quips, and killer dance moves made him an instant hit.
To get him over as a wrestler, rather than simply an entertainer, WWE booked him in a never-ending series of squash matches with perpetual jobbers like Curt Hawkins and Heath Slater.
Elaborate entrance, a few power moves, pin.
Since early January, we've seen more of Naomi and Cameron dancing than we've seen of Brodus Clay wrestling.
When WWE advertised the debut of Matt Bloom (A.K.A. A-Train) as the mysterious–and racially insensitive, it appears–Lord Tensai, they booked him in a squash match against Alex Riley, already a victim of the Funkasaurus in late January.
Elaborate entrance, a few power moves, ref calls the match when Riley can't continue.
On the most recent episode of Smackdown, former NXT rookie Skip Sheffield made his return as Ryback, and quickly squashed Barry Stevens (who?).
To ensure that Ryback was accepted as a face, Stevens was given about thirty seconds to deliver a horrendous pre-match promo insulting the Orlando crowd before Ryback came out.
A few power moves, pin. No elaborate entrance because, hey, it's Smackdown and they aren't even trying anymore.
The squash match formula is killing the WWE. There are now at least three guys on the roster who come out and take time away from the other, more accomplished wrestlers. Assuming, of course, that the more accomplished wrestler isn't the guy who they're about to annihilate. In doing so, they add little to no value to the show.
I treat a squash match like I treat a Divas match. If I need to refill my drink, grab a bag of chips, or take a leak, I know that's the time to do it. It's not like WWE goes out of its way to mask what's about to happen.
Hapless jobber stands in or around the ring, watches the spectacle of whichever Superstar WWE has decided to push most recently, and is announced briefly after the fact.
To what end? Is this the only way WWE can think of to push debuting talent?
Here's a hulking mountain of a man who looks like he could tear off your face and wear it like a Halloween mask, so forget putting him in any real feuds. Forget giving him anything significant to say other than a few taunts–English optional, bloody murder screams preferred–and let him waste five or ten minutes of airtime that could be better spent on, for example, restoring a truly awful tag team division.
Or not. Instead we can go to the next match... Big Show vs. Heath Slater. Rinse, lather, repeat.
I don't view these behemoths as daunting or imposing. I view them as a bunch of guys with limited move sets, due either to inexperience or the diminished skills that generally accompany age.
I'm not entertained when the Big Show comes out and hammers a better wrestler in the face with a lunchbox-sized fist. I'm not entertained when the Great Khali chops a better wrestler in the head with a frying pan-sized open hand.
The most innovative, if not necessarily the most well-executed return in recent memory, was when Chris Jericho, widely regarded as one of the best promo men in the business, came back and didn't say a word. Not only that, he didn't wrestle for weeks.
Was I annoyed? Absolutely. Mission accomplished, Chris. And while it left a bad taste in some fans' mouths, at least it was original. That's something that smaller guys are forced to do, to the overall benefit of the show. They can't just come out and slam people, cock back a fist and deliver a knockout blow. They actually have to wrestle.
It's no surprise that the battle to determine the best wrestler in the world was between two guys who probably don't even touch six feet. It's no surprise that Daniel Bryan, credited as the best technical wrestler in WWE right now, is way south of six feet. These guys actually have to work to be taken seriously, and it pays off.
I'm not saying the squash match has no place in professional wrestling, but it's clear that it's been overdone as of late.
Why was the cell largely irrelevant in the otherwise enjoyable Undertaker vs. Triple H match at WrestleMania? Because they barely used it, for one, and because WWE went from having one a year from 2003-2008 to seven Hell in a Cell matches in the last two and a half years, and Taker-HHH makes eight.
WWE has to reach deeper into its bag of tricks if they want to keep people entertained. It's time, for now, to squash the squash match.