Squash matches are a necessary aspect of booking, used to establish new wrestlers as worthy, dominant competitors. Before being inserted into a storyline, it is customary for a debuting star to manhandle, or "squash," a few low to mid-card wrestlers in order to gain credibility and appear as a threat. That's nothing new.
With the debuts of Brodus "The Funkasaurus" Clay, Lord Tensai, Ryback and Damien Sandow in the past several months, the WWE viewer has been fed a steady diet of squash matches as of late. The problem? Squash matches aren't all that entertaining.
Typically, a squash match, from bell to bell, takes less time than it takes for the two combatants to enter the ring. The wrestler being showcased usually performs one or two high-impact maneuvers, gives the audience a taste of their in-ring style and character mannerisms and then executes an impressive finisher. Their mission is to drive home one important point: you should pay attention to me.
Once this character has established himself as a powerful force, the squash match no longer serves a purpose. Like training wheels, they help a superstar to reach a certain level and must be dropped to pursue bigger, better, more challenging things. But when left on too long, they become boring, elementary and obsolete.
Take Brodus Clay, for instance. Upon his debut as the "Funkasaurus," Clay surprised everyone and managed to get his new, silly gimmick over. After squashing the likes of Heath Slater and JTG, the fans wondered what the next step for Brodus would be. However, that step never came.
After a brief hiatus from television, Clay picked right up where he left off, squashing his way to formulaic victory after formulaic victory. What started as a fresh, promising new gimmick deflated into a stale, pointless way to kill time and get a kid in the ring to dance.
In a similar way, Ryback's path of devastation has gone from impressive to predictable to sad. Many nights, an audible portion of the fans boo Ryback out of sympathy for the "local" sheep being sent to slaughter.
Then there's Lord Tensai. Need I say more?
The latest injection of new blood is Damien Sandow. Unlike the others, Sandow has cut promos and given the fans a glimpse into his psyche. He is not a grunting monster. He is not a comedy act. His gimmick has potential to elevate him towards rewarding programs, especially in what has become a depleted roster as of late.
However, the only glimpses we have been given of the arrogant Sandow in the ring have been squashes. Sandow is relatively new to the main roster and has not yet overstayed his welcome. And I am not trying to argue that squash matches serve no purpose. However, it is crucial that Sandow makes the transition into a meaningful storyline soon.
The WWE roster is in the midst of a major overhaul, transitioning into a new era of talent. As legends like The Undertaker, Triple H and Chris Jericho enter the twilight of their careers, a large crop of new talent have come calling. Guys like Ryback and Sandow have made the jump, while FCW stars like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt are highly anticipated. With so much new talent to integrate, the dangers of being lost in the shuffle are very real.
To combat this danger, the WWE must find new, creative ways to establish debuting wrestlers in the near future. Squash matches are indeed a necessary, time-tested way to build up new guys in the business, and when done right, they help facilitate growth in the characters. However, if the WWE plans on having this new wave of talent simply squash their way to prominence, they may be barking up the wrong tree.