There are many rules in the WWE, or any professional sports league, or pretty much anywhere you go on life. A company that's been around as long as the WWE obviously has many rules their wrestlers have to follow, otherwise they would be called WCW.
If the rule's there, it must be right and make sense...right? Wrong, there is always controversy in the world of pro wrestling; and always will be.
Let's look at one rule in particular that always pisses me off when it is ignored or enforced when it doesn't apply to the match at hand: Rope Break.
A rope break, in theory, is relatively simple. If you have your opponent in a submission hold or are covering them for a pin, and they get their hand or foot on the ring ropes, the referee stops the count.
If you have your opponent in a submission hold and they reach the ropes, you must release the hold before the referee counts to five. If not, you will be disqualified and lose the match.
If you're covering your opponent for a pin and they get their hand or foot on the bottom rope, then the referee stops the count. There is an exception to this rule however, as the referee doesn't always see the person's hand/foot on the ropes and counts to three.
In those cases, the referee's ruling stands. There are other cases when a General Manager, a Tag Team Partner or Manager notice that the one person had their hand/foot on the ropes and will either order the match restarted (if they have the authority to do so) or will inform the referee.
In those cases, the referee usually restarts the match, and it continues until somebody wins. Here are some examples of when the Rope Break rule was correctly and properly enforced:
5/22/05 - John Cena VS JBL ("I Quit" match for WWE Championship)
During the first few minutes of the match, JBL was caught in an Arm Drag from Cena. Cena held onto JBL's arm, holding him in a modified Armbar. JBL crawled to the ropes and when he got there, just looked at Referee Nick Patrick as to say "What are you waiting for ref? Break the damn hold."
The referee didn't do anything, and then Michael Cole pointed out what JBL was trying to do. JBL was trying to draw a Rope break to get out of the hold, but he was told that there is no Rope Break in an "I Quit" match. So JBL rolled out of the ring to get away from Cena.
5/26/06 - Rey Mysterio VS JBL (Title VS Career)
JBL hit Mysterio with the Clothesline From Hell and got the 1-2-3 over him. I believe it was Chavo Guerrero (obviously before he turned on Rey) that told the referee that Mysterio's foot was on the ropes. After realizing this, the ref took the title from JBL telling him that the match was still going.
Shortly thereafter, Mysterio pinned JBL to retain the World Title and send JBL into semi-retirement. The match stipulations were that JBL must retire, but he showed up a few days later at ECW One Night Stand saying that since Tazz left SmackDown for ECW, that he would be taking his place.
Now as many times as the Rope Break rule was correctly enforced, there are times when the rule is enforced when it doesn't apply to that match; as follows:
3/11/08 - Tommy Dreamer/Colin Delaney VS Miz/Morrison (ECW Extreme Rules Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships)
This was huge in my eyes. I knew that Miz/Morrison would win, but it was still awesome. I took my wife with me (we were just friends back then). I'm holding up my "I CAME TO SEE COLIN DELANEY" as high as I could, thinking that maybe he'll see it and do something.
Do what, I don't know. I was lost in the moment and most of my logic went out the window. Dreamer/Delaney got a huge pop when they came out. Delaney was wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey (the real baseball team in Chi-town) and Dreamer was wearing a Chicago White Sox jersey.
At one point, Delaney went for the "Wassup drop" (I think that's what they call it) on The Miz. To make things even better, he was wearing a Chicago Bears helmet when he was doing it!
The match was good, but I got really pissed off at one point and started yelling towards the ring. Dreamer and Delaney had just hit simultaneous DDTs on Miz & Morrison and covered them for the pin. The ref slaps the mat 1-2-Rope Break, Miz & Morrison both got their foot on the ropes to stop the count.
I'm sorry, but I thought this was supposed to be an ECW Extreme Rules match, I got confused. Extreme Rules means there are no rules! I'm sure you can see and share my frustration at that point.
2/15/09 - Elimination Chamber
Now I don't remember the specific details for this one. It's the most recent of all the matches, but due to the fact that there was two chamber matches and 6 participants in each match, it's easy to get a little confused.
Me and my wife were at a bar watching No Way Out this past Sunday, and I got upset during one of the two chamber matches. I don't know which two men were involved; but I remember at one point somebody was being pinned and the referee stopped the count because they had their foot on the ropes.
The bar erupted, and I heard several people complaining about that. They were (as was I) wondering why the ref stopped the count when there's no rules inside the Elimination Chamber.
Now I think the Rope Break rule is a necessity to have. It keeps honest men honest, as the saying goes. It helps to prevent one superstar from getting an unfair advantage or a cheap victory. I'm not suggesting they get rid of it, rather sit down and look at it.
They need to figure out when and where to utilize the Rope Break rule. It's been misused so many times throughout the years, it starts to get pathetic sometimes. Like recently when JBL was in Shawn Michaels' corner in a match against John Cena.
Cena had Michaels locked in the STFU, and HBK kept trying to pull himself to the ropes. He was within inches, and the ref kept a close eye on Michaels, the ring ropes and JBL, to make sure that he didn't interfere by pushing the rope towards Michaels.
Yet as soon as the ref looked away to ask Shawn if he wanted to continue or if he wanted to quit, JBL pushed the rope far enough forward for Michaels to grab hold of the bottom ring rope, forcing the ref to break the count.
We all know the stuff is scripted and pre-determined, but come on WWE...make it look a little more believable for God's sake; and keep some consistency in your rules.
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