WWE’s TLC pay-per-view on December 16 brings to the fans one of the most popular match types: the gimmick match. But why do fans love gimmick matches so much?
In a time of heightened reality, where fantasy and fact are blurred, gimmick matches let the fans believe in professional wrestling again.
Back in the days of the Rock ‘N Wrestling Era, we had wrestlers who were only wrestlers. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine—these men were the heroes and villains on our screens every week.
And they were never more than that.
They weren’t on YouTube, tweeting or sending out Tout videos. The WWE and the wrestlers in it were part of their own world.
Today’s wrestlers are no longer those fictional characters. They are real people whose lives, professional and private, are open books for the fans.
In another article on Bleacher Report, a poll asked if fans should know more or less of wrestlers' private lives. Slightly fewer than 76 percent of those who took the poll said less.
This isn’t to say today’s product is bad, because it isn’t. Today’s superstars are far better athletes and entertainers. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan could wrestle circles around Tito Santana and “Jumping” Jim Brunzell.
This is why gimmick matches have gone over so well.
With the current product more focused on reality than fantasy, gimmick matches allow the fans to forget these guys are real people. The fantasy world of professional wrestling comes back, and the wrestlers are heroes once again.
In the real world, no one gets right back up after being slammed through a table. They aren’t going to move after a chair to the head or a sledgehammer to the stomach.
Wrestlers are essentially trained stuntmen who know how to fall, how to cushion blows and how to make it look real. Yes, sometimes these moves hurt. Wrestlers must have a high tolerance for pain.
But it’s rare these men get injured.
Bouts like a ladder match punish the wrestlers. But fans can relax knowing the next night on Raw, those men are going to be back in the ring.
Dictionary.com defines "gimmick" as "an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal."
Attract attention. Increase appeal. Gimmick matches are spectacles of violence and athleticism, designed for extra attention and appeal.
Wrestlers fight through the pain to become heroes.
Just like they were back in the day.