JTG, Brooklyn Brawler and the Evolution of the WWE Jobber
JTG represents the latest stage of the evolution of the jobber, the ever-changing position situated at the bottom of the WWE ladder.
In order to make one wrestler dominant, another must be dominated. For one superstar to become a destructive force, another must be destroyed.
This has been the job of the WWE jobber for years.
Otherwise known as a ham-and-egger, journeyman or enhancement talent, the jobber, like WWE itself, has transformed over time.
In the Beginning
There were certainly jobbers before the '80s but that’s when the divide between WWE's haves and have-nots became most apparent thanks to shows like Challenge.
Previously, men like Johnny Rodz and Jose Estrada lost aplenty. They didn't lose though as consistently as their '80s counterparts. In 1975 for example, Rodz lost just about every day, but he did manage wins against Lee Wong, Bill White and also fought Mike Paidousis to a draw.
WWE's shows Challenge and Superstars featured a more clear-cut distinction between predator and prey. Wrestlers who no one knew fell victim to bigger names in short, one-sided matches.
In this 1987 match, jobber Van Van Horne is used as a means to make One Man Gang look like a vicious, unstoppable beast.
Van Horne is given no chance to win, not by the fans and not by the announcers. Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan even mock Van Horne throughout the match.
This kind of humiliating experience would hurt the credibility of a wrestler fans recognized, so the job instead goes to this faceless journeyman.
Jobbers of this era were much like the bad guys in movies who have no lines and get punched out with a single blow from the movie's hero.
Only the most diehard of fans would even knew who a guy like Pete Sanchez was. There were however members of the enhancement talent community who were recognizable and memorable to this day.
Faces Among the Faceless
Among the losing brethren, a few faces emerged from the fog of obscurity.
Barry Horowitz caught fans' attention by patting himself on the back, to congratulate himself after every bit of success.
Like he did in a match against Razor Ramon, Horowitz got in more offense on his foes than many other enhancement talents.
To a lesser extent, Iron Mike Sharpe made himself noticed with his trademark leather wristband and his brawling ring style.
No one embodies the character jobber more so than Steve Lombardi, though.
WWE transformed Lombardi from just another journeyman into the torn-shirt wearing and cigar chewing Brooklyn Brawler.
The Brooklyn Brawler became recognizable despite his woeful record. He faced big names like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, losing aplenty.
Lombardi's choice to stick around makes it seem he was okay with being on the losing side as often as need be. He also lengthened his WWE career by taking any gimmick they threw at him.
The company asked him to portray Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz, The Red Knight and Kamala's handler, Kim Chee at various times. None of these were main-event positions in any way.
Lombardi and Horowitz, though, seemed to realize the value of excelling at losing, of making other guys look great. WWE still pays the guy who ends up on his back.
A change was coming, however, in who would be doing the losing.
Eventually, the obvious outcomes were abandoned.
The Attitude Era saw a lot more superstar-on-superstar, predator-on-predator matches. That continued on without returning to the traditional jobber formula.
Fans could see right through a match pitting a guy with an actual ring name against a guy with an accountant's name and nondescript ring wear.
There was little reason to watch a match that fans could predict before the bell rang.
Imagine if The Chicago Bears played Florida Atlantic one Sunday. That was the equivalent of some of those squash matches.
With the landscape of WWE completely different, the new mutation of jobber was born.
The jobber of today is not as obvious. He may slip into that role over time. He may have been a winner at some point, a champion even.
It's a shifting position, a rotating set of names.
Santino Marella has been mostly a jobber, providing comic relief in the midst of his losses. 3MB have joined forces as jobbers united.
Their leader, Heath Slater went from tag champion to jobber to incoming guest wrestlers like Road Warrior Animal leading up to Raw 1000.
Jack Swagger was World Heavyweight champ in 2010. In 2012, he lost 32 of 44 TV and pay-per-view matches. At least for last year, Swagger was essentially a jobber.
JTG was never as successful as Swagger, but has fallen into a role where he loses often as well. In 2012 alone, JTG lost to Mason Ryan, Ryback, Brodus Clay, Damien Sandow and even Richie Steamboat at a house show in June.
That losing streak is a long ways removed from his days competing alongside Shad Gaspard for the tag titles.
The difference between an '80s jobber and JTG is that the latter is far more likely to pull out a win than someone like Rusty Brooks. So as unlikely as it is for JTG to beat someone like Ryback, it's still a possibility.
At any moment fans could be witness the beginning of a new push. Jobber status now is less permanent.
The biggest negative of this current state of jobbers has the issue that placing a man like JTG in the role of continual loser can frustrate that superstar's fanbase.
It's not as if Van Van Horne had his own fan club.
Few folks cared if he didn't win. JTG, Drew McIntyre and Zack Ryder have fans and those fans have to watch one of their favorites descend into loserdom.
There has to be someone at the bottom of the pile, though. WWE's current jobber usage allows wrestlers to move up or down said pile.
The WWE hierarchy is a series of slow-moving tectonic plates where the jobbers can become winners and vice versa. Seeing how the jobber position has morphed over the years, it's likely that fans will see them evolve into a new version of the species yet again.
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