Hello, ladies and gentlemen.
Today, we are going to take a look at some of the dumbest actions that occur on-and-off camera in the world of professional wrestling.
Let's get to it.
(See, I'm breaking my trend of lengthy, article-long, introductions. I'm leading by example. Yay me!)
Oh...apparently, introductions that are less than 300 characters in length are frowned upon in this establishment!
So, to break it down, today I am going to count down 22 of the most dated, silly and unnecessary habits that you see in professional wrestling. These are things that expose the product as "fake" to the casual viewer, annoy the hardcore fan and just generally hurt wrestler's images and the sport as a whole.
As you can tell by the introduction, this isn't meant to be taken too seriously, but if you happen to be a WWE or TNA executive, you might want to take some of this to heart.
Now, let's get to it...
Yeah, that's 300 characters, here we go.
Hey guys, did you know that the WWE has more Twitter followers than the NFL?
(But hasn't ever come close to actually beating them in the ratings?)
Hey guys, did you know that WWE Raw has put out more episodes than The Simpsons?
(And yet isn't even half as popular?)
Hey guys, did you know that 78 percent of the WWE's fan base is over the age of 18?
(Seriously, I didn't know that. I'm very confused about John Cena and Hornswoggle, now.)
Hey guys, did you know that the WWE puts out more direct-to-DVD movies than any other well-funded movie studio in America?
(Wait...I don't think that's a graphic they use.)
Hey WWE, did you know that absolutely no one cares?
(And I'm not even using any creative presentation to try and fudge the stats like you do.)
This isn't a big pet-peeve, as much as it is a slight annoyance.
I understand that you have to take the monitors out of the announcers table before putting a guy through it.
If you don't, you're likely to smash into one or send one flying and cause severe injury to the performer or even fans at ringside.
But, do you have to do it on air while everyone is watching?
It's screaming: "Alright, I want to hurt this guy, but not too badly."
You can cut away to the guy laying on the ground. Perhaps cut away to the announcers running for their lives. A personal favorite, is that the assaulter can pull the monitors out and crack a guy in the head with them.
When that happens, not only does it make it look like the performer is pulling them out to hurt the other guy, as opposed to protecting him, but it also makes the other wrestler being laid out for two minutes on the ground, seem more realistic after he's been popped in the face with a monitor.
Another solution could be to switch to flat screen televisions, instead of the boxes, so they don't have to be pulled out at all. But, seeing how the WWE is trying to save money right now, that's probably not going to happen anytime soon.
But again, this is just a minor annoyance and not anything in need of drastic changes.
Another small irritant on the wrestling scene is the diabolical laugh.
In the 1980's, when characters like Jake Roberts or Ted Dibiase were doing it, it was acceptable.
Why? Because they matched it up with sticking someone's head in a bag with a snake, or jipping a child out of money they promised to give them and seeming to legitimately enjoy the disappointment on their face.
But in 2011, does anyone use the diabolical laugh outside of B-rate action flicks or Saturday morning cartoons?
Seriously, in a WWE that's supposed to have evolved from the days when comic book characters jumped off of the page and into a wrestling ring, leaving something so campy is just cringe worthy.
And from Kane to Cody Rhodes, no one can do it without sounding fake as a $3.00 bill anymore.
Just cut it out, already.
See, that is what happens when you really get your face rearranged during a match.
That's how gruesome and bloody it is, and that's how bad you look after it happens.
Compare that face, with the swollen eyes, deep scarring and mashed nose to the make up job that WWE make-up artists perform on wrestlers after certain brutal matches.
I always find it hilarious when a wrestler can have a match like a "falls count anywhere" match, blade themselves open, and then appear on TV the next day with a black eye. Even though they never got hit in the eye during the match. Even though there was no swelling during the match that would come with a black eye.
The hilarity continues through to the following week, as now, what once looked like a desperate case for plastic surgery, has completely healed up and they look right as rain. Except of course, for that one lone bandage that always remains on the forehead for that extra week.
But never fear, it'll be gone the following week. And there won't be anything under it resembling stitches, sutures or scarring.
We can tell the difference, WWE. Most people, due to sports like boxing and MMA, and accidents like Joey Mercury's, know exactly what a truly busted up face looks like.
So why keep up with the bad make up jobs?
We don't believe it. It's not even necessary. I doubt there is a single fan anywhere who says: "Man, that was one heck of a match up last night! But, because there's no scarring the next day, I'm quitting wrestling forever."
If a wrestler didn't get busted up in the face, then so be it. You don't have to make it up. It's not like we don't know which matches are supposed to be more brutal than others.
We're not stupid.
So, you're The Miz, a vocally talented and yet, severely misused WWE Superstar.
You've just launched a diabolical sneak attack on your arch-nemesis, John Cena.
Reveling in your shockingly successful sneak attack on a man known for adjusting the attitudes of entire platoons of heels at a time, you naturally remain right where you left him laying, with your back turned to him, and begin to preen and gloat for the crowd.
As you lean over the ropes and scream at audience members, many of which look highly disinterested, you notice that some begin to scream back at you.
In the middle of the waves of profanity and "We want something more interesting" statements, you catch a curious comment:
"He's behind you!"
Surely, that had to be a figment of your imagination, as no one ever gets up from the devastating "Skull Crushing Finale". After all, they've just had their entire skull crushed with a simple front Russian leg-sweep.
And yet, you hear it again:
"Cena is behind you!"
Now, you notice people are pointing, and children are screaming like they used to when Hulk Hogan used to "Hulk Up".
But surely, there's no need to briefly turn your head and see if John is actually behind you. It's not as if you've ever seen John Cena shake off 398,283 attacks before, while grimacing and furiously shaking as though he's about to AK-47 the place.
And yet, there are people scream--
OH! And suddenly you find yourself flying through the air! And now you've been horribly slammed on your back! Steel chair shots, unfortunately, are forthcoming.
How can you prevent this blatantly silly scene from unfolding next time?
With my new book: "Looking Behind You 4 Dummies!"
-Learn to turn your neck a full 90 degrees!
-Learn how to turn your eyeballs in a backward glance!
-Learn how not to expose wrestling as "fake" by obviously ignoring televised screams and pointing by fans 5 feet away from you!
Now only three easy payments of 19.99!
Okay, so the Raw Titantron is about the size of an actual building.
I'm pretty sure that if you laid it flat, it could make up the entire floor of your house. (Unless you're like me and live in a mansion...large house...house...apartment...box...sorry.)
The Titantron is so massive, that people in the nosebleed sections can see everything in detail that's being projected on it with ease.
In spite of this fact, time and time again, wrestler after wrestler can be standing right in front of it, trying to escape from the ring and someone behind them who wants to place boots to glutes and somehow, not see that that someone is rushing behind them to place their head lovingly into the steel barricade.
Unless I'm just a horrible person who has failed to notice that every wrestler on the WWE roster suffers from crippling blindness, I'm pretty sure this is just blatant stupidity at its finest.
Do they really expect us to believe that everyone in the arena can see Kofi Kingston chasing behind Dolph Ziggler about to double axe-handle his brain, except for Dolph Ziggler? While Dolph is standing directly in front of a television screen the size of a basketball court?
Would it really kill you to have him look up, see it, and run faster? Or, if you're insistent that the heel get his comeuppance right then and there, couldn't he turn around and attempt to fight back and get beaten anyway?
Any number of natural human reactions would be preferable to: "I can't see him on this huge screen in front of me! I can't see him, I can't see him, I can't hear people saying he's coming and I can't see him! OOOPPPHHH!!"
It's the little things, WWE.
The little things.
I'm not going to lie, this is a massively hypocritical choice for me, because this video is one of my favorite matches of all time: The Rock-n-Sock connection and 2 Cool with Rikishi vs. The Helmsley McMahon Era on Raw is War.
I was only sixteen when I saw this match and I went absolutely nuts for it, especially the ending.
But, now that I'm older, I realize that I'm seeing someone like Triple H, (who can get superkicked by HBK in the face three times, Rock Bottomed four times, Stunnered twice and still win the match), being felled by one simple uppercut.
But that, and the fact that it makes guys look weak, only for those same guys to turn around and beat Kane a week later, anyway, is not my problem with this.
What I hate, is what you see happening at 3:13 mark, where you see Billy Gunn and Perry Saturn standing in front of Kane waiting for their turn to get smacked around.
It happens all the time.
Wrestlers will run up as though they are about to attack and then suddenly think: "You know what? I was going to hit this guy, but, as I think about it...I'd rather get socked in the jaw. Please sir, swing away."
It looks so ridiculous.
Especially when at other times, when a wrestler who rushes the ring is scheduled to get a beat down, all the wrestlers will rush them at once like the Nexus and swarm them in a barrage of violent assault.
Can't we book these things a little better, WWE?
Yes, that's William Regal, the man who has been wrestling since 15 years old, went toe-to-toe with Chris Benoit in classic wrestling matches, trained Bryan Danielson, and is a man who can legitimately stretch another man out and make him tap...getting done in by a light finger jab to the nose.
Now, I know Santino is also a legit tough guy who's well versed in Judo. But, the last time I checked, "Finger death strikes" weren't a part of the training. But, perhaps I missed that page in the instructional guide.
Now, moves like "The Cobra", "Starship Pain" (Where John Morrison appears to hurt himself more than he hurts his opponent), and the "Mandible Claw" from Mick Foley, have been around forever.
Moves that don't hurt are generally applied to comical faces in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Over time, they are accepted by wrestling audiences and are embraced along with the affable character.
The problem with this, is for those of the general population, who might be tuning in for the first time ever and not having the chance to be swept along in this process, will see something like "The Cobra" performed and immediately think: "Oh my God, this is like SO fake! Why do people even like this stuff? Like, oh my God for realz!"
And yes, I know half of the people reading this don't give a crap about what casual fans think. But, the people at WWE and TNA care. And well, things like the Cobra aren't going to win over many new fans.
Unless they are five.
The Five-Knuckle Shuffle.
The People's Elbow.
While not as egregious to see in the ring as "The Cobra" and moves of its ilk, over-hyped moves like these are only one step up when it comes to maneuvers for the mentally challenged.
They follow the same design as moves that don't hurt, in that they are attached to popular faces like The Rock, Scotty-2-Hotty, and John Cena (Pre-Marine). At first, they aren't accepted, and really leave the crowd scratching their heads, wondering why a guy would go through all the trouble of removing his elbow pad, posing and running the ropes twice, just to drop a single elbow. (Even if it is a hell of an elbow.)
But, over time, they are engrained into the character's move set and become highly popular, and in the case of The Rock and Scotty, almost mythical moves.
And although hardcore wrestling fans and fans of those wrestlers have come to accept these moves, it still doesn't make them any less stupid. Especially to first time viewers.
So, it's not so much a case of needing to eliminate "The Five Knuckle Shuffle" or "The Cobra" as they are already famous and stopping them now would kill the "fun", as much as it is you should never let anyone do something ridiculous like this again.
Brutal DDT's are "fun", too, you know...
This is actually the one on the list that "exposed" wrestling for me as a kid.
I was 12 years old and my dad had just started living back with us again. (Long story. Good times.)
I so badly wanted my dad to watch wrestling with me, but he refused. He would watch football and basketball with me, even cartoons, but refused to watch wrestling saying that it was "fake."
Well, the debate was on. I absolutely refused to believe that this uber-amazing spectacle of giants could be phony. And so I would harass my dad every week with VHS recordings of Monday Nitro and some of the sickest spots available and ask him: "Well, is THAT fake, dad?!"
His answer would always be "Yes.", and the weekly struggle would continue.
Well, I finally got my father to watch an episode of Monday Night Nitro with me.
And then it happened:
Kevin Nash was thrown out of the ring by someone, and then was thrown over a table. He clearly oversold the move and punctuated it by pulling the table on to himself.
My dad absolutely burst open with laughter.
I went back to my room in shock, and for the first time, I watched Monday Nitro in slow-motion. The ghost punches, the mat-stomps made to look like kicks, the contents of Jeff Jarrett's "guitars", were suddenly revealed to me. The war was over. Dad won.
This is the moment where many kids say "Screw this" and become die-hard baseball fans. But for me, much to my dad's chagrin, I was one of the millions infected with the wrestling bug, and still remained a fan even to this day.
But it was Kevin Nash's oversell that exposed the business and nearly destroyed a precocious (and might I say, quite adorable) child's sweet innocence. (Shame on you, Nash.)
Eventually, everybody grows up and realizes that wrestling is scripted. (Except this guy)
But let them figure that out from someone else. Don't be the wrestler who rips the beard off of Santa.
It's just not cool.
Now, I understand that a wrestler kicking out of a sure fire pinning predicament is a way to pop the crowd in a big match.
But seriously, does it have to happen every time? It's been so done to death, that I think it would actually be more shocking if someone didn't kick out of a finisher the first time it was hit at a PPV.
The thing that makes it even worse, is that when the inevitable return match occurs on regular TV, (Which is probably the reason why people don't buy PPV's, but that's a topic for another article) the same wrestler will hit the same finisher on the same opponent only once, and get the pin fall.
How does that make any sense, whatsoever?
What, did John Cena take some sort of new steroid that made the Attitude Adjuster three times more powerful overnight?
Did Sheamus get paid to take the dive? (Well, of course he did.)
But seriously, let's get some continuity here and bring back the impressiveness and impact of finishers as opposed to just being: "The moves performed when we know the match is scheduled to end."
Two minutes later.
One minute later.
And they're back in the ring.
I wonder if the WWE or TNA recognizes that they could completely abolish the count-out and no one would care?
Much like Heath Slater, nobody likes count out endings to matches.
Now, if you just insist on keeping them around, make it a stipulation that a cowardly heel would implement. Call it "old school rules" or something.
Count outs aren't needed. Wrestlers still go outside to ram each other into everything available. They get way more than ten seconds to do it every time.
So why bother with the stupidity? Make every match a win by pinfall or submission and be done with it.
There's only one.
Get rid of him.
Here's a question I would like to ask Vince McMahon if I ever meet him in person: (Right after "Will you give me a million dollars?") "Why do you allow people to do ringside commentary that you don't allow to cut regular promos?"
Kelly Kelly is a prime example.
She's horrible on the microphone and always has been. Even with written lines, the woman can't convey anything beyond the typical: "Slightly ditzy blonde with script" emotion.
So, if you give this woman the exact words to memorize and she can't do well with them, how do you expect her to be able to shoot on the fly with guys like King and Cole who have been doing it for years, while Vince McMahon screams God-knows-what in her headset, and Beth Phoenix/Natalya is schooling her on how its done correctly, from across the table?
Why would you do that to her? Did she piss you off?
Why would you even think about putting a guy like The Great Khali (who can barely speak English) there, when he was still around?
Why would you do that to the fans? Did we piss you off?
It's bad enough we have to deal with Michael Cole every week (who you just refuse to make a heel manager, even though it would vastly improve the product), but do you honestly have to force us to deal with horrible guests, too?
Where is your soul, Vince?
If they can't talk on a microphone in their hand, odds are, they probably can't talk with a microphone on their head.
And where are the CM Punk Ice Cream Bars, already?
Alright class, by a show of hands, who thinks that Ink, Inc. bloodily mutilated Anarquia with a tattoo parlor needle when the camera cut away?
Great, it seems like no one here needs to be transferred to the remedial room...wait...
Jimmy? Do you think he really got permanently mutilated or does your arm not work?
Oh...you're a CZW fan?
Well, that makes sense on so many different levels. Go sit in the corner, Jimmy.
Well for the rest of you, it's pretty obvious that Ink, Inc. didn't mutilate him. In the same way it's obvious when you see a wrestler found backstage under a pile of chairs and covered in so much blood it looks like he popped out of a Japanese Anime, that nothing happened to them.
No one is fooled.
Why make yourselves look stupid by filming someone lying conveniently in debris after a commercial break, with inexplicably, no human soul around trying to help, instead of simply filming someone throwing them through a table?
It's much more exciting that way.
Nobody believes off camera violence occurs except lil' Jimmys.
Stop insulting our intelligence.
One of the most annoying things about the WWE is the fact that they still have their performers work out backstage issues as if they aren't being filmed.
And this wouldn't be so bad if it were just the random confrontation here or there, but they actually show wrestlers scheming on camera, to take other wrestlers down.
Why did Triple H have to confront John Laurinaitis about his loyalty to him? The camera was right there to show him meeting with David Otunga and his merry band of heels on several occasions. The camera was right in his face, when he hopped into a limo with a recently fired Kevin Nash. (I love how he still looked around to make sure no one saw him, but neglected to hide his face from the cameraman who would beam his image to millions of people worldwide. Intelligent.)
It's kind of sad that a company like TNA has already figured out that that's pretty stupid and doesn't do it, anymore, and yet, the WWE still doesn't get it.
No one is going to be thrown off by Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn pretending like there's nothing between them in the ring, if the cameraman catches them trying to boink each other next to the catering table in the back.
I mean, at least try to be as intelligent as TNA and have the cameraman stand outside of the room and film through the door when heels are scheming to take down the COO of the WWE. At least it will seem like they don't know he's there.
Now, normally when a wrestler hangs on the outside, he's trying to hide in a corner quietly and sneak in at the last second.
Not Mark Henry. Mark Henry can't hide anywhere, so he just opts to beat the crap out everyone. (Which was admittedly awesome.)
But it begs the question, not just for Mark, but for every single person who has ever hung outside of a Royal Rumble or Battle Royal: Why aren't the refs telling them to get back in the ring? Isn't that blatant cheating?
And what makes it worse, is that every wrestler in the match can look and see this one lone wrestler hanging out and watching these morons beat each other up. Why does no one else EVER get the same idea?
You would think, for all the times a wrestler hung outside and jumped in after it was down to one man, and then eliminated that man to win, that everybody would have the same idea.
Wouldn't that hilariously lead to everyone just hanging outside of the ring, staring at each other menacingly, while the refs gently encourage them to get back in and compete, using the phrase "Come on!" two-hundred times in three minutes?
And the coup de grace is that after someone pulls this stunt, they are actually awarded with the win. No one ever comes out and says: "Hey, that guy didn't even compete in the match and so he's disqualified." You'd think Teddy Long would pull that at least once.
It was interesting the first couple of dozen times the tactic was done, but it's almost every single over-the-top rope match now.
When fans come to expect a surprise last minute jump in every time, it's probably time to find a new trick.
So, you're Vicki Guerrero. (Sorry about your luck.)
And you've just witnessed a 6'10" mountain of muscle appear behind you from under a trap door in the ring after destroying your nephew-in-law.
This wrestler, who has a propensity for dropping people directly on the top of their heads, is now looking at you like he wants to do the same to you.
You seem to be in a pickle.
What do you do?
A. Do you try and vault over the top rope?
B. Do you quickly jump out underneath the top rope?
C. Do you crouch and hastily escape underneath the second rope?
D. Do you drop to your back and slide out from under the bottom rope?
E. Do you pretend that the two foot wide gaps all around the ring, in between the ropes, have magically solidified into a wall like structure entrapping you so that you might meet your demise?
If you said "E," well I'm not surprised, because you're Vicki Guerrero.
And you're apparently an idiot.
This is one of the dumbest things I see in all of professional wrestling. And everyone has done it from the McMahons to indie wrestlers.
You are, at no time, trapped inside of a wrestling ring. There are literally escape routes all around you. Literally, 360 degrees.
And yet, performers act like there is no way out. When everyone can see that there is a clear way out.
Now, I get that they do this primarily because a heel is about to get a comeuppance and the crowd wants to see it.
But, is this the way it ever needs to be done? No. Because a wrestler can sneak up from behind. A wrestler can catch them in the backstage area. A wrestler can run out to the ring after their target, the target then tries to run away, and they catch them while running.
These things happen most of the time.
So as not to treat the viewer as a first rate idiot, these things should happen every time.
By the way, did Vicki take that tombstone like a champ, or what?
I, for one, am a supporter of the idea that the WWE should hire UFC style referees. Young, athletic and muscular guys who can actually hold other wrestlers back during a match or altercation.
It just looks ridiculous for a guy like Mike Chioda to be able to stand in between Triple H, CM Punk, The Miz and R. Truth and prevent any over-the-top violence that may occur. (Perhaps that's why he was taking steroids? For added girth? I kid. I don't know if he was taking steroids. It was probably just coke.)
But it is simply ridiculous that Mark Henry and The Big Show can combine for a total weight of 900 moons and still be stopped by a squirt of a human being like Scott Armstrong.
I'm not saying end the livelihoods of the current set of referees. They have families to feed, and plus they know their jobs. (Being a ref isn't as easy as it seems.) But, I am saying the next time a position becomes available, hire a young, muscular guy and train him to be a referee. After all, not everyone who is huge and bulky is cut out to be, or even wants to be, a wrestler.
I'm certain Heath Slater would make a better ref than wrestler, I'm just saying.
But more than the physical size and the lack of reality that comes with them being able to maintain order in a match, is the beyond dated "stupidity" of referees.
You've been doing this for 15 years, Mike Choida, but you still don't have the instincts to duck when someone is flailing on top of Wade Barrett's shoulders? You're still getting "inadvertently" kicked in the mouth?
You haven't seen enough episodes of SmackDown or Raw replays to know that if someone is hopping up on the side of the ring, it usually means someone behind you is doing something dastardly?
I get that the refs are pretending to be dumb so that certain actions like run-ins and foreign objects being injected into the match can occur, but again, can't we try to revolutionize the process?
I have this radical idea I'd like to pitch. It's called a "Clean Finish." Where there is no cheating or run-ins to end any match that isn't a blatant squash. It's crazy, I know, but by George, it just might work!
Now, some tactics, like a heel refusing to leave and having to be physically pushed down the aisle by a referee, thus opening up the stage for hi-jinks is good. Anything that Eddie Guerrero ever did to trick a referee was golden.
But the referee pretending to just be an idiot who misses a pair of brass knuckles being flung through the air for no reason? That's just played out.
So yeah, there goes the guy that went toe-to-toe with Triple H and John Cena with no fear, running off like a punk crying for John Cena.
That didn't hurt his character at all.
But this is one of the biggest signs of the WWE's lack of creativity to date.
It doesn't matter if Mark Henry is supposed to be the most dominant champion in WWE history (His words, not mine), it doesn't matter if he just put Sheamus through a barricade. If Sheamus grabs a chair, Mark Henry goes running. As opposed to grabbing a chair of his own and having a standoff.
Even Kane, when in heel mode, will back off and act like he wants no part of a face, when he would unabashedly go directly at the baddest man in the history of the WWE, The Undertaker, with zero trepidation in his younger days.
Why does every heel have to be a coward, now? Why does every bad guy have to climb up to the side of the ring, act like he's going to get in and fight, only to drop back down and walk away in fear?
It's a boring and uncreative way to try and generate genuine heel heat for the bad guys.
Seriously, when is the last time you saw a face challenge a heel, the heel gets in the ring, beats the stuffing out of the face, with no security interference, and then brags about it?
Can we please see a variety of heel on television, as opposed to the same cowardly archetype presented over and over and over and over and over again, even when it makes no sense?
In what world would The Big Show actually run away from Rey Mysterio if playing the heel/face dynamic?
Now, you see how stupid that promo was from indie wrestler Sami Callihan?
(Still better than John Cena.)
It's over-the-top because absolutely no one believes that he strangled a man to death in the ring, or that he's going to kill some fat pizza guy.
Now, Sami isn't a big star anywhere. He's wrestled for places like CZW, ROH and Dragon's Gate, but he hasn't broken through.
(Even though he's a far, far, astronomically better wrestler than John Cena. See?)
And with promos like these, it's easy to see why he hasn't broken through to the top levels of pro-wrestling. (Plus he's an odd-looking, rather tiny, bloke.)
(Still better than John Cena.)
Talking about killing people in promos, or intimating that you'll "send them to hell or heaven." is just ridiculous. And it's not entertaining in an industry where you never know who's going to die next.
It's over the top, unrealistic and never gets the response that the wrestler that says it is hoping for. Because no one actually tries to kill people in the ring, unless their name is New Jack.
This is a major problem that the WWE has. It's rather sad that an organization with a global reach can't even find writers who know how to finish a story.
Instead they just up and disappear or are detonated too soon. (Like the Walk Out on Raw.)
Could you imagine if Dr. House was in the middle of working on a patient with some rare incurable Peruvian virus, and suddenly the episode just ended at the 43 minute mark?
And when it came back the following week, the writers pretended it never happened?
How would they not be fired?
Could you imagine if the UFC finally got Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre to fight each other, and after all the pre-match hype, the two fighters just walked out of the ring after the first round?
And then when Dana White is asked about it, his response is: "What Silva/GSP fight?"
Outrage. Uproar. Lost fans.
Kind of like another organization that has more Twitter followers than the UFC, right?
An organization as large as the WWE is, and being an organization that solely exists to entertain it's paying customers, should at least have the professionalism to attempt to finish what they...