The usage of the squash match is something that's coming back to the forefront of the wrestling conversation because WWE seems to loop in more than usual as of late.
This old-school tactic found its roots for a long time before the Monday Night War between WWE and WCW cut its legs out from underneath it. Simply put, the squash features a well-known Superstar gunning down an enhancement talent quickly, stressing the lethality of the star and their finisher.
When WWE started feeling the heat from WCW, though, this tactic went out the window. If the former were doing a squash while the latter featured two big Superstars fighting it out in a match, it's understandable those with remotes in hands kept the channel tuned to the latter.
But as of late, the squash has started to make a serious comeback. Aleister Black is brutalizing local talent on the road. NXT competitors like Deonna Purrazzo are getting gunned down on the main roster.
In some of the more notable examples, students at Seth Rollins' Black and Brave school have gotten the tar kicked out of them by the likes of Erick Rowan:
And while these can be fun for viewers, the results are about as mixed as it gets. For someone like Black, a squash match or two can illustrate the power of the Black Mass finisher. But for a team like The Viking Raiders, it just isn't doing much for what is supposedly one of the top tag teams in the company.
Simply put, not everyone can be a monster. It just doesn't work. There are few lightning-in-a-bottle outcomes for squashes—think, James Ellsworth or Lesnar brutalizing Zach Gowen. There are far more misses with squash matches in recent history (remember when Bo Dallas was stomping local talent randomly?).
Of course, the big...big counterargument to this is the idea 50-50 booking doesn't help get Superstars over with fans. Which is true. How exhausting is it to get behind someone like, say, Drew McIntrye, only for him to get lost in feuds and trade wins with other guys who aren't involved in title scenes? Spoiler: It's exhausting.
But one could almost argue the squash match is often a lazy way out of this. If WWE decided to strap a rocket on to McIntyre suddenly and had him squash random names for three straight weeks, it wouldn't work. Everybody knows he can do that.
That's why the aforementioned Black angle is working so well. He was a key feature of WWE programming with his promos for a while. He's not as well known as other roster members, so getting him in front of live crowds and pulling off wicked-fast victories works. Provided he isn't squashing too long, there is real momentum propelling him to vast heights.
But that's one of a few examples done very well. Asuka doesn't need to win via squash matches. The Viking Raiders need help, but not like that. One could argue even Rowan isn't benefitting much from putting his big-guy skillset to use against helpless victims.
Which loops back to the original point: WWE is leaning too heavily into these sorts of outcomes. It has the ability to help anyone to get over in what is arguably the most talented, deepest wrestling roster in history. Ditto for the talent of the Superstars subjected to pushes, provided WWE uses the vast storytelling and platform resources to make it happen while letting the Superstars exercise it freely.
And that conclusion isn't exactly outlandish or unexpected, right? WWE's better use of talent is always the key. Freeing, say, Rollins of his bad storylines as of late and letting him run free in his heel role will have him back in the good graces of fans in no time.
The squash will still have a big place in WWE storytelling. Provided it is used more sparingly from this point and is properly balanced into a given Superstar's arc, it can do more good than harm. But the precarious balance is easy to botch, which is something WWE and its fans alike will need to monitor as WrestleMania season gets underway.