Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
Partially inspired by Brian’s excellent piece on jobbers on Monday, today’s Sunday Sermon sees the team discuss enhancement guys in more focus and if there is a place for them in modern wrestling. Would they have a place or is it right that they are consigned to history.
Craig: It’s part of wrestling history that I do miss nowadays. A superstar facing up against a guy with an invariably dreadful haircut and loose fitting singlet due to a underdeveloped muscle mass. Throw in a silly name and you had a few minutes of fun until the aforementioned superstar hit his finishing move to end the bout.
That was a staple of a wrestling card before a few big name upper mid card matches. In fact, the early episodes of Raw also followed such a routine.
Then along came the Monday Night Wars and we got treated to ppv quality matches evert Monday while the guys with silly names and worse haircuts weren’t seen again.
But with so many hours to fill and it being a way to end the 50 50 booking that sees performers trade wins and loses, could enhancement talent be the best way to deal with those two issues?
Jamie: I think I’m correct in saying that the only place that jobbers can be found in the WWE Universe is on NXT. However, even then they aren’t really jobbers, just NXT rookies who we haven’t seen before. I find this decision perplexing. I get that WWE have a big roster, I get that they only want “superstars” on their shows and I get that they want Raw and Smackdown to be considered a home for the elite. However, there comes a point when Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and everyone else who has spent more than a couple years in WWE runs out of people to wrestle.
Using Dolph Ziggler as an example, he has a lot of matches and every one is a close, competitive affair. That’s not how sport works, especially for the superstar elite. Obviously with Brock Lesnar every match he has should be a competitive one with a big build, because his schedule is more akin to a boxer or MMA fighter than a wrestler. Dolph Ziggler is on Raw and/or Smackdown every week and most PPVs, so his schedule is more like a Premier League football team. I hope WWE understand that sometimes sportsmen/women/teams have it easier and sometimes they have it harder. This past week Arsenal had a relatively routine win over Bournemouth in the Premier League, but the game directly afterwards between Chelsea and Man Utd was a far tighter affair that included some late drama. That’s how sport works. I’m cool with watching a match I know Ziggler will win, because it gives him a chance to look good before facing someone like Kevin Owens further down the line. Squash matches also make non-squash matches seem like a bigger deal by contrast.
Brian: I think it is just one of those cases where you can’t shove the genie back in the bottle. Meaning, now that the WWE has “upped” their programming with premier stars battling premier stars….how could you possibly sell fans on squash matches anymore?
I’ll agree that there is till a valid use for these men and women. They could still make guys look so much more stronger and powerful…it’s just not feasible anymore. Not on Raw or Smackdown anyway.
Craig: Part of me agrees with Brian. Monday night wars definitely spoilt us when it came to quality of free wrestling readily available.
But I can see some benefits. Can establish superstars and also prevents the usual sorts racking up defeat after defeat before injury means they are put in a position where we are supposed to believe they can win.
Jamie makes a good point about a squash match then making other lower card matches seem more important.
There’s always scope of giving enhancement talent a bit of character. Essentially it’s what the Social Outcasts are, jobbers with a gimmick of sort.
I’m sensing, though, it’s a definite no from Brian here…
Brian: It’s not that I don’t want to see jobbers make a comeback…it’s just I don’t see how it will really work anymore with the majority of fans. If you are trying to sell a wrestler like a monster ie Goldberg…it makes much more sense. After awhile though, fans will start to wonder…where is his real competition?
I just think we’ve been spoiled for so long. Ratings are extremely important….and by putting a jobber match right in the middle of Raw might get fans to turn away. Is that a risk worth taking?
Jamie: Recent ratings aren’t much to shout about anyway, so it couldn’t hurt to try!
But seriously, it’s no longer the Monday Night Wars. Raw doesn’t need to be star studded every second they are on the air because Nitro isn’t breathing down its neck. Wrestling has changed drastically since 2001, but Raw has kept the same format. I honestly don’t know how it would be received, but it would be interesting to see a Raw with a few squash matches to see what that does for ratings. For example, does it even matter who John Cena faces? He could face Neville in a competitive match that Cena would obviously win, or destroy some unknown jobber. Does it matter if people just want to see specific wrestlers?
Brian: You make valid points Jamie, while there is no “war” to speak of anymore…the ratings are still very important to the company and should be. You mentioned John Cena and yes, more than likely, he will always win his matches, but a part of what makes pro wrestling so great is to be able to suspend belief for a brief amount of time.
Fans can get behind a Neville a lot quicker and believe he has a shot of beating Cena in an upset…more than somebody named Joe Smith. I think it is sort of like taking away Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and telling people to return to MySpace. A lot of people would be up in arms.
Jamie: Oh yeah, I think they’re way past the point of no return. Not only would it be a hard sell to fans but it would be a largely pointless exercise for much of the current roster. Jobbers are good for making guys look good and keeping big names away from each other until fans are willing to part with their cash to see them wrestle. Problem is most of the roster is already over exposed and they’ve already wrestled each other multiple times. Any introduction of jobbers would need to be done very gradually with the benefit of WWE’S next generation in mind. Even then though, that has to be sold to an audience that has been conditioned to expect something different for years.
Craig: I see your point, Brian. But it’s not about believing in the jobber, per say, more about establishing acts whilst also going a long way to tackling over exposure that far, far too many current superstars suffer from. I’m not saying it’s the answer to every problem just that, say, they decide to push Baron Corbin on the main roster. I’d rather have him destroy jobbers for a few weeks than beat more established acts such as the Damian Sandows etc as there may be a case further down the line we have to buy into Sandow again but our most recent memory is of him jobbing out. With 12 hours of Raw, 8 hours of Smackdown and 3 hours of PPV each month, there’s only so many top matches the company can put on. Right?
Brian: You make an excellent point Craig. For a newcomer like Baron Corbin…jobbers do make perfect sense. So in that respect, I can see them as being useful. Only in a scenario like that, because I doubt fans would stay tuned to their TV’s to see a Kevin Owens vs a jobber..etc.
I understand your point about overexposure and it makes perfect sense. I just don’t think they can go back in time and change what has been changed for close to 20 years now.
So there’s our take on whether jobbers would work in modern wrestling. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.