I wrote an article a few months ago about how much I like the WWE’s gimmick PPVs. I know not everyone does, but I think not only is it great that we get to see something different every now and then; it also gives the WWE a different framework to work with. I think it’s important for any WWE PPV to have something that you don’t see on TV – be that the extra length to some of the matches, spots they wouldn’t normally do, or in the case of this Sunday, match types you wouldn’t normally get to see.
Speaking of this Sunday, I don’t even mind that Extreme Rules is really little more than a lite version of hardcore wrestling. I don’t really need to see blood to tell me a match is brutal, you can show that in a dozen other ways. I don’t miss it if I’m honest. I’d much rather see a wrestler tell the story of an injury, like a chair shot taking out a knee for instance, then see wrestlers covered in blood and carrying on as normal.
There’s probably an article in the non-bloody extreme matches in and of itself to be honest and I’m sure many of you will disagree with me and wish the blood was back, but it’s not really what I want to focus on today.
I’d really like to focus on how the WWE uses its extremism because I think like with a lot of what WWE does, with a few tweaks it could be massively improved. Take selling. In my example above, let’s say Roman Reigns gets hit in the knee with a chair shot early on against AJ Styles. He should be selling that for the whole match, maybe even to the extent of not being able to leap properly to hit the superman punch…he keeps trying and failing and it forces him to try something else.
It helps tell a story.
Only, the trouble is, I know that what I’ll see on Sunday is Roman getting hit in the back with the chair, sell it for a few minutes and then come back like nothing has happened. It’s that lack of extended selling, if you like, that hurts matches like Extreme Rules matches and it’s why blood works because it takes the onus off the wrestler having to strategise his approach to the match. A bit of blood and the match can pretty much just go on as normal.
Sticking with chair shots for a moment, something else I’ve written about on here more than once is how I’ve not really been in many fights in my life so don’t know much (anything) about fighting for real. However I do know that if someone is looking to hit me with a chair, I’m pretty grateful if they jab me in the stomach then hit me on the back with it rather than smack me over the head with it. It doesn’t make sense that you prescribe how a weapon is used.
Actually, let me revise that – it absolutely makes sense from a safety point of view that you prescribe how a weapon is used, but it shouldn’t be so prescriptive that it loses the feel of being organic in the match and I think chairs have gone past that point now. I thought the chair shots between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles on Raw this week left a lot to be desired. I know lots of people loved them, but I couldn’t help but think it was nice of them all to bend over and stay bent over rather than think about what was coming. If you have a weapon you need to be able to hit someone wherever you can with it, because that’s what you’d do if you had a weapon in a real fight.
With kendo sticks or some of the other smaller weapons it works – you can go with so many hits that it doesn’t matter than none of them hit the head. It’s not noticeable. It’s very noticeable when a chair doesn’t hit the head because we’ve seen chairs hit heads dozens of time in WWE in the past. So don’t feature the chairs so heavily – find another weapon.
I know, I know, chairs are a big part of wrestling history and to not use them would be a huge change to the makeup of a match.
So what? Ok, maybe removing the focus on chairs altogether is a little bit unrealistic, but history shouldn’t stop you innovating.
If you want to keep the chairs as they are, there’s another way around it too. Just get your rule book out and make a quick change – make the chair shot (or any weapon shot) to the head a disqualifiable offence, even in a no DQ match. We all know they are banned and we all know why, so why not make it official? Have the announcers mention it a few times and it’ll sink in a few times before becoming just part of the wrestling norm. No DQ means no DQ except weapon shots to the head.
It’s not a big issue, and I’m not saying it is and it’s hardly going to spoil my enjoyment of the event on Sunday, but it’s hardly extreme to have a chair hit your back, not when heads get crashed into steel ring steps and people go through announce tables on a weekly basis.
So what I’m saying is, I guess, I’d really like the WWE to be a bit more creative with how they use these weapons.
Well, I’m getting exactly that with the Asylum match which, again, unlike a lot of people, I don’t mind at all. Sure there’ll be silly moments and there’ll be a lot of the comedy shtick that a lot of people were glad Dean Ambrose turned his back on a little bit during his feud with Triple H, but it was never going to go away for good. Ambrose licking his lips and giggling away at the prospect of getting to use some weapons on his opponent (much like Mick Foley) is a solid part of his ‘crazy’ persona – if he didn’t do that it wouldn’t be in character.
The Ambrose vs. Jericho match on Sunday might well have a good dollop of silliness on it, but underneath that solidness it will be a solid match with some probably quite brutal spots. I want the announcers to break out their serious voices in this match at least once because it’s set up perfectly for the humour of Ambrose and Jericho to flourish…until one of them takes it too far, and for this match to work, one or both of them need to take it too far. Have the humour turn dark, have the circus environment turn hellish and it will be a match we’ll remember for a long time.
There’s one more reason to stick with my optimism for this match and that’s because they’re, again, giving me something I haven’t seen and I’ll never complain about that. Whenever innovation happens you get some missteps and while I don’t predict this is one, if it does turn out to be, it’ll still be the right thing to do because the WWE has to keep trying to do things differently – that’s what we’re all asking for.
So yeah, I like the framework for this PPV and I think you could safely describe me as a WWE extremist. Lite.
What do you guys think? Do you think the Asylum match will be a misstep?