Back in the day when the WWF was chasing the NWA for supremacy, gimmick matches reigned as king in the “sport” of wrestling.
The “Steel Cage Match” and the “Texas Bull Rope Match” had their place in wrestling lore. The names like Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race and Blackjack Mulligan and tag team made up of Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood gave everything they had night after night to give the fans what they paid for.
Back then, the gimmick match worked and worked well. Today, the idea of the “gimmick” match, returning to the roots of the greats and their master, skills seems a little over the top, a little contrived and little outdated. While I like the concept, I am not in favor of them being used by today’s superstars.
Remember, I am old-school born and raised, guided in the notion that a Dory Funk Jr. spinning toe hold is a lot more effective than a frog splash off the top rope (or at least I would like to believe that).
Today’s wrestlers have no idea how to effectively pull off a true gimmick match. Maybe with the exception of a very few, like Undertaker or Kane or Christian, we should leave the gimmicks at home.
Maybe that is why Extreme Rules seems so foreign to me. A pay-per-view event in St. Louis in nine days that will promote old matches we have seen before and new ones we don’t care about, all in the name of keeping existing rivalries going that have no business being fought again.
This time, the company is digging into the “Way Back” machine, recreating matches like “Ladder Matches,” “Steel Cage Matches,” and “Last Man Standing” matches in an effort to show how truly “extreme” this company truly is.
Hogwash, phooey and of course, bull hockey.
The WWE is no more “extreme” than I am a brawler. Although I may seem tough sitting in front of a computer screen, I am protected by the words written in this article and the chair I sit in. I’m immune to what the WWE is putting down, trying to make us swallow and force feeding us the battery of bad matches weekly only to get us to buy their Sunday events.
And like a good little soldier, of course, I am going to buy it since the intrigue of what happens “if” the company actually delivers is more captivating than the match between Sheamus and Mark Henry.
My name is David, and I am a wrestling addict.
In the early 1980s, feuds like Tommy Rich vs. Buzz Sawyer and Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper worked because they were new. They had real emotion. They jived with the fans. They meant something when you saw blood and dog collars attached to their necks.
When a real chair hit Dusty Rhodes in the head by Harley Race or Pak Song or Terry Funk, the “oooh’s and aaah’s” heard in the arenas were real because they were not expected. Today, while wrestling is “real” at times, the plans are too “real” for our own liking.
You can blame the ending of kayfabe on that one. While Dory Funk still gets in the ring and Jerry Lawler is said to be making a return to the squared circle, the matches are nothing like they used to be when I was a youngster at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville or the Sportatorium in Tampa.
A big thank you to Gordon Solie for that one. We all miss you.
If the WWE is hoping to get a reaction from the crowds like the ones back in the early 1980s, forget it; we aren’t buying it. Dusty Rhodes and Superstar Billy Graham warranted them. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon warranted them. Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino warranted them.
None of today’s superstars (ok, maybe one or two) could carry a match with them. Going back to wrestling’s roots for the gimmick match is a great idea; however in this case, trying to create drama with old, used up rivalries is not a way to make them sound any better than they are. If the WWE wanted the matches to be the highlight, then they had better find better opponents to pull them off.
Follow me on Twitter @david.levin71
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