Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Five Count: Shark Jumping

"Oh, and for the record; there was an episode of Happy Days where a guy LITERALLY jumped over a shark! And it was THE BEST one." - Community's Donald Glover, aka the guy who should be the next Spider-Man.

You know what "jump the shark" means, and it's not something that wrestling has been immune to. For example, the Attitude Era jumped the shark when Triple H climbed in a coffin and humped a mannequin. You could argue that WCW jumped the shark at Starrcade 97, or every week from 2000-2001. But what about things that are still going past their expiration date? Here are the top five concepts in wrestling that have jumped the shark:

5. Guest hosts
Now that Bret Hart is the General Manager of Raw, what's the point? They still have power, they have no power, they have some power, who cares?! Without them serving as authority figures, we're left with nothing for them to do but lame comedy skits like dudes removing a glass eye or Ashton Kutcher hiring Alicia Fox to beat up Zack Ryder. I was a strong proponent for the concept, but the guest hosts are nothing more than filler at this point... I am excited about Rob Zombie though!

4. Irrelevant signs
Okay, someone just has to be up front with you, your sign that says "STEAK FRIES" is stupid. Inside jokes, absurd randomness, and the obligatory "HI MOM!" have all got to go. Oh, and if anyone ever sits in front of you with a sign that says "THE GUY BEHIND ME CAN'T SEE," you should be allowed to push them down a flight of stairs.

3. Hardcore style
Remember when dropping a guy on the guardrail could put him out of action for months? Or a simple chair shot could end a match? For better or worse, those days are long gone thanks to hardcore wrestling. Now guys who work that style have to go through tables on a nightly basis, take a staple gun to the crotch and possibly be set on fire. You can't push the envelope any further in hardcore wrestling without someone getting killed, the concept jumped the shark years ago, even though guys still want to dive in the tank.

2. Name ownership
Okay WWE (and to a lesser extent, TNA), we get it, you want names that you own and a guy can't use to get over elsewhere, but it's gotten stupid. Mr. Perfect's son becoming Mike McGillicutty? Really? WWE's been pulling shit like this for years, and it would've jumped the shark years ago if Mason the Mutilator would have debuted instead of Mankind, but it's officially beyond absurd. It's not even that they have to have guys wrestle under their real names, but come up with something a little more clever than Lucky f'n Cannon.

1. Divas
I'm not talking about women's wrestling, I'm talking about the concept of "Divas," which should've ended with the Attitude Era. If you're that desperate to see scantily clad stick figure blondes roll around together, you're on the internet, you're literally two clicks away at any time. While WWE has toned down their product, they've also toned down the Divas, which just gives us the worst of both worlds. While I think it's stupid and juvenile, I understand catering to 14-year-old boys with mindless T&A, but with WWE's PG product, they're still relying on the same type of woman they would have in the Attitude Era, but now they're forcing us to actually watch them try to wrestle. There are rare exceptions where the bikini model can become a fantastic wrestler (Trish Stratus), but for the most part, it's far from entertaining in-ring action. Almost half of WWE's audience is female at this point, and their Mad Men-esque vision of women in the workplace is just insulting in 2010. Women's wrestling will never be viewed as anything but a bathroom break until that attitude changes.


  1. I agree on all of those points, but particularly your No. 1 selection, the divas. The saddest thing about it is that WWE has had the tools to create a reasonably good women's division for a long time, but simply hasn't used them. Even before her baffling release, Mickie James wasn't doing anything, and neither was Gail Kim, Natalya or Jillian Hall, all of whom are capable of fitting the "smart, sexy and powerful" mould that WWE is apparently so keen to promote. The injuries suffered by Melina and Beth Phoenix have now left a very noticeable void but, then again, who's to say whether or not they would have been fared much better if they were still active members of the roster?

    I can't add much to the other items of the list, but one thing that came to mind was the recent excess of short world title reigns. I'll admit that this is less of a concern for me than it was a few months ago as the two current world champions have enjoyed relatively stable reigns of decent length, but it was definitely an issue last year, when the WWE Championship changed hands no fewer than ten times, with the World Heavyweight Title being won and lost eight times. Fair enough, I understand that the occasional swerve, such as having CM Punk cash in his Money in the Bank contract to take the title away from Jeff Hardy in the direct aftermath of a gruelling ladder match, can be entertaining and can create an aura of unpredictability, but changing title-holders on such a frequent basis smacks of swerve for swerve's sake, and I felt that it cheapened the prestige linked with the world title belts to some extent. Hopefully, the tide has turned on this issue, but I won't hold my breath just yet.

  2. Yeah, the title situation was a mess last year. I actually wrote a blog about it last April:

  3. I'd replace "irrelevant signs" with "Money In The Bank / Feast or Famine" instant title shots. I'm not opposed with somebody earning a title shot in a match, just the "cash it in anytime 24/7" rule that has reduced World Championships to the level of the old WWF Hardcore title.

    You win the match, either set a date for the title shot (like the Royal Rumble winner at WrestleMania) or keep the suspense of anytime-anywhere, but that they have to give a week's notice. That way you build anticipation to the match instead of the now predictable "The champ's down, here comes the MITB winner...."

  4. I like the anytime, anywhere rule, I just wish they'd use it less with MITB. I'd like to see someone win and do what RVD did, rather than the constant Edge, Swagger, CM Punk method.

  5. I can point you to the exact day WCW jumped the shark. It wasn't Starrcade '97, and they didn't last as long as 2000. It was February 15, 1999, and this happened:

    Also on this episode: a couple of the ridiculous pre-debut vignettes in which Torrie Wilson talks to a cameraman, Bret Hart wrestles Will Sasso, and Disco Inferno has Arn Anderson arrested. Also, Flair gets beaten up AGAIN later in the show after hitching a ride back to the arena and falling out of the truck.

    The eventual payoff to this--at Uncensored, about a month later--was that Ric Flair, whom you just saw get beaten down for ten freaking minutes, TURNED HEEL.

    I will argue that NOTHING Vince Russo could ever dream to do could ever top that.

  6. Sous, I'm going to hire you to write a weekly WCW history column.