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2 ½ Minutes is a Pretty Long Time, October 2, 2003
post Oct 6 2003, 07:56 PM
Post #1


Shane McMahon beat Kane at Unforgiven. Okay, technically, he didn't, but he should have. If the referee had done his job (and stayed out of the fucking way), then the result would be different. For some reason, that bugged me quite a bit.

After the match, it meant nothing. It was never mentioned again, even though they are seemingly going for a rematch, which would make it a perfect set-up.

So what the hell was the point of it? To give Shane McMahon some heat? As if he didn't get enough from the match already! It was a stupid twist in the match, that meant nothing, added nothing, and took away credibility from Kane. Great choice.

Referee bumps are one of the few things in wrestling that drive me insane.

In the past, referees were rarely knocked out, which meant that they actually meant something. Actually, once upon a time, the referee was NEVER knocked out. And you know what – people got over in the past. Matches were won and lost without the referee needing to do anything but his job. People got over it, wrestlers weren't laughed out of the building, and they had other chances to regain their heat.

It's not just referee bumps that irritate me though. It's anything where the referee becomes involved in the match, other than to count pinfalls, submissions and disqualifications.

I'm talking about the horribly contrived times where managers jump onto the apron, or a chair HAS to be removed from the ring, as well as the referee screwing up and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That doesn't seem logical to me – a referee's main duty is to fairly determine the winner of the match. If Ric Flair is stood on the apron not doing anything, then so what? Ignore him, and if he gets involved, then react appropriately.

Of course that never happens. The referee will always turn his back on the match for just long enough to miss a chairshot, low blow or title belt to the face. And when they get knocked out, there is ALWAYS one of those three, or a run in, or a pinfall that would have been the winner.

It's predictable as hell, and pretty frustrating. So why do they do it?

On some levels, it adds to the "anything can happen" atmosphere. It allows the heels to cheat, or for a run-in to occur. It also means that the tide of the match can change, giving one person an (unfair) advantage.

Matches are more exciting and unpredictable, since, as I said, things can change so dramatically in the course of a minute or two. The result of this is that feuds can be extended (since the "wrong" person won the match), and generally things should be more exciting.

This is great in theory, but WWE have managed to make two pretty big mistakes with this.

Firstly, it happens AT LEAST once every show, and sometimes more. The impact is less and less every time, and it can just get bloody frustrating. It seems to happen in worthless matches, too. It seems like every heel has to rely on ref bumps to get over.

Unforgiven, for example, featured a referee getting knocked out, or being distracted in the following matches:

Test vs. Scott Steiner – Referee fixes turnbuckle cover, and misses a Stacy chairshot
HBK vs. Randy Orton – Referee notices Orton's foot on the rope, despite it being put there AFTER the match, and also misses Orton's brass knuckles.
Shane vs. Kane – Referee knocked out, misses what should be Shane's victory
Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler vs. Coach & Al Snow – Referee screws about outside the ring, misses Jericho's interference.
Triple H vs. Goldberg – Referee misses a Triple H sledgehammer shot, which turns out to be inconsequential anyway.

That's five matches, on a show with only eight in total, that feature some sort of referee activity. It is ridiculous overkill.

Having it happen much less often would make every time seem impactful, and try and bring back some of the "anything can happen" atmosphere. Which leads nicely onto point two:

The same things happen every single time. There's interference, or a weapon, or a low blow, or a missed pinfall. It's become so cookie cutter, that there's no emotional involvement anymore. It's another contributing factor to getting rid of "anything can happen". Mix things up a bit, for god's sake. It's so frustrating to see the referee coming round JUST as a pinfall begins. If he doesn't come round then, then it doesn't matter what happens, he ain't counting that pin.

At the very least, the internal logic is inconsistent.

Why is it that sometimes a second referee is allowed to come out to the ring and continue the match? And from this (plus they also come out to break up fights after the match), we can infer that other referees are watching the match backstage.

And then, if these referees are watching, why don't they do something when the real referee is knocked out, and heels are cheating?

The answer to all this is obvious. It's lazy booking. Rather than having a set of rules, and adapting the storylines to that, they fit the rules around what they want to happen.

In short, though, referee bumps happen once or twice in big matches, and get a good reaction. It's new, different and makes the match seem important. Management catch onto this, and it appears in more and more matches. The intention is to make more matches seem important, and to add more hear. What really happens is that the gimmick is cheapened, killing any future heat it might have.

Something that works in the short term being overused, and killing any long term value? In WWE? Never!


As some of you may have noticed, the title to this column was a nod to Retro Rob, who is hanging up his keyboard - best of luck, Rob.

Also on TSM at the moment, Brandon has another shoot video recap, and this time it's the Honkytonk Man.

Please send me your feedback - it encourages me to write more often.

[email protected] | Smarkives (not updated in months)
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