by Kevin D’Hooge
I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience a few weeks ago and Joe made a brilliant point about stand-up comedy: it’s one of the few art forms where the artist is not allowed to repeat his or her material.
Specifically, if a stand-up comic accidentally told the same joke twice in the same set, he or she would be booed off stage (to be fair, Rogan made an exception for Jay London). Further, stand-up comics have expiration dates on their material. A comedy set typically has a shelf life of 6 months-a year before it is considered out of date. Most audiences would be familiar with the material by then and would crave different jokes.
Think about other art forms in contrast: musicians are almost always begged to play their classic hits rather than new material. The film industry runs off of remakes, sequels and spin-offs. In WWE, when it comes to finishing moves, wrestlers have their one move and they stick with it. Forever. Whether they want to or not. 9.99 (Maggle) times out of ten, a WWE match will end with a wrestler’s finishing move.
What explains this? Do wrestlers pick 1 move and just stick with it out of comfort/nostalgia? Is it done to conform to the audience? Perhaps certain audience members drive to the arena just to see John Cena hit the AA. Or to see Brock Lesnar set off an F5.
I personally think a match should be able to end on any move.
For me, awaiting Big Show’s KO punch or waiting for Dean Ambrose to get off Dirty Deeds is getting far too predictable.
It’s more of a thrill not knowing what move will put the match away.
Let’s put our kayfabe hats on. Wouldn’t wrestlers be “studying film” on their opponent and know what finishing move to expect. Thus one would hope they would do everything in their power to avoid said finisher.
Or the wrestler in question could simply listen to the audience. If you’re in a match, your back is turned, you’re standing next to a turnbuckle, and the entire audience is howling, you’re about to get speared by Roman Reigns.
If you hear chants of “Finish it” and “Feed me more” Ryback is getting ready to Shell Shock you.
This may be an unfair comparison, but here goes: in an MMA match it is impossible to know which move will do in a fighter.
Actually there’s one counterexample in WWE’s favor: Ronda Rousey. She is legendary for her judo tosses and arm bar. Her opponents know this, but still can’t defend these moves. Ronda’s skills are just that good.
Nine of her 12 professional fights have ended with arm bars. With that being said, she has stated she doesn’t want to rely on her signature moves in the future and wants to prove she can win with other methods as well.
Okay we can take our kayfabe hats off.
Finishing moves are obviously a nice touch and can be aesthetically pleasing. Oftentimes they hold special meaning to the wrestler too. I’m not saying they should be abandoned entirely.
The People’s Elbow was jaw-dropping. The Stone Cold Stunner was awe-inspiring. The Tombstone and F-5 never get old. The RKO is incredible and can truly come out of nowhere. In some cases, finishers turned stars into superstars.
On the flipside there are the not so devastating, underwhelming finishers (at least in my opinion). For instance, John Cena’s AA, JBL’s Clothesline from Hell, Dean Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds, and worst of all Naomi’s Rear View. These maneuvers are either basic moves or don’t look too damaging.
Traditional finishers should be spliced with equally strong secondary finishers. This would create more thrills, unpredictability, and excitement.
If there’s a model that should be followed it’s Alberto Del Rio. Thus far in his return to WWE he has finished matches with a variety of moves, including a double foot stomp from the top rope and a superkick. Keep in mind he hasn’t even used his traditional finisher thus far in his return: the arm bar.
For those upset when they don’t get to see John Cena win on an AA every time out, sorry. Too bad. It’s a dumb move. I actually want to be caught off guard for once instead of seeing the same old…