Saturday, December 13, 2008

When a chair shot was like a gunshot

Once upon a time, wrestlers sold a chairshot like a gunshot. When someone got clobbered with a chair, they went down like a sack of potatoes and usually bled and bled. Who can forget Larry Zbyszko cracking Bruno Sammartino with the chair as the build-up to their famous feud? Bruno crumpled to the mat and he looked like he'd stuck his head in a wood chipper (okay, it wasn't that bad but boy, did he bleed!). Nowadays, a chair shot is more of a transition move than anything. A wrestler gets hit with a chair then their opponent locks in a chinlock.

Granted, things are nowhere near as bad as they were during the mid to late 1990's when wrestlers routinely fell through multiple tables, got blasted with everything from frying pans to cheese graters, and the Hardcore Title doubled revenue for the cookie sheet industry. Only after the WWE saw half of their roster join the Neck Injury for Men Club of the early 2000's did they realize that things had to be toned down. In fact, I I give the WWE a lot of credit for trying to put the genie back in the bottle. They still have a way to go but they've actually managed to get fans to not expect a near-death experience during every pay-per-view.

Still, there's something to be said for when a chair shot really meant something or a move on the concrete meant a wrestler might not get up. When Ray Stevens gave Jimmy Snuka two piledrivers on the cement, Snuka not only spilled more blood than a slasher movie but he sold the injury with a neck brace for weeks. Remember when Jake Roberts DDTed Ricky Steamboat on the cement during an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event? The match didn't even get started because Steamboat was out like a light (according to an interview I saw with Jake Roberts, Steamboat didn't tuck his head correctly and was legitimately knocked out). That's how it should be when an opponent's head gets blasted into the cement.

The same goes for certain weapons. As much as I pop when I see Triple H pull out the sledge hammer, I still shake my head every time he uses the sledge hammer. Not only does he blatantly cover the hammer with his hand when he uses it but its effectiveness is downplayed. I remember when Helmsley first used the hammer (I think it was against the Undertaker). He blasted the Undertaker with it and The Dead Man went down. It was Helmsley's great equalizer. Nowadays, it's a setup to the Pedigree. A sledgehammer shot should automatically equal broken ribs or worse. The only time I've ever seen Helmsley's hammer (that sounds like one of Stephanie McMahon's pet names for HHH) sold effectively was when DX fought the McMahons and the Big Show in a Hell in the Cell match. Helmsley blasted Vince McMahon across the back with the hammer and Vince sold it for weeks and weeks.

Sure, once in a while it's cool to see a wrestler no-sell a move that other wrestlers would go down from. That's how you get monsters like The Undertaker over. However history has shown that the more you use weapon shots, the less effective they become to the fans and that's when you have guys kicking out after being put through twin stacks of flaming tables i.e. the original ECW.

Foreign objects and other weapons should be special occasions and they should be the wrestling equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction. After all, if a guy can shrug off multiple chair shots, how in the world are you going to sell Chris Jericho's Codebreaker as a finisher?

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