It seems like every few years, the way that professional wrestling is presented is drastically different than the generation prior. Whether you are transitioning from having all giants to a cruiserweight style, or going from cartoon characters to ruthless agression, things are constantly in flux in the industry. Sadly in those times of change, certain details and intricacies of the wrestling business can slip between the cracks and disappear seemingly overnight.
We aren’t talking about wrestlers themselves, as we know that they have a huge turnover rate in the industry, but rather some of the idiosyncrasies that go along with being a professional wrestler. Wrestling is like an art, and all of the tools that the artists have used for so many years are now sitting in a basement waiting to be used again. However some of the arts of wrestling are alive and well. For example the use of lock ups as a way to communicate instructions during a match is still in use today.
Unfortunately we have been able to find 15 arts of wrestling that have been lost over the years. Some of the entrants on this list may be things that happen occasionally, but should happen more often, and some of them will be things that younger readers may have never seen before. Either way the integration of these lost arts back into the business would only boost the product that we all know and love.
This article isn’t here as a means to bash any current wrestlers, or organizations for that matter. Think of this list as a love letter to the industry, where we talk about some of the things that we miss the most about the old days.
So here they are, the top 15 lost arts in wrestling, and as always feel free to let us know your opinions in the comments below.
There can’t be a story in the ring without at least one of the wrestlers selling. Sure the WWE has a few standouts on their roster who can sell a move; Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, and Brock Lesnar all come to mind. The thing is, there is a difference between selling a move, and selling during a match; selling a match has become nonexistent in the wrestling world today.
14 Protecting Finishers
There isn’t a single protected finisher in the WWE right now. When every match needs to end with three or four false finishes, something is wrong with the storytelling of a match. Additionally when no single move is enough to put down an opponent, it puts wrestlers in a losing situation where they are forced to top themselves constantly.
How can a bad guy be considered a bad guy if he doesn’t cheat? Due to some PG rules with the management at WWE, and other promotions mimicking their style, no heels cheat anymore. Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero's gimmicks hinged on cheating, and they are arguably two of the greatest performers of all time.
12 Not Looking at the Camera
The best kind of match is one where the competitors don’t act like they are posing for the camera every few minutes. Unfortunately as of late, most wrestlers stare right into the cameras that are filming the match, which takes viewers out of the moment.
11 Test of Strength
10 Referee Lifting Arms Three Times
Maybe this is an outdated art due to the explosion of MMA and the knowledge of how submissions actually work, but what happened to a referee lifting an incapacitated wrestler's arm up three times?
9 Time Limit/Draw
8 Patting Down Wrestlers
Kayfabe is a term that is used to refer to the protection of the inner workings of the wrestling business, similar to the way magicians protect the magic behind their tricks. Kayfabe died in the mid 90s but was very effective in creating a mystery around the wrestling industry, specifically in regards to wrestler returns and results.
6 Planning Ahead
If you can’t work the stick, you probably won’t last in the world of wrestling. In the past not everyone was a good promo person, but rest assured that if they couldn’t talk, they had a manager who could talk for them.
4 Traveling with Old Timers
Wrestling is a brotherhood, with a long storied history of veterans passing down information to rookies during long car rides from town to town. According to his podcast, Steve Austin learned the most in his early years from riding with Rick Rude, and just listening to him talk about in-ring psychology.
3 Calling a Match in the Ring
For all intents and purposes, there is only one show in town; the WWE. Since investing in the Performance Center, the WWE has effectively put a choke hold on the feeder system of the indies, meaning that most of the wrestlers of the future will only know the WWE style.
In previous decades, wrestlers would have years to figure out who they were by traveling to different territories and developing their character in front of different crowds. If their act got stale, they could move to another territory and put a new twist on it and fans would be none the wiser.
1 Using Jobbers
Jobbers are wrestlers who lose...a lot. WWE doesn’t have jobbers at this point in time (at least not officially), so they book most of their talent with a 50/50 win loss rate. Meaning that when they need someone to get crushed by Brock Lesnar, or if TNA needs someone to be thrashed by Bobby Lashley, it is usually a low-card guy with some name recognition.
By having main roster talents lose in these types of matches, it lowers their value when they eventually win a match, effectively lowering the value of their low-card opponent. By using dedicated job guys, a promotion can ensure that all of the characters they invest in can be protected.
Side note- The Hardys, Mick Foley, Edge, and Shawn Michaels were all dedicated jobbers for the first few years of their career, and they are all doing okay.
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