COMMENTARY | In professional wrestling, a jobber is someone who virtually always loses. In the past, jobbers looked like they had never entered a gym, had worse tans than vampires, and may have been mute because they never talked.
Today, wrestlers such as Robbie E and Zack Ryder rarely win, but they do not fit the image of yesterday's jobbers. However, it is vitally important that today's promotions bring back the old version of the jobbers.
As a writer who loves every aspect of old-school pro wrestling, I constantly have to fight the urge to proclaim that everything from the past is better than everything is today. This is what every adult generation has done in the past. And I don't want to turn into the old man sitting on the porch yelling at kids who make noise and play on my lawn. But it isn't just nostalgia that makes me believe that a small dose of real jobbers would be beneficial for wrestling today.
After entertaining fans since the beginning of pro wrestling, jobbers were phased out in the late 1990s during the Monday Night Wars. The head-to-head battle between WCW and the WWF made each promotion raise its game like never before. Even one squash match with an unimpressive jobber would cause fans to change channels to see if the competition had something better to offer. In 2013, talented wrestlers must fulfill the role of being jobbers.
The first reason why it makes sense to bring back the jobbers is that it would preclude talented wrestlers from having to be the designated losers. Under the current model, becoming a jobber is a temporary phase that most wrestlers go through while they aren't involved in a storyline. It isn't unusual to see a talented wrestler such as Wade Barrett look indestructible for several months then look like he couldn't beat a mannequin for the next several months.
Except for upper-echelon stars such as John Cena, The Undertaker and Sting, most wrestlers move back and forth between both stages. The problem with this is that it can be a career killer. After months of losing, how can a promotion then successfully push a wrestler into main-event status? Promoters try to do this all the time, and it usually leads to bland crowd reactions. And the promoters are left wondering why the fans didn't get behind the wrestler.
This leads to the second problem with real jobbers being extinct. I firmly believe that most promoters vastly underestimate the intelligence of most wrestling fans. I was horrified when Victoria, who had been the WWE's most impressive female wrestler, was suddenly losing to opponents who didn't know a headlock from a padlock. Fans know that the wins and losses are predetermined. But we need a good reason to willingly suspend our disbelief.
It just isn't logical that a wrestler could go winless for months, then suddenly be unbeatable, and repeat this cycle for years in the same promotion. At least when wrestlers were constantly changing gimmicks and managers were more prevalent, those could be reasons why their fortunes were changing. Jobbers could fulfill the necessary duty of losing, while also giving talented stars without a storyline the chance to keep winning on television.
I am not saying that WWE Raw should be two-and-a-half hours of squash matches with jobbers until the main event started. That would be a disaster for today's promoters looking to entertain ever-more demanding fans. My point is that unimpressive jobbers would help great wrestlers without storylines keep looking good in the public eye. And in turn, it would prevent those wrestlers from having to become jobbers until creative came up with something better.
In the "entertainment" version of today's product, the majority of shows such as Raw, Smackdown, and Impact would have to continue to be competitive, storyline-driven action. Jobbers would have to be a small part of each broadcast. But it would prevent great wrestlers from becoming temporary jobbers, which nobody believes makes any sense. Then fans would truly believe that the entire roster could someday become main event talent.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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