I find production running orders, shooting scripts and guidelines absolutely fascinating. I’m pretty wild like that. So imagine how excited I was when the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter detailed an ‘approved practices’ list from a 10th December WWE live event.
These are the sort of documents handed out amongst wrestlers and agents at shows so everyone is effectively singing from the same hymn sheet. It’s a playbook to keep consistency across the card, and to make sure wrestlers don’t suddenly decide to have a hardcore death match in the first bout of the night. It’s hard to go anywhere but down from there.
Some of them make sense, like:
-Use of chairs, tables or other objects must be approved first.
-No impromptu talent promos. Promos must be approved ahead of time by Michael Hayes, or by the I.E. Agent/Producer and talent must run the promo content by an agent/producer and agent/producer must approve.
-Referees should not play a factor in our finishes. It is important to keep their credibility. Do not compromise the referee or put them in a compromising situation.
But others seem a bit more petty.
-No one is to do the yay/boo stuff except John Cena.
-Please make sure all talent know not go up on the ropes during their entrances.
I’m assuming everyone’s too scared of Randy Orton to tell him that last one.
There is also a step-by-step breakdown for the referees for what to do if a real in-ring injury takes place:
-Stop the match to check on talent.
-If the ref is unsure if talent is okay, wave ringside doctor in to check on talent, all the while moving opponent to a neutral corner.
-If the doctor deems the talent unable to continue, stop the match and have injured talent helped to the back for medical attention and award the match to the opponent.
-If the talent wants to continue and the ref and doctor agree they can continue without doing further damage, then the talent should be able to get to their feet on their own and the ref can restart the match.
-Any time a competitor is really hurt, the ref should go to their opponent and stand in front of them with his arms crossed. This is the sign the match has been stopped. Please pass on to talent and referee.
-Do not give into talent who want to “suck it up” and continue the match. The talent’s well-being always comes first. Never let an opponent attack their injured- opponent to get heat.
I love stuff like this. It’s like the curtain being pulled back on the magic circle, the secret language and signs of professional wrestling unveiled. So next time you think there’s been an actual injury on a WWE show, look how the referee acts. Although eventually, WWE will decide enough people know about the crossed arms signal, which is when they’ll start exploiting it to work the smart fans – just like how a referee throwing up the ‘x’ sign (the old signal for a genuine injury) is used in some fake beat-down angles to make it appear more real. It’s the never ending chase. We find out the secret code, so WWE change it.
But the company have two much more pressing situations to be concerned about.
Firstly is an update on AJ Styles – who picked up a “minor ankle injury” at TLC two weeks ago and hasn’t wrestled since. Although he’s been rehabbing heavily since then, SEScoops have reported that WWE have now removed the Champ that Runs the Camp from all WWE live events until after Christmas, where he’s scheduled to defend his championship against Dean Ambrose and John Cena on the Boxing Day live event, followed by his title match against Dolph Ziggler on Smackdown the night after.
Secondly is much more pressing. After Raw plummeted in the TV ratings this week, getting the sixth-lowest audience for a non-holiday night since 1997, the Wrestling Observer are reporting that WWE have been handing out flyers advertising two-for-one tickets for this Sunday’s Roadblock: End of the Line pay-per-view. This is apparently the first time an offer like this has been made for a WWE PPV in years, and suggests that ticket sales for the event are very disappointing.
What rule would you add to WWE’s guidelines list? Tell me you’d ban Big E diving through the ropes in the comments below.