Before the brand extension, squash matches, or the lack thereof, were a somewhat common topic among the IWC. They seemed like a good idea. Since, at that point, SmackDown was more or less a recap of Raw, there were plenty of wrestlers not getting any screen time, and it made sense that squash matches and jobbers could help remedy that problem. If Jack Swagger didn’t have a feud going on, he could come out every so often and beat a jobber just to remind the audience that he still existed. It worked in the 1980s with the Mulkey Brothers. Why couldn’t it work today?
Well, Raw has been using jobbers regularly since the brand split, and it’s become clear why squash matches weren’t heavily used until then – they’re as repetitive and predictable as Donald Trump’s sniffling at a debate.
The two main culprits have been Braun Strowman and Nia Jax, Raw’s resident monster heels. There have been 13 Raws since the draft, and Strowman has destroyed jobbers on eight of them. He’s also squashed Sin Cara twice. It took until the last few weeks for Strowman to get any sort of story from these squashes – he kept demanding more competition until Sami Zayn came out to confront him.
Jax, meanwhile, has had five easy victories over enhancement talent since the brand extension, plus two easy wins over Alicia Fox. Unlike Strowman, who hasn’t fought on any of the recent PPVs, Jax got a Clash of Champions preshow match to blow off her “feud” with Fox in 4 minutes, 55 seconds. She’s not like most girls, and she hasn’t appeared on Raw since then.
We’ve also gotten the pleasure of seeing multiple squash matches involving Sheamus & Cesaro, Bo Dallas and Bayley. All three of them seem to have moved past the squashes for now – Sheamus & Cesaro have a date with the New Day, Bayley has moved on to Dana Brooke, and Dallas just turned on old Social Outcast buddy Curtis Axel – but seeing them all happen in the span of a few weeks was repetitive. The audience knows what’s going to happen pretty much every time Byron Saxton is standing in the ring when the show comes back from break.
These matches would be fine if they were more competitive. Many wrestlers have worked a WWE dark match as a jobber, and there are plenty of stories of the veteran letting the rookie get more offense in than the agent wants. It’s understandable that WWE wants their full-time talent to be (in kayfabe) the best in the business, so they don’t want these part-time jobbers to look particularly good. But when there’s at least one squash every week, it gets repetitive and boring.
As it stands now, though, all the squashers have been given actual feuds, besides Jax. But besides James Ellsworth, we really haven’t gotten much out of these matches. Each of the 13 post-draft Raws have had a televised squash match – maybe the 14th will break the streak. If it doesn’t, at least you know when to take a bathroom break.
Wrestledelphia.com staff writer Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EvanCross.