CLOSE TO THE EDGE: SHOULD A WRESTLING RING HAVE LIMITS?

Added by Matt Fitton

I guess that at the moment these little pieces I’m writing for the ICP (not the clown rappers) are taking the form of me analysing my opinions on various factors of modern indy wrestling. And one growing love affair that the current generation of talent seems to be enamoured with is the use of the ring apron for more than just standing on and waiting for a tag.

I can’t quite put my finger on when it started to creep into a lot of matches in terms of timeframe, but it seems to happen at least once on any given show of any given company I’m really into (primarily PWG and ROH). Reseda for definite gets a lot of that ring apron bump love. Guys getting powerbombed from the floor onto the apron (I’m looking at YOU, Steen), dudes getting belly to back suplexed on the apron, and in one instance of teeth clenching horror that I witnessed, a death valley driver (Younger and Ciampa last year).

Now as per usual I’m not against this outright. This is not a criticism, even though admittedly it appears within it’s infancy to be taking the shape of just that. What I want to do is to prompt a discussion as to whether this kind of thing bears the hallmark of dangerous escalation, or whether it falls under the umbrella of good old fashioned fun. Is the ring apron spot the current hot innovation, or is it just a matter of time before that death valley driver oversteps it’s boundaries and somebody winds up in a wheelchair for life?

PROS:

1) I will readily admit that it looks all sorts of wicked cool. I am the first person in any building to pick up the “holy shit” ball and run until my legs turn fire engine red.
2) This is, to my memory, still a fairly new(ish) deal. This is the current playing field creating their own thing and spreading their wings. A skateboard was just a plank of wood until some kid attached wheels to the bottom of it, and now Tony Hawk has stacks of cheddar equivalent to most third world economies.
3) These people are trained professionals who have spent literally years perfecting their craft. Nothing is left to chance, and if it can’t be done safely then surely it wouldn’t be happening at all.

CONS:

1) It scares me. Something that is growing in popularity within a fake sport that features a pre-determined outcome is actually scaring me on some level. And I’m not sure if that is a good thing.
2) Accidents happen, and sadly the world of pro wrestling forced retirement is populated with the stories of guys who “knew what they were doing”, and could handle the spot that pushed them out of the business that they love. This is how we end up with crippling painkiller addictions and homes with two mortgages to cover medical costs.
3) Where does it go from here? It can only be so long before it’s over utilised and the only direction is potentially to take the even more extreme fork in the road for fresher territory. Death valley driver from the top turnbuckle to the floor?

Maybe I am over thinking this most minute element of the more liberated branches of pro wrestling. Hell, isn’t this why we all watch it in the first place? No corporate control over the true art form. Freedom of pure expression. Finger to the man, and anybody else who claims that certain things are either unacceptable or outright cannot be done. I am not a naysayer – this is why I watch Indy wrestling. The roof shouldn’t be the limit (maybe not literally – a suplex off a roof?), but at the same time I can’t help but wonder if things are headed in a direction that they cannot turn back from. The absolute worst notion to the true wrestling fan is the thought of one of their favourite workers getting hurt, especially in a career threatening sense. And in a profession where so much of what these people do is for our enjoyment? I couldn’t sleep well knowing that somebody I idolised was shelved for my entertainment. Not in my name, as it were.

If it’s kept simple does the ring apron bump have a place in a wrestling match? Is it safer from the floor to the apron? Or is it going to reach breaking point? How far is TOO far? Tell me to stop worrying / shut up / high five me on Twitter, @ribs_fitton. Let’s talk about the limits and freedoms of the edges of a squared circle.

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