I’ve never really liked “gimmick” matches. By that I mean matches that either have some kind of special stipulations or special equipment needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like most of what happens during a ladder match, or during a TLC (tables, ladders, chairs) match. We get to see incredible moves off of ladders, sometimes to the outside of the ring. We get to see wrestlers get smashed through tables. We get to see inventive uses of chairs- wrestlers launching themselves off of chairs, launching chairs at other wrestlers, double team moves, multiple chairs, etc.
If the goal of the match (i.e. the way to win) was to be the first to put your opponent through a table, I’m fine with that. If the winner had to have the most pinfalls or submissions within a certain time limit, that’s good also- there have been a lot of great matches over the years with that theme. The majority of the time though, the way to win these gimmick matches is to reach something. In a pole match, you have to grab something off of a pole in the corner. In a ladder match, you have to grab something suspended above the center of the ring. In some cage matches, you have to climb over the top and touch the floor, or climb out the door and reach the floor. In a bullrope match, you have to touch all four turnbuckles in a row before your opponent does. And that is the biggest problem I have with them.
As soon as getting somewhere becomes the way to win, then the way you end up building suspense is to have someone almost get there and then get stopped. Sounds good on paper but can be difficult to watch in practice.
I just laid you out so I can climb this ladder to get the belt. Let me adjust the position of the ladder for about 20 seconds, then I’ll get up to the first rung and have to rest. I just did a top rope bulldog, but for some reason I get winded taking one step. Okay, now I’m up to the second rung. I’m going to look up- yep, it’s still there. Made it to the third rung, gotta rest again (Dude, get up!). Going for the fourth… oh, I got knocked off (Whew!).
TNA wrestling had a women’s match last week that was a “hair clipper on a pole match”. Same thing. Someone slowly climbs up and waits to get knocked off. The winner of this match would be granted immunity from the “hair” match at Sunday’s Pay-Per-View. In this match, the loser gets their head shaved. But if you win the “clipper on the pole” match and you lost Sunday’s match, you wouldn’t get your head shaved but the person that pinned you would. Or something. Sounds like too many rules to me, which is another problem some of these match types.
And why does “TNA managment” think that I would be more likely to buy their PPV if I got to see one of their hot TNA Knockouts get their head shaved? If they really wanted guys to tune in they would be… never mind.
I guess gimmick matches will probably be around forever (in the future they’ll probably involve robots or flying cars). I’d be curious to find out if PPV orders or TV ratings were actually higher because of these. I have a hard time believing they would be.