In this column, we will take a look into the rich lexicon of professional wrestling and how it has changed over the years.
Welcome to the new "Pro Wrestling Slang" column! Over my time spent at Cageside Seats, and generally as a member of the "Internet Wrestling Community" ("IWC" - a term we might look into on another day) I've noticed that the meanings of a lot of pro wrestling slang terms have been changing over time. Most of these terms can trace their roots back to the "carny days" of professional wrestling, when "kayfabe" (another word whose meaning has changed) was the law, and before there were nationally dominant wrestling promotions.
As the vast majority of the pro wrestling fan base became those "in the know," understanding the workings behind the scenes, particularly since the advent of the internet, the pro wrestling dictionary has had to be rewritten.
In this column, we will take a look at the original definitions of some of these words, their new definitions, and some of the reasons that they have changed.
This week's word: "Job"
Jobber, Jobbing, "Jobbed Out," "Doing the Job"
Defined simply, a "job" is merely the act of losing a professional wrestling match. Variations also exist, such as a "clean job", which is to lose the match without any rules being broken by the victor. It is an inherently necessary part of a scripted sport. After all, for every winner, there must be a loser.
From the earliest days of pro wrestling through the early 1990s, "jobbers" received very little respect from the audience at large. Often, they were rookie wrestlers learning the ropes or were wrestlers for local promotions trying to impress whatever promotional juggernaut was in town that night. Perhaps the greatest example from this era were the infamous "enhancement talent" used by the WWF. These wrestlers would be jobbed out to the promotion's resident monster heel or superhero face to make that person look all the more powerful. (Virtually all of Ultimate Warrior's opponents early in his career were of this variety.)
This era gave us some of the most famous jobbers of all time in guys like Barry Horowitz, Brooklyn Brawler, and a plethora of others who seemingly couldn't get a win for the life of them. Occasionally, one of these jobbers would pull a surprise upset and, in the process of finally winning a match, would actually get "over" with the fan base. (Sean "1-2-3 Kid/X-Pac" Waltman was a famous example, upsetting Razor Ramon after being a career jobber to that point.)
This all began to change when the "Monday Night Wars" of the mid-late 1990's rolled around. The stiff competition between WWF, WCW, and ECW made the true jobbers of the previous era obsolete. The greater emphasis placed on deeper storylines and higher quality matches meant that the squash-style jobbers were getting fewer opportunities. Audiences expected every match on the card to be more competitive in each of the major promotions, so what it mean to "job" took on an entirely new meaning.
Being a "jobber" during this time period not only meant that you had to lose the match, but you needed to lose it in competitive fashion. Simply losing quickly was no longer enough to "put over" your opponent. Now, it had to be done in spectacular fashion. The more offense you could get in before losing, the better you were at "selling" your opponents move, the more willing (and able) you were take big "bumps" during the match...these became the defining traits of a jobber in this era.
WCW was famous (or perhaps infamous) for using its impressive stockpile of cruiserweight talent in this regard. Due to their typically small stature and high flying style, they were able to sell the offense of their higher-card opponents all the more spectacularly. Of course, exceptions existed. Virtually all of the early wins in Goldberg's famous undefeated streak came at the expense of more traditional jobbers.
Despite the Monday Night Wars being long since over and WWE now the dominant wrestling promotion, the definition for "jobbing" continues to evolve.
During Ryback's undefeated streak in the middle of last year, he squashed the entire spectrum of jobbers in that time. From "local talent," to the jobbers who straddle the line between NXT and SuperStars, to some of the main roster mid-carders, he established himself on the backs of these jobbers.
And that brings us to another type of jobber, which seems more popular than ever these days, the "jobber to the stars." This type of jobber has existed since, at least, the Hulkamania era of the WWF, but has grown in popularity like never before. These guys will still beat the lower end "true" jobbers on the roster, but will almost always lose to the stars higher on the card in order to make those wrestlers appear better.
This style of jobber has practically become an art form. Case in point? Dolph ZIggler. Despite being "Mr. Money in the Bank" since last July, Dolph has lost nearly twice as many televised matches as he has won in that time. When WWE absolutely, positively must make someone look good, Dolph Ziggler is often the guy called upon to do the job.
Spend some time reading the comments of any of our Live Blog threads here are CSS, and you are sure to see this style of "jobber" mentioned. It may seem odd to an IWC newcomer for Dolph Ziggler (or Damien Sandow, or Cody Rhodes, or Antonio Cesaro, or even occasionally Daniel Bryan,) to be called a "jobber." These guys almost always get 10+ minute matches in which they get in a decent amount of offense and some near pinfalls on even the toughest of opponents.
But to the "smarky" crowd we have here, these guys might as well be doing the traditional style of jobbing. To see such talented wrestlers booked so poorly (in our opinion anyway,) is a serious offense. And it doesn't help when WWE practically telegraphs this by giving them the infamous "jobber entrance." (Where the wrestler is already in the ring after returning from a commercial break or recap segment.) Out of the dozens of wrestlers given this "jobber entrance" since the start of 2013, you'd be hard pressed to name enough of them who actually won the subsequent match to count on one hand.
To conclude, "job" is just one of many terms to have seen its meaning change over the years. From the wrestlers who existed only to be squashed to some truly talented wrestlers who have turned jobbing into an art form, those willing to "do the job" have always been, and will always be, a crucial part of professional wrestling.
So what say you Cagesiders? Have any favorite jobbers from a bygone era? And what do you think of the current trend for the term? Let your thoughts be known in the comments.