Feature: Steve Anderson on Wrestling’s “Jumps”


Call me â<80><9c>old school,â<80> but they just donâ<80><99>t do federation jumps like they used to.

Earlier in the week, I was reflecting on my favorite Great American Bash moments. I made reference to the non-Ric Flair event in 1991. He was supposed to wrestle Lex Luger in the main event for the WCW championship only to be let go and stripped of title shortly before the show.

Flair was out of WCW. Surely, he would land in the WWF. Speculation began immediately after â<80><9c>Pizza Manâ<80> Jim Herd made the announcement. Would â<80><9c>Nature Boyâ<80> head north? Would the long awaited dream confrontation with Hulk Hogan occur?

The Big Gold Belt cradled in the arms of Bobby Heenan would show up first. Then Flair made his first appearance on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling. Good god, what a sight! A mark-out moment! Something to tape and yank that tab out so you wouldnâ<80><99>t record over it. Flair under a WWF banner. Flair rubbing shoulders with WWF personnel.

Call me â<80><9c>old school,â<80> but they just donâ<80><99>t do federation jumps like they used to.

Fast forward to today. WWE absorbed their two primary rivals, WCW and ECW. TNA continues to grow. Two major promotions fill the network and cable airwaves. And wrestlers have jumped to and fro.

Christian Cage, Kurt Angle, Booker T, and Team 3D (formerly the Dudleys) joined TNA after their WWE tenure. Marcus Cor Von (formerly Monte Brown) and Braden Walker (ex-Chris Harris) have entered WWE territory after departing TNA. Technically, CM Punk went from TNA to WWE, via the developmental route. Ron Killings is rumored to join soon in a gimmick-to-be-named.

Notice the obvious. TNA, for the most part, retained the names of the wrestlers. While they touted the arrivals and tried to build drama, the magic of a Flair-to-WWF jump wasnâ<80><99>t there.

And WWE? Well, to say they soft-sold their new acquisitions would be an understatement. The TNA alums just show up, largely free of build and vignettes. Killings has yet to debut, but I suspect he will just one day walk out without fanfare and wrestle his first match. Thereâ<80><99>s no aura to it at all. Nothing special. Just a new face.

WWE has three brands and could do their own inter-promotional hype. Instead, we get pay-per-views with all three rosters, not to mention sporadic drafts, unexplained jumps, and constant co-mingling.

Call me â<80><9c>old school,â<80> but they just donâ<80><99>t do federation jumps like they used to.

â<80><9c>Dream matchesâ<80> are a thing of the past. Even a Flair-Hogan bout became run-of-the-mill in a short amount of time. Wrestlers arenâ<80><99>t as segregated as they once were. Promotions are not as distinctive as they once were. TNA continues to n*p at the heels of WWE, desperate to grab a larger share of the overall wrestling audience and a chunk of WWE fans. But in doing so, TNA replicates WWE in many ways.

WCW and the WWF were different promotions. Different fans in different regions of the country. Different styles. Different show formats. Now, itâ<80><99>s all the same. Outside of TNAâ<80><99>s six-sided ring, there is little, if any distinction between the two. Thatâ<80><99>s not a bad thing. Itâ<80><99>s just a reflection of where the business is today.

It has taken the luster out of the â<80><9c>jump.â<80> It has removed the â<80><9c>dreamâ<80> from the matches. Maybe, it has taken the â<80><9c>oldâ<80> out of the â<80><9c>school.â<80> This seems to be a new school, where wrestlers are interchangeable no matter who signs their paycheck or what channel they appear on. Where a new wrestler debuting becomes so commonplace that we are not even told about it in advance. We hardly notice.

Call me â<80><9c>old schoolâ<80>¦â<80>

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