Written under duress by Critical Bill (@williamrenken83)
I feel like this has been brewing for sometime. Only recently have I been able to draw attention to it.
We all watch varying degrees of WWE programming. Whether, its Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Main Event, Superstars, even shows back in time thanks to the Network. It’s not a secret that WWE has a formula for how it does TV, and I’m not just talking storylines. Actually, I’m not talking about storylines at all with this. @TheJasonKeisler and I recently went that route via Episode 2 of the Under Duress podcast. What I’m talking about here is how matches are plotted out and even deeper, the maneuvers that get us to those plot points.
Following me? How about this? I’m tired of everyone doing a dive through the ropes that either leads us to a commercial break or an extended break on the outside. Throw a dart and you will find someone who will execute a dive through the ropes into another guy. And usually they will push off and land on their feet as well. Throw a few more darts, and you will find someone else who has a varying degree of plancha they work into a match as well.
It’s not to say I don’t like the move. A plancha or dive through the ropes can be a great spot; replay worthy. For some wrestlers, its a great signature move. Daniel Bryan. Who didn’t love his mini-Ultimate Warrior moment of going bonkers around the ring that usually was capped off by a dive through the ropes on the short side of the ring? Exactly. We miss it. Seth Rollins. “Holy shit, are you kidding me?” That was a direct quote from his flipping dive over the top rope that he managed to land on his feet. Remarkable move. Certainly replay worthy.
But now it seems everyone has dipped into that well to the point where even Luke Harper is doing some sort of dive through the ropes. Not to say I didn’t pop for when Harper did it either, but it’s become the consistent ubiquitous appearance of the rope dive on WWE programming that has nearly killed the allure of the move.
I’m splitting hairs here, I know, but a dive through the ropes should be a high spot in a pivotal match executed by a someone who needs it in their arsenal. Not just by anyone in the first segment of a Raw with no storyline merit that is as good as throwaway. A dive should be a big payoff in a specific, particular feud or match that will make a difference for a particular wrestler.
Sadly at this point, we’ve become so accustomed to someone taking that high spot that unfortunately it doesn’t really have the great payoff it used to. And that’s really not fair since it’s a high risk move that could go bad quickly if it doesn’t land right.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. Look at the DDT. At one point, one of the best finishers in the business. Jake Roberts put it in that category. But then a lot of other guys in other promotions started using it as a finish as well. Worse, it started finding variations in various repertoires to where it went from being a finish to a set-up or signature move. It doesn’t carry the allure it did when it was the one and only one used by Jake “The Snake.”
That’s the sad fate of the dive or plancha. (I don’t know if using the term “suicide dive” is passé, but you know it as that as well.) Granted, WWE has gone the route of incorporating athletes smaller than what they used to be who are a lot more agile, but at some point we’ve gotta hope that the dives to the outside get reeled in to hopefully restore the luster of what is an incredible spot in professional wrestling.