Saturday 28 March 2015

Jimmy Jacobs To The WWE By Simon Wight

One of the more notable stories circulating WWE over the last few weeks was that Ring Of Honor’s Jimmy Jacobs is joining the company, but as part of the creative team and not as a wrestler.  It is unknown what brand he will be working on, but most likely NXT. However, I hope he will utilised on the main brands and be a new voice among the much maligned Hollywood writers.

Now wrestling shows on television have changed from being a promotional tool for the big show to becoming the big show (especially in terms of revenue now the WWE Network will have altered WWE‘s Pay-Per-View business), WWE has grown less willing to allow improvisation and spontaneity in their product. They now favour a more structured and scripted product suitable for television.  As such they utilise writers with experience of television production, if not with wrestling, to make the stories and the feuds.  The wrestling input is left to the in ring-portion, with road agents (often retired wrestlers) laying out matches.  In many ways, the writers have a tough job, having to write stories for various characters covering five hours a week for 52 weeks a year, while dealing with many factors that are out of their control (injuries, releases, fickle boss etc).  

However, while WWE is a show on TV, it is not a TV show in the way that something like EastEnders is.  A soap doesn’t require any input from the viewer.  It is a closed world with no active interaction between programme and viewer.  In wrestling, the input of the viewer - the fan - is encouraged in their support for their favourite wrester, be it buying a ticket to a show, a T-shirt, or the Network.  The problem is, in recent times, the writers have neglected and continue to neglect the wrestler.  They instead opt for the spectacle, the twist and the shock in the storylines to try and draw people in.  They write storylines in which they fit wrestlers into, rather than taking wrestlers and building storylines around them.  

Take the build-up to the Intercontinental Title match at WrestleMania.  Once upon a time the challengers would be chosen and wrestle each other for the right to be Number One contender.  Bad News Barrett would scout his opposition, while arrogantly claiming he‘ll beat whoever the challenger is. Now you have a bunch of guys physically stealing the belt from each other while Barrett loses his matches every week!  The twist of everyone ’holding’ the belt except the actual champion doesn‘t help the match.  What is needed is perspective from a wrestling standpoint.  

Which is where Jimmy Jacobs comes in.

First things first.  He is a wrestler.  In fact, he’s a 15-year plus veteran, who has wrestled in ROH, DGUSA, CZW, IWA Mid-South and pretty much any other Indy you can name, with and against the likes of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan, so he has friends in high places who could lobby for his ideas to be used.  He also as a very proficient promo ability, and a reputation for constantly updating and evolving his character, a sometimes overlooked but important part of wrestling.  He is someone who knows wrestling, and also knows what the modern fan wants.  Need that new killer heel to cut a sinister promo?  Look at Jacobs’ promos as leader of The Age of the Fall.  A big feud needs a layered build that leads to it ending in a hard-hitting bout?  Look at the Jacobs/B.J. Whitmer feud in ROH.  A wrestler needs a change that goes beyond the cosmetic?  Look at how ‘The Barbaric Bezerker’ is different from the bitter veteran of The Decade, but both personas are still Jimmy Jacobs.  Whether it be offering a wrestler’s perspective into a storyline or creating one all his own, Jacobs has insights that could be useful on so many levels and a little more modern.  

Of course, this column is mostly based on a hypothetical situation, and Jacobs will be at the Performance Centre helping the developmental talent harness their characters and promo skills, which isn‘t a bad thing.  He may end up on the main team, but there is always the possibility that his ideas are shot down or changed by one of Vince impulsively changing his mind.  But you never know.  Maybe Jimmy Jacobs’ arrival with kick-start a creative resurgence in WWE and become much-watch again.  If that does happen, and it leads to a more wrestling-orientated product, then Jimmy Jacobs could prove to be one of the most significant signings from the independent scene.

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