It’s a little while since I wrote my last piece on refereeing (read that here) but if you have read that you will know how important I feel that the man in the middle of everything in the ring is to the overall match truly feel hat a great referee can add something more to a match whilst poor refereeing or poor use of a referee, can sometimes take things away from it.
Something that I have noticed more and more from WWE referees over the past 18-24 months or so is a difference in the way they check that the wrestlers are OK and conscious enough to keep going.
You may have noticed bits of it yourselves, it is now fairly common for a WWE referee to do the traditional checks on opponents at the beginning of a match but finish those checks by holding up their forearms in front of their faces as if they are blocking a strike of some kind. Essentially what they are telling the wrestler is that they must be able to protect themselves at all times to continue the bout.
It comes from other combat sports where the ability to defend yourself is vitally important to prevent major injuries occurring. MMA is a good example of where you often see the referee step in quickly when they see that a fighter can’t defend themselves anymore to stop any further beating from their opponent.
It applies in wrestling too and the inclusion of this check in the WWE is possibly down to a few things but in part it will be actual safety, they have had plenty of bad press re concussions in years gone by, and the other reason will be realism because they see the likes of UFC as a major competitor.
The example I saw that really stood out though was when one of the wrestlers was on the floor and the other mounted him to hit some strikes as he lay there and you could clearly hear the referee to tell the guy on the ground to bring his arms up.
For me this was good for the match as it helped add that element of realism and the story that these rules matter. It probably also helps a company like WWE to mend a bit of a broken image in this area with evidence that welfare is at the top of their priority list.
Anyway, have you seen any of the little things that referees do to help a match? Share them below and perhaps I’ll expand further on those