WWE Gimmick Matches and The UFC. Can the two coexist? Can you combine them? Lets Find Out!
If you're even a casual observer of the world of WWE, you've likely noticed that things are not great. The pageantry of professional wrestling has been replaced by commercials for candy bars of station wagons. The 'Women's Revolution' remains stymied by lackluster matches and suggestive vignettes. A man that many wish would just vanish is now your WWE United States Heavyweight Champion.
Things are not great.
As James Ellsworth's match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship looms ahead, I find myself less and less interested in WWE, not only as a company but as a product altogether. As a colleague recently penned, these last few months, save for a few big matches, there's very little keeping me coming back to WWE. My primary motivation at this point is my job.
I've found myself returning to a lost love, as though I were somehow cheating on my first crush. A man moving prior engagements to fulfill a tryst behind a steakhouse, carefully hiding his secret from his primary family at all costs. I have returned to the world of mixed martial arts, (UFC in particular) and my love for combat sports has been rekindled.
UFC is the WWE of mixed martial arts in both size and production. Entrances are as notable as a WWE production, save for the inclusion of Pyro. While no promos are cut in the center of the octagon, the pageantry and stakes the precede marquee matches grab you as main events in WWE used to.
UFC portrays a level of passion and violence not seen in a professional wrestling ring in some 20 years. While admittedly, far more bouts break down into exhibitions of hyper-technical chain wrestling, when two gifted fighters enter the cage, magic can be made.
While the worlds of UFC and WWE have mixed on occasion, the two promotions tend to keep their product as far away from each other as possible. Fans tend to take the same position, denouncing the WWE product as “fake,” or any other number of incorrect or detrimental accusations. However, is it possible to mend fences? Can the two products meld together, combining the gimmick matches and unpredictability of WWE with the raw emotion and carnage of the UFC?
Let's Find Out!
Many professional wrestling fans are already familiar with the rules (air quotes) of professional wrestling and only carry a casual knowledge of the rules of the Octagon. Needless to say, they are quite extensive. The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts govern action both inside and outside the Octagon, comprising everything from match results to clothing and ring construction regulations. WWE does not currently provide an analogue to their official rules.
In addition to the UFC, the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts have been adopted as the governing rules standard by every state's athletic commission. With such extensive and strict rules regarding certain strikes and when they are or are not illegal, adding gimmick matches in UFC requires a complete rewrite of the unified rules. This is something that is likely not going to happen. The more obvious sticking point is UFC's existence as a promotion featuring unarmed combat. Allowing these fighters access to weapons, in the same manner, WWE creates a situation in which serious injury is all but assured.
Of course we don't want to see anybody killed on pay per view television, but with such a huge hurdle to overcome, is there any conceivable way to merge WWE gimmick matches can exist inside of a UFC octagon? The answer is: sadly probably not, however indulge me as we dream of a world where fantasy and sport collide.
Triple Threat / Fatal Fourway / Et Cetera
Adding a third person to an unscripted combat event creates a very exciting and unusual dynamic. In a triple threat situation, the more seasoned and experience fighters would gang up on the weaker contender. For the audience watching a triple threat fight, the contest would likely quickly devolve into an assault rather quickly.
Determining a victor through standard triple threat rules would be nearly impossible outside of a clear submission victory. Multi-man matches would almost certainly need to be contested as elimination matches, as determining a victor when two men are pummeling a defenseless fighter doesn't make for compelling television.
With multiple people inside of a cage at one time, it is an almost certainty that a second referee would need to be added to the cage. As sucker punches and unexpected kicks to the body are expected, the safety of the fighters would be in a state of constant jeopardy. Multiple cutmen would need to tend to the match along with an extra set of judges. More people to tend to increase the logistics in almost every facet of the sport.
With at the minimum a second person to consider in your gameplan, the risk for injury is exceptionally high. Rules would have to be set in place preventing strikes to the back (assuming, of course, the rules for the contest were modified) or attacking an already downed opponent. However, if the logistics of the match could be ironed out, fans could be in for an unforgettable experience.
Bonus: Hearing Bruce Buffer introduce multiple fighters fighting out of different corners is well worth the injury risk.
When compared to other gimmick matches, a ladder match carries a stipulation similar to an I Quit, or Last Man Standing Match. Incapacitate your opponent long enough for you climb a ladder and retrieve a belt suspended 15 – 20 feet above the ring. Typically, in the UFC incapacitating your opponent means a victory via TKO, however, if a ladder match stipulation were added in, you'd have the added task of climbing a ladder.
While I generally don't enjoy approaching all things wrestling in such a manner, we must be honest with ourselves... professional wrestlers climb ladders so theatrically inefficient, the mere act has become more of a means to an end than an actual act to complete a match. Save for Cena tossing Edge into two tables, retrieving a belt from a ladder is made to look as though you're climbing Mt. Baldy rather than a ten rung aluminum and copper ladder.
Keeping a ladder in the octagon is akin to a chair or a baseball bat. Using the ladder as a weapon is almost certainly out of the question, and is also woefully inefficient in a technical shoot fight. Combined with the fact that if you were to beat your opponent to the point to where they couldn't stand and shake you off of a ladder anyway, the ladder becomes moot.
While Ray Rice may applaud the notion, inter-gender fighting remains a taboo subject in both the worlds of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. As seen on a recent edition of Monday Night Raw, two female wrestlers were able to attack a male wrestler via kicks. However, the converse would create a firestorm of negative publicity.
Publicity aside, inter-gender fighting would be relegated to the smaller weight classes and only feature a handful of fighters. Not to be taken as an affront to the talent the women of UFC possess, but a fight between someone with the build of Holly Holm versus Bigfoot Silva would not exactly be what many consider fair.
If the public opinion would change, a true division featuring inter-gender fighting could create many “dream matches” and unpredictability in the Octagon. An inter-gender division at a smaller weight class such as bantamweight would provide some excellent action for the audience and a high level of unpredictability for the combatants inside the Octagon.
A version of capture the flag, flag matches are woefully underrepresented in WWE, not making an appearance in nearly three years. In a flag match, two flags are placed on a pole, and a winner is determined by retrieving and raising an opponent's flag while protecting your own.
Quite honestly, this would be an excellent fit for the Octagon regarding providing the audience, especially the more casual crowd a tangible method to latch on to a rivalry between two fighters. However, much like a ladder match, if you've beaten your opponent to the point that you can retrieve their flag and hoist it back in your corner, you likely would have won under standard rules.
It could easily be done, and requires very little in the way of necessary risk to be taken by either fighter, however once put to paper, the logistics of the idea becomes a bit less appealing. Perhaps if the match were a “best of” series, it could encourage fighters to attack the flag more aggressively. However, I feel that the crowd would tire rather quickly of a version of American Gladiator's “Breakthrough and Conquer” played inside of a giant bird cage.
First Blood Match
Considering that many fights have been determined in the UFC via Knockout or submission without a single drop of blood being spilled, the notion of a First Blood Match is actually rather dangerous. Unable to stop the match via submission, the only way to escape is via bloodshed.
Conversely, many fights inside the Octagon have turned into a bloodbath by way of sharp elbow strikes, knees and well-placed strikes to the nose. The idea of stopping the fight inside the cage due to a nosebleed is simply laughable.
Imagine a well-conditioned fighter taking a single straight jab to the bridge of the nose and drawing color. With that, the match is over, even though both men are able to continue and intelligently defend themselves. Dreadful.
Tag Team Match
Why this isn't an actual match type is actually quite surprising. With many fights taking to the ground or involving an extended period of clinching and chain wrestling, escaping from a precarious situation to tag in a fresh man would be a definite crowd pleaser. Imagine the act of a “hot tag” actually living up to the situation.
Without doing much damage to the unified rules, the notion of a tag match creates a situation where scouting and training becomes much more psychological than before. Rules would need to be in place to keep the integrity of the Tag match intact, such as preventing the teammate from coaching or hitting strikes from outside the cage. However, a true doubles match inside The Octagon is the most exciting event I never knew I wanted to watch.