A common trope in Professional Wrestling
matches is for one of the wrestlers to knock over the referee during the course of the match, usually inadvertently. Apparently, this puts the referee in a comatose state of sorts in which he is completely oblivious to his surroundings. This can reach ludicrous extremes; a referee that is barely clipped may be rendered "unconscious" for several minutes at a time. In addition to having the shortest attention span of all organisms in the known universe
, professional wrestling referees are apparently the weakest as well.
Since pro wrestling referees do not rule on anything they don't personally witness (remember, if the ref didn't see it, it didn't happen
), this gives the Heel
ample opportunity to call out his cronies or locate a foreign object. Alternatively, the referee may be knocked out just as the Face
pins the Heel
. In either scenario, bonus points are awarded if the referee "awakens" just as the Heel
begins pinning the face. More if he wakes in time to see the Face
turning the tables with a foreign object on the Heel
A variation of this, which may have originated as a subversion
, is for a second referee to eventually come rushing out and assume control. In a Double Subversion
, this second referee may too be knocked out. Just as likely, though, the first ref comes to, and both refs rule the match in favor of a different wrestler/team (which, in particularly rare and hilarious instances, can result in the refs themselves duking it out). In fact, even if a fellow wrestler is performing the referee duties, they can sometimes be knocked out or incapacitated by a move they would shrug off while competing in a match...though most companies are getting better about this. Still, for the 'normal' referees, it's not uncommon for even the show's own announcers to suggest a stiff wind would knock a ref out.
- The original Dusty Finish comes to mind. After being ousted due to an injury by the Four Horsemen, Dusty Rhodes got his chance at comeuppance against the then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Ric Flair, at Starrcade 1985, The Gathering's main event. Late in the match, referee Tommy Young was knocked clear out of the ring with two referee bumps. The Horsemen used this opportunity to jump Dusty, sending both Ole and Arn Anderson to attack Rhodes' injury. Rhodes persevered, and a second referee counted a small-package pin on Dusty, apparently (and to the appearance of all watching the show) making Rhodes NWA Champion for the third time. This was reversed (and the trope subverted) when Young noted on the next week's television that he had seen the interference, thereby disqualifying Flair, Flair retaining the title through the Champion's Advantage.
- Possibly the most over-the-top example of this may be a tag match at ROH's Manhattan Mayhem II show on August 25, 2008... where the referee was knocked out long enough for the Vulture Squad stable to debut, leading to a three way melee with weapons and high spots to break out, and for the match to be decided with the ref none the wiser.
- In a recent TNA match Chris Sabin of the Motor/Murder City Machine Guns inadvertently knocked out the referee in a match against Team 3D. He then got knocked out and Brother Ray of Team 3D pinned him, as Brother Ray was pinning him another referee came out and counted the three count. AT THE SAME TIME as this was happening Alex Shelley of the Motor/Murder City Machine Guns pinned Brother Devon of Team 3D. The original referee woke up in time to make the three count. Cue the two referees arguing over whose count was the real one, eventually it was ruled a no-contest.
- Subverted by Shane Sewell, who's Puerto Rican wrestling background was noted and well-documented throughout his time as a TNA referee. Especially during Sheik Abdul Bashir's matches as X-Division Champion, when it was almost expected for Sewell to beat the shit out of Bashir after the match, regardless of all the storyline reasons against it. Bashir is better known for his time in WWE as Daivari. See below.
- Eddie Guerrero loved taking advantage of this trope. When the ref was out he'd often try and get his opponent disqualified by pretending he'd been hit with a foreign object when the ref came to. Occasionally he'd knock the ref out himself and try to get his opponent blamed for it. His match with Chris Benoit at Vengeance 2003 is a particularly classic instance of this.
- His final match, against Mr. Kennedy, had this same trope. After Kennedy was disqualified for "using a chair" on Eddie, Kennedy did — hard — saying "DISQUALIFY THAT!!" It was a bit Harsher in Hindsight, but no one knew what was about to happen unfortunately.
- Triple H vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 17 was very over the top about this as well. The referee got knocked down early on in the match. The two spent at least ten minutes brawling all over the arena. This included doing things that should have gotten them disqualified (not to mention counted out). By the time they returned to the ring, the ref still took a while to recover.
- Kurt Angle vs the then-WWE Champion John Cena at Survivor Series 2005 was a particularly hilarious instance of this trope. Angle had his own personal referee, Daivari, who was determined to make Angle win. Cena, slowly becoming Genre Savvy after several pin falls that should have been three counts, realized he could hit the ref and Angle wouldn't allow Daivari to disqualify him because it would cost Angle the belt. Eventually Daivari got inadvertently knocked out of the ring, and another ref came in. This ref was later knocked out by Angle so that he could bring Daivari back into the ring (still unconscious despite a relatively minor fall), but instead another ref came in, who ended up being knocked out as well, and then yet another referee who also only got knocked out, by which time Raw was out of referees and they sent in one from Smackdown. When Daivari finally came back in, he received a clothesline from Cena. By the time the match was over the ring was littered with the bodies of four unconscious referees.
- The main event of SummerSlam 91 featured a notable aversion. It was Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior vs. the Triangle of Terror (Sgt Slaughter/Col. Mustafa/Gen. Adnan [Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie]), with Sid Justice (Sid Vicious/Sycho Sid) as special referee. Meaning, wrestlers would collide with Sid and he wouldn't actually move.
- On an episode of Raw in 2013, a match between Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett was interfered with when Vince McMahon came down to ringside and very slowly pulled the ref out of the ring to break up a pin. Despite not even really being hurt in any way, the ref stayed down long enough for the Bryan/Barrett match to continue, with Vince calling Brad Maddox down as the new ref, Bryan beating up Maddox, Triple H coming down to finish the match as ref, and a dramatic appearance by Randy Orton. The last one closed out the show and the ref was still laying on the ground, selling the small tumble he took roughly five minutes earlier.
- SHIMMER referees have been known to be knocked off their feet simply by being shouted at.