"The WWE universe, they want legitimate competition, nobody wants to see mindless carnage."
—Presquashed Matt Striker: Monday Night Raw
The time it would take for a normal person to read this entry is about six times as long as the match Hulk Hogan
had with Yokozuna
for the title at WrestleMania IX
. This is what is called a Squash Match.
The squash match is an extremely quick match, where one guy completely wrecks the other
. These matches rarely last longer than a minute. Squash matches are usually used to portray the squasher as an unstoppable force. Therefore, The Giant
and the Wrestling Monster
are the most common squashers.
There are three main tactics behind a squash match:
- First, it's a quick and simple way to get monster heels over (i.e. make them popular). By having them mercilessly destroy innocent and weak Face wrestlers, you create a formidable and threatening opponent for your star player to eventually defeat.
- On the other side of the spectrum, squash matches can be used to create a monster Face akin to a superhero who overcomes any and all odds set against him. Several of the most famous Face wrestlers have been created with this method, most notably Hulk Hogan (who was unstoppable once he Hulked Up, and the fans knew it) and Bill Goldberg (who accumulated a 173 match win streak, a number which was slightly inflated by WCW and consisted mostly of squash matches against low-card performers).
- Squash matches can also be used as a simple mechanic to establish fans' familiarity with newer wrestlers and their skillsets, particularly their Finishing Move.
This tactic was most in vogue during the late Eighties and early Nineties, where top stars retained their star power by being fed a steady supply of rookies while their upcoming opponents were groomed in the short-term by the same method. A typical episode of WWF/E Monday Night Raw
during that time would consist of four to five short squash matches, and one main event that would usually be either a squash by a top-level star or end in a non-finish. The faceless losers
that were on the receiving end of these matches were euphemistically referred to as "enhancement talent" (aka Jobbers
, as in "doing the job", 'cuz someone has to lose), with a handful gaining cult fame or even making entire careers out of it
It's worth pointing out that squash matches alone
are usually a very poor way of getting a wrestler over. While it is true that if a wrestler never loses, he will inevitably get over with the fans, it usually takes either incredible charisma or superior ring ability to make your mark on the average wrestling fan. Contrast Goldberg
- whose sheer intensity during his matches was something truly special to behold - with Chris "The Masterpiece" Masters, who boasted a submission hold that was booked to be unbreakable yet was utterly unremarkable in every other area.
An over-abundance of squash matches were also one of the reasons why WWE
lost their lead in the ratings battle with WCW for over a year, as their predictable and boring squashes were forced to compete with Monday Nitro's packed card of quality, competitive matches every week. WWE was eventually forced to change their tactics and ditch their reliance on squashes for their main television programs, although their C-level shows (e.g. Superstars, Sunday Night Heat, Velocity) would continue the old ways.
Compare Curb-Stomp Battle
and The Worf Effect
. Not to be confused with the racket and ball sport known as squash, even if Heather McKay did "squash" her competition for 19 years
Professional wrestling examples
- The first big squash match was at the first WrestleMania. King Kong Bundy defeated SD Jones in an announced 9 seconds (though the match was actually 23 seconds from bell to bell).
- Many of the matches in Goldberg's WCW undefeated streak were squash matches.
- Kevin Nash, as Diesel, needed only eight seconds to relieve Bob Backlund of the WWF Championship at a house show in 1994. This is an anomaly, because it was the last time the world title changed hands at a non-televised event (though there were cameras rolling, and thus the WWF's weekend recap shows were able to show highlights... which in this case consisted of the entire 8-second match).
- Takeshi Morishima's Ring of Honor debut both plays it straight and averts this, as his in-ring debut consisted of him running into the ring, slugging an unprepared Pelle Primeau (who'd issued an open challenge to start the show), and then dropping him with the Backdrop Driver (a high angle belly-to-back suplex) for the pin in less than ten seconds; this is, however, the exception, making him nowhere near certain other wrestlers in terms of squashing others, and in the semi-main event of the same show Morishima would be choked out by the outgoing Samoa Joe.
- Ironically, his first match after winning the ROH World Heavyweight Championship in an extended squash (Homicide got some offense) was against B.J. Whitmer for a bit under fifteen minutes... the under-3-minutes squash rematch at the company's first PPV was more entertaining.
- The Ultimate Warrior has had some high-profile squashes. At SummerSlam in 1988, he beat the Honky-Tonk Man in 30 seconds to end Honky's 454-day reign as Intercontinental Champion. On Saturday Night's Main Event, evil Japanese wrestler Mr Fuji boasted that he had acquired an unbeatable martial arts master named "Super Ninja" and played it up as though it were to be a massive challenge, but the match ended up being a squash that ended in less than 2-1/2 minutes (No explanation was ever offered, but it was possible that the "Super Ninja" was a last minute substitution for a challenger who no-showed). Then, at WrestleMania XII, he defeated a young Triple H in less than 2 minutes after being hit with a Pedigree and no-selling it.
- Although in the Warrior's case, squashes were necessary as he was in such poor condition from steroid abuse that his ring entrance (a sprint to the ring) would leave him breathless and exhausted. There's a reason his generally-considered best match (against Randy Savage at WrestleMania VII, which went a shade over 20 minutes) had the Warrior WALK to the ring to start it.
- He also had a very, very limited moveset (mostly clotheslines, tackles, and simple slams) and often didn't execute them properly. Thus, matches were short to not "stink up the joint" (as Ted DiBiase stated) and probably to limit the potentiality that he would injure his opponent through a poorly made slam.
- A similar bit occurs in the Royal Rumble, where you lose by being tossed over the top rope. Some fans have fond memories of humorous 'runs' lasting under 10 seconds. The shortest of these ever was by The Warlord, at the Royal Rumble 1989, in which he lasted all of 2 seconds before being clotheslined over the top by Hulk Hogan. He stepped in the ring, and got knocked right back out again.
- Santino Marella currently holds the prestigious record of quickest Royal Rumble elimination, as he was not done stepping through the ropes before being clotheslined promptly right back over them. The group of fans in the front row who spelled out "SANTINO" as he entered were, likely, unamused.
- The funniest example had to be when Bushwhacker Luke came to the ring doing the Bushwhackers signature Silly Walk. He was still doing it as he entered the ring, was immediately eliminated, and then walked right back up the ramp, never interrupting his stride.
- At WrestleMania XXIV, Kane defeated WWE ECW Heavyweight Champion Chavo Guerrero Jr for the title in ten seconds. Ouch.
- Colin Delaney's purpose in life on WWE's ECW brand was being on the wrong end of squash matches, having been squashed by the likes of Kane, The Great Khali, Big Daddy V, Mark Henry and The Big Show. The squashes started being lampshaded with Delaney wearing progressively more bandages going into the next squash, but comeuppance came for his tormentor, the General Manager, when the guy was relieved of his post and his contract, squashed by the Smack Down! brand's U.S. Champion... and then immediately booked against a fresh Colin Delaney, who before long rolled him up for a pin. Delaney then had a meaningless Face-Heel Turn & was released from the company without fanfare.
- Mikey Whipwreck was Old-School ECW's King of the Squashes. His theme was BECK's "Loser". Joey Styles lost it when Whipwreck got in an offensive move. When he lucked into getting a title, he constantly begged ECW to take the belt off him, even getting a note from his mother about it. He 'won' his title defenses through a combination of run-ins, dumb luck and the occasional disqualification.
- Chris Benoit and Orlando Jordan had a hilarious storyline in 2005 where the former routinely embarrassed the latter in a series of squash matches, making him tap out progressively faster with every match. Benoit would frequently mock Jordan in backstage segments by indulging in mundane activities (like making a cup of coffee or taking a piss) just to show how much he can do in the same amount of time it took him to beat Jordan.
- That storyline was a writers' saving throw. See, Benoit and Jordan had feuded over the US Title, and Jordan beat Benoit clean on PPV to the immense displeasure of fans who just weren't buying Jordan as being on Benoit's level.
- Beth Phoenix seems to have been relegated to these in the past several weeks since her transfer to Smack Down, with her being put into squash matches with tiny, nondescript girls - who get little to no offence in as she bitchslaps them from pillar to post. How this is supposed to get her over as anything other than a vicious bully is beyond comprehension...
- It's just how WWE gets debuting (or re-debuting) giants over. It's happened with Ezekiel Jackson, Vladimir Kozlov and Sheamus recently. She'll be built up to goddess-like status, and then have some real matches.
- Annoyingly, this is how Melina won the Divas Championship from Jillian, cementing the latter's status as a joke as it happened in seconds after Jillian pulled an upset over Mickie James.
- When Big Daddy V (a.k.a. Mabel, King Mabel and Viscera) was being pushed on ECW he once won a Three-on-One Squash Match. Said one reviewer, "Winner — Big Daddy V, via murder".
- Andrι the Giant used to do this routinely in the '70s and early '80s, as did some of the men the then-WWF brought in to feud with him.
- Bruiser Brody, who wrestled for the old WWWF in the 1970s, was also an old hand at destroying jobbers that got thrown at him back in his day.
- The most satisfying squash in recent memory was Michelle McCool versus Mickie James for the Women's Championship at the 2010 Royal Rumble. Resident Bitch in Sheep's Clothing McCool had been taunting poor Mickie for weeks about being "fat" (calling her "Piggie James") and had her henchwomen douse Mickie with punch and smash her face into a heavily frosted cake, causing Mickie to burst into tears and run out of the arena. McCool kept ranting about how she had embarrassed James right out of WWE, and had her best friend Layla mock her by wearing a fat suit and a pig snout. At the Royal Rumble, McCool came out first and flat-out announced to the crowd that her opponent was too scared to show up. She and Layla were still gloating when a familiar musical theme hit and....MICKIE JAMES made an appearance on WWE programming for the first time in weeks! McCool's jaw was still on the floor from shock when James knocked her out and pinned her to win the title in less than half a minute. Michelle and Layla then were humiliated by Mickie and her friends with a big messy cake to the face in a splendid little Pay Evil unto Evil moment (although some fans did not like it).
- Chyna vs. Ivory at WrestleMania XVII. Chyna just utterly destroyed Ivory, smiling the entire time like she was throwing around a doll, and then she finished her with a powerbomb. Chyna went for the pin, pulled Ivory up at the count of two, and then opted to gorilla press a defenseless Ivory to a cheering crowd. Then, without turning around to face her again, Chyna sat down and "pinned" Ivory simply by leaning back on her like Ivory was the back of a reclining chair, as the ref counted to 3.
- On an August 2010 episode of Raw, Sheamus used a loophole in the rules to avoid the risk of losing his title at an upcoming pay-per-view event. All he had to do was defend his title once, no matter who it was against. His opponent? Zack Ryder. It took ten seconds.
- Of course, Sheamus was loopholed into defending his WWE championship at Night of Champions by the Anonymous General Manager through Wade Barrett's guaranteed title shot and turned it into a six-pack challenge.
- At Survivor Series 1998, The Rock's first round opponent was supposed to be Triple H (a no-show because of a knee injury), but he instead got Big Bossman by surprise. The moment Big Boss Man entered the ring, the bell rang, and The Rock put him in an inside cradle. The referee counted 1, 2, 3 and the match was over. It lasted three seconds. This would turn out to all be part of the plan, as The Rock would turn heel after winning the championship against Mankind later that night with Vince McMahon's help in a parody of the Montreal Screwjob; in a reference to how much The Rock was loathed early in his career, the people screwed the people. Needless to say, no one really saw that coming.
- TNA, Victory Road 2011: In the main event, Sting defended the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Jeff Hardy in one and a half minutes. To put this in perspective, the introductions and announcements preceding the match lasted over eight minutes. Unfortunately, this was due to the worst of reasons: Hardy was "in no condition to perform"* and Sting was instructed to end it early to minimise the risk of injury to both performers. And Sting was righteously pissed about it. (You can see it here, but it's not pretty.)
- But then Hardy managed to redeem himself eight months later, at "Turning Point", by winning against Jeff Jarrett three times in a row. The first being from a single Twist of Fate. Total length: 5 seconds.
- In mid-2011, Brodus Clay has had several matches like this on B-show WWE Superstars. He even pulls their heads up from his first attempt at a pinfall to beat on them some more. The jobbers could count themselves lucky if they managed to get a single offensive move (or even a dodge) in against him.
- A particularly infamous example occurred at WrestleMania 28, when Sheamus squashed Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds. The match was so anti-climatic and the result so detestable* that it severely deflated the audience for the next two matches and led to an Internet Backdraft. The worst part was that the WWE were trying to create a "Wrestlemania Moment" by having Sheamus break the record for the shortest ever Wrestlemania title match, and they failed to beat it, rendering the entire exercise a complete waste.
- The fallout from the squash match, however, proved to have a much more positive impact than the actual match itself had a negative one, as Daniel Bryan and his "Yes!" catchphrase would ride the negative publicity to ever greater popularity. The very next night on Raw, the Miami crowd was chanting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" all night long, and Bryan even outpopped a returning Brock Lesnar. Bryan was quickly put in a feud with CM Punk for the WWE Title. AJ Lee's involvement in the feud propelled her into becoming the most high-profile female performer in the company. Then Kane got involved, and that made him the most over he's been in years and led to the formation of the ultra-popular Team Hell No. Then AJ got involved with Dolph Ziggler, and her popularity helped his exponentially. As for Bryan? Nothing special; just two reigns as the WWE champion.
- A more recent example; during the debut of Ryback, there would be several squash matches against local jobbers to build him up as a monster in a similar vein to Goldberg, so much that the fans started chanting the name of the WCW legend during his matches. He was also pushed for the WWE Championship within a few months of his debut. This promptly killed his undefeated streak.
- Most recently, Alexander Rusev has been like this since his January 2014 main roster debut.
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies:
- "Bunny Hugged," an early 1950s portrait of professional wrestling starring Bugs Bunny. Here, the short's main villain, the Crusher (a Monster Heel) pummels Gorgeous George-clone Ravishing Ronald into brutal submission; when Ronald's cries for help go unanswered, Ronald's "mascot" (Bugs) decides to step in. (Bugs, who initially steps in as "The Masked Terror," is knocked around early in the bout, but eventually gets the upper hand.)
- Bully for Bugs. Although it has nothing to do with wrestling, the "squash" part comes early in the cartoon, where a magnificent bull is able to easily defeat a cowardly matador.
- Comics/Film example: Immediately after discovering he has super-powers, Peter Parker goes up against a pro wrestler (Bonesaw in the movie, "Crusher" Hogan in the comics), whose promoter is offering a cash prize to anyone who can stay in the ring with him for five minutes. Until Parker makes a fool of him, naturally no one can.
- In a "Twisted Web of Spider-Man" comic (written by ECW's Raven no less), it was a Worked Shoot by Crusher Hogan to help the struggling company attract more fans.
- In Celebrity Deathmatch, the Loch Ness Monster kills Bigfoot in six seconds, before the bell rang. The audience members hated the ending of the match, and commentator "Stone Cold" Steve Austin called that match "a six-second suckfest".
- Not uncommon in Mixed Martial Arts organizations that are trying to push the popularity of a fighter or "season" a rising star. The star is matched against an obviously inferior fighter, sometimes called a "tomato can" or "can," for an easy win. The Japanese promotion PRIDE FC was particularly fond of this trope, often padding out the resumes of its star fighters like Fedor Emelianenko with matches against popular but vastly outmatched Japanese professional wrestlers. The UFC is also not immune to this practice. For example, the 12-0 British rising star Michael Bisping was matched in his third UFC fight against 8-9-2 Elvis Sinosic.
- A bit rarer, but sometimes seen in the world of boxing, where a rising or "seasoned" star is matched against a lesser opponent as in MMA, these journeymen boxers are a "tomato can" in which they can easily work over and eventually defeat with little to no difficulty.
- Dennis the Menace: The 1986 animated series had an episode where Dennis discovers a medieval warrior named Thor in a block of ice, thaws him out, becomes friends with him and raises havoc all over town. The segment ends at a pro wrestling match, where a Monster Heel is making mincemeat out of a hapless challenger in a championship bout, after which he heckles the crowd and demands a real challenge. Thor immediately accepts, makes short work of the monster heel and wins the match
and shockingly the title (even though he was not a wrestler signed to the organization). (Perhaps this was a nod to the hype involving then-WWF newcomer Hulk Hogan challenging and ultimately beating champion The Iron Sheik for the title, just days after arriving in the WWF).
- A type of "squash match" is very frequently seen in sports most often, the high school and collegiate levels although these aren't referred to as squash matches, although it is almost always an assured win for one of the teams by a sizable margin. Still, the resemblance is uncanny: A team often in an early-season exhibition or non-conference or game will play against an overmatched opponent. These games often allow players to practice plays and skills in actual game situations and gain confidence, get fans to become familiar with whom the top players will be (and their attributes), plus help coaches to assess talent of both starters and reserves (frequently, a junior varsity player will see quite a bit of action) and determine regular-game rotations, things the team needs to work on and so forth prior to playing the "meat" i.e., conference portion of their schedule.
- This is pretty much the rule for homecoming games. Losing the game would dampen the celebration, so these matches are usually played against a weak opponent.