[Archive - 2020] Quality over Quantity: How Not To Use LumberJack Matches

Updated: Jun 3

AEW Dynamite on October 28th will see Orange Cassidy get his rematch against Cody for the TNT Championship Title. In the previous week, October 14th, Cody vs Cassidy went to a 20 minute time limit draw.

This is the first time a challenger went the 20 minute time limit with a champion in All Elite Wrestling. All matches tend to have a finish nearing the 20 minute mark. All Elite Wrestling should be a fun environment to work in, pitch stories and ideas, and have a good time. My article, Quality over Quantity: How Not To Use LumberJack Matches, isn’t to disrupt that feeling but to address what’s wrong with this booking. I may be looked at as a troll for giving valid criticism and how to fix it. No one wants to hear the bad things. But you can’t always hear the positives. This article isn’t an attack on Cody or Cassidy personally. I don’t know them as such. What I do know is wrestling, and when bad booking is presented to the fans, I’m going to talk about it and improve it. There’s a mindset that Cody is stuck in. It's a combination of: all ideas are good (no need for a second pair of eyes to look over), chaos equals good "wrestling" TV (what WCW did), everyone will be booked someway-somehow, keeping the casual fanbase hooked. If you aren’t asking questions, you aren’t evolving, you aren’t changing, and everyone around you are ‘yes’ people or probably tired of bumping heads due to perspectives. ‘Cody’ character hasn’t changed since leaving WWE, I should know since I had to rewatch his matches while I was employed there. Same moves, same heart and soul in promos, same wrestling formula. Sure he wrestled a little on the Indies to get that experience but that’s not enough to understand the importance of character growth and apply it.

On October 14 the TNT Championship match ended in a time limit draw, how did we get to a LumberJack Match? Did it happen during AEW Dark? I’m going to be honest, AEW Dark has been overwhelming with matches. 16 matches? Will 20 matches be announced next? The more matches, the less time these amazing wrestlers have time to get over with fans. It’s free wrestling on YouTube but quality over quantity.

What will be discussed?

  1. WCW Booking

  2. Old Tired Gimmicks

  3. Strong Booking

  4. Lumberjack Matches

  5. Conclusion

WCW Booking

All Elite Wrestling has signed a lot of wrestlers recently. So many that most aren’t booked on AEW Dynamite but on AEW Dark. This was WCW’s problem. WCW signed lots of wrestlers and often booked lumberjack matches and multi-stable matches just so the extra wrestlers can have TV time. But the overbooking eventually took hold of WCW and lost control. I don’t want that for AEW. AEW is the alternative. It’s frustrating to see AEW take two steps forward and one step back. The above advertisement match between Cody and Orange Cassidy is a WCW tactic.

Old Tired Gimmicks

Cody has spoken a lot about how wrestling gimmicks are old and tired. The smart fan knows better! It’s insulting to the fans' intelligence! How heel and face are old and tired terms. He prefers hero and villain or now ‘a light in the darkness’ when fans on social media — primarily Twitter — ask Cody if he’s face or heel because they cannot tell. If a fan cannot tell what role your character is playing, you’ve failed. Failed at your story. Wrestling still needs an underlying base of heel and face no matter what. How else can you tell stories? How do you think movies, sitcoms, and games would do if those entertainment mediums didn’t have the face and heel dynamic to be compelling enough to sell and attract fans to invest their time in? If it’s not broken, don’t "fix" it. You can always evolve the old wrestling tropes for a fresh experience for wrestling fans but if you aren’t asking the right questions or asking for a second pair of eyes that’s not involved in the match-making process then you aren’t elevating a thing to change pro wrestling like how AEW promised from the beginning. Change the World.

Let’s discuss an old and tired term like heel and face further. Last year, MJF and Cody had a classic, clear, cut and dry story of heel vs face. Cody took MJF under his wing, and when MJF got the chance he betrayed Cody. This started the feud where it made MJF the complete heel and Cody the baby face wanting revenge after being humiliated. Cody then followed everything the heel wanted, creating memories such as uncomfortably getting whipped to tell a story of power. There wasn’t a defiance then but now that it’s 2020 and during half of year one of AEW Dynamite, Cody has been chatty about Old Tired Gimmicks in various interviews. Imagine if Cody and MJF were two baby faces, trying so hard to convince fans that there’s no need for a heel, that the fans will decide for themselves who’s who in a heavy authority-esque storyline. It would have never worked. So why are old and tired gimmicks so bothersome to Cody if this Lumberjack Match advertised for October 28th is just that, a gimmick? A gimmick booked wrong for the story he's trying to tell.

In the world of storytelling, there is always a base for which your story grows from. Instead of heel and face, Cody likes using the terms hero and villain (as he often states in interviews). Bad and good guy, hero and villain, protagonist and antagonist, and heel and face, are all synonyms and function the same in the world of storytelling. There is no true hero in wrestling. The only act of heroism comes from when Hogan saves Macho Man from being attacked by a large group. Just because you play a face doesn’t mean you're a hero when a face plays nice. Cody didn’t save his brother Dustin when Dustin fought Lance Archer. Cody stopped QT Marshal from throwing in the towel to save Dustin. Cody not doing anything at the time told of a selfish side he has thus as fans we question when he’ll turn heel. We identify that tactic as a heel character itching to come out. QT Marshal would have been considered the hero in that moment. A hero shows empathy as well. Cody hasn’t saved anyone yet in AEW from an attack. He’s been part of brawls but that’s about it. It’s a lot to juggle when your EVP: writing and sending emails, press, media, booking, making sure the roster is ok, and a lot more to worry about as your storytelling and character takes a back seat for TV. Something suffers when you take on too much responsibility.

In the world of storytelling, there needs to be reasons, sometimes justified, to make sure a story is on point and well received. Plot holes need to be few or non-existent so the characters in question don't swerve for the sake of swerving to save the story or tie up loose ends. That’s why writers are important in any entertainment medium.

I have a writing degree and a publishing certificate. I’ve worked in the publishing industry honing the skills to overlook manuscripts, press releases, and more.

It doesn’t have to be WWE writers. WWE writers and assistant writers have too much power in the business. They control the wrestlers' dialogue at every step and that’s w