Punishment Sponges – Good or Bad?
By Scott Keith on 14th October 2023
This is something that's been bugging me for a while, and just wondered your (and the BoDers') thoughts on it. I fully accept this is a bit “Old man yells at cloud” of me, being an older fan.
I'm singling out Darby Allin here as a particular focus, but this could apply equally to a few others as well – he just happens to be the most prominent in my mind.
It's the “Punishment Sponge” thing, and how it just keeps raising the danger bar for the guys performing for us week-in, week-out.
So take a section of Darby's Wrestledream match for example:
There's a point in the match where he gets powerslammed off the apron and into the steps on the outside, and it is BRUTAL – like properly mental. He loses one fall from that, and while he's being attended to by the medical staff, ostensibly to be removed from the arena due to how messed up he now is, Christian strips all the padding away to expose the boards. He then frog splashes onto Darby from the top turnbuckle onto the stretcher on the outside, pulls him into the ring, hits a Killswitch on the boards and… Darby kicks out!
I feel like there's real diminishing returns to this sort of stuff over time. Christian's finisher looks weak, for instance, given all that came before and the additional impact the wood should be giving. And all Darby (and a few others, in fairness) are really going achieve with this approach is to inspire others who are coming up behind them to maim themselves because these guys are seriously devaluing stuff that should be – let's be honest – putting them out of action for a few weeks in kayfabe two or three times per match at times.
I feel like MJF actually echoed my sentiments toward this a bit in his media scrum bit too. He was talking about how he thinks “pro wrestling” is being able to get a crowd so hyped that they react to something safe like the kangaroo kick or a bodyslam in the same way they do to someone hurling themselves out of the ring and through a table. Hell, if anything his kangaroo kick gets a bigger pop than any suicidal lunacy move Darby pulls out.
Another example would be any of those horrendous-to-watch moves where someone comes off something high and lands back-first on the upright back of a chair (Jeff Hardy did this v Darby actually, I think?). I can barely even enjoy those, I just think “idiotic!”
So just wondering what your take is, Scott? Where do you land on this – is this a negative trend in wrestling in your opinion? Do you enjoy the escalation of the death-defying stuntwork and look forward to seeing how they're going to top it next time?
Sorry for the long email. Boring old guy, out.
As I get older I too get more satisfaction from stuff like the DOUBLE CLOTHESLINE and shows with stunt grannies in the front row, where you draw insane heat and never risk injury. THAT BEING SAID, Adam Cole shattered his damn ankle jumping off a ramp so nothing is ever a guarantee. But I hate the bump onto the chair back spot so so so much.