WWE has taken it upon themselves to reintroduce the concept of squash matches featuring “local talent” to the Raw brand post-WWE Draft. Now, I’ll preface this by saying I grew up watching WWF Superstars on Saturdays where nearly every match was someone with a LJN action figure made in their image facing off against “local talent”. I even made my own father endure a 3+ hour TV taping where we saw Steve Lombardi (later known as the Brooklyn Brawler) do the job three times in one night. So, I’m no stranger to the squash match concept. Sure, I may “Thumbs Down” these squash matches in every recap on this site, but I get the concept behind them.
Having a Superstar that you’re trying to build as a “monster heel” run through a bunch of guys or gals smaller than them is a way to get some heat on that heel. The idea is that it will make them seem that much more unstoppable when they’re finally faced off against someone with some name recognition. Also, by using “disposable local talent” you protect the lower / mid card talent from suffering these terrible losses on TV. It’s not always heels that get this treatment either, as I distinctly remember The Ultimate Warrior just running through people when he first debuted in the WWF. That said, WWE is doing something a little differently this time around with their local talent squash matches. With Braun Strowman, and to a lesser degree Nia Jax, WWE is inadvertently creating “folk heroes” out of the local talent booked in these squash matches.
Of course, the most notable one of these guys has been James Ellsworth, but I’ve even seen people on Twitter wanting to also see more of Nia Jax’s recent squash victims. WWE is sitting on a potential gold mine that I’m not entirely sure they’re aware of. This gold mine being exploiting the “pre-squash interview segment with Byron Saxton”. Now that we’ve established that someone is paying the Strowman tackling dummies “$1000” to face him (my money is on Ted DiBiase), WWE needs to exploit that concept to give these matches some stakes. I’ve thought up four scenarios where WWE could capitalize off of these segments and make Strowman (or Jax) an even bigger villain in the process.
4 Ways to Make the Raw Squash Matches Better
1. Local Talent Needs Money For Sick Relative
Here you would have the squash victim answer Byron Saxton’s “why are you doing this” question with a sob story about their sick mother or father with medical bills. Have the talent say they’re willing to risk life and limb in the ring to bring home that $1k to help save their loved one’s life. Then not only do you have Strowman beating up someone who is just trying to help their family member, Strowman would also get massive heel heat by winning and denying the victim the extra $4k they’d receive by winning. Considering they’ve booked Strowman’s new personality to essentially be an emotionless “Terminator” type, this works all the better. Strowman cares not about your sick mother, puny mortal.
2. Local Talent Needs Money For College Loans
If WWE wanted to get political, you could have the “local talent” get frank with Byron in the interview and say they’re underwater on their student loans. Make whoever is booking these matches out to be some sick bastard playing a toned down version of the “Most Dangerous Game“. The victim can say they just answered a post on Craigslist and were told to show up to this building on this date. They had no idea what they’d be doing for the money but were promised to get paid at least $1k. Since their loans are in default even that would help them in the current economic climate. Then, you know, reverse chokeslam and Strowman gives you medical bills on top of your student loan debt.
3. Local Talent Needs Money To Save “The Rec Center”
For some kitsch, why not borrow the “Save The Rec Center” trope? If this plot line is good enough for a feature-length film starring WWE Hall of Famer Mr. T, then it should be good enough for a two-minute segment on Raw. Have the local talent tell Byron that a community center in (whatever city Raw is in that night) is in trouble and they’ve accepted the match to put their winnings towards saving the center. The local talent may even get the cheap pop made famous by Mick Foley by naming “current city” out of it. Then, you know, Terminator Strowman comes out, manhandles the talent and goes over strong. Strowman cares not about your trivial little town and the kids there having a place to go play basketball.
4. Local Talent Goes Over; Wins $5000
Since Evan Anderholm revealed that the talent will get paid $5000 if they can beat Braun Strowman, this opens the possibility of a local talent going over. It would be hard to do in the internet age, but WWE needs to save this one for a prospect they were already planning on sending to NXT. Have this guy come in, cut any random promo to answer Byron’s questions, and have the match start. This person obviously has to be more built than the previous squash victims, but maybe even have someone talented who is about Sami Zayn’s size or so, not necessarily some mountainous sized guy in this role. Anyway, they end up either getting a roll up or some sort of “lucky win” on Strowman and then immediately flee to the back. Have Byron or someone catch up with the guy backstage. Have him cut a promo saying he’s using the $5000 in prize money to travel across the country to the next WWE tryout at the Performance Center. Have him later get signed to NXT. Reference the Strowman victory on NXT after he debuts. Keep referencing his victory over Strowman until the guy either ends up on the main roster or gets released. In the end, have the series of squash matches get someone other than solely Strowman over.
Honorable Mention: Have Nia Jax’s Final Squash Victim Be A Debuting NXT Star
I still feel the best way to end the Jax squash run is by debuting someone from NXT who beats her. Specifically Asuka. Have her wear a mask and totally different gear from what she normally wears. Give her some generic “masked jobber” name. Right as the match is about to start, Asuka unmasks and smiles at Jax. Chaos ensues.
Those are just a few ways WWE can make the squash matches on Raw more than they currently are. While I do “Thumbs Down” the squash matches in my recaps, specifically due to there being not much in the way of wrestling to be seen, I do enjoy the segments as a fan. Do you have any other ideas where WWE could take these squash match segments? Sound off in the comments!