One thing the brand split between Raw and Smackdown has reintroduced is the role of the local jobber. One of the more important parts of the weekly television show (no, really!), the return of the jobber has been a welcome addition to the shows, in particular Raw.
The nameless, local jobber has an important, even vital, role on TV. At it’s most basic, it keeps the money-making wrestlers looking strong without making one of your other talents look like a bitch. Up until the mid to late 90’s, television wrestling was almost always a star wrestler against no-name guy. Matches between two main guys were saved. In the 70’s and 80’s, they were saved for big, untelevised shows in arenas like Madison Square Garden. In the 90’s, the marquee matches were saved for Pay Per Views.
This was done because PPV and the big house shows were where the money was. Television ratings and advertisement money wasn’t as important. So if you wanted to see Koko B. Ware get his hands on the Million Dollar Man (or, you know, whoever), you had to lay down the money. On TV, Koko would just beat John Smith from [insert your hometown here] in a few minutes. This changed in the late 90’s. Ratings between WWF and WCW became king, and no one was tuning in to watch Hollywood Hogan fight a jobber. They wanted him to fight Golderg. And if he wasn’t going to fight Goldberg, we’ll just change the channel to WWF.
And thus disappeared the local jobber, more or less. They never completely vanished, but appearances were rare. Real wrestlers were usually used in the jobber role, guys that could always be counted on to lose. But with the brand split, the rosters are smaller, and each guy is more valuable to each show. Guys that the company has spent money on shouldn’t be discarded as jobbers when there is still potential.
And thus, the local jobber returns. We’ve seen both men and women local jobbers, with Braun Strwoman and Nia Jax respectively destroying the competition each week on Raw. And last Raw we saw what the point of it is. After defeating no less then 3 local jobbers, Sami Zayn came out to put a stop to him. Zayn is a fantastic person for Strowman to feud against. Few people are better underdogs than Sami, and thanks to Strowman defeating a parade of jobbers, Sami is certainly an underdog. And working with a guy as good as Sami Zayn can only help Braun be a better in ring worker.
On Smackdown, we’ve seen what happens when that local jobber gets a bit of a bump. As of this writing, James Ellsworth currently has the best selling t-shirt on WWE.com. James. Ellsworth. No lies. James Ellsworth has more victories of WWE Champion AJ Styles then John Cena does. Seriously. What started as a one-off local jobber became a fun piece of storytelling, with Ellsworth the middle man between Styles and Dean Ambrose. It’s not a story that will set the world on fire, but it’s still fun television.
Local jobbers who you’ll never see again have a storied and proud tradition in professional wrestling. It’s good to see them making a comeback.