“1…2…It doesn’t matter if The Rock counts to 3!” –The Rock
It’s a job that requires a college degree, years of experience while working from the ground up, and being very active. Oh, and did I forget the mention an affinity for black and white stripes and the possibility of getting your fucking head kicked in? My fault. Yes, I am talking about being a professional wrestling referee.
It is a job that is certainly not for the faint of heart or one a few fries short of a Happy Meal. You need to be in top physical shape in order to keep up with wrestlers that are probably a hundred pounds heavier and so much stronger. You need to be assertive in order to have no problem getting in the face of a wrestler that could snap you in half like a puny twig. And not only that, but you need to be smart enough to know all the rules and assert them in the match. I mean, I do not even know exactly how many rules there are when it comes to a wrestling match, and I have been watching wrestling for close to 20 years. Anyone could know the basics like you have 10 seconds to get back into a ring or grabbing a rope will break any hold within five seconds. But there are more obscure rules. Did you know that in the Royal Rumble, if the final two competitors hit the ground at the same time, the ENTIRE Royal Rumble could be started again? Trained referees do. On top of all that, you have to do all of this in front of a fickle crowd. Make one mistake, say the wrong thing, or perform as sloppy as a prom night drunk that is 30 pounds overweight, and they’ll show their depreciation of you. I’m looking at you, Brett Lauderdale.
However, every once and a while, you get matches that feature special guest referees. And although for the most part these special guest referees can match up physically to great professional referees, mentally, they are far behind. Think about it. Great referees spend years and years honing their craft and learning the rules of the ring inside and out. And now, for some match, someone is just supposed to take their place without knowing all those rules? Imagine the chaos that would ensue! However, I have decided to do something about this. I am presenting the Special Guest Referee Rule Book. It’s a small handbook that any special guest referee would be able to read quickly and at least keep some sort of order in the ring. That way, even though they don’t know all the rules and intricacies of refereeing matches, they can hold their own. It even includes examples! And pretty pictures for those that can’t read so good! OK, maybe not that many pretty pictures. Anyways, I present to you the Special Guest Referee Rule Book.
1. You are NOT required to wear the standard referee clothing. Wear shorts/jeans. Cut off the sleeves. Whatever will help you perform your job better.
Example: I mean, what better example is there than AJ in the match between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan at Money in the Bank in 2012? Short shorts. Referee tank-top showing that flat stomach. She can definitely try to count me out anytime. That probably doesn’t even make sense, but you know what I mean. Sex. Moving on.
2. If anyone hits you, hit them back. You are the authority! You don’t take no crap off of nobody!
3. Accidents can happen. Whether it is something in your eye or hurting your arm counting for the pin, make sure you take care of yourself. The match can wait.
4. If a wrestler utilizes a weapon that YOU provide, it is NOT a disqualification. You can basically take any normal match and turn it into a No Disqualification match!
Example: In 2006, Shawn Michaels did this very thing when he provided a trash can for Kane to use and beat down Rob Conway. I mean, he was kind of asking for it with that theme music. Yes, Rob Conway, we all did look at you…get your ass beat.
5. You can’t always see everything. You don’t have eyes in the back of your head. If someone cheats behind you, then they just got lucky.
6. You can count as slow or as fast as you want. You haven’t been formally trained in how to count a pin. That’s not your fault.
Example: Once again, we learn from Shawn Michaels. At Cyber Sunday 2008, he had to step in and ref a match between Batista and Chris Jericho. His count for the pin that would have made Jericho the victor was a little slow. But hey, he’s not a trained referee. Counting to three is harder than it looks.
7. You can always take a minute or two to sign some autographs and take pictures with the fans.
8. A match doesn’t have to end by pin, submission, or disqualification. You can end a match however you want to!
Example: Before the 2011 Royal Rumble, John Cena once called a double disqualification in a match between Wade Barrett and CM Punk due to excessive use of profanity. I mean, it was a PG show. You can’t blame him. So if you want to do a double disqualification in a match between Kane and the Big Show because you don’t like Christmas and the red and green wrestling gear they are wearing, go ahead.
9. You don’t have to call a match down the middle. Normal referees do that. You were never trained to be unbiased. So be as biased as you want.
10. If the main referee is down, and you are the special guest enforcer/time keeper/announcer, you have full authority to take over and be the new referee.
Example: Of course, the best example is when “Iron” Mike Tyson turned enforcer to referee when needed at WrestleMania 14 between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Or should I say “Cold Stone?”
11. 10 second count-outs? 10 seconds to get up? 5 seconds to break a hold? A normal referee knows all those rules. But you don’t! So don’t worry about them.
12. Normal referees don’t get any big entrance. Not you. You are special! Walk down the ramp to your theme and show everybody that you are the authority!
Example: Stone Cold Steve Austin drove an ATV out to the ring at both WrestleMania 20 and 27. Beat that. Maybe you can drive a Segway down to the ring. No, Simon Dean made that stupid. Think of something else.
13. If all else fails, just beat up both competitors and be the lone guy standing. Then you can essentially be the winner!
Example: In a match between Triple H and the British Bulldog for the WWF Championship in 1999, the Rock got tired of being the special guest referee and just beat both competitors instead. It did come with one of the funniest pin counts, though. Oh, you didn’t find it funny? IT DOESN’T MATTER!
It may not be a lengthy rule book, but what can I say? Special guest referees only come around every once and a while. That’s why they are “special.” And while there aren’t many rules in this rule book, hopefully, lessons learned from future special guest referees can be added along the way. This way, no special guest referee will be clueless ever again in a match and can perform the job to the best of his/her ability. And if you are ever thrust into this position, don’t worry about doing a horrible job. You can’t do a worse job than Nick Patrick did.
Whidden is our wrestling referee expert citing experience from being the referee for several KY Jelly wrestling matches during his time in college (true story). His dream is to referee even in his older days so that he can have a romantic story line with Madison Rayne. Follow Whidden on Twitter @MKWhidden.