The Carpenters of professional wrestling
Explaining the importance of a true art form in professional wrestling.
I recently sat down and watched the replay of the 2016 WWE Hall Of Fame Ceremony on the WWE Network. As I watched, I remembered how passionate Sting was as he gave his speech, how charismatic Michael PS Hayes was as he recounted the glorious Backstreet USA days with The Freebirds and how emotional it was to see The Big Boss Man's daughter speak of the fond memories she had, growing up as the child of a legend.
All of the speeches that night were fantastic, in their own special way, but of all the acceptance speeches that night, the one that I was most intrigued by, was Stan Hansen. I thoroughly enjoyed his message of gratitude as he spoke of all those who paved the way for him and the others who came up with him and how he appreciated what the business of professional wrestling truly meant to him.
He talked about the memorable wars he had with Bruiser Brody, Andre The Giant and of course, Vader. But, if you were really listening, you probably heard him speak of the "carpenters" of professional wrestling. If you're like most younger and many older fans today, chances are, you had no clue what he meant, nor did you know what a carpenter was, in relation to wrestling.
The very first and likely the only time I can recall the term "carpenter" associated with wrestling, was back in the middle of 2007. I was sitting at a table with some friends, at a night club in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was a Saturday night and we had worked all week, so we decided to have a couple of drinks and just unwind from a long week. I remember as I was sitting there, I was constantly watching the door, as we were expecting a few more friends to arrive at any moment. Suddenly, in comes two people I never expected to see come into a Little Rock club, it was Arn Anderson and Jamie Noble.
For the most part, no one really knew who Jamie and Arn were, as they approached the bar, ordered their first round and found a table. With that said, there were a couple of folks who recognized them and said hi, asked for a photo or whatever. But, for the most part, they simply blended in. Being the hardcore fan that I am, I was chomping at the bits to go over and at least say hello.
However, I wanted to respect their privacy, because I know these guys rarely get much down time. Nevertheless, I finally approached the two and introduced myself. Keep in mind, at the time, Jamie was still wrestling and Arn was working as a road agent. As I was walking towards them, I didn't know what to expect, especially from Double-A, because he kept a no-nonsense look about him the entire time, so to be honest, I wasn't expecting the two to be very jovial. But, to my surprise, they were both extremely humble and very generous with their time. In fact, Arn even invited me to have a seat at their table. Needless to say, it was an invitation I wasn't about to pass up.
The conversation was fairly light. The guys were in town for a house show the next night and just wanted to get out while they had a few hours to kill and just let loose for a bit. They asked me how old I was, what kind of work I did, if I was married etc. Just the common chit-chat you'd expect between total strangers getting to know one another.
Things were going very well and being the old school fan that I am, I was having the absolute time of my life. A few minutes into our conversation, a group of blatantly drunk young men walked by and one guy pointed at Noble and said to the other guy, "that's Jamie Noble, he's just a jobber." At this point, the conversation, the mood, and the focus all shifted to the guys who just walked by.
As the group passed by, Jamie was unfazed by the ignorant comments, but Arn was a little perturbed by the remarks that were made towards his constituent. Just as they walked directly in front of us, Arn whistled and tapped one of the guys on the arm, trying to get their attention. Once he did, he stood up to the young man who made the ill-informed comment and asked if he would come sit with us for a moment.
The guy was visibly intimidated and suddenly had a look of regret on his face for the remarks he had made. However, Arn didn't scold the gentleman, he didn't talk down to him or hit him with insults or anything like that. In fact, Arn was very kind as he began what would turn out to be a lesson on what a carpenter is and the important role they play in professional wrestling.
As he spoke, the first thing Arn wanted to make clear, was that Jamie was not a jobber at all. Noble was more like a lower mid-card talent at the time. Anyhow, as he continued to educate the young man, he asked if he knew what a carpenter was. The man replied as most would, describing a person who builds houses or does some type of work related to a building. As Arn chuckled, he said, "well, you got some of it correct."
Arn began to explain that in relation to the sport of wrestling, a carpenter was someone who possessed a great deal of skill in the ring, often times more so than their opponent. But, their job wasn't to stack up wins and dominate storylines. Their job is to utilize their skill-set to make their opponent look like a million bucks.
The carpenter is someone who is responsible for selling their opponents maneuvers in a way that everyone watching is left in awe at how great the opponent is. At the end of the match, the carpenter has succeeded if his opponent not only won the match but looked like a specimen of perfection while doing so.
As Arn continued to explain the definition of the carpenter in professional wrestling, others gathered and patiently listened as this living legend bestowed a wealth of knowledge upon everyone within an earshot. Arn explained that he despised the term "jobber" because of the negative condentation associated with it. Most people assume that a "jobber," or "enhancement talent," or whatever word used, automatically means that person is worthless, or just a joke.
However, what myself and several others learned that night, was that it was completely opposite of popular belief.
The carpenters of professional wrestling aren't as visibly present as they once were. However, when used, the carpenter still plays a vital role in the overall production and execution of a wrestling match. The carpenter is needed to fill the gaps where the opponent is lacking and in the end, leave the fans feeling as if they were successfully entertained.
Professional wrestling is a fascinating product, with countless intricate components and parts, all vital in the process of ensuring things go as planned. Like anything with many parts, one cannot work properly without the other doing its part efficiently.
The carpenters have been as important to professional wrestling as anything has been, since the inception of the industry. Thankfully on a certain Saturday night in Central Arkansas, a Horseman took the time to educate some of us who truly needed a brief crash course in wrestling terminology one-on-one.