The “Carpenters” of Professional Wrestling

Arn Anderson

As I was watching last nights WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, I found myself really enjoying the speeches being given by the inductees, as well as their respective presenters. I thought Sting gave one of the best, most heartfelt speeches in recent memory. Professional wrestling is a better industry today because of the years he gave us. He is an icon in every sense of the term. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the Stingers speech, just as I did all of the others, I especially enjoyed the speech given by Stan Hansen.

Just as Vader (his presenter) expressed, Stan Hansen is a man in the purest meaning of the word. As a professional wrestler, he was feared, just as much as he was adored by his peers. Hansen is one of those guys who brought respect and legitimacy to the industry at a time in which it certainly needed it. Known for that deadly lariat, Stan also held championships all over the world, including an AWA world title, as well as multiple other titles, including many historic tag title reigns.

During his acceptance speech last night, Stan Hansen spoke about his love for the business, but as you may have noticed, Stan gave credit to many others in the industry for his success. Along with expressing his gratitude towards the likes of Vader, Bruiser Brody and other greats, you might have heard him mention his appreciation for “the carpenters.” As I watched with some friends last night, a couple of them turned and looked at one another with a puzzled look, wondering what the heck a carpenter was.

The first time I can remember hearing the term carpenter used, it was years ago at a night club in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was hanging out one night with a group of old friends when Arn Anderson and Jamie Noble walked in. They were in town because WWE was running a house show the next day, and I guess they decided to get out for a few drinks. At the time, Noble was still wresting, and Arn was working backstage as an agent, just as he does today. Being the big fan I am, I approached the two and just told them I was a huge fan, and that I didn’t want to intrude on their personal down time, I just wanted to say hello and maybe shake their hand. Both of the guys were incredibly cool with me, and invited me to sit with them. So, I sat and chatted for maybe an hour or so, trying to avoid a ton of wrestling talk, trying to be as respectful as possible, because I could only imagine that these guys get tired of work, and just want to unwind sometimes. I soon learned that Arn and Jamie were road buddies, meaning that at this time, they were paired together on the road, when traveling between towns. Eventually, I got up and told them how much I appreciated how cool they had been to me, and how much it meant to me, that they invited me to sit down with them. Jamie took down my name and phone number, and told me that I would have a couple of tickets at will call the next day for the show, which I did.

As I got up to leave, more and more fans had began to notice the two stars, and began to go over to them. I remember one guy asking his buddy “Who is the guy with Arn Anderson?” His friend turned to him and said “Ah, that’s Jamie Noble. He’s just a jobber.” Well, Arn heard that remark and it genuinely offended him. Arn stood up, walked over to the guys, who were standing directly beside me, and I honestly though Double A was going to sock the guy in the face. Needless to say, he didn’t. Arn approached the two young men, and began to speak to them about how he overheard one of them say that Jamie Noble was a jobber. The guys, who were visibly intoxicated and probably had more liquid courage than sense, they just nodded and smiled at the legend. Arn told the guys to come join him at his table. He asked them if they knew what the term “jobber” meant. They looked at one another with a puzzled look, one looked back at Arn and said “Yeah, a wrestler who loses all the time.” Anderson shook his head and smiled as he replied, “Do you consider me a jobber? When I was in the ring, was I one of the guys you considered to be a jobber?”  Both quickly answered saying “NO! No way, Arn! You’re a legend! You are a Horseman!” Arn then began to explain to the youngsters how at one point in his career, he worked a period of about three years, where he lost nearly every match. He said he could probably count the number of wins during that time, on one hand. These guys were dumbfounded, because Arn had discounted their theory that “jobbers” were simply guys who lost all the time.

Anderson began to really impart some serious knowledge on these guys, as well as myself and everyone else within an earshot, because everyone was listening at this point. I remember Arn explaining to the guys that Jamie was far from a jobber. He talked about how great Noble was in the ring, and about the titles he had won throughout his career. Then Arn took the conversation into a much deeper level. He asked the two guys if they knew what a “carpenter” was? Of course they replied by saying a carpenter was someone who built houses. Arn told them about his definition of a carpenter, and what it meant to professional wrestling. He explained to them that a carpenter was someone who possessed a great deal of skill in the ring, often times more so than their opponent, but their job was to utilize their skill to make their opponent look like a million bucks. He talked about how much he hated the term jobber, and how just about everyone within the industry loathed that term, and quite frankly, they don’t appreciate the term, simply because of its negative connotation, and how misinformed many folks are about the importance of enhancement talent.

On a personal level, I learned a lot that night. Heading out that evening, I had no clue I’d run into two professional wrestlers, much less that I’d be invited to sit with them, and soak up so much amazing knowledge from both guys, especially Arn Anderson. It was that night where I truly learned exactly what a carpenter is, and its importance in the world of professional wrestling. In today’s era, where all of the talent is refereed to as “superstars,” there is not a whole lot of enhancement talent being used. I guess guys like R-Truth, and maybe the members of Social Outcast are often times used as enhancement talent, but compared to eras of the older days, it’s something that has essentially all but disappeared and that’s too bad. I think today’s generation could benefit from the use of quality carpenters. Once upon a time, guys like Johnny Rodz, Danny Davis, Barry Horowitz, Jim Powers, SD Jones, Pistol Pez Whatley and countless others were fantastic carpenters. They were no less talented than guys they were putting over, they just had a different job to do, and they did it well.

It took a special type of person to be a carpenter. They trained just as hard, often times harder than the main eventers. They traveled just as much, they worked just as hard, if not harder and they gave all of themselves to the business of pro wresting. In return, they never expected the glory, the fame, and the notoriety that their opponents experienced. They weren’t mobbed in airports, they weren’t constantly approached for photo op’s etc. These guys did what they did for the betterment of professional wrestling, and because they loved the business. These guys don’t get the respect they deserve, and that’s what this column is for. They are the ones who fly below the radar, work for less money, don’t wear title belts, and aren’t as revered as many of the guys they make look good, but they did it anyhow.

The next time you call someone a “jobber,” just think about it for a moment. Just like Arn Anderson said that night:

“If a jobber is someone who gets paid to go out and do a job…well hell, I’ve been a jobber my whole damn life.”

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