I hesitate to talk about this again, but Wade Keller and Travis Bryant have really annoyed me by telling fans that they are wrong for liking who they like. The best responses in wrestling are organic. I don’t think that people cheering for heels like A.J Styles or Kevin Owens are necessarily trying to prove how smart they are. There is a chance that those fans just like them. There are reasons to boo heels that you like, but it is not a necessity. More importantly, to me it doesn’t put the company in the best position to draw money and ratings because it is a fake response.
If I was psychic and knew that every fan was simply playing along with the storyline, I would be disappointed because I want to know how fans really feel. Let the promotion adjust, not the fans. I am not saying I like heels getting cheered, I’m saying it’s fine either way as long as it is a passionate and organic (there’s that word again) response. If someone is not emotionally invested in the characters or the storylines, who cares how they respond? The last thing I want are fans who are robots.
Keller actually said that people have always known that wrestling was a “show” and people still booed heels. To me that means you have to look at what changed, since it wasn’t the knowledge of the fans (generally speaking, the volume of knowledge has obviously changed), then it must be the product not getting people to react appropriately. I should make an aside (that is not really an aside) here, I am more into the economics (think Brandon Howard) than I am into crowd reaction. The crowd reaction is a signal that something is wrong (considering that many of their metrics are down), but it is possible to have a hot product without crowd reactions in line with face-heel dynamics. I love listening to engaged crowds, but the specific reaction doesn’t bother me either way.
Going back to crowd reaction-Dash and Dawson are perfect examples of two heels that get the desired reaction because the goal is to get people to forget it is a show. Booing the heel because he is a heel and to “honor him” is recognizing that is a show which means it is a flawed reaction. Keller says that people should have fun booing the heel. My answer to that is wrestling is supposed to be fun so I am sure that the fans (for the most part) who go to arenas are “having fun” cheering the people that they like. Organic and visceral is what I care about. It should also be what promotions care about.