First of all, I should say that I am not a self-loathing wrestling fan. I love wrestling more than just about anything in my life. I proudly wear my wrestling t-shirts and hoodies (and Seth Rollins wristbands). Just about everyone I know is aware of how much I love wrestling. Moreover, I try not to judge how wrestling fans react live in arenas because I don’t believe in “boo the heel, cheer the face” doctrine. Wrestling would not have reached many of the strong periods that it has if people reacted differently than how they were actually feeling. With that said, there are types of fans that do annoy me and I thought I would share it for documentation purposes.
Annoying Fan Type #1: Fans who disrespect the performers.
There was a Raw after Wrestlemania a few years ago where the fans made sexual references to the women wrestlers based on who they were dating at the time. That was a bad moment or wrestling fans and the apex of disrespect. There are also the fans who chant for announcers, “CM Punk”, “Randy Savage”, “Rusev Day” and any one of a number of chants that are not about the wrestlers in the ring. Let’s not forget the beach balls.
I am the first to say that the company should be the ones to get people engaged in what is going on in the ring. At the same time, there are three things about that. The first is the wrestlers work hard (for the most part) and it is not ideal that the fans “go into business for themselves.” The second is that silence also sends a message and is not as disrespectful. The third is that this is my list and my visceral reaction to people engaging in beach ball antics and random chants is “that’s disrespectful.” I am not saying (other than what happened on that one night after Wrestlemania in the women’s tag match) that the chants cannot be justified, I am saying that they annoy me.
Annoying Fan Type #2: “You’re just a basement dwelling, Bullet Club t-shirt wearing virgin.”
I have written about this before. There is something to be said for the “elitist fan” who cannot wait to tell people how much they love NJPW or PWG or some other non-WWE promotion. Yes, that can be annoying….but they are not even on my list. It might be partial bias because I have followed NJPW regularly for the past 14-15 months and I really enjoy it. Moreover, I am starting to get tired of people ranting about WWE without giving other promotions a chance.
The above preamble in mind, the type of fan who truly annoys me is the one who wants to take shots and judge someone personally because they seek out non-WWE wrestling. First and foremost, to a certain degree many wrestling fans are nerds or geeks…and there is nothing wrong with that. Simply watching the most mainstream product does not make one immune to that (nerd or geek) distinction. Secondly, as I noted in my Bullet Club post from a while back, I do not understand the idea of shaming someone for liking wrestling enough to seek out non-WWE versions of it. Granted, sometimes the shaming is in response to an elitist, but that does not make it right. Moreover, it seems just liking a different promotion from WWE is cause for ridicule. I have seen people insulted simply for praising other promotions in juxtaposition to WWE. I have seen people insulted simply for praising non-WWE promotions.
Even taking away the wrestling angle of it, there is just something wrong with taking these types of shots at people. Either it’s (the people being “loser virgins”) not true and even if it is…it’s no one’s business what someone’s personal life is like other than the people involved closely with the person. This idea of wrestling fans making fun of people who like wrestling is…you know what…it’s disappointing. That is the best way to put it.
Annoying Fan Type #3: “I” and “Should”
There is no connection to I and should when it comes to wrestling analysis. I’ll just say upfront that what I look for in wrestling analysis is for someone as best as he or she can to speak for the fans. I’m have little interest in the “I don’t like this so it’s bad” approach to discussing wrestling. That is what I mean by “I” and “should”. I see it so often, someone on a YouTube video or a podcast saying “I don’t like this, Company X should do that.” That is not how it works and to me that’s a good thing. The better approach is to say “I don’t like this, I wish Company X would do that instead.”
“Should” in wrestling comes when there is something that is obviously going to work or something that is obviously not going to work. Other than that, it is all someone’s opinion on what is good and what’s not. No company “should” do something based on someone’s taste in wrestling. Dalyxman and JD from NY are very much guilty of this approach, but they are not the only ones.
Annoying Fan #4: Those who do not try something else
If a promotion bothers people so much and it’s so bad, then it would be nice if the people who hate it would watch something else instead of ranting about the same company all of the time. Certainly WWE is the organization that comes to mind when I say this.
I acknowledge that out of all of my subjective annoyances, this may be the most subjective. I understand that for some people (like those on YouTube especially), the WWE is where the interest is. Indeed, if the people who post about WWE stopped posting about WWE, then their numbers would go down no matter how good people who watch NJPW think it is…because most wrestling fans here in America do not watch NJPW. I can’t ask someone to do something that is going to cost them in terms of money or exposure. Moreover, NXT is just about universally praised by people who complain about WWE main roster programming so there are some positive videos and there is something to compare WWE’s main roster product to and perhaps the biggest reason for my disillusionment with the constant complaining is that there is no comparison to another product…but if I am being honest there is (NXT).
I’ll compromise my argument even more by saying that I completely understand the idea of a wrestling promotion being like a home team in the sense that if my team is not good, I still watch and support my team…but I am not going to accept that team not being good.
With all of my own counterarguments out of the way, this post is my list of annoyances and people who constantly complain about the WWE without sampling other promotions is something that I have a viscerally negative reaction to. I also am just not a fan of ranting, nitpicking things that don’t matter and the idea of watching something that one does not enjoy. Not to mention the thought that constantly comes to mind that these rants are somewhat manufactured in order to get exposure and in some cases money.
Also people who constantly rant about wrestling sometimes lose perspective. I will admit other than God and some people in my family (two people in my family actually), there is nothing or no one more important to me than wrestling. I am saying that to say if I think someone does not have wrestling in its proper perspective then you know people take their criticism too far. I’ll reference JD from NY’s reaction to Paige’s apparent forced retirement, it did not matter to him because she was in a bad storyline and/or her character was compromised by the Absolution faction (in his opinion). That is so lacking in perspective (and it goes back to #3 on my list) it is not worth elaborating on. What an unfortunate viewpoint.
First of all, before I get into this, I should say that what works is usually what’s best when it comes to wrestling. Indeed, whether it is booking or matches, if it gets over…then it is what should have been done. I have said this before and I am sure that I will say it again, pro wrestling should be analyzed more on a reactive than a proactive basis because the goal of wrestling is to get over. If something gets over than it’s good. If it does not get over, then it needs some tweaking at least and it should be overhauled at most.
With all of the above said, there is part of me that takes issue with Dave Meltzer’s claim that if it gets over, that’s all that matters. I want to point out that I am complete agreement with him if we are talking about drawing money, as long as it is not unethical…then if it draws money or ratings…then it is all that matters. I am not so sure about that position when it comes to a match. It is something that I would have to think more deeply about.
I’ve heard Meltzer debate this with Jim Cornette and there is part of me that agrees with the latter that making a mockery of wrestling is dangerous even if the match gets over. Of course, the Young Bucks in general, Joey Ryan’s penis gimmick and infamous matches featuring Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are examples that go to the heart of the argument. I would argue that wrestling styles in general should be included when looking at this argument (ie: are there some styles that keep people from taking less seriously).
While I am not sure where I stand on this argument, one thing to keep in mind is that if wrestling styles get people booked and help them make money…then it is tough to argue with what the wrestlers are doing. On the other hand, another important thing to keep in mind is that some things can go too far. A prime example of that is Lio Rush no-selling a powerbomb off a ladder through a table. That is one of those things that whether “it worked” or not, probably should not be happening.
I’m all for throwing away wrestling conventions in the pursuit of getting over and making money, but there are some things that if they are encouraged keep wrestling from even being wrestling. As subjective as I think wrestling is (outside of acknowledging what works and what doesn’t), I do believe that we need to have some standards.
I was thinking about whether or not someone else should just win the Elimination Chamber match because of the (well-documented) problems that Reigns has in getting positive reactions from the crowd. My ultimate opinion is that they should just go with Reigns. There is nothing they can do about the crowd reaction in general, maybe they can turn some people around before, during and after Wrestlemania, but as I said in general it is going to be what it is going to be for now. The issue is that there is no one else that has so much momentum that they would have to go away from what has been their plan for years and certainly for the last year.
I know Braun Strowman is very popular. I personally am a big fan of Strowman. There are several issues with Strowman though.
Issue number 1 is that I don’t think he is over enough for WWE to change their one year plans. If they were going to “go with Strowman”, he should have just won at No Mercy. He is borderline over enough. If management (meaning Vince) decided to go with Strowman over Reigns, I would not argue it…I just would not do it. I would like to see a little more in terms of some kind of metrics that show Strowman could be a draw with just one more push towards the top (meaning winning the Universal Title at WM).
Issue number 2 is that while Strowman is popular, I would contend that a great deal of his popularity is based on his destroying things and beating up Roman Reigns. Those are two easy ways to get over. I would think that there are diminishing returns to breaking things and lifting things every week. He also cannot beat up Roman Reigns every week either…I mean he could, but then it just becomes a meme. I would need to see a little more before I change my long-term plans one month before the end of those plans materialize.
Issue number 3 is related to issue number 2, Strowman is a limited performer. He is great at what he does and what he is asked to do. Moreover, he is charismatic. At the same time, in this era in order to avoid backlash, there probably has to be a bit more. It would be great if the day came where someone had so much charisma that he or she could be a big draw and become accepted by fans even with limitations. I am not sure that Strowman is that guy. I just think that there could be push back against a main event push for someone who by most standards is not a great worker nor a great promo. I believe he benefits a great deal from the fact that Roman Reigns is seen as the chosen one. I am not certain that Strowman’s popularity would survive that perception.
No one else in the chamber (including any of the four who may be added to it on Monday’s Raw) is even close to being an argument in juxtaposition to Reigns. Even if the idea was to turn Reigns heel (which is something that I want to get into another time), I would probably just do it at Wrestlemania at this point or the night after.
In short….screw it. Do Reigns versus Lesnar. You’ve come this far…time to see it through. See what happens with Reigns as a long-term champion.
I have to go back to this idea that fans have an obligation to boo the heels. I disagree with it so much that I have to say something even if it comes off as repetitive. For this I will use the Miz Test.
The Miz Test is simple (I should note that I named it after the Miz, but it could be any heel). The hypothetical example is if the Miz is wrestling Seth Rollins, Finn Balor or real. y any other babyface and you as a fan want the Miz to win, then you should not boo him. It’s not real heat if you are only booing him because you think you are supposed to. I hesitate to say “should not boo him,” because I believe fans should be able to do what they want. At the same time, booing a heel just because that is the role he or she plays is something that I would argue does not really help anything, which is especially true now.
In this era where WWE says any reaction is a good reaction, booing a heel just because he or she is a heel only hurts the performer in this sense….who knows what WWE could have on their hands if fans reacted viscerally at all times. WWE may be casting the next big babyface as a heel, when they could have the next merchandise-selling money drawing babyface.
I have made this argument before, booing a heel just because that performer is a heel is as meta as cheering a heel because you think he or she is a good performer. Any reaction where the fan has to think is meta, which is actually the basis for the flawed argument that heels should be booed.
Ultimately, it is like a PWTorch.com writer said (not Wade Keller, he is too close-minded and stuck in what wrestling was to see what I am about to say), heel heat that does not lead to drawing money is almost useless. I won’t say completely useless because the appearance of a strong heel-face dynamic does at least sound good. At the same time, it does not really help, especially today when fans are so dispassionate about heels. Indeed, heels today get boos because fans are trying to help (the point of this post) or because the fans do not want to see the wrestler and are booing to express their satisfaction or because the heel does something cheap that the fans are obviously going to boo. People are so concerned about cheers and boos that they are settling for boos that are not really heat.
My wish is for all fans to react naturally and then the company’s response to that will likely lead to better numbers. One thing, I am not saying that a really strong face-heel dynamic will not draw in wrestling. What I am saying is that people are confusing boos for heat and the former is not going to lead to uptick in business. In fact the former in today’s wrestling is more of a sign of indifference than emotional connection to the product.