Monday, February 2, 2015

Reminder: The Fans Don't Owe Vince McMahon Anything

No, you don't owe it to Vince McMahon to cheer this guy
Photo Credit:
The Royal Rumble match spawned all kinds of hot takes about the state of WWE. Should Daniel Bryan have even been in the match if he wasn't going to win? Is Roman Reigns the right guy to headline WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar even though neither guy is particularly good at calling a match? Is Vince McMahon out of touch? Nearly every question that rose out of the mire was worth exploring in depth except for one. Basically, the spate of wrestling journalists/writers/bloggers who questioned whether the fans were "justified" in booing the shit out of Reigns upon his victory was so immense that I wondered if McMahon spent some major cash trying to buy thinkpieces in an attempt to sway the genpop.

Basically, any opinion that looks to see the fans disenfranchised of their opinions on the product is odious and worthy of contempt. The price of admission should give the fans a carte blanche on reacting to what they see in the ring as long as that reaction isn't bigoted in some way. Well, I'm sure some people would argue that it does give the fans a right to bigotry, but then again, any promotion that allows an atmosphere where anyone is uncomfortable being in the stands is not a promotion worth supporting. But I'm getting off-topic here.

When someone pays money for a wrestling ticket, they get the right to exercise their free expression letting the promoters know what wrestlers, matches, and angles they like or don't like. The beauty in a wrestling crowd is that it is the purest, most instant form of feedback possible. Arenas across the country are the most beautiful focus groups possible. To suggest that they have some kind of obligation to react in a certain way to what the promoter wants is pandering to the bourgeoisie. The fans are entitled to their opinions. Vince McMahon is not entitled to a fan code of conduct requiring them to react the way he wants them to.

But the opinions are out there, that fans who dared wanted Daniel Bryan to win were "entitled" and ungrateful, and they're terrible. One such bonehead who has a prominent podcast and is a radio DJ tried passing off the utter tripe that the fans who booed Reigns should have shut up and taken their medicine, because McMahon knows what's good for them. I'd like to say opinions like those in the media are rare, but all over the place, writers and reporters try to suck at the teat of the establishment rather than doing what the media should be doing, reporting on things and keeping said establishment on their toes.

Additionally, such an attitude mistakes the roles of the promoter and the fans, giving the former a pass for bad wrestling. As the folks over at Voices of Wrestling reminded everyone on Twitter Sunday afternoon, wrestling promoters used to and should still be pushing people based on who's over. All the kvetching over crowds hijacking shows misses the fundamental point, that if the show was actually good, the fans wouldn't feel the need chant for things other than what's going on in the ring. To take it a step further, if the wrestlers that McMahon pushed were good at their jobs or engaged the crowd in any meaningful way, those wrestlers would get traditional pops or heat.

All of this cacophony smacks of an idea that the fans owe McMahon for what he presents. Wrestling is great, and it needs people to promote it, sure. But this idea that the model isn't so much a free market goods/services exchange and that McMahon needs to compete for the public's entertainment dollar but a thing that fans should be thankful for is absolute bullshit. If Vince McMahon wants fans to cheer his product, then he should push the people who are over. It doesn't mean ramming Roman Reigns down people's throats. It means giving guys like Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and yes, even Zack fucking Ryder a stage to perform when they get the crowd behind them.

But hey, if you want to lick McMahon's anus and make claims that everyone needs to pay him some kind of tribute like he's earned it, go right ahead. Just be prepared to live with the fact that you're perpetuating stagnancy in wrestling and you're misusing your pulpit for the people just to suck up to a dude who doesn't give a fuck whether you write a single word in his defense.