Tuesday, March 17, 2015

WWE Hates Fun, Is Anal about Crowds

Why were these fans made to change?
Photo via @Laufered
If you were watching RAW early on last night, you may have noticed a group of colorful fans facing the hard camera in the front row. They were dressed as various legends of wrestling. On one hand, I would never waste awesome cosplay on an episode of RAW right now, but at the same time, those guys probably weren't getting to WrestleMania and wanted to show off for the rest of the world their dedication to fandom. Of course, those costumes disappeared later on in the show, and apparently, the reason wasn't because the lads were getting too hot in them.

Apparently, WWE officials, for whatever reason, didn't like that the group of fans dressed up like wrestlers of old, so this intrepid group of fun-havers was scuttled to the back and given an ultimatum. Either they disrobe their costumes, or they give up their front row seats. The group chose disrobing. WWE did give them t-shirts for their troubles, but as far as makegoods go, that gesture seemed really fucking weak if you ask me.

Now, before the "Well, actually" crowd chimes in, I'm well aware that buying a ticket to a WWE event, or any event, doesn't give the purchaser the right to do whatever he or she pleases. It's Vince McMahon's or Kevin Dunn's or whosever prerogative to control the crowd. If I were Dunn, I wouldn't want to have some doofus holding up a "CHRIS BENOIT TO THE HALL OF FAME" in front of the hard camera. And dressing up in costume could pose a security risk if your actual, legit security team consisted of the characters of Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble (not Adam Birch and James Gibson, the real people, important distinction).

But no, these guys were just dressing up like WWE legends, and the way McMahon loves humping the memories of his prior characters and angles, one might think he'd be tickled pink at someone paying homage like he attempts to do. They weren't being assholes. They weren't ruining anyone's good time. They were trying to have fun. What this move tells me is that WWE is not interested in crowds having fun.

Then again, it's not the first time, and it won't be the last time that WWE officials have wanted to police crowd reactions. The last tour of England saw Vince McMahon coming out from Gorilla and chastising the crowd for not "having a good time." Apparently, one must react the way McMahon wants a typical fan to react to have a good time, but actual, legitimate fun is prohibited. Or hey, the way WWE is ramming Roman Reigns down the Universe's collective throat says more about what the company wants out of its fans than anything else. Reigns is McMahon's guy, and I respect that to a degree, but basically, the way he's being pushed is basically telling the audience "This is how you will like my product OR ELSE."

If the crowd is part of the show, it should be allowed to be part of it. If it means getting creative without being abusive or disruptive, then it should be allowed to happen. If it means reading crowds' reactions to your actions, then actually listen. I'm not saying that two weeks out from Mania that Reigns should be scuttled, but if he was the guy all along, then why push him in the same way a grade schooler does stupid shit to impress his/her friends and then asks loudly "DO YOU LIKE ME YET?" If Daniel Bryan or Dolph Ziggler were never in the plans, but the crowd wants them anyway, then why not give them issues to fight over?

Professional wrestling is the most interactive form of entertainment known to man outside of perhaps Whose Line Is It Anyway? and yet WWE shows time and time again that it fails to know how to handle said interaction. If it did, then those Iowan fans would have never been made to change out of their cosplay.