|As always, wrestling's problems stem from this jerk|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE is finally venturing back on the road after spending a COVID-19 residency at the Performance Center and then various arenas rigged with fans in virtual attendance from home called the Thunderdome. They will join All Elite Wrestling, who welcomed non-plant fans back in waves until they finally went with full arenas at Double or Nothing, whether or not it was a completely great idea at the time due to their location in the most Florida-location in Florida, Duval County. AEW went back on the road last week, and the results, outside of one moron fan jumping the rails in an unsuccessful attempt at impressing Jim Cornette, showed the magic of pro wrestling with a full crowd.
Wrestling has many moving components, but even in the days of packed football stadia to watch Frank Gotch and Georg Hackenschmidt trade headlocks for an hour, crowds were and still are major cogs to any show. I can't speak to how well the Thunderdome was pulled off because I would rather bathe in car battery acid than watch WWE, but the AEW shows where there were only a few plants in the crowd to give the veneer of noise just wasn't the same. Case in point, Hangman Page only "seemed" over on Twitter, but no one really knew whether or not his heat would translate across the void. At Double or Nothing, his entrance blew the partial roof off Daily's Place. Crowds make a show.
However, not everyone is raring to go with crowds finally returning to WWE. The name has been redacted so as not to bring the take anymore attention, but I mean, it came from a fairly popular Twitter user:
I could go into the reasons why these kinds of people aren't endemic to pro wrestling uniquely. Honestly, you can find stinky and rude and obnoxious people wherever you go. The people who sat behind my family and I at a restaurant the other night as we were about to leave smelled like they had just run a marathon through a hog wallow. Driving brings out the rudest and most toxic traits in people. And if you want obnoxious, I mean, these were fans of England's national football (soccer) team in advance of their loss to Italy in the UEFA Euro Cup Final Sunday. Warning, there's some male nudity ahead:
Yh ppl have gone mad 🤢😦 pic.twitter.com/1JFVD9oCZf— sarah (@skldnxo) July 11, 2021
|Photo Credit: Elliott Franks|
It doesn't matter how many other places have rude and awful-smelling people, because there'll always be a subset of wrestling fans who hate other wrestling fans. Now, I'm not saying all wrestling fans are perfectly behaved and well groomed dilettantes of high society. There are a bunch of racists in the crowds at every show, pigs yelling at women to take their tops off, slobs who have not cleaned their asses since 1983, and drunken fools who want to fistfight anyone who has a differing opinion. My point is the people who are going crazy over blaming wrestling's bad reputation on these so-called hooligans might as well be pointing at the ring ropes or the video board, because they would be just as accurate.
Whether they like it or not, self-hating wrestling fans will always be lumped in with the people they decry because people who will mock and ridicule wrestling for being redneck trash do not give a shit if you're "one of the good ones." It's a way more watered down version of playing "respectability politics" only in a far less important area than civil rights. Basically, people who look down on wrestling fans aren't going to like you if you can convince them you're not what they picture in their minds. Yes, there are people who look down on everything and anything, no matter how high-class it is. However, it feels like there's a disproportionate amount of those people who will look down at wrestling fans, and there's only one person to blame.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Ever since taking over the then-World Wrestling Federation from his father, McMahon has done more to ghettoize professional wrestling than every associated promoter who came before him or who was his contemporary until Eric Bischoff took over World Championship Wrestling. Between racist gimmicks, cruel and humiliating angles meant to demean the heels and women, and babyface wrestlers who catered to the basest instincts of the biggest bullies in the world, McMahon set a tone that too many other promoters decided to imitate. So when you have promoters who, by and large, attract the most slovenly and awful among the people who like wrestling, you're going to get people in the crowds who don't shower or respect other people for who they are.
You can't get those kinds of people out of the crowd by snidely making blanket statements about a group of people to which you yourself belong and demanding that no one be let back in the building, thus depriving the artform of wrestling of a vitally important component. You get them out by not patronizing the companies who let rapists and abusers back in the building after enough time passes from their Speaking Out accusations. You do so by not patronizing the companies that insult your intelligence. Maybe you speak out on Twitter to companies telling them to enforce a hygiene policy, much in the same way this competitive Smash tournament apparently is. I say apparently because it's UberFacts, and grains of salt and whatnot.
Anyway, taking a crowd away from wrestling because you have some oblivious hatred for your kin is like banning a slapshot in hockey because it might go over the glass and into the crowd. You don't ban the slapshot. You put nets up to make sure pucks don't go into the crowd. The crowd is as vital to wrestling as any wrestler, commentator, or referee, and it is far more vital to the form it is observing than any other crowd except for improv and live performances of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You might say "a few bad apples spoil the bunch," but that's only true if you don't do anything about the bad apples before they start releasing their ethylene gas and rotting the rest of the bushel.
I know promoters don't listen to the whims of Twitter users unless they have like a quarter-million followers or the like, but putting that idea out into the world just invites evil, especially when McMahon has almost laid the groundwork to launch a product that doesn't need fans to function lucratively for him. Think about it; WWE has negotiated rights deals that make them hella profitable before a single fan would walk through a turnstile. They already proved they could run shows in a sterile environment with faces on the screens that they themselves can curate. All he'd need is enough "influencers" to start saying fans are bad and then the biggest wrestling company in the world goes fully virtual. Then you nerds would find out how much worse off a wrestling show would be when no one's there to react live.