*** WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE !!! *** PLEASE KEEP ALL EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES !!! ***
There’s a thing that happens in Canada that’s unlike any other thing that happens in wrestling: the “good” crowds don’t actually suck. In fact, outside of handwaving that the crowd would obviously cheer Canadians, Montreal’s crowd was treated (and acted) like the best possible audience for a show like this by the company which put on the show. Which is rare for a wrestling crowd, and it’s because, by and large, they did none of the things that a wrestling crowd usually does.
They weren’t really a wrestling crowd, nor were they there to see a wrestling show, of course. They were studio audience for a LIVE television show, as is each fan that appear every week on Monday Night Raw. But what made them “special”, if you want to go that far, was that they actually recognized that fact and acted accordingly.
Now, this isn’t to say that a crowd who “goes into business for themselves” is necessarily wrong. However, outside of very specific contexts (Punk/Chicago), they almost always make the show they are actually on worse. Some of the issues that arise involve the performers, like superstars forgetting their lines in front of a hostile crowd, but the actual “unwatchability” is almost always directly tied to the distractions that are created as a consequence of this as a prevailing goal.
When people say those kinds of crowds “take a show hostage,” it’s true in a literal sense whether they mean it that way or not. A double cognitive dissonance occurs, wherein you are forced to watch a constructed response to an action within an adjacent construct, specifically designed and deployed to amplify the response in anticipation of the inciting action. It can feel as though you are watching a very special episode of a multi-camera sitcom, but one in which whomever was in charge of such things forgot to remove the laugh track where the dramatic music should be.
Instead Montreal, for whatever collective reason — my assumption is that it was after Sami and KO were allowed to speak to them like they loved being home (and in French!) and not like they’d moved to Tampa from Toronto right before a show at the Skydome just to get heat — embraced their role as not a “character on the show” but an archetype (“the good crowd”) existing in a construct (“televised live wrestling show”). And because there was no hint of “trying to get themselves over” (or likely such a low dose it was essentially diluted by the genuine enthusiasm the crowd had for the show,) when they didn’t like or care about something (i.e., Bobby Lashley’s entrance during the SAKO beatdown or Jinder Mahal’s before that) it worked as an actual expression of their emotions toward him and not an attempt to push their values on the rest of the audience, both in the arena and at home.
And it also made the pop for Braun Strowman, who was coming down to beat up three Canadians — two of whom are beloved Quebecois wrestling icons at this point — actually feel like it resonates far behind the walls of the Bell Centre. Especially when you consider that he did it to save Lukewarm Lashley and Roman Reigns, who the crowd had previously booed for the first ten minutes of the show and wasn’t important enough for me to mention before the last sentence on this segment.
*** WARNING YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY A COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE DOG MILKSHAKE ON YOUR WAY OUT, NOW WITH EXTRA DOG SHAKE! ***