Normally, Raw Regurgitated is a series of references and asides to the going ons of the previous night’s Raw. But, after watching last night’s show, I felt compelled to talk about the biggest part of last night: the awful, awful, awful, disgusting and repulsive crowd in Green Bay. This was, without question, the single worst crowd I’ve ever seen at a WWE show, and if there’s ever been a reason to hate wrestling fans — and especially “smarks” — it was whatever the hell that awful mass of humanity was in what’s supposed to be one of the best sports towns in America. Representative of nearly everything a person could possibly hate about another, they spent the entire night engaging in some sort of civic ritual to ensure that not only would the WWE never come back to the area for another major show but put the entire state of Wisconsin on notice for the foreseeable future.
The crowd started off not crappy enough, essentially cheering Hulk Hogan the way you except a crowd to considering his place in the history of the business. But, from there, it was a devolution on par with whatever the hell happened Heroes, with nearly every single match being treated as though the lovechild of every bad ROH, CZW and ECW crowd in history found their way into a late-period WCW PPV with the assumption they had paid for Heatwave ‘98.
EVERYTHING the WWE threw out them outside of the Daniel Bryan match, which even had its fair share of audience inappropriateness, was met with disdain by the crowd. From Husky Harris chants during the Roman Reigns-Bray Wyatt match to JBL chants during nearly every other contest, a really small contingent of “fans” at the show ruined the show not just for the thousands of other paying customers, but the millions of people watching at home.
There is, of course, an argument to be made for things like free speech and the right to voice your opinion, especially when you’ve paid good money to see the show. But, as was alluded to above, just because you paid money to see the show, doesn’t mean you’re somehow more important than your fellow audience members and it DEFINITELY doesn’t mean you’re more important than the show. The line between “speaking your minds” and “ruining the show for everyone else” isn’t particularly thin, but it’s closer than people think, and while crowd reaction is perhaps the finest part of being a wrestling fan (see: the #YesMovement), crowds like the one from last night’s show — and all of the other ones that have rapidly become the rule rather than the exception they were just a year ago — underlie the largest problem with professional wrestling as it moves forward into the “Network era”: wrestling fans can be some of the absolute worst people on earth.
With all the pretentiousness of hipsters, but without reading or writing skills, most “smart” wrestling fans — even the relatively nice ones — have (at best) a rudimentary understanding of how stories work, what the purpose of a wrestling show is, or, perhaps most importantly, what exactly is happening during almost any wrestling match that isn’t just a neverending series of armdrags, superkicks and no-sells that culminate in a maelstrom of false finishes and kicked-out-of pins following signature moves. That’s not to say the person writing this knows anything, but he doesn’t usually go about ruining shows for other people who paid just as much money as he did to enjoy themselves.
They fail to recognize, among other things, the validity of other people’s opinion. “Good” and “bad” are entirely subjective conceits, functions not of objective criteria but manifestations of deep-rooted, sometimes hidden preferences that are created by the evolution that people experience through upbringing and exposure to different forms of art. While there can certainly be essentially a consensus opinion regarding the quality of anything in any given direction, not only does that mean it’s good, it doesn’t even mean that it’s better than anything else that’s ever existed.
EVERYTHING has some form of artistic merit, just be virtue of being created. Unless it’s actually harmful, even one person liking a work of art instantaneously imparts some sort of value on the piece, regardless of whether or not that value is commonly accepted by everyone. Preference is a deeply personal thing, something that can’t be quantified in any real way, and more and more, it appears that wrestling fans — more so than perhaps any other contingent of fans — are simply missing that concept.
That’s because, for the most part, especially amongst those who think they “know” what’s going on, some wrestling fans are straight up stupid.
In fact, most “smart” fans, and this case, we mean “smarks”, are not any smarter than anyone else watching, either about wrestling or in terms of general intelligence. They are either the type of dumb that makes you wonder how they put their pants on in the morning or smart in the way that kids who masturbate alone while watching Star Trek can quote lines from every single episode but couldn’t tell you how to spell “tricorder” if you spotted them the consonants and sounded it out for them. But because they assume they know better, and are almost exclusively idiot white guys, they feel through years of unchecked privilege that not only do they know what “good” wrestling is, they can dictate what is and isn’t good to everyone else watching.
This, more often than not, involves voicing their loud and incredibly obnoxious opinions whenever they want and however they want, anyone else in attendance be damned. What’s most remarkable about the entire enterprise, however, is how incredibly wrong these crowds often are. Anyone with half a brain who has ever watched a match with Sheamus can tell you that while he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he’s a worker who gives his all every time in the ring, going out of his way to give the crowd the absolute best show possible, often at the expense of his health and skin coloration.
That’s what these shows should be about: larger than life characters trying their best to entertain us, and failing that, not making us want to hang ourselves for spending our hard-earned money. And while it’s entirely legitimate to not like anyone, taking away the chance for other people to enjoy the show because you didn’t is exactly why most wrestling fans are seen as petulant manchildren.
We, as a community, whether it’s the godawful doldrums of the IWC community message boards or the less godawful #InternetWrestlingWriting community need to take a stand against crowds hijacking our shows, taking something that’s supposed to for everyone and making about themselves.
Or, to paraphrase Harvey Dent/Jay-Z, we’ll live long enough to see ourselves become the villains.