WWE is responsible for the live crowds taking over on TV
WWE’s live crowds have taken over the product. Every fan knows that, and every fan knows it’s only getting worse. The somewhat bizarre reactions on the night after WrestleMania eventually translated to NXT, and now it’s becoming the norm for both Monday Night Raw as well as SmackDown Live.
The behaviour spread like an infection, and now the company is consumed with it. Like The Walking Dead, WWE’s landscape is overrun with mindless creatures that seek only to feast on others and bear little resemblance to the people they used to be. The funny part is it's all WWE’s fault.
Everything the company’s done over the past 20 years has only encouraged fan behaviour. It all began when Vince McMahon told the world that pro wrestling is just entertainment, not a real sport. Ironically enough, fans knew that to be the case and had known for a very long time.
But to verify that knowledge on national television drove a dagger through the heart of kayfabe, and it’s never been the same since then. WWE Superstars are actors, not wrestlers. The 20x20 squared circle is a stage, not a wrestling ring. It’s not about the drama of the rivalry; it’s about the athleticism of the men and women involved.
Social media has only escalated the situation, as one by one, WWE Superstars decided it was more important to be “real” rather than protect their characters. Guys that supposedly hated each other tweeted pics of themselves hanging out together. Heartless heels that had no business doing anything nice for anyone advertised their charity work for everyone to see.
Even the boss’s daughter declared that she “played a bad guy on TV.” As time went on, it became apparent that WWE was the movie, and everyone working in it was free to be themselves when the cameras weren’t rolling. Not only was it detrimental to the business, it directly affected how fans began to view the product.
The process didn’t happen overnight, however. For the most part, wrestling fans still longed for a return to the days when kayfabe was the most important thing. Just as everyone sitting in a theatre knew that the magician on stage wasn’t truly conjuring the supernatural, WWE fans knew that what they were seeing was choreographed and predetermined. But that never mattered; the fun was in the show itself.
Fans want to love and hate. It’s who they are. It’s human nature to understand that the world is divided into good and evil, two very relatable notions that have always held true. The overwhelming desire to do the right thing has been countered only by the temptation to do something wrong.
People live with those decisions every day, and seeing it played out in a wrestling ring is a familiar drama that speaks directly to the heart. It’s evident every time a babyface fights back against the odds and finally wins the day. It’s just as evident when a heel finally gets what he deserves, and loses it all in the end.
In both cases, the crowds feel the emotion. They connect on a very visceral level, and they absolutely relate to the heroic tragedy that’s happening before them. Without the need to see good triumph over evil that exists in everyone, pro wrestling would never have been born.
But the moment that WWE disregarded kayfabe in favour of the Hollywood angle, it all fell apart. Had McMahon only told the world the truth and then left it alone, perhaps WWE would not be facing the issue it is now.
However as the years have passed, the company has continued to foster an environment in which everyone is working to make the WWE film. The fictional reality of professional wrestling not only took a backseat, but it was also ignored altogether. How could WWE believe that all of that would not eventually change the fans?
The audience that attends WWE events is filled with people that don’t care for kayfabe. WWE doesn't so why should they? Those fans care about getting on TV and making the show all about themselves. Trendy chants that don’t belong during matches are heard every week on Raw and SmackDown.
Babyfaces that are working hard to curry favour are booed out of the building. Heels that have done nothing to be loved are cheered when they hit the ring. Hard fought matches featuring talents that are plying their craft in a hot ring under hot lights often receive little to no attention. The wrestling has come in a distant second to the crowds that demand their voices be heard.
Those voices didn’t want John Cena. They got him anyway. Those voices wanted Daniel Bryan. They only got him by default. Those voices don’t want Roman Reigns. He’s not going anywhere. Little by little, wrestling fans have watched as their wishes are ignored and after years of it happening, it’s now all come to this. WWE fans are sick of being ignored, and they won’t be overlooked anymore.
Because the crowds are tougher, the men and women of WWE felt the need to up their game like never before. It’s not about mat wrestling like Dusty Rhodes versus Ric Flair. It’s now about the stunt show. High flying moves that no one sells, dangerous moments that could mean the difference between success and serious injury, it’s all there.
The art of professional wrestling has changed in WWE. If fans don't respond the way they need to, then the talent must go to the extreme to make them pop. It’s an extreme that’s seen numerous injuries over the past few years, and the majority of those injuries didn’t need to happen.
It’s a vicious circle that never ends. WWE brought it on, the fans responded, and WWE has to keep firing back. The “Raw after WrestleMania” oddity is now promoted on WWE TV. The company insists on booking traditional babyface versus heel storylines, though the audience has been conditioned to not care about it. Everything the company does seems to contradict everything it should be doing as a wrestling promotion.
Fans complain, yet nothing changes. Fans take over, but they go too far. It’s an impossible situation, and it’s only getting more out of control as the days go by. WWE surely didn’t want this, but it’s the reality of the situation. WWE is to blame, whether the company wants to admit it or not.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Sportskeeda. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here
Send us news tips at email@example.comPublished 15 Apr 2017, 13:42 IST