The opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of WrestlingInc or its staff
It's Wrestlemania season, and WWE is in trouble. Since Dave Batista came back, Daniel Bryan got shutout and CM Punk left, WWE has had to scramble in order to satisfy their fanbases' continual outrage over what they are currently doing. Ever since WWE hit the Royal Rumble, they have had to deal with a new problem: Fans being blatantly upset with their product and voicing their opinions very loudly at their events. The new term being tossed around is "hijacking the show", but that seems like almost like a dirty word. Like the fans are not supposed to be voicing their opinions about how they feel, even though they paid to get a ticket and to sit there.
This isn't necessarily a new phenomenon, there have always been a contingent of fans that voiced their opinions about the product, opinions that didn't always go with the kayfabe presentation of WWE. The post-Wrestlemania Raw for instance, which is mostly filled with hardcore fans who hung around for an extra day to see the show, is a perfect example of that. Major cities with big wrestling environments, like New York, Chicago and Toronto, also usually feature more hardcore and intelligent fans. Atmospheres on those few shows can be expected to be a little bit different, but for a majority of WWE events, it is pretty much the status quo.
While the "hijacking" of the show has not been new, what is new is that these crowds are becoming the norm as opposed to the exception. Cities like Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Minneapolis are not bad wrestling cities, but they have never been known to be as vocal as their counterparts in New York or Chicago. At the most recent WWE shows, these fans have taken over and pretty much forced WWE to change their plans, turning Batista heel because his boos were getting too enormous to ignore.
Although certain fans and executives like to ignore it, the Internet Wrestling Community is getting bigger. It's influence is growing and it is beginning to become more and more prominent at WWE shows. An example of this is the recent news of CM Punk's departure. Punk left, and nothing was said on WWE.com and nothing was said on WWE television. Yet, within 24 hours of the news breaking, it seemed like everybody knew. On WWE shows soon after, fans were constantly chanting for CM Punk. Unless you read wrestling news sources or talked to people who did, you wouldn't know that Punk had even left.
An argument has arisen recently because of this, and that is the question on whether or not fans should be allowed to hijack the show like that. If fans became more vocal and hypercritical about everything WWE does, then the show itself could be ruined, because there is a large percentage of fans who are not easily satisfied with creative decisions, and they will be very loud if things do not go exactly as they wanted them to go.
On the other hand, if fans were not vocal at all, then how on earth would WWE ever do anything that satisfies us. We were vocal about Zach Ryder, and WWE actually made a little commitment to him and let him win a minor title (then of course, they buried the life out of him, but I digress). Fans were outraged about Batista coming back and winning the Royal Rumble, and they continued to be outraged, so much so that WWE had to change their booking plans on the fly and turn Batista heel way before they planned on doing so. What does that say for the IWC? It says that we did it! We got so upset, and spread that indignation so much that WWE had no choice but to listen to us. For everyone that sits back and says that IWC are a bunch of whiny, overweight nerds that never actually accomplish anything within wrestling, well, they are wrong. Sure, we are whiny, and some of us may not be in the best of shape, but we can accomplish things. The Batista turn proves that the IWC, and hardcore wrestling fans in general, actually do have a prominent influence over pro wrestling, even if the men in charge do not want to admit it.
Personally, I think fans are full within their rights to protest the product by producing mocking and satirical chants towards the ring. The fans that go to events paid their own money, money that lines the pockets of everyone associated with WWE, to sit in those seats, and they should be free to say whatever they want while they are there. The same goes for having signs at wrestling events. As long as the sign does not say anything vulgar or offensive, then fans should be allowed to hold them up in front of the cameras. If someone has a sign that says "F*** you Cena", then obviously that should be taken away, but if someone has a sign that says "Less talk, more wrestling", then they should really be allowed to keep it.
One thing I will say against the vocal crowds is that they sometimes direct their hate towards the wrong people. If the fans chant "CM Punk" or "Daniel Bryan" towards Triple H or even Batista, then it is okay, because those guys, according to reports, had a hand in undermining Punk and Bryan. What I don't like is when fans do that kind of stuff during "boring" matches like if Kofi Kingston is wrestling Curtis Axel. While admittedly, it is unlikely to be the most exciting affair, guys like Axel and Kingston are really just doing whatever creative and management tell them to do. Those guys are out there busting their asses, and I would like the fans to at least show a little bit of respect for that.
WWE has already taken notice of this growing influence in the crowd, and it isn't going to stop anytime soon. People are continuing to read wrestling news sites and an expanding rate. WrestlingInc.com is currently receiving its highest amount of readership in it's near two-decade history. With a Chicago show coming up, and Wrestlemania nearing, it is only going to get louder for WWE, so they better come out swinging or else they will strike out.
Lastly, I would like to announce that I will be adding a new feature to the end of VFTT. I will be adding a "Power 10" ranking of the 10 best wrestlers in the world, right now. Similar to PWI's Top 10, it will be based partly in kayfabe (so championships matter) and on just overall match quality and performance. Here is the this weeks Power 10:
1.Kazuchika Okada, New Japan Pro Wrestling
2.Randy Orton, World Wrestling Entertainment
4.Akebono, All-Japan Pro Wrestling
5.Hiroshi Tanahashi, New Japan Pro Wrestling
6.Daniel Bryan, World Wrestling Entertainment
7.El Texano Jr., Asistencia Asesoría y Administración
8.Adam Cole, US Independents
9.Samoa Joe, TNA
10.Yuji Nagata, Pro Wrestling NOAH