Everyone has an opinion on some wrestling promotions running no-crowd shows during this pandemic including actor and comedian Kevin Smith. He appeared at a Dynamite show before the pandemic and he discussed AEW and WWE still running shows when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"I think everyone looks for a welcomed distraction at this period. To have life as disrupted as it's been for some people, it's always welcome to find some aspect where it's, 'Oh, at least we still have this.' So with wrestling coming back early as it did, never once was I like, 'This is WRONG' especially since they said there wasn't going to be a crowd," said Smith. "I'm no wrestling expert, but having been to one match live, I felt like the crowd was absolutely indispensable. They created the passion and the enthusiasm. They are the third person on the canvas, more so than most live interactive experiences I've seen."
He added that wrestling is unique as with sports like football and baseball coming back without an audience, those athletes don't thrive on fans the same way wrestlers do. Wrestlers heavily interact with fans while other athletes sometimes don't even acknowledge them during games.
"When I heard they were coming back without audiences, are you suddenly viewing it through a completely different prism that makes you go, 'You know? I'll wait.' So far, it doesn't seem to be the case. Everything I saw on social media said they were happy to have it even with this empty arena version," stated Smith. "So, I'm all for it as it helps distract those stuck at home. The only concern would be for the wrestlers themselves. I assume, hopefully, that if they're being put back to work that they're being tested like crazy."
Smith then referred to wrestlers as guinea pigs because every other sports team is going to pay attention to what AEW/WWE are doing.
"In time, a bunch of people who aren't seasonally-oriented – because wrestling goes year-round – I could see amongst people that view sports, that would be more meaningful than any other sport. It's a sport that people have interacted with since childhood and a sport they get to interact with year-round," said Smith. "They never put it down. It's never like, 'It's no longer baseball season. We've got a year until the Boys of Summer.' Wrestling is like the internet [and is always on]."
As for Smith attending his first wrestling event, he noticed that the crowd is similar to another audience that he's familiar with.
"What it reminded me of is the passion and enthusiasm of the comic book crowd. It makes sense because it's just that applied to a sport and one that you can build and weave a narrative through. When you watch football, baseball and hockey, the narrative is implied. With wrestling, they'll tell you exactly what's going on and they'll build a narrative right around the ongoing fight," said Smith.
"I get it now. It's not for years that I didn't get it, I just never interacted with it. But I understand why wrestling is as big as it's been for my entire life. It is a soap opera for those of us like watching dudes [laughs]."
Kevin Smith can be found on Twitter @ThatKevinSmith. Kevin's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.