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DENNY'S DUNGEON
You've Been a Beautiful Audience
August 20, 2004

by Denny Burkholder
Courtesy of WrestleLine.com

 

When you buy that WWE wrestling ticket, you purchase the right to react however you choose to the show.

Within reason, that is. Right there is where certain fans in attendance in Toronto for last week's SummerSlam either lost their ability to reason, or willfully abandoned it. Probably both, depending on which section you were sitting in. 
 

I'm not even talking about "fan etiquette," because that's all a matter of personal opinion. Me, I hate it when the asshole in front of me feels compelled to erect a 10-by-15-foot banner that says "WHOOOOO!" right in front of my face, destroying any chance that I'll get to see the ring when Ric Flair is near it. But you know what? There's no rule 

against it. That guy might be a dickhead, but he's a law-abiding dickhead. If arena security or a WWE official asks him to lower his battle flag, he must. But regretfully, as the guy sitting behind him, I have no say in it, even if it does render my $40 ticket purchase a waste of money. And if I act on my natural impulse to pour a 64-ounce Dr. Pepper down the back of his shirt, all of a sudden I'm the dickhead.

I'm a staunch supporter of fans cheering and booing whoever they please, heel or face. Again, it's all personal opinion (but then again, YOU'RE reading MY opinion column right now, so I guess my views have the floor!). When Toronto booed Edge in his match vs. Chris Jericho and Batista, it did take some of the punch out of an otherwise promising match. But it isn't the fans' job to kayfabe the wrestlers. What good would it do for Toronto to have cheered Edge if they really didn't want to? Why pull the wool over WWE's eyes and pretend that they've done a better job booking these guys than they have? Toronto's crowd reactions certainly put a damper on the SummerSlam festivities, but that isn't the fans' fault. It's all on WWE. Toronto should have been ready to explode for Edge, but instead, they were left wanting to jeer him. They're perfectly entitled to their opinions.

If you cheer for a wrestler without really feeling like it, you're just enabling WWE to say they were right all along. Be honest - if the guy pisses you off, boo him out of the building. To hell with babyface or heel. WWE are the ones putting on the show, not us. It should be THEIR job to MAKE us cheer for the "correct" people. I actually feel it's a service to WWE when fans reject bad storylines or pushes. It lets them know they have to change.

As mighty as WWE is, two things have proven over the years that they can force the company to do better: customers and competition. WCW forced WWE to produce a better product in the late 1990s... if they didn't, they risked losing their business. Customers? We ARE WWE's business. We represent every red cent in Vince McMahon's bank account. That money used to be in our pockets. If we take that money elsewhere, WWE will make a better wrestling product. They'll have to. And even if we keep buying tickets, we have every right to show up and boo their biggest babyfaces and cheer their cruelest heels.

We're not the only ones with rights, though. The performers have the right to assume no fans will jump the rail unplanned. They have the right to feel threatened if a fan DOES take that liberty, and they have the right to defend themselves accordingly, up to and including physical punishment.

We didn't get to see the assface who jumped onto the roof of JBL's limo on television, but none of the on-site reports say he was hurt. But he could have been. And he'd have had nobody to blame but himself. Idiot. I only wish he'd done it toward the end of the match when the Undertaker was within arm's reach. You better believe that fan would have gotten the ever-loving shit beat out of him by Taker, and possibly JBL. Now that's entertainment!

Over the years, we've seen that happen on episodes of Raw, Nitro, and various PPVs. And I laugh every single time, because I know that tool just gave Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, the referee, and everyone else in the company permission to crack his skull. In fact, that might be my fondest memory of Kevin Nash's career - the epsiode of Nitro where, during an NWO beatdown of some poor shmuck, a fan jumped in the ring and got jacked in the face about five times in three seconds by Big Daddy Cool. And you just knew the punches were real. They looked 100 percent better than the ones Nash threw at other wrestlers. Plus, the fan hit the mat and basically oozed out of the ring like a wet noodle, before security unceremoniously scooped him up and handed him over to the police.

Don't blame Nash - for all he knew, that fan was a mark who really thought he was saving the babyfaces, and would stab the entire NWO with a switchblade if he thought it would rescue Sting. Don't laugh - marks have done that kind of thing. Ask pretty much any old-time heel if he's ever been attacked by a fan who thought it was all real, and I'm sure you'll get all kinds of stories (some of them may even be true!).

As wrestling fans, we have the right to express ourselves regarding the show. We do NOT have the right to join the show, or to interrupt it in any way. If we do that, we interfere with other fans' right to enjoy the show (imagine if the limo jumper had broken the fixed roof before the chokeslam spot?), we put the performers at risk, and we might negatively impact the promotion's willingness to return to that city anytime soon.

If you were a stage actor and the audience members lept on stage with you, would you be eager to perform in that city again? I wouldn't.

That's an extreme example, of course, because WWE would never completely abandon a city like Toronto. But if they did, they'd have at least one good reason.

Hope he's proud of himself.

 
E-MAIL DENNY
BROWSE THE CIRCA ARCHIVES


  
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