Impossible mission: How WWE fans can (but won't) beat the system

Michael N. Todaro

Or, what I learned from "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores."

Earlier today, we featured a terrific piece from the always-lucid Steven Godfrey (read it), regarding the palpable absurdity of the #HijackRAW movement and why it was destined to fail during the latest edition of Monday Night RAW, which took place last night (March 3, 2014) in Chicago, Illinois (recap here).

Pro wrestling fans, admittedly, are a demanding bunch.

While the crux of Monday's (cough) "movement" played out like a pep rally for the milk-carton'd Phillip Brooks, the C-M-PUNK chants represented a host of boiled-over frustrations, including the Royal Rumble debacle that saw Dave Bautista's yin eclipse Daniel Bryan's yang.

Creatively speaking, there's a lot to be angry about. Or is there? That may depend on who you ask.

The reason #HijackRAW was doomed to fail, just like any pre-meditated wrestling revolt, is because it doesn't take into account what our own WWE announcers refer to as THE NUMBERS GAME. You want to actuate change in a reactive business?

Don't give them anything to react to.

Live performers, above all else, are masters of improv. I can assure you that any fan who thinks uproarious chants for a separated employee are going to have the higher-ups shaking in their boots have embarked on a fool's errand. Heck, it's the oldest maxim in THIS BUSINESS.

Good heat? Hooray! Bad heat? At least they're talking about us! No heat? Holy shit, what do we do?

I argue that real change could be realized by silent protest. Imagine the kind of backstage chaos that would have ensued if WWE rolled out its biggest offenders -- widely considered to be Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and "Batista" -- and the entire Allstate Arena went silent.

"Trips" baits with a few of his patented puns and ... nothing.

When I interviewed longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) combatant Tito Ortiz in late 2007, he shared a story about fighting fellow elder statesman Wanderlei Silva in Japan. Unnerved, Ortiz explained how he nearly got knocked the f--k out by way of pin drop because the reticent crowd inside Tokyo's Yoyogi Stadium had clammed up in concentration.

But that will never happen in pro wrestling.

That's like asking fans to stay home when RAW comes to town, or to skip out on the latest pay-per-view (PPV) to protest an uninspired line up. Would 8,000 PPV buys cause Vince McMahon's head to explode? Probably, but I think his white carpets are safe for the time being.

We just don't have the manpower to lay down round-trip tracks for the "Windy City's" little engine who could.

I think that's what gets lost in the shuffle of discontent. Most of us congregate on websites like Cageside Seats to air our grievances, because we know there will be plenty of like-minded fans to match pitch and give us their virtual arm around the shoulder.

But the reason we can't make a difference is the same reason why John Cena is not turning heel.

Our numbers are embarrassingly small. Sure, we can easily point out the "Bootista" signs that infiltrate a live broadcast, but what we sometimes overlook are the other 30 fans in the same row -- empty handed -- coloring within the lines, as directed.

And there's a lot more of them than there are of us.

Even within my own house, I have one person cheering for John Cena and another booing The Shield. It feels like Bizarro World because dammit, I know better. That's the curse of the smark. Basically, fuck your perspective, because everything I like is epic.

The rest is just dumb.

I mentioned perspective because I've found it to be the great equalizer between competing thoughts. But I wondered aloud last night if half of Chicago's sympathizers even knew what they were cheering for. I remember going to a protest once and not even knowing what it was about. My friends and I just liked to slam a few beers and shout at people in fancy suits.

Mob mentality!

That's how raucous crowds who think they've gone into business for themselves, or have "taken over" a broadcast, show their hand. You can't be the voice of change and then suddenly break out into "Husky Harris" chants, because then you're not an agent of chaos.

You're just a twit who's desperate for attention.

WWE is like a corporate vampire who can only survive on green blood, transfused in the form of consumer dollars and flowing quite freely, I might add, for the past 25 years. McMahon didn't make the Forbes billionaire list by placating restless smarks, he got there by compelling average fans to barter money for entertainment.

You want to beat the system? You'll have to get through them first.

Good luck.

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