Alex Greenfield’s excellent chat with Dave Bautista on his The Writer’s Room podcast for MLW Radio covered more than just The Animal’s issues with WWE Creative and management. Bautista was also frustrated, and hurt, by audience reactions during his 2014 return to wrestling.
He described the situation:
What really bothered me about that run, while people were so busy chanting “CM Punk” or “you suck” or “Bootista” or “Bluetista”, they actually missed a lot of really good wrestling. Like, Dolph and I had some kick ass matches that we threw together at the last second, and everybody missed it man because they were so busy... wrapped up in their “CM Punk” chants, their “Bluetista” chants, they missed out a lot of good wrestling man. A lot of good old-fashioned storytelling. It really hurt my feelings that people just missed out on that, it’s just a shame.
In response to a question from Greenfield, he clarifies that the jeers started well before he was supposed to be a heel - and felt different than just booing a character even once he did turn:
It was almost like the trendy thing to be anti-me... it was like a personal attack. It wasn’t something that was show-related or entertainment-based. It was a personal attack.
As their conversation continues, the man known as Batista in WWE described how he saw live crowds change between 2009-10 when he first left wrestling and his 2013-14 run - and gets a little worked up (he apologizes for “rambling a bit”):
I was really confused by the way the crowd was acting, they had changed a lot since I left and somebody said to me and it stuck in my head, “it’s money see, monkey do”.
If somebody starts doing something the rest of the people will start doing it. And it was also - the crowd, they don’t really want to watch the show and they don’t really want to participate in the show. They want to be the show. It really seemed true sometimes. It was like, they didn’t even care what was going on in the ring. They just wanted - they wanted to be the show, they wanted to be the highlight of the show.
And I always say, if you want to be the highlight of the show, go to fucking wrestling school. Lace up your goddamn boots, take your bumps like everybody else and you go through the steps, man. Start off with a wrestling camp. But don’t come and not, you know, watch the show and give the performers the respect they deserve. You know, they’re out there beating themselves half to hell for you, to entertain you and you can’t even give them the respect of just watching the show. We’re all for interaction, but don’t try to steal the show by chanting, start chanting stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on in the ring. C’mon, man, pay attention. Be a fan. That’s your job. You be a fan, I’ll be a wrestler. You know, if you want to be a wrestler, go to wrestling school. Start there.
These quotes are going to resonate with folks who dislike crowds who “go into business for themselves” like at the Raw after WrestleMania, or how NXT’s home base Full Sail Live is often characterized.
On the other hand, customers who believe they paid for their ticket and shouldn’t be told how to react to the product they paid for will likely be incensed by Bautista’s comments.
Where do you fall, Cagesiders?