"Us vs. Them"

I would like to preface this piece by saying this was a total stream of consciousness. I've had some thoughts I wanted to share for a long while, but didn't know if I would sound hypocritical for posting them. Nevertheless, I feel they need to be put on paper.

If there is one thing that I dislike about the wrestling community, it is that overall, I would say it has a hivemind perspective.

We are supposed to hate Roman Reigns. We are supposed to love The Miz(despite the internet hating him up until 2016). We CAN enjoy Brock Lesnar, but hate his booking. We are supposed to love Sasha Banks.

I share two of these opinions(I'm not going to say which lest I appear biased in my argument), but not all four. If one was to disagree with just ONE of them, however, at any given point backlash will come.

Perhaps it is because of the digitization of the fandom and how that has grown to amass groupthink, but I miss the days when it was okay to call yourself a "____" fan. When you could express your opinion and not feel backlash.

Listen, I'm not saying it's wrong to have debate. I encourage it. I just want statements like "are we even watching the same show?" or "fans don't care about ____" anymore to cease to exist. They're not accurate.

We need only look at(the glorious) work Signor has done. The internet may hate Braun Strowman vs. Kane, but YouTube analytics(while only one piece of the pie) show that fans were eating it up. And why shouldn't they?

It's not our place to tell WWE that they are wrong. There is a difference between a movement to get Daniel Bryan into the main event of WrestleMania vs. petty dissatisfaction that things aren't going their way.

The one personal anecdote I will give, purely for an example, is my opinion on Dolph Ziggler. It doesn't matter how many times I feel WWE's booking isn't representative of his talents; they need only give me the hint that he is starting to break out and I will run to it like a dog at the call of food. Why? Because I am a fan of his. I've been through all his various depushes, and yet I still enjoy his work. There was a pop for his theme; it's just not in line with the status quo for most internet fans who are tired of his start and stop pushes(or even just not fans of his). It's not right to say "fans don't care about him."

Can we talk about crowd reaction? Of course. That's a tangible thing, something we can discuss. I am openly willing to admit the crowd was very mild for Ziggler's Rumble run. Inversely, we can clearly say Rusev is over with the general PPV audience because of the various Rusev Day chants he gets with them(I cannot speak for SmackDown because I haven't watched it at all this year). It's not right to say "fans don't care about him" because there is clearly an infectious energy around Aiden English and Rusev.

I believe that a fair amount of the readership of this article would shake their head at my above statement yet agree with the below one. That's fine. I'm not trying to sway you to like Dolph Ziggler or question Rusev Day. What I would like you to do is just open your mind to the possibility of changing your opinion on wrestlers you like or dislike based on their overall work, and not just blaming creative whenever you feel they are not given(or given too much of) their due. The internet allows us to make these rash, emotional quips as rapidly and as often we would like due to the absolute abundance of content, and I feel that this vocal majority is truly harming the overall diversity of wrestling fans.

I take back what I said. I will share one other anecdote with you(that unfortunately gives away one of my previous statements, but whatever).

Consider the date. It's November 22nd, 2010. The Miz has just cashed in his Money in the Bank and won the WWE Championship. An angry young girl's reaction to the victory was caught on camera, representing the overall fandom's opinion at the time.

But somewhere, a young, 11 year old boy finally got to see his personal hero win the biggest championship in WWE, the one that said hero had pined for his entire life. Somewhere, a young, 11 year old boy cried his first tears of joy at pro wrestling, even knowing it wasn't real for a year before that.

That 11 year old boy is now 19. He is attending college. He felt that same joy and elation when The Miz defeated Roman Reigns for his 8th Intercontinental Championship, noting the parallels between that win at Raw 25 and his first ever IC title win back at Raw 1000.

You can't force that. You can't discourage it, either. While I was happy to see Bobby Roode win his first United States Championship, I am sure others were disappointed at losing out on a potential Xavier Woods championship run. But to this young lad, I'm sure it meant the world to him. Just like Miz's title wins meant to me.

The WWE brands its collective fanbase as the WWE Universe. But that does not mean we are supposed to have one singular opinion on a wrestler, or an angle, or anything. The beauty of human interaction is that we are allowed to disagree with one another and form our own opinions, which is why it is so appalling to me that we as a fanbase seem to have trouble moving forward. Anyone who disagrees with an established idea is considered a "hater" or a "contrarian," when in reality they just consume wrestling differently than others. They should not feel backlash for stating their opinion; they should feel welcomed, having the opportunity to have an open conversation with others about why they feel the way they do, and hear both sides out. Everyone is passionate about wrestling here for their own reasons(why else come to a site like this, for instance, and bother to read a fanpost by someone not even employed by the site?), but sometimes that passion turns into knee-jerk reactions that unknowingly alienate others from posting on the site.

I am not telling you how to enjoy your pro wrestling(I hate sounding preachy, and god knows I'm not perfect either), but I would like it if more people were mindful of how others enjoy their pro wrestling. You don't have to like everyone or even agree with them, but if you have something to say, please don't discourage other fans from enjoying the product. Your opinion does not represent everyone's opinion, no matter what clout you may have amongst the community.

Because at the end of the day, we're all just fans of wrestling. This wonderful, sometimes irritating thing that for whatever reason has stuck with us, through the good times and the bad.

And I think that's something everyone should celebrate.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.