FanPost promoted to the front page.
As Cageside Seats explores the odd behavior of Buffalo Bills fans, I feel compelled to honor the best fans of all: pro wrestling fans.
And among us is a special group of fans I'd like to bring attention to: the kids.
There's nothing better than being a kid or watching a youngster at a pro wrestling event. Their wide eyes and amazement always make me smile and remind me of the days when I was that little guy.
I never forgot my first pro wrestling event. I was nine years old and bursting at the seams for the day to arrive. I spent an entire afternoon crafting a sign in support of the Killer Bees' efforts to lift the tag team titles off the Hart Foundation. My work paid off when B. Brian Blair spotted my sign and gave me a thumbs up. I felt so important that it made me cheer harder for them to win.
At the same time, there was another little boy next to me, and we became friends for the night. His dad, though, was a jerk. He cheered for the bad guys and hysterically laughed when they won. It would be a few years before I understood what was so funny.
Fast forward four years later. I was in my teens then. On this particular evening, I made friends with a group of kids much younger than me. My guess is their ages were between five-eight. We all got along as we had come to see Hulk Hogan take down the mighty Earthquake. But things took a (heel) turn by night's end.
The closing match on the show was the Hart Foundation, now the good guys, defending the tag titles against Power and Glory. Now that I was more hip to what wrestling was, I knew that Hercules and Paul Roma were not leaving with the belts. Though I liked both teams, I decided to cheer for Herc and Roma in what was sure to be a losing effort.
And that's when the kids got upset with me. So I leaned into it and playfully chided them throughout the match. After the Harts had retained, these little dudes were so happy that they rubbed it in my face and pelted me with their Hulkamania foam fingers as I tried to "save face" by taunting Bret Hart post-match.
At that moment, I realized how fun it must be for wrestlers to play a villain. To be such a nuisance to the people that they take great delight in your defeat, regardless of the opponent, requires a unique skill, and I got a small taste of it that night.
More than a decade later, I found myself in the familiar confines of my local arena, this time flanked by a good friend. On this night, we decided to go full rogue. We kept our verbiage clean while trolling the baby faces. And it got on one family's nerves, particularly when we dug into Rey Mysterio.
As we booed Mysterio, a mother and her four kids turned around and gave us the middle finger. It got a pop from our section. Most of all, those little kids felt like big heroes as people cheered for them. We played like we were shocked and insulted before turning the night over to them.
After Mysterio had won, one of those kids turned back at us and yelled, "In your face." My friend played like he wanted to fight him while I held him back. By then, mom was on to our gimmick, as she gave us a smile and a nod as we left.
My next encounter with a child at a wrestling event was almost a decade later. Though I still rooted for the villains, I was more reserved in my enthusiasm, holding myself to applause and the occasional, "Let's go, so-and-so!"
As I cheered for the Miz against Dolph Ziggler, this boy, maybe five years old, turned to me and said, "You know, he's not going to win." I could barely keep from laughing. So, I put my head down to hide my smile, feigned disappointment, and replied, "No, don't tell me this, little man."
For some reason, this baby bear and grizzled bear bonded. He asked me who my favorite wrestler was. I told him it was Brock Lesnar and that he was the reason I came to see the show. I asked him who he liked, and he replied, "Roman Reigns." It was late 2015 when only women and kids were cheering for Reigns, and I was not there to cheer for the Big Dog.
So it became awkward when he asked if I liked Roman Reigns. I said, "Uh, yeah, he's pretty good, but he's got a tough match tonight against Sheamus. I don't know if he can win."
With the utmost confidence, this little pup replied, "Oh, no, he's going to win. Believe that." He then held out his fist for me to bump it. I did the only thing I could do. I bumped his fist and then waited for him to turn around so I could smash him with my chair.
No, no. I gave the little man a fist bump which opened me up to ridicule from the smart marks next to me. So it was us against them, though the smarks knew I was going along with it in denial of my true feelings.
But when it was over, and Reigns was successful, the smile on that kid's face gave me so much joy. Oh, the smarks were still teasing me, but it was okay. At that moment, I remembered what it was like to be that little guy with a pure heart, not yet jaded by dirt sheets and wiseass fans, which was what I had become. I even came away with a better appreciation for Reigns and his position as the top babyface.
So, the next time you attend a show, look around you. Cheer for who you like, but be mindful of the children if they're nearby. And maybe give yourself a chance to see it through their eyes, at least for a moment. You might even have a better time.
Just make sure to return to your favorite online wrestling forum to gripe about it later (wink, wink).