Why are you a fan of professional wrestling, or a certain television show, movie, music act, comic book, radio station, or sports team? The answers vary, but in general, there's some kind of implicit connection between performer and consumer. It's a beautiful relationship, and when things are going well, there's nothing like the magic and joy created through the give and take.
Before it was completely overdone, hearing "Seven Nation Army" while watching an Ohio State football game was an amazing experience. Growing up a Braves fan in the southeast, the Tomahawk Chop was always fun to do with friends and family, whether in the stadium or watching on TV. I'm not a costume guy, but seeing women in their late 20s dressed as Harley Quinn two weeks ago was certainly not a problem for me. Enthusiasts and obsessives behave in different ways, and there's nothing that's essentially more "right" than something else, within reason.
However, there's plenty that's wrong.
Seth Rollins tweeted last night, after the first half of his strong Universal Championship match with Finn Balor was an afterthought due to vitriol over the prop outside the ring, that he was disappointed with Brooklyn. So was I, and I'm one of the first people to defend the freedom for someone who has purchased a ticket to do with it what they desire, as long as it's not disruptive, offensive, or harmful. But, what we saw last night was a crowd that wasn't as angry with the new title belt as they were excited to hear themselves on WWE Network when they got home and re-watched SummerSlam.
There's a concept, even though the term "mark" has seemingly dissipated over the past decade or so, of a "mark for oneself." I've met many of them in pro wrestling, both in the locker rooms and in the seats. There are radio shows on air today where hosts hold jobs in the industry and largely spend their time replaying their own highlights, rather than finding an alternate way to handle those situations. You can absolutely be a mark for yourself, and at that moment, you've become a detriment to the show you're watching, and are actively more concerned with getting yourself over with smart douchebags on the Internet or your friend sitting next to you in the obscure NOAH shirt. I define it that way because your compadre would actually brag about the rarity of his garment, rather than wearing something he actually likes.
On Saturday night, the fans sang along with the violin that played Shinsuke Nakamura, and the chanting continued past the beginning of the bout. That didn't bother me, though it probably should have dropped off quicker than it did. Again, that wasn't distracting, it was just potentially annoying. It was still handing the stage to the King of Strong Style, and in effect giving him a tribute in the same way the White Stripes did for Ohio State University.
NXT crowds have been over the top in the past, as have post-Mania RAW audiences, but the reaction to the Universal Championship became the catalyst for Fan A to try and make himself or herself the story. Seth's frustration was justified, because this was the kind of match that these people cream over, and when they get it, they find a way to submarine the action in the ring. It's the argument against giving in to social media hashtags, because those that push that kind of activism are moving from one lily pad to another, and they're never going to stop jumping. The women get decent respect on WWE shows, but now it's not ALL the women. If it's all the women, then there won't be enough segments, and then it will be other minorities and aggrieved classes.
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor is the kind of match you could have seen hardcores talking about on Twitter 15 months ago in terms that could best be described as nocturnal emissions if you read them at night, and those same people are bitching and moaning about an admittedly terrible looking title.
Here's the kicker though, and this is the point no one making the case against the hijacking fans ever thinks of, because it would require them to treat these individuals like human beings. Presumably, these folks are diehard wrestling fans who spend money on Booty O's shirts and EVOLVE DVD's and love them some pro graps. The problem with chanting, "That title sucks," is that these men and women are living their lives behind the screen of a smart phone. When you go to a concert and take 400 photos, how much of that show did you actually enjoy? Balor vs. Rollins will happen again, but the first meeting will never happen again, and how many of those focusing on the belt design missed half of it?
That's a shame, and the "bad" fan is the one who wastes his or her own time, not the one that irritates me. That's also the kind of patron I feel the most sorry for, because it must suck to never recline in a chair.
I want to live in a world where all wrestling fans can fall in love with a great match, the way you no doubt did on the night you went from being someone who watched wrestling to an honest to god FAN of this form of entertainment. The hijackers may be entertaining themselves, but they're not going home with great memories of the actual reason they spent someone's (theirs or others) hard earned money to go to Barclays Center to see one of the biggest events of the year.
They have the right to ruin their own night, and there's nothing that says they can't also make it tough on the talent they're watching, but what's the point? It was the innocuous nature of what these people were chanting about that did bother me, because it's such a waste. I still dug the match, but I have a hard time believing they did, and many of them would have. Everyone associated with the entire spectacle deserved better.
I don't disagree with their sentiment on the belt, but I think we'd all be better off if we could occasionally find a reason to smile, rather than mark out for ourselves. Thumb out a tweet between matches or after the show, but don't wreck your own entertainment AS it's happening. It's become such a selfish, "look at me" culture.
I wasn't disappointed in Brooklyn last night.
I was disappointed for Brooklyn last night.