While we get ready for WWE’s August pay-per-view (PPV) event, let’s return to July’s for a second. A lot of the discussion regarding Extreme Rules in Pittsburgh focused on things which happened outside the ring - the controversial return of a Hall of Famer before the show, and the way the crowd behaved during its main event.
For whatever reason, many in the crowd at PPG Paints Arena opted to entertain themselves by counting down every minute on the clock during Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler’s 30 minute Iron Man match, Royal Rumble entry style, rather than focus on the battle for the Intercontinental Title. This prompted the usual debates about fans “going into business for themselves” and ruining the show for others, whether buying a ticket entitles you to react however you want to the show or if you’re obligated to respond a certain way, what culpability WWE had for not delivering an overall card which entertained fans enough to keep their attention on the product, etc, etc.
For his part, Rollins tweeted something immediatedly after Extreme Rules which made it clear he felt some type of way about the chants. He expounded on those feelings during this week’s edition of CBS Sports In This Corner podcast, telling Brian Campbell:
“I think upset is the right way to put it.
People are like, ‘did you get mad?’ Naw dude, I just get sad because I love performing and I love having that synergy with the crowd and when they’re, you know paying attention to something else, inexplicably really, it’s frustrating from a performance perspective. Especially when you know you’re in the main event of a PPV for the Intercontinental Championship, it hasn’t been done in twenty-odd years and it’s the match that you know, most people in the building paid money to see, to begin with.
So it still doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t get it. I can’t imagine myself paying money to go to some sort of show or game or concert or something and you know and not paying attention to what’s going on. Again, you know they did buy their tickets they’re allowed to do whatever they wanna do with their time. So it’s sort of a double-edged sword in that sense. They can do what they want, but yeah it definitely makes you question your own validity in that spot.”
Despite being upset by it, Seth acknowledges it as part of the job, and is reflective about the current relationship between his art and his audience:
“You just gotta go out there and do your job to a point. At the end of the day the people are gonna do what they wanna do and you have to go out there and like I said, do your job.
I think that you know, there’s a section of the audience that already has something in mind. They already know what they wanna do when you bring up something like a Brock and Roman situation. They already have in mind how they feel going in and then it becomes very difficult to change their minds, you know during the course of a match. It just makes your job a little more difficult is all.
I don’t know the science, you know there is none, it’s an art form, right? So I don’t know how it works in 2018 all the way. It’s such an interesting time that we’re in with pro wrestling. So I’m anxious to see how it comes out on the other side. I can’t imagine it will be like this forever.
It’s an interesting paradigm shift in how the audience uses the show, I think.”
What do you think, Cagesiders? As we get ready for a likely backlash from some segment of the audience at Barclays Center tomorrow night (Aug. 19) when Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns square off - will it be like this forever?
Also, don’t make Seth sad any more, okay?
H/T: Wrestling Inc for podcast transcription