Since 2006, I have been a fan of wrestling. From the moment I first watched an episode of “Friday Night Smackdown,” I’ve been hooked. What captivated me initially were the larger-than-life characters and flashy moves, along with the storylines — no matter how ridiculous they were. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realize that there are a few things in wrestling that I don’t like and just have to put up with as a fan.
One aspect of wrestling I am definitely not a fan of is, well, the fans. Allow me to explain: Every fanbase has its awful and obnoxious fans, but in wrestling there are varying degrees of being awful and obnoxious. You might have a fan show up to a match in a Make America Great Again hat and stand behind a little kid just to show off his hat. This is pretty obnoxious, but it isn’t as awful as a fan stalking a wrestler on social media after being repeatedly blocked.
Speaking of social media, some wrestling fans have a weird obsession with role-playing as wrestlers. I would understand it if they were a parody account, but most of them aren’t. Making a Twitter account with a name similar to John Cena’s actual Twitter account just to send out some fake but somewhat realistic tweets is just weird and creepy. Though it isn’t as weird and creepy as wrestling fan fiction, which just boils down to attractive wrestlers having sex with each other. These are just some of the strange parts of the wrestling fandom, but I think the worst part comes from the opinions that fans have. If you browse social media enough as a wrestling fan, you are bound to see terrible hot takes and misinformation.
When Kofi Kingston became the first African-born WWE champion in April of last year, there were so many bad hot takes about how he was only made champion because he was black. Reading those tweets made me think I was in the 1960s and affirmative action had just gone into effect. Some wrestling fans like to let their racism show every once in a while, so seeing these tweets didn’t surprise me too much.
Additionally, I do find myself constantly being shocked at the amount of fanboys that exist in wrestling. It has only gotten worse as time has passed. Whenever a show ends, fans take to the internet to voice their opinions and say some biased things. Recently, Big Show returned to a WWE ring for the first time since 2018. I didn’t really care when he came out, and I turned off “Monday Night Raw” when he did to go watch Netflix. Looking online, I saw several comments that were basically criticizing people for not enjoying The Big Show’s return and calling them miserable because the audience loved it. This is the type of mentality I hate.
Why is it so hard for people to accept that not everyone is going to like what you like? It is 2020 and I just don’t care about seeing some of these older wrestlers I grew up watching anymore. I’m supposed to like Big Show wrestling on “Raw” because the live crowd did? I don’t think so. If I enjoyed things based on how popular they were with other people, then I would be a football fan. Let people enjoy what they want. Someone enjoyed Big Show’s return? Good for them. It’s not hurting me, so why should I care?
If people followed this mentality, then maybe we still wouldn’t have the “wrestling is fake” complaint from people who don’t watch. I have always been annoyed by this complaint, not because of how condescending it is but because it’s hypocritical. Unless you only watch C-SPAN and the local news, all of the media you consume is fake. That new Netflix original you binged last week? Fake. That one show you watch every week even though you claim to hate it? Fake. That reality show you watch? Fake.
“Wrestling Fan” when they hear 47 year old The Big Show is in the Main event of RAW: ?????
Same “Wrestling Fan” when they hear 50 year old Dustin Rhodes is in the Main event of Dynamite: ?????
— Wrestling “Jacksonville Dixie” Junkie (@wwe_wwf_Junkie) January 7, 2020
The complaint itself isn’t even true. Yes, storylines and characters in wrestling are fake. Some of the moves are too, but injuries happen all the time. I attended a show in Brooklyn and saw Finn Balor get tossed into the barricade between the fans and the ring. He laid down on the ground for a few seconds before he touched his shoulder and was back in the match. The next day, it was revealed that his shoulder fell out of place due to hitting the barricade, and he popped it back into the socket so that he could finish the match.
He had to get shoulder surgery and couldn’t wrestle for about seven months as a result. Wrestlers put their bodies in danger every week and can get injured at any point. Sami Zayn also injured his shoulder, but not from wrestling. He did so right before a match by throwing his arms in the air to hype up the audience. Like Balor, he also continued to wrestle despite injury.
It’s ignorant and foolish to just call wrestling fake when things like this can happen at any time. I guess that as long as I continue to watch, I’ll always have to deal with this. I’m not trying to convince these type of people to watch wrestling, but they should really think about what they say so they don’t end up looking ignorant. As you can see, ignorance is really what bothers me as a wrestling fan. It’s present within the fanbase and outside of it. People are free to enjoy what they like and say whatever is on their mind, but I have to speak up and say something when I detect ignorance or hypocrisy. Unfortunately, I don’t see it going away any time soon as long as people can type a few words on a keyboard and send out a tweet. Until it does, I guess I’ll have to continue calling it out whenever I see it.