At a recent (and terrific!) Evolve show in Ybor City, I heard a couple of very enthusiastic fans behind huricanrana and I self-justify their very loud chants to “make the [WWN] pay per view seem interesting.” Those guys definitely have a point, as – having watched many a taped show filmed at a small venue – eerie silence (from fatigue or even intense match watching) – can be an mood killer.
This led me to question what makes for perfect fan etiquette.
Everyone knows you don’t touch/interfere with the wrestlers…and move when they tell you (in advance of leaps/chair interactions). That’s a given. Beyond that, it gets a bit more complicated.
See, there’s this very big wrestling fan who attends almost all the area shows, an extraordinarily enthusiastic but also loud woman who draws the ire from every wrestler and manager…and likely sister fan…in attendance. Her non-stop harassment of heels elicits terrific responses, likewise vocal support of babyfaces (who often hug and interact with her).
Still, some talent are visibly annoyed by her, breaking kayfabe to shut her up. Fans around her aren’t sure what to make of her, as she’s clearly committed to the action, adds value to interaction levels, and is a live wire (to say the least). Without knowledge of her direct involvement with the show (as a plant, or otherwise), it’s unclear whether to appreciate or loathe.
The same can be said of a group of individuals who travel to almost all local shows in West Florida, make matching t-shirts, and pride themselves on the loudest and most clever chants they can conjure. There’s nothing at all wrong in strength in numbers. There is, however, a yellow flag raised when one them admits to wanting to stop shows in pushing buttons of wrestlers.
Profanity? Not OK for WWE/NXT shows, that’s for certain. Questionable at indy events…but what to do when wrestlers drop f-bombs left and right, utter the n word, and/or proclaim the opponent a MotherF***er when landing a headkick. Yes, there are kids in the crowd. But the bigger question is, what would the reaction be if such things came from the mouths of fans…?
At last month’s Shine show, one manager loudly insisted on having my bottle of water as part of the act. I wasn’t sure if she was serious/not, and didn’t want to overstep (let alone buy another bottle for several dollars) boundaries if not wanted. Ever more so when venue security didn’t play along by handing the manager said bottle themselves.
Why does Roman Reigns walk through a crowd? Is it OK to touch him? Where (noting below the belt is obviously stupid, also don’t grab anywhere)? To what extent?
There’s the high-five etiquette of doing so only when wrestlers offer their hands (as it looks good on camera). Lord knows the wrestler ‘drive by, high-five’ is certainly a unique entity (in how non committal it is).
Vulgar signs aren’t OK, but still make the cut on occasion. Competing and/or self-promotion signs are in bad taste. Is the goal for wrestlers to notice them…get on camera…or both? What is the ultimate sign victory?
At smaller shows, alcohol is flowing and security is forgiving…except if it involves physical interactions with other fans and/or talent. At Money in the Bank, fans next to huricanrana and I (in the front row, no less) were 5 beers deep each…vulgar to everyone around them (including talent), beers spilling on everyone within a 5 foot radius. But security did nothing. How drunk is too drunk?
Pro wrestling is an odd beast, as fans are so important to the show. ‘This is awesome,’ dueling chants, and/or ‘one more time’ clearly drive match tempo. Pro wrestling is intended to be interactive, but – all the while – operates under a haphazard set of rules. When someone like The Miz – a master at fan interaction enters a ring, do these rules again change based on wrestler comfort?
To answer these questions, we’ve reached out to small number of indy wrestlers…no responses just yet. The forum is open.
I don’t think there is a way to have one set of rules, likely because all of the different shows will appeal to a different fan base. But in general, not crossing the line into making yourself “the show” is likely a good rule of thumb.
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