Don't believe the hype. Being a wrestling fan isn't just fast cars, hot women, and champagne. No. It can get annoying. We stick with it, though. If you don't know why we do that, then you might not be a fan. If you're not a fan, you might be interested to know ten things that are annoying about being one. Here, we'll start with...
Non-Fans buy you crappy stuff as presents.
"Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl." - Ralphie, A Christmas Story
Wrestling fans are really simple to shop for. At least that's the idea that non-fans have if they know you watch. After all, anything with a wrestler's face, name, or logo on it should be fine. Because of this, fans around the world get to open their birthday presents and see John Cena magnets, Triple H phone cases, Randy Orton trapper keepers, and shirts that say "Suck It" on them with little midget trolls flashing their asses to the world.
I've got two words for ya - "Socially Awkward"
Now maybe you don't want to wear midget trolls on your shirt showing their asses because, I don't know, you'd like people to want to have a conversation with you rather than think you're just out on a field trip in the "big world". Age isn't a factor either. In fact - as I'll get to later - the range of fans runs from 8 months old to 88 years old. So there's all sorts of items available and, if someone doesn't follow wrestling, any gift will do.
Congratulations on getting your law degree, son. Here's a Eugene lion doll or some shit.
The thing is, these items may be insane and unwearable but there's a reason for it. Wrestling companies know that most people who buy these things are buying them for other people. Conversations go like this:
What are we getting Ronnie for his birthday?
I don't know. He likes Hulk Hogan. Search the Googlenet for Hulk Hogan.
Oh…these trolls are cute.
It's so known that bootleg wrestling toys are some of the most popular knock-offs you'll find anywhere. Now, no fan is going to be fooled by these things. That's not why flea markets and bodegas carry them. No. I mean, hell. You know what Kane looks like, right?
So bootleggers and wrestling companies alike tackle new merchandise with the same plan. If the fans aren't dumb enough to buy it for themselves, someone else will think they're dumb enough to buy it for them. It leaves us with a closet full of vibrating WCW figures, Rock hats, and knockoff figures of chainsaw murdering Misticos.
Endless companies promise to be "wrestling" and "alternative".
When Vince McMahon took over wrestling in the 1980s, he promptly embraced the world of "sports entertainment". Now, it's hard to understand where that came from considering that the business had always been "entertainment". Long before Mr. McSillyWalk, Gorgeous George was spraying down the ring with his atomizer, the Grand Wizard was wearing sequined turbans, and Super Jerry Lawler was meeting Batman. It's always been entertainment.
But with a vocal swing in one direction, an equal swing in the other came along. Suddenly, countless wrestling companies were vowing to "bring back wrestling." Some claimed "we are wrestling", "this is wrestling", "a return to wrestling", "wrestling wrestling wrestling", and more. Of course, for many, this is a coded statement that really means "we can't afford a good P.A. system".
What truly makes this all annoying is that sometimes - no. It's not wrestling. That statement is a big deal and in order to make "wrestling" your thing, you have to be really good at wrestling. It's as if an amateur baseball club started up and used the motto "We Are Baseball", then their games had about two good players and a lot of fat guys drinking beer and hitting fouls.
I debated whether or not to post videos of this but, to be honest, I felt kind of bad. It's not my intention to embarrass anyone. But lets just say if you have a video out there claiming "we are wrestling" featuring a highlight reel of botched hip tosses, a forearm to the face, and a missed dropkick - maybe you're not wrestling.
TNA has tried the wrestling route - all while being indistinguishable from the entertainment show they're tailing most weeks. The same TNA who's head writer went on a Facebook tirade to fans about "fake wrestling on a fake wrestling show." That TNA. They "are wrestling". OK.
Bottom line here is that there's nothing wrong with entertainment. That's why we're fans of the sport - it's entertaining. Forget promising us "real wrestling". This is real wrestling -
Give us something entertaining. God knows the man who embraced it hasn't given it to us in a while.
Dealing with fans who "hate" mainstream wrestling.
In 1998, I attended Raw at Nassau Coliseum. My buddy and I sat next to a group of kids. One was obsessed with Sabu. One problem -
Sabu didn't wrestle for WWF. He was in ECW.
He knew it. He spent most of the show screaming about how much he loved ECW. Through his drunken stutter, he screamed out "SABU IS THE GREATEST WRESTLER IN THE WORLD!" To illustrate this point, he created a giant banner made from a white bed sheet and black marker. He kept trying to get us to help him hold it up.
The thing is, he was at a WWF show. He bought the ticket. That's why he was there. He didn't accidentally stumble into an arena. He paid someone money, got a piece of paper, had someone tear that paper, and sat down. He knew where he was.
What was the point? Was he trying to start a cult? Convert us to the Sabu-life? No. He was just a mainstream wrestling hater.
You know the type. The ones who hate John Cena. I don't mean "dislike John Cena" or "would be mad if they got a John Cena magnet for Christmas". I mean HATE John Cena. They hate him. They hate him so much it makes them cry blood."
Thanks to TheGreenTeabagger on our message boards for these.
Bottom line is that the real "haters" don't go to the show. The real "haters" don't watch anymore. If you watch, you like it. Somewhere, somehow, unless you're obligated, you still love it. Maybe you don't love the direction of wrestling. Maybe you don't like Triple H and Hulk Hogan eating the spotlight. Maybe you hate ring ropes. Whatever it is, you know there's a chance it could bounce back. You know how good the business can be. So you still watch. So lighten up. If you really hate WWE, don't go to Raw. Go to ECW…
…oh wait. Sorry.
The one point from all this, though - the guy who was anti-WWF was doing it in 1998, one of the company's hottest time periods. Anti-mainstream wrestling has existed long before the downturn and will continue forever. Music has it too. The only difference is that emo underground kids don't buy tickets for Justin Bieber to scream about hating him and loving Ivoryline.
People tell you how they used to watch wrestling.
Hey. I heard you like the wrestling.
Yeah. I watch it.
Man. I used to watch it like crazy back in the day.
Andre the Giant. Hulk Hogan. Superfly Snuka.
Yup. Yup. Those guys were awesome.
Stone Cold. Bam Bam Bigelow. SHIT! I loved it back in the day.
I stopped watching it when it got stupid.
This. Happens. All THE TIME!
You can get them back, though. Wait until they ask about something they like.
Game's on. You watch baseball?
I did when I was a kid but then I grew the f**k up you jerk!
OK. Maybe that's extreme but you get the gist. Chances are, you'll deal with this exact situation within the next week. As I mentioned, it happens all the time. I can elaborate, but why? It makes sense. They used to watch. Now they don't. They want you to know this.
This attitude happened when my first book came out. People I'd meet asked what I wrote about. I'd say wrestling and they'd say, "Oh. I don't watch wrestling." To which I'd reply, "Oh. Wow. Sorry to put you on the spot by asking. Oh wait. No I didn't."
I don't understand it but for some reason, non-fans need you to know that they don't presently watch the show. Of course, in many cases they follow up with...
"So, I heard that Rock's fighting at WrestleMania..."
Seeing legends you grew up watching wearing their wrestling outfits today.
Wrestling conventions are great. You get to meet all the legends, unemployed current stars, and starving TNA midcarders. You get to take pictures and buy DVDs of wrestling from countries that don't speak English so everyone knows you're smart.
Hey. You speak Japanese?
Tatsumi fujinami, bitch.
For wrestling fans, though, time doesn't move slowly. With storylines bleeding into each other, we find ourselves five years removed from events that seemed to occur yesterday. That's why when you go to these conventions, you can catch up with things like this:
AH! This happens at every show. Legends from another time show up and they're full dressed in their ring gear. When I say "ring gear", I mean their 20 year old ring gear. The exact ring gear. While you can go out and meet Whitey Ford or Reggie Jackson, chances are they're not going to put on their old clothes and give you a full-on before and after experience.
No. Wrestlers do. Not too many 60 year olds buying new tights. Seeing ol' whatshisname all old like this…
…makes you question your own age, mortality, and ultimately drives you to a mid life crisis - even if you're 30. You want to just find him, shake him, and scream "IF YOU WORE SOMETHING REGULAR, IT WOULDN'T STING SO BADLY! I'M GETTING OLDER EVERY DAY!"
People tell you "it's all fake… right?"
My favorite part of this statement is that people who ask always pause and follow it up with "right?" It's not that they're asking "right" to confirm that you know. They're asking "right" to confirm that they're right. You want to do this to them -
They know. They know it's fake. But...right? Is it?
Pro wrestling's first "realism" challenge is generally traced back to the 1908 Hackenschmidt-Gotch match where many papers questioned the big event's validity. This carried on until the dawn of TV when the wheels really started coming off the illusion. Fans knew it. Wrestlers knew it. The only rule was - we don't talk about it or you get David Schultz'd.
A good response to this is always, "Yeah. Hey...did you see the new Honeymooners episode last night? Oh, wait. I'm sorry. I thought we were just talking about crap people talked about in the 1950s."
In case you really want to know, you can search Google. There's plenty of videos from people with "PROOF WRESTLING IS FAKE!" Because, you know, the leprechaun and mystical Undertaker powers could go either way.
The only episodes of wrestling your non-fan co-workers and classmates see are the ones with embarrassing things on them.
Do you remember this Raw?
Well, I have a friend from college who used to be a male cheerleader.
We used to rip on him for it, but he took it in stride. So when he called me the day after that segment, I had a feeling what he was going to say…
Hey, uh. I was watching Raw.
Had a question for you.
I saw this group called the Spirit Squad.
They're male cheerleaders.
You all offended?
I don't care about that.
Why were their Spirit Squad midgets taking their pants off?
Uh…I got nothing, man.
No one watches the iron man matches or the great promos, but have someone hump a dead body or dump sewage on someone, it's the topic of your Tuesday morning meeting.
On top of it, they all claim to just be "flipping around" when they saw it.
I don't know how other people flip, but the remote is pretty fast.
You don't settle on an 11 minute segment by accident.
Not saying they liked it.
Just saying they chose it.
Come out of the closet, Mr. Smith. Social Studies class would be better if you just admit you watch Raw.
You make references no one gets.
This one depends on who's around you. If you're around wrestling fans, they get it. If you're at work, maybe one or two will. It leads to awkward moments that you learn to keep in your head. For example:
Someone walks into the office and slams a paper on your boss's desk. He leans back and exclaims, "Finally…!"
Your instinct? To stand on your chair and holler, "THE ROCK has come back to…the…office!"
Of course, you'd be fired. That doesn't mean you won't do it anyway. Well, maybe not the chair part.
The opportunities are all around you, though.
Helping to set up a cub scout meeting: "Bill! Get the tables!"
Getting details or a phone number from someone: "You'll remember the name?"
Seeing two young siblings deciding what game they want to play at the playground: "Whatcha gonna do, brother?"
Now, you can scream out, "Goldust! When the largest arms in the world run wild on you!" Then, you can set a table on fire.
Or, you can just accept your place in the world and sit in quiet anguish. But the anguish doesn't end there. Oh no. In movies, you can't ask:
"Hey! Doesn't that guy look like Perry Saturn? That guy over there. Like a black Perry Saturn?"
No one will get it.
Sucks, right? Gets worse. Some references will be completely opposite. Like watching a film with a pimp in it, you say:
Ha. This reminds me of the Godfather.
The Godfather was about the mafia.
No. There was a pimp wrestler named "The Godfather".
Oh. I stopped watching wrestling when it got stupid. It's all fake…right?
Wrestling companies have no idea who you are.
Wrestling companies still have no idea what fans want. It's the reason they default to, "They just want wrestling matches all the time." They don't know. No idea. Need proof? Here's a list of some past Raw Guest Hosts.
Cheech and Chong
Yeah - weird, right? Even weirder - Buzz Aldrin hosted Raw the week after Flav did. Yeah boyeeeee! Getting' all cosmic an' sheeet! It's like the Surreal Life with a wrestling ring.
More recent proof? The week before the Muppets hosted Raw, the show opened with a violent sledgehammer beating that sent Triple H to the hospital in a 20 minute dramatic segment.
Scarring children aside, there's the whole question of target crowd. I mean how could either one of the top two wrestling companies stand behind an "anti-bullying campaign" while promoting the "Jersey Shore" - a show I once saw this on -
Well, guess what. They both did.
From Pee Wee Herman to Pac Man Jones to the guy who played Bobby Baclava on the Sorpanos, it's a mad dash for any group they can get. Today's violent beating is next week's puppet show. Who knows? It's like a grab bag of extremes. See you next week. Bring the kids…or not. We don’t know yet.
What movies? These kinds of movies:
Wrestling-sponsored movies are the biggest slap in the face to wrestling fans ever. Want to know why? Because they all get mocked eventually…by the wrestling companies that sold them to you.
First there was Hulk Hogan's "No Holds Barred". Home to the epic quotes "dookie" and "jock ass", this film was awful. WWF still shoved it down your marky little throats, though. It took over the promotion's main storylines for 1989 and helped shift the momentum in WCW's favor - giving them what's traditionally seen as one of the best creative years they ever had. Why? WWF was pushing the dookie jock ass.
A few years later, following Hogan's departure, Vince McMahon would remark while doing Raw commentary that Hulk had promised to repay any money the film lost - if it did…and which it did. Vince followed up with, "I guess the check is in the mail, so to speak."
From there, it's been an endless supply of films followed by mockery. Santino Marella spent months telling people not to see Steve Austin's "The Condemned" when it came out on DVD.
Ha ha ha…hey! I paid to see that damn movie!
Even films barely out of their run are getting nailed now. If you haven't remembered it yet, you're about to remember it now -
Triple H's "The Chaperone" with Hunter making his goofy-face advertisements still popping up everywhere was referenced by CM Punk who said:
"I want WWE films to immediately start production on CM Punk - The Movie.
You can call it The Chaperone 2 except mine will be funny and entertaining and successful."
From the Tooth Fairy to Mr. Nanny, they've gotten digs on them all. To follow all up, WWE has begun work on a WWE Network - complete with original programming that they'll mock you for watching right after the shows end. It sometimes makes you wonder what they do respect about their own product. They like entertainment more than wrestling? They sure seem to have a disdain for their own brand of both.