Don?t Be That Guy
?Wait, you?re wearing ?that? to the show??
?You?re wearing a shirt of the band you?re gonna? see at the concert.?
?Gutter, don?t be ?that guy?.?
The immortal conversation from the movie ?PCU? in regards to fashion at public events is etched into my memory. Every concert and every show that I go to, I keep this conversation in the back of my mind. I do everything in my power not to be ?that guy?. There are some exceptions to this rule though. Sporting events don?t count. Wearing the jersey of your favorite player excludes you from this label; unless you?re attending a NASCAR event then you are only relegated to a hat. Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with any logo, franchise, or athlete’s name automatically qualifies you as ?that guy?. Again, jerseys cool, t-shirts are not.
How many of ?these guys? do you find at any professional wrestling event? I have only ten fingers to count so I?m sure it’s an astronomical number.
There are other restrictions to the label of ?that guy?, one of them being of age. You cannot blame someone younger than sixteen for wearing the t-shirt of their favorite performer or athlete. They are in their waning years of innocence and, hopefully, blossoming into maturity. Who would you shake your head at in disgust more: a ten-year-old wearing a John Cena t-shirt or a 23-year-old wearing the same t-shirt? The answer is obvious.
It’s not just your attire that turns you into ?that guy? when it comes to your attendance at an event like this, it is also dependant on your demeanor. So often we see kids bobbing there heads to their favorite performers entrance theme, but when you see a twenty-something or older doing the same, you begin to question their maturity. Marking to your favorite wrestler is unavoidable but keeping your composure when they hit their moves perfectly or when they make their grand entrance deters you from the insulting label.
Every professional wrestling event I have attended, regardless of promotion, I have found that I have more fun playfully interacting with the fans in conjunction with the action in the ring. There’s a difference between being ?that guy? who keeps to himself and ?that guy? who invites everyone else in on the fun.
My brother and I once attended a ?Smackdown? taping in Charlotte back when Hulk Hogan was making his comeback. The main event featured him teaming with Edge in a tag team contest. Near the ending of the match, Hogan did his infamous ?Hulk up? routine. My brother and I yelled out the choreographed moves to a tee.
?Oh! Oh! He’s hulking up! There he goes! (Hulk looks at his opponent and points at him) You! (Shaking his finger) I don?t think so! (Punching) One! Two! Three! Sling him to the ropes! Boot in the face! Off the ropes! Legdrop! One, two, three! Woohoo!?
In front of us sat a group of four businessmen. From what I could gather, it was someone bringing his cliental to the show. One of the men, probably the host of the group, turned to me and my brother.
?How did you two know that was going to happen?!?
?How could you NOT tell?? I responded jokingly. ?It’s Hulk Hogan! He’s been doing the same damned thing for forty-five years now!? The group of men laughed hysterically in front of us and would occasionally throughout the show look back at us and joke along with us. Friends made, fun had.
I believe it was 2003 when WWE brought their annual pay-per-view ?Judgment Day? to Charlotte. In the card was a battle royal involving talent like Kane, Booker T, Christian, and many others vying for the Intercontinental Title. At this time, Booker T was the heavily-touted babyface while Christian was going through his ?creepy little bastard? phase. During the match, the section around my brother, two of his friends and myself, was pretty quiet.
At some point in the match, Kane was eliminated over the top rope. Being as how Kane is, he re-entered the ring and began to chokeslam every other competitor in the match in frustration and disappointment. As he was doing so, I shot up out of my seat.
?Who does that guy think he is? He was eliminated! Get him out of there!? I yelled emphatically, demonstrative gestures aplenty. The group around me began to laugh hysterically, some even joining in on the ribbing.
?Yeah!? one of my brother’s friends agreed and jumped up. ?What a sore loser! Get out of the ring, you loser!?
The people around me started asking us who we thought would win the match. With a smile on my face, I knew exactly what to say.
?Oh hell, Christian’s got this one! He’s Canadian! Canadians always win!?
The people around me started poking fun at me, claiming Booker T was going to kick his ass and this and that.
?Who? The black guy? Nah!?
The match came down to Booker T and Christian. Booker eliminated Christian but the referees never saw it, allowing Christian to re-enter and legally eliminate Booker. While everyone around me was booing and jeering, I had no choice but to leap out of my seat again.
?I told you! I told you all! You all said ?Nah, the black guy’s gonna? win.? Well look who’s laughing now! GO CANADA!?
Keep in mind again; I was having fun with the crowd. We made so many friends that night that I immediately forgot about the stretcher match between Brock Lesnar and Big Show.
I bring up these memories to bring up a point. I believe that in order to not become ?that guy? you must interact with those around you who paid the same amount of money you did to be entertained. It’s like going to any sporting event, reacting to a slam dunk, home run, goal, or touchdown, and giving the fan next to you a tremendous high five. It’s about being interactive.
Last month in my dosage of ?Harsh Reality?, I brought up my disdain of professional wrestling enthusiasts who blatantly insult other enthusiasts, not calling them ?true fans?. It’s this isolationism that hinders the growth of professional wrestling as a whole, casting others away from the medium that we love to partake in. I truly believe that the best way to show your true ?fandom? in a product is inviting others into your comfort zone; showing them why you enjoy it so and encouraging them to return.
I will be attending this June’s live taping of ?Raw? emanating from Charlotte and I have gotten numerous text messages and e-mails from fans that I have talked with from past live events asking if I will be in attendance. What would normally be just a trip to the city to enjoy three hours of entertainment has now turned into a mass gathering of newfound friends and ?wrookies? (fans attending their first event) to bask in the glory of our guilty pleasure. This is what true loyalty to your favorite form of entertainment entails.
I?m certainly not asking you to befriend every soul you come into contact with just for the sake of helping in the growth of this industry. Nor am I asking for you to patronizingly educate those who might be ignorant of forgettable pieces of trivia. Listen for those who share same amount of knowledge and respect for those you cheer for, unconsciously enlist them into your group, and invite others to share in your fun. Keeping this satisfaction to yourself is just selfish. Make the best of the event that has come to your city.
Don?t be ?that guy? who takes everything so seriously at an event. Don?t keep to yourself and make yourself out to be the fan with a superiority complex. Enjoy the event with others around you including them in on the fun, especially complete strangers. You never know, that one stranger you befriend at an event could soon become one of the best friends you?ve ever made.
If you?re going to be attending ?Raw? in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 15, feel free to give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you?re not, I would love to hear your stories of camaraderie at live professional wrestling events.
Until next time, mouth-breathers.