Every year on July 4th Americans celebrate Independence Day by blowing things up in their backyard. Nothing could be more American. If someone asked you to play word association with the word America, most people will say freedom comes to mind. Positive or negative, that is typically the word that people will say is a fundamental attribute of America. Americans enjoy many freedoms that provide them with a common thread. Some abuse their freedoms while others use them to their full potential to live their lives the best they can. So what does all of this have to do with wrestling? Well, wrestling fans share a common thread in that wrestling brings them together. Functioning together as one entity, wrestling fans enjoy several freedoms that help shape the wrestling business. What follows are some of the great freedoms wrestling fans enjoy.
Freedom of Speech
This one goes without saying and encompasses so much of what the wrestling audience utilizes. Signs at wrestling events have been a staple for years. Fans are able to express their creativity and maybe get on TV. One of the best signs I have ever saw was held by a guy in the front row at an episode of WCW Monday Nitro that simply said “I enjoy wrestling.” All signs regarless of how colorful or crude, in the end, all say the same thing that this one particular sing at Nitro said. Whether its signs or chants, the crowd is always letting those running the show what they think.
Heckling has always been a way for fans to express themselves. There is no better place for them then at a smaller show. They are able to yell so that the wrestlers hear them and can show off for the fans. I remember being at a WWE house show with my friend Shane in Grand Forks, ND. One of the opening act heels began to mock the small crowd. One patron next to me yelled “Quiet or I’ll treat you like my girlfriend!” Looking down at his side was his confused son, to whom he could only say “Don’t tell your mother.”
The wrestling audience provides the show with something very unique. In 1996-1997, the audience turned Steve Austin form a cold villain into crowd favorite. The best example of the audience’s freedom of speech can be summed up in two words: John Cena. No other star in the industry has ever had such a strange relationship with the crowd. Depending on the location and age of the audience, different reactions surface for Cena. The audience is constantly changing and evolving much like the wrestling business does.
Freedom to change the channel
We have utilized this freedom to the maximum in recent memory. It was this freedom that skyrocketed WCW’s ratings, and then demolished them. At recently as this year it changed how TNA aired their premiere show Impact! When a wrestling audience changes the channel, it tells the wrestling industry that we will not accept something. Sometimes our great devotion to wrestling can feel trampled when we see a show offering us nothing new or ridiculous storylines that insult out intelligence. In one swift movement, the TV remote allows us ultimate power and saying that we will have none of it.
Freedom to be different
Perhaps you have found yourself telling other people how or why you are into professional wrestling. Most people look at you like they just lost all respect for you. How one goes about telling someone how they are interested in wrestling and coming across as an even deeper and interesting person is a task few have mastered.
There will always be that stigma in being a wrestling fan and that’s okay. There is something to wrestling that people outside of it don’t understand; it doesn’t mean that they are stupid for not getting it, but it doesn’t mean we are stupid for liking something other people don’t understand. We have the freedom to be proud of being wrestling fans. Some of us do get carried away but that is a price to pay. We do not have to be arrogant in our attitude. There are those who take wrestling way too seriously and can sometimes ruin it for the rest.
Regardless of the bad apples, wrestling fans should be proud that they are a part of something different. When speaking about wrestling, showing your fascination rather than embarrassment is the way to go. If people don’t understand, then they don’t understand. It doesn’t mean you have to be ashamed.
Freedom to lose yourself
You ever go to a movie or a play? Maybe even a concert and forget yourself? It happens in wrestling as well. You can forget yourself and get lost in the moment. A great example of this was the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker Wrestlemania match where fans suspended their disbelief and truly believed HBK had a chance of winning the match. For a brief time, fans forget that wrestling is “fake” and lose themselves. There really is nothing like getting lost at a wrestling event. No other form of entertainment pulls you in and suspends the disbelief of thousands of people and has the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. We become a living, breathing life form as one that adds a whole new dynamic to the show being presented.
There you have it. Those are just a few of the freedoms that we as wrestling fans enjoy and share together. Maybe you disagree with what I said here or have some freedoms of your own you would like to share. Perhaps you have even had a time your freedoms as a wrestling fan have been trampled on. If so, feel free to share them with me.
That will do it for this week. Thanks for reading and try not to blow off any body parts this weekend, or any weekend for that matter.