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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Fans 'taking over' shows

    I see people talking about fans taking over shows these days. Daniel Bryan was the biggest example in recent years, though they did manage to steer into the skid there and turn it into a whole thing. But more often than not, it seems that it's cited as a really negative thing - but with different emphasis depending on who is talking at the time.

    I'm interested in getting people's take on it, so I've got a bunch of questions.

    1) I've heard it said that no one takes over anything but the WWE. Is this just because people are dissatisfied with WWE in a way they aren't with other shows? Has anyone seen it at other shows? If it is just about quality, why did no one try and take over TNA during that couple of years where it was the drizzling shits?
    2) Coming at it from a different angle, would chants like 'you fucked up' by an early forerunner of attempts to take over a show, in that fans are inserting themselves into the show in a way other than you'd traditionally envision? Is there more of a history of this sentiment than we might think?
    3) Coming back to WWE, if the rumours about WWE purposefully ignoring fans attempts to take over the show are true, is this a good thing, something they need to do to put on compelling TV?
    4) Or conversely, do people only take over shows because they aren't getting compelling TV?
    5) Could the latter be because there's a difference between the audience the WWE wants, and the one it has, and it isn't willing to recognise that there's a conflict there?
    6) Or is this more the fans fault than the company? I've been to shows were it seems like people are more interested in getting themselves over and looking like some kind of fan Bullet club than in watching what they've paid for - are those fans hurting wrestling? Could those fans actually be part of the reason wrestling won't hit the older heights again?
    7) How much of this goes away if you replace guys like Reigns, Brock, Cena and Orton with people getting the loudest reactions? Or, conversely, do you think you could put Braun, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins et al in those spots and it'd just be a matter of time before the takeover started in favour of someone else that was fresher?


    God, that got away from me a bit. I'll leave it there for now, there's certainly enough discussion points to be going on with!

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  2. #2
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    Yeah.... not sure I can provide an answer to all of these, but I'll pick and choose.

    1 - I have seen it at other shows (mostly UK indie shows like WCPW, now called Defiant). I feel like they respond better than WWE do, partly because they can, but also because they need the exposure, need the fans in order to build. WWE can do whatever it likes creatively and it will still have millions of fans across the world.

    6 - Yeah I believe some audiences do try to 'get over' or be noticed instead of just enjoying the show. It's like going to watch Arsenal vs Chelsea and you and your friends turn up wearing Manchester United shirts. Like, why would you do that?

    7 - I think WWE has a mandate and also a long term plan that they are not willing to deviate from. This in some ways is a good thing, but it doesn't allow for much flexibility whereby people (Strowman, Rusev, Cesaro come to mind) get over naturally.

  3. #3
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    I remember people complaining after Wrestle Kingdom of some foreign fans making fun of the Japanese audience with their yelling out of "Kenny" and "Naito".

    Not quite taking over a show but I'll put it in with beach balls as general audience douchebaggery.

  4. #4
    The Brain
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    Alright, let's see...

    1) I've never really seen a modern "takeover" attempt anywhere besides WWE, though I'm sure there are a few scattered examples. You could say the phenomenon started back in ECW, as fans were kind of encouraged to take over the show and chant things they weren't "supposed" to, with "you fucked up" probably being the most common example of it, and possibly some of the stuff with Sabu where fans were "in the know" about contract stuff. As for TNA, there are the infamous "Fire Russo" chants from the 00s, so that might count as well. I do think it happens most commonly in WWE because of the way WWE has booked, sometimes seemingly in direct contrast to what the fans are interested in seeing, so the backlash tends to be biggest. WWE's fanbase is so ingrained that they still want to stick around even when they aren't happy, so whereas TNA fans tend to just lose interest, WWE fans stick in there but get lo0ud and unhappy.

    2) Haha, I see you've completely anticipated at least one of my points. Yes, there is a history of this kind of thing. You could take it back even farther in the Philadelphia area, I distinctly remember Halloween Havoc '92 taking place in that town and the crowd was very contrary all night, cheering the heels pretty much across the board.

    3/4) Personally I think ignoring fan reaction is very off putting and lowers my general interest in WWE. I'm not saying they have to trip over themselves every time someone gets over, we'd have former WWE Champion Fandango if that were the case, but I think if they were more willing to push hot acts when they are actually hot, regardless of whether or not they were "supposed" to get over, a lot of these reactions would go away on their own.

    5) WWE looking for mainstream/casual fans to the detriment of their dedicated fanbase has been an issue for a long time, so yeah, I'm guessing there's an element of that there. I do think that's inevitable to some extent, but I also think there's a better balance to be achieved.

    6) I've certainly seen those fans who seemingly just want to ruin the experience, but I also think they're the minority, and I think they get easier and easier to ignore if there something compelling happening in the ring. I can't bring myself to blame the fans entirely, because if those few troublemakers gain traction, it's because they are (intentionally or not) tapping into real dissatisfaction. As an example, I went to a Raw in Chicago after CM Punk mysteriously disappeared from TV, and we chanted for Punk all night long. We weren't expressly trying to derail the show, we just missed one of our favorite guys deeply and were mad that WWE could work out a way for him to even show up (he was still under contract at the time).

    7) I think to a certain extent the audience will always be looking for the fresh new thing, but I also don't think that's bad or new. It's important to keep things fresh in this day and age, and while I do believe the fans are willing to be patient under certain circumstances, WWE needs to build up goodwill to encourage fans to believe there's something worth waiting for. I do think freshening up who is in the spotlight would go a long way to cutting down these reactions. Pushing who's hot, within reason, used to be the law of the land, and it's really only in the last 15 years or so that WWE has taken it upon themselves to restructure and push people for other reasons.

    I'll also add another point,

    8) I do think there's an argument to be made that the wrestlers who get big fan reactions are not always the most popular by other metrics, such as merchandise sales or TV ratings, so I get that sometimes it might make sense to push a guy like Reigns even if he's disliked by the live crowd, IF the numbers actually reflect that. If the kind of fan that is drawn to the live experience is different than the one shopping on wwe.com or channel surfing on Monday night, I get that WWE has to please multiple masters. Again though, I do feel like there's a better balance to be struck.

  5. #5
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    The WWE definitely isn't the only promotion to receive these kind of reactions. WCW (in what I would consider the first example of fans at least attempting to hijack a show) dealt with severe backlash during The Great American Bash 1991 after Jim Herd foolishly fired Ric Flair and then even more foolishly turned Lex Luger heel to win the title for reasons only him and the booking committee could understand. And like others have pointed out ECW and TNA both dealt with revolts at times themselves. These days it definitely is just WWE though; I watch a lot of wrestling and I've never seen a modern New Japan, All Japan, Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor, CMLL or AAA show where the fans "went into business for themselves." There's certainly more factors than just booking that are the cause of that, but I do find it very telling that one fan base is so full of discontent that shows are often overshadowed by them turning on said shows while that never, ever happens elsewhere (including other American promotions like LU and ROH that cater to the same type of fan).

  6. #6
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Talk about a complex question, Prime!

    Obviously, I'm a WWE guy so the below comments apply strictly to WWE audiences; I can't comment on anything else.

    It's difficult to find an answer to, though I do believe one thing that needs to be mentioned is that wrestling fans - especially in WWE - have a tendency to operate in precedents; as soon as one live crowd gained notoriety by 'hijacking a show' it was absolutely inevitable that other crowds would attempt to follow suit. It's the age we live in. Fans seem more hungry for fame of their own than they do for wrestling. We live in an age where 'Brock Lesnar Guy' and 'Angry Miz Girl' have social media accounts, while Izzy wanders around making wristbands with her own name on. It's crazy, and it's maddening. Nor am I convinced, like mizfan, that it's a minority anymore. It seems to happen with increasing frequency, especially at the big shows, and it never fails to annoy me. I'm sure it's wonderfully irreverent for the people in the live audience, but when you're watching at home and trying to enjoy the thing you tuned in for - the wrestling - it's irritatingly distracting and, at times, absolutely infuriating.

    There's a certain chicken and egg facet to it, of course. WWE's job is to keep the attention of the fans with an engaging product, but at the same time it's the fans' responsibility to dial in and see if they like what they're watching. There's plenty of empirical evidence, I'm sure, for anyone with the time and energy to look for it to actively demonstrate the WWE fan base will reject whatever they're given because they're given it, regardless of whether it's what they asked for or not.

    I refuse to believe incidents like those involving beach balls are reactionary measures though, because why would anyone happen to just have a beach ball on them at an indoor arena's wrestling show if for no other reason than to be actively prepared to do their own thing regardless of what happens? In which case, you obviously have a concern you won't enjoy the show, presumably because you're in a funk about the product, so why go in the first place? It makes no logical sense at all - you've wasted your money, ruined the show for fans who turned up wanting to enjoy the show and tuned in for the same reason and you've successfully disrespected guys and gals putting their health on the line to entertain. That's the tragedy. It's the performers who don't write the product that get shafted by the fans. So absolutely nobody wins - unless you want 15 minutes of pointless and valueless infamy for yourself. Ultimately, in the age of 20-year old 'Youtubers' publishing autobiographies, I imagine that's entirely the driving force behind the phenomenon for the majority, whether they're willing to accept it or not.

    Not that WWE are blameless. They seem to encourage it at times, especially when they're doing documentaries on the 'crazy post-WrestleMania crowd.' It's feeding a culture that is perpetuating what remains to me the singular biggest issue the industry faces: fans don't care about story and character anymore, even though they'll protest until they're blue in the face that they do; because if they did, they'd tune in or turn up to watch a show and react to what's presented to them in a manner appropriate to the design of the fiction, just like they used to do in the distant past - the ultimate irony being that that's a past WWE are responsible for presenting as a catastrophic failure themselves, in spite of constantly red hot live audiences who loved going to a wrestling show to watch a wrestling show!

    What a novel idea that is....

  7. #7
    The Brain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
    These days it definitely is just WWE though; I watch a lot of wrestling and I've never seen a modern New Japan, All Japan, Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor, CMLL or AAA show where the fans "went into business for themselves."
    And those fans really should have, given what they were getting until recently!

  8. #8
    It's tricky b/c reactions are the lifeblood of wrestling. But I can see how it can be distracting to both fans and talent.

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  9. #9
    The Brain
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    I do think fans who bring in beach balls or have the express idea to disrupt the show totally suck, but I also think those instigator fans wouldn't get much traction if there was something more consistently compelling in the ring or in the stories to keep them engaged.

  10. #10
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    They are just trying to copy the ECW fans, but don't have the wit or timing. When it is organic, it is good though. When someone I don't like is trying to cut a promo and getting flustered by a hijack, I do enjoy it.

  11. #11
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    I think WWE, especially, needs to work with their talent to allow them to be more creative if/when the crowd starts 'taking over' during a promo. There are a handful of people who handle it masterfully - like Heyman during that wedding engagament that took place mid-promo not so long ago:



    He takes what could have derailed the promo almost completely, and turns it immediately back to the focal point (after a brief pause, admittedly). It's just the perfect way to deal with that sort of thing - his pause could even just be letting the fan(s) have their moment rather than actual thinking time for Heyman, but it works as both.

    The 'what!' chants are the most annoying thing any crowd can do. And some people have those figured out, mixing up their cadence to not allow the crowd to have them or just completely nerfing them. The amount of promos that have lost complete steam because of those chants and the person cutting them not knowing what the hell to do to stop them is. Bray, for all his faults, did it perfectly some times by messing with how he speaks and as a result not letting the crowd know when to cut in. Bliss took the other route when she was verbally sparring with Bayley (I think this was last year) and turned it into something that made the fans look stupid - it was like 'if you think Wisconsin sucks say what' and, inevitably, the crowd did their thing.

  12. #12
    The Brain
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    Haha, that was actually an awesome clip. I bet Heyman had a great time with that. Something to shake up his usual routine.

    I feel like these have died off, but I have to admit I did loathe those "10" chants. I even like Dillinger but that was near mute territory for me for awhile. Not sure why that was the thing to get under my skin but it did.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver
    I think WWE, especially, needs to work with their talent to allow them to be more creative if/when the crowd starts 'taking over' during a promo. There are a handful of people who handle it masterfully - like Heyman during that wedding engagament that took place mid-promo not so long ago:



    He takes what could have derailed the promo almost completely, and turns it immediately back to the focal point (after a brief pause, admittedly). It's just the perfect way to deal with that sort of thing - his pause could even just be letting the fan(s) have their moment rather than actual thinking time for Heyman, but it works as both.

    The 'what!' chants are the most annoying thing any crowd can do. And some people have those figured out, mixing up their cadence to not allow the crowd to have them or just completely nerfing them. The amount of promos that have lost complete steam because of those chants and the person cutting them not knowing what the hell to do to stop them is. Bray, for all his faults, did it perfectly some times by messing with how he speaks and as a result not letting the crowd know when to cut in. Bliss took the other route when she was verbally sparring with Bayley (I think this was last year) and turned it into something that made the fans look stupid - it was like 'if you think Wisconsin sucks say what' and, inevitably, the crowd did their thing.
    Heyman's handling of that was ace. I miss when Bliss did that but I remember when Taker said, "Say what if you sleep wtih your sister" and the crowd still responded "What?".

    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan
    Haha, that was actually an awesome clip. I bet Heyman had a great time with that. Something to shake up his usual routine.

    I feel like these have died off, but I have to admit I did loathe those "10" chants. I even like Dillinger but that was near mute territory for me for awhile. Not sure why that was the thing to get under my skin but it did.
    What are those referencing?

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  14. #14
    People either love me, hate me, or they don't care CanadianCrippler's Avatar
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    I always thought it was interesting to hear fans chant ludicrously stupid things out of context. I was 10 verging 11 when One Night Stand 2006 occurred and seeing and hearing those S&M loving rabid ECW fans verbally express their passion and hatred for the product was astounding to me as every wwe show I've seen prior didn't have such passionate fans so clearly heard before. For me, I take this literally when I say that fans incited by Jim Cornette, Cena, 4 horsemen to riot are the one's I hate. The one's that buried the Public Enemy with chairs and bring signs that say "if cena wins, we riot" It's just a fucking show, calm the fuck down!

    In short, fans that actually highjack shows by jumping the barricades are the one's I despise

  15. #15
    The Brain
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    I don't think there's any doubt that the ECW chair-bury types were quietly encouraged by management, so at that point it's part of the show. I also don't mind the "if ___ we riot" types, though it probably did become overused at one point. Anyone who actually jumps the barricade is a piece of shit though.

    Quote Originally Posted by M.V.W. View Post
    What are those referencing?
    For a while when Tye Dillinger was a thing, fans would chant "10" for, well, everything. Instead of chanting "1, 2" for a nearfall, they would say "10! 10!". When there was a countout, they would just chant 10, 10 times. At one of the Rumbles, instead of counting down for each new entrant they just yelled 10. It didn't feel like something to support Dillinger, just a "funny" thing crowds got caught up doing, and it annoyed the shit out of me.

  16. #16
    People either love me, hate me, or they don't care CanadianCrippler's Avatar
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    That was planned? shit I always thought Terry stupidly asking a fan for a chair incited that moment accidentally. Wow. I learned something today.

  17. #17
    The Brain
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    I've never heard that they explicitly asked the fans to do it, but they created an environment intentionally where stuff like that could happen, and I think they were probably thrilled that it did. It became part of the lore and worked massively in their favor, you know?

  18. #18
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Surprised this didn't get a bit more traction following the ironman match....

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  19. #19
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    I think I got too frustrated arguing with people on my column about it.

    Honestly I just found the whole thing depressing in the end as it exposed a really vocal group of fans who I honestly think aren't here to watch a wrestling show any more and will use any excuse to just muck up and try to stick it to the WWE.no matter how it might effect others enjoyment or the product as a whole.

    It is probabky partly tee company's own fault for leaving people feeling so disenfranchised but at the same time I'll maintain that if you are no longer a wrestling fan you should switch off.
    Last edited by SirSam; 1 Week Ago at 10:49 AM.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Team Farrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianCrippler View Post
    For me, I take this literally when I say that fans incited by Jim Cornette, Cena, 4 horsemen to riot are the one's I hate. The one's that buried the Public Enemy with chairs and bring signs that say "if cena wins, we riot" It's just a fucking show, calm the fuck down!

    In short, fans that actually highjack shows by jumping the barricades are the one's I despise
    See, that's such a completely different time for fans.

    There never would have been a riot a that ECW show if Cena had won. Nobody would have had the balls. A bunch of dudes in their 20s and 30s would have boo'd and gone home to bitch online. Those riots back in Cornette's day were the shit, though. Back then it wasn't "just a fucking show", people would get so invested and buy in so much that you could piss them off to the point that they'd just completely lose it. People cared.

    Today, people are just there to see a show. It's impossible almost impossible to get them that invested. You can do it -- I've seen a good heel in the past few years whip up the crowd so much that a biker dude jumped the rail to fight him -- but it's just different.

    Back in the day a good baby could get people so invested that when the heel was fucking him over the crowd would want to physically assault him. Today, everyone goes to the show with that "it's just a show/wrestling is all about fun and comedy" mentality so nobody buys in to the babyface that much. The only thing that whips people up that much anymore is a heel cutting a promo that's so mean and cutting and genuinely hurtful to the people in attendance that it goes beyond being a "show" anymore.

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