My Two Centsss - There's A Reason Why Most WWE Crowds Suck Nowadays
By Super Chrisss
Apr 19, 2014 - 1:06:13 PM
(Tom Jenner is the man!)
One of the biggest problems with today's wrestling product, at least in my opinion, is a clear lack of crowd participation (for the most part anyway). For nearly a decade, it seems like every time WWE produces a Raw, SmackDown, Pay-Per-View from a "non-smark" city, the crowd reacts with apathy to almost everything that happens on the show. Whether it's an edition of "Old School Raw" that features the returns of legends such as Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, or a dismal PPV such as Battleground, it has become the new norm for WWE audiences to make very little noise from beginning to end. With the exception of "smark cities" such as Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, etc., almost every other crowd will react to only a few things and people on the show (John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and maybe a heel beatdown or two).
But why is that? Why can't Raw crowds be more akin to the post-Wrestlemania ones that we've seen over the past few years? Or the crowds from The Attitude Era? Why does it feel like the crowd is basically sitting on their hands for the majority of the show? After all, WWE tickets aren't exactly cheap - so why in the world would people spend their hard-earned money to watch wrestling and be silent? Like I said, fan participation is a vital element in pro wrestling - it allows the wrestlers to react accordingly, helps backstage officials determine who is 'over' and who isn't, and makes it a lot of fun for the viewers watching at home.
Are they quiet because they're disinterested in what is going on inside the ring? Possibly, but that doesn't mean they should be dead-silent, either. If you think back to The Attitude Era (which Mazza and are covering in great detail, by the way), not every show or match was stellar. Just like today's WWE, there were a lot of dud matches and awful storylines going on as well. But that didn't kill the crowd. They were red-hot for everything that was happening - the fans were there to have a good time. So I don't think a stale product is to blame. Who would want to be somewhere they didn't want to be?
One factor that could be responsible for quieter crowds is the new wave of technology. Fifteen years ago, at the height of the Attitude Era, cell phones did not exist. In 2014, everyone and their grandmother has a phone on them. Thanks to WWE spending a large portion of 2013 plugging the holy shit out of the WWE App, they've basically encouraged fans to watch what's happening on the App rather than on their TV screens (the same applies to fans in attendance for live events). With WWE currently being determined to get stuff trending on Twitter 24/7, it forces fans to turn their cellular devices even more. As someone who tweets on a regular basis, let me tell you that it's pretty difficult to tweet and pay attention to something else at the same time.
That being said, I don't think all the blame falls on technology. Keep in mind that the fans who attended Wrestlemania XXX and Raw the next night all probably carried a cell phone on them, but that didn't stop them from blowing the roof off the arena on two consecutive nights, now did it? Rather, I think there are two factors which, when combined together, create a less-than-lively environment at most WWE events nowadays - the PG era and the lack of non-main-event-storylines.
Let me share with you a short anecdote. One of my friends attended a live event in Toronto last December (that was the same night when Raw had only Daniel Bryan and CM Punk as draws because half the roster was at the house show). When my friend came with me to my to watch Wrestlemania XXX with some of my wrestling buddies, she remarked how lively me and my friends were, as well as the fans at 'Mania. She said that when she went to the live event in Toronto, it was mostly families in attendance who only got loud during John Cena's match with Randy Orton.
Her story told me a lot, because it shows that most crowds nowadays are a) more family-friendly and b) the crowd doesn't have a reason to care about people who aren't in the main-event. That may be a bold statement, especially since guys like Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, and The Usos have been getting strong reactions for a while now, despite not being top guys. But what about the rest of the roster? Why is it so difficult for guys like Sheamus, Del Rio, and others who appear on TV every week to get a reaction? Well, maybe it's because the moment they were out of the world title picture, WWE didn't give them any storylines to work with. They just come out and wrestle random matches.
Guys like Sheamus, Del Rio, Kofi Kingston, The Brotherhood, and so many more non-main-eventers struggle to get over because WWE gives them nothing to work with. They're just booked in one random match after another and we as fans aren't given a reason to boo them or to cheer for them. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to boo Del Rio because he's been more "aggressive" in his matches. I'm not going to care about Rybaxel if their last heinous act was being known as "Paul Heyman Guys" many months ago. WWE already assumes their fanbase has a worst memory than a goldfish (thus explaining the continuous recaps), so why would they think the audience would remember one heelish thing a wrestler or tag team did a long time ago?
Going back again to the crowds of The Attitude Era, I mentioned earlier how the feuds and matches weren't exactly top-notch. BUT the crowd was fully invested in the show from top-to-bottom. That's because WWE gave them a reason to care. Was the feud between the New Age Outlaws and LOD 2000 compelling television highlighted with five-star matches? No, but at least WWE created a storyline for the two teams, rather than just having the NAO go out and defend their titles. This is something that has been missing from today's WWE for years now - storylines involving the whole roster, not just the top five or six guys. As far as talent goes, WWE currently employs one of the most stacked and talented rosters in history, but the creative team appears incapable of putting together more than three or four feuds at a time. I just don't understand how that's possible, since it wasn't quite a lifetime ago that the whole roster had someone to feud with, rather than being stuck in limbo.
Believe me, I would love nothing more than to wag my finger at Baltimore for being such a terrible crowd last Monday, especially after the awesomeness shown from the post-Wrestlemania crowd the week before, but the truth is, WWE are the ones responsible for their lack of energy. WWE decides to employ a creative team that cannot come up with storylines for the entire roster (or at least the ones who get TV time on a regular basis). They made the decision a few years ago to cater to a WWE audience, but rather than give the kids a whole team of superheroes to root for, they only gave them one - John Cena. Recently, they put Daniel Bryan in that role as well, but it's still not enough. Wrestling needs more than a handful of role models, especially if they plan on targeting a younger fanbase. How can you expect the crowd to be invested in a match if you don't bother giving them a reason to care?
Your Two Centsss: Do you still attend WWE live events/tapings as frequently as you used to? Why or why not?
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