Having run the Wrestlezone social media accounts for a while now, I've seen enough stupid comments to get my fill for a lifetime. From people wishing a career threatening injury on John Cena to people complaining about CM Punk losing the WWE title after four hundred and thirty four days as Champion. I prefer largely to be arbiter of the peace and bite my tongue where necessary, every person is just as entitled to their opinion, regardless of how wrong they are.
But at times I really do wonder what makes a “smart” wrestling fan. Does it mean knowing the inside scoop? Does it mean knowing the intimate details of CM Punk's private life? Does it mean having watched wrestling “since I was five”? I honestly don't know, but the general consensus seems to be that a “smart” fan knows more than your average fan, and knows better.
Which brings me to Raw last night. The WWE, after weeks of build-up, presented the début of “The Wyatt Family”. A group consisting of Bray Wyatt (son of Mike Rotunda), Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. After some terrific pre-tapes involving a WWE reporter visiting the Wyatt ranch, we were finally told “we're here” by Wyatt, who would lead his “brothers” into a battle against Kane. After taking him down Harper and Rowan would crush Kane's skull between the steel ring steps. WWE had presented one of the finest débuts in a long, long time of possibly one of the best characters to come out wrestling in the past decade. Wyatt arose from his rocking chair, inspected the damage, sank to his knees, spread his arms wide and looked to the heavens… then this happened:
“Husky Harris……. Husky Harris…… Husky Harris……”
Let's back-pedal a bit shall we? To a time on a show called “NXT Season 2”. The show where developmental “rookies” were paired with WWE “pro”. Rotunda was on the show paired with his “pro” Cody Rhodes as a character by the name “Husky Harris”. Billed as the “Army tank with the Ferrari engine”. He largely impressed, showing an above average promo ability and a good in-ring ethic with a largely skeletal character. He would later join the new Nexus as one of CM Punk's followers before drifting back down to developmental to get a much needed character reboot.
Which leads us back to last night, a small pocket of fans (very much audible on WWE TV) began chanting “Husky Harris”, because, you know, we're smarter than you. We remember his old character, that makes us cool! It's hardly a new phenomenon, Lord Tensai back when his new character debut had to endure “Albert…. Albert…” in reference to one of his former personas. Even Ryback had to endure “Goldberg…. Goldberg…” chants, less of a repackaging in this case, more of a second coming.
But these are “smart” fans, they will assert their authority over the boring minions who come to cheer John Cena by being smart, being cool. Guess what? It's not smart. In fact, it's the opposite of smart. These are the same fans that will fill Wrestlezone's Facebook and Twitter pages with comments about the fact that John Cena (one of the biggest stars in the history of the WWE, and a man who's body of high quality, main event matches is almost unrivalled) shouldn't be the top star anymore. He's “boring”. He's “stale”. He “can't wrestle”.
Well guess what, the more you try and act smart when you buy a ticket, the more you're fuelling Cena being on top. Because Tensai, Ryback and Wyatt were all planned for big things on début. Tensai is now “Sweet T”, a dancer and tag-team partner of a guy who thinks he's a dinosaur. Ryback is rehabbing himself after a losing streak on PPV that stretches back a year to the week (his last win on PPV? A handicap match vs Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins).
Now, I'll hear arguments all day about whether the Tensai character was doomed from the start (maybe it was) and that Ryback was too big a reminder of Goldberg to ignore (maybe he was), but there are two guys there that WWE had big plans for. Maybe one of them could have become the next number one guy? And you're sat there, the guys who are “sick and tired” of seeing John Cena on top, and you're cutting the legs out from underneath them before they've even got started.
“But we pay the tickets, we have the right to chant what we want, the right to cheer who we want, the right to boo who we want?” You also have the right to shut up and enjoy the show. The WWE presented a fantastic series of videos last night culminating in an excellent début, but that wasn't enough for you, was it? You had to be smarter, you had to be better, because you know more than the rest of us.
People like you, you're what's wrong with wrestling in 2013. I often here “Why doesn't Vince McMahon give us what the fans want”? (whatever the hell that means). What do you want? Because WWE presented to you three hours of television last night, and you chose to take over the best five minutes of it. Don't come crying to me in three years time when Cena's still the number one guy, because people like you are holding his successor down. The same fans that cheered Dolph Ziggler when he was a heel, you were holding him down too. Wyatt will be fine, he's too good, but you can either sit and fight the tide, or you can embrace the next generation.
Bob Bamber is the social media guy for Wrestlezone. You can find him on Twitter @BobbyBamber and via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob also writes his own wrestling blog, and has recently started the Wrestling 20 Years Project, a Twitter history project that presents wrestling literally as if it were 9th July 1993.