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WRESTLING COLUMNS

And The Fans Go Wild
August 19, 2004 by Chantelle Allison


My first column is in relevance to the recent WWE PPV Summerslam. I personally thought that this was a great pay-per-view but quiet obviously the crowd at the Air Canada Centre disagrees. I don't mean to offend anyone that was there but it was somewhat irritating for me while trying to watch a good match like Undertaker vs. JBL and have to see the crowd in the background doing a wave. I found this somewhat rude and disrespectful to the wrestlers trying to entertain.

I know that the Canadian's like to start the "You screwed Bret" chants basically whenever there is a WWE show in Canada but I really wish that the Canadian fans would get over it. It was seven years ago. The screw job wasn't in Toronto it was in Montreal. I do not complain when the Montreal crowds start the chants but when it's Toronto I feel that they should really just sit down and shut up. I really would like to know what the fans think that chanting this is going to achieve. It's been done and you can't change it Bret got screwed over but move on.

I really cannot stress how much the crowd annoyed me during the whole pay-per-view. They booed Eugene until he stuck his middle finger up at Triple H when it was quite obvious that Eugene was doing a very good job at keeping the match alive. The crowd was plain disrespectful, booing the faces and cheering for the heels. Like Jerry Lawler said the crowd was in "bizarro land". They were the most annoying and disrespectful wrestling fans I have ever seen in a crowd.

I would also like to express my disappointment at the single fan that jumped the barrier and got on top of JBL's limo during the Undertaker vs. JBL match. I know he probably didn't realize at the time how close he came to ruining the ending and the effect of that match but I really do not understand why he would have done this in the first place. You don't go to a wrestling show to be a nuisance, you go there to watch your favorite wrestlers entertain you. However, I do understand that sometimes you can be overwhelmed with the excitement of being at a wrestling show but for the only time in this whole column I wish that this fan had just booed like the rest of the crowd and stayed behind the barriers. Even though he did not fall through the roof of the limo eliminating all the effect of JBL being choke slammed through it was obvious when I watched it that the fan had done damage to the roof of the limo making it less believable to the viewers when JBL was choke slammed through it.

To sum it up I'm not trying to insult any of the fans that were in the crowd especially not the ones that did not join in on the antics that I have pointed out. But this is just a complaint that when you go to the wrestling show you go to watch the wrestling, cheer the faces and boo the heels. And if it's a televised event please remember that there are people at home watching the show who don't particularly want to hear your pointless chants such as "You screwed Bret".

by Chantelle Allison..


XtremeFalls wrote:
Well i'm someone who thinks Fans need to shut up about Bret Hart Screw job i mean 8 years ago get over it. I do agree with them Summerslam was a horrible PPV stupid storylines especailly on the Smackdown side. anyways The fans do have the right but i think they should realize they also have a duty to the other fans that they are supposed to not ruin a show let they did.
Eddy Dorozowsky wrote:
Thank you Chantelle for your column. I understand your argument, but I will have to disagree with your point of view on 2 levels regarding the reactions from the crowd.

First of all, no fan has the right to hop over the barriers, if they do, the wrestlers are permitted (and the crowd will accept it) to both break character and beat the tar out of said drunken and ignorant fan (demonstrated by Macho Man vs. Diesel, on I believe, an episode of WCW Nitro). That is of course if the referee was unable to take care of said over excited individual until security pulls him out the ring, and the camera men completely ignore him.

I was in the front row of Survivor Series 1997 in Montreal, but I did not partake in the now famous "you screwed Bret" chants, which usually happens everywhere in Canada, but is reserved for head referee Earl Hebner, since he had officiated that match. I enjoyed watching & listening to the rabid fans that simply ate it all up. Yes the chant is stale, but my point is that a paying fan has the right to freedom of speech. You pay your ticket entrance, that grants you the opportunity to either sit quietly and watch the action or scream at the top of your lungs expulsing all frustrations and letting yourself be heard. If they pull for HHH or if they pull for Eugene, it doesn't matter. Eugene is the face, and HHH is the heel, they must do their respective jobs in interacting with the fans. They must put their characters over, Eugene should have been prepared in advance (as all wrestlers should be) that when the fans turn on them, how to react. "Eugene sucks", then he should have began sucking his thumb and nodding his head to the fans while wrestling. Some instances wrestlers totally shut out the audience, which occasionally, is the best path usually in the case of a promo ("boring" chants are the worst, started by Stone Cold during a Lance Storm match). Take the example though of "La Résistance", who wrestled for the tag straps in Montreal and won. They had not much of a chose but to embrace the fans and cheat a lot less (even though the television audience is the big sell). Sometimes the fans will turn around and do a 180*, then the good guys don't always have to play by the rules, and tease the crowd with a possible character turn. Do you condone WCW's actions as to tearing signs off of the fans that were in TV view, if they did not read what was wanted by the direction" Pay me and I will sit and watch a show with whatever sign the direction wants me to hold up. Show me on camera, and I will yell what you want me to yell. We're not paying to kiss ass!

Point of view of an indy wrestler whose wrestled for small crowds to arena shows, in Montreal to Philadelphia, for 18 different promotions, I've seen my share of fickle fans to unbelievably enthused partisans. Many times you may even hear an extremely loud individual. You use what they say or you ignore it, but you must be clever and not overkill the crowd (example: the fans cheer for the "Polish hammer", a move you never do. You can do it, but do not fall in the trap of obeying everything the crowd tells you to do for a cheap pop. You are a wrestler, not a mime!) All a wrestler wants is a reaction. The worst possible audience is one that is completely silent - does not boo or cheer, just watches as if it were a tennis match (although this is acceptable in some countries as Japan, where it is customary in regards to respect for the craft). Whether it be positive or negative, all wrestlers want is interaction. Fans are there to be entertained, and wrestlers are there to entertain (although some are more enjoyable, appealing, vocal, facial, or exciting to watch than others). Everyone has their place.

Long story short, crowd pays money and does what they want as long as they don't breach security. As for the wrestlers, paid professionals must adapt to whatever the situation. Enjoy the show!
Steve Gibbons wrote:
I have to reply to this column as I am so sick of hearing people ripping on the Canadian fans, saying how we ruined Summerslam. All week long the 'net is buzzing with Americans moaning about us Canucks, but nobody seems to make any coherent arguments, and neither do you.

Vince books Canadians as heels. Canadian faces are billed as "now residing in wherever" and only Canadian heels are actually billed as Canadians. The tag champions on Raw sing the Canadian national anthem and get booed out of every arena in the states. Both the WWE and the WCW have booked heel "Team Canada" storylines in the past. What does Vince expect in Canada" We're going to cheer the heels, get over it. It's not as though there isn't precedent for this. Remember Wrestlemania 18, when the Rock was booed heavily as the face and Hogan was cheered as the heel" People didn't seem to complain as much then, because it ushered in a new era of Hulkamania (albeit short-lived).

Also let's not forget that wrestling in Canada has a different history than in America, steeped heavily in tradition. Canadians will cheer great wrestlers (ie Randy Orton, Kurt Angle), and boo crappy workers and crappy gimmicks that get force-fed to us (ie Heidenreich, Eugene). I know that Nick Dinsmore is a talented guy, he just hasn't shown it on WWE TV yet. My point is that Canadians are not sheep who will stupidly cheer the faces and boo the heels just because we are "supposed to". Maybe you Americans could learn a lesson from us.

As for Bret Hart, yeah, it was seven years ago, and it was in Montreal but Bret Hart is to Canadian wrestling what the Rock, Stone Cold and Ric Flair are to Americans all rolled up into one amazing superstar. Fans will NEVER forgive Vince or Earl Hebner for the screwjob, not in seven years or seventeen years. Again, get over it.

If Vince doesn't like Canadian fans, he can stop coming here. The problem is, gate receipts are WAY down in America, but still doing OK in Canada. The WWE has had more house shows in Ontario in the last few months than it has for ages. As long as the fans in Canada will pay, Vince will book the shows, and you Americans can learn to love us, because we aren't going anywhere, and we aren't going to change.

The only thing you said that I agree with is regarding the disrespectful behaviour shown to the Undertaker and JBL. It's one thing to cheer for JBL to destroy the dead man (I did), but to start a wave during the match is an insult to the performers we love (and love to hate) who were busting their asses to put on a show for us.
twiztid4life wrote:
I agree kinda of, though i wasnt at the toronto show. but i was at the london show the day after summerslam. and fans werent like that. there were hardly any you screwed bret chants, and once we saw earl hebner come out for a second time, nobody ever cared. i for one was screaming at the fans chanting that cause im canadian and i care less. i agree with you on the point were it was rude for those fans to do the wave because then americans think were all like that, but know. i love wrestling because of the entertainment, shock value, and the wrestling. in canada fans are 50/50 some fans like the heels, some fans like babyfaces. and people like me like the mid-carders because my favourite wrestlers on raw and smackdown are Rhyno, Tajiri, Booker T, Rene Dupree, LA Resistance, the super heros and many others. but believe me my section of the arena was not chanting that chant, nor will it matter in the near future, since he`ll probably be at WW21 for the hall of fame ceremony and reckonsile with Vince, and also with new fans everyday theyll forget about the incident in montreal. and even myself a fan since i really started watching in 1998 dont give a fuck if bret hart was screwed. so just commenting on that.
Sid Hasnain wrote:
Wow, could you BE more PC" Boo the heels cheer the faces ... incredible. And here I thought that we cheer who we like and cheer who we respect. Triple H's character is an unbelievable selfish bastard, but those fans who cheer him realize what a credit he is to the industry and the great job he does entertaining the masses week in and week out. The fans PAY MONEY to go to their shows, and deserve to cheer and jeer who they want. What do you expect, the whole house to be a cornucopia of robotic mindless Nazis" Canadian fans have a mind of their own, and I can only respect that. I'm a JBL fan myself (as rare as that is), and I didn't get offended when they didn't give him a reaction. They don't like him. Their choice, not mine.
Graham Wise wrote:
Before I start, I'm not from Canada and I wasn't at SummerSlam. I live in the UK and watched on TV until almost 4am.

First of all, let me agree with one of your major points. I agree that the "You Screwed Bret" chants should be a thing of the past. Quite simply put, "For God's sake, Canada, get over the damn thing already!" You don't hear crowds shouting "You screwed Chyna" at Triple H, do you" It truly is Canada's version of the "What"" chant that Stone Cold must wish he'd never started.

Now on to a couple of things I don't necessarily agree with. I'll address the "Disrespectful Fans" and "You go to watch the wrestling, cheer the faces and boo the heels" parts of your column. Do you not think that Vince McMahon was right on the several occasions (over the past 20 years) when he said "Our fans pay their money, and as a result they get to cheer or boo however they see fit"" Surely this means that if a section of the crowd want to boo the faces and cheer the heels, they have every right to do so" On top of that, surely if the majority of the crowd decide that it might be fun to "play a mass rib" on the show by joining in with the role reversal game, they have every right to do so" Sure, Edge and Taker took it quite badly. That's their right too. Personally, I found it highly entertaining to watch and listen. It reminded me of SummerSlam 92 at Wembley Stadium, London, when a large group of fans in the section around me tried to do the same thing. It's just fun, for which nobody can be described as "Disrespectful".

On a positive note, I did feel a bit sorry for Taker & JBL when the crowd did the wave during their match. That was a shame because I didn't think the match was as bad as some people have been trying to make out. They put on a decent brawl-type match, which did the job it was supposed to do. Also, I thoroughly agree with your sentiments towards the moron that jumped the barrier and on to JBL's limo. You do have to accept that there are some complete fools in this world, and the law of averages states that some of them will end up at a WWE show. Fortunately, the production team kept the idiot off the screen, so no personal glory will be achieved with his friends. Unfortunately, his dancing on the car made it slightly more obvious that the car was rigged for the chokeslam. OK, so we would all realise that the car was rigged after the fact, but it did make the whole scenario easy to predict before it happened.
Sean Lewis wrote:
Cheering - This is the problem with wrestling. You are asking fans to conform. Toronto did what it wanted to. It cheered for who they wanted to. You dont have to cheer for the good guy cause that is what Vince wants. Cheer for who you like. I cheer for Kurt Angle no matter what he is, face/tweener/heel, it doesnt matter, i'm gonna cheer who i like. I'm also gonna boo who i dont like, that is why i always boo Jeff Hardy no matter what he is.

The Audience - They were clearly not entertained during jbl vs. the undertaker, so they took matters into there own hands. The wave in my opinion was a highlight of the pay-pew-view. It shows that audiences dont have to accept what they are watching. And it also shows how out of tune WWE is with it major markets. Toronto is a wrestling city... @ wm18 the only time the crowd turned bizarro was hogan v rock. toronto clearly wasnt pleased with the entertainment the wwe was offering.

Toronto told the wwe on that night... they weren't entertained
Lil' Theater wrote:
I thought it was uneccessary for the crowd to boo when their calls for people to be put through the Spanish Announcer's Table were ignored. They would've probably got the into trouble for not following the plan, and possibly even be fired. As for Eugene being booed, who cares" His gimmick is terrible, and people are expressing themselves. Which leads me to my next point...

There was something in your article there that really offended me, and that is when you said...

"But this is just a complaint that when you go to the wrestling show you go to watch the wrestling, cheer the faces and boo the heels."

So, we're not allowed to cheer on our favourite wrestler because he or she is a heel" No one is allowed to cheer for Randy Orton, because he is a heel" Most of my favourite wrestlers have been heels. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Triple H, Kane, Lance Storm, Kurt Angle. If I was at an live event such as Summerslam, I'd cheer on my favourite wrestler as much as I can, face or not. I've never been a fan of many face wrestlers, so does that make me a nuisance"
Jon Prichard wrote:
I have to agree with you 100%. I thought Summerslam was a great event too. The Canadian "fans" took away from it. How disrespectful can you get" What shocks me even more is how Canadian fans don't get to see the WWE as often as American fans but they disrespect the product even more!! If you want to waste your hard earned dollar just to disrespect something that's up to you- but I think it's disgraceful. WWE should never go to Toronto again!!
UnkLBob42 wrote:
Boo who you like,as wrestling is not a fully scripted performance, like a stage play. You should have seen the looks on the kid's around us faces when we would urge Ernie Ladd to use the thumb-to-the-throat on one of the lesser babyfaces in Mid-South during the late '70s (e.g. Ray Candy, Ted DiBiase). We must of seemed like a couple of crazy suburban white guys to the mostly black kids around us in the crowd at the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium !!
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