Pruett's Blog: A helpful guide to wrestling show etiquette - What to know before you go!
By Will Pruett
I have attended quite a few wrestling shows in my lifetime in quite a few different venues. I have been in crowds of 50 people and crowds of 75,000 people. I have gone to shows with my wife, a selection of theatre lovers, and just a group of guys looking for a fun man night. I love live wrestling events. There is nothing like sitting in a crowd and watching the athletic feats professional wrestlers can perform. With this guide, I would like to help make wrestling events better for everyone. With a few helpful tips, wrestling events can be a much more pleasant experience.
Maintaining the bubble: When you buy a ticket to sit in an arena or an armory and watch wrestling, you are buying a seat and the air immediately surrounding this seat. You are free to yell, scream, and raise your hands. There is nothing wrong with an exuberant display of love for wrestling.
There is, however, something wrong when your exuberant display of love for wrestling hampers someone else's enjoyment of the event. When you raise your arms, they should not be in someone else's face. If they are, prepare for said person to bite you. When you jump up, make sure you are not threatening to spill someone's overpriced orange soda or $14 beer. When you are at a wrestling event, it is your responsibility to stay in your bubble. The chair itself is your bubble. You can even have a little leeway if you and your neighbor are on different plains.
There are plenty of ways to cheer and holler and have some fun without ruining an event for others.
Chant kindly: Wrestling chants are not classically socially acceptable. When I was a kid, I went to Raw and chanted "asshole" at Vince McMahon, even though I would have never beeen allowed to scream this word at home. This is fine. Wrestling is a place to break free of some societal restrictions and have some fun. Heels allow us to do so by taunting them.
This rule can be applied in a few different ways. At indie shows, many more uncouth chants are casually acceptable because of a more adult product and a more adult crowd. At a WWE or TNA show, it may behoove you to show a little more discretion, as there are more impressionable minds in the audience.
Recently, I heard a chant at a live event that astounded me. A man, presumably in his mid-30's, was with a group of about five kids. They were sitting together and having a great time. Damien Sandow entered and instead of going with the rest of the crowd and chanting "Sandow Sucks" or "Let's go Cody" to show their dislike of Sandow, they chose to chant "gaylord" in his direction.
This puzzled me. First of all, I haven't heard to term "gaylord" since the last time I was called it in fifth grade. Is this really still an insult people use? Doesn't this man realize he is not only derogatorily maligning an entire group of people, but also teaching his children to do so? I'm not going to question his parenting techniques, but I will stand up for what is right. I asked him why he was chanting such an archaic and disrespectful phrase and he replied by saying "Isn't that what everyone chants at him?"
Now, I watch a lot of wrestling and I have never heard a "gaylord" chant at Sandow. On top of this, I don't see how "everyone doing it" is a reason to do anything. "Hey kids, when everyone is drinking and doing drugs, you should too!" This is the message this man was sending. Don't be this guy. Think about what you chant.
Chant logically: I am aware of my own inability to force logic on wrestling promotions. It was a sad day when I became aware of it, but I still do what I do here. While I cannot force logic on wrestling promotions, I can try to force it on wrestling fans. For this reason, I ask you not only to chant kindly, but to chant logically.
We all know how cool a “This is awesome” chant can make a great match look. There is nothing wrong with this chant, especially on an indie level, but there is also no need for it during every match. Most wrestlers can do some sort of flip or dive to the outside. This is not cause for a “This is awesome” chant. Most wrestlers can chain wrestle and end up in a stand off. This is not cause for a “This is awesome” chant. There are plenty of chances in life to chant “This is awesome” and mean it. Don’t belittle this by lowering your standards. No one wants to chant “This is kind of good” with you.
Now, there is another odd chant wrestling fans seem to love. This is the “You’ve still got it” chant. We saw it most egregiously in TNA this past year when Jeff Hardy returned after a month off and fans greeted him with it. He always had it. He never lost it. The “You’ve still got it” chant felt like an insult. Even for older wrestlers, it comes off as insulting instead of respectful. If you want to praise a wrestler, chant their name, don’t draw attention to their age.
Finally, there is the most annoying chant; the former gimmick chant. I know most fans want to prove they are smarter than the fans sitting around them (personally, I like to prove myself classier than those around me). Why is this a need? I have no idea. Does it make you feel special knowing Bray Wyatt was Huskey Harris? What does chanting about it prove? If you need to prove you're the smartest person at a wrestling show, you probably have other life issues to attend to.
Stay sober enough to stand: Look, I get it, we all like to have a few drinks at wrestling events. It's an opportunity to get a little buzz on, get a little rowdy, and enjoy yourself. I'm not telling anyone not to do this. I would like people to think before they drink and stay sober enough, not to drive, but at least to stand.
We've all had a few too many at some point in our lifetimes, but a wrestling event is not a place to test limits. Recently, at an indie show, I witnessed a fan with a front row seat get far too intoxicated. In the middle of a hardcore match, he was standing and leaning against the ring, pounding the mat out of rhythm with crowd chants, and shouting slurred catchphrases towards the wrestlers in the ring.
It didn't stop there. When a wrestler was on the mat near him, he was within inches of slapping the man's face while also chanting. When other fans tried to pull him back, he stumbled towards the ring again. He was unstoppable when trying to accomplish his goal of stealing attention from the match. He was also hilarious for all of the wrong reasons.
At an indie show, being this drunk is not only stupid, but also dangerous. When at a show with no barricades where the action could go anywhere and usually does, quick reflexes are imperative. He could have easily been squashed by wrestlers flying from the ring. His own safety was in question. He was also interfering with the show itself. There is a difference between a healthy buzz and unaware, stupid, drunkenness. The difference is usually two to three pitchers. Please discover the difference before it's too late.
Mad props: Sometimes you just want to feel like a part of the action. You look at your favorite wrestler and notice what they bring to the ring. Maybe it's a title belt. Maybe it's a baseball bat. Maybe it's a shopping cart filled with a stop sign, a trash can, a kendo stick, spray paint, a staple gun, and duct tape. Whatever it is, sudden inspiration overtakes you and you realize you need to bring your own prop! It's obvious, isn't it? If you bring a prop, you achieve immortality. You go from being random fan to "*name of prop** guy!
What could ever stop you from being ______ guy? Isn't this your dream? Look at those famous front row fans from the ECW arena! They just seemed so cool! I would never imagine their lives to have turned out in an unfulfilling manner. They are proud of their hats and objects and things they were able to carry.
There is nothing inherently wrong with being a ______ guy. Yes, I will probably mentally judge you, but if it makes you happy, that's chill. Be happy. When there is something wrong with it is in a "standing room only" type of scenario. If a show is packed, leave the prop at home. It's not as cool as you think it is. It's not as wonderful. It doesn't make you special. It annoys those around you. When you're bumping into me with your giant Thor Hammer and it takes up an entire seat worth of space (which you didn't pay for), it's obnoxious.
There is a special exception to be made for one prop, and this is the championship belt. They sell them at most WWE events and it makes some fans feel special to walk around with one. If you do bring one with you, please realize I’m not only judging your choice to bring a prop, but also what you decided to do with an extra $300. If you’re going to bring a belt, please make sure it is at least a cool one. No one likes the guy walking around with a replica European Championship.
If you are 11 years old or younger, please feel free to not only bring a prop, but to dress up as your favorite wrestler as well. It’s adorable. When you get older than 11 and are dressing up as a wrestler, it is probably a little creepy. Don’t be a little creepy.
When in doubt, leave the prop at home. You should feel special for attending a wrestling event and make some friends there. You don't need a prop to do so.
Keep it clean with personal hygiene: This is not just a wrestling event rule or a even an arena or large gathering rule. This is a life rule. I shouldn't have to put it here, but I have smelled some offensive smells in very public places emanating from the bodies of those around me.
When going to an arena, you know you're going to sit in close quarters with those around you. Arenas are not made for people to sit comfortably in. They are made to pack as many people in with little consideration for comfort. Getting a cup holder is a luxury. Be thankful for it.
With all of this in mind, maybe you should shower before you come out to the show. It would take about five minutes (ten if you're picky) and assure a comfortable experience for those around you. If you can't shower, maybe just make sure you've applied deodorant or have rocked a quick clean up in the bathroom. There are so many ways to clean yourself. You can even buy wipes meant to be used between work and a night out to assure offensive smells have left you. Why do people still smell bad?
At a wrestling show, it is bad enough I have to smell over-cooked hot dogs, ancient nacho cheese, and stale beer. Please don't make me recoil at your scent too.
Look! These chairs move: Indie shows are not renowned for luxury or glamour. They are not a place you go to be comfortable. Most of the time there is no barricade, the bar is stocked, the ring is rented, and the chairs can move. It's this last point that can become a problem.
When the chairs can scoot back, people will scoot them. A few times in my life, I have arrived to my seat at an indie show to discover the person in front of me has ample leg room (you could have a TV tray with a full dinner on it up there!) and the back of their chair touching the front of mine. This is not okay. It's natural to want a little more room. Some of these places are small and you're packed in like a sardine. Scooting is a strong temptation, but please, do not scoot.
When you scoot, you take room away from someone else. In extreme cases, I have been forced to sit with my feet not even able to touch the floor. Why? Because the person in front of me, despite my requests, would not scoot forward. They gave me an inch back when they had taken a foot before. It happens naturally, but if everyone were a little more considerate, it wouldn't be a problem.
If someone asks you to scoot forward, please do so. Look behind you and evaluate the situation. It takes a few seconds, but it could make the life of those around you much more pleasant.
The golden rule: I’m not trying to be preachy here. I know I sound all high and mighty discussing rules for watching wrestling. It's wrestling. There shouldn't be a bunch of rules or regulations about enjoying it. Just have fun, right! Well, yes, ideally, this would happen. Some people just can't have fun without ruining someone else's fun though. Thus, I give you the biggest rule of all; Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Want leg room? Assure others have it. Want offensive chants to end? Don't encourage them. Want people to be a little more sober? Don't get crazy drunk. Be kind, people, and enjoy some wrestling. We're all there to have fun, right?
Do you have any questions about wrestling event etiquette? I would be happy to answer them and help you out! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime
This blog was helpfully edited by Dot Net Staffer Zack Zimmerman, who wishes he would have written it first.
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