Amalgam Rhapsody: Thicker Skin Submitted by LoneLee on 06/10/2019 at 11:48 AM
Fan incidents were a hot topic as of past few days. The week even seemed to be bookended with these occurrences. It started off with Bully Ray taking it upon himself to have a fan escorted backstage by security and give him a man to man talk on how to properly conduct himself. Many have jumped the debate bandwagon stating the fan went too far with his heckling and/or Bully put himself, the fan, and ROH in a dangerous situation. All of these are true. It didn’t help matters that the fan was directing his comments at Bully’s girlfriend. A lot of details and elements from the story are still unclear depending on the sources but one thing that came from it should be made perfectly clear: There is absolutely no need for a fan to feel like they are in physical danger when he or she attends a show.
Another incident made its way across the internet that seen Taya Valkyrie come face to face with an intoxicated fan at an IMPACT wrestling taping. We saw them literally nose to nose trading F-bombs. Taya eventually slapped the beer out of the man’s hand, causing the man to spit vehemently in her direction. This was disgusting.
Ok, first thing that immediately came to my mind was, “Holy crap, the women in this business are tough as nails these days.” Which had already been common knowledge. Taya was in the belligerent mans face going toe to toe in a verbal joust of sorts while Event Staff stood to the side almost cautiously observing the situation. Was the staff sort of enamored by the moment too? The other thing that came after that was “Ok, the fan was physically provoked, sure, but does that warrant such a lewd act to follow? To my knowledge, the man was ejected from the building rather than forced to have a meeting backstage with Johnny Impact.
Does it mean Bully is in the wrong even though he did nothing physical but Taya's reactions were justified?
In Bully’s incident, he took it upon himself to sit down with the fan and tell him to refrain from “Saying anything you wouldn’t say to your mother.” It made me laugh at first because I know a few people that do talk to their mothers in such a matter and sometimes far worse. But it really made me consider the moment ironic coming from a man named “Bully.” A wrestler and entertainer that comes from a time when heat was very real and scary thing provoked from the die-hard crowds. Even dating back to the olden days, a fellow like Freddie Blassie would proudly show off his scars wrought on him from the most violent, aggravated fans. Are wrestlers these days just afraid of getting serious heat? Yes and no. Like it or not, times have changed. As women grow to more and more prominent spots on the card it’s important for us as fans to treat them with that same respect. The problem with crowds these days is the same problem in social media, we try to take over the show. Yes, as fans it is our right, our duty even, to jeer who we hate and cheer those we love. But at the end of the day, it’s all a show. Just a show. A show that the performers are just as passionate about as most of us fans are. Once we make it personal, we allow them that liberty to do the same and but it can only escalate from there and sometimes, in cases like these, get way out of hand. Maybe Bully should've sought out the rude fan on his own time for a little mature chat or Velvet could defend herself. Perhaps Taya was a little too in character and let her heel persona get the best of her. The fans actions had already been more than enough cause for ejection.
I hope that in time both the performers and us fans and grow to have tougher skin without losing our sense of what is real. Having tougher skin brings me to my next thought. The already head turning, headlining, Sonny Kiss.
This is a truly difficult topic to discuss and in my opinion it really shouldn’t have to be. But it’s a classic case of people making things more difficult than needed. I won’t be talking about my opinions on the social media banter between Sonny, Jim Cornette, Joey Ryan, and whoever else decided to chime in. Seriously, if you want to know about that, go listen to all of the content between each party involved, which I doubt a lot of people even did.
Rather it was something said in the context during the Cornette podcast. It feels as if, not just in wrestling, but when someone criticizes an issue pertaining to the LGBTQ community, that person immediately feels the need to defend themselves by saying “I have nothing against gays. I have gay friends, I have transgender friends.” For example, if I were to say I am not a fan of Sonny Kiss (still undecided) I’d likely be interrogated instantly with “Is it because of who he is?” ...Umm no, I was a long time fan of Chris Kanyon, Pat Patterson, even flamboyant wrestlers who portrayed a similar gimmick, gay people in other professions and pop culture such as Boy George, Rock Hudson, Waylon Smithers, Will & Grace, etc, etc. When will we get passed this feeling of necessary defensiveness and paranoia? Well firstly, we’d need to eliminate the word "pride."
Look, I had to laugh at the fact “Straight Pride Parade” was trending the other day. That is far from the answer to anything. More divisiveness is never going to solve anything. Pride itself is what wreaks havoc and stirs up the most confrontational aspects of people. Politics, religion, sports teams, you name it. I don’t want to get too philosophical on a wrestling page but I think we’ve reached a time in society when the minority of almost any group is socially accepted more than it ever has been in modern times. Do we need an entire month or certain nights at sports games dedicated to it? The need to have pride in something should have been diminished to the point where being gay is not even considered to be condemned, not to be celebrated, but simply be no big deal. “You’re gay? Oh ok cool. What else? You like wrestling? Nice, me too.” Just a topic that pops up in casual chit-chat.
In that same respect like Jim, I need to be educated in terms that still come off as offensive.
Little People for example, I grew up referring to them as something else and finally learned a couple years ago that it isn’t acceptable anymore. Sonny Kiss had been offended by the context in which Jim used the words "transvestite" and "drag queen." I had no idea these were offense either. Maybe it was in the context? Maybe it was Jim's not-so charming way of stating his opinions in said context?
If Sonny Kiss plans on wrestling for a nationally televised product, he needs to be prepared for these ignorances and lack of understandings from an otherwise unfamiliar fan base. Try not to take them all personal. The best and the worst criticisms will come, as they do for any and all individuals in the profession of wrestling. I truly hope he develops a thicker skin along the way. Kind of similar to the talents that can’t handle certain types of heat (see section above). He may even be a proponent that educates this generation to a different kind of lifestyle. 20 years from now we could be saying, "Remember how difficult it was for Sonny Kiss when he satrted? And look how many wrestlers he paved the way for today." I’m intrigued to see what the future holds in his career and how he handles it.
Final Thought. (Yes, I’m borrowing from Jerry Springer.) In a perfect world I’d also be two-feet taller, a million dollars richer, and married to Asuka. But I would also tell all wrestlers and wrestling fans to try and not get butthurt about everything. Accept your fellow woman and man for the fact that they are hardworking, upstanding, dedicated individuals. We are all in this for the show, some behind the curtain and some in front. As time goes on, we'll learn from each other along the way and continue to support one another in the artform achieved.