“I feel like that fan base, that divide that exists amongst all the different bubbles I like to call them, if there was any negativity — well I can put some of the blame on my shoulders.” – Cody Rhodes
In all seriousness, tribalism continues to get worse among the fan bases. However, the out of the two major promotions, it will be the overall sport of professional wrestling that will ultimately suffer. Like many fandoms, this is a fan base ripe with awful individuals that do nothing but stoke division.
If you happen to be one of these individuals, kindly desist.
But if you’re not sure if you fall into this category, I have a handy list ready to go (because who doesn’t love lists?)
#1 – You Shitpost
Let’s take a look at this for a second. You have been gifted a life on this earth, and with the time you have, you choose to make disparaging online comments towards a wrestling promotion you probably don’t even like or watch.
Even for a second, that is a complete waste of breath. Quite simply, pro wrestling is better off without you. There is no reason why any person should continue to troll something fans and wrestlers have put a lot of time and passion into. It’s just mean.
If you don’t have anything but negativity to bring to the conversation, then trust me, nobody worth a damn really wants to hear what you have to say.
This also goes for laugh emojis.
Yes, even “laughing at” a social media post regarding a perceived negative news item about a company you don’t like is a bit pitiful. I see this a lot on Facebook, and no, it’s never done to “laugh with” a post. These fans are generally horrible, but it brings me to the next item:
#2 – You’ve Created a Troll Social Media Account
Is this you? Please get some help.
Looking back at item #1, you have a limited amount of time in this universe, and you choose to spend it trolling another wrestling company. You’ve gone so far to do so, that hours upon hours have gone into this wasteful sock puppet social media account to troll other human beings; and what does it accomplish?
Nothing. It accomplishes nothing.
There are a lot of these troll accounts on both ends of the spectrum (WWE/AEW). These folks seemingly need to create troll accounts in a desperate attempt to validate their own biased opinions.
It’s not a good look for the wrestling fan base, and comes off as extremely immature.
#3 – You Make Sexist/Transphobic/Homophobic Comments
Nyla Rose is an amazing human being, and a damn fine wrestler.
That’s it. You could just leave it at that. However, some choose to continue their transphobic harassment of her in social media comments. Now Nyla is living her life to the fullest, and is more successful and recognized than any of these transphobic trolls will ever be.
To her, these comments are “water off a duck’s back”.
But that doesn’t take away from the notion that these fans are still just bad for business. It’s the same for a lot of sexism that still exists within the fan bases. I’ve witnessed too many fans reduce women’s wrestling abilities to whether or not they are “attractive”.
If you can’t see women as anything other than objects, the fandom doesn’t need you. While yes, these are all attractive and fit individuals (make and female), they should be judged on the ability of their craft, and not their looks.
These types of fans either need to see their way out of wrestling fandom, or consider evolving their world views beyond the early 20th century.
#4 – You Only Watch/Follow One Promotion
Investing in professional wrestling takes time; I get it. However, I will use this rhetorical example:
If you only listened to black metal, would you consider yourself an overall metal fan? I would argue otherwise. You wouldn’t be a metal fan, as you only listen to one genre. In this example, you’ve ignored death metal, speed metal, grindcore, deathcore, post-metal, symphonic metal, and dare I say nu-metal.
The same applies here.
If you’ve ever only watched WWE, and won’t even give other wrestling promotions a chance, then I’m sorry, you’re not a good wrestling fan. Nobody is forcing you to dedicate an extra few hours per week to other promotions, but there is a plethora of great wrestling out there.
For those who always comment “WHO?” on social media in regards to a wrestler they may not know, this applies to them. Your own ignorance of other wrestlers is your problem, and your problem, alone.
New Japan, Major League Wrestling, NWA, Game Changer, PWG, Mission Pro Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, Stardom — tons of great wrestling exists in the ether. It’s not unreasonable to take an hour or so a week to simply familiarize yourself with other wrestling that’s out there. Every promotion I listed has content on YouTube, and in 2022, there’s no excuse for just watching one wrestling promotion anymore.
#5 – You Hate on Wrestling Journalists
Without wrestling journalism, you wouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that.
News comes in multiple forms:
The wrestling industry is really no different from independent or mainstream news in this sense. Yet, while many wresting news sources tend to be correct, journalists still get massively shit on. It’s as if nobody believes that insiders exist within the industry.
A person leaked a highly protected Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade just this week. If it can happen at levels of the Supreme Court, you don’t think professional wrestlers will speak to sources and leak information here and there?
As with any news item, triple-check the credibility of the source, and always use critical thinking. But overall, most wrestling journalists get it right. It’s time to start treating them with a little more respect.
#6 – You Think You Know Better
I often see the “AEW isn’t growing” argument thrown around, and it really baffles me. Especially since TBS has green-lit a third AEW show; albeit reality-TV based. But it’s as if fans see Tony Khan as “just” a rich wrestling fan, and think they know better than him for some reason.
Remember, Vince McMahon was “just” a fan decades ago when he essentially bought his father’s company from him with what amounts to a loan.
In general, many fans seem to think they could have done better when it comes to writing angles, pushing certain wrestlers, or booking matches. But in reality, you aren’t there.
You aren’t in meetings with USA or WarnerMedia executives in regards to TV ratings and contracts. Much in the same, you aren’t in booking or creative meetings with Khan or McMahon. You actually have little idea of what’s going on behind-the-scenes.
Stop acting like you know what’s best for either WWE or AEW. You don’t, otherwise you would be there.
Constructive criticism and feedback is one thing, but harboring an elitist attitude is another.
#7 – You Don’t Keep Realistic Expectations
I’m going to make this easy.
WWE: Entertainment-focused | Short-term storytelling | Weekly Roster | Publicly traded | No talent exchanges/closed door | Demographics: Kids to Adults
AEW: Wrestling-focused | Long-term storytelling | Rotating Roster | Privately owned | Talent exchanges with other companies/”forbidden door” | Demographic: Teens to Adults
These two lines should tell you a lot about the promotion you’re watching. In reality, WWE and AEW are two very different companies, yet some fans still hold expectations that neither will live up to.
You’re not going to get lengthy 20-minute in-ring segments on Dynamite as you would Raw or Smackdown. In the same light, you’re not likely to have mat classics like Dax vs. Cash on Raw as you would AEW. Or even another promotion’s women’s title defended in the main event of a show like this week with Purazzo vs. Martinez.
Could we maybe just leave each other alone? Let people just like what they like and not be a dick? (Shout out to Wrestling With Wregret)
Again, constructive critiques are fair, but they should come in the context of understanding what you’re getting when you watch a certain product. This, unfortunately, doesn’t often happen.
#8 – You Hate What You Don’t Understand
This isn’t a jab at WWE fans, but I will point out that too many times I have seen hate or trolling thrown towards anything that looks different than McMahon’s product.
Remember, professional wrestling has existed for over 100 years, and the version of WWE you’re seeing has only been around for about a fifth of it. Meanwhile, hundreds, if not thousands of wresting promotions on all levels do and have existed around the world.
It’s what fans tend to get tripped up on when giving bad take on another brand. They’ve been conditioned to believe that wresting needs to look and feel a certain way; that a formula has to be followed. This especially goes for younger fans who have only grown up on WWE and really nothing else.
Professional wrestling is presented differently around the world; especially something like Joshi, which many American fans do not understand. Yuka vs. Riho on Rampage is going to be a banger, but I can see the Jim Cornette-influenced hate coming now.
John Lennon once said “Don’t hate what you don’t understand.”
The same applies here. It’s okay not to like something, but is an inflammatory and immature comment really necessary, especially when it’s based in something you don’t even understand?
No. It’s not.
#9 – You Think TV Ratings Matter More Than They Do
For some reason fans hold these arbitrary numbers as measures of success when it comes to ratings.
If you’re one of these fans that tries to knock down AEW for not hitting as million consistently, I have news for you: WWE Raw has lost half of it’s viewing audience in 10 years (approximately 1.4 million viewers).
I say this because in this day and age, where cord cutting is becoming the norm, hovering in and around a million viewers is considered successful.
Reports indicate that Fox, USA, and WarnerMedia are happy with the ratings their respective wrestling products are bringing in. Can we just leave it at that?
Again, many people have long since jumped to streaming services. You’re more like to find someone with a Netflix or HBO Max subscription than you would cable television.
This narrative needs to stop. Both AEW and WWE rank high on their respective nights of programming, Both tend to sit in the top 5 on their nights. This only means good things if you’re a sales executive that sees money in ad revenue based on viewership.
This narrative needs to die.
#10 – You Don’t Support Women’s Wrestling
I’m just going to say it:
Equality in professional wrestling is pivotal to its modern day success.
If you’re one of these antiquated fans that yearns for the Attitude Era and just wants to see scantily clad women parading around in a wresting ring — leave; please leave. The Attitude Era was extremely overrated, and in retrospect, not that great for the stigma of professional wrestling.
Supporting women’s wrestling makes for a better-rounded product, and brings the sport further into the modern era. As a legitimate wrestling fan, you should care about all divisions, and want all divisions to succeed.
If women’s wrestling falls behind, it’s not the fault of fans like myself who loudly support it; but it’s because of those who aren’t.
In truth, it’s not that hard to be a good wresting fan. Just support the product you like, don’t be afraid to give new promotions a chance, and know that just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s bad.
I’ve long stopped watching WWE because it’s just not for me. Yes, I can still check in, and if I have a constructive criticism I’ll voice such critiques. However, it’s still within the context that I am not a fan of that brand.
I wish others would follow suit.
Most importantly, fans need to stop trolling others on social media.
It just contributes to overall toxicity and stink that the wrestling fan base has. It doesn’t have to be like this — we could be a very welcoming and jovial fan base. But ditching the stigma that pro wrestling has long had requires some effort, and a large amount of bad wresting fans to halt their toxic behavior.