Are Internet Wrestling Fans Too Entitled?

There is a pocket of the pro wrestling fandom that exists in a large and depressing sinkhole. This sinkhole is full of jobbers and junkies, zeroes and neckbeards, and they wish to take you (a reasonable fan) down with them. In these digital slums exists an endless amount of undeserving entitlement and masked shame.

You see, there is a difference between an intelligent wrestling fan, a wrestling ‘smark’, and a run-of-the-mill desperate internet troll that gets paid zero dollars to let a promotion they don’t like live rent-free in their heads.

One Maxwell Jacob Friedman said it best: 

“The goalpost will always be moved. This app (Twitter) makes up a whopping 7% of our audience (dripping with sarcasm). None of the takes on this app matter. Only facts matter.“

And the truth is, he’s right.

But more on that later. My point is that on the internet, which is not reality, fans have often come off as entitled and spoiled in their interactions. Does the current landscape of professional wrestling deserve this? Is the overarching entitlement of some internet wrestling fans hurting their own enjoyment of the product, and the sport overall?

Furthermore, have entitled and jaded internet fans set the bar so unreasonably high that no current product can match up with the perceived magic of wrestling’s past successes?

Yes. This is exactly what I’m saying. However, there’s more to it than that. But first, some data before we plancha right into this piece.

The Internet Makes Up a SMALL Portion of the Wrestling Fan Base

Remember when Hogwarts Legacy was going to flop because of the boycott against J.K. Rowling? Yeah, so turns out that didn’t happen. Now on a personal level, I think Rowling and her anti-Trans views are trash. Just let people live their lives how they want — it’s truly not hard.

But notice how the boycotts for the game ultimately failed? The game sold, and is still selling, extremely well. That’s because the majority of folks who purchased the game probably didn’t bother to take the time to shitpost about social issues on the internet. This is not how most normal people live their day-to-day lives.

Speaking of shitposters, only roughly 10% of all Twitter users are responsible for 92% of all tweets.  The majority of these posts are made by Gen-Z (over 52%) and the sweet 35-49 demo that both major wrestling promotions try to hit only make up 20% of all general tweets. Furthermore, most Twitter users only actually post once per month on average.

I consider myself a pretty huge AEW fan, and I don’t post on Twitter or Facebook; so this lines up. MJF is likely right in stating that only 7% of the AEW audience is made up of very active Twitter users. I would assume a similar number exists for WWE as well.

The internet wrestling community is much smaller than we’d like to believe; and as Scott Steiner once said, “the numbers don’t lie”. So when you type furiously on your keyboard with a possible bad take incoming, know that you’re shouting into a small, somewhat insignificant void…

Having Knowledge is More Important Than Having an Opinion

There are some pretty awful takes that exist in the internet world. Many of these are either in bad faith, or in total ignorance. Opinions in the wrestling world come in three forms:

-Bad faith opinions often based on twisted narratives and incorrect information (mostly tribal).
-Regurgitated talking points fed to them by other influencers which results in a sort of Dunning-Kruger Effect (you don’t know that you don’t know).
-Well informed opinions with a background of wrestling knowledge. (A rarity these days…)

Let’s take an example of such entitled opinions: The Elite. 

On a personal level, you may not like them — and that’s okay. Personal preferences in literally anything that doesn’t harm others always acceptable. Are your top three favorite wrestlers of all time Ernest “The Cat” Miller, Repo Man, and Mo from Men on a Mission? Cool! I’m not going to blink an eye.

So in regards to fandom for The Elite, these people are often spat on by perceived entitled know-it-alls  — and we hear this from Cornette Cultists and AEW haters alike: That their in-ring style has no psychology, too many high spots, and no story. Which is a bad faith lie. 

There are so many different forms of wrestling psychology, wrestling styles, genres, movesets, booking philosophies, etc. — that for anyone to think that there is a “right way” for professional wrestling to be has an ill-formed opinion. It’s not based in any level of legitimate truth. It is either made in bad faith or complete ignorance.

Yet somewhere in the past decade or so, fans have become so entitled that they have started making these bad faith and ignorant opinions as if having a wider and informed level of wrestling knowledge means nothing. In other words, these folks aren’t really contributing anything important to the overall conversation — they’re just talking shit.

And if you go out of your way to be online just to talk shit while giving dishonest opinions, then I’m sorry to say, you’re kind of a loser. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There is No Wrong Way to Do Pro Wrestling

I remember when Will Ospreay and Ricochet’s match at 2016’s Best of the Super Juniors caused a ruckus in the fan base.

Too flippy, too much choreography, too this, too that — oh my god, shut up. 

At the end of the day, you are watching grown men and women pretend fight in colorful outfits. Never forget that.

Yes, it can be awe-inspiring, beautiful, brutal, violent, emotional, and suspenseful — all at the same time. But what it isn’t is literally real. It’s a story told through stage fighting in a universe created by a wrestling promoter – nothing more.

If you sit there and pick apart a match for not having enough psychology or storytelling, even down to measuring pace and excecutiion — and you’re not getting paid for it —  then holy shit you need a real hobby. Yes, I understand the importance of in-ring storytelling and selling, and pacing, and all of that wonderful jazz — but it’s simply a waste of energy to cry about a match that I personally thought had too many high spots to make myself feel relevant.

I’ve been watching wrestling in and beyond the mainstream universe for decades now. From the Four Pillars of Heaven to the greatness that is Manami Toyota — to ECW, Ring of Honor, Shimmer, CHIKARA, Dragon Gate, and beyond — I’ve probably watched way too much wrestling in my life, and beyond AEW, keeping up with New Japan and Stardom can be a lot.

But the mistake I won’t make is assuming that there is a “proper” universal way to do it. At the end of the day, if the fans are invested — then it’s working. It’s as simple as that. And right now, we have a lot of great wrestling happening around the world (and in the major two U.S. promotions).

Yet a slew of entitled wrestling fans would have you believe otherwise. They think that for some reason, they know better, and can even book shows better. As Matt Hardy recently put it:

They feel like they can book better than the booker who actually runs the show. It’s so crazy now.

Wrestling fans feel so entitled, especially the more die-hard, smart fans that are online. They feel entitled like, ‘No, my opinion counts. You’re wrong and I’m right.’ That’s very strange, but it is what it is. – Matt Hardy

We Are Extremely Spoiled.

There is a lot of damn wrestling out there.

From YouTube to streaming, there’s no excuse for any honest wrestling fan not to enjoy what today’s climate has to offer. Could anyone imagine having so much wrestling at their fingertips 20 years ago? Furthermore, the amount of wrestling styles you get to pick from is incredible in this day and age.

From the Crockett-esque NWA to the hardcore anything-goes spirit of GCW, to the super talented women of Joshi in Stardom and Tokyo Joshi Pro — you have it all. Any style, any type; from Indies to Puro — and it’s all available via online subscription services.

Stardom and New Japan have their own, and Fite TV, IWTV and Premier Wrestling all have their own streaming services for countless Indies wrestling promotions. Ring of Honor has their own service with Honor Club,  and through YouTube alone you can catch NWA and Impact Wrestling.

Oh, and (of course) then there’s AEW and WWE broadcasted on national television — Totaling roughly 12 hours of mainstream wrestling content per week. It’s weird to me that people actually complain about pro wrestling these days. We’re incredibly spoiled; and if you don’t like something, hey, don’t watch! Put your energy into outdoor activities and go touch some grass. Life is pretty great when you don’t spend so much of it on the internet.

Is having too much access to too much wrestling turning fans into entitled brats? Is there a level of FOMO that hits some because they can’t consume it all, so lashing out at perceived “competitors” make them feel better? Whatever the case, I think we should all take a step back and realize how lucky we actually are as fans. We have so many options, and they appeal to different audiences. It’s truly a sight that seems to go unappreciated.

Wrestlers are Human Beings, Remember?

“Welcome to the small section of the IWC. The ones where body shaming women they’ll never have a chance with in a million fucking life times. They smell like earring backs and Fritos. And have body sores from sitting on their asses all day.  you’ll get used to them” – Saraya (May 10)

Saraya knows this to be true about this small sinkhole of the internet. The idea of a talent using a social media platform is to engage with fans and promote the product. This should be a harmless net positive. Yet so many feel too entitled to do anything but.

An unnecessary consequence to fan interaction online is the ease of access that comes with it. There is so much hate and insults thrown at talents of both major promotions, as if they’re “meant” to take it as celebrities. What weird logic…

Main event millionaire talents or not — they’re still human beings. Real people with real feelings. To make this worse, I’ve seen some victim-blame talents after simply lashing out against internet bullies — as if they started it?

Professional wrestlers owe you nothing. Most, however, are extremely grateful, giving, and appreciative of their fans. But I don’t fault any of them for calling out would-be trolls when pushed enough. Can you imagine if people just respected the workers in all wrestling promotions without question?

Most of us can — but for those entitled fans, something just seems off. Perhaps they’re stuck in the past and lashing out as they live with their nostalgic torment?

Some Entitled Fans Are Stuck in the Past

“…but we are not old-ass f*cking bitter dudes with podcasts talking about how the business used to be.” – Jon Moxley in recent comments made about hate for The Elite

When Moxley recently commented on the BCC’s feud with The Elite to Sports Illustrated, he made this comment in reference to The Elite’s many haters (most likely Jim Cornette). And this element rings true for any wrestling fans that are intelligent enough to keep up with the times.

There are too many wrestling fans that continue to live in the past; and compare today’s product to what it once was. Even though literally everything about the social landscape has changed since the late 90s (how we consume popular media and information flow), there are complete weirdos out there that hold what they see now up to that unreasonable and nostalgic standard.

If the majority of internet fans hold what the product used to be on a pedestal, it becomes easier to look down on and judge today’s wrestling; regardless of quality. This leads to fan entitlement and a “back in my day” grandpa mindset — even if by many metrics, today’s in-ring product is much better than it was 20-30 years ago.

As I have mentioned before, nostalgia is hurting pro wrestling. These industry experts that make bad faith criticisms about the current product only re-enforces a false narrative that wrestling was best decades ago – and that it’ll never get better. And that type of thinking is called stagnation. It doesn’t advance the craft or improve the product. It’s the analytical equivalent of a jaded social media troll that just hates everything (including themselves).

Nostalgia is psychological. Intelligent fans understand when to set that nostalgia aside because the future won’t look like what they once enjoyed as a kid — and that’s perfectly okay. Whether or not it looks better or worse; a fan can still greatly enjoy it without letting critique ruin a fun time.

An intelligent fan knows that human beings consume media differently in 2023. Which brings the next item…

TV Ratings Have Turned Smarks Into Entitled Pricks

Taking TV ratings too seriously is like taking the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship seriously. Yes, that is a ladder as champion, as it was the first inanimate object to hold the title. 

Seriously, the lineage of this title is extremely hilarious — anything or anyone (from a Hello Kitty doll to Britt Baker) has held this belt. It boasts over 1,500 reigns. Anyway…

For a wresting fan who doesn’t have a job with USA, WBD, or the TV industry, to talk about TV ratings as if they were an expert, is downright idiocy. 

However, what I do know from basic common sense is as follows:

This is the streaming era. Using DVR to watch a show later is extremely common, and using a streaming service to view a product on cable is even more common. In fact, according to Nielsen, more people are now watching streaming services than cable television.

Raw alone has lost well over half of its viewing audience since 2002. However, WWE are still turning out huge profits and selling out large arenas. Clearly, they aren’t worried that much about TV ratings.

In general, folks just aren’t watching wrestling in great numbers anymore. The Monday Night Wars was a fad – nothing more. High TV ratings and attendance in 70s/80s era wrestling territories was also nothing more than a fad at the time. Teenagers and adults grew up and out of pro wrestling and moved on to MMA.

Endeavor, who owns UFC, just acquired WWE (under TKO Group Holdings.). That should tell you something.

My guess is that since less people in general are watching cable television — ad rates/revenue and 18-49 demos are likely more important to networks these days than total viewing numbers. In comparison, both WWE and AEW are doing well in this post-cable media market. And on the rumored tail of a new 5-year $1 Billion dollar TV deal from Warner Bros./Discovery for AEW, that weird arbitrary “million” ratings threshold fans laud over doesn’t seem so important anymore, does it?

Intelligent fans get this. Entitled fans may not.


Going Home

Happy trails, Himeka…

What else needs to be said?

It’s not just professional wrestling. Social media has made it easier for fans to have access to their favorite celebrities, and with that, some very dangerous entitlement has become the norm. Nothing ever seems to be good enough, and hurling unnecessary critiques at artists, creators, and “rival fandoms” are commonplace. Bullying is now expected, and from A-listers to pro wrestlers and their fans — they’re all just supposed to ignore these hateful comments, right?

On a lesser level, this is the equivalent of asking women not to dress provocatively so they don’t risk getting raped. We could just ask men not to sexually assault other women, right? This is the expected social behavior.

So can’t we in the same simply ask wresting fans to be better human beings?

Too many have become entitled and jaded pricks. It’s not unreasonable to simply ask for a large dose of positivity from not just the fan base, but the heavier online influencers of today. Yes, this means asking for positivity from the likes of Eric Bischoff and Jim Cornette — who commonly fall into the “back in my day” Grandpa rants because they don’t want to understand or accept that today’s product looks different from what they know.

Ask yourself; are you an entitled fan that asks too much, shitposts, and makes the internet wrestling community worse off? You really don’t have to be that way — it accomplishes little to nothing.

With that, I have been Top 5 Wrestling. Enjoy Dynamite, enjoy Smackdown, enjoy Stardom, New Japan, Ring of Honor, Impact and beyond. Life is simply too short to reduce yourself to be so small and negative. Enjoy Pro Wrestling.