I’M BACK! That may be one of the most overused wrestling phrases but it is true. I took a hiatus last week to write up a preview for the 14th Anniversary show for ROH where I was wrong on multiple matches but now I am back with my column. And this week I will be discussing a tradition that has been true since wrestling was started but now it seems to be going out of style. In my ROH reviews, I frequently get mad at wrestling fans for cheering for villains when they do bad things like Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, and many others. The good/bad guy dynamic is an old tradition and it is a template for almost every match on the face of the planet but wrestling fans of this new generation, which I am apart of, have been deviating from that and have stopped cheering for the heroes and instead cheer for the villains when they do evil things. I will explain why this needs to stop.
Right now, the wrestling industry is changing. With video on demand and the rise of many independent promotions around the world, wrestling to me is being revolutionized and reaching a much larger audience than ever. Not many people may be watching the mainstream wrestling promotions but many people are watching the indies. And with all this, the fan base is changing. The kids that grew up in the 90’s and the attitude and extreme era, are now adults and that shows. They have changed the wrestling dynamic with what they like and what they don’t. And with that, they have started loving the anti-hero’s and the villains and that needs to change.
I love wrestling and am a fan of the current industry and fan base but we have gone away from the basics. We started cheering the bad guys because we are sick of all the good guys. But, without the good guys then we wouldn’t have anybody to like. The heroes can sometimes be corny and a little too straight and narrow. But, if you don’t like that then find a hero that isn’t as clean cut but is still a fan favorite and cheered and loved by everybody. I can understand that fans want great wrestling and they can cheer for good matches and good spots. That’s not the problem. It’s not that we cheer for an awesome match. That should be happening and we should applaud both performers after the match. But, during the match, if the bad guy does something bad then boo him. We aren’t meant to cheer for him. He wants us to boo him. We may like him as a wrestler but his character is still a bad guy.
Bad guys do things to be booed. I feel like fans have forgotten this. If you truly like a character, if you like his wrestling, then boo him when he does something on purpose to upset fans. This may include a low blow or an eye poke or making fun of his opponent or the fans. But, for some reason fans cheer for the bad guys. This doesn’t include the anti-hero’s that are neither good or bad. This is a new dynamic where somebody does things for the fans but goes against both good/bad guys. This also includes the people that the fans believe are held down by the promotion. You should back him but if he is a villain then boo him. No matter what, if a bad guy, that is clearly a bad guy and does things to piss off the fans and to undermine his opponent and the referee, then boo him.
Fans that disagree with me will say that they just love the wrestling or a character. These both may be true but then you should boo for the character when he does something bad because that is what he is wanting you to do. Also, something that I feel like my generation of wrestling fans don’t understand, is that when the bad guy does something bad or cheats or taunts the crowd, he is making fun of you. He doesn’t do this for fun or to act cool. He is demeaning us and making fun of us. So when you cheer for him when he taunts the crowd or does something bad, your a loser that likes being made fun of and degraded. Also, fans that disagree with me will say that the wrestling product is changing and that the fan base has changed. These both are two. Like I stated before, the wrestling industry is changing majorly and the fan base is more hardcore and crazy than ever before. But, I believe you are doing wrestling, which has been around for much longer than you have, a great injustice by not following the template and going against the grain just to be cool and edgy. You can applaud the wrestling and a product but if a character is doing something bad, then boo him. If he is doing something good and for the fans, cheer him. It is as simple as that. You may think your cool cheering for the villain when he does something bad but you just look like a hipster that wants to go against time and tradition. So, to my generation of wrestling fans: STOP CHEERING THE BAD GUYS!