Fans, our greatest asset yet biggest challenge!
By Mason Childs
Hello fans, friends and fellow workers!
I was recently asked by Marek Indyka to write about “how can fans contribute to a show” and I had many, many thoughts on this topic.
I guess the first thing we need to realise is this: The wrestling fans are who WE perform for. The paying audience is who we work for. Without them, we are nothing. So to go out and do matches, spots and stories for yourself that don’t add to the overall show, then you aren’t an asset, you’re a liability.
At a local level, for most shows and companies, our main source of income is ticket sales at live events. Unfortunately, long gone are the days of tape trading and even DVD trading. In saying that, live streaming and downloading has taken its place, but that can be very costly for such small return. So in that sense, getting people through the door is what the game is about.
How are some of the ways we can engage the crowd? Great question!
Firstly, make sure there is a defined heel and face in the match. This can be difficult at times, especially in a face vs face match, but there are many ways to work a match with this dynamic. If one wrestler is more experienced, he should take the main role. If one wrestler has very visible size advantage, that should play into your story.
For many reading this, this should be basic psychology. So my point behind that whole paragraph and a bit, is we as performers need to draw the fans in to what we are doing. That’s on us.
But what if they aren’t responding to us? What if they decide to start obscene chants? What if they start shouting “F” bombs and “C” bombs in what’s meant to be a family friendly show?
The first, and most sensible, thing to do is simply just do your best to ignore them, and try and engage other parts of the crowd. If that doesn’t work, or worse, this behaviour spreads to other fans, have a word to the referee or the ring announcer and ask them to have a private word with the person. And if all else fails, have someone of authority at either the venue or in the company, like an owner or a booker, ask them to leave.
As for the fan side of it, there are many things to think about.
Firstly, if you’re going to shout out abuse at a wrestler (face or heel, either way) ask yourself this before you do: “Would I want my child/little brother/little sister/newphew/niece/young relative to hear this?”
If the answer is no, don’t say it!
Secondly, don’t make the show about yourself and your mates. I’ve seen it a million times, where regular fans all sit together and have their own in jokes and that’s fine to an extent. But if you start shouting out personal, racist, sexist or derogatory comments, that is not acceptable whatsoever.
Next, nearly every single company will encourage fans to come up and say hi, get photos and autographs after a show. We appreciate it as much as you guys do. But always remember, we don’t have a professional ring crew to load, set up, pack down and unload for us. We have to get it done. So if you are asked to leave after a show, it’s not personal, we just have a job to do.
In the same vain, don’t jump into the ring for photos without prior permission. There could be blood, sweat and other infectious materials on the canvas. All it takes is one bad fall from someone in the ring, and a world of issues will start to happen for everyone.
Thank you for reading and please note, this is in no way a dig at any individual, company or group, this is just a generalisation and an overall point of view from crowds and shows I’ve seen over the last 21 years.
Thank you again! If you have any feedback, jump onto my socials at Facebook.com/australianwolf or on Instagram @strayanwolf