Break It Down: Do Hardcore Wrestling Fans Still Exist?

Greetings fellow wrestling fans. My name is Brett Deutchman and this is Break It Down with The Deutch (pronounced Doich). I’ll be throwing in my 2 cents as to what I think about the current and past happenings in the wacky world of professional wrestling.

Are there any hardcore wrestling fans left? When I say hardcore, I don’t mean fans of hardcore matches, but rather just die-hard, passionate fans of wrestling. I ask this because of the state of the wrestling business. There’s both good and bad things about the business. In the past, it always seemed like fans stuck around no matter what.

Nowadays, it feels different. I don’t think the hardcore fans have much of a presence anymore. And if they are still around, then they are not as vocal as they used to be. When I was a teenager, there was a core group of fans at indy shows in my area (NJ-NY-Philadelphia). Those fans don’t seem to be around much when I go to shows and I think it is becoming obvious from the quieter crowds.

For example, when I went to Extreme Rising’s show Unfinished Business at the ECW Arena in 2013, Homicide was on the card. Now mind you, Homicide was a big name on the indies for years. Ring of Honor fans used to go nuts when the Kill Bill intro sounded over the loudspeakers. Homicide would come out ready to bust up his opponent, while Julius Smokes would hype him up. At times, you couldn’t even hear what was going on in the ring because of the thunderous “Homicide!” chants.

But at Extreme Rising, Homicide got no such reaction. He came out to his theme song, but fans sat on their hands. I felt like I was the only one cheering for him and chanting “Bllaaaat” and “Rottweilers!”

It was the same case with Da Hit Squad of Dan Maff and Monsta Mack. They were one of the hottest tag teams on the east coast in ROH and JAPW, but at Extreme Rising, nobody cheered their return. I saw some internet sites saying “Extreme Rising was in Philly, but DHS was a New York tag team, so that’s why they didn’t cheer.” I don’t believe that for a second, because ROH’s first show was in Philadelphia and Da Hit Squad got a huge reaction when they appeared.

Another example is the subject of veteran wrestlers. Wasn’t there a sentiment at one point in time that the young guys should be the ones leading the way and the veterans should leave? Well, at the past few indy shows that I have been to, most of the young guys whom the hardcore fans claim to support get no reaction. However, when a big name like Mick Foley, Sabu, etc. shows up, they get the biggest pop of the night.

At the Extreme Rising show, Sabu faced a young guy named Facade, who is a great athlete. But every time Facade got on the offensive, fans booed and whenever Sabu did his usual chair routine, it was well received. Another example is at a recent PWS show I went to where there were a bunch of young guys in a tag team match. The fans were virtually silent, until Mick Foley showed up.

Don’t get me wrong; I like Foley and Sabu, but I wonder if hardcore fans even show up to indy shows anymore. It seems the young guys who are trying to make a name for themselves cannot get the fans behind them and that the veterans are the only part of the show that the fans care about. This poses further questions. Is is the fault of the wrestling companies for not pushing the young guys? Or is it because they have tried to push the young guys, yet they do not get positive fan reactions?

I can only wonder if the continued reliance on veterans (not just on the indies, but WWE as well) has pushed away hardcore fans from wrestling. Maybe the fans realized that the wrestling companies were not going to listen to them and thus they became disenchanted with the product and left. The young guys who may not have that same aura as the veterans do not give hardcore fans much of an incentive to watch the shows. The fans probably thought there was no sense in booing the veterans because at the end of the day, wrestling companies would do what they wanted to do to sell tickets.

I realize that there are still some hardcore fans who have stuck around, but like I have mentioned, they do not seem to be as vocal or much of a factor as they used to be. As pro wrestling changed, I think some of the fans who would preach “We are tired of having our intelligence insulted!” actually got tired of having their intelligence insulted and stopped watching wrestling. They are different from the fans who say that same statement yet continue to watch the product with unrealistic hopes only to be let down.

I wonder what those former hardcore fans tell their friends, colleagues and family about their interests. I wonder if they still speak highly of wrestling or if they refer to it as a special time in their lives that became less special as time changed.

So what do you think? Are hardcore fans nonexistent nowadays because of the changing times? Or are they still around, but more tame than before?

Until next time, this has been Break it Down with The Deutch.

Follow Brett on Twitter @TheDeutch