Wyatt The Martyr

“Familiarity breeds contempt” -Proverbs 25:17

When the world was shuttered in 2020 because of a global pandemic that ravaged nearly every aspect of the society, pro wrestling fans saw their favorite events, including Wrestlemania, close their doors to live attendance. In a true example of why society is often a cesspool, prehaps an intriguing statement about human nature, how to handle the health crisis is still a topic of debate. Billy Bob from Arkansas doesn’t want to get the vaccine because he thinks Bill Gates will track how many Dominos pizzas he orders when he watches Nick Gage matches, and that’s completely fine. Billy Bob has the right to square off with the Delta variant if he chooses to do so. However, after vaccination rates reached specific levels, live events began again last month and provided a level of normalcy, at least within the genre of professional wrestling. Of course, the crowds were hot initially because it was a chance to finally be back in the building with the stage, the music,and the action.

But familiarity breeds contempt.

The artificial boost was expected, but after the novelty of being there live again wore off, the quality of the show was the determining factor of a reaction. In some ways, especially with the Thunder Dome concept where a producer could push a button for a desired reaction, it gave management a false sense of security since they could completely control the presentation. As we know, in recent years, the fans that attend WWE events, often diehard fans because of the eroded core audience that watches weekly, usually want to make the broadcast about themselves instead of even attempting to enjoy the show. Somehow, it’s trendy for some yokel that spent $7 on a pop corn and $9.50 for a beer to say, “Hey, look at me I’m at a wrestling show!” If I had to pinpoint it, I think the trend started with the Daniel Bryan revolt at the Royal Rumble in 2014, one of the very rare times you can argue that such a fan rejection was justified, and it was perpetuated when the WWE used these type of crowd reactions in documentary shows on the network. As a result, fans would often look for anything or any excuse to attempt to troll management. It was their attempt to try to be clever and say, “we showed them!” In reality, Vince McMahon was too busy counting their money from ticket sales, network subscriptions, and merchandise sales to notice it.

That being said, management is partially to blame for the trend because of the way it was acknowledged on WWE TV and within documentaries. Let’s not forget Triple H’s promo a few years ago when he basically told the viewing audience to stop watching because his friend “mark” complained about the product. The WWE universe spent time away, but were quickly reminded about why there was such criticism toward the product before the pandemic. Some of their favorite stars, most recently Bray Wyatt, were released while Bill Goldberg steps into a title match at Summer Slam to collect a hefty payday. Don’t get me wrong, if Goldberg can get that type of payoff at 54 years old for a three-minute match then good for him. That’s capitalism and you can’t blame him for taking the money on the table. At the same time, Goldberg being shoehorned into Summer Slam is quite literally a reminder to the audience of some of the criticism about WWE programming. The athletes that hard work on a weekly basis are sometimes underutilized before a part-timer shows up for the spotlight. Considering the mega TV deals will give the company record-setting profit for the next few years, there was a level of complacency within the shows and it led to recycled angles. How many times has Goldberg been given a title shot without any explanation? Furthermore, it tells the audience directly that the results of the weekly shows are often pointless in the grand scheme of things.

With Raw in Chicago, a city that is known for its diehard fan base, you can expect CM Punk chants because the former grappler is usually associated with his hometown. However, the “we want Wyatt” chants during the Goldberg/Bobby Lashley segment might be more than cannon fodder based on a particular location. It’s somewhat ironic that Bray Wyatt’s original character, with its influences of a cult leader, was based on being a martyr for society and it’s very possible that Wyatt could became a martyr toward the WWE system. The news of Bray’s exit from the company had many stars, including Mick Foley, praise his work so it wouldn’t be too surprising if the live audience makes the “we want Wyatt” chants a form of protest going forward, not only because of his release, but as a way to express their dissatisfaction with the overall product.

Along the same lines, I wouldn’t be shocked if “Daniel Bryan” chants are sprinkled in occasionally as a reminder to the office of underutilized stars. Supposedly, Bray was released to trim the budget, but if the tend of Wyatt chants pick up, management will have to at least consider offering him another contract, and in that scenario, he actually has the leverage.in negotiations. On the flip side, if the chants continue, and Bray decides to sign with All Elite Wrestling then it’s a situation that will enhance the perception of AEW, an aspect already seen in the industry with the addition of Bryan Danielson and CM Punk to the roster.

The live audience back in the building gave an atmosphere to the show, but it might be a rude awakening for WWE brass because for the first time in a year and a half, they can hear some of the criticism toward the product. How the office responses to this will be very interesting because they can’t simply try to snuff out the chants like they have in prior years because there’s an alternative option. More importantly, that alternative has built momentum and is about to land a few of the biggest stars realistically possible so it’s doubtful there will be another Triple H “mark” promo that will tell the fans to enjoy the product or else. The WWE can’t risk souring the audience, especially at such a key time because while the company is very secure based on the television deals, the wrong promo at the wrong time could help close the gap somewhat between the ratings of both companies. There was a point in time that the WWE could get away with “mark” promos because if the general public wanted to watch professional wrestling then they were going to watch WWE, but they don’t have the luxury of being the only major league option on television now. Does that mean the decline of WWE? No, but this scenario of Wyatt chants might have a domino effect that has a shift in the industry. If Bray Wyatt, a competitor that has all the skills to be a main event competitor, became a top star in AEW, what does that say about the WWE system?

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta
E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta