The segment this past Monday where Seattle booed the hell out of Elias for almost a good five minutes will go down as one of the most memorable segments of the year, and in many years for that matter.
It is the kind of thing that we watch the show for, more so than any match or other promo segment. Even in the cesspool of cynicism and perpetual dissatisfaction that is Wrestling Twitter it was pretty damn difficult to find a dissenter. It led me to go on a Twitter rant the next day, most of which I’m going to restate here. The segment struck gold for me for one reason above all, and that is that the crowd just reacted naturally and did not overthink it. Elias took a shot at them, and they gave it back to him with both barrels. It was a simple heat triggering line about Seattle and NBA basketball, it hit a nerve, and they allowed themselves to be bothered by it. Which is something that just doesn’t happen enough now.
Too many times nowadays a segment like that is met with half the crowd cheering or laughing along, because the heel is ‘doing a god job’ or because they like the heel character because he does a good job. Or they don’t boo at all because they think Vince wants them to boo this guy and cheer their enemy, and they’ve convinced themselves that they should reject any attempt at ‘telling them what to do’. Too many times the people in the building at televised events and on twitter act like they’re in some three dimensional chess game with Vince and that the only way to win is to reject whatever ‘his plan’ is should you be told what it is or figure it out ahead of time, or to pick who you want to cheer up front and he somehow get clairvoyant and decide to make them the good guy because he knows that’s what you want. And for the rest of us who like to watch some wrasslin and just want to have a good time for a few hours, you guys are a real drain sometimes.
And I have to ask, why do y’all do that? Do you root for the criminals on Law & Order because dammit, Dick Wolf is not going to make you root for Detective Benson and he really needs to stop trying to get her over after almost 20 seasons? Just turn her heel and make her a corrupt cop so you can root for her, right? Does that make any sense? Of course not! Do you rip George Lucas for forcing Luke down our throats and burying Boba Fett? Did you root for Thanos because Marvel Studios spent 20 movies telling you that the Avengers are good guys and dammit you’re not going to be sheeple and just take whatever crap they shovel at you? I sure hope not. You play your role as a fan in those situations, you let the story unfold and pass judgement once it’s done, not before. And even though you knew going in that Thanos was going to get all the Infinity Stones at some point you still allowed yourself to be pulled in and surprised when he did. (On a side note, Infinity Wars used false finishes as well as any booker ever did).
Being a fan is a lot better when you don’t try to force your ideas on the storytellers upfront and get mad when they make a different choice. Because they are very often going to make a different choice for reasons known and unknown to us all, and if you walk in the idea that anything outside your approved purview will not stand then you’re going to be mad all the time, which of course some of you guys are. But trust me, you’re not proving yourself to be some free thinker when you do that; in reality you sound like a jerk. And you can’t have it both ways – if you want heroes and villains (which you do because the other way of doing it where you just have guys working matches for the sake of doing it just ain’t it for real), then at some level you have to accept the heroes and villains that they give you. Yes, you can get some people turned but that takes time and should have a logical storyline behind it. Austin’s face turn in 1997 was a slow burn and required Bret Hart as a foil to cement. And by contrast Hulk Hogan’s heel turn a year prior was built on the seeds of being a stranger in a strange WCW land that was never fully accepted by WCW diehards. Neither was a snap decision to appease a vocal minority, which is what a lot of us seem to want right up until we get it.
Lastly, what exactly do you get out of the chess match? When Vince doesn’t do what you want you get mad but when he does you don’t pay attention. Meanwhile the people who just came for a diversion, the dreaded casuals, the sheeple sit back and enjoy the show for what it is and while they’re not without critiques here and there they tend to go to bed happy and entertained while you’re on twitter cosigning some weird YouTuber who spends two hours every week podcasting about a show that he hate watches every week, putting a certain wrestler’s name in his show title to get more clicks as he claims to hate the guy. Maybe it’s just me but if having a good time means I’m one of the sheeple, then I’ll wear my wool coat with pride. Beats the hell out of the alternative.