WWE is going through a delightful post-Wrestlemania boom at the moment, with great matches being put on Raw, fan-favorites Enzo & Cass being called up and even teases that The Bullet Club will be finally coming to our TV screens. All this is being done under the loving kayfabe guidance of Shane McMahon, the son of the chairman of the company who came back to fight for the right to control Monday Night Raw at Wrestlemania, lost, and then did so anyway.
Despite the show being pretty good over the last couple of weeks, there’s the uneasy feeling that it simply shouldn’t be like this. Shane lost, and it’s insulting to think that the WWE thinks it can get away with that burning hole in the middle of their plot without the fans seriously questioning it.
It’s not the first time WWE have insulted their fans like this. After watching the product for a while, you’d be forgiven for thinking that WWE simply hates their fan-base. They always seem to make decisions that go against what people want, leaving the majority of people confused as to what they’re supposed to cheer for.
Well, consider it a conspiracy no longer. I present to you 15 moments that PROVE the WWE hates their fans.
15. Literally Insulting The Fans
Let’s start off with the obvious one. Throughout 2014 and 2015 the commentary team were trying their best to increase subscribers to the WWE Network, a service which is incredibly forward-thinking for a company who only just realized that they could do more with the female wrestlers. However, their best sales tactic was one where they insulted fans for buying PPVs.
Cable television is still more widely available in the United States than a good internet connection is. While this is reversing, it’s still easier for a lot of fans to buy a pay-per-view for $45 than signing up for a web service that would barely work on their connection. On top of that, even if you have a good connection, the Network has proved to be “finicky” at best during live events. Buying a PPV is still a perfectly legitimate way of watching the product, but the commentary team will immediately call you an idiot for doing so before shoving cue cards in your face with numbers written on them.
These are the fans that are paying more money to watch them, and the WWE refuses to even show them a small amount of respect or dignity.
14. The Merch Store
This one probably bugs me a bit more because I’m from the UK and the Eurostore sells t-shirts for the equivalent of $31, but even so – isn’t the $25 they go for on the U.S. store still pretty high for a t-shirt?
This is a company that expects you to buy the shirts of all the superstars you like, because their merch numbers is what makes them decide whether to push a star more or not. They encourage you spend money on these shirts with terrible designs on them that barely last a few washes.
But perhaps even more insulting is the sheer amount of timed t-shirts they do. Remember the Sheamus 5:15 shirt? That was a joke that lasted all of a month, and anyone who bought that shirt will now be looking at a $25 shaped hole in their wallet.
I say all this as a proud owner of a Y2AJ t-shirt. I overspent on it and by the time it arrived the tag team had broken up. Cheers WWE.
13. Ignoring Regional Fans
There’s a lot of different fan cultures around the world. Fans in one section of the world prefer one wrestler to another, and sometimes you can’t rightly expect a heel to get boos in their home town. But this constantly happens.
Not a month goes by on Raw that a supposed despised heel comes out to cheers in their hometown, while they have to spend extra time being villainous on the mic just to get the stories status-quo back on track.
Paige gets this a lot here in England. You may notice it during the Raws and Smackdowns in England, but Paige basically becomes the most over person in the company when they tour the UK. Yet she was still supposed to get booed during her rivalry with Charlotte last year, and the overall story suffers when the rampant cheers and Paige chants mostly go ignored. It literally feels like the WWE is saying “Okay, we know you guys like this person, but our current storyline says you don’t so we’re just gonna ignore you for a bit.”
12. Celebrities Beating Wrestlers
A celebrity match isn’t for established fans, but rather for fans of the celebrity in order to try and entice them into the world of WWE. It’s not a bad tactic, and has worked in the past, but it does destroy the delicate power structure of WWE Superstars which is disheartening for long-time watchers.
What celebrity involvement often tells us is that while Neville has to put in a lot of effort to beat Barrett, Wayne Rooney can floor the professional wrestler with one slap to the face. Dolph Ziggler, a firm fan favorite and incredible talent, is left rubbing his cheek for what felt like hours after being slapped by, of all people, Snooki. Putting these people on the same pedestal as people fans have watched and cheered for years only devalues the product and makes long time fans embarrassed.
But, I guess, it’s not as bad as WCW. David Arquette as champion? Jay Leno taking Hogan out? Yikes.
11. Systematic Destruction of The Wyatt Family
There’s nothing fans love more than a threatening heel stable. Seeing an unstoppable group sitting at the top of the food chain makes for great TV, and seeing plucky new challengers go up against a group makes you root for them even more. But when the group in question can’t seem to pick up a win anywhere, the tables reverse. Suddenly, you’re just begging for that group to score a victory. You’re desperate to see this stable that you feel would be so perfect at the top of the card do something worthwhile again.
The Wyatt Family lost to Ryback, Kane and The Big Show at Fastlane. Erick Rowan went on to hold a WrestleMania record by losing in record time to The Rock. It’s actually getting a bit sad, seeing these supposedly threatening group of hillbillies continually getting beat in more and more embarrassing ways. Fans want The Wyatt Family to dominate, but WWE seems to just want them to lose.
10. Confiscating Signs
Holding up signs at WWE events is an excellent way to make your voice heard in an arena full of people. Whether it’s simply a picture of Dean Ambrose’s symbol or a clever bit of word play, making signs is a key part of a lot of people’s WWE experience.
So imagine the disappointment when your sign is confiscated at the show. If the sign has swear words on it, then you’ve got to roll with that one – it is a PG product after all. But there’s hundreds of stories of seemingly harmless signs being taken away, purely because they’re aimed against a legend or company face.
A lot of stories of anti-Roman Reigns signs being confiscated have come out over the last year or so, and only goes to show that the WWE doesn’t care about your opinions, it just wants to be able to present what they think the fans should want without being distracted by visual evidence to the contrary. You spent a few hours crafting this sign that says “Roman’s Rubbish”? Tough, we don’t want the cameras picking that up. In the words of The Rock, it doesn’t matter what you think.
9. Punishing Superstars That Got Themselves Over
The WWE only gives certain superstars a real chance to get themselves over with the crowd. For the lower card, it’s usually up to them to find a way to get the crowd on their side. Unfortunately, if they manage to succeed, they’re not traditionally rewarded for their efforts.
Zack Ryder is the most popular example of this. He crafted his character through a YouTube series, and eventually people demanded he be on TV. He was given an uninspiring run that included John Cena kissing his girlfriend in front of him while he was wheelchair bound.
But there are other examples. Heath Slater is currently leading a squad of jobbers being forced into trying to emulate The New Day after a successful Twitter campaign made him the 8th best superstar of the year last year as voted by fans. How about Barrett, who managed to make every gimmick handed to him a success, only for his gimmick to be changed because of it. There are just some guys who the fans just want to love, but the WWE refuses to let them. In fact, this happened again fairly recently…
8. Zack Ryder’s Intercontinental Run
So you’ve just booked a WrestleMania where it’s mostly heels winning, and your big baby-face victory at the end is expected to end in boos. How do you keep the fans sweet on the product until the next night on Raw? Easy, you put a smaller title on a huge fan favorite. He gets his big WrestleMania moment, the fans go home happy, WrestleMania continues to be a success.
Small problem, it doesn’t actually matter what the fans want and we want the title on someone else.
Was there anything more uplifting than seeing Zack Ryder take that belt at WrestleMania? It got a huge pop, and the bar where I watched the show was full of hugs and cheers as Long Island Iced Z finally got another chance to impress. Then the next night on Raw he lost the title to The Miz. Then he lost his rematch. Now he’s not on Raw anymore.
Zack Ryder will never get a decent run on Raw, and if that doesn’t show a complete disregard for his large fan-base, I don’t know what does.
7. The Last Four Wrestlemania Main Events
WrestleMania 29 had John Cena face The Rock for a second year in a row, pushing fan-favorite and white-hot superstar CM Punk out of the main event. WrestleMania XXX had plans for Batista to face Randy Orton one-on-one, before fan backlash made them add Daniel Bryan to the main event. Last year gave us Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns, another match that was so hated by the fan-base they decided to have Seth Rollins cash-in his Money in the Bank briefcase. This year left us with the lasting image of Roman holding the belt high amidst a record-breaking number of people booing the face of the company.
There’s a trend here. For four WrestleManias now the fans have been mostly ignored as to what they actually wanted to see on the grandest stage of them all. While the company did change plans to leave fans satisfied at two of them, the fact we saw Roman stand tall at the last ‘Mania sets a worrying trend for the future. It’s not about us fans anymore – WrestleMania is all about them solidifying their guy at the top.
6. Roman Reigns Continued Push
I don’t know if you’ve listened to an episode of Raw in the last few months, but the hatred for Roman is reaching a fever pitch. He’s getting nuclear heat from the crowd, and the company seemed almost oblivious to this for a better part of a year. Only recently are we seeing slight tweaks to Roman’s character – but he’s still the champion while this is happening.
At first, it seemed like only the smarkier towns were intent on booing Reigns, but the guy can’t seem to pick up a cheer anywhere he goes recently. Despite the huge fan backlash, the company is intent on making him their superstar, and rumors about him headlining SummerSlam with John Cena only go to show how little the WWE thinks their fans opinions are worth.
In his words, he’s not a good guy. He’s not a bad guy. But he’s not the audience’s guy either, which makes things awkward when he’s constantly presented as the superhero face.
5. The Treatment of Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze was hugely over in NXT, and despite working as a heel he had a huge fanbase that were routing for the Sultan of Selfies to finally make it to the main roster after an eternity in NXT. What’s important to realize about Tyler Breeze is that he was in developmental for a long time, and was almost fired several times before eventually establishing himself as a top act in the brand. Fans were always rooting for him to do well, because behind the heel persona, there was a genuine guy who gave 100% every time he stepped in the ring.
So he debuted on Smackdown, which is never a good sign. After a brief feud with Ziggler, he was swiftly buried deep into the card. Breeze wasn’t just a wacky character that the main roster quickly fumbled, this was a guy who was every bit “the heart and soul of NXT” as Sami Zayn was, but the WWE decided that the fans who were rooting for him didn’t matter, and he’s barely been seen on TV since.
4. 20 Minute Authority Promos
You can replace The Authority with the current big heel, but The Authority is particularly grating. My favorite promo was when I dedicated a large chunk of my day to sit down to watch some wrestling only for Triple H to tell me my life doesn’t matter because I’ll never be World Heavyweight Champion.
Okay, I know he’s getting heel heat, that’s fine. But when The Authority takes up so much time on the show every week it can get disheartening after a while. WWE Raw is a very long show and it has spent most of the last year opening the show with a dull, monotonous promo. Even when Seth Rollins, someone who could rock that mic for 20 minutes, was opening the show most weeks, it still became too much too often.
This is the product the WWE should be making for the fans. Every show should be stamped with a badge of appreciation and thanks because we keep coming back to watch. But instead they waste our time by calling us worthless, the same thing they do every week.
3. Daniel Bryan
If there’s one superstar whose career can be examined as a response to “what moments show that WWE hate their fans?” it’s Daniel Bryan. Sure, he got the big WrestleMania XXX moment…but what about the years before that?
Coming into the company with a hot fanbase around him already thanks to helping revolutionize the indie circuit, he was quickly dismissed as an “indie wrestling nerd”, and was constantly made fun of by the commentary teams. But the fans demanded Daniel Bryan. In 2013, they finally gave him the WHC only for Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank immediately, with the company hoping to brush him aside after that. In 2014 he wasn’t even in the Royal Rumble, yet all the chants throughout were for him. Even after the company buckled and gave him the main event at WrestleMania that year, they quickly brushed him aside again in time for the next Royal Rumble…where the crowds again revolted. If he hadn’t have retired earlier this year, this song and dance would have continued forever.
The fans loved Daniel Bryan, but the company didn’t care. They wanted Batista. They wanted Roman. No-one at the Stamford headquarters cares about your Yes T-Shirt. In fact, they probably hate you for it. There is no doubt in my mind that the fans have been blamed behind closed doors for “ruining” pay-per-views simply by showing their love for Bryan.
2. Teasing The Hardcore Fans
WWE is a company that doesn’t like you. They hate you and everything you stand for, simply because you are a fan, and you probably like a guy that the company isn’t too hot on. Daniel Bryan is the most extreme example of that, but you see fan favorites get booted down and insulted every week on Monday Night Raw as the company tries to diminish their supporters. And yet, despite all that, I’ll be watching next Monday. Because the evilest thing WWE does is make me wanting to come back for more.
After writing this article, you’d have thought all the hatred and ire I’ve spilled out over WWE would cause me to question why I watch. But it hasn’t. AJ Styles is fighting for the WWE Championship at Payback, and I’m eager to see if Anderson and Gallows will get involved. Deep inside, I know Roman is going to win. But any tease of the Bullet Club is going to keep me invested. Just like a tease of a John Cena heel turn, it’s enough to keep me going until the next PPV. Very rarely doing anything truly groundbreaking, the WWE teases just enough to keep people like me invested. They don’t like me. They just like me adding to the viewership figures and buying Y2AJ shirts.
1. Raw is Three Hours Long
The film “The Wrestler” is based off of a fictional wrestler as he attempts to shake away his demons to put on one last big match. A great film with a great story told in a tight 107 minutes.
Monday Night Raw is three hours long. A film is completely different to a wrestling show, but when you compare the two as entertainment products there’s a large difference in entertainment per minute. Raw can be, and often will be, dull for hours at a time. Even Triple H has said in the past that he’d prefer Raw to be two hours – and this guy sits on the board of directors, married to the daughter of the CEO.
But it doesn’t matter really what Triple H thinks. Or what we, the fans, think. Raw is too long and spreads itself too thin. But WWE get a lot of money from that third hour. A lot of money. So the product will remain stale, and almost feel like punishment to the fans, because quite honestly, WWE love money and hate you.
Still, can’t wait to see Owens vs Zayn at Payback.
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