The Stomping Ground: When Audiences Attack (And Some ‘Mania Thoughts)

It’s the week after Wrestlemania! That glorious time of year when the WWE does all it can to keep casual fans from switching channels! The time of year when half of our columnists crawl back into their cubbyholes and hibernate for 10 months!

Well, it’s Thursday, so you know what that means: another edition of The Stomping Ground. For those of you joining us for the first time, I am your magnanimous (look it up) host, Mike Gojira. Let’s talk some rasslin’.

When Audiences Attack
Holy moley, how crazy was that Miami crowd on Monday night? They tore the roof off the building with their raucous support for Daniel Bryan. They booed the ever-living shit out of Sheamus. They clamored for Brock Lesnar before the man could make his “surprise” appearance. I’ve been hearing all over the ‘Net that Raw was a great show (and it was), but I think we all know why. If it weren’t for crowds like last Monday’s, I don’t think we’d have such high praise for the show.

Rowdy crowds are nothing new to professional wrestling. It’s the people in the audience who bring the best out of the performers more often than the wrestlers themselves. Back at Survivor Series 2011, I witnessed all of Madison Square Garden loudly proclaim, “We Want Ryder!” from my seat in the arena, as well as some truly bizarre shout-outs which I covered way back when. Montreal and Toronto (or anywhere in Canada, really) is often referred to as “Bizarro World” for the enthusiastic responses some wrestlers receive when the WWE tours that neck of the woods. Remember the Hart Foundation of the late ’90s? It was totally surreal to hear Bret Hart booed out of the building for his heel antics here in the United States, yet welcomed with open arms in his native land as though he could do no wrong. The crowd reactions made that angle unique.

Other cities such as Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia are home to fans who don’t drink the Kool-Aid offered by the WWE, but I wonder why this type of fandom appears to be so scarce. Why is it that some cities choose to “fight the power” while others embrace it? Chime in and let me know what you think.

Sheamus and Daniel Bryan: The Controversy

I was just as surprised as everyone else when Danel Bryan and Sheamus’s highly-touted Wrestlemania match took all of 18 seconds. Part of me thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke to the fanbase, and part of me thought of it as poetic justice.

Wait! Don’t click away! Let me explain myself!

Look, for months now Daniel Bryan’s character has been that of a sniveling, cowardly heel, doing all he can to escape his matches with the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist. He used the Money in the Bank briefcase to fuck over Big Show, he used AJ to escape Show’s rampage, and he used the confines of a steel cage to his advantage against two lumbering behemoths. Story-wise, it was only fitting that Bryan was embarrassed on the Grandest Stage of Them All. As a fan, I can’t say I’m happy about missing out on Bryan’s in-ring performance. Perhaps the WWE did shoot themselves in the foot after Monday’s crowd reaction…but I’d wait and see how things play out between now and Extreme Rules if I were you.

Honestly, the first thought that came to my mind when Miami booed Sheamus on Raw was, “Blair Douglas must be loving this moment.” While it’s true that the crowd shat all over the Great White’s promo, I’m willing to bet it was more for the poor treatment of Daniel Bryan the night before more than anything else. Blair, I ask you to reserve judgment of Sheamus’s push until at least Extreme Rules. If the crowd remains firmly behind Daniel Bryan no matter what city he’s in and loudly boos Sheamus, then I will admit that Sheamus’s title run isn’t what many expected it to be.

Wrestlemania XXVIII Observations

This year, about a dozen people showed up at my condo for my Wrestlemania party, including Pulse Glazer. The following comments represent a wealth of thoughts from a multitude of people:

*There was a collective gasp as Daniel Bryan lost in 18 seconds. Fortunately, few people in the room knew who Sheamus and Daniel Bryan are, so it didn’t really affect them. For those of us who DID know, that gasp quickly turned into a groan. Well, except for Glazer. He was pretty much indifferent as though he expected it.

*The crowd at my place was pretty much disinterested in the Orton/Kane match. The only time we reacted was at the end when Kane pulled out the clean victory, which shocked EVERYONE. Yes, even Glazer.

*Nobody cared about the Cody Rhodes/Big Show battle. At all. The ending didn’t help matters.

*My friend Gina is a huge Triple H fan, so she was a bit disappointed when The Game lost. I’ve never seen her so passionate about wrestling, since it’s her husband Jeff who is the diehard fan. I almost felt bad about it. Almost. Hi, Gina!

*I thought it was funny how everyone except Glazer and myself reacted to all the near-falls in the Hell in a Cell. The two of us just sat there, knowing the end was still a way’s off, while others were practically jumping out of their seats. I suppose it was just a case of how knowing the basics of the industry can sometimes “deaden” you to the drama.

*”Is that a shit stain on Maria’s butt?” – a random disembodied voice at the party.

*I was actually getting a little pissed off during the Jericho/Punk title bout. Not because of the match, mind you; my issue was with the insane amount of talking and lack of interest going on in the background. I suppose that’s the downside to having a bunch of people at a party.

*”Who the fuck is this skinny white boy?! Couldn’t they get Eminem?!” – Gina once again, wondering who Machine Gun Kelly is. Gotta love her personality.

*Is it just me, or did Skylar Grey look like Leeloo from The Fifth Element?

*The Rock vs John Cena was a good match, but not epic. It’s a great example of how overhyping can lower expectations. That’s why Hogan/Rock at Wrestlemania XVIII worked so well: no one expected it to be anything special, and it was never built as such.

That’s all for me, but be sure to check out my duet with Kelly this weekend as we take on what is expected to be a damn good Smackdown.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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