There are plenty of negative clichés about wrestling fans that attempt to paint anybody who enjoys sports entertainment as some sort of uneducated, violent, misogynistic subhuman. The reality is that wrestling fans can’t be placed into such a small box, and even if they could, it wouldn’t be that negative. Fans of the squared circle can be intelligent pacifists who just happen to enjoy a strange, niche form of entertainment, and they can be a whole lot of other things, too. With all of that said, there are certain types of people more likely to become fans of sports entertainment than others, and this becomes evident to anybody who has actually gone to a professional wrestling event live and in person.
WWE is the big dog in the sports entertainment industry, and they have been since the mid 1980s when Vince McMahon decided to take his father’s company national. In all fairness, though, it’s the smaller scale and independent wrestling shows where these types of fans show their true colors. The big explosions and flashing lights of WWE make anybody turn into a mark, somebody who treats all of the action as though it were real, despite the fact virtually every fan is on the up and up about the whole kayfabe thing. When there are less than 1,000 people in the audience and a wrestling fan still acts like themselves, we find out the type of fan they really are, and usually it’s one of these 15 archetypes. Keep reading to learn which types of fans you’ll meet at every pro wrestling show, and maybe decide which one you are, yourself.
15. The Wrestling Hopeful
Just as there are few things all wrestling fans have in common, there are few things all wrestlers have in common. Still, it would be pretty reasonable to assume that the majority of wrestlers at one point were pretty big wrestling fans themselves, and that explains why every wrestling audience in the world is bound to feature a few wrestling hopefuls amongst the midst. They might not call attention to themselves, but if they’re going to become something in the business it might be unavoidable, as their unusual looks or sizes that could propel them into sports entertainment superstardom make it hard for future wrestlers to blend in.
The future wrestlers at a given wrestling show may or may not use this status to affect their enjoyment of the program. It’s possible a potential wrestler looks at the sports entertainment business from an exclusively professional standpoint, and may have difficulty getting into the show like some of the other fans due to their harsher critical eyes. On the other hand, they might want to get into the business due to an extreme fandom that means they get more into the show faster than anyone else, and faster than anybody else, to boot.
14. The Casual Fan
A strange byproduct of the globalization of the wrestling industry means that there are plenty of wrestling fans out there that don’t even watch very much wrestling. WWE produces over 10 hours of original programming every week, and dozens of other companies like Total Nonstop Action, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Lucha Underground, are all producing quality television at similarly prolific rate. While some wrestling fans might see this as proof there’s no better time than the present to be a fan, others might use it as an excuse to watch very little wrestling, interspersed in random bits throughout all of the promotions. They aren’t a fan of any wrestlers, they just kinda like the idea, and watch it if they stumble across it.
Surprisingly, the same thing is true of a good portion of audiences at WWE and smaller scale wrestling events. Professional wrestling is like any other form of entertainment in that sometimes the mere spectacle of putting on a show is enough for some people to join the crowd and watch. At an event like WrestleMania when over 100,000 people spend top dollar for a chance to view the ring through binoculars, maybe they’re the biggest fans in the world. But at a tiny show with 50 people in the audience, they could’ve just walked by and decided to sit down.
13. People Stuck In The Past
While some wrestling fans merely wander in and enjoy the show, many of them are fanatical and obsessive, and don’t like it when people mock or misunderstand the unique form of entertainment they love. These people also tend to hate the modern day wrestling world, feeling things used to be better, and of course that they could do it better themselves if somehow given the opportunity. These are people who still scream “What?” every time a heel authority figure talks, and chant “CM Punk” whenever they get bored, thinking that will somehow bring him back to the company.
There’s nothing wrong with having a preference in an era of wrestling, but the fact is, WWE doesn’t really care about people longing for the good old days. Whether fans wish it were just a few years ago with CM Punk, farther back into the Attitude Era, or even way way back to the days of territorial wrestling, those days are all behind us and can’t come back without a time machine. WWE is a media conglomerate these days, and companies of that nature are all about the future and becoming current, so fans stuck in the past might not stay around for long, but they’re going to be loud as long as they’re here.
12. The Old-Timers
Being stuck in the past is somewhat annoying, but there’s a huge difference between yearning for the days of yore and simply having lived through them. Most wrestling fans err towards the younger side, but virtually any sports entertainment audience out there is bound to have at least a few people all the way into their 60s, 70s, or even 80s, violently cheering on their favorites and getting into ringside shouting matches with their most hated bad guys. For whatever reason, wrestling history has shown that on occasion, the older patrons of events can be some of the craziest, like in infamous incidents when wrestlers like The Mummy and Ole Anderson were stabbed by fans in their late 70s.
Luckily, most elderly fans don’t get into physical fights with the wrestlers, but they do usually have the most fire and energy of anyone in the audience. While some fans wish legends like Ric Flair would leave the memories alone and leave the ring for good, others were there the day of his first match, and he’s still the reason they come to the shows. Obviously, these groups make up the smallest portions of most wrestling audiences, and they don’t last very long, but a new cycle always survives to the next generation, proving many wrestling fans truly keep watching for life.
11. The Heel Section
Virtually every wrestling fan knows that the sport they love is scripted, and therefore they know that the good guys and bad guys are just playing characters to get people to cheer them or boo them accordingly. WWE fans especially know this these days, because Michael Cole and JBL will tell them at the start of every Monday Night Raw that everyone is supposed to be cheering Roman Reigns, despite what is evident to anybody who can hear a crowd with their own ears. Regardless, with Reigns as the exception, it’s usually pretty obvious who is supposed to get cheered and who is supposed to get booed. While people have their personal favorites outside of those boundaries, at a live show, most people are willing to play along with the dynamics of the show (with Reigns again being the exception).
Some people, however, just don’t like to play along. Certain members of the crowd will boo a babyface for being virtuous while they applaud a heel for being a jerk. It’s not that these people are necessarily jerks in their every day lives, but they sure like seeing people acting like one, so they throw the implied script to the wind and loudly cheer the bad guys. Kids in the audience don’t understand, but plenty of older fans feel the temptation, and probably even join in when a particularly good heel starts taking steam.
10. The Newbies
Just as there are casual wrestling fans and hardcore wrestling fans, there are plenty of wrestling fans who just started to get into the sport. People like this aren’t quite a hardcore fan yet by any means, because they don’t really know anything about it, but it’s more than a passing interest. 10 hours of WWE entertainment with spare time for the smaller feds is a huge commitment, but maybe these fans are watching 2 or 3 hours of wrestling per week, and that could just be the start. New fans are some of the happiest people to go to a show of any kind, because chances are it’s one of their first, and the strange and wonderful world they’re starting to love is about to open up to them in a brand new way.
For reasons that are obvious, most new fans are on the younger side, but in reality they can come in all ages. There’s no limit to the age at which one can first turn on a TV, see wrestling, and want to know more, so there’s no reason the new fan and the old-timer couldn’t be one in the same. The new fans are probably pretty passionate about their favorites, too, but they shouldn’t be confused with another brand of wrestling fan…
9. The Wrestler Specific Fans
There are probably over 100 wrestlers currently signed to WWE, NXT, and it’s various training facilities. The smaller the company the less wrestlers on the roster, but if a promotion is putting on regular shows, chances are they have a few regular talents making appearances. Despite these facts, there are plenty of wrestling fans, especially on the national level of WWE, who go to wrestling shows with the sole intention of seeing a single performing compete. While it makes sense for any fan to want to see their favorite the most, this kind of fandom is just a little bit risky, as there’s no promise your favorite wrestler is going to wind up competing at every single show.
Even if the one person these fans came to see does wrestle, win their match, and put on a great show, it’s kind of a bummer for them in comparison to everyone else, because they paid the same amount for the much shorter entertainment. We’re not talking about people with signs here, we mean the people in the crowd who seriously just want to see one great Kevin Owens match [or insert any other wrestler here], at which point they’ll decide to leave. The biggest risk of this kind of fandom is that anything can happen in sports entertainment—you might think you saw your favorite and leave the building, only to learn they showed up again later on.
8. People Who Bleed WWE
We make an effort in these lists to point out that while WWE is the biggest show in town, it’s hardly the only one. However, it really can’t be understated just how true the first half of that statement is. World Championship Wrestling competed on the same level as the McMahon Family Dynasty for a while in the 1990s, but aside from those 10 years, WWE has dominated sports entertainment in monstrous fashion since the early 1980s. As a result, they have more fans than possibly every other American wrestling company combined. Plenty of those fans are wrestling fans in general, and others are rational WWE fans who simply like their brand of wrestling the most. And others still are completely drinking the WWE Kool-Aid, so to speak, and loving every single thing they say.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of ultimately affable, undiscerning fandom, but many others in the audience are going to give this kind of spectator a bit of guff. WWE is like any other company in that they obviously can do wrong, and they’re unlike any sport in that the audience is actually allowed to get genuinely upset and feel like they saw a bad show if they don’t like the result. Plenty of fans do just that, but the ones who bleed WWE will never raise an eye, always confident McMahon knew best. As for those other fans, though…
7. People Who Hate WWE
Just as WWE’s status as the most important wrestling company in North America means plenty of WWE cultists will blindly support any and everything they do, a growingly cynical world means that plenty of wrestling fans out there will look at WWE’s status as the top of the mountain and discard everything they produce as trash without second glance. It’s arguably a little strange that people like this would go to WWE shows, but they most definitely do, and they go to plenty of smaller wrestling shows even more often. While it’s fine to like wrestling and hate WWE, the loudly vocal detractors can start to damage the show for others, especially kids in the audience who don’t know what they’re so mad about.
This isn’t to say these people don’t sometimes have a point. While certain audience members come to a show solely to boo WWE and disparage their every move, sometimes the company does some pretty stupid things, and the audience feels the need to pay their money to make sure Vince knows it. These are things like the continued push of Roman Reigns or the Superman run of John Cena, and fans of all kinds seem to have problems with these wrestlers. Granted, a certain group does hate them the most…
6. The Internet Fans
WWE are the three most important letters in sports entertainment, but fans on the Internet are all probably familiar with the term IWC. IWC stands for the Internet Wrestling Community, and they scream as loudly from their keyboards as thousands do live every week. Occasionally, the Internet fans crossover into the live crowds, and bring their trademark snark and contrarian opinions when they do. Certain crowds seem overran with Internet fans, and any time WWE feels the need to pre-warn the audience the wrong people might be getting booed is probably a sign they’re in a city known for their strong Wi-Fi signals.
While Internet fans can sometimes be the loudest and definitely the most critical, the reality is they don’t really make up that significant a portion of the WWE audience. All fans need to be catered to on some level, but most fans on the Internet place a much higher focus on match quality and work rate than the average wrestling fan, which can make things a little fuzzy when it comes to appeasing their every demand. Of course, WWE doesn’t appease the Internet’s every command and often doesn’t even seem to try. It would turn out there exists an audience they’re far more interested in capturing…
5. The Kids
The statistics have never really been drawn up, but something that most people accept about professional wrestling, especially the modern era of WWE, is produced primarily for the entertainment of children. Bright and colorful characters like John Cena and The New Day still get the loudest reactions because kids can play along and get involved with the most fun parts of the show, and most people with a solid knowledge of marketing can tell you why. The only way to make someone a lifelong fan of something is to get them to become a fan from a very young age, so WWE markets directly to children as often as possible.
Older fans can get annoyed by this tendency at times, but it’s something they should accept, because it’s never going away. The flaw with older fans who feel this way is that usually they were the kids who fell in wrestling themselves just a few years, or perhaps even decades ago. The Attitude Era was the one period in wrestling where adults were a more important audience than children, but the history of the sport shows it has always been the kids looking up to the champions, and it’ll stay that way for a long time to come.
4. The Parents
With the exception of certain particularly bad parents, if there are children present, hopefully there are some adults nearby to take care of them and keep them out of trouble. This is obviously mandated to be the law at WWE and other wrestling shows, where the many children in the audience are inevitably accompanied by one or a few tired adults, who may or may not even want to be there themselves. We don’t mean to imply all parents of children at wrestling shows don’t share their child’s interest in the event, but most of the time they’re just there for their kid, and the wrestling is secondary in their mind.
That isn’t to say none of the parents at wrestling shows want to enjoy the action. Sometimes, the shared experience of sharing a favorite with a child can be the best part of raising them, and plenty of the parents of young wrestling fans can get into the show just as quickly and powerfully as their children. It’s possible those parents were the reason the kids became fans in the first place, as wrestling has regularly been a perhaps unique if not outright strange family tradition in many parts of the world.
3. Adults Acting Like Children
We’ve been trying to keep the focus on wrestling fans specifically throughout this article, but certain things are true about big public events in general, and unfortunately some of the negative clichés about them run over into the wrestling world. We mentioned how the Attitude Era was focused on a more adult audience, and that some people are unwilling to let that time go. As a result, certain people still treat professional wrestling events as the violent and dangerous events mainstream culture has unfairly pigeonholed it to be, and fueled with the power of alcohol, things can get even worse from there.
Adults acting like children can happen at any major sporting event, but something about the naturally high octane nature of pro wrestling seems to make it easier for a fight to break out in a WWE crowd than elsewhere. We can gladly report that actual fights aren’t that common, but arguments and drunken antics often can be, and there’s not really anything that can be done to stop it. Hopefully, the wrestling action will be good enough that any unruly fans get distracted, but if not we can just be thankful all wrestling shows have security, too.
2. The Super Fan
Maybe we’ve been a bit harsh on wrestling fans throughout this list. Most of these groups aren’t supposed to be negative, but putting anybody into a box is limiting, and the reality is there are millions of people around the world who go to professional wrestling shows. Rich and poor, celebrity or average, longtime fan or newcomer, people around the world simply love to watch sports entertainment. That said, the one type of fan you’re guaranteed to find at every single wrestling show is the true, genuine super fan. These fans are the people who watch those 10 hours of WWE programming per week and live tweet about it, and that’s when they’re not updating their blog about the independent scene.
The true wrestling fans simply love the spectacle that is pro wrestling, and they might cross over into every other facet of this list, not to mention life in general. However, once they step into the arena and the bell rings, the only thing on their mind is sports entertainment. As a result, no matter who they are, once in their element they’ll be the ones cheering the loudest for everything that happens, feeling more at home at a wrestling show than anywhere else. While there’s no doubt something truly fun about this level of enjoyment, it’s still weird that some people try to fake it…
1. The Gimmick Fan
The final type of wrestling fan you’ll find at every wrestling show is the gimmicky fan who’s main goal isn’t to watch a show or enjoy the sport of professional wrestling, but rather simply to make a spectacle out of themselves. Chances are they really do enjoy wrestling or they wouldn’t take the time out of their day to stand in an arena and watch it, but we’re talking about people who dress themselves up like clowns or wrestlers, not to show off a unique part of their personality, but just to divert attention from the show.
Certain super fans have become legendary in their own right for their seemingly omnipresent appearances, which we can now easily document thanks to the WWE Network. ECW had a cavalcade of super fans always sitting in their front row, and there’s no doubt they were some of the most hardcore fans of all, many criticized Straw Hat Guy and Sign Guy for getting a little too into themselves at times and forgetting who the show was about. WWE had their own sign guy years later, not to mention Frank the Clown, Vladimir the Superfan, and the Brock Lesnar Guy, just to name a few. We don’t mean to question these fans commitment to the business, because they clearly spend more money on it than we can, but sometimes we worry they take attention away from the wrestlers just a little too much.
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