Hi everyone. I’m taking a break from writing to sort out profiles and other things, which is why you’ve not seen much of me lately. There’s not a lot to discuss as WWE and other companies continue moving forward with change happening all the time. However, one thing which hasn’t changed much is how fans react to matches and promos. These days I find myself groaning at reactions more than WWE’s booking .. which is a first.
To be specific, I feel like American audiences have been spoiled so much they rarely get excited (through no fault of their own), and anything remotely entertaining is praised in the same monotonous way. Below is a list of chants which I’d like to give my opinions on. Some are understandable. Some are unwarranted or overused. Others show disrespect to the talent and fans watching from home. Some of the biggest moments in the 80’s and the attitude era were accompanied by huge ovations which no chant could usurp. It was an exciting time as crowds got behind talent and helped them with the desired reaction. So with that said, let’s get stuck in to this shortlist of chants we hear in WWE today.
“WHAT!?” – I remember when Austin introduced the What!? chant. He made it funny, despite the intention to get heel heat. He turned babyface again as the chant became popular. It got old though .. even more so after Austin retired and fans kept using it. Over time it became the thing to do when a promo drones on. WWE’s promos sound similar .. because the talents are encouraged to pause between key points.
The Miz recently admitted he liked Talking Smack because he could say what he likes without one idiot in the audience yelling “What!?” at every opportunity. I can see how it would be off-putting, even more so when the talent is learning and doing their best. Talent like Paul Heyman, Alexa Bliss, and Stephanie McMahon adapted their promos to counter the chant, either by speeding up their delivery, or by saying things like “idiots say what?”, which always succeeds.
One of the more annoying examples was on an episode of Raw when the fans chanted What!? at The Undertaker during his promo. It got a lot of criticism as it showed disrespect to a legend who is undeserving. The chant is slowly dying out, but it’s still there .. and it might always be there. I’m at the stage where I tune it out and hope the talent does the same, unless they have the ability of those I mentioned. I’m a huge Austin fan, but I think even he would admit the chant needs to be forgotten as it was never intended to be used in this way, and it doesn’t help anyone.
“We Want Ryder! We Want Lesnar!” – When you’re watching a main event match knowing Lesnar isn’t there, but the crowd chants for him anyway. It’s disrespect to the talent in the ring, and shows they don’t care unless [insert name] shows up. And I’m sat there thinking .. well, you can chant it all you like but it’s not going to happen. Even if Lesnar is backstage, he’s not scheduled to come out til later so what’s the point? They’ve done it for others too, like Zack Ryder and Sasha Banks.
I believe the only time it’s succeeded was the “We Want Bryan” chant. It was genuine, and it helped get him over. I’m not against the chant .. but it has to be consistent from one venue to the next if it’s going to turn heads with decision makers. It’s OK if the chant makes sense in the context of the story .. but most of the time it’s just another way of chanting “Boring!”.
“We Want Tables!” – I only enjoy it in two situations .. in a Dudley Boyz match, or in a Tables/TLC match when no one’s tried to set up a table in the first ten minutes. Now it feels like any match with a No DQ stipulation can lead to some bored crowds chanting it in the first few minutes. 205 Live is terrible for this .. the hypocrisy is real. When Tozawa leaped off the turnbuckle to crash Kendrick (at the end of their feud) through a table .. the crowd were dead, and one dude could be seen in the front row looking intently at his phone.
Tony Nese pointed it out on Twitter, and ripped on the fan for the blatant disrespect. On this week’s 205 Live, the fans chanted We Want Tables early in to the I Quit match between Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar. Did they get tables? No .. because it was an I Quit match and it makes way more sense to trap a guys hand in a chair and break it, then it is to crash through a million tables for no reaction. Talent rarely listen to fans when they do this because they are not puppets, and believe fans should appreciate what they are given. When they chant this .. talents are less likely to use a table, or may decide to postpone the spot til later in the match to build suspense.
“CM PUNK! JBL! RVD! MICHAEL COLE! AUSTIN ARIES!” – Much like the “We Want Lesnar” chant above, it’s another way of chanting “Boring”. In the case of CM Punk, it’s usually because the show is in Chicago and Vince, Stephanie, Triple H or Paul Heyman are in the ring. It’s like .. if we chant CM Punk hard enough they’ll bring him back. No .. it won’t. The other chants happen on Raw during cruiserweight matches when the audience don’t care for it.
I believe this is part of the reason Austin Aries left WWE, because he didn’t want to be part of a division which is disrespected. You have guys working hard in the ring, but because they are unknown and have yet to get over they’re treated like afterthoughts. It also happened during a tag team match in New Jersey with Aries participating .. and afterwards he told ’em on Twitter how “classy” they were.
“You Deserve It!” – Don’t get me wrong .. there’s a time and a place. The best time is at a Hall Of Fame induction to someone who may have doubted getting in. It’s created some heartfelt moments when the wrestler discusses their recent title win .. much like Naomi’s recent achievement. However .. the chant can be patronizing to some talents, and detrimental to the way wrestling works.
You never heard this chant back in the day because the fact the wrestler holds the title means they are deserving. They won the match .. so they deserved it because they beat their opponent. The backstage element never factored in. As most fans know wrestling isn’t real and champions are booked by the company, chanting You Deserve It acknowledges their real-life work behind the scenes and on-screen. It breaks the fourth wall, and sometimes makes the talent break character for a moment.
So how is it patronizing? Because the talent may not want to be referred to in a real way as they’ve worked hard to portray a character. Bray Wyatt is a monster who won the title by defeating his opponent .. not because Vince said “Hey Windham .. you’re going over tonight.” He wants the fans to be sucked in to his character, but a crowd chanting You Deserve It completely negates everything he’s done over the years. He understands the sentiment .. but at the same time he’s like .. “I wish these fans would hate me.” It’s even worse when directed at a heel because it’s exactly what they don’t want. Showing respect to a heel is like telling them they’re doing a bad job, even though the opposite was intended.
“USA!” – I’m not American so it’s very obvious to me how patriotic Americans are. Sometimes they are patriotic to the point they chant USA during a match with no Americans in it. Funny though, when the commentary blasts the crowd for not knowing where people are from. Also funny when used against talent who look like their from the east .. like the first thing that wrestler’s going to say is “down with ‘murica!”
It’s sometimes used to help struggling mid-carders who have nothing going on .. so give them an American flag and pit them against Rusev; that will get them over! I’m not saying fans shouldn’t be patriotic, or should never chant USA .. I just wish they knew who was American and who isn’t. By the way, Lana was born in Gainesville, Florida. It’s pretty amusing .. to me at least. USA!!
“HOLY SHIT!” – For years the Holy Shit chant happened rarely with good reason. It was only used .. when it was a Holy Shit moment. Shane jumping off a cell? Holy Shit moment. Reigns crashing the ambulance? Holy Shit moment. Taker, Goldberg and Lesnar in the ring together? You get my point. It certainly shouldn’t be used every time someone goes through a table .. or when someone goes off the stage through a bunch of covered up tables. It’s supposed to be for something unbelievably dangerous and/or shocking. It should be something you NEED to chant out of shock .. not because you want an excuse to curse on live television.
“You Still Got It!” – It’s a matter of context .. it’s either complimentary, or patronizing depending on who it’s for. Ricky Steamboat coming out of retirement and wrestling as good as anyone else? Ok, chant it. Sting coming over from TNA to WWE and getting it? No .. he never lost it. He never stopped wrestling so he never lost it .. it’s just WWE fans who don’t care to look at what he’s done the past ten years. I wouldn’t be surprised if some chanted it at The Hardy Boyz when they returned. Like I said though .. if it’s a legend who’s been retired for years then it’s a respectful chant, otherwise it comes across like you’re implying they lost it when they never did.
“EC-DUB!” – I love ECW and always have. I miss the old days of hardcore violence, but it’s buried in the past and I’m surprised some crowds still remind us. The fact about ECW was .. it was extreme. It makes sense when Tommy Dreamer pops up .. or Rhyno .. or Sabu .. but when Alexa Bliss picks up a kendo stick? Not really. Steve Blackman used the kendo stick just as good as anyone, why don’t we starting chanting “Blackman”? Or “Sandman”? ECW was way more than a kendo stick.
I’m not really into crowds chanting ECW when anything remotely hardcore happens .. as it’s not extreme. Show me something extreme, and I’ll accept WWE is emulating ECW. It won’t though .. because hardcore in WWE is way too safe. And it makes sense considering the young deaths of many ECW Originals and others. The hardcore elements we get are not worthy of being dubbed extreme .. so I find it insulting to those who sacrificed their lives (some literally) to bring us the most exciting alternative to WWF & WCW in the late 90’s/early 00’s.
“This Is Awesome!” – Ugh .. I’m sick of this. I’m tired of hearing “THIS IS AWESOME! *clap* *clap* clap* in any WWE match which exceeds it’s very low standard. And you know why this happened? ROH, New Japan, and the indies. As they tore it up with 5-star matches worthy of such praise .. it slowly crept its way in to the WWE universe via NXT. Full Sail fans started chanting it during quality matches, and soon enough it translated to the main roster.
And that’s where it was lost .. because it was put in the hands of those who don’t understand what makes excellent wrestling as they’ve never seen anything better. I’ll admit there are moments when it’s great, but there’s many times I’ve sat there thinking the match is good .. but not that good. Many times the fans start chanting as the match comes close to ending. It wasn’t booked to be a thriller .. but because the guys worked well for 10 minutes they get a This Is Awesome for their efforts.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn never fails to get this. Even though nothing memorable happens, they work well together so it’s automatically better than other matches on the card. It’s meant to be like the Holy Shit chant .. used sparingly, but instead of displaying shock, it shows respect for an excellent contest. Because of this .. I hope the chant dies down a bit, but I know it won’t so we’ll have to put up with it.
I like it when WWE hosts events outside America as the fans are more excited because they don’t get access to WWE events all the time. I don’t want to hate on Americans here .. that’s not the point of this article. The point is to show that American wrestling fans have too much access to WWE so it makes sense that some would fiddle around on their phones as they sit in expensive front row seats. They want something shocking to happen .. but they’ve seen it all before so it’s hard to do.
When you bring WWE to Toronto, or the UK, the crowds are so passionate they’ll make new chants. For example .. the Enzo Amore song originated when NXT toured the UK and fans who likely went to the World Darts Championship (I was watching it at the time and the crowds sounded very similar) showed up to see the wrestling as well. The White Stripes song is used in darts to cheer on the exciting Dutch player Michael Van Gerwen. So as English fans do .. they changed it to include Enzo’s name instead. It stuck .. and sometimes we’ll hear it on Raw. This is what I’m talking about though .. if we want better crowd reactions I believe WWE needs to do more TV events in other countries.
I can’t be the only one who’s grown tired of the clichéd reactions? Surely we can be more inventive? Surely we can chill and realize that not every match warrants a This Is Awesome? I’m interested to know your thoughts, because while it is up to WWE and other promotions to give us quality products, legends in the business have always said it’s up to the fans to make stars. Promotions can only go so far, they can provide a platform for the talent to work and deliver .. but if the crowd is impatient and unwilling to give them a chance then nothing’s going to happen.
How can they take us seriously when we’ve shown so many times that we don’t know what we want? How can they take us seriously when we openly hijack shows and disrespect legends like The Undertaker? I believe fans should play their parts, as it is the ultimate form of respect to the talent. They’d like you to play along for their benefit and those watching from home, but there’s so much resistance it can become a circus act with the crowd portraying the clowns.
We are not entitled to anything. The talents deserve better from you. Don’t blame the company if someone gets fired .. you should have cheered them a few months back when you had the chance. Standing ovations speak louder than any wrestling chant available. Ovations change careers .. and silence kills them. Are you a good fan? Or are you a fan who will chant whatever .. whenever, and screw me for telling you otherwise!? I ain’t telling you guys what to do .. the only thing I can do is hope some of what I’ve said makes sense. Whether it does, or doesn’t .. I’d like to hear from you. Please leave a comment on your feelings towards the chants and points I mentioned. Cheers everyone. See you again soon.