Isn’t pro wrestling supposed to get you all worked up?
Ring of Honor is still investigating claims made by a fan that Bully Ray confronted him one-on-one after the fan had engaged in a vulgar back-and-forth with talents during a recent house show.
Bully Ray has denied that he acted inappropriately; the fan has doubled down; I think it’s safe to presume that there are kernels of truth to what both have had to offer, and that, in the end, this particular story will end up just going away.
(ROH certainly hopes so.)
I’m looking at this one right now in the context of the controversy around Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, who has been banned from attending NBA games for a year after shoving and apparently directing vulgar comments at Toronto guard Kyle Lowry in Wednesday’s NBA Finals Game 3 matchup.
There’s been a fair amount of commentary on the issue of how it seems that fans believe in this day and age it is a God-given constitutional right to be able to give holy hell to athletes as part of the price of buying their ticket to the game, and how things have gone seriously overboard in that respect.
I still haven’t heard or read what it is that Stevens supposedly said to Lowry, so it’s hard to pass judgment specifically in this instance.
I can say, from sitting courtside the past several years covering college basketball, where the athletes aren’t even getting paid, ostensibly, anyway, yeah, it can get pretty vulgar, and often is, and embarrassingly so.
But then, back over in the world of pro wrestling, ROH and elsewhere, it would seem that maybe things should be different.
I mean, Kyle Lowry doesn’t come out in pre-game warmups and cut a promo about how Oakland is the crappiest, smelliest city he’s ever been to, on his way to promising to kick that jobroni Steph Curry’s candy-ass.
That’s the province of pro wrestling, which is as much theatre as it is simulated sports competition.
Pro wrestling isn’t the best of the best from amateur wrestling doing their best to get a takedown on the other guy.
It’s a throwback to the carny shows of the early 20th century, the good guy against the heel, who lets you know that he’s the heel by grabbing the house mic and telling the crowd how they’ve never encountered a group of people with so many missing front teeth in their lives, among other approaches to getting heat.
The heel hasn’t done his job if the crowd doesn’t want the babyface to not only win, but in the process rip the heel’s head off his shoulders.
That’s toned down, a bit, anyway, as fans have smartened up to the business, but back in the heyday of the business, the 1970s and 1980s, there was almost nuclear heat on heels, who often needed security or even police protection to be able to get to the dressing room and then to their cars in the parking lot after matches.
A guy in the front row of an NBA game shoving and cursing a player is several generations away from when they used to have to play basketball games with cages around the court to protect players from overenthusiastic fans.
A pro-wrestling match without fans who are moved to an emotional threshold that might make a cage separating them from the performers is … stuntmen doing live community-theater improv.
Column by Chris Graham