Understanding Your Fan Base
The topic I'm writing about today in a way can pertain to any sport or business, not just wrestling.
Since wrestling is my sport of course I'm going to write this column from a wrestling point of view! I feel that the heart and soul of any sport is their fan base! I don't mean the fair weather fans that only watch once a year. I mean the fans that are up on what is going on at all times. Don't get me wrong, all fans are important, but the true heart and soul is their die hard fans!
For example, at all the TNA wrestling show, you have "The Pit". They are the loudest and craziest of all the fans in the arena! Plus there are the other regular fans (such as myself) that have their seats they always sit in and are just as loyal as "The Pit" but not as aggressive.
A promotions fan base are the ones that make or break the promotion, as well as their wrestlers! If the fans don't like something in a wrestlers character and there isn't a way to turn that around by maybe making that wrestler in to a heel. The wrestling promotion will need to either figure out another gimmick for the wrestler or their wrestling career will go no where!
Sometimes the promotion may change the wrestler to shock the wrestling fans in to a huge response! Such as for many years Hulk Hogan was in yellow and red, talking about Hulkamania and all his little Hulksters! Basically an all around great guy with a love of his fans especially his young fans!
But WCW was losing their fan base as well as profits. So the wrestling powers that be (aka the writers) decided to do the NWO angle and turn everyone's favorite wrester in to a fan hating heel in black! This had an incredible fan reaction! No one could believe that Hulkamania was dead and Hogan would really turn on his fans!
Of course low and behold after the fans really got used to the fact that Hulkamania was dead! Bam Hogan was back to being all around great guy! The writers plan their story lines to mess with the fans emotions! They need to have the fans emotions in their hands in order to draw them in by the hundreds in to the arena! They also need to be able to sell there merchandise based on who the fans love or love to hate!
If your a wrestler and the fans are indifferent about you there will never been any merchandise! Except maybe a card! But you will never have the big merchandise deals!
This is something that the wrestlers need to keep in mind!
Now I understand that the wrestlers like everyone else have a right to their privacy! They don't want people swarming them when they're out with their family or eating dinner, but if a fan is rude enough not to let you finish your meal try to keep in mind they may just be star struck by you and with out them you wouldn't be getting paid for working doing what you love!
So try to be genial because a bad experience with one fan can be all over the Internet in the amount of time it takes the hurt fan to type it! Which will cause you to end up in the middle of a backlash of other people you may have never met they just don't like your wrestling character so they are going to bad mouth you to the world! They next thing you know you will be hated because you were trying to have a little privacy and one fan couldn't respect that!
Which brings me to another type of fan! The rabid fan!! Now there are two different levels of this type of fan! There is the one that loves one wrestler or wrestling in general so much they basically stalk that wrestler or any wrestler just to be close to someone famous! This type of fan wants to feel that the wrestler or wrestlers are their friend! They find out where the wrestlers stay and eat in town!
Not all fans that know this are rabid fans some are just regular run of the mill harmless fans, but there are the ones that over whelm the wrestlers, make them feel uncomfortable being around them. Sometimes this type of rabid fan gets banned from places because of this but are basically harmless for the most part just creepy!
Now the other type of rabid fan can be much more dangerous! This type of fan has trouble separating the wrestling show from real life! For example Team Canada are huge heels on TNA but incredibly awesome guys out of character! Some of these rabid fans may think they are the jerky heels they portray all the time!
Causing this type of fan to come up to them in a restaurant for example and start to yell stuff at them! This is wrong on all levels! It if fine to yell at them in the ring that is work but outside of the ring when they are enjoying some personal time is wrong no matter who they are!
Now the dangerous part is these delusional fans sometimes take their hate for a wrestler to extremes and do something such as stab or shoot a wrestler that is enjoying sometime off or just getting off a hard night of putting his body and soul on the line for two reasons!
Reason one for the love and enjoyment of the sport! Reason two to get a huge reaction from the fans! Whether the fans love them or hate them the reaction to there character is what they want! That is what keeps them going!
Whether you are a wrestler or a fan, please try to keep in mind that respect is a two way street! If you're a fan you can't expect a wrestler to be thrilled to see you when their in the middle of a meal with their family and/or friends! But at the same time wrestlers need to remember that when you're in the limelight these things happen so try to be nice about it.
Maybe tell the fan that you are trying to enjoy your meal right now but when you are done you could take a few minutes to talk to them! Something like this should help prevent any serious character damage!
The wrestlers need the fans as much as the fans need the wrestlers! There can't be one with out the other. So they need to be able to have a happy level of understanding to be able to work in harmony!