“5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … errrrrrr.”
The first few times the WWE fans in Pittsburgh counted down with the clock during the Extreme Rules main event, an Iron Man Match between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler, it was funny. But the 10th time. The 15th time. The 20th time? It morphed from cute to utterly disrespectful and annoying.
Crowds trashing on WWE main events isn’t something new, but there was something different about this match. First and foremost, RomaN Reigns wasn’t in it.
You can certainly argue that it was odd for WWE to put this match on last, given the finish (Ziggler won in overtime to retain the Intercontinental Title), but the crowd certainly didn’t know the finish while the match was going on. Disrespecting Ziggler and Owens the way that they did looked back on the crowd.
Of course, some will argue that the crowd was “entertaining themselves” due to not being entertained by the show, but that’s just an excuse. And moreover, last night’s antics by the Pittsburgh crowd showcases a larger issue with the company as a whole.
WWE has been telling its audience for years now that they aren’t watching an athletic contest. Instead, “we’re here to entertain you.” Even Ziggler, in one of his previous iterations as a character, once said in promos that he was worried about being the “most entertaining” wrestler on the card.
WWE has failed to give its audience a rooting interest. The company’s own narrative has changed, and now they have an audience that expects to be entertained. And when they’re not … well, you get what you get last night.
But it’s even more than that. WWE embraces this stuff, and then complains about it when it doesn’t go their way. They produced a whole documentary on the “Raw after Mania” a few years ago for the Network just to talk about how wild the crowd is. They played up the crowd playing to Fandango’s entrance. The Yes! Chant. The “What?!” chant. They encourage crowd participation, which is fine, but there’s good and bad to that. It’s created an atmosphere where the crowd becomes this mob that believes they’re part of the show, instead of a paying customer who is there to watch the show.
At this point, it’s too late for WWE to change that. And it’s too bad … Rollins and Ziggler deserved more respect than they got last night.
Other Extreme Rules thoughts …
It was hilarious (and awesome) to see the B Team win the Raw Tag Team Titles. The match itself was good, but the post-match celebration, which continued on the postgame show on the WWE Network, was gold, including Bo Dallas sliding down the front of the set like he was a child on the playground. … What WWE has done to Asuka is mind-bendingly dumb. … Randy Orton prefers to be a heel, and I prefer that he’s a heel. …