Thursday, May 28, 2015

Crowd Reactions

Hi Scott,

My question isn't really about whether the WWE product is any good or not (although the answer might be relating to it), so here goes: what's up with crowd reactions during matches lately? By lately I'm focusing on the last year or so.

What I mean is that I see some guys come out and get good reactions...but then no one seems to care about them during the matches; like, people don't pop for anything they do in the ring. At least is doesn't feel like they do. Case in point, all these main eventer guys now. The shield alums, Bray Wyatt, even lower tier guys like Neville (whom fans seem to care about, and love his finisher, but he was getting the shit kicked out of him a couple of weeks ago and I could hear crickets). All these guys get great pops when their entrance music hits, but as soon as matches start, no one gives a shit. Eventually audiences come around once the match has hit almost 15 minutes or so, on Raw I mean.

But where does that initial pop go during the match? Is it an issue with people just not being stimulated by the actual action anymore, and really just liking the concept of the characters? Or is it a generational thing, or an overstimulation thing with so much wrestling programming they're probably consuming on the network, or maybe even other networks if they're smarks and watch njpw or lucha underground?

Just curious if you have any opinion or have noticed it at all in the last couple of years or maybe even decade.

 

Yup, we (the collective "we" on the blog) have definitely noticed it, and it's a major symptom of the three-hour RAWs that are completely burning out crowds in general.  It's just too much wrestling for fans to pay attention to.  And WWE isn't helping, because their solution is to deflect blame onto specific cities ("Oh, that's just because it's City X…") while we get week after week of dead crowds. 

I think the specific problem with the matches is part of the same problem we got during the Attitude Era, or more accurately during the Russo era:  Crowds are trained not to care about anything until it's time for the run-in or DQ or whatever, and so they don't.  For example, on RAW there was a Ziggler match where Lana came out near the start, so the crowd knew not to care until she got involved for the finish.  The problem is less obvious on PPVs because typically they do more clean finishes there, but RAW has been plagued with epic shit finishes for a while now, to the point where "Kane finish" is going to become as ubiquitous as "distraction finish" it feels like.  

56 comments:

  1. The WWE style is so homogenized that it's hard to pop for in-ring action that you see every single week from 95% of the talent.

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  2. The match isn't going to end until they start hitting finishers and who wins/loses really doesn't matter anyway.

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  3. A lot of it is the conditioned crowd. It is also the marginalization of the matches themselves too. Who cares who wins the matches anymore? Especially on RAW? The wins and losses are disposable. If the match itself makes no difference or has no consequence then there is little reason to care.
    What matters now is the poor story that takes place before and after the match.

    I love when they go out and make some BIG MAIN EVENT on RAW that features a few main eventers and in the grand scheme of things, what happens for the match is completely pointless. The after match where someone gets beat up and stands tall while some other wrestler stares from the entrance way angered is what we are supposed to care about. The matches are now just a vehicle to waste time as opposed to actually being the reason to tune in.

    It is also what has killed off the bigger events that are not Wrestlemania, Summerslam, and Royal Rumble.

    This, in my opinion is fundamentally the biggest problem with pro wrestling today and I think is what a lot of the old timers seem to have angst about (like Austin).

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  4. Like Scott mentioned, fans know that the matches themselves are only bridges to the next in-ring promo, backstage segment, or post match angle. Where as the wrestlers themselves used to tell the stories and advance them in the ring during their match, that work is all done elsewhere now.
    It's a damn shame that "wrestling" seems to be becoming less and less important to the overall show.

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  5. One major problem is that live RAWs are the most boring shows to go to. You arrive, there's a dark match or two, then a Superstars/Main Event taping and the crowd is amped. Then there's a small break and RAW begins live. The first thing you're exposed to is usually a 20 minute interview segment. Between the end of the B-show taping and the first match on RAW, there's been a down time of 30 minutes or more without wrestling. That burns you out right there. Plus, the commercial breaks on RAW where nothing is going on are complete crowd killers. They'll show clip videos from Mania or a Tribute to the Troops show but it just deflates the audience and it takes a lot to get everyone up and going again. And once you've popped once for a guy, it's hard to give that same reaction the second or third time you've seen them.

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  6. 3 Hours is a long time - especially when you consider that for TV tapings the fans got there well before the start of RAW and there's nothing going on during commercial breaks.

    And speaking of conditioned matches, I remember watching a Nitro during the nWo era between Flair and someone from the nWo - I think it was Hall. Flair had him in the figure four: and the second he locked it in, you could see the entire crowd turn towards the entrance ramp waiting to see who would run in.

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  7. There's also the fact that despite having 5 hours of TV to put out between Raw and Smackdown and having a large roster: they turn out the exact same matches over and over. How many times over the past few weeks have Dolph Ziggler and Seamus wrestled each other? Remember when Los Matadores debuted, they faced 3 Man Band twice a week for about a month?

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  8. I must be watching different matches, I seem to hear "this is awesome" quite a bit.

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  9. The other big thing here is the uniformity of the structure of all the matches. They all unfold in the same predictable way, and everyone knows not to give a shit about anything up until the finish because matches all end either with a distraction/interference or the finisher exchange/block/counter bukkake. They're all about the same length and they all follow the same basic layout.

    I know that the fucking Winds of Change will never end a match, nor will a Fameasser, nor will an Irish Curse, nor will any of a billion other dopey transition moved that inexplicably have names.

    If the match structures themselves became more varied and unpredictable, and a finish came from, say, a well executed and sudden super kick out of nowhere at what would normally be 1/3 of the way into a match, I think you engage the crowd for action more.

    Until then, the crowd will sit on its hands while the poor wrestlers go through the motions executing the same basic match structure we've seen for what feels like a fucking decade at this point.

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  10. So you're saying it's time to revive the AWA's big pink room?

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  11. Crowds used to do the same for the New Age Outlaws, Godfather, and a handful of others. They were trained then to not care about wrestling because the matches were either ridiculously short or there was always a run-in. These days, they're trained not to care about a match until someone hits their finishing move. Going back to getting pinfalls off of thing like small packages or other non-finishing moves would help keep the crowds focused on the match, because you never know when it might end.

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  12. I think Scott missed the biggest problem with the WWE right now - it quite literally does not matter who wins & who loses. Why do I give a shit about the match when all that matters in the story are the angles before or after?


    You can feel the difference when the crowd thinks the outcome matters (the WWE title matches at the Rumble & WrestleMania are great examples) and when it does (pretty much any other title match this year).

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  13. They can be draining, but I have always had a good time at RAWs that I have attended.

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  14. It should be different now, really. Crowds were dead for those guys because they totally sucked, it was more understandable. But they've just blandified the in-ring action. You're totally right about changing up what constitutes a finish.

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  15. That was a little different...those acts got over because of a pre-match spiel, so it made sense to focus on that and not the ring work.


    No one on the current roster gets the crowd on their feet & playing sing-along for 5 minutes before their match. They get a nice pop for the entrance music and then the crowd doesn't give a shit because the match doesn't matter.


    If you watch NAO or Godfather matches...the crowd ALWAYS got amped up when it got time for the finish (think Godfather doing the Ho Train)...they never lost interest, they were just waiting for what they liked.

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  16. Live RAWs have ALWAYS been like that. I remember going to Raw in April 1999 and sitting through a lot of nonsense, to the point of getting annoyed and antsy....but then the mf'ing Rock showed up and it was all good.


    They just don't have enough guys who are over anymore, which the 3-hour shows only make worse.

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  17. Cant be overstated how bad the WWE style has been for pro wrestling.

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  18. Most of the time during RAW, it's on in the background while I'm on the blog... and it's only on because I just want to know what happens... not necessarily care to watch as it happens.

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  19. Stranger In The AlpsMay 28, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Aside from the issues already mentioned below in various comments, crowds are too interested in getting themselves over, and checking their phones during the show. There are other distractions besides what's going on in the ring.


    Of course, compelling matches might actually wake people up a little, you know?

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  20. yes, the formula that they have perfected during the last ten to fifteen years (= matches looking more and more like video games, even including multiple finishers etc.) seems to sort be the reason for this sort of "backlash" during more recent years.

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  21. A major title change - God forbid even a WWE Title change - on RAW could go a long way to desensitizing the crowd to everything Scott mentioned. I'm just a casual fan now. If I'm not busy I watch RAW/Smackdown; if I am, I check out recaps. If a Mankind-type scenario happened is definitely go back to making RAW appointment TV. Well....at least until endless Big Show and Kane segments piss me off again.

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  22. Another issue is that fans don't want you into the matches. I remember going to the Raw when Trump bought the show or whatever it was. We'd jump up and cheer stuff and people around us would just get mad. It's just a different type of fan now-a-days

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  23. Yeah this seemed to be glossed over. However I think the reason is that it only happens maybe one or two matches per show, the rest of the show, the crowd doesn't care.

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  24. Yeah it's weird. Even at WrestleMania some folks got upset when we stood. FUCK YOU THE ROCK IS HERE

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  25. The matches are pretty good -- way better than the AE RAWs overall -- but all the non-finishes and 50/50 means they don't mean jack shit in the end, so why should we care?

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  26. As much as I love slagging Impact, I like that they didn't have every guy on every week, it really kept it fresher. One week, no Jeff, no RVD, the next, no AJ or Angle. No reason given on screen, but it helped preserve burnout when you didn't see them on every Impact

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  27. With very few exceptions, its been like this since the attitude era. When you've seen people get thrown from the top of a cell, ppl drive trucks into the arena, hot women get nearly naked, all the cool and edgy catchphrases with profanity, amazing moves done off of ladders, and so much more, then the body of the match seems to be the least interesting thing on the show. Especially when the attitude era had some of of not the worst in ring quality ever. And it's just evolved to where everyone watches like that now. And everyone wrestling the same "wwe style" match today doesn't help at all. Going back and watching old stuff, alot of my favorite matches to watch are from the new generation era with shawn bret owen and even mankind. The crowds were hotter and everyone had their own style.

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  28. I went to Payback live in Baltimore and noticed the same thing. I think part of the problem is that, for whatever reason, they have eliminated a lot of the fan interaction spots. There used to be scientifically tested and approved ways of getting crowds vocally involved in matches. Nobody really does the "10 count punch" in the corner anymore. Chops are seldom seen, that always gets the crowd "Woo!"ing. Sleeper/comeback/false comeback spots were always great to get fans clapping to rally the babyface. Come to think of it, I wonder if part of the reason Daniel Bryan got so organically over is because his moveset was tailored to solicit "Yes!" chants whenever he threw kicks or did the corner running dropkicks? Fans want to get vocally involved, but the current WWE style almost forbids any crowd participation.

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  29. Dusty Rhodes takes a beating on this site for not putting on 5* displays but his matches were all about doing the stuff you are talking about. I don't remember any Dusty match where the crowd was bored or quiet

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  30. whoops. Meant to reply the gentleman above you

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  31. I concur with the poster below. In WWE wins and losses don't matter, so who gives a shit about the matches.

    When there are stakes the crowd.is super into it--dead crowds are wwe's fault for ensuring nothing has any stakes

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  32. To expand on that point, Cesaro got over big in 2013/2014 because the Giant Swing gave crowds something they could count along with. Crowd participation.

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  33. nWo era Nitros. Go watch the crowds turn towards the entryway to see the run-in that was sure to happen.

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  34. Oprah NoodlemantraMay 28, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    Aren't they trained to work the camera now instead of the crowd? Always turning to the hard cam to hit your finisher etc.

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  35. It's been mentioned several times by other posters already, but yeah, for me, it's that the structure of virtually every match is the same. Nearly every match, even involving the better workers, looks and feels the same in terms of the template. It's almost impossible to get excited in that situation.

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  36. Very little of what gets "this is awesome" is actually awesome.

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  37. For awhile, I would say about 80-90% of WWE matches started with lock-up, headlock spot, whip into ropes, then the match started from there. But ALWAYS with a headlock/whip into ropes. It was terrible.

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  38. well that's all subjective.

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  39. Daniel Bryan has talked about that none of the boys want to main event Raw, they golden spot is the last segment of hour 2. He says the crowds are dying by the end of the show and it makes them all look really bad on television.

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  40. crowds are also trained now to just wait until guys start kicking out of each other's finishers five times to get into the match.

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  41. Yeah Dusty had a way of keeping the crowd interested and he was good at selling too. He didn't have fancy or flashy moves but he what he did had a purpose.

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  42. Yep. I remember when Barrett was using Wasteland as his finisher and he would always turn to the hard cam before doing the move. No matter if he caught a guy coming off the turnbuckle or from the corner, he would always walk the guy out to the center of the ring.

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  43. Christian was really good at getting the crowds into his matches b/c of his clapping. It was kinda cheesy but it worked b/c at some point, he'd always get the crowd clapping along with him.

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  44. You say this, but I've been In nuclear crowds at ROH shows where allegedly finisher kick outs are all anybody does.

    I don't understand people who are so up tight about protecting ALL finishers. Jesus if anything every finisher being a match ender all the time would render EVERYTHING except who hit their finish first pointless.

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  45. I'd say the No. 1 reason for crowds being mild or dead during the match is that WWE matches never end on "secondary" moves. If it's not a DQ or a roll-up, it's going to end with an Official Finishing Maneuver.
    Randy Orton may get a pop for his powerslam or the draping DDT, but he NEVER gets the pin with those moves; it's the RKO or maybe the Punt. Ziggler wins with the Zig Zag or a roll-up; he never wins with his counter DDT. If they allowed guys to get some "surprise" wins on actual big-impact moves like that -- not just roll-ups or small packages -- the matches would become more unpredictable and fans wouldn't sit on their hands until the "finishing sequence."

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  46. Funny that you mention Christian. I actually meant to reference him earlier, as well. He was great at playing the babyface because that clapping always got the crowd invested.

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  47. Dusty takes a beating because everyone here has read scott giving him a verbal beating for 20 years but the dude is an all time great

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  48. He also had the ability to read a crowd and change gears when the crowd wasn't feeling it. Now, you just have to press forward with whatever was planned out ahead of time. No matter what.


    Ironic given how last minute the writing is.

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  49. I definitely think they need to let the top guys at the very least (if not everybody) have 2-3 viable finishers. That way there is at least some variation as to how the match could end, and fans aren't sitting on their hands waiting for the RKO, Zig-Zag, etc. Because they can build it up that Orton's hangman DDT/powerslam or Ziggler's counter DDT are potential match-ending moves, as well.

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  50. Again though, Going back to what someone said above, no matter how awesome something is, people are going to get burnt out by the third hour.

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  51. The problem is that they are probably afraid of making guys look bad by getting pinned off transition moves while they go through the process of building up the new finishers. Which is why we need more TV jobber matches, but that's probably a different argument altogether.

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